We had a week for safari. It was the perfect amount of time. It was wonderful. We explored the Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru, and the Samburu. We saw almost everything we were supposed to see, plus some extras. There were, of course, the big five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and cape buffalo. As well, we saw zebras, wildebeest, and giraffes. And birds, birds, birds. Hornbills, weaverbirds, sunbirds, storks, eagles, hawks, and grey-crowned cranes were just a few.
Our first evening in the Masai Mara we watched a pride of lions. We watched the cubs play and play and play. The jumped on each other. They jumped on their parents. They jumped on moving blades of grass. We laughed and laughed. Over time one of the young adult lions started to irritate the others. The females around started snarling. Then snipping. All of a sudden we heard a massive roar, and a large male with a huge mane came climbing out of the bushes. He didn’t run, he lumbered. With only a snarl he chased off the annoying lion and then laid down in the grass as if he had used just enough energy for his job of keeping discipline.
We didn’t see the wildebeest crossing the Mara River, avoiding the jaws of crocodiles, dashing and splashing. Still we caught a herd as they walked single file down a creek bank. Dust began floating up from the creek bed as they walked and then suddenly dashed across the small stream. With dramatic leaps they bounded over the lip of the opposite bank as they reached the top.
Lake Nakuru is famous for large flocks of flamingos (or as Catherine has dubbed them, flaming-o’s). We saw the lesser and the great flamingos, both pink, of course. Unfortunately, the drama of millions of flamingos filling a lake had migrated just a week before to another lake. We did get to see a rock hyrax. There was a picture in our guidebook of a rock hyrax on the exact same rock above the lake. We couldn’t find the polka dotted ant Catherine saw crawling around the rocks above the lake.
The lake has been a destination for the endangered white rhino. The wildlife service has moved several to the national park there. They’ve been making babies and population is growing.
In the Masai Mara we needed an armed guard to explore the river bank where the hippos and crocodiles co-exist. He taught us about hippo poo. Their poo (mavi in Kiswahili) is important for marking their territories. There are piles of half digested grass littering the river bank. We got to watch a demonstration of how a hippo poops while the beast was still in the river. As the poo is excreted the hippo waves his tail back and forth across the material spreading it in all directions. Pooing in the water makes for more drama as the splashing water is mixed in.
We ended our trip at a relatively touristy resort, The Ark, which has viewing platforms and a turret next to a salt lick. We were treated to milling with the elephants only meters away. First a large male came toting his huge tusks of ivory. He used the tusks to dig into the dirt. He then picked up clods of dirt with his trunk and blew them into his mouth. He was joined later by a herd of five to six female and juvenile elephants filing onto the delicious dirt single file. Eventually, after some eating of dirt, playing, and fighting, the small herd left again in single file with the matriarch in the lead. The large, lone male continued to eat dirt.
Again, thanks to Bill for all the photos. Hopefully, he’ll post soon at www.whereisbill.net. Watch for more beautiful pictures.