After a few days of visiting various sites and projects in Nairobi city, we finally embarked on our safari to the eighth wonder of the world, which is not as overrated as you might think!
A high sunny day, beautiful sceneries, Smooth roads, and mindless conversation ensured a pleasant drive all the way to the great rift valley viewpoint, which is one view you can never get used to, we took photos, bought sheepskin souvenirs and felt really sorry for some tourists who seemed to be unfortunate enough to be travelling with a very impatient driver.
Afterwards, when we had tested our own driver to his limits, and even paid our respects at the smallest church in Africa, built by Italian world war 2 prisoners of her majesty the Queen, we were off towards Narok, which is 170kms from Nairobi and the last town on your way to the Mara reserve, here again we got out of the van and stretched, bought snacks and got pointed and laughed at by the local kids (don’t ask me why)
If you need batteries, memory cards, and other accessories, Narok is your last pocket-friendly stop on your way to the Mara.
From Narok and into the wilderness, before you know it, the tarmacked road gradually gives way to a gravel one and this is when the “African massage” begins, this term is commonly used by guides when tourists ask unanswerable questions like “Rafiki, what makes the road bumpy?”
When it rains this road can become quite tricky to navigate but have no fear, there is almost always another vehicle nearby, and in the Mara, just like in the army, no man shall be left behind, unlike in Nairobi, total strangers will be happy to help, it is also important when booking a safari to confirm that your vehicle is equipped with a radio transmitter, most safari vehicles are tuned to one frequency, this helps as there are places along the way with poor network coverage.
Through the Maasai ancestral land, Past beautiful traditional homesteads, lush plain and large herds of cattle with the occasional splendid sight of a young Moran, standing on one foot and supporting himself with a spear, we are ushered into the reserve through the Olemututia gate after a quick look inside the van and confirmation of our travel documents by very efficient Narok County Council Rangers, it is here that you will pop up, your roof and bear witness to the natural splendor that is the Maasai Mara, small herds of Thompson gazelles graze by the road, as the Topi antelope, a self-appointed natural sentry stands guard on an anthill and keeps watch for predators, the background is graced by the occasional elephant or giraffe, the wide plains make for excellent view, the long pale elephant grass makes for excellent hiding, here a predator may strike at any time.
Unfortunately we are late for lunch and have to hurry on to the Lodge, the lodge itself sits upon a hill looking down on the Mara River, this tranquil place of rest is definitely worth the drive, not to mention the shilling, we check-in and enjoy a sumptuous buffet lunch followed by more resting, lounging and rolling on the grass by the pool, it is the most natural thing here, the atmosphere allows it, someone observes that this is why lions bask all day in the sun, I try to lift my head to acknowledge the remark, but quickly abandon that exercise after I realize the effort it requires and instead nod my head slowly in agreement.
4:00 PM: is time to go on game drive, we are all rearing to go, most of us have changed into unnecessary safari jackets, boots and hats, I smile to myself as my compatriots disapprovingly eye my “najivunia kuwa mkenya” t-shirt, cargo pant shorts and leather sandals and off we go, the first thing we encounter is a zebra crossing, literally, two beautiful zebra cross the road and head towards a stream, further down the road, a male fox comes out of nowhere at full speed with four grown hyenas at its heels but he manages to evade them, we all sigh in disappointment.
It is close to the beginning of the great wildebeest migrations and we can already see a few herds of the advance group, as we approach them they stand in a line facing us, this self-defensive formidable front, technique helps against predators who are forced to waylay the solitude ones outside the herd.
On the way back to the lodge we come across two male cheetahs fresh from a Thompson gazelle kill, they glare and growl at us and try to drag the carcass further into the grass, but it’s too heavy, they are only about 10 feet from us and it’s a wonderful experience, at least we will now have something to talk about after dinner as we sit by the borne fire watching the Maasai dancers.
After a good night’s sleep, the birds (and reception wake up calls) force us to be up at 530am, after a sleepy, one eye closed cup of coffee and hot croissants, some of us depart on a bird safari and others go on a balloon safari, Balloon safaris are expensive but well worth it at least once in a lifetime, a bird’s eye view of the Mara plains and wildlife on a sunrise backdrop is simply indescribable and ends with a champagne breakfast by the Mara River, where we all meet up, there is a group of wildebeest on the other side but time denies us the opportunity to watch them cross or rather attempt to cross the crocodile-infested river and towards the pride of lions on the other side.
This year circumstances made it difficult for us to experience the great herd’s migration, next year we will be there on time, will you?
Written By Kevin MK.
The views and opinions expressed in this guest blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Bora Bora Travel.