Last week was the last straw, I needed to get out of Nairobi. Our house had no internet, no hot water, and occasionally no power. If this was the way it was going to be I might as well be out in the bush exploring the flora & fauna of Kenya. I booked a last-minute Safari into the Mara with a travel company called Bonfire Adventures and this trip was the best $340 USD I ever spent (and that is including $160 worth of park entrance fees!). Paid in full on Wednesday evening after jumping in a cab directly after work to go into the heart of Nairobi and back home again 2 hours later (thank-you Nairobi traffic); I jumped into the safari van Friday morning at 7:30 am sharp. My fellow travelers, all from France, were lovely and great company. And I am happy to say, I understood 40% of what they were talking about when speaking in French. Spending the weekend with them has given me incentive to start practicing my French again.
Our first stop after leaving Nairobi was at a viewpoint of the Rift Valley. Driving along the snakey, mountainside road reminded me driving along sea-to-sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler with my friend Kalin. This road wasn’t as wet with rain and didn’t have an ocean to look out at; but it has an amazing landscape that is so flat and vast it still manages to remind me of the ocean. Gives me a feeling of wildness and peacefulness at the same time.
According to the Rough Guide to Kenya (my favourite guide books by far), the Rift Valley is part of a continental fault system that runs 6000 km across Africa from Jordan to Mozambique. It has significant historical importance since people have trekked down the valley over the last 2 or 3 thousand years. Some of the most recent immigrants were the Maasai, a semi-nomadic tribe who are well known for their dress and cultural practices, who were later forced out of their grazing grounds into the “Southern Reserve” by European colonizers in the 19th century.
We continued on our journey for 3-4 hours. I honestly don’t know if this is accurate because I was too busy enjoying all the new sights and enjoying having my window open with the warm breeze as my air conditioner. I do have to say that I won’t be complaining about the potholes in Edmonton after enduring a road like that. Over the weekend, I developed a little habit of jaw clenching to which I blame on this road.
On our arrival, our group had a chance to have some lunch and a beer before driving 10 minutes to the reserve for our evening game drive. Here is a little montage of my first game drive…
I am a sucker for evening light. The park was magnificent at sunset, but the evening light literally lasted only 30 minutes. And the sunset lasted long enough to take 4 quick pictures before it disappeared over the hills.
Saturday we got up bright and early for a full day in the Mara. By 11 am I had already seen tons of elephants, antelope, and zebra. In addition to watching a lioness nurse her 2 cubs, a male lion, 2 cheetahs lounging under a tree, a leopard sleeping in a tree, another mother cheetah hunting a hare to feed her 3 baby cubs, and 2 elephants fighting over territory. How lucky can one girl be?! In the afternoon we went to the river and saw a few hippos and one crocodile. During the last part of the afternoon we stumbled on a big lion pride who were lounging around and keeping a close eye on the buffalo herd that was grazing a couple of miles away. At one point, a male lion with a giant mane sauntered in front of our van and went into a bush directly across from our van. We all stood in the van looking out from under the canopy top while the lion stared back at us through the bush. I think if he wanted to he could have jumped up with his paws on our van and bit my face off (well I had a brief mental picture of this happening… I guess I shouldn’t have watched “The Ghost and the Darkness” a few months back). Lions are truly amazing, majestic creatures. Here are some highlight pictures of the day…
These pictures are just a small sample of the 291 photos I actually took. But considering that uploading and writing this entry took me a total of 3 hours I’m going to leave it at that. AMAZING WEEKEND.