My morning began at 5:30am in a tent, in the Masai Mara, in Africa. I laid there in bed for a few minutes soaking in my surroundings and listening to the pre-dawn ambience of insects and animals that make up this part of the world. Those few minutes might have been some of the most tranquil minutes of my life.
After getting ready, I headed down to the bar which was our meeting spot in the mornings before we headed to our truck, and I made my daily facetime call home. 5am in Kenya is 9pm in Fort Worth, so that worked out great.
Before long we were all gathered together, jumped in our Land Rovers and headed out, but we didn't make it far. Shortly after pulling out of the gate to our camp we rounded the bend only to have the road blocked by the pride we had been with the night before. Lion bodies strung out all over the road, we weren't going any where for a while.
After a little while we mowed down a little bit of the brush and drove around the pride. They clearly needed their beauty sleep.
We entered the park and started making our way towards the southern end, our mission this morning was to visit the hippo pool.
We arrived at the hippo pool around 10am and I was surprised to find out that this one of the few areas we could get out and walk around. So naturally, me and the guys grabbed a beer and shot some photos of hippos.
After the main hippo pool we drove a little further south to another pool that had crocodiles, hippos, and Africa's most deadly creature of all, tourists!
We continued making our way south for a little bit before turning back towards camp for lunch. We did encounter a couple of lions from another pride, a few elephants, impala, roan antelope, and topi.
When we return for lunch at our camp I took a few pics of the walkway to our tent. We were escorted by guards at night, and on our final night this walk would be quite an adventure, but more on that a little later. Also is a pic of our friendly tree hyrax we passed every night with her babies.
After lunch we headed back out and heard that a couple of lions had made a kill close to camp. As it turned out it was 2 from the big pride and they had taken down an impala. We pulled up on them to see them ripping and tearing away, but also keeping a third lion at bay that was trying to squeeze in on their kill.
There are a few things I will never forget in my life, and hearing the sound of a lion crunching through the rib cage of an impala is now added to that list. The following images aren't for the faint of heart, or for those that hate flies. Thousands of flies.
I thought our picnics back home attracted a lot of flies, thousands of flies emerged from the carcass every time the lions moved or tugged hard on it. This was seeing nature raw and in action. We might not have seen the kill, but watching the feeding was fascinating.
We continued our way out into the conservatory plains and noticed that the weather was starting to make a change. The skies were getting darker and rain was starting to appear on the horizon, but we trucked on towards the Mara River.
Today appeared to be the day of feeding in the Mara. As we approached the river area we saw a couple of other safari trucks grouped up around a clump of trees. The cheetahs were together in the shade feeding upon an impala they had hunted down.
Every year from the months of July - November the Great Migration takes place from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara, a 500 mile trek. According to wikipedia, "The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving some 1,300,000 wildebeests, 500,000 Thomson's gazelles, 97,000 topi, 18,000 elands, and 200,000 zebras. Some 250,000 wildebeest die during the journey from Tanzania to Maasai Mara. Death is usually from thirst, hunger, exhaustion, or other predators."
It's an event that attracts people from all over the world to see. Animals in mass and crossing numerous rivers along the way, one of those being the Mara River. The time we were visiting the Mara was still a little too early for a real crossing, but we did see a few wildebeests cross and the crocodiles chase them across. Once again our truck was full of gasps and chants of a death, but the wildebeests made it across without incident.
The rain really started coming down so we made our way back to camp. As we got close we came across the large pride chilling amongst the grass, which happened to be only about 100 yards from mine and Shelby's tent. I didn't realize that at the time, but when I started thinking about the locations in my head at dinner, I quickly looked up our location on google maps and saw that they were that close.
Halfway through our time in the Mara and I was seriously on sensory overload. Tomorrow we were going to cross paths with one of the large male lions, and my brain was going to explode!
Up next, Part 7: The Mara and the Big Boy.