Flying in to Masai Mara, like most others I had the preconception that Safari trips were purely for those who liked animals or had a massive adventurous streak. Don’t get me wrong I love animals and am somewhat adventurous. However, when the Safarilink plane landed at my station, that is not the first thing that hit me. There was something about seeing giraffes walking freely in an airport strip that made me feel a strong presence of God.
I chose to visit Kenya in October 2017, which meant that I made it just before the end of the migration season. Our guide throughout the trip was great and we managed to see 4.5 of the Big Five (will explain the 0.5 later).
At the time of check in at the Mara Serena Safari Lodge, the receptionist warned me to keep the balcony window locked when either sleeping or when the room was unoccupied as security against the local thieves aka Baboons. Till date I am trying to understand how he managed to do so with a straight face, I sure had difficulty maintaining one.
My first evening out into the African jungle, in a four wheel vehicle of course, I simply could not seem to get enough of the feeling of freedom.
However, the first thing that hits you when you drive 15 minutes into the African jungle, is the number. Nothing short of hundreds thousands of Blue Wildebeests and Zebras. As far as the eye goes, you can see them.
Another thing that strikes home and might give some men a bruised ego is the actual equation of lions and lionesses. Lions could be seen lazing or napping whilst the lionesses looked after the cubs or hunted for food.
Lions were also the first ones to get a share of the bounty that the lionesses hunted.
All those lion hunt programs on television do not hold even a candle to the real deal. There is just a feeling of eery majestic when you see three lionesses working together to corner a wildebeest. The only way to describe their movements would probably be slinking; patiently they take their sweet time crouching and slinking in tall grass towards their target.
The 2nd of the big five that we saw was the mighty elephant and yes the ears of the African elephant are shaped like the continent. Its amazing to see how royally the walk and are considered to be the most cultured within the animal kingdom. They not only bury their dead but also revisit the graves regularly. Also as per the locals, they treat both their elderly and their calves with the utmost respect.
Surprisingly, it is not the lion that is considered to be the most dangerous from among the big 5 but in fact it is the cape buffalo. In fact they are sometimes considered to kill more humans than any other animal in Africa. Also, it is common knowledge that a cape buffalo will not give up until it is sure that its prey is dead even if it has to wait under a tree for days at end.
We saw the white rhinoceros, however, since they are on the brink of extinction, due to their security we were unable to go near enough for photographs. Thanks to poaching there were just 4 of the great animals left in Masai Mara at the time. By law, the rangers are now authorized to shoot any poachers on sight.
Earlier I mentioned that we saw 4.5 of the big five; reason being that the last of them is excruciatingly shy. The leopard loves hiding up in trees shaped like umbrellas and all we could spot was a bit of its tail hanging down.
*Fact – the trees are not naturally umbrella shaped, they are shaped so by the giraffes and elephants who munch the leaves.
My personal favorite part of the trip however, did not involve any of the big five. Imagine having a giraffe just inches away from the car and being able to take a selfie with with it.
Since it was migration season, another animal not to be missed was the zebra. Without exaggeration must have seen at least a couple million of these adorable creatures.
Amongst the various cities that I have visited, I can count on one hand those that I would love to revisit. Masai Mara is definitely on that list. In fact, I am already planning my next African Safari.