Safari - Masai Mara National Park

Trip Start Nov 03, 2011
Trip End Dec 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Acacia Camp
What I did
Masai Mara National Park

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Friday, November 18, 2011

This was an early morning.  Juliet got up at 4 am for her balloon ride.  I wished her well and went back to sleep.  I woke up and felt it was time to get ready and went to help Endry.  I think I only succeeded in getting in his way...but I did dice vegetables for lunch pasta salad.  Christine joined me.  Oh, I can hear the Maasai cattle bells ringing as they bring their herds back to their village....or vice versa.  This is one of the features that I love about this place - the sounds of the bells.  Driving through the Rift Valley you see so many herds of livestock with the red-cloaked herdsmen.  Those red cloaks are so emblematic of the Maasai region.

So at 6:30, the 9 or 10 of us who didn't go ballooning went on a game drive in the truck.  We saw quite a few things:
-helmeted guinea fowl
-topi and hartebeest
-crested hornbill ??

We were stunned when our driver Jamo flew through the grassy plain (in a joltingly manner) to a place where a dozen 4x4s were congregated and we saw the CHEETAH with her two adolescent cubs.  We were ready to declare them "babies" because a cheetah and baby cheetahs were on today's wish list- Roni especially wanted the baby cheetahs.  We then motored on to a leopard in a tree with its kill.  We were feeling that we had seen all there was to see - except a lion, of course.  We went back to collect the balloon people and brought them back to the leopard with its kill in the tree.

Oh, we almost got stuck in the mud before collecting the balloonists but Jamo got us out.  A very skilled driver is Jamo.  I also should mention that we were not thrilled about leaving all this excitement to pick up the balloon people.  Some of us decided to be coy and pretend we didn't see much of anything and THEN spring on them the wonders that they missed!

We were again so lucky because not only did we see a cheetah with adolescents, we saw a cheetah with real babies!  At first we thought it was just a solo cheetah and then out popped two fuzzy cubs.  They walked over to a water hole for a drink and then went off into the grass.  This was another instance of prolonged breath-holding while I watched and tried to take photos at the same time.  After all the other cats, we finally managed to see some lions.  There was a pride of lions with quite a few younger males and they mostly rested.  After that, people were ready for beer but we went to a river where a park ranger showed us hippos and crocs.  By the time we went over all the bumpy roads back to Camp Acacia, it was 5 pm or thereabouts.  It had been an incredibly exciting day - seeing all those big (and littler) cats!

Endry prepared a fantastic last dinner with goat and lots of veggies and roasted potatoes.  The crew all gave thank-you speeches and we followed in turn.  Another night in the platform tents...Juliet and I looked up at the stars and tried to find a familiar constellation, but couldn't make out the Southern Cross.  I think someone might have said that we were too far north.

A note about the photos again...I probably should be more selective since I have loaded way too many photos on to this blog entry.  So many, in fact, that the uploading software has balked and refuses to keep them in the order I put them.  I have gone back again and again to resort them in the order I want, but to no avail.  So incrementally I have gotten it almost there but cannot face sorting those teeny thumbprints again.  The other problem is that each moment watching the animals ... except for the lions who don't do all that much sometimes....brings a new image and each one seems so special that I have trouble giving any of them up.  As you look at them, you can probably pick the ones that should be deleted better than I.  So sorry....

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