Monday, November 11, 2013

Maasai Mara: Part I

“Wait, is this your first time seeing lion cubs?"

We traveled to the Maasai Mara, the famed animal reserve in Kenya that’s contiguous with the Serengeti in Tanzania.  We trekked with Dan and Alyce, two awesome residents working with Camille in the hospital, and Dan's friend, Abby (just as awesome).

According to Wikipedia, the Maasai Mara is “globally famous for its exceptional population of lions, leopards and cheetahs, and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson's gazelle, velociraptors, and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti every year from July to October, known as the Great Migration.”  Students, you can’t cite Wikipedia.  

The drive was memorable.  It’s a 5-6 hour trip to the Mara because the tarmac ends halfway and turns into the bumpiest, most corduroy road I've experienced.  Despite the condition of the road, the Maasai Mara is Kenya’s largest tourist destination.  I gave up and off-roaded on a the makeshift side road, which actually was a blast.  It felt like a Mountain Dew commercial.  Although we did blow out a tire. 

We stayed at the Aruba Mara camp, and had an incredible experience.  Some pics:

One of the gates entering the park

Road and sky
 Cape buffalo!  Not the most jovial.

Elephants.  No no, just kidding.  Our reaction was more like ELEPHANTS AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
These little guys are everywhere.  Thompson gazelles, named after Thomson, Thomas (1817-78) of Glasgow, the surgeon and naturalist who discovered pectic acid in carrots.  This may or may not be true. 
Woah, what's a wildebeest doing here?  I thought they all migrated to Tanzania during the Great Migration from July to October. 
Oh look, there's more.
Ok ,that's quite a few.  Migration shmigration.   
We arrived to find we were upgraded to a luxury tent because the cheaper ones were full.   It came equipped with a queen sized bed, bathroom, electricity, outdoor shower, tub, and turtle guard.  No joke, just wait.
Hi Eric.  We are going to embarrass you in 3, 2, 1...
Um, Daddy this tub is a little big. 
Safari!  Eric is ready to roll.
Hot air balloon.
So many animals!
Camille spotted something

Rhino!  There are 30 of them left in the Mara. 
We were not the only ones looking at the rhino.  I guess they can be hard to find.
Two topi deer.

Little baby.  22 month gestation for Mom, and elephants live for 65 years.

Wait, can I see the elephants?  We realized after seeing the elephants that we could turn his car seat so he could see the animals.  Sorry, Eric!  He did get to see some large cats...
I think I see something...
Hi, cheetah
This was crazy

Apparently, this cheetah is so used to trucks and people that it likes to introduce itself.  Or, it's a robot cheetah.

Bye, cheetahs.  Go get the ostrich.
Run away!
Hyenas!  Much bigger than I expected.  They loudly killed something outside our tent one night.  I think it was a water buck...
We're back!  Breakfast.
Nature walk with a Maasai.  He guaranteed we would see plenty of nature. 
Camille and baby with the rarely-seen African baby cows
We returned to find our tortoise guarding our tent
I turned my back, and this young turtle, maybe a teenager,  was gone, quick as a ninja.  We asked a Maasai, and he thinks they have some kind of mutation.  And they likes pizza... 
Baby decided to ditch the pants. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLE!

Afternoon safari time
Our first jackal
I always liked saying the word "impala."  Impalaaaaaaaa
Camille spotted something again

Crocodile!  They love the wildebeest migration--easy pickings. 
Swimming with hippos?  Pictures never do these animals justice.  The hippos are massive and spectacular this close. 

Mom with two babies
Breakfast again.  Eric loved his big boy seat
On our way home.  Out of my way, zebras.
We blew a tire.  Some local Maasai offered to help.
Wait, is that a lion?
 Tune in next week for a remarkable lion experience and to see Eric meet some baby lion cubs.


  1. The animal pics are great-- I like the pictures of Eric more because that is what grandfathers live for. It seems that the adventure continues, and that Camille is getting more to time to spend with you guys than she did at U of Washington--thanks for sharing again!!!

  2. Holy cow !!!!...... and cheeta, hippo, zebra, impalaaaa. Absolutely remarkable pictures. Looking forward to part two. Love it all - thank you.

  3. Can't wait for your next blog--they mean a great deal to mom and I Dan--thanks so much!