We set off for our first game drive to the Masai Mara National Park and immediately saw gazelles and a warthog as we were leaving the camp. It wasn’t long before we saw zebras, more gazelles, impalas, antelopes, wildebeests and no doubt the highlight of the short 2 hour game drive was when we approached an area where there were about 20 vans crowding around.
Apparently there was a leopard somewhere hiding in the bush. We waited about 20minutes before some vans started to move out. These big cats are the most difficult animals to be seen just because they hide very well. Lo and behold, thanks to our driver’s brilliant manoeuvring of the vehicle, we saw the leopard clearly eating its prey, a family of the gazelles.
We saw elephants towards the end and two more just outside our camp area. Another highlight for the day for me was the sunset – one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen. The sun was sinking down through a ray of orange light and the round ball slowly became a darker orange as it continued to sink. It happened in less than a minute and unfortunately my camera was not sophisticated enough to catch the picture the way I saw it.
The next morning, after a very good shower and toast with eggs for breakfast around 7.15am, we left camp around 8am and headed for a whole day out for another round of game drive at the Masai Mara National Park. Our aim for today was to complete the big 5: the lions and rhinos. We saw more zebras and finally caught sight of our first giraffe. We came across more giraffes later on and more elephants too. I liked seeing the baby animals, so small and cute. A new born giraffe is 6m tall! Again at one point we headed to an area where there were vans crowding around. Sure enough, there were lions there. But both were taking a nap so we didn’t really get good shots. We came across 3 more lions later and I got some pretty good pictures of them.
After a good 5 hour drive, we came to the point called No Man’s Land: 2km to our right was Kenya and 21km to our left was Tanzania.
We saw a bus of Kenyan school children all cramped together a few times throughout the day. That must have been very uncomfortable for them since we saw about 4 heads sticking out each window. I’m sure 80% of them couldn’t see the lions, etc.
Then we stopped for lunch at the Mara River where we saw 3 hippos, 2 of them sunbathing at the river bank. After a quick sandwich lunch, we drove up to a different part of the river where a guy working there part time who was almost finishing medical school at Nairobi University, gave us a quick tour along the banks of the river in search of crocodiles.
According to him, we were standing at the exact point where the wildebeests from Serengeti in Tanzania would pass to cross the river when migrating to Masai Mara, Kenya. Some 300,000 wildebeests have crossed the river this migration season, and an impressively low number of 50 (thanks to the low level of water in the river) died in the process of crossing the riverbank being eaten by the crocodiles, cheetahs and lions: the lazy but clever hunters that just wait for their food to come to them. There will be about another 2.2 million making the migration in the next few days. After the wildebeests, the cleverer 1.8 million zebras will make the same migration. In November, they will head back once again making the migration from Kenya to Tanzania. We saw maybe 100 hippos at the river basking in the sun. Hippos have bad eyesight in the daylight of just 2m but an impressive one at night of 3km.
Our wake-up call on our last morning and last game drive was at 5.45am and we left around 6.15am. The rays of the sunrise which filled the sky were gorgeous; it seemed like I was looking at a painting. The highlight of the morning was seeing a rhinoceros to complete our Big 5 and later on 5 lions all sitting together up straight nearby a small tree. That was pretty amazing. We saw 3 vultures perching on a tree with no leaves with no other tree in sight for a few kilometers both ways. We came across the professional photographers again with their very long lens and I’m sure they must be working with National Geographic or something similar. We saw more elephants, giraffes, zebras, etc.