The Big Five

Trip Start Dec 07, 2009
1
53
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Trip End Sep 26, 2010


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Flag of Kenya  ,
Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday morning I was up bright and early for my adventure to the Masai Mara National Park. Eventually my safari vehicle picked me up right outside the apartments gate (good service) and I was off. We had a good group going, it was myself and two couples about my age: a Danish and an English couple. They were all very nice and we got along well. With only 5 people it also meant our safari vehicle was not too crowded so that was a big bonus.

We drove to the Great Rift Valley and stopped there for some great photos and had to fend off the souvenir shop owners. The Masai Mara is on the other side of the valley so we had to make the long descent then drive across. We stopped for a basic lunch in Narok town. Then we continued on, as the roads progressively worsened. It was very bumpy and dusty for the last 3 hours, but we finally pulled into camp about 4pm. It was a basic campsite with some decent self-contained tents, so just threw down our bags basically, then we were off on our first game drive. The top of the safari vehicle opens up and then people just stand inside the vehicle and are able to take unobstructed photos that way. Our first game drive was quite short since the park closes at 6pm, but we managed to see lions and a leopard that night. We also saw many wildebeest or gnu, as the locals call them, also some gazelles and zebras. Then back to the camp.

Camp life was OK, food was nice, and we played cards until the electricity was shut off at 10pm. Not much else to do then except sleep, especially since we had an 11 hour game drive the next day! Quick breakfast in the morning, then we set off for the day. It started very well as we managed to find a full family of lions and about 6 lion cubs within the first 30 minutes. We spent about an hour following them and watching the cubs play, it was brilliant. The male lions were massive and fairly amazing to see in person. This was the best find of the day. Over the rest of the day we managed to complete the Big Five as well, which is quite rare. The Big Five are: Lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. They are the big five because they are the five most dangerous and hardest to hunt in Africa. The rhino and leopard are hard to spot in the Mara so we were lucky to see both. We also saw tons of other wildlife: gazelles, antelope, impalas, thousands of zebras and gnu, mongoose, giraffes, vultures, eagles, a cheetah. After about 5 hours we finally made our way to the Mara river, the site of the world famous Great Wildebeest Migration. I was looking forward to this bit the most, but unfortunately, there were no wildebeest crossing during the two hours we stayed and waited, so that was quite a disappointment. We did get up close to the river to see the crocodiles and hippos though, lots of both. We had lunch out in the middle of an open field on a blanket. The open field was necessary so we could see any danger approaching and retreat to the car if necessary. Saw heaps more animals on the way back to camp. It was a long day but well worth it, still kinda bummed about the migration though.

Another night of playing cards and early bedtime, then another 2 hour game drive in the morning. We caught up with the same family of lions and spent over an hour with them again. It really was remarkable being so close to such an amazing animal. The little cubs are also very cute, it is impossible not to smile seeing them tumble around.

After the early morning game drive we got back to camp and packed up our stuff and loaded the van up. Before we left however we made a special stop. About 1km away from our campsite there was a Masai village, and we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit it. We were given the royal treatment, a welcoming dance by the men and the women. The village was self sustained, with about 200 people living there. They showed us around, and we were even invited into the house of the chiefs son. They showed us how to make fire and just showed us all about their day to day life in the village. It was quite a fascinating experience to see how much they can get done with so little. I don't think I will forget it anytime soon. After about an hour it was time for us to leave so we jumped in the van and made our way back to Nairobi.

Overall, my time in the Masai Mara was a very fun and rewarding experience, I guess I will just have to watch the migration on Planet Earth when I get home!

-js
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