We began the safari at one of the most beautiful and historic places near Arusha, Tanzania, the old Ngare Sero estate. People woke this morning to the wonderful clatter of cloud forest sounds of monkeys and giant birds.
Ngare Sero was built long ago as a home for hunters. It’s situated beautifully on the foothills of Mt. Meru about a mile high and benefits from rain much of the year and the beautiful clear streams that come off Africa’s 5th highest mountain.
Rebuilt for the discriminating tourist about a decade ago, clients enjoy the original manor house’s large verandah which overlooks the beautiful lake. In the thick forests which surround the lake are families of colobus monkey, the gorgeous black-and-white monkey with a white tail that looks like it comes from a horse!
These primates are among East Africa’s best “leapers” rivaling the great eland of the vast Serengeti plains. They can leap 40 feet from the top of a giant podacopurus onto wild mango and giant figs. We happen to be here now at the most wonderful time to watch colobus, since all the trees are in top fruit.
The forests also include lots of sykes monkey, which are larger and more subtly colored. Giant silvery-cheeked hornbill whose size and massive beak and horn are truly trumped by their very loud and raucous call.
So together with the deep grunts of the colobus and the frantic cawing of the hornbill, the beautiful whistles of the red-winged starling and chatter of the white-eared barbet, this is truly a bit of African paradise, the way so much of East Africa used to be.
But walk over the old bridge between the manor’s estate and the outside world, and you’ve emerged onto modern Africa: dense farms, convenience stores, and last night almost until midnight we listened to the screaming ranting of a local evangelist celebrating Easter Monday. During the day we’re close enough to the main Moshi/Arusha road to hear the trucks, and the cheers and boos of a local soccer match.
So civilization has definitely arrived. But this beautiful little alcove of ancient Africa is a wonderful way to begin anyone’s imagined adventure, and in this case, a real glimpse into Africa’s past!
Tomorrow we travel to the great national park of Tarangire. Stay tuned!