Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Day 91 – 5.7.2011 Vultures, kings of the great migration

At 5:30 we drive to the gate and the ranger is so surprised, that he only takes the money and let us enter. That was the plan. The balloon pilots are also on their way. We watch the rising of the balloons over the Masai Mara. What a sighting!

A few kilometers behind the gate, we discover the 7 Cheetahs, we have them for ourselves, they are on the hunt. I take some quick pictures, before they disappear over a slope. Mr. National Geographic comes to the scene, as we try to follow them, he doesn’t believe his eyes when he sees our pictures and follows us, but the area is shrubland and the beautiful cats can be anywhere. We don’t find them, for the moment.

We discover a hyena den, 11 of the unloved robbers (I like them!) are catching the first sunlight, they all have fat bellies, no wonder, with that meat supply. What interesting animals.

The first bunch of minibuses brings us a to another cheetah, a single, strong female is surrounded by them, the photogenic lady lolls on a termite mound. We meet Mr. National Geographic again, we chat a little bit, the Maasai spotter is only an observer, the photographers team is yet to come. On that sighting we see the first and last time in Kenya a real guide, that explaines something, he talks about the differences between leopard and cheetah in appearance, behavior and hunting to its passengers. With patience he answers the kids questions more than half an hour. Unfortunatly we did not note the companies name. Estimated 100 Safari Companies we have seen now, they do not have guides on board, but mini-bus drivers, they race from sighting to sigthing, encircling the animals and continue racing after 3 or 4 minutes.

We turn to another round, leave the wonderful cheetah to find lots of raptors, vultures, elephants (yes, there are some elephants still hanging around in the Mara), and then we scare a young male lion, he is carrying a wildebeest carcasse into the bush, with fear in his eyes. He pulls the heavy prey over the road and quickly down the slope to the safety of the bush. Hes still very young, but surely had some bad experience with vehicles.

Back to our cheetah, which has since moved to a shady thicket, an Overlander truck with young and old guests comes along, how can you do such a trip in such a truck in that age? Some of them are surely over 60? Let's get out here, we break for lunch, eat once again under a tree (one can get used to that, really), then we are looking for a place for a break, away from the masses. We find a bush, where a lioness has hidden two cubs. We stay there for an hour, these cubs are so charming. In the next bush, 50 meters away, the mother lies with another kitten, this is another of those huge, really HUGE old Mara lionesses. After we had a nap next to her little ones, we drive towards her, not a meter away, she looks us directly into the window. WOW. 

We eventually are exhausted and head towards the gate, vultures have catched a wildebeest calf, that must have happened a few minutes ago, a predator is not in sight. At the gate we get our permit. Back at the Aruba Mara Camp we manage cooking, before it starts to rain, it pours for more than an hour and we are not sure whether we should really go back into the park next day. We don’t think so. Last time after such a rainy night it was so slippery we could only use the main road. We’ll see!

84 km, 12 hrs, 31°, sunny
900 KSH in Aruba Mara Camp, Talek, Masai Mara
Park fees $ 160 U.S., 400 KSH for the car

Tags: Aruba Mara Camp, Talek, Wildebeest Migration, National Geographic, Cheetah, Hyena, Lion, Masai Mara 

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