This early morning Safari was to be our last trip out at Governor’s Camp before heading off for some R&R at an all inclusive hotel in Mombasa. We started off with low expectations because we reckoned we must have seen almost everything that the area around Governors Camp had to show us. At the point we left the camp the sun was not visible and our guide made sure that he got us into a great position to watch the sunrise. I have to say that I’ve seen many an unimpressive sunrise so once again I wasn’t holding my breath. But when expectations are low the reality will often exceed and it was certainly true of this sunrise. As the sun began to rise the horizon upwards became bright orange and the plains leading up to the horizon seemed almost black. This fantastic image didn’t last for long and as the sun got higher in the sky so the orange hue lessened and subtle shades of blue and grey took over. And then it was light! Now that was another new and surprising experience.
In a tree was the white-headed vulture. Not the prettiest of birds it has to be said and it was clear that this one was on the lookout for some tasty morsels to scavenge. It certainly had a great vantage point and it looked very casual as its head scoured the surrounding plain for its breakfast. Suddenly the silence was interrupted by the unique sound of a hot air balloon as it hovered over a row of bushes in the distance. We’d seen the details of this trip and although I was a little tempted the other three were not too keen on the idea of the early morning start. Although in truth I think they were more concerned about the height the balloon might rise to!
The balloon distracted only for a little while as a small pack of hyenas purposefully headed across plain. I guess they’d seen something that the vulture hadn’t spotted, but as I glanced back I saw that the vulture too was on the move. I wonder if there was enough for the hyenas and the vulture or if there wasn’t which got there first. I’ll never really know but I suspect that the vulture had the real advantage and was tucking in to its breakfast well before the hyenas arrived for the "second sitting".
We paused to look once more at a group of Topis, affectionately known as Blue Jeans because of the distinctive bluish hue to the top of their legs. Over in the distance we saw a Masai Mara women strolling through the yellow grasses and as she saw us she beckoned for us to come closer. We were doing just that when our guide stopped suddenly. "I don’t like it" he said "something’s not right". He then veered away and approached the woman from another direction and she turned and walked towards us, once again beckoning us.
This cat and mouse game was played out for several minutes and whilst driving or guide was on the telephone speaking to colleagues. Within 15 minutes of first spotting this woman there were 5 jeeps "surrounding her" and one finally broke rank to make "voice contact" with her. There was an intense debate going on and finally the woman got into the jeep and they drove off. It turned out that our guide had been concerned about the bags that the woman was carrying and I guess his concerns were exacerbated by the fact that in 2012 there were very real concerns about Somalian terrorist group threatening bomb attacks in Kenya. However, the truth was even stranger insofar as this woman had been wandering round the plains all night and was now totally disorientated and didn’t know where her home was. "She is a real lucky lady" our guide said "as there’s a fair bit of wildlife out here that could have attacked and killed her." He made particular reference to the "lean lions" that we’d seen yesterday and we too agreed she was "a lucky lady".
Almost as a confirmation of her lucky escape was the sighting of the group of lions that we’d seen yesterday. They’d obviously managed a kill as they looked much sprightlier and less bony than they’d been previously.
It now seemed as if our guide wanted to reacquaint us with animals that we’d seen on previous trips as we drove past zebras, elephants, gazelle, impala, wildebeest and elephants. He knew of our fascination with the hippo and we went to one of their watering holes to watch their antics and after a quiet few minutes in the company of this marvellous animal we headed away from the watering hole.
Suddenly the jeep lurched to a stop and our guide pointed excitedly towards a tree stump. But it was not all it seemed because it was in fact the home of an African Rock Python and despite its huge dimensions it moved pretty quickly when we stopped to get a closer look. Mind you it didn’t move quite as quickly as my wife who almost shot out the other-side of the jeep. We did accuse her of frightening the poor creature but I’m afraid she didn’t share our concerns for its welfare! At 30 feet in length the African Rock Python is the third largest in the world and I was surprised that this mighty snake was apparently so shy. Apparently it’s not averse to taking on a crocodile or a gazelle and if it feeds well it can go up to a year before its next feed. Now that’s a phenomenal thought.
We moved close to a group of zebras in the shade of some trees and rather than racing away from us these seemed quite happy for us to drive slowly alongside them. This felt like a real privilege because other encounters with these animals had resulted in them kicking their hind legs and racing off. Within a few yards of the zebra was a small of elephants and then the black faces of the velvet monkey. As always you can guarantee that monkeys will entertain and as if on cue they started their antics occasionally looking back at us almost as if they were wanting our recognition and applause. A regular theatre troop.
As we were enjoying the "free show" a couple of Masai Mara Villagers appeared from nowhere and started to produce their craftwork. Our guide was not amused and quickly moved them on. And now it was our turn to be moving on as we needed to eat before packing our bags and saying a final goodbye to Governors Camp and the Masai Mara. A Hartebeest looked like he was standing attention on the top of a small hillock and as a finale a lone Bull Elephant trundles across the dust track that led back to the Camp. A smiling salute from the camp’s entrance guard and we were in Governors for the last time.
We’d thoroughly enjoyed our last safari and once again our guide had managed to find us some new experiences to go alongside the familiar sights of the Masai Mara.
Brilliant, I reckon that I could manage another Safari sometime in the future.