My Masai Mara Safari, with Tanguila Mara
An African safari has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, there's just something about being able to see wildlife in their natural habitat along with spectacular scenery that appealed to me, it was definitely a unique and unforgettable experience.
The Masai Mara, Mara meaning "spotted" in the local Masai language, is one of Africa’s top wildlife destinations and Kenya’s flagship conservation area, bordering Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. It is a photographer and animals lover's dream, with an abundance of elephant, zebra, giraffe, lion and cheetah alongside the wildebeest and buffalo. Leopards are frequently seen, large bloats of hippo and crocodiles in the Mara River. Not forgetting my favourite, the warthog who run away from lions to forget why they’re running and stop 20 seconds later! For bird lovers the park is also home to over 450 bird species.
We flew into Nairobi, and was picked up ready for our bumpy 6.5 hour drive to the Masai Mara. We unfortunately ended up travelling at the end of a heavy spout of rain and the road had completely collapsed, which led to even more traffic. Our driver had kindly arranged for someone else to collect us the other side of the ‘hole’ once we had walked around it ourselves. There is an option to fly directly from Nairobi to one of the airstrips surrounding the reserve depending on where you choose to stay.
completely collapsed road
We booked our three night stay at Tangulia Mara, the camp of Jackson Looseyia, one of the renowned guides from BBC Big Cat Diaries. We were welcomed here after our long drive and shown around the camp. There are only six tents for a more intimate and personal stay and after giving us some rules around staying on the camp (not walking around in the dark alone due to wandering animals!) we were able to get into our tents and change.
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Most of our drives were in the Masai Mara National Reserve, and we then spent one day in the Mara Triangle which is located in the southwestern part of Maasai Mara, it was here we managed to spot the shy white rhino!
We went on two game drives each day, early morning, which we were prepped with a hot drink in a flask and biscuits. After arriving back, we were given cold flannels before being served lunch. We then set out for our afternoon game drive and returned in time to wash and change ready for dinner.
On our last day we had an extra evening game drive where we managed to spot the cheetah, props to our guide as this cheetah happened to be stalking his prey and was on the move, fast!
Cheetah stalking his prey
I'd read so much about the Masai Mara and other traveller’s experiences before going myself, so getting ready for our first game drive I had high expectations. However, I soon realised that the key to having the best experience is to start the day with no expectations and embrace what Mother Nature provides, that being said, I was not let down!
I had read that there were large numbers of elephants to encounter, but I didn’t expect to see them in such big herds on every game drive. There is nothing more exhilarating than seeing a herd of 40 elephants walking across the savannah towards your truck, gliding silently through the tall grass, calves in tow. Watching them socialise, graze and the calves learning to use their trunk is a favourite memory!
Baby Elephant with mum in Masai Mara
Baby elephant learning how to use trunk
Before visiting Africa, I had never seen a lion up close, but seeing them in the wild you can see why they are called King of the Jungle, they are certainly very majestic animals. After seeing a number of lions and lioness’, snoozing under the shade of a tree or hunting their next prey we were greeted on our second day with a lioness and her three cubs! They were the most inquisitive little cubs, crawling up to the truck after having a feed from mum.
After our long drive back to Nairobi, we visited the Giraffe Centre, their mission is to enhance resilience in sustainable environmental conservation and education. You are given handfuls of food to feed to the giraffe, although be careful, they will headbutt if you get too close if they have to wait too long for it! Suppose not many people can say they’ve been headbutted by a giraffe, one to tick of the list! We also went to one of the lectures held that they hold regularly throughout the day, giving information between the differences in nine species of giraffe, three of which are found in Kenya. In hindsight, I would have visited here before travelling up to Masai Mara so I could have used my new found knowledge on which species of giraffe I spotted!