I woke up in a tent in Ngorongoro Crater to the sound of a herd of raucous elephants trumpeting the rise of the Tanzanian sun.
I had survived another night of wilderness camping - no lions had managed to nab me during the night. I suspect this win was largely due to the fact that I gave them substantially fewer chances to.
Unlike my night in the Serengeti, where I had to scurry from tent to outhouse in the pitch black darkness of the unprotected wildlife reserve just to pee, my night in Lake Manyara was spent entirely in my tent once the campfire had been quenched. I peed in my tent in a makeshift shewee (think funnel and bottle) and it was actually the best thing ever. In fact, it was probably even substantially cleaner than the on-site outhouse. That's probably too much information for some people, but it's the reality of life on the road on an African safari.
One by one, the campsite members warily unzipped their tiny tents and emerged into the world once more, blinking and yawning at the field in from of them, glistening with dew in the morning light, the vastness of the deep Ngorongoro Crater stretching in the hazing golden distance.
A quick breakfast and it was time to disassemble the camp. We packed it all up and strapped it to the roof of the safari jeep and we were good to go.
First stop? Ngorongoro Crater once again - down, down, down the steep decline, all the way to the bottom of the bowl. There we saw more majestic lions prowling around in the morning mist, possibly tracking the movements of faraway herds of gazelles.
Marveling at the wildlife, we made our way through the crater and then left for the shores of Lake Manyara.
We arrived at approximately lunch time, pulling up at a place known locally as 'The Hippo Pool' to stop and have our packed lunches.
Before we got out of the vehicle, our guide warned us - don't go too close to the water.
In the water up ahead we could see the backs of maybe ten hippos. All were roughly in the middle of the body of water. But our guide said that for every hippo we saw, two more were unseen beneath the surface. And if we got too close to the edge, we could end up too close to one coming up for air.
Hippos may look placid, but they're actually incredibly dangerous and are unpredictable.
In the end, however, it wasn't the hippos we needed to be wary of.
Five minutes after sitting down for lunch, one eye on what we were eating and the other eye on the hippos, and we found ourselves under attack.
A large bird, which we later found out was a Martial Eagle, had been waiting for us in a nearby tree. Once lunch was unwrapped, he seized his moment. He swooped down on us at a terrible pace, screeching like hell.
A lot of you will say no big deal, it's just a bird, but it scared the living daylights out of us. We were already on edge because of the hippos, and suddenly there's a huge screeching eagle clawing at the food we're all holding mere inches from our faces.
His prize, in the end, was a chicken sandwich - owned by an unlucky dutch girl but destined for the belly of an African eagle.
We decided to stay put since there was nowhere else to eat, but now our focus was on the bird and not the hippos. Sensing this, and seeing us all carefully conceal our food nearer to our bodies, the eagle did not attack again. He made some passes overhead once his initial prize was scoffed, but decided not to dive.
We stayed a while to watch the hippos come up for air and resubmerge their huge bodies in the water, and then hit the road again. My dutch friends and I were to part, however. They went onwards back to Arusha that night, while I stayed on my own in a tent in the Lake Manyara area.
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