This morning was our earliest start to the day yet, with a 430 am wake up to catch a long awaited balloon ride over the Mara. Unfortunately plans can change when relying so heavily on nature and due to the high winds this morning we were unable to take off! A rare incident, however unavoidable on this occasion. Safety always comes first!
Since we were up early we continued on our game drive with Timothy, looking for the more than usually elusive mara giraffe. We had spotted the odd mara giraffe from afar, however it was time to focus on this animal up close and find the feature differences to the Reticulated and Rothschild Giraffe previously sighted. There are much fewer trees in the Mara for them to munch on and in the evenings they would make their way to the comfort of the trees and back to the plains in the morning. Today we had no trouble finding them and we found a “tower” of 21 giraffes! 2 teenage males were practising ‘necking’ the art of giraffe fighting which can sometimes end in death!
After this final game drive in the mara triangle and saying goodbye to Timothy we were delivered to Little Governors where we took their “ferry” boat across the Mara river over to main Governors camp. Not quite like the wildebeest crossing, however an experience none the less! Especially in the rain.
Once we’d checked in and had a wonderful three course lunch at camp it was time to see the other Governors’ properties, game driving along the way of course. This was our first day of rain and everything was a little greener because of it. The dust had settled and the wildebeest were running around with delight. On this side of the river the wildebeest were plentiful! To us they looked abundant across the plains – we can only imagine what 1.5 million of them in September brings to the same area.
While at Il Moran camp, we bumped into a couple of Brian and Dee Keating’s friends from Australia, what a small world! An Antarctic expedition leader, it made perfect sense as to how they knew each other.
Our afternoon game drive took us to see two sister lions playing with each other. Lots of snuggles, playful slaps across the face and the odd pounce while the other one was napping! A little while later a big male lion, (one of the known 6 warrior males of the area) came over to greet the ladies and they approved, he was poa (cool) and could stick around. These same lions reside right by the camp grounds, only metres from the manager’s house. they had hidden their cubs in the thick of the foliage, only weeks old. They would greet all the guests as they set out for a morning drive right by the gate!
Duncan our new guide for this side of the Mara was keen to show us something new. While the rain slowly dampened the dirt, we watched on as a hyena family gathered outside their den also enjoying the cooler weather – a multi generational family of 15, the usual size. Who would have thought the babies could be so cute! At this age appearing black in colour and yet to adopt their spots! We watched them ponder about for an hour learning their behaviour and interacting with eachother. Playing and resting at the same time, depending on their age. The (matriarch) always patrolling the grounds, fascinating and hilarious creatures. As the nature book goes, known as ‘the land cleaner’, it is the 4th animal in line to feed after a lion kill, second is the jackel, third the vulture, and finally leaving only the bones and skin for the hyena.
Tonight we fell asleep to the wonderful sounds of the rain pattering on our tent, the hippos talking and roars of the lion as we were located ideally right by the river.
How does each day bring such reward? Because this is absorbing yourself in nature. Thanks again Africa, time is running short!