The Masai Mara is a large park reserve located in Kenya. The reserve covers some 1530 square kilometers. It is named after the Masai people, who still, to this day, administer to the parks. We each pay our $40 dollar fee to enter the park. We have arrived in mid-October, just in time to witness the last week or two of the Great Migration.
Immediately when we arrive, we prepare our camp by pitching our tents and gathering firewood. We will need the fire to ward off potential predators, which can be found all across the Mara. Tomorrow we plan on going on safari again. We struggle to get a good night’s sleep as we hear the roars of lions in the distance.
Early in the morning, after our morning cup of tea, our group heads out into the Mara with our Masai guide. Almost immediately as we walk off into the plains, we see that the area is teeming with wildlife. Migrating zebra, cape buffalo, and wildebeest herds stretch for several miles. These incredible numbers can only be found here. Impala herds can also be found littering the plains. They graze cautiously, never quite sure of when a predator will come along. Perhaps they smell us, or maybe a lion or wild dog pack. We camped fairly close to the Mara river, so walking near the bank we see a number of Hippopotami. After this, we head back, twilight hours are especially dangerous with all of the predators doing their grocery shopping.
The next morning we awake to elephants trumpeting nearby, we leap out of our tents and head toward where the sounds were emanating. There they were, in all their glory, a herd of elephants. They were moving to a nearby watering hole. This was a herd of all females, as adult bulls are solitary creatures. Also, this group had a number of youngsters in tow. Their frivolity gave us all a smile as they ran around, zig-zagging around their parents, just enjoying the good times.
Moving further away from camp, we also managed to spot a distant rhino. When we tried to come a bit closer, he must have gotten scent of us and trotted off. Their eyesight may be lacking, but their sense of smell is keen. There are only about 37 Black Rhinos left in the wild. Further on, we spot another rarer animal of the Mara. A cheetah sat upon a rock, scanning the horizon for potential stragglers in the gazelle herds. This beautiful, ridiculously fast creature is also threatened due to tourist disruption of their daytime hunting. Therefore, we keep a distance so as not to disturb her. Soon enough, she jumps of the rock and creeps toward a portion of a herd. In an instant, she takes off; the herd scatters. She reaches about 60 mph. An old gazelle falls behind, tripped up by a hole or rock. Almost instantaneously, the cheetah takes the gazelle. An amazing hunt.
On our way back, we see a solitary lion walking across a dirt road. He has the beginnings of a mane. Perhaps he was outed from his pride by the dominant male. Only time will tell if he survives. He is, however, a magnificent specimen of power. If any lion has a chance, it is him. We also see a hornbill in a eucalyptus tree as well as a giraffe using its long blue tongue to strip the thorny tree of its delicious, watery leaves. But the treat of the evening occurs just before we reach our camp for the last time. A leopard stares at us lazily from a tree. These magnificent beasts are difficult to spot due to their enigmatic nature. She sits, with one paw hanging over the tree limb. She yawns. A big meal may sit in her belly. Big five, complete. We sleep contentedly, ready for more adventures in Africa.