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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tarangire

The last game park we visited on our safari was Tarangire.
 
 
 




On entry to the park there were black and blue flags hanging from trees and regular intervals. Our driver explained they were to control tsetse fly. Tsetse flies are attracted to blue and black. The flags are impregnated with a pesticide to kill them.

 
Unfortunately most of us were wearing blue or black in some form and were constantly swatting the pesky flies away.
 
 warthogs

 Oliver spent most of the safari trying to photograph the rear ends of animals, with the triumphant shout of "butt shot" ringing out when he was successful.

 The permanent tents we stayed in at Tarangire Safari Lodge.

 The pool was a welcome relief after the heat of the day.

 Sundowners on the terrace.



 On the final day we set out to look around Tarangire before the sun rose. The moon was still up and was huge, casting a lot of light and allowing us to drive without any lights.
When the sun rose it was lovely to see it appear, silhouetting the baobabs.



 jackals

 dwarf mongoose

 superb starling

 ground squirrel


There are over 3000 elephants in Tarangire National Park, so we were guaranteed many sightings.




 

 A pride of lions being chased away by some bull elephants.


 water buck

 The view from the lounge.

Lunch before setting out for home.

Mto wa Mbu cultural tour

During our safari we went on a cultural tour of Mto wa Mbu (Mosquito River). The town has around 120 different tribes living in it, and is a very busy place with many tourists visiting or passing through on the safari circuit - very different to the last time I drove through about 21 years ago when there were only dirt roads, and loads of Maasai milling around the local open-air markets. Today most of the Maasai have moved out of the town in an effort to maintain their culture/way of life.
 
 
 
The first part of the tour was to walk through some of the banana plantations while our guide, George, talked about the farming practices and the uses for the bananas.
Here are a few facts that I remember:
* Mto wa Mbu grows 30 species of bananas
* a lot of the bananas are exported to other countries
* there are 3 categories of bananas grown - for fruit (sweet), for cooking (starchy) and for beer, and
* bananas begin their life growing downwards towards the flower, but turn upwards to face the sun as they mature.
 



banana flower

downward facing young bananas
 


We visited a family's home and looked at the construction of the house - a wooden frame, mud walls and a banana bark roof.
The mama was preparing the maize for cooking, and there were a number of very keen chooks hovering nearby.


Some of the houses in the village used rice husks as a roofing material.

 
 
We stopped and watched some carvers at work, and there of course was the opportunity to purchase something.
 




our guide George


The process of making banana beer (mbega) was explained to us as we sat in a local pub. It is a beverage made and enjoyed by the Chaga tribe. Millet is used as the fermentation process. The beer has a thick layer that needs to be skimmed or blown off the surface, and it has a rather smokey flavour due to it being boiled on an open fire for hours during its preparation. It takes up to 7 days to brew (3 - 4 if the weather is warm), and has a shelf-life of 2 days.



It was not a flavour enjoyed by all... or in fact by any of us.
 




We continued to look around the village until we ended up at the markets. They were much nicer than the market in Arusha and Tengeru (they weren't as oppressive or crowded).






The tour ended with a local lunch which was delicious, although we suspect that it was here that Colleen developed a bout of food poisoning that plagued her for the remainder of her stay in Tanzania.