The Africa Trip - Day 6, 7 & 8 - The Masai Mara

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August 22nd 2008
Published: August 23rd 2008
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After our delightful afternoon in Nairobi we got to get up a little bit later the next day to catch our flight to the Masai Mara. It was a pleasant morning and allowed us to sleep in until 7:30am ( a very pleasant change from the day before). Our travel agent gave us a call from the lobby and reminded us that we needed to be ready at 9am to go to Wilson Airport. If anyone is looking to do a trip to Africa and wants some help organising it then you should get in contact with Edward Muthe at Bush Troop Safaris ( He organised our entire trip and was totally fantastic. Everything went 100% to plan which is africa is quite special.

We met Edward in the lobby and he took us off to the little Wilson Airport we were boarded what was actually quite a large plane (Dash 7) for our flight to the Masai Mara. The flight was approx 45 mins and we stopped off at 3 other little airpstrips to drop people off before we arrived at our airstrip, which was called Keekorok. Keekorok was the name of the lodge that we were going to be staying at for the next couple of nights. A lovely gentleman called Francis met us at the airstrip and he was to be our game driver for the next couple of days. We were very lucky in that the other couple that were meant to have been in our car for the game drives had decided to postpone their trip by a week so we had the game vehicle all to ourselves.

Keekorok Lodge was quite nice. It is in the middle of the Masai Mara national park and as such does not have a fence around it and the animals are free to wander through the grounds as they wish. At check in they told us that it were wanted to return to our room later in the evening (after 10:30pm) that we were not to walk there by ourselves and instead had to be escorted by an armed guard. Since it gets dark at about 7:30pm we couldn't for a little while work out why it was safe to walk back to the room for 3 hours of darkness but not for the rest of the night. We then came to the conclusion that it must be because the lazy and sleepy cats can't be bothered to get up and go hunting until about 10:30pm.

We had our first game drive that afternoon and it was awesome. We saw loads and loads of elephants, giraffes, lions, wilderbeast, gazelles, ostriches, vultures ....... But we didn't get to see any Rhinos or Hippos (luckily there is a resident hippo pond at the hotel so we were able to walk down and have a look at them as well.) When you go game driving you literally just hop into your truck and then go for a drive across the tracks in the Mara and look at the animals all around you. Our truck had a little pop top roof so you could stick your head up and take photos.

One of the most interesting animals that we saw on the game drive that afternoon was the Super Dooper Long Lensed Japanese tourist. This curious animal was easily identifiable by the strange clothing it wore, an odd assortment of specially purchased safari clothing and the large groups it congregated in. But perhaps its most striking feature was the unbelievably large camera lens that it produced upon siting another animal. These things were ENORMOUS. Dave, who had just bought himself a new, what we thought was rather large, camera lens was reduced to a puddle of camera envy.

We had to get up very early again the next morning as we were off on a balloon safari. This meant being up and ready to be collected at 5:30am (this has not been a restful holiday!). We had to drive a little way to get to the camp where our balloon was being launched from (the fig tree camp). The balloon safari wasn't setting off until 6:30am so we couldn't work out why on earth we needed to get there so early as the drive was only 30 mins. Never mind. We watched them filling the huge ballons up with hot air and then were instructed to get into the balloon. This involved literally clambering over the side of the balloon basket (for some reason I thought that they would have a gate in the side of them - but no they didn't). We had a fantastic balloon pilot whose name was Captain Mike and he was from Bristol. We had a whole bunch of Chinese in our basket with us and they were just not listening to what he was saying and at one point in time he had to physically push one of the guys to the ground as he wouldn't sit down for take off.

Once we were up in the air it was a beautifully smooth and warm ride. We had been afraid that we would get cold but instead it was almost a little bit too warm! At points in time we went up really high and at other points in time it felt as though we were skimming the ground. It was just fantastic. Such a neat thing to do. As we were coming into land Captain Mike told us a story about this group of american gospel singers that he had on board once. They were huge black women with really loud voices and he said that to get them into the basket they needed step ladders (we all managed to scramble in over the sides with no help). Obviously when you are in a balloon there are no brakes and sometimes when you come into land the basket can trip over and drag a little. Well on this occasion when they landed the basket did tip and they dragged through the long grass for approx 50m with grass and mud etc coming into the basket. And they also managed to pick up a 6 foot long cobra. Captain Mike said you have never heard screams like it and that the women certainly didn't need step ladders to get out of the basket!

I am pleased to advise that our landing was much more sedate. We had a slight head wind for landing so we rather gently bumped down, and then rose in the air again, and then touched down again...........and then rose up again for a third time..........and then bumped down again, a little more roughly this time. I fell to the ground of the basket and managed to scrape the skin off the top of my knee a little bit.

We were then picked up by safari trucks and drived on a little bit of a game drive (saw more elephants, and giraffes) and then dropped off to a delightful champange breakfast in the middle of nowhere in the Mara. It was classic to turn up in the middle of nowhere in Africa to have guys dressed up in red monkey suits serving you champagne with wellingtons on. After a large and lovely cooked breakfast we were driven back to our lodge. This took about a hour so we had another unexpected safari drive as of course the drive back to lodge was through the middle of the Mara. On the way back to the lodge we stopped by another truck that had stopped to photograph a lion and the lion had walked up to the truck and curled up beside the cars tyre. It looked crazy.

After a restful lunch back at the lodge Francis picked us up at 3pm to take us to have a look at a proper Masai Village. The Masai people are a strange group. They still live in a traditional manner in dirt huts in the middle of the Mara. The village that we went to take a look at was surrounded by a ring of trees (to keep the lions out at night) and the first thing you noticed was that the centre of the village was completly full of animal dung. And that all the little children were running around in the middle of the dung playing soccer, with no shoes on. They were filthy. So filthy. When we first arrived we were met by a guide who explained that they charge KHS2,000 each for people to enter and look at the village. We had a few moments of trouble trying to pull this money together as we didn't have enough of a single currency to pay the entry fee (ended up paying 20 euros and US$40). Once we had paid our guide explained to us how the men that you see that are all dressed up are the warriors and that they ranged in age from between 19 - 25. That is the traditional age range for a warrior. Once that generation has gotten too old the next generation of warriors takes over from them. The warriors did a couple of dances for us, the traditional hunting victory dance and I have to say that it was a little scary as they came up really really close to us. REALLY CLOSE. It was a little intimidating. The asked Dave to dance with them, but he declined 😊

After the warriors did their show for us we were taken in the village proper and the women
Dave and I at the Masai VillageDave and I at the Masai VillageDave and I at the Masai Village

Dave is wearing a headress that is made from a mane of a lion. The warrior in between us killed this lion himself
of the village did a welcome dance and song for us as well. I must say that they didn't really look all that enthusiastic about it. I suppose they get a lot of visitors and that it must be quite disrupting to their routines. The song and dance the women did for us was the traditional welcome song for a new women who is joining the village through marriage. Masai men can marry as many times as they want to. They just have to pay the purchase price of 10 cattle for a new wife. So as long as you have the cattle you can marry over and over again. Dave was interested by this. 😊

Our guide then showed us the huts (manyatta) where they live. These are constructed out of wood framing and then covered in a mix of mud and cow dung for the walls. They are very dark on the inside and have only the smallest of openings for letting a little light in. There are only a couple of rooms, one is the living and sleeping area and the other tiny part is where the small calves are kept at night. The whole hut was full of flies and just felt disgusting. I can't even begin to imagine living in something as small and dark as that. You felt dirty just looking at it.

The warriors and guide then showed us how the Masai make fire. It was actually quite impressive and they got a fire going in only about 5 minutes. They then presented Dave with the fire sticks to keep. Dave was most chuffed and now intends on making fire at home in Dubai. Of course straight after all of this the warriors then asked for some more money for having done all of this for us and we had to give them another KHS1,000. They then took us to there little market where they wanted us to buy some necklaces and stuff. Unfortunaltey having just robbed us of all the rest of our money we weren't in a position to buy anything so we left empty handed.

The visit to the village, whilst very expensive, was worthwhile as it was really interesting to see how these people live, and the fact that they really do actually live like that. After the visit to the village was finished Francis took

The huts in which the Masai live
us another safari drive. We were hoping to see a leopard and apparently one had just been spotted so Francis drove like mad to try and get there in time. Unfortunately the weather chose that moment to break and it started to tip down with rain, and the leopard obviously went into hiding as we couldn't see him anywhere. Never mind.

We had to get up early again (6:00am) the next morning as well so we could go on our final game drive. Still no leopards on this drive but we did see a male lion strolling down the road. It turned out that he was walking back to his missus and we watched as the two of them caught sight of each other, and how he just sat down and made her come to him. And then how when she got close enough so bounded up to and around him. Then they both just flopped down and went to sleep. The male lion literally just collapsed to the ground. It had obviously been a tough night!

That was pretty much the end of our safari. From there Francis took us back to the little air strip where we got dropped off a couple of days earlier and we were picked up in a tiny weeny little plane and taken back to Nairobi. The plane was so small that the pilot turned around in his seat to give us a preflight safety briefing. Mum you would love it! 😊

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29th August 2008

Looks like you had a fab trip to Africa, sounds like fun (especially the balloon breakfast)!!

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