hippos did wake us in the night, they are noisy brutish neighbors, grunting and
roaring back and forth to keep track of where everyone is in the darkness. In
the morning we found tracks of at least one hippo only 20 feet from our tent!
We had a blissful day, with a morning game drive leaving
just before dawn but just after coffee.
The sun rose over the plains dotted
with thousands of animals. Our driver, James is very knowledgeable and kind. I
have the chance to visit a game park somewhere for a day or two every few
years, but this was the first time since 2000 that Marjolaine was able to visit
the Mara area and she is thrilled.
James brought our breakfast in a cooler and about 9:30 found
a spot on a hill with good visibility all around (so no predators could sneak
up on us) and spread breakfast out on the ground: fresh fruit, boiled eggs,
toast and butter, beef sausages, and coffee! It’s a particular thrill to stand
on the savannah and feel fully immersed in this nature.
After breakfast we made
our way back to the camp where a guard carrying a 30.06 knocked on our tent
soon after we arrived back. He was there to take us on a walk outside the camp.
This is also a joy, to walk out among the animals. There is
also the thrilling whiff of danger to walk where lions and leopards hunt and
where hyenas, with their crushing jaws, scavenge pitilessly.
We could meet an
elephant or a cape buffalo, and there are plenty of hippos around, the latter
two especially dangerous to people. We walked out several miles, seeing many
Thompson gazelles and impala, and walking up to a herd of giraffes. The ranger
did not walk us straight at them, but had us approach obliquely, a less
threatening manner, and so we were able to get quite close.
After lunch we rested a few hours before heading out at 4:00
for the afternoon drive. Again we saw hundreds if not thousands of animals
including a pride of lions finishing up a recent kill. There were young cubs
which are always a delight to watch. They are cute and cuddly and they play
lion games, stalking each other clumsily, chewing on mom’s ear, climbing up her
back and falling down the other side, all of which she takes patiently.
We also came on a cheetah eating a fresh kill, a baby
warthog, James told us. A sad thought for the pumbas
, but necessary for the duma
(you just learned some Kiswahili…).
We’ll head to bed early again tonight, we’re still trying to
catch up on sleep after short hours and jet-lag.