Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Safari - Masai Mara National Reserve

We had a very early morning departure from Lake Nakuru because it was going to be a long drive with lots of time for "free massage", to quote our guide Bedan. Free massage is code word for very bumpy, uneven gravel roads. We have heard some other guides use the same term, so I don't think our guide can take credit. After seven hours of free massage, and feeling more stiff than loose, from gripping our chairs in order to not fly out of them with each bump, we finally arrived at our hotel in the Masai Mara. Truthfully, the roads into and out of the Mara are terrible - these roads are the reason people often fly from place to place. But, it's all an adventure to us. We must also add that each of our hotels on safari has greeted us with a chilled scented towel (think Halls Menthol-lyptus) and a glass of fresh juice upon arrival. The towel was especially appreciated today. It has also become a bit of a joke between us who can correctly guess the the type of juice we will be served. There has not been a clear winner yet. Passion and mango blends are the most prevalent. //. Our visit started off in the way you'd want a safari to be... A family of warthogs - the really tiny ones are cute...

A giraffe sitting down, which even our generally unimpressed guide was happy to see (and these are Masai giraffe, which is the only subspecies we should be seeing here and when we go to Tanzania)...

...herds of zebra... and another new antelope species, the topi. Betsy was very confused when she overheard another guide saying that a lion seemed to be watching the turkey. She didn't know there were wild turkeys here in Kenya. But actually the guide said the lion was watching the topi. Ah, the beauty of foreign accents. // We then came to the Mara river and there were animals everywhere! There were 7 female lions "eating" a wildebeest that they had just killed.

Within 30 yards was another wildebeest dead in the water, with a crocodile nearby, either guarding it or using it as bait to lure more prey. And another 30 yards away were three hippo in the water watching the whole scene. And then we had to look the other way, on our side of the river, because a male lion with a large mane showed up. Where to look and what to photograph - Truly, we were really enjoying our visit to the Mara. //. Later, an episode that was really enjoyable was watching a hippo who wanted to exit the river, but there was a lion sitting near the bushes where he wanted to exit. The lion kept scaring him back into the river. But then the hippo had enough and just came out and walked directly towards the lion, who decided she'd be better off backing up. Slowly, but surely, the hippo took command of the territory until the lion walked off. King of the jungle, ha. //. And, this is October in the Mara, which means the great migration is here. A couple million wildebeest have arrived from the Serengeti and are enjoying the fresh grass before going back next month. It is hard to capture in a photograph, but imagine there are about 100,000 wildebeest around you, with a few thousand zebra, walking, munching on grass, wandering aimlessly, and the herd stretches to the horizon.

// We always like to see the different species mixing together

We had a picnic lunch by the riverside, and saw some smaller wildlife.

We also noticed by all of the bones that we were not the only ones to have eaten here.

At one point in the drive, our guide wanted to show us how close we were to Tanzania, so he took us across the border. Although marked, there was no one there to stamp our passports. After a couple of minutes, we came back to Kenya and continued our trip.


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