No game drive is complete without the viewing of big cats. If you see a few jeeps lined up in the national park, you know what they are looking at - of course the big cats! Our game drives in Masai Mara were very exciting for the same reason.
The first game drive, we witnessed a cheetah few feet away from the jeep, eating away a poor antelope. Blood all over his face, heavily breathing, this guy could not move! Well, after hogging on 50 pounds of raw meat, what else can you expect? Cheetahs are usually very shy and hunt by themselves. Their body is built for speed but strength wise they are way behind lions and leopards. That is the reason they tend to eat their kill as quick as possible so no other predator can come and steal their meal. Fascinating!
And the next day was even more special. The lovemaking of King of the jungle was quiet a sight. The best thing about Mr. Lion was he did not care about anything! He was least bothered about fifty jeeps standing right there while they were in the act. Height of paparazzi! And what is also amazing is their attitude. Did you know lions sleep 20hours everyday and the rest 4 hours are spent in hunting....and well its the job of lioness to hunt and feed the king and the cubs. Main job of male lion is to protect his territory. That's it! And the way they sleep....it is the most hilarious thing to watch. When they sleep, it is like the world does not exist anymore. Cars come and go, people talk, engines run but they do not even blink.
Leopards are the most difficult to see and unfortunately we did not see any in Masai Mara. And did I mention, Masai Mara is one of the large national reserves in Kenya, and joins Serengeti in Tanzania. It is famous of the annual immigration of zebras and wildebeests from Serengeti to Mara.
We took hundreds of photographs of these big cats and I am sharing a few below. They are the most ferocious yet beautiful creatures.
Located on the banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro river in Kenya, the Samburu National Reserve was our first stop of ten day safari. After being on Kenyan roads for half a day, while driving from Nairobi, we were both really tired but extremely thrilled as soon as we entered the game reserve. As our tour guide stopped at the entrance gate to open the roof of our four wheel drive....the childlike sense of wonder and excitement filled us both.
Our afternoon game drive was right after lunch. There was excitement of looking for wild beings and watching the tour guides communicate with fellow guides on radio. The landscape of Samburu was beautiful....the huge Acacia trees, tall grass, hills in the backdrop and driving on dirt roads....only thing missing was the animals. Not for long though! As we were slowly driving....we saw a head popping out of the tall bush....and there he was! Our first giraffe sighting, and this was just the beginning!
Soon after, in a span of three hours, we had seen zebras, elephants, monkeys, baboons, different species of antelope, jackal, leopard and dozens of colorful birds!!!! We watched a leopard in hiding, trying to catch his meal. We watched elephants eating the bushes and wandering like no one can mess with them. We saw gazelles, waterbucks and zebras get alert and still to any unfamiliar sound. Observing these unique and beautiful animals in the home was eye watering....all our lives we have admired them and watched them in the zoo, locked up in a small cage of a size nowhere compared to the expanse of these national parks. Now, after having seen them roaming around freely and experiencing the nature, this concept of "zoo" seems ridiculous and selfish. And as we did more and more game drives, we our resentment towards man made habitats for these wild beings intensified.
We spent the next day doing morning and afternoon game drive as well. The whole experience left us speechless. Standing up in the four wheel drive, searching for the animals, watching them eat, sleep and walk around freely was an extraordinary experience. We both were in awe of these beautiful wonders of nature. And this was just a start....a very memorable start of our safari.
Kenya....one of the most awaited countries of our backpacking adventure. Why? Wildlife of course! The anticipation to witness these nature's wonders in their home was making us restless and excited. I can't even recall for how many years we have waited for this experience. And now we were here! We couldn't wait to start our ten day safari experience and visit few of the many natural wonders. Our safari included game drives in Samburu National Reserve, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, the famous Masai Mara National Park and Amboseli National Park.
I will be posting blogs for each of these stop overs....it will be really really hard to select a few pictures since we have taken thousands in these parks. But I will try my best to give a glimpse of these beautiful and extraordinary beings that are only found in this continent in their "natural habitat".
The company we booked for our safari was Kenya Walking Safari. Being a budget traveler, one of the hardest part was finding a safari company that would fit in our budget and give us an experience of a lifetime. The thing is, seems like these safari companies mostly cater tourists that want luxurious experiences. For backpackers like us, they still have a long way to go. We were paying $300/day for both of us....and for us that was a lot to start with. But in safari world....well for that cost if you get a tented camp which will not fall down, you are lucky! Fortunately the company we booked turned out pretty good! Of course we had our few ups and downs but overall we were really happy with them. The guide was very informative and the chef that accompanied the guide was amazing cook! And most of the places we stayed were permanent structures :P
We spent quiet a lot of time in the car while driving from one place to another. So we had a lot of bonding time with our guide and chef. I had no idea polygamy is common in Kenya! And another interesting fact....the groom has to offer some sort of monetary compensation to the bride's parents....it could be money or even cows! :D
Below is a glimpse of our long drives thru different destinations.