We took a dalla-dalla to Lake Manyara. A dalla-dalla is any form of vehicle, usually a minivan, into which they can cram about twenty people. That’s the legal number, but as they say in Tanzania, there’s always room for one more. And no, it’s not any different than any other minivan, it’s simply CRAMMED with people, they literally sit atop one another and hang out the sliding door, which is not often closed. But it’s cheap and gets one around. Usually. Actually, ours broke down halfway and after waiting at the side of the road for twenty minutes, we finally crawled into a smaller one and resumed our journey.
At the lake, we rented mountain bikes to tour the local village, Mto wa Mbu, which is literally translated as Mosquito river. It’s an unfortunate name as the area is beautiful with tribal culture and mosquito free in the heat of the day. We pedaled jeep road and single track thru banana plantations, sampled banana beer and capped it off with a ride thru the wide open grasslands bordering the lake.
We were surrounded by zebra and curious wildebeest. Gazelles sprinted around us in sport. There are giraffe, but we didn’t see any that day. At one point I stopped riding and watched in awe as four zebra galloped a half circle around me before they made their way off to the lake, which is so full of flamingos, it glows pink. The pool where the river meets the lake is so full of hippos one could not count them all. We kept a respectable distance, but were close enough to watch them emerge and wander the grounds. As a treat to ourselves, we took a bus home, splurging on the extra thousand shilling, or eighty cents. It was a fantastic way to finish up 2009 and we’re giddy with anticipation for 2010.