Friday, 17 February 2012

Masai Mara 2012, Safari 1

This was our first safari. The guide and driver was Rafael, and the car was completely open with canvas roof and windows to be used when it was raining. Six of us took up all the passenger seats in the car. And it was 3:30 when we started.

The Mara Intrepids lodge where we stayed was on the bank of Talek River, and it was very close to Olkiombo Airstrip to its north. This morning we took the road west between the river and the airstrip. As the road got close to the woods along the river bank, we saw three male buffaloes. Rafael said that they were kicked out of the herd because of their bad behavior. These buffaloes were the easy target of the lions. 

The road surface was mostly crusted quartz of various sizes. Some sections it were over bare soil, and the road was full of potholes and deep ruts. We saw a group of baboons picking on the grasses as they marched. We drove for 6 km on the flat grassy plain without seeing any animal. We then saw a mother cheetah and her adult offspring resting under the shade of a shrub. We stopped very close to them and they didn't make any move. They looked beautiful and healthy. A big circle of the grasses around the shrub had been mown flat. I forgot to ask Rafael who did it. Father away was a family of 7 elephants with one young one grassing on the golden colour plain. It was gorgeous. Rafael didn't make any attempt to get closer to the elephants.

In only half a kilo metre away, we saw a lioness also resting under the shade of a similar shrub. Its mouth was wide open and breathed heavily due to the hot temperature. The tip on one of its canine was chipped probably from cracking bones.  It must have just finish a big meal. Its nose and face were covered with small black flies. Its prey looked like a gazelle and its remains was piling near the root of the shrub. Its bone had been cracked open. Although we were only a few metres away, it lied, sat and squatted and ignored us.

In another half a kilo metre, we met a smaller group of 4 elephant including a young one. The contrast between the dark colour of the elephants and the golden colour of the grasses was really fascinating.

I didn't know if Rafael had learned any news from the radio conversation, he drove up a km to a shrubs area on a low hill, and stopped the car in front of a pair of lions lying on the ground side by side under the shade. He whispered that the lions were on their honeymoon. He was a fully mature big lion. Its head was very big and ist long and blond mane covered its neck. The lioness woke up from her nap, raised her head and took a long and big yawn. The lion was alerted all the time holding its big head up and watched her closely. She turned her head and studied the surrounding, and then stood up and walked deeper into the bushes. The lion got the message and followed her closely. In the mean time, several cars had stopped next to us. She was probably shy to do it under the scrutiny eyes, telescopes and cameras of many spectators in the cars. She walked only for 20 seconds, and when she reached an open space, she couldn't resist the urge any longer, and squatted on the ground on her four legs in front of him. He was used to this, and mounted her accordingly. The act lasted only for 6 seconds and it was over. They continued to walk farther into the bush, and we couldn't see them anymore.

We drove for another kilo metre in the open flat plain and started to see some topis. There were probably too many of them in the park, Rafael didn't stop to watch them. In a few minutes, we saw three lioness in an open space. One was gnawing on a carcass of a zebra, and one was lying near it and took a nap, and the other one was squatting on its four legs watching intently at the distance. In the mean time, a herd of zebras were gazing at the lions uneasily.

It was 17:30, and we started to turn back with the satisfaction of what we had seen. In addition to watching the deep potholes and ruts while driving, Rafael was also constantly on the look out for anything special. We were on the road only for 15 minutes, and then he slowed down. We saw a cheetah crowling slowly among the tall grasses. Its neck and tail stretched out. The grasses were taller and were waving by the breeze. We looked into the direction where it was moving, and saw a Thompson gazelle standing. Its eye seemed to see what was coming but its body was frozen still. In a few seconds, the cheetah crawled even lower like a sprinter was kneeling and getting ready for the burst. In 15 seconds, I heard the noise of the struggles and the scream of the gazelle. I didn't have time to adjust my camera and missed the photo opportunity. Rafael quickly moved the car to the killing spot, and we saw the cheetah was clenching its mouth on the throat of the gazelle. It held on for 3 and half minutes before it let its prey to fall down on the ground. Immediately, it sat up holding its head high and looked nervously around for any signs of potential robbers of its prey.

We didn't want to see the horrify scene of the cheetah having its big meal, and continued our journey back to the lodge. On the road, we saw some warthogs, but they were short and nervous, and would quickly disappeared into the tall grasses well before one could snatch a photo. When we were close to the airstrip, we saw a herd of bachelor impalas near the airstrip.

Flags were near the airstrip and red line was the track of safari 1

More photos can be seen by searching "lku99999, photo" in Google.

No comments:

Post a Comment