Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
WOW.. Holy Schnikies.. AMAZING.. Stunning.. Holy ****..
None of these really can convey the emotion and beauty of the Masai Mara! Simply one of the top 3 most beautiful places I have ever visited. I am so glad that I came here and I’ll admit I’m really glad I spent the extra money on a well guided game drive and well tended camp to retire to at the end of the day. Having all of the little things taken care of so you don’t have to worry about toilet paper or drinking water or warm blankets or safety or any of that really allowed me to simply enjoy the surroundings. And what surroundings they were.
So our first day in the the Masai Mara was actually a late afternoon game drive. After arriving at camp and getting settled into our “tents” again.. these were a little more tent’ish this time being completely made of canvas. But again I have room in my tent for two twin beds, my own flush toilet and my own hot water (from a pre-warmed bucket of water) shower. It was Africa hot today at mid day and I was wondering if I would get any sleep at all. Turns out that wouldn’t be a probelm again.
But back to the game drive. As we roll over the bumpy roads, jarring my teeth and coating us in dust, we start to see the wildebeast. It are these old looking bearded creatures for which I cam to the Mara. You see it is this time of year that they are in migration to this area. Now as we start there are certainly plenty of them but I’ve seen heards of them this large already on our other game drives, so I’m impressed but not overly so. Really it is the vastness of the savannah and the roling hills and dry grasses and lone Acacia trees that have me most impressed. I find it very ***********vey the vastness of these spaces. It is as if someone to the wideness of the sky, laid it open and filled it with endless hills covered in dry grass.
But as we move forward we see more animals and come upon a lion pair who are celebrating thier honeymoon. We do not get to see the mating but we are told they were actively engaged about 15 times before we got there. After the lions came the hippos. OK, whatever you may like about these big fat pudgy creatures, let me tell you this. They are disgusting animals. There had to be about thirty of them, all sitting in a large stagnant pool of water… well there must have been water at one point. Right at that moment, the smell was telling me what they were in was 50% urine, 30% feeces and 20% water.. simply simply disgusting. But they are marvelously large creatures so you can apprecaite them for that!
As we then cruise from here we are in search of the one animal none of us have seen.. the leopard. As it turns out we will never find one but the drive through thier habitat (tree line river banks and forests) is just beautiful to ride through as you stand on your seat head poking through the safari openings in the roof of the land rover.
Finally it is time to head back to camp.. the sun is setting over the hills and the yellow grass turns into a magnfiicent golden sea. Here is where the magic happens.. all of a sudden on every hill, every ridge, every plain as far as the eye can see.. wildebeast.. EVERYWHERE. The numbers are staggering..eaisily I would gage in the hundreds of thousans. It really just took your words away and you just stared in awe. But then we round the corner to one last treat.. a pride of lions eating thier recent wildebeast kill. Absolutely amazing to watch this final stage in the circle of life. And so the sun sets as a perfect day closes with another fantastic meal.
True to Africa fashion nothing is ever easy and so I am told after dinner that I will have to vacate the next morning to go to another camp for teh night becuase they oversold the camp. Needless to say this did not go over well with me and I very polietly but firmly held my ground that just because I was traveling solo with a group did not mean I wanted any less to be part of that group and I would not be split off from them. To thier credit the next day they did indeed take care of everything but the stress was not needed that night.
So day two in the Masai Mara if possible outdid day one. As we arrive to pick up those in our group that did the early AM balloon ride, the wildebeast are hearding and on the move.. it turns out they are going to attempt a crossing of teh Mara river… something not often witnessed so on our way we go. To watch this spectical is truly something uniqe. Seeing a couple thousand wildebeast gathered on the edge of a steep river bank, milling about.. you can almost hear them talking “I’ll go if you go… no you go first.. come on everyones doing it..”. Then one goes down the hill and LEAPS into the river and starts swimming.. then another and another.. and then they are swarming down the bank and into the water. The dust cloud and turbulent waters just create a chaos that is amazing.
Lurking in the water however is danger. A pack of hippo are downstream picking off the weak that can’t make the swim and cruising up the river like a PT boat on a mission. Truly was amazing. A
After the crossing we again set out for the last animal.. that darn elusive leopard. Again we crusie some of the most beautiful river banks scanning the trees and low scrub but alas, we are trumped by mother nature and we never find the leopard. However as a consolation price as we are helping to pull another land rover free of a rock, a Cheetah peeks his head over the ridge. So after positioning our vehicles, we are treated to an upclose and personal view of the three cheetah.
Upon returning to camp we rest for a bit and then are given the opportunity to visit a traditional Masai villiage. While there we are treated to traditional song and dance as well as a fire making demonstration. Finally we get to go into the stick and dung buildings to see how they live. TINY building, two beds. But the cow provides everything but the sticks. Mud and cow dung are used to create the walls, they eat the organs, meat and blood of the cow and use the hide for blankets and the bones for medicine… truly the original “green” society, nothing wasted.
So another great day has been had… tomorrow we have an early morning walking safari and then its back to Nairobi.