11th September 2008
We headed out into the Mara, spotting several remains of overnight “big cat” kills. Herds of wildebeest were very much in evidence, a good sign that the migration was well under way! On reaching the Sand River, which marks the border with Tanzania, we watched the wildebeest making their migratory passage across the river, and into Kenya. There was very little water in the river and as a result, no crocodiles, so a relatively safe crossing point.
Wildebeest crossing the Sand River
Continuing on, we headed for the Mara River. Now the crossing of the wider and faster flowing Mara River poses an altogether bigger challenge for the herbivores taking on the migration. Here the very hazardous nature of the wildebeests’ journey was all too amply illustrated by the number of bloated, rotting carcases floating in the shallows, providing sustenance for the scavengers.
Crossing the river at Mara Bridge, we drove on in search of the wildlife. Coming across a female Cheetah with her juvenile cubs, we watched as Mum started to stalk some antelope, but when they sensed her presence and took to the hoof, she decided not to give chase. We left her sitting, in classic Cheetah pose, atop a termite mound. Further on we came across four juvenile male Lions lying in the shade of a bush, seemingly undisturbed by our presence.
Lunch was a picnic provided by the lodge, eaten in the shade of an Acacia tree, just yards from the Tanzanian border, and seemingly not too far from the lions!
Lunch devoured, undisturbed by any wildlife, we got back into the vehicle and returned to the Mara River, crossing back to the other side, and parked up. A ranger, armed with an AK-47 automatic rifle, escorted us on foot along the river bank to enable us to get a better view of the crocodiles and hippos in the river.
Maasai Mara landscape
Returning to the vehicle, we started back towards Keekorok spotting a tiny baby antelope and a family of Warthog hoglets en route. A brief shower of rain forced us to close the vehicle roof hatches, and arriving back at the lodge the rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance, as the sky darkened and the wind picked up.
The Mara River
After dinner, returning to our room, we were escorted by one of the Askari, as there were two Hippo wandering amongst the trees opposite our room, the Askari sweeping his torch across them so that we could see them! Further up the path a large Mongoose was sat watching for prey!
12th September 2008
During the night we were woken up by some sounds at the back of our room. Looking out of the window we were amazed to find a Hippo grazing just outside our room!
The morning game drive was a “wildebeest morning”, with several large herds sighted. down by the Sand River we watched as one herd crossed southwards. Despite Justice’s best efforts we were unable to find a Leopard that had been reported by other drivers the previous day, but we did spot a pair of Hyenas, and then within a mile or two of the lodge, a lion lying on his back, asleep! When we pulled up and started pointing cameras in his direction, he opened his eyes, took a look at us, and then promptly resumed his slumbers!
As we walked back to our room after breakfast, three Baboons were wandering across the lawn! This lodge certainly brings the visitor closer to the wildlife!
On a stroll around the grounds later, we saw the staff picking the oranges for the dining room – you can’t get much fresher than that and zero air miles involved from tree to table! Down by the hippo pool, some strange splashes in the shallows turned out to be Mudfish! We decided to watch the hippos for a while before wandering back watching the Vervet Monkeys in the tree canopy above our heads.
The afternoon game drive turned into “Big Cat afternoon! First off, was Sandra’s biggest wish – a Leopard in a tree with its kill, although a distant view (oh, how I wished I had a better camera with a larger zoom at this point!). This brought our Leopard total for the trip to four. Next up were two juvenile male Lions; quickly followed by two female Lions, and then two female Lions with three cubs!
What an ending to a fabulous safari!
13th September 2008
Setting out at 8am, we hit the road for Nairobi. The climb out of the Rift Valley would have revealed a spectacular view of the plains below, but for the low cloud and haze.
We arrived at the Holiday Inn, in Nairobi by lunchtime and said goodbye to Justice. After checking in to our room and sorting out our luggage ready for the homeward flight, we went shopping to the Sarit Centre, just a short walk from the hotel. As we walked up