Wildlife Holiday News

Kenya's Masai Mara by Joy Hardy

Joy Hardy travelled on our 'Wildlife of Kenya's Masai Mara' tour and submitted this entry to our writing competition.

Leopard by Bret Charman

Kenya's Masai Mara 

I was so engrossed in the preparations for going to Kenya, swotting up on birds and animals and looking at maps, I was surprised to still be able to see sheep in the field next door when I looked out of the window. I was expecting to see the wide, atmospheric expanse of the Masai Mara. Imagination populated the scene with Zebra, Wildebeest, Giraffe, Elephant and Lions.

Nothing could have prepared me for the reality of the Mara. It is an immense landscape with a huge sky. Iconic lone trees on the skyline. Then there were the animals. The sight and sound of thousands of beasts, stunning beyond words.

We got close up and personal with all of the beasts: herds of Wildebeest; Zebras making sure you got their best side. Cheetahs having breakfast, three male Lions, brothers according to the guide, dozing and grooming. It was interesting to see domestic cat mannerisms in their actions. Crocodiles in the Mara River, Hippos wallowing, a distant but viewable Rhino. Elephant families ambling right past your nose. As the week unfurled the sightings got more and more exciting. Culminating in the Leopard. Fast asleep up a tree, but a definite goose pimple moment. On the very last night, on the way back to the airport, we had a rest stop in Nairobi. Silhouetted against the night sky there was a Tree Hyrax. Thrilling right to the very end.

Although this was a Mammal Tour, gaps in between sightings were filled with birdwatching. Early on, the birds were put into three categories - hawky birds, tweety birds and ducky birds. This, as well as being very funny, was a great aid to getting your eye in on whatever had been spotted. Some of the actual names were a bit mangled in translation. The Literal Grebe caused a few brows to wrinkle until we worked out we were looking at Little Grebe. The Secretary Birds looked like they had just finished taking a letter. Vultures sitting in trees, kites soaring overhead. Small birds flashing like jewels in the sunshine. It was difficult at times to know where to look as there was always something incredible to feast your eyes on.

Our group of 15 ranged in age from 14 to 79. We all got on very well for people who were strangers to begin with. Every evening we got together to do the check list. It was interesting to hear what people in other minibuses had seen. No one missed out on anything over the course of the holiday and the check list discussions made for a lot of light-hearted banter.

Our accommodation was very comfortable. ‘Glamping’ is the way to go if you want the tent experience. It was a little strange at first to have a Masai guard to escort you to dinner and back in the evenings. They were so friendly and helpful. It was an opportunity for them to practise their English and us to practise our Swahili. Needless to say the Masai won that little competition in terms of range of vocabulary.

There were a few moments when I could feel a tear welling up with the sheer wonder of having such a close look into this fascinating country and its wildlife.

Read more about our 'Wildlife of Kenya's Masai Mara' holiday.