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Yesterday evening we left Amboseli Park, Kenya and visited Lake Manyara, Tanzania. Our bums are still sore from the ride over the dirt road called an inter-country highway. Everyday offers a new lesson about animals, plants, and geology. An underground rain forest, called 'underground' because it draws its water from the ground, surrounds Lake Manyara. The lake sits in the Rift Valley, which formed when two plates of the earth's surface moved apart. The Rift Valley cuts through North and East Africa and teems with wildlife. One interesting lesson involved giraffes. These animals eat leaves from thorn trees called Acacias. The thorns are nasty, needle sharp and finger long, so giraffes have extra long eyelashes and an 18 inch lubricated tongue to squeeze between the thorns. The Acacia trees have their own defense. When the tree loses leaves it secretes a bitter substance called tanin. The giraffes will eat for a few minutes until the leaves turn bitter, then move to the next tree (they can return later when the tanin wears off).
Giraffes are the tallest mammals in the world. Thick facial skin, long eyelashes, and a huge tongue help get around the acacia thorns.
That's a baobab tree in the background. Notice how Mom smiles as Dad falls into the Rift Valley.
 Lions can climb trees too.