Trip Start Feb 19, 2009
31Trip End Aug 02, 2009
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Where I stayed
The Masai Mara National Reserve is located in Western Kenya and borders on the Tanzanian Serengeti. Flew into Ngerende airstrip (after three other stops within the park at other airstrips) and was met by Latif, who would be my driver for the duration of my stay. Within minutes of leaving the airport I had already seen zebras, baboons and a huge gathering of hippos. Upon arriving at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club.... I was met with a soothingly cool damp towel to refresh with, some freshly blended passion fruit juice....as well as every staff member that I came across greeting me by name. Yep... they all knew my name before I was even there. Customer service much? I was then shown to my "tent", I can only describe this as like a tent from the outside..
Three meals a day are provided... and are almost always 4 course gourmet. I had the treat of being one of only a small handful of guests as it is low season.... And the economy problems aren't helping either. The schedule during my stay was two game drives per day (one at 6:30 am and one at 3:30 pm). In between relaxing by the pool or napping in the tent were the main attractions! One of my favorite parts is that they provide a wake-up call.... I was expecting them to phone, but they actually show up at your tent at 6:00 AM with hot chocolate and cookies! Breakfast is served after your first game drive. The game drives were amazing, I saw all the animals there were to see, my driver Latif made sure of that. Because it was slow season and I was there for 4 nights... I only met a few other people. On the first couple of days I was on safari with a lovely young couple on their honeymoon, and then there were a couple of guys from Nairobi, and then a lovely Scottish couple. While it would be cool to see Migration during the busy season, I was very happy to have the lodge and mara to myself
1. On my first early morning game drive we got lucky. We came across a lioness who had just killed a zebra and had her cubs with her. Interesting fact: Male lions don't hunt... only their fierce lady friends do! The lioness and her cubs were feasting on the zebras innards while another lioness watched and waited for left overs. After about 45 minutes the lioness sent her cubs to the bush and she then commenced to drag this 600 pound zebra to the bushes as well!!! She held it by the neck with her mouth, she could only go a few steps at a time and would rest in between. Watching the cubs play on the zebra was really amazing to watch. The other interesting thing was that the zebra all just stood around forlornly watching their friend get eaten, it was a bit sad. Over the next few days we saw the lioness and he cubs in the bushes with the kill... she wouldn't need to hunt for 4-5 days after that kill.
2. I am a sucker for animals with their babies
3. The leopard is very elusive and hard to find, it hides itself well in the trees and bushes so many people leave their safari without having seen one. I was lucky and had several sightings. While looking in the leopard territory we found a dead gazelle up in a tree, this would be a leopards kill. The leopard wasn't there but we came back to that spot several times knowing eventually the leopard would be there. The first time we saw this leopard he was way up in the tree standing on the branch that his kill was on, he then bounded down the tree, bounded up another tree... and then stalked off, what a powerful cat! It was almost dark out so the photos of this aren't great. We came back to the same spot the next day and he wasn't up in the tree, but we spotted him napping in the bush. All of a sudden he got up moved into attack position, and started to hunt birds. We followed him as he came out of the bushes, it was amazing to watch.
4. I love the zebra.... They are just so cute. It seems like everyone was pregnant or with their new babies in the mara.
5. Speaking of babies, watched a family of elephants who were also with a baby elephant that was only days old, not even a week yet. It was so cute teeny tiny. When it started to rain the mom walked over it to shelter it. Beautiful.
6. Hippos! My tent was overlooking a river which was inhabited by hippos... and loud does not cover it.... Several times a night you wake up to roaring and grunting hippos!
7. Went to visit a traditional Masai Village. It seems that like lions... the ladies do most of the work! The men are responsible for herding their cows... and general security. The women build their homes out of mud and cow dung, they care for the children and then men and do all the cooking. Also.... Polygamy is acceptable as is both male and female circumcision ( also known as genital mutilation). The masai people have an interesting diet that consists mainly of cow milk, cow blood and cow meat. It was very interesting to visit their village and see inside their houses, the women also do beautiful bead work which was lovely to see and they sang for us. On one of the evenings at the lodge Fairmont was celebrating earth day and turned off all the lights for an hour during dinner.... But they sent a young masai man to our table to discuss masai culture. He told us that as more and more Masai people receive an education, polygamy is less popular and some are starting to disagree with female circumcision. The Government is also pressuring to stop female circumcision but it is still common place. The woman believe (and are correct) that a Masai man will not marry them if they are not circumcised.....ummm, ya.... A bad situation all around. Anywho... was interesting.
OK, I'll leave it there and hopefully the photos will tell the story! On to Lamu!!!!!