A farewell, the glorious Maasai Mara

It was only four days, but time in the Maasai Mara seems to go in slow motion – especially the nights. The daily routine – up at dawn, out for a drive to spot animals, return for food and a few hour’s rest, before another afternoon drive, followed by a long, dark night in a  tent – was very seductive and relaxed. We saw lots of animals and we ended our time with a stunning sunset before taking the long and gruelling road back to Nairobi.

The landscapes of the Maasai Mara are almost as breathtaking as the animals that inhabit them. When I was there, just prior to the greatest migration of land animals anywhere on the planet, the whole region seemed covered in long golden grasses. The Maasai Mara forms a continuous landmass between Kenya and Tanzania, where it becomes the Serengeti. Each year over one million Wildebeest and eight hundred thousand Zebra migrate north from the Serengeti to the Maasai Mara. The nutritious grassland wouldn’t last long when they arrived.

The border between Kenya and Tanzania, the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti. Africa
The border between Kenya and Tanzania, the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti. Africa
Landscape of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Landscape of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Landscape of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Landscape of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa

On our final drive through the National Reserve we would head to the Mara River where, in just a few weeks, two million plus Wildebeests and Zebra would risk life and limb crossing it to reach the grassy plains of the Maasai Mara. Waiting for them in the river would be giant Nile Crocodiles, the size of which inspires a sense of awe and terror. These pre-historic death machines reach six metres in length and 900 kg in weight; while their speed, powerful jaws and razor-sharp teeth make them fearsome predators.

While humans occasionally fall prey to crocodiles, a bigger threat is the Hippopotamus (a name given to them by the Ancient Greeks, meaning ‘River Horse’, despite the fact that their closest relatives are whales and porpoises). Hippos are generally considered one of the most dangerous creatures in Africa: they are very aggressive and can run faster than humans. It was reassuring that an AK-47 wielding park guard accompanied us along the river bank.

Park Guard at the Mara River, Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa
Park Guard at the Mara River, Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa
Crocodile in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Crocodile in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Hippopotamus in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Hippopotamus in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Hippopotamus with baby in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Hippopotamus with baby in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa

As we returned from the river, we came across some other giants of Africa. We had spotted a small band of elephants on our first day in the park, but after that they had been conspicuously avoiding us – difficult when you’re the size of an elephant. On our final drive we spotted a large herd of elephants. Pre-occupied watching them walking and eating with their young, we neglected to look behind us; when we did, this huge bull elephant had crept up on us and was only a few metres from the jeep.

Joseph quickly started the engine and moved a safe distance away – elephant behaviour can be unpredictable, and our small vehicle was no match for a 7000kg male elephant.

African Elephant in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
African Elephant in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
African Elephant in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
African Elephant in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
African Elephant in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
African Elephant in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
African Elephant in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
African Elephant in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa

Driving off towards the camp, we saw giraffes, hyenas, ostriches and many other animals amidst the sweeping vistas of the Maasai Mara.

Giraffe in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Giraffe in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Giraffe in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Giraffe in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Hyena in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Hyena in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Ostrich in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Ostrich in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Kori Bustard in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Kori Bustard in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa

This East African journey came to an end with a sublime sunset, bathing the landscape in a surreal and beautiful light…

Sunset over the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Sunset over the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Sunset over the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Sunset over the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Sunset over the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Sunset over the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa

10 thoughts on “A farewell, the glorious Maasai Mara

  1. Came across this old post. Nice. We have indeed walked the same paths…

  2. Hehe… while watching the sun go up were you also tempted to shout “NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANTS INGONYAAAAAAAMA BAGIIIITHI BABAAA!” ? I was. And I did.

  3. Thanks for sharing – dreaming of lions…

    1. Thank you. Lions are lovely, seen from a distance!

  4. I laughed to think of that bull elephant sneaking up on you, all ready to give you a trumpeting blast! Who is watching the watchers…. 🙂
    People say that Australia has some strange looking animals, but really, so has Africa!

    1. It was a stealth elephant! I have a mental image of it sneaking up on us a bit like Ellie, the Mammoth, in the Ice Age films.

  5. Beautiful shots, the colours are stunning.

    Your bird picture is a kori bustard – the worlds largest flying bird. They are really impressive.

    I remember freaking out in the serengeti driving past one at speed for the first time – I thought it was a strange lady like the ones from the dump in the film the labyrinth! Thought I was seeing things.

    1. Oops! I’ll correct that. Just googled Kori Bustard, fascinating: “The heaviest living animal capable of flight.” That’s some claim to fame.

      1. I’ve probably got a lot of my bird pictures mislabelled – so many species to learn

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