Africa or Bust 2013 - Part 7: Day 3 in the Mara

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I've fallen behind with my posts on this trip, I was hoping my schedule wouldn't be this crazy when I returned from Africa. But you know what they say about idle minds..... 

Our day began just before sunrise as we all met up at "the meeting" spot before loading into our Land Rovers. It was a crisp cool morning and today's hunt was for the elusive leopard and a big male lion. As we exited out of the back gate of camp we didn't have to go but a couple of hundred yards to see our favorite pride of cats.

 

Every morning a balloon tour would make it's way across the plains. It was neat watching them drift along peacefully knowing that if something went wrong the occupants might become a meal. We then spent a little time up and close with two of our favorite females that had gorged on the impala from the day before.

As we approached the low water crossing a herd of elephants trumpeted st us and their baby flexed it's muscles.

After we entered the Mara Triangle we got ourselves in a little bit of a traffic jam. It seems that when a lioness wants to walk down the middle of the road, all the other vehicles are at her mercy. We followed her for a couple of miles then broke off and checked out another herd of elephants. 

As we were checking out the elephants we got a call on the radio that a big male lion was making his way a cross the conservatory. The race was on! As we pulled up to the area where he was, he was just taking his sweet time strolling across the plain, and watching the other animals part like the red sea around him was awesome. Every eye in the conservatory was on him and it was completely clear why lions are called the king of the jungle. Purely majestic.

After spending some time with the big boy, and having him peer into our souls, we headed into the brush for a picnic breakfast along the Mara river. Omelets were made fresh and a full spread of assorted breakfast items were laid out along with a generous supply of Pick 'N Peel Tropical Mix. The juice was slowly taking a firm hold on my heart and was something I looked forward to almost as mush as a cold Tusker.  

 

Pano of our picnic site.

 The river behind our tables full of crocs and hippos.

The river behind our tables full of crocs and hippos.

 nom nom nom nom nom

nom nom nom nom nom

I want a house, on that bank right over there.

Afterwards we took another lap around the conservatory looking for the leopard before heading back for lunch.  

 This flower is called a Golden Shower. It made us giggle.

This flower is called a Golden Shower. It made us giggle.

 The Massai just walk around out here like it's no big deal that almost everything could eat you.

The Massai just walk around out here like it's no big deal that almost everything could eat you.

Lunch was a little exciting today because we found out that a couple of lions were roaming around the Bateleur side of our camp, and most of the people that had rooms over there were told to stay in the common area during lunch. The park rangers were keeping an eye on the lions and doing their best to figure out a way to get them out. Like I said before, the electric fence is there to deter animals from entering, not keep them out.

After lunch we headed back out and saw that our friendly pride also had something for lunch, or at least the liver from lunch was left behind. One of them was prowling close to our truck, this is just another example to those that didn't believe we were that close to something that could claw our face off. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying the conservatory and watching random animals graze. We did get to see another bone crushing giraffe fight and a water buffalo get it's nose cleaned by it's own personal groomer. Just before we headed back in for the evening we say a few hyenas toying with the only set of jackals we saw.  

That evening we got to use the super secret elite entrance through the electric fence by the pool. This is where I grabbed some shots of our not so protective shield.

That evening the lions still remained in the camp. We wren't allowed to roam around camp or leave the common area without an armed escort. The park rangers had done their best to keep the lions quarantined away from all of our tents, but they still were inside the fence and it was evening, so they were on the prowl. I really hoped to see one bust out of the undergrowth and pounce on one of the camp warthogs, but that wasn't the case. We heard the next morning that a warthog was sacrificed and drug outside the fences to lure the lions out for the night.

 

Next up Part 8: Our Wave Goodbye.