We knew we were close to the Masai Mara when we started seeing Masai villages on the way. First, the herds of cattle caught the eye. It was amusing to see the tribesmen accompanying the herds invariably talking on their mobile phones, a nice update to their traditional ways.
After seeing a couple of Masai settlements, we started to recognise the characteristic huts: ramshackle dwellings held up by sticks and held together by a mixture of ashes, cow dung and earth. We didn’t get many pictures of these places, even though we’d passed by a traditional market and many Masai on the way to there. Our guide, Francis, cautioned us that Kenya had privacy laws protecting the Masai. That in itself wasn’t as big a warning, it was the next tip that made us put away our cameras: watchful tribesmen would fling rocks at unsolicited camera lenses poking out of tourist vans.
The only candid picture I have of Masai tribespeople was at the gate to the Masai Mara Reserve. Here, I was trying to take a picture of the gate and was very pleased to have the brightly dressed ladies selling their wares in the picture too. It was a pity that I didn’t buy any souvenirs from them because it was the cheapest in the area. If you end up going too, do yourself and them a favour and get whatever souvenirs you need here.
Then we passed into the reserve proper and started going crazy taking pictures of whatever life there was, such as these wildebeest. We were wildly excited that they were the first animals we saw as we’d decided to come here in July to see the Great Migration of millions of wildebeest to the greener plains of the Masai Mara.
Next, we were beside ourselves when we spotted a baby zebra.
And even more excitingly, necking zebras! We were told that they do so to rest their weak backs and to have a 360º view of the surroundings to guard against predators.
After a while, we realised that it was incredibly common to see wildebeest, zebras and the various antelope-like creatures in the Mara, like these topi below. I guess we were entitled to our noob moments!
We were canny enough to realise that there wasn’t going to be any shortage of Thomson’s gazelles any time soon. It was almost impossible to point at camera and not get one of these in the viewfinder. Their fluffy bobbing tails and bouncy gait were cute though. For an animal of such ubiquity, it was strange that we didn’t have that many pictures of them. They were skittish, making it hard for close up shots. Makes sense to be skittish if you’re the favourite prey of cheetahs.
We also took time to admire the scenery, going from the typical tree and cloud shot…
… to two trees and sky…
… to the same two trees and sky with water! It does rain in the Mara, just not as hard as in the tropics. When it rains, the potholes fill up and make things difficult for unwary drivers.
But on a fine day, the road meanders along and the puddles are easy to spot. Onward to our next animal adventures!