Day two – first game drive.

After a decent and much needed nights sleep, we met for a hearty breakfast before heading to the Mara. The trip was surprisingly smooth, given all the warnings Carl had given us about how bumpy it would be. I think that our giant Toyota Land Cruiser helped smooth out the worst of it.

The first wild animal that we saw were the silhouettes of a pair of giraffes that were right on the horizon. We were particularly surprised to see these as we were still a great distance from the park. As we started to approach the park itself we started to see the occasional solitary gazelle, wildebeest and zebra. The second that we actually reached the park everything changed and we saw an abundance of zebras, giraffes, wildebeest and topi. 

We then arrived at our hotel which is located at the top of a hill overlooking some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen. We were greeted with ice cold passionfruit juice, which was most welcome after our eight hour drive. We checked in and had a late lunch for which the kitchen had opened just for us. Everyone was very apologetic about the previous days misfortunes and seemed determined to ensure that we would enjoy the remainder of our stay. Of course the staff at the hotel could have done nothing to prevent fog at Nairobi, but they seemed to take it personally.

Finally we got back in the Land Cruiser and at last started our first game drive; and what a drive it turned out to be spectacular. 

Just a few minutes in and the very first sighting we had was a cheeter. This was on my ‘hope to see’ list, but I knew that it would be pretty unlikely that we’d get to see one. yet here we were just a few foot away from this magnificent creature. As daft as this may sound, I was struck by just how similar to the domestic cat it was in it’s behaviour. It sunned and groomed just like every cat I’ve ever seen. The difference of course being the size and how sleek it was. 

Cheeter disappeared into the long grass and we moved on. We only travelled a couple of minutes before we spotted an elephant. We were starting to head for a closer look when we veered off as our guide, James – had spotted a rhino. He explained that we would see elephants again for certain, but this could be the only time we see a rhino.

Where the cheeter looked slick and built for speed, the rhino looks big, bulky and like something that should be rode into war. The hide was so thick that it looked more like amour plating. It moved deceptively quickly, a lumbering plod; but it ate up the distance quickly. 

Next came the animal that I’d wanted to see most of all – the lion. We first saw a lone female walking along. We could hear and catch glimpses of others in the long grass, but this was the only one that presented herself fully. Just as we viewed her there came a commotion from further down the road and we could see loads of safari vehicles heading for the river. We shot a few frames of the lion and headed down to see what was happening. We started off and came head to head with wildebeest – hundreds of them, possibly in the thousands. They surrounded the car and the numbers stretched as far as we could see. As it turned out the commotion was due to the wildebeest trying to cross the river. This was complete carnage with some getting trampled, others smashing into rocks and others just being swept away. Fresh bodies littered the banks and vultures circled overhead.  

We watched on in awe for a while before deciding to see if we could gent better look at the lions. One the way we saw the herd splinter and the wildebeest stampeding – the lions were hunting. We arrived just as one had brought a wildebeest down and saw as it gave the killing blow to the throat. The whole thing was over surprisingly quickly. A burst of action and it was over. The lioness then started calling out and we saw the male lion making his way to the kill.

Unfortunately it was now too dark for decent photography and without the sun setting we had to return to the hotel. There we sat around a campfire and discussed the days events. We could not believe that we’d seen such amazing events.

I’ve also discovered that the Internet does not work here and so may have to wait until Nairobi before I post this and any photos. 

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