Day 323-324 (22nd to 24th July) – Masai Mara National Park

30 07 2011

Never have we been so close to such dangerous killers…

The road from Nairobi to the Masai Mara was like that of the road from Arushia to the Serengeti, taking us across the impressive Great Rift Valley for the third time. The 80km road into the park was riddled with more bumps and potholes than an acne ridden teenager’s face.

With no fence or boundary between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti they are essentially the same park, just in two different countries. The animals and Masai tribesmen can freely cross; we however can not. Being a far smaller park you’re immediately rewarded with wildlife upon entering the park. We however were almost immediately blessed with a male cheetah just metres from our truck.

We have never had reason to feel scared while on safari, however when Jen, myself and our driver nearly got charged by a full grown male African elephant I did brick it a little. We were fortunate enough to see not one but two leopards in trees and when out in the park at night spotted a lioness hunting.

A real highlight was watching a spotted hyena trotting from a lion kill with a wildebeest leg in its mouth. Jen’s highlight came towards the end of the safari when we came across a large pride of lions with almost a dozen cubs and youngsters playing in the long grass by the side of the road. We spent an age watching them from no more than a couple of metres. Life is tough for an animal out on the African plains, but if you’re a lion with no natural predators, life it good.

We were in the Masai Mara for the annual migration of the wildebeest from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara across the Mara River. We visited one of the crossing points the wildebeest use to make the hazardous journey across the river. Hazardous because the fast flowing brown waters are teaming full of very large, very dangerous nile crocodiles. We weren’t fortunate enough to witness any wilder beast crossing, but our guide told us the first dozen to cross don’t stand a chance.

To gain a true perspective of the wildebeest migration it really has to be viewed from above; so early one morning we boarded a hot air balloon and took to the skies. Under the warm glow of the morning sun the African plains took on a whole new perspective. We were able to easily spot elephants, zebra, giraffe, gazelle, topi and thousands of migrating wildebeest – stunning.

The wildlife in the Masi Mara came thick and fast and most of it at very close quarters making for a lovely memorable experience. We were glad to make it back to Nairobi in one piece as we must have seen a good half dozen accidents on the road back into town.

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