Yes it’s taken me so long to write this concluding post on my safari trip, but here it is finally! Well, with our safari in Masai Mara, all I can say it was memorable in more ways then one, because of a slight misadventure on our second day here. I thought it appropriate to start off this post sharing with you what happened with WT and his mum in our attempt to go for the hot air balloon ride.
I had heard so much about how taking a hot air balloon ride in Masai Mara was a MUST because of the views of the animals great migration set against the majestic landscape, it was something not to be missed. So Y and I plus WT and his mum choose to go for it, as the rest either had done it before or weren’t interested in waking up at an unearthly hour. So we spent one night sleeping only 4 hours plus to wake up at 3.30 am and set off at 4 am so as to catch the hot air balloon leaving from its site at 6 am. Y and I was looking forward to the champagne brunch served from elegant silverware and the breathtaking views we would see from up in the sky, and how we hoped we would not have vertigo acting up then.
Well, our slight misfortune kicked in around 45 mins after we had set off from Cottar’s Camp, when our hot air balloon driver – Simon had driven the car into a shallow river ravine, seemed like many others that Ken had driven through but somehow the car got stuck in the river and we couldn’t move. It’s hard to blame them as imagine driving through the roads at that time, everything was pitch black, and the Masai guide – Kipila had to help guide the way.
Simon going in the cold waters to attempt to jerk up the car.
Despite Simon and Kipila’s multiple attempts to jerk up the car out of the ditch, it was to no avail. All our phones had no reception, so we had no choice but to wait for sunrise where Simon and Kipila tried to walk out to the open fields to get some signal and they finally managed to contact our lodge.
And so, we ended up waiting for rescue till around 8 am (3 hours later) when we saw Ken with the rest of our friends approaching in the Cottar’s Camp jeep. Below are the series of pictures that pretty explained the sad predicament. We all just felt so bad for Simon and Kipila who were soaked through their clothes and freezing in the cold waters trying to get the car out.
Yes that was an interesting highlight of the trip, but there’s so much more to share with you of my trip, and the pictures and videos below are truly my favourite moments during our game drives. In researching on Masai Mara, I found out an interesting fact that it’s actually one of the SEVEN NEW WONDERS OF THE WORLD, due to its wildebeest migration, where no where in the world, can you see such immense movement as they cross the Masai River. We were able to see them start moving in herds but bit early to see them crossing the river. What’s really interesting is when they cross the great Masai River, they will fall prey to the hippopotamus and crocodiles, waiting patiently for them to come. Apparently over 2 million animals migrate during this period between Masai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti Park in Tanzania from July to October but something like 200,000 or more animals also die in the migration. The hippos may looks cute, at least I thought they did, but Ken explained they are one of the most dangerous animals, not to be taken lightly, definitely not as likable as Hungry Hippo.
We also saw some rather terrifying vultures devouring a dead buffalo carcass. It’s a sign there’s been some killing when we saw vultures circling in the air and came across the scene below, probably near the few lions we had spotted earlier. Pretty disgusting but it is part and parcel of life and death in nature. I asked Ken why this was not fully eaten by the lions and he said they only eat enough, was thinking they clearly don’t think like me, if I was in the lion’s shoes or rather ‘paws’, I would be thinking – DON’T WASTE FOOD! I guess that explains their lean physique as compared to my happy belly.
Vultures and other birds eating the poor dead buffalo.
Another one of my favourite moments was being able to catch this cheetah slowly “tantalising” the crowd – basically all the potential animals around that it could prey upon. It is interesting how it took on a very casual almost disinterested attitude halfway through its walk, so that the other animals would eventually leave their guard down, pretty smart. Ken told us if we had more time to spend and follow this cheetah, it is very possible we might have been able to witness a kill, which is not easy to spot on a game drive, it is almost akin to striking lottery if one sees a kill especially for tourists like us.
It was also amazing we got to see a lot of lions in Masai Mara as compared to Lewa, be it nestling on top of a cliff or by a tree. They did not look terrifying at all, as they looked so relaxed, probably recuperating from their kill the day before or recharging before they go out hunting again.
I also miss seeing the elephants, they have such an endearing quality to them, especially when we see them with the young. The video below shows how they take turns scratching their itch in an almost rhythmic and systematic fashion, it’s pretty hilarious.
Naturally, we also had fun picnics prepared by Ken and Lesasi during our game drives, especially on our last day out. It was really fun just sitting around on picnic stools and eating fresh salads and pastas for lunch in the middle of nowhere, hearing Ken tell us about his experiences on his game drives.
There’s so much to be missed about Kenya, the vast lands, the abundance of animals, that whole feeling of emptiness in a good way and the Masai guides. It was the first time Y and I felt that our minds were not tuned into anything relating to work for that week, not even beachside resorts has done that for us. I think that’s the magic of Kenya. Although it will probably be a while before I head back to that part of the world, I have these amazing treasured photos and memories to look back on.