Saturday, November 3, 2012

Nature Walk in Masai Mara

It started out quite innocently, as all good stories do. David suggested we might want to do something different today instead of a game drive. We had, after all, seen all of the big five, including the very elusive leopard. He suggested a possibility of going on a nature hike. That sounded good to us since we have been sitting in the van a LOT and hiking around sounded just right. David arranged with Joseph, one of the Maasai who works for the hotel to take us on a walk. This, however, was not the walk for all...

Joseph is great. As we walked along the road he regaled us with stories about his people, old ways of doing things and the move into the new way. We headed down towards the Talik River where he simply walked across the water. I bemoaned the fact that I had changed out of my water shoes and put on my boots but...across the river we went. We heard about some different herbs and plants - one that they drink a broth from the root of the tree and mix it with goat milk. They harvest sections from different trees so that the trees continue to live. They also dry the elephant dung and make a tea from it. I have to admit, I much prefer the paper the Sri Lankans make out of dung.

We got to see the coolest thing, a sheep had just dropped her calf as we came up. You could see it shaking its head back and forth, barely seen above the grass. Mother was in ultra protect mode, staring us down instantly. We walked a bit closer to see the calf that quickly jumped up, wobbled a few times, and then tottered off after his mother. It was amazing. We had seen a zebra with a new calf the day before but did not get to see it jump up and run away, something I'm sure it did shortly after we drove on.

We walked along a small stretch of the savannah, watching for animals...don't run if you see a lion...but we saw nothing but scattered dung from numerous sources. The sky, however, was progressively getting darker, with lightning periodically dancing across the swollen clouds. The storm was relentlessly dropping rain across the Serengeti and up into the Masai Mara...heading straight for us. We continued our walk, listening and watching the progress of the line of rain draw ever nearer. To tell the truth, I think Joseph wasn’t near as concerned as we were about the impending deluge.

We headed for the bridge that was being built across the river. Now, I knew exactly where it came out..right in front of the lodge. Just perfect. is under construction so we descended to the river, crossed it again, squelch, squelch, and continued along the river. Found a particular stretch that you had to smear a mud face to get across. I made it but Jeff's boots were soaked and he lost it. Then...we hit a dead end and had to backtrack. That was a drag because then the nice ledge that was there was gone and I just walked along the water to get across. Crossing the river again we wove our way up the terrain until we recognized our own tent where we scaled the hill, opened a hole in the fence (it actually was there in the morning when the gardener was working but someone had closed it up) and walked up to our front deck. We were just in time...the rain struck just as we walked across the deck.  It was fun, soggy and wet but not for everyone.

Market Day is a big day for the local people just north of Masai Mara. It only happens once a week so people put on their best clothes, select what they want to sell, and start walking towards the "big" village. 

We must have seen close to 100 people on the road, riding in trucks (packed with standing room only), driving cattle, or trying to hitch a ride. Found out the Maasai husbands and wives never travel together. They both go to the village, but they each go on their own. They go to shop for food and he handles the money but she is the only one who will carry it. 

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