Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Masai Mara (Safari part 2!)

The safari trip to Masai Mara was probably one of the most interesting and fascinating trips that I have ever been on.

Our first day started at about 5:30am for me, as we had planned to leave Kakamega around 6am to meet the safari tour guides in Kisumu around 7am. Running on African time, we finally left Kisumu around 8am on a 8 hour drive to the Masai Mara game park. Peter, our driver, would occasionally tell us random facts throughout our journey, like what tribe lived in what areas.

During one of our breaks, we had stopped at a gas station to stretch. There were some women walking around with baskets of pineapple wedges wrapped in plastic. I'm pretty sure during the two stops we made there (to Masai Mara and back), I bought close to an equivalent to an entire pineapple.

So after driving for 8 hours (and part of that was spent driving on a typical Kenyan road - dirt roads with rocks, potholes, etc everywhere), we made it to the Masai Mara game park. Before heading to our campsite, we actually went straight into the reserve. There was a bit of a hold up initially at the gate, which actually lead us to have some interaction with some Masai women during the wait.

This interaction was really interesting. The women were wearing traditional Masai clothes but were wearing very Western styled shoes, like Mary Janes and flip-flops. The women were very persistent about the jewellery and crafts that they were selling but as the game park is very touristy (and often very expensive for some tours), everything was very expensive. That trend remained the same during the safari.

Now, we've reached the point of entering the game park. To completely describe in words how incredible the trip inside is beyond me. It's so beautiful there and there is just so much to see.

Anyone in my intern group can tell you how much I love animals and going on this trip to Masai Mara was unbelievable for me. The photos below are just some of the photos of all of the animals we saw.

 Did you know that vultures are actually really weird looking?

Because really.

Look at the babies!

These are some of the elephants in a herd we saw the first day.

But the babies, really.
 Some of the elephants got really close to our van. All of the animals seemed very accustomed to the numerous safari vans and people.
 This is a wildebeest.

Aka the grandfather of all animals.


Because they look like grandfathers.
 The most animals we saw on this trip were giraffes and elephants honestly.

This is one of the few lions we saw that trip.

So there's a story behind how we found them. All of the safari vans have radios that the driver use. Anywoo, we're in the middle of just leisurely driving around when a bunch of talking comes on the radio and BAM we just take off. Next thing is we see two groups of safari vans, one in a circle and the other in a line not too far off.

It turns out that the groups had found two lions, this one included.
 There are a couple things you should know about ostriches.

One, they run ridiculously fast and that is because they have massive thighs.

Two, their feet are creepy.
 This is a mother and child elephant we came across.
 The amount of giraffes we saw was overwhelming. In both of my trips while in Kenya, I saw dozens of giraffes.

And here is what you need to know about these wonderful creatures: they are very graceful while walking but very awkward while running.

I tried to pet the monkeys we came across while walking around.

Luckily someone pulled me away before I got too close, as monkeys can be mean if need be.

Anyway, we spent Friday afternoon and early evening in the game reserve and returned to a very nice campsite just outside of it that evening. As exhausted as I was, there was one thing that kept me up for a bit - the stars. Living in Portland for the most part of the past couple of years has given me very few stars with all of the lights and urbanization.

But at our campsite, there was very little electricity and urbanization. Thus, there were so many stars. It was breathtaking, really. The first time I walked outside when it was dark, I honestly thought I was dreaming and started freaking out. Our first night there, I must of stared at the stars for what seemed like an hour. It was so peaceful and humbling.

The next day we ventured through the game park, saw tons more animals, and went to the Tanzania/Kenya border! We also went to a river right along the border and saw TONS of hippos.

For your listening pleasure, here is a video of some of the hippos. The sound of a hippo starts around 5-6 seconds in.

Sunday comes along and we get up early to catch the sunrise in the park. I know I have said this a lot in this post but holy labradoodles Batman, that was amazing.

And alas, that was pretty much the end of our trip. I have to say, I almost did not go but looking back, I am so incredibly thankful that I did. The trip was amazing and it was unbelievable to see all of the sights and animals. This safari is a constant reminder for me to jump first, fear later.

Until next time,

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