Monday morning we flew to Masai Mara from a tiny little airport with practically no security.We were on a tiny plane that made stops at the main lodges in the middle of the park.After a 20 minute flight we landed on the red dirt of the Mara in the middle of nowhere basically!We stayed at Keekorok lodge, and due to a friend of Rahul's who worked for Wilderness Lodges, we got a pretty amazing deal and some nice perks, (probably wouldn't be staying at Keekorok otherwise…).We checked into our suite and then headed to the pool since our first game drive wouldn't be til that night, (the drives are always at night and early morning, the animals all go hide from the sun in the afternoon).We hung out by the pool for a couple of hours, and both managed to get some ridiculous burns in those couple of hours (yes we discovered that Indians can burn, who would have thought).We had no idea the sun would be that strong (it was mild weather low, 70s).Then Neha did her complimentary spa treatment and I took a nap (our lives have changed drastically from the three days ago when we were hiking for 9 hours a day…) Then we headed out for our first game drive, which was nothing less than amazing (I need to expand my vocabulary for Kenya, I may be overusing amazing…).Within minutes we saw antelope, a rare lone zebra (most of them have migrated into the Serengeti at this time of the year…so we quickly agreed from our discovery channel knowledge that he probably wouldn't live much longer.)Then we came across our first huge pack of elephants and were in awe for a good 15 minutes just watching them.Our driver kept being like, "ready to go?" and we kept saying no.It also helped that they kept walking closer and closer to us until they were basically next to us.
Then we went looking for lions, which yes includes some of the driving around and staring out our windows, but we found that animals were usually found by finding more safari jeeps that were grouped together.It usually meant there was something big.I had no idea, but on our first drive I realized how Disney land it the whole process really was.There were little white cars everywhere in view.Everyone has to stay on specific paths so that no further vegetation is killed off. And all these tourists had on their safari hats and intense outfits and cargo pants, when really you were in vehicle with a cover the entire time.So it's not quite the "wilderness" safari I expected.
So our driver spotted the first group of lions via spotting a group of cars with his binoculars.We actually found a rare group of lions though, all of them were bachelors who were old enough that they would never take mates.So they just roam around and kill other cubs and lions, because if they can't have kids, no one else should either.It gave a whole new meaning to Scar in the Lion King.Then we saw a lot of gazelle, water buffalo in the distance, warthogs, jackals, and birds I don't remember the names of. We also saw so many elephants that within a few hours it was just normal to have elephants everywhere you looked.
When we got back that night we went to have a drink at the hippo bar, which was literally a bar built over a lake where hippos played.Then a private bush viewing dinner had been arranged for us outside on a viewing deck…it was kind of hilarious, it was candlelit, we had a private song sung for us by a Masai group…. it was like we were on an episode of the bachelor.
It was cool though, one Masai hung around for a photo opt, and we (slash I…I think I was more the tourist here…Neha may have wanted to kill me…) ended up talking to him for a half an hour.He was our age, and had recently killed a lion so that he could have a girlfriend.Three people together killed the lion with only one spear each, and since his spear did not hit the lion first it was decided that he would not be chief and would only be able to take one wife.He said he would probably have 8 to 10 kids, and the chief would have close to 30.He wouldn't be able to take a wife at all if he never killed a lion. (Though the lion killing must be done outside of the official Masai Mara park now according to law…even though the Masai supposedly own the land.He said there is tons of game outside of the park though, he didn't make it seem like there was any shortage of lions to kill.)He also told us how when he was young he was basically kidnapped by the British and forced into schooling, but he felt he was very lucky for this.Then we got talking to our waiter as well, because he was Masai.And he too felt lucky that he was able to go to school, both said many of their siblings were not able to.They both worked for 2 months at the lodge and then had 3 weeks off to go home to their wives/girlfriends/families, who still lived more primitively on the land.The 24 year old one was headed home the following day and would walk 9 hours or so to get home.We also learned that they wear red because then the animals won't go after them, so if we were ever walking in the Mara to wear red!
The next morning we had our sunrise game drive, gorgeous as usual.We started off spotting a hyena and then went a long chunk of time without seeing anything while in the rhino and leopard area.We learned to appreciate what those Planet Earth people must go through!We eventually spotted a cheetah, which was pretty cool to see.Then we saw a bunch of water buffalo up close. On our way back to the lodge we literally pulled right up next to a male lion napping in the sun.It was so close it was ridiculous.
Then we packed up and drove out to the airstrip in the middle of nowhere to wait for our plane back to Nairobi.
seth Im pretty sure I saw the same thing at the natural history museum in nyc...