During our safari we were able to experience four of Kenya's more well known game parks: Maasai Mara, Lake Nakuru, Amboseli and Tsavo West. Each was very different from the others, and even within a single park, there were significant differences in the landscape, flora and fauna. Each was special in its own way and worthy of a visit irrespective of time spent at any of the other parks.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is known as home of the Greatest Show on Earth - the migration of wildebeest from Tanzania to Kenya to include the crossing of the world famous, croc invested Mara River. We started our safari adventure here with three nights . . . allowing for two full days of exploration of this great park.
Home to all of the "big five" (elephant, lion, leopard, cape buffalo and rhino), we were fortunate to see all but the leopard here. Unfortunately, the leopard is a bit on the shy side and given the number of vehicles in this park, they tend to stay in very remote areas often inaccessible to even the most rugged safari trucks.
We did see a lot of wildlife in the Mara however. The wildebeest, along with zebra and impala were seen several times often moving from one area to another in search of the best grazing conditions. Given the recent rains in the area, the grasses and underbrush seemed to be in very good condition for feeding. We also learned that with the feasting of the grazing animals come outstanding feeding opportunities for everyone else in the food chain from the large predators such as the lions and cheetahs, to the scavengers like hyenas, vultures and jackals. We witnessed this several times throughout the Mara.
The Maasai Mara is home to a pride of lions that is comprised of two large males, two lionesses and 12 cubs from probably three (or more) litters ranging in age from those born earlier this year to perhaps three years old. This 16 member pride was seen by our group twice, once lounging around in the hot afternoon under the shade across a wide area of the savannah . . . the second feasting at breakfast time over a wildebeest. The lions, including cubs, were laying across the hillside when we approached, as the two males were dining on what was left of the remains.
We also saw cheetahs several times throughout our game drives in the Mara. They were mostly seen resting under the shade, although one late afternoon we did see a group of six sitting tall at the ridge of a hill overlooking the valley below (and beyond our vision). We could only assume they were looking for their next meal as it was nearing dusk which would be prime hunting time for them.
Elephants and giraffe were plentiful throughout the park, as were hippos in the Mara River. Speaking of the Mara River, it was unfortunate that we did not get to see the migration with the crossing of the Mara River. There was a large herd of wildebeest and zebras across the way from where we were perched in hopes of seeing this spectacle, but alas, some dump tourist "self driving" on safari drove between the herd and the river, sending thousands of animals away from the river. This may have been my greatest personal disappointment over the entire two weeks!
Other animals seen during our time in the Mara include ostrich, crocodiles, baboons, gazelles, impalas, dikdiks, waterbuck, warthogs, heartbeast and topi.
In addition to the wildlife seen, we were fortunate to experience a wonderful sunset and sunrise over the Mara. All in all, this is one of the best game viewing parks in Kenya and did not disappoint on any level.