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Masai Mara


Masai men doing a traditional dance

While on a very bumpy road on our way to Masai Mara, we stopped at a Maasai village to meet the people and see their culture. They greeted us with a traditional jumping dance and women singing, although ours was basically just a show for tourists. Their houses were still built in a time-honored manner from cow dung. They were small and cramped, but surprisingly divided into separate rooms with interior walls. The spot inside for the baby calves seemed the biggest though.

The village had a scattering of huts, which were all occupied by one family. I was not quite sure though if that referred to a single patriarch, as polygamy is practiced by some Masai, or was more along the lines of a clan. For food, the villagers did not grow any crops, as wild animals would merely eat anything they tried to cultivate. They instead raised carefully guarded livestock for sustenance. A school built with modern materials was also in the settlement. The rooms were sparsely decorated, but still recognizable as to something with which I grew up. Most importantly the headmaster seemed very passionate about the school and its pupils. I was surprised to learn the kindergarteners were even being taught English.

Game Park

We stayed outside Masai Mara in a campground that included permanent tents with real beds inside, which I considered a great luxury. The next day was devoted entirely to exploring the park. I skipped the expensive hot air balloon ride in the morning and instead rode inside the truck. Immediately upon entering the park we met a plethora of animals that had almost become routine — zebras, buffalos, giraffes, gazelles, and impalas. We had hoped for more though and were not disappointed as large herds of elephants appeared. In the morning most were far away, but by the day’s end we also encountered some quite near the road. A few of the families were very large, including baby elephants just a few weeks old, still small enough to fit underneath their mothers.

Masai Mara National Reserve

Watching the animals was a joy.

Later we came across a whole pride of lions. The females and cubs first appeared nestled in the bushes, doing what cats do best — mainly sleeping. The cubs looked so cuddly, pawing at the plants and one even suckling its mother. A couple hundred meters later we found two males, also being very lazy under a tree. We continued to the rendezvous point with the hot air ballooners, encountering large groups of animals most of the way. Seeing the animals intermixed, with all different types in close proximity, was especially neat.

We finally arrived at Keekorok Lodge, a very fancy resort in the middle of Masai Mara. We gawked at the luxury and reunited with those who took the aerial excursion. In the back of the resort lagoons ideal for hippos had been built, and hippos had subsequently moved in. At least twenty were in the pond, floating in the water and occasionally quarrelling. Their large yawns, coming from already big mouths, were amazing. I could see the hippos atop these platforms better than in the boats on Lake Naivasha, but this spot had the feeling of a zoo, even if there were no fences.

We left the lodge for more game driving and had lunch in an open plain in the middle of Masai Mara. We headed out of the park basically the way we came in, seeing remarkable creatures the whole time.

Animals around Masai Mara

Elephant and baby
A hippo yawning
A lion cub suckling