Yes it was indeed a whirlwind of an adventure! During our 12 days on safari we visited seven parks . . . four in Kenya and three in Tanzania. When folks head out to Africa, there is an expectation of seeing "the big five" (Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Cape/African Buffalo and Leopard) and we were no different. Amazingly, we got to see four of the five during our first park, a three day visit to the Maasai Mara, home of "the greatest show on earth" - the migration of herds from Tanzania to Kenya in search of greener pastures and food.
Because of the vastness of this park, I was glad that we had three days to observe the animals in what would set the standard for game viewing for the rest of the trip. Unfortunate however, because as our guide said, winter in the Mara is a time for feast for all. The wildlife was abundant and in good health. The cycle of life in full swing as hunters hunted and scavengers waited. Grazing animals had plenty to eat and were healthy enough to sustain those who depended on them for their next meal.
We did not have an opportunity to witness an active hunt or kill here in the Maasai Mara, but there were plenty of chances to see animals enjoying the fruits of their labor. None was more spectacular than seeing a pride of 16 lions early one morning dining on a wildebeest kill on the hillside before us.
We did not get to see the much anticipated migration of the wildebeests as they crossed the Mara River. While at the river's edge, we did see what seemed to be thousands looking for the right spot to cross. Unfortunately, some self-drive safari folks decided to drive between the herd and river bank, sending all of the animals away from the crossing points. While not the most famous aspect of "the migration" that people come to see, we were able to see the migration in progress in the Mara several times.
Cheetahs were a very common sighting at the Maasai Mara, including what was believed to be these three young males, most likely brothers. They were seen a couple of times during our game drives, often just lazing away the afternoon under the protection of shade. In this photo it was especially interesting to see how they positioned themselves so as to have a full 360 degree view around them. Perhaps they were scoping out the area for supper.
My time spent in the Mara was not without some harsh reality too. This young lion was obviously injured, as his walk had a noticable limp to it in spite of no outward appearance of injury. He walked ahead of our safari vehicle for some distance before making his way atop a termite hill. There he sat, scanning the area as though to be searching for something. He then began to vocalize a low tone puffy like roar. After doing this for a few minutes, out from the brush about 50 yards ahead, came a beautiful lioness. She responded to his vocalizations with her own very loud and what seemed to be grumpy response. It was an amazing interaction between the two, as though nobody else was around. I felt blessed to have been witness to them.