I got game!

Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Where I stayed
Sanova Lodge

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

apologies, we were weekend and a couple of days without internet access, so the entries piled up! (the Editor)

Travel Blog, the Game Drives at Masai Mara, July 13-15

We arrived at the gate to Masai Mara Game Preserve, and while we were waiting had to fight off 5 or 6 Masai women, waving their crafts and wares at us, naturally all at "best price!" when they saw us Palefaces.  We managed finally to get through the gate and were whisked off to the lovely game lodge, where the guards/security staff took our luggage while we were registered.  They had the reservations as under my name:  Presbytery, Newton.  Well, it's all strange to them!  We were served complementary orange juice while we filled out the form with a proper name or two and passport numbers, then escorted to our “tents,” lovely platform slabs with tent side and flaps that zipped up or down, depending on the temperature, and at the end of each a great tiled bathroom, with shower and all the accessories.

Then we were off on our first of four “game drives,” in our vans – which are outfitted to have the top raised so we passengers could stand to see and “shoot” (with our cameras only of course!)  Our goal, set for us by our good driver Michael, was to capture all of the “Big Five” – elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard.  The drivers communicate with one another by CB radio connections, and seem to know the tracks off the road intimately, so that when any of the target animals was spotted, the rest of the vans on the preserve converged at a speed something like, as our grandson would see, like a bat out of H E Double Toothpicks!  And the roads were yet another of the unpaved and seriously rutted dirt and mud travel ways we experienced for the last portion of the way to Masai Mara (and again at some other locations!)

Quickly we encountered great herds of the zebra, buffalo and wilde beast populations, often grazing together, sometimes resident and sometimes in the long, single file migration mode!  Then several elephants, and, on a few occasions lions, often a pair of males together (without pride – their group of women folk – must have been ejected from the gang, we were told, and simply hung out together for company!), and finally, on maybe drive number three, a black rhino!  This was a first for Pat Nordman in all of her now six outings to Masai Mara with various groups from the Presbytery.  We were apparently close to the leopard, spotted by a couple of vans the evening of our third (Wednesday) drives, but by the time we were out on Thursday early before heading back to Nairobi, they had slipped away.  We had also apparently missed a cheetah taking down one of the gazelles – which was quickly surrounded by the rest of the safari vans still out such that the poor cheetah couldn’t even take her catch home with any dispatch or privacy!  We did see a cheetah, stalking through the lush grass, and our Michael said that could count for the leopard, but we think he was just trying to make us feel good.  We also saw the hippos in the river, which the year before had to be filled with water trucks by the wildlife service because of the severe drought!  Let’s see, several giraffes, some ostriches, including one male with his three women.

We had the adventure, too, of being called to help a stranded safari van, stuck in the deep mud of one of the crossings in the track, and after trying in vain to tow the van out, called in some reinforcements with another van in the area.  The folks turned out to be good Canadian neighbors from Alberta, who had completed their assignment of helping dedicate a church funded largely by their Baptist church back home, running a vacation bible school and some other projects and services and getting in their time at Masai Mara before heading back to Canada.  However it turned out that that was not to be our final meeting with our brothers and sisters from north of the border!  The next day their van broke down on the trail (fan belt out, limping along a few hundred feet before having to stop and cool the engine again!)  We loaded the Canadian crew in our van and got them back in time for breakfast, but their van wasn’t able to be repaired and the owner/operator had no back up, so they were having to stay most of the day before getting on their way, quite late, for the trip to Nairobi.  We shared a rousing Doxology together before we got them out of the mud the first time, and enjoyed some conversations with them about their work, promising to keep in touch!

I was able to log on at the lodge once and post a blog or two, but a bunch would be piling up before I would be able to get back on, with our itinerary packed tight!  So, that’s about it for the game drives, except that Michael had to get a couple of loose nuts tightened at the first repair shop outside the Preserve and left the window open so that we were once again besieged by about 6 or 8 desperate women (no, not housewives from NYC, but Masai women from the area!)  I finally stood firm with my offer – they wanted “best price” 300 shillings (Ksh), or two for 600 or three for 900!  The offered craft was a mask and a giraffe by each, seemed to be the overproduction of the day!  I said 250 Ksh, and after much haggling, finally one of them broke down and said, ok for 250.  Then of course every one was willing to sell for 250, but I only bought from the first to come to my price.  Hope the losers didn’t face a beating from their husband when they got back to the hut!
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