Saturday, September 03, 2011

Mara Wonders

"Do Masai Mara. You'll see loads of animals, for sure!" F told me, with such assurance.

"Go to Masai Mara. The drivers will drive off the trail to get you as closer as possible to the animal and getting you a good view of them." C informed me, with a wink and a grin.

Such comments from fellow travelers upped my excitement level tremendously to visit Masai Mara. The night before my trip, I was so exhilarated and and psyhed up that I couldn't sleep, like a child all excited to discover what present and how many of them he is getting on Christmas morning. I was sure I even dreamed of close encounter with lions and elephants.

I woke up so early the next morning heading to the pick up point in Nairobi to begin my 3-day-2-night Kenyan safari adventure. I was acquainted with my fellow safari van mates: two Dutch girls and four Japanese. After a bit of dilly dally that included a snack shopping stop, a van switch, a tire change and a lot of plain waiting in the van, we were off.

"Masai Mara here we come!"

The journey to Masai Mara from Nairobi took a good 6 hours, with a lunch stop. The last stretch into the reserve, a good 60km, was ridiculously bumpy. The road was obviously poorly maintained, potholes as big as a crater and patches unpaved. The bumpy 60km took almost 2 hours. It baffled me to no end why the Kenyan government's inaction on this, considering the Mara is pulling millions of visitors a year and making millions of dollars to the Kenyan economy.

Anyway, we got there about 4.15pm and quickly settled into our tent and just as quickly dashed to the Mara, just in time for our first evening game drive. And with that our safari adventure officially started.

Within the 3 hour game drive, we saw huge herds of wildebeests and zebra grazing in the vast expanse of the Kenyan plain. It is often to see these two animals together. One has better sight while the other is more superior in it's hearing, which helps in alerting each other the presence of their predator, the lions, in addition to the combo of their strength in number.

Then there were the giraffes, placid and gentle, moving from tree to tree, munching the tenderest tips of the trees away. They strolled by with the grace and fluidity of a ballerina. Occasionally, they raised their heads and looked at us for a moment, then resumed munching without a care in the world. How could anyone not love this towering gentle creatures?

On the grassy field there were groups of impalas, another gentle creatures. Male impalas have pointy spiral horns, which are their weapon of choice when fighting over a female impala. Females has no horns, so the ladies hang out in group, safety in number and protected by a pimp, I mean a male impala and it's horns.

Later in the evening game drive, we came across a group lioness chilling atop of a hilly rocky boulder, literally chilling, while an equally huge group of safari van with tourists going gaga over them. The ohs and ahs did not faze them one tiny bit. It was truly a sight to behold. It was unnerving being so close to them but looking at these majestically fierce beasts frolicking playfully was amazing. At the same time, their poise and quiet demeanor was also incredibly calming.

Just as we were still reveling in the excitement of the close encounter with the group of lioness, we were treated to the sight of a lion, also chilling in the field, all by himself. He was just hanging out on its own, quietly, oblivious of the van loads of tourists and ceaseless and frantic clicking of the cameras.

We saw two cheetahs too. They have 2 black lines coming down the side of their nose from their eyes. Leopards do not. Their black spotted yellow hide was beautiful, with an almost glimmering shimmer, even in the dying light of the day.
Then I remembered what F and C said to me. Oh, how true!

Oh we witnessed an brilliant sunset over Masai Mara, with the sky splashed with a glorious spectrum of hues of yellow and orange and pink and red. Oh what a sight to end the day.

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