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A 6 DAY SAFARI IN KENYA: MAASAI MARA – PART 1

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As part of a 6 days and 5 night’s safari in Kenya with Flash McTours Safari Company we visited Maasai Mara for 3 days. I am now sharing my experience in Maasai Mara, which for me, was the best park we visited.

Maasai Mara National Reserve

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is well known world-wide for the exceptional wildlife. With an area of 1.510 km², southwest of Kenya, shares a border with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. The reserve owns the name to the Maasai people who inhabit the area. There are not particular boundaries like in other parks, so there can be as much wildlife outside as inside the reserve.

In the reserve there are rangers that go around the park regularly to make sure there is no poaching, therefore the animals are well preserved and in good numbers. They also control the number of vehicles that go inside the reserve every day and define certain areas that are off limits for these vehicles in order to preserve the vegetation that the animals eat.

There were several reasons that made want to visit Maasai Mara, most of them were the amount of animals you can expect to see and also because sometimes it is possible to drive off road, which makes it possible to see the animals closer.

Entry fees:  Non-East African Residents – adults 80 US$ and children 30US$ (this should be included in your tour).

How to get there? From Nairobi you can get a vehicle or instead fly with a small plane to Mara Serena Airport or Keekorok Airport located in the reserve area.

Related: Planning a Safari in Kenya: 9 easy steps

The journey out there

On the first day we were picked up from our hotel in Nairobi by Peter and my excitement was high! I did not care that it was 8am, for me it was the start of a great adventure that I have been looking forward to for almost six months.

After a considerable long drive, due to the traffic in Nairobi, we met the rest of the group in what would be our safari vehicle for the next few days. We also met our guide, Lawrence, that would give us some magical moments throughout our adventure.

The journey out there took 5 hours and it was bumpy and hard as the roads are poor. I took the time to sleep. On the way there we stopped twice, the first stop on a view point where it was possible to see the Maasai Mara from a distance and the second stop to have lunch. The journey was also nice to see a lot of people and how they live outside Nairobi. They were selling everything you can think of, from fruits, water, meat, car accessories, you name it!

Lunch was very traditional: chicken with beans, rice and vegetables, a meal that would be repeated a few times in camp. Arriving to Maasai Mara was a treat; we spotted some giraffes from a distance and a few Maasai warriors with their animals. I could not wait for the first game drive later that day.

Accomodation in Maasai Mara

Inside the reserve there a lot of different types of accommodation. We wanted to stay in a tented camp to have the experience of living the simple life and maybe, that way, connect with nature in a way not possible in other places.

Our camp was the Lenchada Tourism Camp and was very basic like I was hoping for! There was a fixed tent, a double bed with and ensuite bathroom. Hot showers were possible but it would take about 15 minutes to heat up. The tent had a zipper on the front and that was basically our door.

We had electricity very early in the morning and then again in the evening, but that was fine because that’s when we needed it. There were no sockets in the room, so anything needing charging, would have to be charged in the dining area. Good that we always carry a four way socket with us, so we would charge several items at once while having dinner.

There was internet but it never worked for the 3 days we were there, which was fine, as we kind of forgot about it after the first day! Laundry services are available in camp but we did not use them because some t-shirts that we washed just dried from one day to another. Food was very basic but tasty.

Related: What to wear on a Safari

My first game drive in Maasai Mara

We arrived at about 3pm and basically relaxed for one hour, had a bit of coffee in camp and off we went on our first game drive. I was excited to see the animals, and oh my! Straight away the horizon was filled with gazelles, wildebeest and buffalos. I felt as if I was in a movie, it’s a feeling of peace and you actually forget the rest of the world.

We heard ‘Lion’ and my heart was racing, Lawrence was driving really fast and we knew we were about to see them!

Our guide Lawrence was communicating with other guides on a small radio, they would say ‘Animal’ and wait for response. Then sometimes they would talk in Swahili and we would not understand but waited with the adrenaline of hearing something like ‘Lion’. And then, that was it, the heart racing, Lawrence driving really fast and we knew we were about to see a lion!

On the first game drive we have found our first family of lions, one male and two females, they did not look scary or anything, they were just sleeping and happy in the bush. Other vans came and we were just there observing or taking pictures of them, everyone respecting the moment, in silence. The animals were not bothered with the sound of the cameras and were just ignoring us.

Then we went on a race again to see another couple of lions, I could not believe it, twice in the same game drive! These ones were isolated from the rest of the group, they were mating, and it seemed very violent, but interesting at the same time to observe their behaviour. The female was controlling all the process indicating to the male whenever she wanted it to happen – and by god it happened! We watched for about twenty minutes and in that time, they had three separate “intimate moments!”

A female eating a wildbeest

And that was pretty much the sum of our first evening game drive; we were back in camp at about 8pm, had dinner and off to sleep as the next day had a very early start.

Related: A safari in Kenya: 16 animals you can expect to see

The days after

Rise and shine at 5am to leave camp at 6am. Our first early game drive before breakfast in order to catch sunrise. Part of the group went on a hot air balloon ride at 4am, something that was an extra activity for 450 US$, but we skipped this activity has we had a long journey ahead in Africa, but it’s something that it’s on my list for next time. Because of this, the van was a bit more spacious and the morning drive was amazing!

We were able to watch sunrise with a group of giraffes around us, it was so beautiful, the colours and the savanna with the animals together in harmony. There were a lot of moments like this, where you just stand there appreciating the moment and feeling grateful to be able to watch something like that.

We continue tracking the animals throughout the day as before, Lawrence would communicate with others and we were racing, sometimes would just find the animals by chance. One of the occasions somehow, Lawrence spotted a rangers car off road with a ranger from the park and decided to basically beg him to get closer, I was glad he did. There as a female cheetah with a cub there and it was the only ones we had seen at that point!

It came lunch time, with temperatures reaching 30ºC, we were hot and exhausted. Lawrence stopped the vehicle in a quiet part of the Maasai Mara reserve by a couple of trees which gave us a bit of shade to rest under. It felt so strange getting out of the vehicle having just seen lions and other wild animals roaming the same area! It was a pretty surreal experience but the fact that Lawrence was so calm relaxed us all. We then tucked in to the famous ‘packed lunch’; a cardboard box with sandwiches, chicken on the bone, juice and some fries that would break many hearts and stomachs over the next few days.

We were on a mission to see the rhinos. Instead we encountered this family of elephants; they were so beautiful and had a little one month baby with them, still learning how to walk.

A good 40 minutes’ drive took us to the Mara River, where we were faced with dozens of hippopotamus sleeping in the river. Then again by chance, we found a leopard, we were in ecstasy! I could not believe that peacefully sleeping in a tree, was this leopard. That was another treat, only one of the big 5 to see now, the rhino. Off we went driving and driving but no luck.

To finish our day we went to visit one of the Maasai villages. This activity was optional and it was 10 US$ extra, but it was something that I was looking forward since I heard I could do it.

Related: The Maasai villages in Kenya – Life and Traditions

The next day we left at 6am again, for an early game drive, before we drove to Lake Nakuru in the afternoon. We were hoping to see the rhino in our last day but no luck, they are not a lot in the reserve and it just didn’t happen. But, we were presented with a very large group of giraffes and that was something that I will never forget.

Oi?

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