11 October 2017 Wednesday - Flight to Masai Mara – Day 2
We got up early, and with a little sleep, our moods improved. Kathy was determined not to let yesterday’s bad mood wreck our trip.
After showering and getting ready, we hurried to explore the beautiful Karen Country Lodge, but had to get to our morning trip meeting.
We met our fellow OAT travelers and we were given our morning briefing. The group consists of 15 travelers, but only 10 of us signed up for the pre-trip to Masai Mara: Bob, Kathy, Cheung, Winnie and Stefan, Mary and her friend Judy, Bettan, her friend Patty, and Dan (“Rambo”). The other 5 were to join us when we get to Tanzania.
After the meeting, we got on a bus and were driven to Nairobi’s Wilson airport, which is the airport for local flights. On the way, we could see a shanty town: makeshift shacks with corrugated steel roofs.
I took a few photos of Kathy at the airport while we waited for our paperwork to be completed.
Then we were driven a short distance by bus to a very small plane and we climbed in. It was barely big enough to hold the ten of us.
My seat belt was broken, and the ground crew spent a fair amount of time trying to find a reasonable solution. Finally I agreed to just tie it in a knot and hope for the best.
Once in the air, we got a better view of Nairobi, including the shanty town.
We also saw a bunch of windmills. I never expected to see that in Kenya.
Soon the terrain became rugged rocky, but then, as we approach Masai Mara, it became strangely green. I expected to see very dry, yellow desert-like conditions like I’d seen on television. But it was pleasantly green. It turns out it had been raining lately, which brought all the plants back to life.
Because of the rains, the animals were plentiful. We could see it from the air even before we landed. There were hundreds of animals everywhere.
Soon our plane landed on a dirt airstrip.
I took a photo of our plane and its expert (woman) pilot. I definitely didn’t expect to see women pilots here, so that was cool.
Next, we met our tour leader for the Masai Mara, a guy from the native Maasai tribe who called himself George.
That’s not his real name, of course. I think he was given an English name for his English language classes. (This is no surprise. When I learned the German language, I was given a German name, and always used it in class). George called himself an American Maasai. He was caught between the worlds of his people’s deeply-rooted traditions and the American traveler.
We got into two range rovers and started driving to the OAT camp: our first game drive. George’s driver was named Moses. The other driver they called Big John.
There were lots of animals, even close to the airport, and they didn’t seem to mind the noise from the airplanes too much.
As soon as we left the airport, we were surrounded by animals: mostly wildebeest (gnus) and zebras. We saw a male zebra trying to mate with a female, but she was not cooperating. She repeatedly kicked him in the chest as hard as she could. Still, that didn’t seem to discourage him much. George said this is a typical ritual: female zebras always test their mates: they only mate with the males who are the most persistent and robust to keep the gene pool as strong as possible. Here’s a failed mount:
Here’s a kick in response:
We also saw elephants of all sizes:
We saw some smallish giraffes:
Very colorful birds:
Strange-looking Guinea Fowl
And, of course, elephants:
We were shown to our tent, which was fun:
The bed had mosquito netting over it, which they unfolded before bed.
After lunch, we went on an afternoon game drive.
Unfortunately, our range rover got a flat tire. It didn’t take the guides long to replace the tire with one of the spares, and soon we were on our way.
We saw a pride of lions, leisurely lying around with full bellies. It was fun to see them up close.
The game drive didn’t last long because sunset is around 6:00pm. There was a beautiful sunset, despite the threat of rain on the horizon.
We saw so many animals today that it’s going to be tough to beat. I joked that we’d seen just about every kind of animal, so we could skip the rest of the trip and fly home now. Whew!
Special notes: They use the word “Jambo!” as a greeting. I guess we get to learn some Swahili.