130827 Masai Mara National Reserve 3

The Plan

Enjoy another day at Masai Mara National Reserve.  FB L D

How the day turned out

We have a long safari today as we hope we can see the migration of the wilderbeest.  Lunch will be out in the National Park amongst the wild animals.

We drive down to where the Lodge entrance road joins the main road and there in front of us, is a lioness wandering across.  Frantically, we grab cameras to shot and film but it is hard to get good photos of her.  She is off up the hill from where we came.

Within 15 minutes, we come across a group of 4 male lions resting near a small shrub and looking as though they had just had a meal.  Each of them keep looking in the same direction as if, “something is going to be moving soon and we must chase it.”  They let us photograph them, without putting out their hand for money, for 15-20 minutes.  Moving away, we find a zebra carcass a few 100 meters away – ah, left over lunch.

This park is very large with plains as far as you can see.  But there are many animals, somewhere.  Within another 30 minutes, we come across another 4 male lions walking along a stream bank.  Many 4WDs come to view these majestic beasts as they move.  They are very close to us and they fill the video monitor without it on full zoom.  We watch as they find a spot to take a drink before moving to a quiet spot out of view.

As I said earlier, our safari today is set on watching the migration.  This takes place down near the Tanzanian border.  We travel for a couple of hours through many large herds of wilderbeest making their way towards their new eating zone at the completion of their migration.  It is getting near mid-day.

Coming to a bridge across the Mara River, without looking in any direction, we can tell that this is one of the spots where the beasts come to cross the river, during their migration.  The stench from the bodies of the wilderbeest is over powering as vultures sit on the carcass of many animals that have not made it across to dry land.  In the main, they have broken a leg or two or just drowned while making the hazardous crossing. That’s the way nature cares for itself.  No, we are not going to see a crossing in full swing.  A pity but that’s the way things happen here – there is no timetable.

We drive further on and find a tree, out in the middle of nowhere, to have our prepared box lunch.  A fantastic African landscape is before us.

We have a long drive of an hour and a half, back to the Lodge for a free period before dinner at 7:30 tonight.

Yesterday, a group of 6 took an early morning hot-air balloon ride across the Maasai Mara and Steve has written about the ordeal for us.

“The day began at 5:00am as we set out from our Lodge.  15 minutes later, the group arrived at the balloon’s launch site, eager to get air born.

“A basket to hold 8 people was laying on its side and we were loaded aboard like 8 bottles of vintage wine ready for cellaring.  As the gas burners were ignited, a roar, not unlike a male lion, filled the morning air.  In a few moments of being dragged along the ground, we became air borne.

“When the roar of the gas burner stopped we were gliding silently over the plains at 8 knots and 80 meters above the ground.

“As we drifted over the plains, our height varied from as little as 2 meters to 150 meters, depending on the direction our pilot wished to take us.  On one low descent, our basket clipped the tip of tall grass.  A ground owl took off in shear panic.  We then climbed up to 300 meters to see the full expanse of the migrating wilderbeest and zebra.  On descending, we spotted 3 cheetahs strolling across the grasslands.

“Another burst of the gas burners took us on a steep climb near Lookout Hill for our last views of the mass herds on their endless travel around the grasslands of the Maasai Mara National Park.  The silent drift was only broken by noises of the migration, a truly wonderful and memorable one hour of life, sadly coming to an end as we descend for our landing and champagne breakfast that awaited us.  We resumed our position as vintage bottles of wine and hung on awaiting our inevitable return to reality – thump!”  Thanks, Steve – Great stuff.

We are sad tonight as we think that tomorrow is the start of our journey home, for we have had a great safari around 8 game parks starting in South Africa, and on to Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya.  “Ya gotta do Africa”.

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