Kenya, Maasai Mara

Encounter Mara, Part 1

I’m trying something new, moving from the slow-loading “Africa” page to a subpage and tr – Encounter Mara, Pt. 1ying some other things, including optimizing the photos to reduce their size, which should make for a faster load. Of course that means getting the photos prepared and that takes more time on my end so you won’t have to take it on yours. I’d be interested if you notice any big difference in the images.

Let’s continue the journey south and west from Nairobi National Park to the Naboisho Conservancy. Although, to me, the conservancy seems not much different than Maasai Mara, it’s actually a little bit to the north and east of the Maasai Mara proper or so I understood.

The plane is very small and you are only allowed to have 15 kg of luggage and only soft-sided bags. That’s cause they smush them all in so everybody’s bags have to flexible.

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I didn’t have my camera ready when we took off so by the time I got it in hand, I missed getting a photo of two white rhinos. Even from up high, the shape and size of the rhinos were clear. As for the camera, you know I clutched it from them on. I love taking photos of the landscape from planes. The last photo, above, shows some elephants. Here’s a close up of what looks like four as there are two together under a tree.

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I wondered if this was a sign of more to come or if these would be the only ones I came across.

I’d never been in such a small plane before and there’s always stories and complaints about their being sooo uncomfortable and their being lots of upsetting, bumpy motions so I was a little nervous. But it was great; no problems at all.Safari Link had excellent and informative magazines about the area and I learned about some things, like the Marsh Lions, that I hadn’t known about. People were excited that the photographers of that show were actually in the Mara at this time.

The landscape was definitely different than that of the Nairobi area, rocky and more spacious, that’s for sure.

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We passed a Thompson’s gazelle. They are the tiniest things, even the adults. And they’re so cute. You’ll find it’s hard not to say ‘cute’ a lot when you are looking at animals in Africa, or anywhere for that matter.

Then a giraffe or maybe two, you never know how many might be there. It’s amazing how they can just disappear.

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I noticed that those coloured patches on the giraffe aren’t just the same skin with some different colour. If you look closely, those patches are actually bumpy and raised.

Who knew?

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From there we passed a bird. Not just any bird, a crowned lapwing And are these some feisty birds! (All in good time.)

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This olive baboon was busy pawing at the ground and eventually moved off but I couldn’t tell if it got anything from all the effort.

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This is Maasai country, after all, and that means cattle.

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The Massai and the Conservancy work together to find a way for both humans and animals to thrive. It works well, up to a point, but I;ve read articles that indicate areas of friction. Attempts to control against one predator may well be devastating to other wildlife.

Another giraffe, but this one is much paler than any others I’d seen, indicating a greater variety in colouration than I had been aware of. Just being in the presence of these animals teaches you so much you hadn’t known or understood.

This giraffe looks younger than the other one, to me, but what do I know? I can’t see the bumpiness on the colours. Perhaps it’s something that develops with age. I noticed hair growing from those darker areas on the other giraffe and wonder if there might be an age factor in that.

You can see clearly that this one has a veritable spray of hair growing on the horns which indicates this a female. Perhaps whether male or female is something else that the raised areas could be affected by. As an untrained tourist, there’s not enough time and too much distance to notice the important and distinguishing details of what you are seeing. The guides are there to find animals but not all are necessarily able to answer more complex questions, even if you remember to ask. Although, when it comes to getting your guide to do what you want, nothing beats just coming out and saying what you do and don’t like, once you figure it out. More on this later.

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Next we spot a group of topi. This is a kind of antelope I didn’t see before on my journeys in Southern Africa. Here the topi are joined by a giraffe who does its best to disappear in the trees as does a topi. Although we have understood for a long time that animals evolved their markings and colouration to better hide, I now wonder whether plant evolution has encouraged plants to look like animals and what evolutionary advantage there might be for the plants for that.

In the photo, below, there are some  young topi. The young are much lighter in colour, probably to blend in better with the grass. The one lying down is probably less than a year old, based on the tiny horns just emerging, while the one in another photo, standing and nuzzling its mother, would be a bit older.

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After this pleasant ride of about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, we arrived at the camp, Encounter Mara.

The luxury tent main room.

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The view through the mosquito mesh. I didn’t not see any mosquitos but did take doxycycline for the entire trip, beginning 2 days before and for 28 days after.

The bathroom.

All you could ask for in comfort while still being truly far from home. Fantastic.

More next time from Encounter Mara in the Naboisho Conservancy.

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