Maasai Mara

1 April 2013- Nairobi, Kenya

We are at Jungle Junction, a well-known overlanders haunt in central Nairobi and strangely the main sound we can hear around us tonight is the deep, loud croaking of frogs! We arrived in Nairobi this afternoon after an amazing time in the Maasai Mara. As far as animal encounters go yesterday was just incredible and one of the best days of our trip.

At the lodge just outside of the Maasai Mara there was one other group camping- a small group from Nairobi. An expat and her teenage son as well as a couple (he is Kenyan and she is Dutch) and their little boy, all away from the city for the weekend. He has a small tour company (great guy if you are coming to Kenya let us know, we will give you their details) and goes to the Mara a lot with clients. When we arrived we all said hi to each other and I chatted with them a bit while Olly was in bed. We were talking about hiring a guide and asked his thoughts on it. He said they had a guide (or spotter really) already (a local Maasai guy) and we were welcome to tag along with them early the next morning (yesterday morning).

So yesterday we were up while it was still dark (safari days as we call them always involved getting up v early!) and off we went following their landy. We were out for only a few minutes when the Maasai guide managed to spot some lions that we would have never seen! Having two 4x4s meant we could go on tracks that you wouldn’t do alone, especially as we had heavy rain the night before so we slipped and bumped our way down lots of small tracks, the most 4x4ing we have done for a long time.

What an afternoon! Them in front of us with their roof popped up (they have their landy kited out with a roof that clients can stand and look out) so the Maasai guide was standing out the top looking across the endless plains. We came across our first cheetah not much later, sleek and elegant looking. Walking across the wide open savannah. Soon we came across a group of five lions lazing under a tree and further on four young cheetahs laying down with full looking bellies. We saw a serval cat (very rare to see we were told) and very beautiful, a little like a small cheetah with slightly different markings.  It was turning out to be an amazing day, we saw our first black rhino in the distance as well as many buffalo, zebra, ellies and giraffe.  As something new was spotted we received the beep beep of a text from in front saying cheetah… serval… eagle…!

The light was just starting to fade and we continued to follow the other landy down small tracks, slipping and sliding and through water crossings.  We were wondering how we would get out of the park as it was passed the gate closing time, but they knew what they were doing.  We came up over a hill and saw a pride of lions, as we approached we could see they were with a kill. This is something we have not seen yet in our travels although we have often hoped we would. There were seven cubs and six adults all tired and fat! Next to one of the big males was a large carcass, mostly a rib cage that he was still gnawing on occasionally but for the most part they looked finished with it for the time being. One of the cubs was chewing on a leg that was bigger than him and wrestling with it.  We sat watching intently with the smell of fresh raw meat wafting in through the window, if you closed your eyes you could have been in a butchery. Light was really fading now and we reluctantly headed off, about 500 metres up the road, right next to the track we came across something that took both of our heads a minute to actually take in- two cheetahs who had just killed an impala. They were both crouched down, frantically eating, faces disappearing into the body, all we could hear was the ripping and tearing of flesh and the scrape of tooth against bone.  Every now and then one of them would look up, face covered in blood and almost with panic look around nervously.  It was getting dark and hyenas were probably not far away so right now they had to eat as much as possible as quickly as possible before they were driven away.  It was such a mesmerising sight, raw nature laid out in front of us.  The blood was luminous red, almost glowing in the twilight, still pumped full of oxygen from the impala’s last dash.

Once again we reluctantly had to get moving the light was almost gone and a black storm was rolling in.  Soon we were splashing along, the rain lit up in our headlights, as we followed two red tail lights wobbling along in front of us.  We had no idea where we were going or how to get out of the park so we couldn’t lose them.  We followed them to camp through a back way out of the park, not really believing what we had just seen! We spent a few hours over a beer reliving all that we had seen, and were told this wasn’t an average day in the Mara.

This morning we made our way through the park in the rain (we had to stop so Olly could take off a broken shock absorber while I was on lion watch) and arrived in Nairobi around lunch time. Being a public holiday we couldn’t get many things done today but we are ready to do washing, landy stuff and head off first thing tomorrow to get our Sudanese visas.

L and O

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He was so full he could hardly walk!

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