Mara Magic

Trip Start Jul 26, 2012
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Trip End Aug 22, 2012


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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Today we left early to travel to the Mara. We were told by our guide shortly after that the Masai warriers were staging a protest at the only bridge that enters the Mara.  Apparently the night before one of their women was killed by an elephant while walking outside to go to the toilet.  The Masai wanted the government to provide a ranger to them to protect them from the animals.  100 Masai warriers with their spears and killing sticks blocked the bridge for 4 hours so no one could get through.  Apparently they also rocked and stoned the front vehicles nearest the bridge and waved their spears at the occupants.  Some who stayed at our hotel in Lake Victoria were one of those vehicles and they were pretty traumatised by it.  We were 2km back from the bridge and were in no danger.  We were stuck there for three hours along with probably 100 other vehicles and safari vehicles or more.  Everyone was fine though where we were – just hanging around chatting to each other comparing holiday stories or giving our unwanted lunch items to the local children who were going from vehicle to vehicle gathering as many items as they could.    Fortunately, we had packed lunch boxes which the last lodge had provided for our trip – they were pretty awful, but we didn't have any other option.  I guess they filled a spot albeit not very well and helped us last until we arrived at the lodge four hours late.  The local children enjoyed what we didn’t eat.

The bridge was finally opened around 3.30pm after five heavily armed police forces moved in and a government official was flown in by helicopter to try to come to some agreement with the Masai.  Once the bridge was open, all the vehicles raced as fast as they could as we were all way behind schedule.  The dust was thick as masses of vehicles sped through the Mara on the dusty roads.  It was difficult to open the windows without letting the dust in.  We saw two large herds of giraffes on the roadside with probably 30-40 giraffes in each herd, but there was no time (or space) to stop to watch them.

The roads in the Mara were the worst.  Potholes everywhere and sections of road all boggy and unusable from the rain the night before.  We had to take a different, longer route to our lodge (which added an extra two hours to the trip) because the roads were so bad after the rain.  The plains were covered with thousands of wildebeest and zebra on the migration route, heading to cross the Mara River.  The hills were black with the animals – it was quite an amazing sight.  We often had to slow down or stop as the wildebeest spread across the road in front of us and we  had to edge our way slowly through them.    We stayed in another tented lodge.  It was fabulous!  We thought the last tented lodge we stayed at good; this one the tent was even better! 

We saw vultures and a jackal on our game drive the next morning feasting on a wildebeest carcass.  We also saw zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, impalas, waterbuck, vultures, hartebeest, dik-diks, crocodiles, hippos and so much more.  Two adult male lions were resting under some bushes.  We spotted a female cheetah with four young cubs playing next to their Mum.  We saw a spotted hyena which we hadn’t seen up until now.  The countryside in the Mara was so much like Australia… except for all the wild animals in it.  It’s a constant effort to remember that getting out of the vehicle is unsafe and the animals are all dangerous – you can’t just go up and pat and cuddle them!

We were a bit late to see a kill take place, but we did see a lioness feasting on a fresh wildebeest and thoroughly enjoying it.  Another lioness had obviously had her fill as she was sound asleep in the grass next to it!    We also saw several ostriches strutting their stuff, and stunning landscapes and scenery.  The Mara was a beautiful place to visit.

The drive out of the Mara was phenomenal.  Fortunately it didn’t rain the night before so we were able to take the "short" route and save two hours travel.  We went through the area where the film “Out of Africa” was filmed.  Once through the exit gate to the national park, we had to travel a “road” like no other we have EVER travelled!!  We were barely moving at 1km per hour, the road was so washed away it was basically just large rocks we had to climb over while dodging the areas that had been washed away with the rains.  Plus the road was uphill which presented another challenge.  But our wonderful and experienced driver handled it like a pro – it was just us novices in the back which were somewhat hesitant about it all!  We drove to the border to cross into Tanzania from Kenya and our driver advised us that that is the quickest trip he has done in four years and we were two hours ahead of schedule!  Wow, we thought it was slow going as it was, imagine it taking an extra two hours on top of that!!!

After going through border control and immigration, we changed drivers and transferred into a 4WD landcruiser as the roads in Tanzania are worse than Kenya!  How could that be so, given what we had just driven through???   
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