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Safari Day 1

April 1, 2008

Friday March 21, Good Friday, and day of the full moon, we woke up at 5 to muster our gear into a borrowed vehicle and drive to meet our friends at 6 to pack up and head to the Masai Mara. It was raining. The drive took us down the escarpment road that opens up the Rift Valley, through the rutted dirt road toward Narok. Before it was even bright there were giraffes along the road, bending low to eat from tiny whistling thorn trees. And we still had 5 hours to go.

We stopped to buy cooking pots in Narok since we’d forgotten them, and found a lively little farm town bustling with shoppers. Looked like a fun place, but we got back on the road. We headed for the Talek gate, making good use of the 4×4 for some low water crossings. We’d left the tarmac behind at least an hour ago. Yesterday’s post showed our first real stop, for tea, making use of the hood that would be our travel table for the weekend.

At some point about an hour from the gate we were inside conservation land, Masai land, and men and boys herded their cattle and goats in the grass. The Masai scar their cattle in swirling patterns, and quite severely, around the body and across the face. Shocked my bleeding heart a little.

Camp turned out to be just across the Talek river from the park gate, the weirdly-named “Aruba Camp,” but it was perfect for camping on the ground and keeping it simple. After we set up, we stretched out to rest before going on a game drive in the evening. I decided to wander around and check out the place, and turned around just in time to see the camp guard chucking a spear at some running baboons who had come to investigate us. He assured me that as soon as they see the red Masai shuka, they will run; but when they see mzungus, they get bold and try to steal your food. Might have something to do with the fact we mzungus don’t carry spears.

Everybody rested up (and food safely locked up), we headed into the park. It’s expensive, that’s all I’m going to say. But then there you are in one of the wonders of the world, and soon you’re looking smack dab at a notorious African buffalo.
Well, not this one in particular, but they do have a nasty reputation, especially when you find them alone.
buff1
Chris said it looked like he was wearing his brain on his head. He didn’t care about us.

waterbuck
Waterbuck. fluffy!

Pretty soon we saw a commotion of white minibuses corralling in the distance. Rumor was there were lions, and then, there she was!
lioness1
Her sister rested not too far away, and they acted like there were no humans oogling them at all. I wonder if they’ve all been born and raised with Range Rovers and just look through us or if it’s a plot and then one day…

in the truck

Turns out the commotion was about a pride of young lions looking alert a short distance away. I think we counted 6! The males still too young to be dressed in that thick mane that Mara lions are known for. They knew they were gorgeous just the same.
young lions
(that one reminds me of these guys)
yawn

Later we encountered a cheetah napping in some grass, but no dramatic hunts like Dad saw long ago. He was the only cheetah we saw the whole time and then just barely. I kept looking.

storm light
What we didn’t know is that you have to be out of the park by 6:30, but we’d just seen giraffes silhouetted in storm light on the horizon. Em said they looked like a kind of stone circle. We begged the guide to stay a little and watched while the storm blew in.
giraffes

Goodnight. The rain is setting in and it’s going to be an early morning tomorrow.
storm

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Almont PO permalink
    April 1, 2008 5:26 pm

    Thanks for the dandy photos to remind us what green grass looks like. Still 2′ of corn snow here in downtown Almont. Cheers-alan

  2. bloomlikeflowers permalink
    April 5, 2008 4:24 am

    Hey Al,
    Glad you liked the grass. It’s Kansas-quality grass, no doubt. Sorry to hear you’re still snowed-in but what a great year on the mountain you had! C is still galled about missing out :)
    Take care. -L

  3. April 10, 2008 1:06 am

    What beautiful photos! Hard to believe you think the colors are off. must have been stunning in real life.

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