3 nights 4 days
This was the last stop on our Safari circuit and it took a lot not to dwell on the fact that this trip was nearing an end. So far we’ve done Arusha, Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Following the Maasai Mara we headed to Nairobi for a few days before heading back to the states. BTW, we stayed at the Sankara which was a 5 minute walk from that Westgate Mall. We spent a couple of hours shopping and walking in the mall which was two days before the attack.
This entire trip was outstanding from the choice of the accommodations, the locations, time of year and game viewing. I pretty much began planning this trip (in my mind) after returning from a South African Safari in 2011. The actual hands on planning began in February 2013. Now I’ve started planning my next safari (in my head) trip which I hope will be in Botswana.
The trip from Tanzania to Kenya was not what I expected. Yes we did have an itinerary and there was a portion in it that stated we would land at one airport in Tanzania then take ground transportation to the next airport. The ground transport part is what turned into something more interesting. So we departed from the Kogatende Airstrip in the Serengeti and landed at Tarime, still in Tanzania. A driver was waiting to transport us to the Migori Airstrip in Kenya. In my opinion the only reason I wanted to use any assistance from a tour operator was for the internal air and land coordination. It was pretty tricky and I can see how difficult it might be to coordinate. I used Planet Africa Safari’s and you can view my review of them here.
I really didnt mind the ground transport because it wasn’t very long and you have a chance to see the daily local scene. For some reason I forgot all about immigration as we would be entering into a different country until the driver mentioned that we would need to make a stop at the border. To exit Tanzania we had to park, go in to have our documents reviewed and passports stamped etc. This is where I will add that its best to secure your visa’s in your home country before departure. I am fortunate in that I live in DC so going to the embassy is no problem but given the situation of crossing the border in this fashion I was glad we already had our Kenyan Visas.
Once in Kenya the driver asked that we put our cameras away as no photos were allowed…and this was while we were still in the van. It was extremely busy in this area and densely packed with people…so many people walking driving cars, vans, 4x4s, on bikes and motorcycles. There were a lot of large trucks too and dust kicking up…just somewhat chaotic. So we park the van and he mentions that everyone stay close together to make our way to the immigration office behind some buildings as it was like I said, very congested with people. Well the front seat passenger got out and while his door was still open I got out as well with my shoulder bag that had all of my important stuff that I didn’t want to leave in the car. I turned to close my door and BAM a guy on a moped raced by and banged into my shoulder bag (not me) then he bumped the guy next to him on a moped who wobbled and crashed with his passenger. I barely saw the whole thing as it happened so fast before I even realized what bumped me.
Well I was stunned and didn’t know what to say or do as all I was trying to do was simply get out of the car but it was such a big commotion…the guys didn’t get hurt. They got up and dusted themselves off and gathered their things then hopped back on but honestly I was paralyzed to go over and talk with them..anyway the story here is if you enter into Kenya in this area, stick together, watch your step then get out quickly!
So we finally landed in the Maasai Mara of Kenya and our Asilia Africa guide, Dickson, from the Naboisho Camp was there to collect us. The Naboisho camp is located within the Naboisho Conservancy where the density of game is among the highest on the continent , including lions. Well you see why this location was a no brainer for me and again no disappointment.
All of the guides here wore traditional Maasai clothing. As you can see from his attire there are pieces of metal that dangle from the beading. These metal pieces made a soft ringing sound with each step. Although soft spoken, Dickson was very direct and efficient as well as being an excellent guide. Like all of the Asilia guides, he was very respectful of the animals. For example, if you view the Serengeti post you will see in the videos where our guide Kivuyo made sure to get us to migration crossings very quickly but he would not select a spot that would block the path of the wildebeest in order to get us situated closer for pictures while other guides taking these positions.
Take a look at the footwear. Made out of tire rubber! Heres a peak at the Naboisho Camp where we stayed. Dickson would always remind us to 'please be careful of the little ones'. He was very concerned about our flash, voices or movements that might affect them while making sure our requirements were met.
The format was the same here as other locations although off road driving and night game drives are allowed. It was nice to have 3 nights at this location so we chose to make the drive to the Mara river hopeful of catching a migration crossing. Although we saw only one crossing while at this camp it was the grandest of them all as the herds where larger here. We grabbed lunch near a crossing on a hill that overlooked the migration headed to the river. There was a line of wildebeest as far as we could see off in the distance headed for the river.
In South Africa we did not see a single hyena but in both Tanzania and Kenya we saw them in abundance and they are amazing to watch. When we finished lunch we decided to take a bathroom break. In the bush this means you grab some tissue and hand sanitizer and find a tree or bush. Well, Dickson was driving around to find the perfect spot for me and we stopped beside a tree and as I went to jump out Dickson said……wait look you see there? I looked at the opening at the base of the tree and inside it was filled with hyena. I they were guess trying to find shade from the mid-day sun. It was a close call but we all got a giggle.
So after lunch we headed back to the river. The group of trucks there earlier had also left as the anticipated crossing didn’t happen.We were one of the first to return as we could see the herd growing larger from our lunch area on the hill so we had a perfect spot beside the path they take to gain access to the river. The Wildebeest and Zebra made a really large gathering by this time and they were slowly approaching the river bed. Its really interesting to see how they are just driven to make that crossing and who will be first, the one to lead them out of the thousands that gathered.
As the herds grew larger and closer the dust began to kick up all over the place; I thought it would be difficult to see everything. Also, the moaning and groaning of the babies and adults…no not people , the Zebras and Wildebeest (giggle) we could feel the ground vibrating from their movements, so much commotion and noise building and building into an area that was initially sparse but now filled to the rim then finally the crossing began.
Warning here about this next video as it may be hard to watch. I can not take credit as I was not able to take my eyes off the situation for even a moment to grab my camera so credit goes to CarlA. Most folks will not actually witness this but we did so have a look.
As mentioned the viewing in this southern area of Kenya was outstanding. I think we saw everything except wild dog. On the way back from river we spotted this Black Rhino…we almost missed it.
The drive to the mara takes a little more than an hour but you are on safari on the way there and back (which you do during the day anyway) so I did not see this as an issue . The camp provided a box lunch which was very good, since we would be out for most of the day. As usual we discussed our plans for the day the night before and the couple sharing the vehicle with us also agreed that it would be best to do the Mara for the day but we didn’t need to leave before dawn.
We spotted this Leopard on a game drive perched up in a tree.
Here is a beautiful Cheetah.
Most of our game drives were done without spotters. Its so very difficult to spot the animals that take cover during the day to avoid the sun.
Even though this area is covered by all kinds of predators life goes on for the locals. We saw many of these brave Maasai herders with their cattle. This was a particularly large herd. We spotted the Leopard with a kill in a tree near by.
All the mothers were very protective of the little ones.
This location did feel more rustic than the others and at night we could hear the lions close to our tents. These are the same lions we saw the following morning.
On our last night Dickson suggested that we get a very early start in order to catch the pride heard last night near the camp. And yet again we got lucky as this rather large pride with a few cubs had two large prey probably caught an hour before we arrived. We were so close to it all, it was really amazing.
Our time in the Maasai Mara area and Naboisho Conservancy of Kenya was extraordinary. If you’ve been to this area you know what I mean and if you are in the process of heading to this area I am very jealous! This was truly a very authentic safari experience. I am grateful.
Here’s another video of the pride but a bit longer.
Please see my review of the Asilia Africa Naboisho Camp here.