Masai Mara

Our camp was the last stop on the plane to Masai Mara, which meant that we took off and landed about 8 times over the course of an hour. Flying around Kenya in the hopper planes will get you over your fear of flying real fast.

The Mara is a reserve on steroids. There are animals everywhere you look. We arrived toward the end of the Wildebeest migration. Over 1 million of these animals were headed back to Tanzania. Standing in between them and their home base is the hippo and crocodile infested Mara River. This great migration is the reason we chose to visit Africa during this time. So needless to say we were really really really hoping to see a crossing. But that was scheduled for day 3, let get through days 1 and 2 first.

We stayed at Elephant Pepper Camp, a tented camp that was more luxurious than many of the hotels that I have stayed in. We stayed in the honeymoon tent, which was huge maybe even larger than our Gramercy apartment. We had great view of the plains and our tent was frequently visited by wildlife. Each morning we arose to the most dazzling sunrises that I have ever seen. Mr K. and I were living the high life.

The best part about the Mara was the game, it was everywhere you looked all I had to do was look outside of our tent to see zebras, wildebeests, gazelles and some pesky baboons, who I am pretty sure got a hold of our welcome champagne bottle and decided to spray it all over our porch while we were at lunch. Stupid monkeys.

We had two prides of lions and a cheetah mom and baby camped out about 5 minutes from camp. Each day we would check up on our lions and cheetahs. We spent a lot of time hanging out with them during our time at Elephant Pepper Camp. The mom and baby cheetah were the most active, always playing or walking in the tall grasses of the plains.

The animals also visited us at night while we were in our tents. I remember waking up and hearing “maaaaaaaaaaaa” “mmmmmaaah” I looked outside and there was a huge herd of Wildebeests grazing inches from our tent. How cool is that?!?! Then there was the night when we heard soft stomping sounds and loud ripping of vegetation. There was a heard of elephants feeding in the brush at the back of our tent! The scariest night was the night I was woken up by the lion roars. Two male lions were going back and forth with each other. There roars getting louder and fiercer as the fight went on. The next morning I asked George our guide if he heard the lions, he said he did and in the morning went to open his tent and there was a lion right outside! Later on our morning safari we saw one of the male lions badly limping into the brush. We figured that he was injured last night, and told the park rangers.

The animals that we saw didn’t seem to care that we were their watching them. They continued on with their daily lives as if we were just a part of the African plain. The cheetah mom even used our car as a vantage point, jumping up on the hood and surveying the area before jumping down to join her cub. There wasn’t always such a happy medium between tourist and wildlife, and in some places there is still a disconnect. We were told some horror stories from the native Nairobians about how pushy tourists would force their guides to drive right in between the animals and its hunted prey so they could get the “perfect action shot”, this perfect shot ruined the animals chance of making the kill, wasting the animals energy and lengthening the amount of time it went in between meals. The night drives would also terrorize the animals the truck’s spotlight giving away the animals position, letting the pray escape.

Mr.K and I wanted to go on safari so we could see the wildlife in their natural habitat while there are still some left to see. We became present to the delicate balance between man, animal and earth. And the relationships created by tourism, native tribes, and the animals. The reality is that we only have this one earth and to really appreciate it you need to go out and experience it, but be mindful not to trash it, because if we create too much damage to the environment and the animals – we will lose them for good.

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December 16, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Travel. Leave a comment.