Listen to the Ali on the Run Show!
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Honeymooning In Kenya, Part II: Masai Mara
Read Part I from our trip here. It’s basically a lot of pictures of giraffes and lions and me crying joy tears and stuff.
For those who asked, the quality photos you see in these posts were taken by Brian. He was shooting on a Canon 7D and a LUMIX lx100. I don’t know what any of that means. I couldn’t even take pictures on my iPhone because “Cannot Take Photo, Storage Full.”
Here we go — Masai Mara! It’s the area that served as the inspiration behind The Lion King!
The flight here was full — all 13 of us jammed in there — and I slept until we landed at Mara North.
Immediately you can see that it is very different here. It’s all wide open plains, and you can see forever. We landed and right away saw so many animals! Wildebeest, zebra (different from the kind in Samburu with wider stripes), tons of funny warthogs, vultures, and more. Driving to the camp, we drove right through the wildebeest migration! Thousands of them! It was so wild.
I am getting concerned about the fact that I wave and smile at every animal I see. What kind of response am I expecting? (Brian does it, too!)
Saruni Mara is incredible. It feels like a mountain chalet. I have never been to a mountain chalet, but this is probably it, more or less. Lunch upon our arrival was chickpeas, avocado salad, spinach quiche, and banana ice cream which was creamy and amazing and it turns out that after 30 years of saying I hate them, I apparently love bananas.
Fun fact, our travel agent (what up, Anouk!) booked us in the Nyati House.
Just a casual home for eight — all to ourselves — with a tub and a kitchen and secluded from the rest of the camp. It’s the sickest thing ever.
John picked us up “at Nyati House” for a 4:15 PM drive. He is a gentleman.
Here is what we saw…
- A huge herd of impala right outside the camp
- A lone giraffe, an old male, just waiting to meet me! The Masai giraffes look completely different from the reticulated giraffes in Samburu.
- AND THEN WE CASUALLY STUMBLED UPON A PRIDE OF SIX LAZY LIONS. One male and five females, and the ladies wanted nothing to do with him and it was amazing. Then we met two more lady lions. All they want to do is eat and sleep and yawn, which is why I can really relate to them.
- BRB IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LION DINNERTIME HUNT. Literally surrounded by six hungry lions trying to find dinner. The sun has set. It is dark. The lions are hungry and chasing after wildebeest and gazelles. This is the least safe I have ever felt! Married life is cool!
I am so happy not to be constipated anymore.
The electricity keeps going in and out here at Nyati House. What an adventure!
Didn’t sleep much last night on account of a fussy stomach and “lucid dreams” about being sacrificed in the battle between leopard and cheetah. Still no power and no lights, but that makes me feel like I am really roughing it out here in my luxury cabin!
Started the day with a 6:30 AM chilly drive with John, including…
- Tons and tons of impala and wildebeest and zebra
- Another lone giraffe!
- Three hyena! Super scary! One had a carcass in its mouth!
- Five giraffes and two were necking! That means fighting! They stand next to each other and flail their necks at each other wildly. It’s spastic and awesome.
- Days-old zebra!
- Lion pride of 10 lions! We saw eight cubs all hanging out together!
- Four ellies and one was a baby! Then we saw eight more and there were two tiny babies!
- OMG a 30-minute-old Thomsons Gazelle! Still wet from birth and running around on teeny wobbly legs! Then we saw another one a few minutes later!
We had breakfast at the river overlooking tons of hippos and crocodiles. We ate waffles. Hungry hungry hippos AKA Ali and Brian.
Then we saw a family of warthogs with the four teensiest babies I have ever seen!!!
Then John worked really hard and found us a leopard! He was sleeping and hiding in a ditch! Silly guy. (The leopard, not John. John is a delight.)
I am sooooo not constipated anymore.
After lunch, we met John for a 4:25 PM drive! This time around…
- FIRST SIGHTING WAS BABY GIRAFFES!!!!! The teensiest one ever! Just a few months old, John says, and another that was one year. The moms didn’t seem very attentive to their young. John says they are bad mothers! LOL, John!
- Then I spotted two far away giraffes in the bush and John said, “Wow, good spot! Very good!” YET AGAIN I DAZZLE MY GUIDES WITH MY SHIFTY EYES.
- Next we saw a male and female lion mate. She nuzzled up next to him, he was all whatever, so she nuzzled a little more, and then she was on all fours and he was doin’ her from behind. It lasted four seconds and then they both fell asleep. Lions, I’m telling ya…they know how to live life. And John says they will do this every 15 minutes for the next four days! We stayed with them for an hour or so but the male wouldn’t do it again. She kept trying but he was, as John said, “boring.”
- Then we met a two-week-old jackal puppy! So sweet, like the tiniest pup ever. And then two more pups! Hiding in the den all cute.
Another early morning, another cold morning, another electricity-less morning! I showered in the dark and I am still not at all constipated which has me a little nervous on these long drives! You can’t quite drop down and go when you’re in a pack of hungry big cats!
I ate two biscuits for breakfast. OK technically they were chocolate chip cookies, but they call them “biscuits” here so bam, breakfast approved.
Another early drive to start the day…
- First spots of the day were by me! A jackal and a lone giraffe. Once we reached the plains, the wildebeest seemed to have continued to multiply. They are everywhere.
- Then we saw a line of giraffes walking across the horizon in front of the sunrise. Indescribable.
THEN IT HAPPENED. From all the way across the plain, John spotted the elusive cheetah! He said “cheetah” and Brian’s face lit up more than it did on our wedding day.
After watching the cheetah for 45 minutes, we were basically like, “OK, yay, we have seen it all! Now what?!” We said we would “just see what we see” and what do ya know, we immediately happened upon a gorgeous pair of lions right out in the open! A male with a luscious mane and a smokin’ hot female. We saw them mate.
Breakfast was in the middle of some bushes where there were probably lions. Safe enough!
Next we saw a herd of 10 ellies and three of them were tiny babies! We watched the five-month-old ellie learn to eat and use his trunk!
It was adorably sweet and hysterical and the little guy was so determined to get some grass but just couldn’t quite grasp the mechanics of how to make it happen.
Then I spotted a female hyena with a full belly! Brian and John told me “good job.” Then Brian spotted two more and John found three babies and said, “We are in hyena country!” Very safe!
We came back for lunch then took a long nap. I love to nap!
Then John picked us up for a 4:30 drive.
We saw all the usual suspects early on: tons of wildebeest, lots of impala and gazelles, zebra everywhere, and a bunch of perfect giraffes. Then we got to see our friends the jackal pups! All five of them playing! They had just eaten a Thomsons Gazelle. It’s the ciiiiiircle of life!
And then, as the sun started to set behind the pups, our car broke down. Nothing like being potentially stranded in lion country! OK ALL GOOD. Brian earned hero status by fixing the problem which I mean obviously was the cylinoid.
We drove around for a while and John was like “I guess the cats are not out tonight.” And then he spotted a lion. So he’s a liar. The lady lion had a wound from a fight with another female! John would not let me kiss it to make it better. Sometimes he has so many rules. But then he gave me chocolate chip cookies! Sorry I mean “biscuits.” John knows exactly how to cheer me up after he has broken my heart!
Today we are off to the coast! But first, one last drive with our favorite John!
He picked us up and drove us up a cool mountain. We were 5,600 feet up, and could see the entire Masai Mara.
Then John took us to a rhinoceros sanctuary. We got to walk right up close to the two rhinos, named Coffee and Queen Elizabeth!
Next year they will mate and she has to be pregnant for 18 months. Nasty. That’s too much pregnant.
As a farewell, we did a quick drive through the bush and bam, Brian spotted three sleepy lions! Not a bad goodbye gift from the Mara.
We then saw a lone male giraffe — “big guy!” John says — who also wanted to say bye.
We drove to the Mara River and had lunch overlooking the hippos. We saw some of them mating. Hot.
While we were feasting on our spinach quiches and empanadas, a huge herd of zebra came running down to the river to drink! Wicked cool. “Very cool,” John says.
Then we said sad goodbyes and hugged John at the Mara North airstrip AKA a long line of dirt.
We are off to the coast!