Masai Mara Safari Game Drives : This is part 4 of my Masai Mara Kenya Travelogue
The rains had stopped inside Masai Mara, Kenya by then, but it had already left large and treacherous puddles of water in the muddy road and small streamlets seemed to have emerged from everywhere. The vehicle seemed harder to control now and it started to revolt and slip at every turn; Kantaai was having a tough time. Now the evening was slowly giving way to darkness and the light drizzle was still there, we saw a couple of elephants, eating out from a few trees. I took out my Nikon to catch this magic moment, when without any warning, our Masai guide veered the car and started to drive rapidly towards some trees out in the open distance where a couple of other SUVs were also speeding to. Soon we saw one of the most memorable sights of the trip. Out in the open were three lions , one male and two females courting each other. Kantaai ultimately brought us to a stop about 50 meters from the Maharaja of Africa. Hypnotized, we saw the three animals lazily nuzzling against each other and looking disdainfully at the sight of the vehicles standing around them in a semi circle. Cameras were everywhere and snaps came out at random. My daughter was speechless with joy and so were we.
Later in the hour we saw elephants, more than a dozen, babies and their mothers and our Masai driver rolled us into the middle of them. With the approaching darkness and the paucity of light , the photographs did not do justice to the dreamy sequence that we were inside the Mara Reserve; surrounded all around by the herd of elephants, busy ripping the fleshy leaves out of the branches, their grunts, snorts and cries resonating in the heavy air smelling of grass, trees, wild berries and rain.
Night brought us back to our camp. We had dinner and were escorted by the Masai security guards to our tents.[singlepic id=259 w= h= float=right] There were the sounds of the adjoining stream, reaching us over the silence of the forest and the occasional tweet, growl and roars of the inhabitants of the Reserve. It was cold in the night, we went under our blankets. Though we were dog tired, the thought of laying out in the open forest with animals all around and nothing separating us from each other, kept all of us from dozing off immediately. The sky was clear, the moon was a bright slice in the sky, and the footsteps of our Masai guards could be heard amidst the rustling of leaves and the movement of the nocturnal inhabitants around us.
The Masai Mara Safari game drives starts early morning with the morning tea was 7 am. The sight of zebras, a couple of giraffes and a herd of gazelle drinking water from the adjoining stream greeted us. Birds happily chirped and squirrels hastily crossed the narrow paths. After a hurried breakfast we started on our game drive. We shot a host of animals all through the day which included giraffe and elephant families, the famed wilde-beast, a pack of hyenas devouring a carcass, an ostrich family with 11 young ones flanking their mother and running on a trot, zebras dancing and stomping away from our vehicle, warthogs from a distance, a fully grown African buffalo, oryx, and lots of topees standing far and near to the muddy roads. The other special sight was when a cheetah, satisfied after munching on a baby gazelle for breakfast, while the mother gazelle looked on, came and stood in the shadow of our vehicle to rest a while, blood dripping from its jaws.
We got our shocker soon. Kantaai rummaged the horizon with our binoculars and soon brought us within handshaking distance of a pride of 32 lions resting under a group of bushes and shrubs in order to get some respite from the harsh
sun overhead. He rolled our SUV into the pride and then killed off its engine. Fully grown lions were looking at us directly, from all around, the closest being 5 feet from the vehicle. Fear gripped our throats.
myself to take out the SLR and take a few quick snaps –all the while they might have been planning to fit me into their next menu. Though we were not allowed to speak and all communication was through sign language I almost felt like pleading Kantaai to take us away. The 10 minutes or so seemed like an eternity: we had held our breath tight, our brains had become a total blank, the only thing that registered was what we saw in front of us. He assured us through hushed tones that the lions had enjoyed a kill a few of hours ago and thus were in no mood to hunt immediately. We sincerely hoped so !!! But hey, this is an African Safari, and this is what all Kenya safaris are meant to be.