Posts Tagged ‘big five’

No trip to Africa would be complete without a safari. One of the biggest reasons we even decided to head from Ethiopia to Kenya was that I’d finally be able to do something that sat pretty high on my bucket list. We settled on a four day three night journey which included the Maasai Mara and Lake Nakuru.

The first day of our safari we were picked up in Nairobi and made the drive to the Maasai Mara park. It took the better part of the day and even more out of our backs and bums as we drove across the not so well kept roads. We arrived at our camp site at around 3:30, just enough time to get settled have some tea and get ready for our first game drive.

Our ‘tent’ was one of the nicest accommodations we’d had. It sits on a cement slab with an attached bathroom. There’s electricity in the early morning and evening. There were probably a dozen tents around the site set amongst beautiful fruit trees and flowers. Maasai men guard the site both day and night as the lions are more afraid of the warriors than the warriors are of the lions.

We loaded back into our van and set off into the park. The roof lifts off and the windows open, so while it’s not quite the safari jeep you imagine it definitely did the trick. Almost immediately inside the gates of the park we started to see animals. There were zebras and buffalos along either side of the path. The zebras ended up being one of my favourites – their stripes are a lot neater than you think – and no two are alike!

After the zebras we headed a bit further inland to find a herd of elephants and giraffes. The giraffes are magical and the elephants MUCH bigger than I thought they would be. We had seen a few elephants while we were in Asia but the African version makes them look puny. The giraffes are quite majestic as they seem to float along nibbling at the trees.

To finish off our two hour drive we came upon two male lions. Everyone was obviously quite excited to find the kings, but they were actually quite disappointing as they didn’t even lift their heads. We left excited for what our full game drive tomorrow was going to bring.

Day two starts relatively early as we’re trying to get as much time inside the park as we can. As we’re driving in our guide gets a call on his cell phone – all the drivers keep in contact with their friends to help each other find the animals – and we speed off through the park. There are two cheetahs out lazing around in the morning sun and we want to catch them. Luckily, we make it with quite a bit of time to spare as they look to just be waking up. We watch them for about a half an hour as they go through their morning routine – unfortunately neither felt up for an early morning sprint.

We spent the rest of the day driving to the other side of the park stopping every 15 minutes or so to gawk at the animals. We watched elephants drinking and bathing, giraffes running around and drinking from the stream, a surprisingly large number of lions although they were all female or cubs and of course a bunch of gazelles, antelopes, wart hogs, emus, buffalo and wildebeest. We were also quite fortunate and tracked down a black rhino. They’re quite hard to spot as they graze in the bushes and blend in surprisingly well. They also travel alone and don’t much enjoy visitors.

The highlight of the day had to be finding the leopard – the last of the big five. The big five originate from hunting days and are considered to be the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Lions, elephants, buffalo, rhino and leopards make the cut. The leopard was hands down my favourite animal. It was incredibly beautiful as it slinked through the high grass. You had to really keep your eyes on him though, if you even looked away for a second, you couldn’t find it again until you saw the tail flick despite the fact that he was within 15 feet of us.

The final game drive in the Maasai Mara is the morning drive. The cats are the most active in the early hours of the day before everything heats up so we went in with high hopes of seeing a chase and a kill. Jacob was especially excited. Sadly though, no one seemed to hungry and we didn’t end up seeing much of anything. Since the cats are out to hunt, the rest of the animals seem to disappear.

We left the Maasai Mara and drove to Lake Nakuru. Again, the drive took the better part of the day, it seems that no matter the distance you are driving in Africa, it always takes a day to get there. Lake Nakuru was nice, aside from the ridiculous amount of birds (there was a lot of flapping and it didn’t smell so hot) but we got to see hyenas, a lot more rhinos and quite a few baboons and other monkeys.

If any of you ever have a chance to go on safari take it. And for those of you who don’t have the chance, make it. Being with in 10 feet of these animals is something that you have to experience for yourself to truly appreciate.

Read Full Post »