Saturday, November 3, 2012

Masai Mara Camp

From there we returned to the numbing trip to Masai Mara. Fortunately, there were some incredible scenery changes along the way. We passed through hills with scrub trees, vast, dry grasslands, areas where the cactus dominated, scrub brush, and more. It seemed like they couldn't make up their mind what they wanted so they just tried out everything. Finally we reached the top of the Serengeti, the section located in Kenya, given the name Masai Mara. 

The camp we would be staying in was at a different park entry point, much further west, so rather than driving around the park we put up the top and went on safari wending our way through the park. We saw many of the same animals we'd been seeing, zebra, elephant, and giraffe but we also saw a second kind of wildebeest, the common wildebeest (lighter color and thicker beard...I've become such a expert..huh!). David was quite surprised to see so many wildebeest in the area. Apparently they had already migrated to the southern Serengeti in Tanzania but when the rain came here, thousands returned.

Since it has begun raining in the area, there are also quite a few babies appearing. Many of the animals will hold onto a baby until the rains come, guaranteeing more food to nurture both mother and child. There was the reminder of the life cycle that never leaves this of the birds we saw was a vulture perched up high in a tree, scanning the horizon for carrion to feed on. They watch the activities of the predators so that they can move in when the big animals leave. Actually, it was one of the prettiest vultures I'd seen with striking grey and white feathers. More on these guys later....

I'll admit it, my idea of a camp just outside the gate and David' do not match. We left the reserve to head for our camp just as darkness settled in. We entered the camp town that has built up to support the workers (they generally stay for a few months before returning home for a short break) and to provide food, gas, etc., for the camps that surround the reserve. Very smartly the Kenyan government decided to stop allowing permanent buildings in the reserve itself so there are only the original three within the boundary. All the rest of the tourist facilities had to be built outside. Back to the camp town...we drove towards it, we traveled along the edge, the boundary to the park, and we drove and we drove. It was probably only 2k but it seemed like 5. It's another tented camp, this one a bit more rustic than the last one but I'll admit I kinda like it better. We still have all of the amenities including bed, shower and bath-but no hot water bottle. I stood outside on our front deck, scanning the savanna grasslands in front, listening to the lion roar and watching the bats dancing around, devouring those pesky bugs. One bat flitted just by my legs, in pursuit of a tasty morsel.

This tented camp seems to cater to Indian groups, my guess because there are many Indians here and also because they have hired one cook who just specializes in preparing the Indian vegetarian dishes. It was wonderful to have such a selection. Sadly, there wasn't much else (and breakfast and box lunches were quite limited) but I was able to fill up on the great curries. This hotel is also making a name in supporting the local Maasai people. The Maasai work to keep up their traditions and way of life but there are also those who are trying to work with progress. Some of their leaders have made it a point to get an education and many of the children are attending school. It is mandated by the Kenyan government but not all children go. Many of the young Maasai people we met at the hotel are walking the line between the traditional way of Maasai life and the changes they encounter as they work with others.

What a luxury to sleep in. I actually can't believe that at 7:00 Jeff was waking me up. I never sleep in like that. We were going to do a full day drive so we were not leaving until 8:00 so it was luxurious not to hurry out. Once again we jumped into the van in safari mode, top up, cameras and binoculars out and eyes peeled for anything.

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