Before we entered the gate of the famous Masai Mara reserve in Kenya we had already seen bathing zebra and a pack of banded mongoose doing their best meerkat impersonations. The group new that a big day lay before them as we had planned to stay the entire day in the reserve. We brought our lunch and our adventurous attitudes and before we knew it we were right in the thick of things.
The term 'mara' to the maasai people means spotted. And as we looked over the vast savannas of the Masai Mara we could understand what prompted the name of this place. Lone acacia trees spotted the plains like dark dots. Herds of elephants and smaller creatures ambled off in the distance. But before long something much closer caught our eye.
Numerous vultures perched in the low acacia trees brought us to the sight of our first kill. A female lion was guarding and mawing at a slain buffalo. She seemed pretty full but not yet willing to give the meal up for good. After about ten minutes she finally trotted off into the nearby trees. It only took seconds for all of the vultures to descend upon the free meal. They fought and squawked at each other. A few maribu storks also joined in the fray.
Not to far away we came across two more lions. These two were ambling from shade to shade...which included the shade made by these safari vehicles. We all got a very close look at these two lions.
I was hoping to catch the tail end of the great migration, although October can be a bit late for that here in the Mara. I was pretty excited to see a long, long line of wildebeests heading South. We didn't find any big groups near the river, which is where the migration can get really exciting, but we did have some elephants and hippos playing in the water.
As we explored we came across more lions, some hyena, a cute pair of black back jackals, and tons of hoofstock. We found the bulk of the wildebeest, zebra, and topi hanging out in the very green grass past the Serena lodge. This is where we found one of the best picnic spots you could ever ask for. We ate our lunch under one of the lone acacia trees with the migrating wildebeest and zebra as far as we could see.
Back in the car we saw a couple of beautiful male lions. The big manes instantly gave them away. I was most impressed by the fact that James spotted these two lions while driving and talking on a cell phone.
We had an amazing first day in the Mara and were excited to come back tomorrow. Stay tuned for the culmination of our trip in the next post.