Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Safari - Mara Pt 2

Being in a far away land, we are not as in touch with the news in America as normal. Likewise, we are more aware of the news here in Kenya. There is a trial going on at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands concerning the violence following the 2007 Kenyan elections that is broadcast live on tv, although the video quality looks like that of a webcam. The trial involves several top government officials, and we even saw part of the testimony of Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the founding president and currently the vice-prime minister, and head of the opposition party. Even though it is on every TV in Kenya, not sure if anyone in the US is following it. But we do know that some people in the US, particularly parental types in Ohio, are following the news regarding recent violence in northern Kenya. In two separate incidents, armed Somali gangs, crossed the border, kidnapped (and killed) European tourists, and turned over the hostages to Somali pirates. One of the attacks occurred on Manda island, where Lamu airport is located. We were planning to go to Lamu and were in the process of paying for the trip. Lamu is supposed to be a very cool place to visit, with beautiful beaches and a preserved old town, similar in many respects to Zanzibar. It is now a UNESCO heritage site and everyone who knows of it has recommended it. But, as unique as the opportunity to meet Somali pirates may be, and the fact that accommodations in Lamu must be a bargain now, we have decided that we would prefer a beach town much further from the Somalia border. We now have plane tickets to go to Malindi instead. Meanwhile, the Kenyan government may invade southern Somalia, without US or European support, but with military aid from the Chinese. // Meanwhile, back to the main story. 1-1/2 days in the Masai Mara reserve, and just too many experiences, such as a beautiful sunrise.

There were lots of lion encounters.

And now that we've shown you both females and males, you probably want to see some cubs.

These cats were hanging on a hillside with a great view of a water buffalo herd and a wildebeest herd, which are the black dots in the background.

We also got to see the animals we see commonly, like the zebra, do things we hadn't seen before. Who knew zebra's liked a good dust bath so much...

... And the young zebras, with brown stripes that turn black as they mature, nursing from their mothers.

Not often are the hippos spotted fully on dry land.

These hippos are getting ready to head out for dinner, after a "stressful" day sitting in the water. A common consensus among guides, and tourists as well, is that hippos really have the good life. They hang out in the water all day and maybe play with a family member, they have no real predator, except humans, and their only challenge is finding a good spot to sleep at night when they come onto land. They are actually very vocal as well. If we could post audio clips on the blog we would, because it is really fun to listen to them groan and grunt to each other.

With our trip to the Masai Mara over, it was time to head to Tanzania. In the morning as we left our hotel, our guide told us that the hotel had run out of fuel before he had a chance to fill up. We stopped at some other "nearby" locations, but they were also out. So we headed out hoping for the best, with our driver no longer feeling a desire to go slowly. Keep in mind our previous post about quality of the roads and African massage. At some local village, our driver begged a motorcycle repair shop to sell us 10 liters (2.5 gallons) and the fuel was delivered in plastic water bottles, looking like it had been siphoned. Now on our way, our driver was concerned about timing and really sped things up. Well, in his haste he managed to get us stuck in the mud two times, requiring help from others. We finally got more fuel, started driving faster and eventually got a flat tire. But, he did have a working spare. And then finally, we arrived at the border, a couple of hours late, anxious to meet our next guide for the Tanzania portion of our safari. We thought we were happy to be here after 5 hours of driving adventure, but in reality, the true "adventure" was just beginning.

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