Well we finally did it. We trekked to the Maasai Mara and had an incredible 3 day, 2 night Safari.
14 of us loaded two vans at 7am Friday morning, with Alex (a good friend of Mwangi and Frances’) driving one and his colleague Steve driving the other. We started our journey, and before you know it we arrived at the Maasai Manyatta Tented Camp – where we would be staying for the next two days. We enjoyed lunch, then a couple hours to rest before our first game drive at 4pm.
At 4 we departed our camp for the famed Maasai Mara – known as one of the most famous reserves and safari locations in the world. Our lead driver, Alex, is from that area and is an expert in all things Maasai and Safari.
We entered the Reserve, and the fun began. We were greeted by Wildebeests, Impalas, and Thomson’s Gazelles, and as we kept driving saw Giraffes (including a dead one – it had lion teeth marks all down its neck), buffalo, elephants, then to what became a laughing matter for the whole day. A lion and his lioness on their “honey moon”. It is what you can imagine it would be, and we couldn’t believe we were watching this. We learned some good facts about a Lion’s mating cycle including that for every cub who makes it beyond 1 year of age, the lion and lioness would have mated 3000 times. At this point, we headed back to camp, as it was getting dark. Needless to say we were all struck with the natural beauty of the Mara, and the completely wild animals (nearly all of our driving was off road, and the roads that were there were more trails). Thursday night involved a trip to another lodge to get an ill classmate medical attention, this Twilight Zone experience will be detailed in another post.
Day two would be our long day on the Mara, we were to leave camp at 7:30am for a full day, returning at 4. This day was just as incredible. We saw many things but the highlights were: a HUGE herd of buffalo, thousands of Zebras, ostrich, warthogs (including their babies!), lion cubs under a tree, a hyena feeding on a dead animal with vultures waiting patiently nearby (we also saw vultures feasting on a cow), another pair of lions, then we stumbled upon two male lions sleeping in the shade. As our other vehicle drove off, one woke up, looked right as, and sneezed. It was incredible. By this time it was just about 12:30, which meant time for lunch. We drove a bit more than found a nice shade tree, and set up our picnic lunch. Surrounded by zebras and warthogs. This was one of the most memorable picnics I’ve ever had! We got back on the trail about 45 minutes later, checked our the lookout to where we could see all of the Mara, then started heading towards the water. It was at this time our lead guide Alex spotted the rain clouds getting worse, and closer. We went down the hill, and were interrupted by Steve spotting two cheetahs sitting in the shade. We snapped a few pictures, then Alex insisted we leave. It was early, but we trusted him and didn’t complain. Before you know it were in a complete rain storm, the roads were flooding as we tried to drive, all the dust turned to mud making us hydroplane and lose traction at times. Despite this crazy downpour, and treacherous terrain Alex knew exactly what he was doing and got us out safely. After a bit of this the rain stopped, and we were able to see a few more animals before heading back to camp including more giraffes (sitting down and fighting), and a dead elephant. We saw a few monkeys on our way out, and then made it back to camp at 4. This is when Alex informed us had we stayed 5 more minutes we would not have made it out, all of the roads flooded and many became impassable. We enjoyed a nice afternoon tea, many enjoyed a nap, a calm dinner, then off to bed. Saturday would be our final day on the Mara, with an early morning drive.
We left camp at 6:30 on Sunday, unsure of the road conditions. We got a bit into the Mara, found more lions, then the roads were still muddy and more rain was coming in. We had to exit cutting our last drive, very short but the sunrise and the rain in the distance with the natural beauty of the Mara was breathtaking. Standing in the van with the cold morning air rushing by was an incredible experience. We ate breakfast then ventured back to Nairobi, encountering heavy rain and hail on our drive.
We made it back safe, but it still hasn’t sunk in what I just saw.
I know this blog post wasn’t great, and it made our journey seem so quick (which is exactly how it felt), but the Maasai Mara was absolutely incredible. The animals were all wild, and the views were constantly breath taking. I am at a loss for words when trying to describe the scenery, so I refer you to my photos here.
The animals we saw were….
African Crowned Crane
EagleAnd any more I can’t name/remember!