Kenya: Maasai Mara mini vacation
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Easter Weekend Road Trip
It was a day before the Easter long weekend and we (my then boyfriend, now husband and I) had not yet settled on where we were going to spend our weekend. Our usual travel company, Bonfire Adventures, came through for us at the last minute with a package deal to the Maasai Mara. To our advantage, since we were not many, we would be using a Land Cruiser to and from Nairobi. Clearly, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Great Rift Valley View Point
We were the last people to be picked up that morning and met – then, four strangers – our driver and three very lovely ladies who were going to be our travel buddies during this trip. The distance from Nairobi to Maasai Mara is around 280 kilometers, which would take us approximately 5hrs to get there had we not made stops along the way. Our first stop, of course, was the Great Rift Valley view point on the escarpment at Mai Mahiu with amazing views. The second stop was at Narok for some shopping, including a takeaway meal and bathroom break.
We then proceeded with our road trip which has an approximately 80 kilometers of rough road to the Ololoolo Gate, during which you can see the Maasai Manyatta(traditional huts). We would be staying at the Fig Tree Camp, which is on the northern border of the Maasai Mara National reserve, which allowed us to view a few wildlife on our way to the hotel.
Afternoon, Safari Game Drive
We got to the hotel in the afternoon, the reception we received at the hotel was very warm with a welcome drink and a short update of the hotel and we were then directed to our respective rooms. The self-contained tents were spacious, though not our best type of accommodation, a new kind of experience out of the norm and the resort of the last minute deal. Our driver had suggested an evening game drive would be a good idea and so we freshened up and out we went. Being my first time at the Mara, I was amazed by the variety of wildlife easily visible. We were able to see a large number of the herbivore; Thompson’s Gazelle, Zebra, Giraffe, Wildebeest. A few birds, some of the Big five; Cheetah ( which was just lying down under a tree and staring at the crowd, possibly wondering what the fuss was all about), we were amazed at how lucky we were to have seen it on our first game drive. The tour guides kept keeping contact with each other in case one of them saw the Big Five anywhere, so we always ended up as groups. Next, we saw was a Lion hiding in a bush, we were only able to see it from a far since it didn’t come out in the open and we hoped to see another one the next day. We also encountered a hyena feeding and finally a beautiful sunset before we left and headed back to the camp.
By the time we got back, dinner was ready so was a bonfire. We all sat by the bonfire having some drinks, and getting to know each other better. Coincidentally, it was a first time for all of us to be in the Mara except the tour guide of course. Two people had come to Kenya as experts and decided to explore what the country had to offer. Our tour guide suggested we should have a very early morning game drive and have a bush lunch. We then went for our dinner, after which we all left for our rooms to relax after a long exciting day as we looked forward to what the next day had to offer.
We had our breakfast at 6 am and were off by 6:30 am. Our first sight was people ready to enjoy the sunrise in the air balloons, the sight of many air balloons in the air was beautiful. We continued with our animal hunt for a clear view of a Lion, Elephant and Leopard. Our tour guide also mentioned we would be able to see hippos and possibly crocodiles in the water areas. The moon roof gave us good views but at first, it was just of the landscape until we saw a herd of elephants from a far and when we got closer there were herds of elephants, all peaceful in their own corner. Next was a pride of lions in the open majestically walking around while others rested, it was our lucky day yet again. We continued driving around and could see the normal herbivores in plenty and also animal skeletons at the foot of some trees. At around midday we started looking for a sort of safe spot to have our lunch, we were still in the national reserve. We located one and we all came off the car and sat down under a tree for lunch. Our tour guide had packed lunch for us comprising of; a sandwich, fruit, juice and crisps. He was staying attentive and on the lookout for anything suspicious and didn’t sit down like the rest of us.
Afternoon in the Mara
Our afternoon we embarked on going towards the water reserves so that we could see the hippos and crocodiles. When we got there, the hippos were in plenty though submerged in the water because of the high temperatures. We did not manage to see any crocodiles but on our way back to the camp we saw many more giraffes. When we got back to the camp, we went for swimming just to relax it being our last afternoon in the Mara since we would be leaving for Nairobi the next day after breakfast.
Travel Back to Nairobi
This was our last day in the Mara. It had been a busy two days full of adventure and making new friends. On our way back to Nairobi we made a stop at Narok for a dine in lunch at Narok Coffee House, and definitely a cup of coffee. After which we headed straight for Nairobi safely. As always, travel creates memories that last a life time.