The Great Migration

part of the Wildebeest Migration as seen from our hot air balloon flight

part of the Wildebeest Migration as seen from our hot air balloon flight

We are travelling in a diverse group of 15. The ages range from a 19 year old Brazilian and his older brother to an 80 year old Australian, and a 70 year old Jamaican now living in the UK. It is never too late to travel. The group is divided for the drives between two newish eight passenger Land Cruisers, with both the youngest and oldest passengers in one vehicle and the rest of us in another. I like the Land Cruisers and the tops remove in three sections so you can look out the top while on safari.

We left Nairobi for our first stop at Lake Nakuru. The lake currently has over 2 million flamingos in it. We saw this from lake side, but could also see them scattered across the lake from the cottages we were staying in. On our first safari drive of the trip we were rewarded with being only a couple meters away from a couple of white rhinos. There were also numerous African Buffalos and we saw our first lion. Beyond the usual gazelles, impalas, and other members of the antelope family we saw the Dik Dik, which is the smallest of the family and not much bigger than about double the size of a rabbit. We also saw Zebra and Baboons, both of which we would see continuously whenever we were in or near a national park. It was a great start to the trip.

Our next destination was the Masai Mara, which is simply the part of the Serengeti that is on the Kenyan side of the border. On our trip notes this was the only place we would be camping on this trip. This is certainly Leanne’s style of camping. Beautiful tents on fixed structures with large beds, electricity and private washrooms with hot water showers and flushing toilets. It disappointed those wanting an actual camping experience, but we were happy. Sadly our stay in this beautiful spot was marred by mosquito problems. In the rooms they have a mosquito killing device that heats a scented disk. As a mosquito would get close you could hear the sound change and it would fall dead shortly after that. The electricity is run off a generator which is turned off from midnight until early morning. We were woken repeatedly on our first night from the sound of mosquitoes by our ears and when we finally got up in the morning we both had close to a dozen bites on our faces. That day I complained about the problem (as did the majority of guests there) and pleaded for a mosquito net for the bed. Turns out they were aware of the mosquito issue. The outbreak had started two months ago, but since this was the first year they’ve had problems they were taking a hope-it-goes-away approach. The tents aren’t sealed properly due to how they are connected with the washrooms. They did not have any nets for use or purchase. They fumigated our tents the following night. This helped reduce the number of additional bites to just a couple more each. The fact that they hadn’t responded to a changing environment to protect their customers from bites in a malaria zone is unacceptable and I look forward to writing a scathing review of the place on Trip Advisor.

Despite the bad sleeps all was forgotten during the day thanks some incredible animal sightings. Our first morning in the Mara we celebrated our second wedding anniversary with an early morning hot air balloon flight over the park followed by a champagne breakfast. The highlight of the flight was going over part of a heard of the migrating wildebeest. While an enjoyable experience, ballooning here simply does not compare to what we had done in the past at Cappadocia in Turkey. If you are only going to try ballooning once, and I highly recommend the experience, save some money and do it in Turkey. Later in the morning during a rest stop at another lodge someone had left the door to our vehicle open and unattended for half a minute and a vervet monkey quickly took advantage of the situation and went inside to rummage for food. We had to chase it out.

We were very lucky to be rewarded with seeing the endless stretch of migration wildebeest and zebras on our anniversary. The great migration was one of the most important things I hoped to see while in East Africa and it came early this year and we managed to be in the right place at the right time. We were so close to the animals that we temporarily split the herd as we drove along the rode as it bisected their path. We even stopped for a picnic lunch on a rock area in the middle of the park not far from the herd. Another incredible sighting we had while in the Masai Mara was of the rare Black Rhino. We also saw numerous lions, elephants, giraffes, and many of the other usual game and birdlife this area is known for. Our drivers were great and would drive way off the road to get us the best views of the animals.
 
After two nights and safari drives over three days we went across the park on our way to the Tanzanian border. We highly recommend visiting the Masai Mara. We were spoiled here with so many animal sightings so frequently and freedom to move around the park however we wanted.

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