Monday, November 20, 2006

Safari in Maasai Mara





The trip to Mara leads west from Nairobi through mostly dry scrub land. Going through the spectacular Rift Valley then passing through Narok - a big town suddenly in the middle of the desolate wasteland.

Then onwards through unmarked roads in the Nyika to the Mara Sopa lodge - with its nice semi-circular rooms and largely french clientèles. The view from the room is not much different from theAustralian bush land I am used to seeing. May be a bit drier with more cacti and acacia , no eucalypts. The lodge is on top of a hill, the vistas spread out before it, a children's sized pool caters for the whims of the European tourists unused to the heat. After arriving people rush off in their sarongs to the pool.

The dining room and lunch are an elaborate affair with Sh200 per bottle of water. There seems to be a global tourist exchange rate measured in units of bottled water.

At 4pm we rushed for the game drive. The grazers are in plenty, the black mass of wildebeest are impressive only for so long. In addition there are herds of antelopes, zebras and some elusive eland mingling among them. The carnivores take it easy with plenty of food roaming about. A pride of lions was fast asleep until one of them came up to pose on the hillock. We caught a youngish leopard by surprise and surrounded him with the tourist vans, until he found a gap and made a run for it. The only other member of the big five who made an appearance was a buffalo carcass.

I hardly slept at night in anticipation for an early start the next day. We started buzzing around at about 4am, We were ready after a morning coffee by 6am to hit the safari trail again. Hopefully we shall see the "hunt" mom has been obsessing about. Second trip to the park turned out to be quite eventful. Hordes or is it prides of lionesses made an appearance. One lioness stalked some zebras and was nearly ready to pounce when the multitude of tourists Intervened with cumulative noise. Buffaloes finally appeared in flesh and very much alive, with calves and all.

Made a trip to the fake manyatta near the hotel to buy some Maasai beads and artifacts. The huts are really small and cozy and dark and i guess smelling of animals when the maasai actually live in them. Ended up buying some beads and a bead and lions tooth necklace, which the seller vehemently denied being plastic when I suggested in passing that i will pass it as plastic to get it into Australia through quarantine.

The last game drive was quite fruitful. We sighted elephants mud bathing and giraffes walking about as if they own the world. Two prides of lions were lazing around and showed no interest in massive herds of buffaloes grazing a few feet away.
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