Arusha National Park is very close to town. You’d think we’d be over national parks by now, but there is always something to see & photograph. Thanks to the Taylors’ connections we were able to hire a car & driver for a day and head for the bush. Arusha NP is quite different from any of the parks we visited in Kenya. It is very hilly, and includes Mt Meru, the 5th highest mountain in Kenya. It is volcanic with craters and lakes and rocky outcrops, and rich soil supporting both rainforest & savannah. Very beautiful.
We were very fortunate with the weather too. There has been rain the past 2 afternoons, so the sky was very clear, and we had perfect views of both Mt Meru & Mt Kilimanjaro, which spend most of their time hidden in low clouds. We could clearly see snow on top of both, and they were quite spectacular. Even our driver was getting excited about it.
Our driver, Humphrey, took us all over the park. We didn’t really expect to see anything new (although there are – allegedly – leopard living there), but were mainly interested in seeing the landscape. So a few new birds were a bonus, and some up close views of both Colobus & Sykes monkeys, sitting on branches right next to the road. The park is heavily forested, so spotting wildlife is not all that easy, but just before we left we stopped by a herd of giraffe grazing very close to the road – possibly the closest we’ve been yet. While we were enjoying that, we spotted a baboon.Then another, and a few more. Soon there were probably a hundred or more baboons parading right past us, all ages & sizes, some stopped to have a bite to eat, youngsters squabbled, babies rode on their mother’s backs, all of them completely oblivious to us.
The other highlight of the day was visiting the crater lakes, which are heavily mineralised and home to flamingos as well as lots of other waterbirds. The water was quite milky & varied from deep blue to aquamarine to green. There weren’t anything like as many flamingos as at Lake Bogoria, but since Keith missed out that day when he was sick, it was good he had to chance to see some up close. We also saw ducks, stilts, sandpipers & plovers. We had lunch at a little picnic spot on top of a hill, with 360 degree views from Kili to Meru, and overlooking the lakes. The photos won’t do it justice.
Mchungaji Joseph & his wife came to bid us farewell, because they will be away & won’t see us again. They brought us a gift & spoke very warmly. It was so good to get to know them & so encouraging to see their commitment to God. I videoed a short interview with them & Mama Mchungaji sang a gospel song in English which was just lovely. I will post the video eventually.
Tuesday night is games night in the Taylor household. I like that idea. We played Carcassonne. There were a few challenges. For one, Keith & I had never played it before. And we were playing with a 2 year old and a 5 year old. By torchlight as we had one of those regular power cuts that lasted until just this second! (As I was typing “power cut” the power came back on!). By the way, I came last. But it was fun.
The bonus of the lack of power was a spectacular night sky. No lights, no clouds & no moon. But many many stars. Sweet dreams.