The vast landscape of Maasai Mara resonates with the distinctly tall grass of Africa, solo trees scattered against a background of distant mountains, thousands of grazing animals, and somewhere amidst it all, the king of the jungle is taking a nap or hunting his next prey!
A herd of 25 elephants with 5 baby elephants stroll by, an amazing sight to observe them quietly crossing the huge plains and romping among the tall grass. The thousands of black and white zebras and monochromatic wildebeests create a picture-perfect blend against the yellowed grass and blue sky. The lofty giraffes cannot be overlooked even from a distance in this flat land. The huge herd of buffalos with parasite-eating birds perched on many of them enjoy their grassy meal, oblivious to the vigilant lions, cheetahs or leopards who are ready to pounce. While you see many wild animals at Maasai Mara, the real thrill is to observe the king up close. It was fascinating to watch the 30+ lions and lionesses in the wild. Their combination of power, self-confidence and elegance is truly majestic.
Driving through the wilderness has a new meaning at Maasai Mara National Reserve. Situated in south-western Kenya, its 583 square miles of stunning landscape makes it one of the largest and most beautiful wildlife reserves in Africa. July through October is full of action and excitement as the wildebeest migrate between Maasai Mara and the contiguous Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Every year, two million animals migrate during this season and the entire animal food-chain of herbivores and carnivores moves with this ecosystem.
It is a rare sight to watch hordes of wildebeests migrate across the Mara River, wary of the crocodiles. Thousands of them congregate near the Mara River, sense the water flow, check for crocodiles, the first one jumps in and then several thousands follow. Such an amazing sight! Many succumb to the carnivores but still, that does not deter them from crossing. Their intense search for food and the greener pastures on the other side drive them to a leap of faith into the river, rushing across and out of the river before the crocodiles get them. Their survival instincts are so engrossing and chaotic that wildebeest calves are separated from their mothers while crossing the river. Intense sound-bites are used by the wildebeests and their calves to identify and reconnect with one another. The medley of sentiment and sound immediately after the river-crossing and calves running back to look for their mothers is a heart-wrenching scene to watch.
The solitude of solo trees sparsely scattered across Maasai Mara is simply captivating. Constantly battling the wind, it is amazing to see them standing tall, alone in the wilderness. Their shapes reflect the inherent strength and deep roots against the primary direction of the wind. There is something magical about these trees as their isolation continually draws your attention.
Endless trails in this huge wildlife reserve, wandering around with explorer-led thinking and incredulous belief at watching the wild in action… It is amazing how deep into the high-grass land and how without any GPS, the local guides know the exact route out to one of the main roads. Without any road signs, it is fascinating to watch the guides navigate through marked and unmarked trails based on memory, ultimate understanding of the local environment and directional help from the sun’s movements.
The adage of ‘you see what you want to see’ in every object is especially true when on a safari… The shape of far and few scattered clouds, the bushes in the vast land, and the spots on the trails start to resemble the animals you have seen or want to see. It is the beauty of nature, and all are in perfect symphony.
As the sun sets and eerie quietness descends on this vast land of Maasai Mara, nature is preparing for a gorgeous sunrise tomorrow with a new set of beauty and charm when the wild will be on the move again…