While I do believe that Eddie’s incredible safari photos speak for themselves, I have to add a little anecdote about this amazing experience. For starters, our accommodations were idyllic. The Fairmont Mara Safari Club truly lives up to its high reputation, where friendly staff are ready to meet your needs before you can even think of them, the peaceful atmosphere is achieved even in spite of the rambunctious hippos, and the perfectly manicured tents, where even your mosquito netting adds to the magical setting, instantly feel like home. Again, if you have any questions or doubts, please refer to the photos! (**Side note: upon arrival, we learned that this resort was not actually inside of the Masai Mara National Reserve, where we were hoping to be. Our driver was nice enough to drive us all the way to the Reserve anyway, but for the future we would not recommend staying at this lodging option, even though any travel agent will tell you that you’re in the Mara, because you end up spending more time and money in order to have the real safari experience in the Reserve.)
The next amazing feature was our guide, Apollo, whom we highly recommend. This man could spot any animal (no matter how fast he was driving!) and knew about its patterns of eating, migrating, growing, and tendencies to stay with its own kind or not. Apollo helped Eddie to get many amazing photos (like this one)
by driving to the perfect location so that the sun would be just right behind the trees, and waiting patiently by the cheetahs long after the other matatus had gone. Apollo has a great laugh, a genuine smile, a lot of knowledge to share, and a big heart, and we loved our five days with him. He truly enriched our experience by helping us to know the animals we were seeing. Which brings me to my last point: the animals! Even the not-so-exciting ones were fun to see because they were in their element, happily running across the plains or sleeping under a tree, always free and able to go where they pleased. Here are some of my favorites of our encounters:
– A baby Thomson’s gazelle
– Tiny antelope called a Dikdik which don’t grow any bigger than this!
– Lots of baby warthogs scampering around (even though I tend to think of warthogs as ugly, the babies were so endearing and we thought they were cute!) usually with a disgruntled looking parent. It’s almost like they’re saying, “Hey Paparazzi! Leave my kids alone!”
– Herd of elephants with the babies trying to keep up with their mommas and stay protected
– A large male elephant who decided to show the “king of the jungle” who’s boss… The lion vacated the area just moments after this photo! Can you find her???
– Giraffes crossing the road at 5:30am, unworried about the presence of our matatu, as positive that we would wait for them as if there were a sign that read “State Law: Stop for Giraffes in this crosswalk” (Sorry — my photos didn’t come out! But I really liked this giraffe sitting down.)
– Two cheetahs lounging under a tree, who moved every so often to “pose” for some great shots!
– A zebra up close
– Lilac breasted roller
– Grey-headed crown crane… Can you spot the babies?
– A turtle crossing the road… Somehow even after you’ve seen lions, cheetahs, elephants, hyenas, giraffes, and zebra roaming around, a turtle is still exciting!
One other cool part about our safari was the opportunity to visit a Maasai “Bomba” or village of the local tribe in the Masai Mara. We were greeted warmly by all the men and women coming out to dance and sing for us, and then the men showed us their tradition of jumping contests. They can jump really high and they make it look effortless! The sweetest part was the little kids running around trying to dance and jump like their daddies.
Clearly we did not jump anywhere near as high! I cheated by bending my knees, too 🙂
Then the village elder took us into his home and let us ask questions about the culture, lifestyle, how modernization is forcing the people to change and adapt, and how they manage to stay true to their heritage. Afterwards we bought some souvenirs to remind us of our time meeting the Maasai people and animals in the Masai Mara.