Two days is a long time to do ‘things’ in!
We undertook a game drive each morning, and then did a different activity in the afternoon to break the ‘vehicle’ routine.
Lions seemed to feature considerably in our ‘wildlife collection’, and we were fortunate to find three different prides on one day! Surely an amazing feat. I know one can spend days looking for the big cats to no avail. At night distant roars reached us from the rounded mountain south-east of the camp. General plains game was in profusion and elephants wandered about in small breeding groups as well.
Part of the drive was a visit to a Masai manyatta. We just arrived and the guides asked the residents if we could enter and spend some time learning about their culture. I think the family got a surprise at the positive response to this casual entry!
The women made the female members of our family join them for a short sing-song.
Belts and bling hold a rung too.
The family spent a morning in a balloon on a flight over the Mara, and with some great glee told me they had had THE most incredible experience!
That afternoon we had a shooting competition with a bow and practise arrows, at a cardboard box placed 10 yards away.
Tea was a delicious cake whipped up in the kitchen and served by Hannah.
Basic skills can be fu
Bow practise before tea.
We left camp at 8, and eventually lifted off for the Masai Mara with a full compliment on board, at 0930am, all bound for the west, and the rolling plains of this famous region. The carpet of trees of the Aberdares ended with the farmlands, and then the abrupt ridge of the Rift Valley appeared with Naivasha looking brown and full. No flamingo’s from that height. More rolling hills and forests, cultivated squares of land, scattered ‘targets’ of Masai villages and finally in the distance, the empty green plains of the reserve and the Oloola escarpment. The Mara river edged with trees snakes from one side to the other, finally sliding away from the escarpment and across the plains at Kichwa Tembo.
The pilot made a perfect landing!
5 star tent..!
Bathroom section of a great tent
The entrance is unique…..a swing bridge across the river into the comforting shade of riverine trees, and the atrium of the camp is in the glade. The lounge area faces out, westwards over a grassy plain, where a lone thorn tree interrupts the horizon. The suites (hardly tents) are positioned separately and have their own views over the neighbourhood, and rough stone pathways link them to the lodge. A library adjoins the lodge which has been built on an elevated platform ensuring the views are unparalleled. The furnishings are elegant, stylish and comfortable.
Just as important to me, I spy a brilliant little Blue Flycatcher foraging in the lower leafy canopy and White headed Barbet behaving nervously around a freshly drilled nesting hole.
A convenient termite mound
Our first drive that afternoon is in territory as different as it could be from the dry bush country of Samburu. Here are open plains, green grass in a thick sward as deep as a buffalo’s willy and Yellow throated and Pink throated Longclaws. A female leopard and her cub daughter were comfortable enough to come out (against the dark rain-laden sky) and observe us from the top of a convenient termite mound. She sat and watched us with scant interest, as her main concern was the hidden presence of a group of lion that had been downstream of her the night before. She watched the riverine area with studied nonchalance, confident that they were nowhere close, whilst keeping a mothers’ eye on her cub who, now that we had behaved correctly and sat and quietly taken the obligatory 50 photographs, wandered over with bold eyes to our vehicle and sniffed the front bumper! What a HUGE excitement for Mark and Kathy. And me.
We said Goodbye with some regret to Jeremy, Katie & Philip and the Sarara team, climbed into the Caravan and headed SSW to cross the Rift Valley near Lake Naivasha, and the Aberdares, to land at Ol Kiombo, destination Mara Plains.
The flight was easy, smooth and made more interesting by Ricks’ commentary as we flew over the everchanging landscapes. The vast dry thorn scape of Samburu, dotted with Acacia bushes and trees, veined by sandy riverbeds, then the Uaso Nyiro, flowing with brown water from the recent rains! Eventually neatly farmed lands of various crops, created a rich green tapestry of colours linked by hedge-rows and dirt roads. The edge of the Rift, Lake Naivasha with such high water levels, towns and neatly alien greenhouses of the flower-growers, like bulbous blisters on the greenery, and then scattered Masai settlements again. The characteristic ‘rings’ of their manyattas so distinctive from the air, and because we were lower now, speckles of white, dun and black sheep and goats, with isolated red ‘dots’ of herdsmen in their shukas, amongst the bushes and scrublands.
These settlements became sparser and the gravel line of an airstrip scarred the ground below us. We flew on, with virtually no settlements now and then a few camps showed along a river line that lead south. Herds of wildebeest and scattered zebra showed now, and sporadic giraffe too. We were getting closer to Ol Kiombo, and there it was, the tiny white frame of an aircraft on the runway showed us where we were to land. Two lines of land cruisers marked the turning area, and of course two buildings, and a score of visitors and guides waited for connecting flights.
Kevin met us dressed in his traditional shuka, and welcoming smile, landcruiser ready, cleaned and with a full cold box. We set off across the plains for camp, hidden amongst the evergreen trees of the Jakjak river.
Entrance to Mara Plains