We woke up bright and early for breakfast the next day. It was delicious, and from this meal on they were all included with our tour. We drank delicious juice and enjoyed our breakfast until about 7, when we checked out and met with our tour coordinator, Seth. We paid him and then we went over the itinerary before driving us to the Safari company. Here, we met with the other people who were joining our game drive. It was a total of 8 of us in the van, and before long we were on our way to the Masai Mara. It was a long trip but obviously so worth it. Along the way we stopped by a Rift Valley viewpoint that was pretty incredible. The weather was clear and we could see super far. Also- there were some rock hyraxes chillin which were super cute. David’s fun fact is that they are the closest living relative to the elephant, despite looking completely different.
We stopped for lunch along the way, and since the budget price of the Safari I had very low expectations. Fortunately, I was blown away by this buffet lunch. It was full of amazing Kenyan food, and it was perfect for vegetarians! I ate delicious lentils, a cabbage and carrot mix, sautéed spinach, noodles, veggie rice, and chapati (sorry these all have Kenyan names but I don’t know them). We all sat together and chatted for lunch. Afterwards we took a look at the shop outside, and then were back on the road before long.
We continued our drive, and I tried to stay awake to enjoy the views. We passed by little villages with colorful shop fronts, and herds of goats, sheep, and cattle which would cross the road in 100s in front of our car. I love the bright and colorful fabrics warn by the locals as well. I even liked looking at the landscapes, with trees and bushes we would pass the occasional zebra, giraffe, or antelope. For some reason I thought the drive from Nairobi to the Masai Mara would be straight forward on a paved road, but nope it was a few hours on a paved road and then hours of adventuring on tiny dirt paths through the Maasai villages. It was actually a really nice car ride, and I love seeing the locals in their everyday setting. They live so differently than Me, but they are also so kind, happy, and full of life. It’s really refreshing to see actually. It makes me realize that most things I worry about don’t really matter, and for some reason I find this very calming.
Eventually, around 4 pm we arrived to our accommodation. Again, had very low expectations yet was also seriously impressed. They called it “camping” in the description but it was actually a more permanent set up with showers and toilets in each tent, as well as one double bed and two single beds, so David and I had plenty of space. Each bed also had a mosquito net which was good, because there were some Spiders crawling around. We all enjoyed some coffee/hot chocolate and popcorn before our first game drive in the Masai Mara! Our camp was located literally right outside the national park, so we had a very quick drive to the gate. Pretty much as soon as we entered we saw tons of animals in the grassy plains. There were so many wildebeest, as well as zebras, giraffes, and small antelopes. After driving for around 15 minutes we came across three beautiful lions resting. They seemed to not care at all about us being there. We got so close, maybe 15 feet away. I brought my camera with a huge zoom lens so I was able to take some pretty awesome photos. There were two females and one young male, and they were just staring at us and hanging out. I had heard that the Masai Mara is the place to go to see lions and other cats, but I was so surprised that we found them in only 15 minutes. Also- since it was low season there weren’t that many vehicles, which was super nice. We continued on our way and saw so many buffalo- which are one of David’s favorite animals. Buffalos are massive, and although they are grazers (feeding on grass) they are extremely aggressive. Apparently buffalo and hippos are more dangerous than lions/cheetahs/leopards. They have been known to kill lion cubs and also have an incredible sense of smell, which helps them avoid predators. There were so many buffalos, like 100s in one spot, which was super cool because when we did our last Safari in South Africa, we didn’t see any. We also came across some elephants, which meant in the first hour we had already seen 3/5 of the “big five”. This includes lions, buffalo, elephants, leopards, and rhinos. After the elephants, we found two amazing cheetahs. They were brothers and were just resting and hanging out, not too concerned about our presence. We got very close to them, and took some amazing shots. Cheetahs are the fasted land animal, and are pretty awesome. They don’t have a super powerful jaw so they often use their limbs to choke an animal and bring it down. They also don’t have retractable claws, so they’re always Out. This helps them run fast. Also their tail is very long for balance while they’re running. It only takes a few seconds for them to run at full speed. After the cheetah, our driver/guide Geoffrey managed to find us more lions! This time they were males with incredible manes. They were snoozing on top of a rock and hardly looked up when our car came close. We enjoyed a lovely sunset as we drove back to the gate. In the Masai Mara, the gate closes at 6:30 so there’s not night game drives. Dinner was at 7 and it was another delicious buffet. It was Kenyan food so some sort of noodle dish, green beans, potatoes, cabbage, and some super fresh pineapple and watermelon. After dinner we chatted with the group and had some beer, than showered and watched an episode of Netflix before snoozing. 5:30 wakeup the next day for a full day in the Masai Mara!