A unique day in Maasai Mara National Reserve started from the early morning with amazing views of the park and the animals.
After the yesterday’s safari our goal today was to look for the famous members of the Big Five – buffalo, elephant, lion, rhino and cheetahs. Not long after we had driven off we were notified by the radio that there had been lions spotted near us. Tony (our guide and driver) stepped on the pedal the moment he heard it. It was worth it – we saw a pride of about 20 lions. It was an unique picture – so many and so close to us.
We continued grinning and optimistic about our hunt today. It didn’t take long for us to see a group of buffaloes. It turned out they were a lot and could be seen often. We saw many elephants with their babies but we didn’t spare them much attention because Tony said the Amboseli Reserve is a paradise for them and there are a lot.
As we are cruising slowly through the wide green expanse, surrounded by herds of gazelles, impalas, buffalos, elephants, Tony suddenly decides to start driving like crazy. It was obvious it wasn’t accidental, the talk on the radio, in Swahili, was getting erratic. And so it was. We were one of the first to see a family of cheetahs. They are beautiful kittens who can go from 0 to 115 km/h in 4 sec. A gazelle came by but they must have not been hungry and we didn’t have the opportunity to take pictures of a hunt.
Seconds of driving later we came to a small river with dozens of hippopotami. They were very hot and wouldn’t come out of the water.
As we are driving through the reserve, Tony starts shouting “Rhino, rhino, do you see it, you are lucky, it is hard to spot one this time of the year.” He took a shortcut to get nearer to it. However we got stuck in the mud and the van couldn’t move. He called through the radio for help and within minutes another safari van came to our rescue.
We got the rhino after all.
We gave directions to the other groups how to get to the rhino and went off to look for a male lion, the king. We had success – no more than 5 min. later we found a male and a female. The female had a gash on her muzzle. She must have been in a fight, therefore we went looking for the pray and more lions. Our logic was correct – several meters away there were three lions a half-eaten buffalo, vultures and a small jackal waiting in a bush for his turn to eat from the meat.
This was followed by half on hour of driving around and meeting many animals and inspiring views. The best was yet to come – a picnic in the savanna. A lonely tree, the food and us. Tony joked that there was a cheetah around and he’d have to guard us, but we didn’t believe him.
By irony of fate, exactly after we finished our lunch we went looking for a cheetah. We arrived at the top of a hill where the big cat had been spotted that morning. We weren’t in luck, it was gone. We started descending, desperately looking at the trees in hopes of spotting it. And there he was, our beautiful boy. There was no way to approach him because of the bad terrain, but we saw him clearly and managed to take a picture.
We were grinning like jackals with meat and satisfied by the fact that we managed to see the Big Five in a day, when we saw the secretary bird. Also, some kind of monkeys.
Then we headed for the village of the Maasai people in order to visit them and learn more about their way of living.
They are close to nature and have a solution to everything, including the heat.
Their houses are made from the feces of the cattle. They are built by the women, who also take care of the children, cook, wash and take care of the cattle. The men have the most important role- they protect the village. They sit in the shade and guard and during the night they let the dogs out. The village is also protected by wicker fencing (again made by the women). The men wear bright colors to scare the wild animals away. They showed us how they light a fire every morning and carry it from house to house. The houses themselves deteriorate after 8 years because of termites. The Maasai have to leave their village and build a new one every 8 years.
They showed us their traditional dance with a lot of jumping, they even let us dance with them. The idea behind the jumping is this – the higher you jump, the less you are going to pay when getting married.
The best part of the visit was saved for the last – a meeting with the kids of the tribe. They had a lot of flies on their faces and bodies, wore battered clothes. They were half naked, but happy and smiling, and playful. When they see their picture on the screen of the camera, you are sure to receive a priceless smile.
It was time to get back, get a little rest and a rich dinner with a show, it is Christmas Eve after all.
Happy holidays with the magic of traveling!
This article was brought to you in English by Marta Petrova.
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