Thursday, August 23, 2012

Masai Mara

Our drive from Lake Nakuru to the Masai Mara included an 80km stretch of road which would challenge a rally driver.  Our driver/guide Justus tried to keep a steady speed of around 80kmh rather than go slowly and shake us out of our seats.  As it was we were hanging on the the hand grips so that we didn't hit the roof when we hit the potholes.  Out accommodation was in tents, but not your ordinary pitch and stitch type - we had polished wooden floors, an ensuite, and every night we returned after dinner to a hot water bottle under the covers and the mosquito net around the bed to keep out the nasties.  

Camping in style
On our first morning in the mara, we had our balloon flight.  This was just the best experience and the morning was perfect with very light airs.  We had to be up well and truly before the sun came up as we had a 30 minute drive from the lodge to the launch site, and then enjoyed the spectacle of the balloons being inflated then the burners lighting them up in the darkness.  Our pilot was a kiwi with years of experience and our launch and landing we as smooth as could be.   There weren't a lot of animals to be seen, but it was just wonderful anyhow.  When we landed we were given a champagne breakfast on the Mara.

Lighting up the darkness.  
We watched the sun rise and there were some 20 or more balloons flying
In the afternoon we enjoyed a game drive where thankfully we didn't have to count the wildebeest - there are huge numbers of them munching happily of the sweet grasses.  
A solid mass of wildebeest enjoying afternoon tea
We heard on the two-way that a cheetah had been spotted so hightailed it to the sighting where we could hardly spot the cheetah as she crouched in the grass trying to pick out which wildebeest she would have for dinner.  She was surrounded by game vehicles so it's a wonder she was able to concentrate on the hunt at all. 
Stealthy on the hunt
The next report was that lions had been sighted and they were on the hunt as well.  These animals are not phased by the vehicles which surround them as they hunt and we counted 30 vehicles watching them.  The lions were so focussed that they stalked their prey through the surrounding vehicles.  A kill takes hours we've learnt and we could not stay and watch them at work.

Not at all phased by the safari vehicles surrounding her.
That's it for now but there's still a few things to add before we return home. 

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