Although there are no roads recorded on the map, but we saw cars over there. The very first opportunity I turn right and in the first puddle I am stuck. Shit … With the 4×4 drive we come out. Phew, lucky. It is still pitch dark. The black goo (also called Black Cotton Soil) sticks anywhere on the car and is thrown up from below. About 2 kilometers from the gate I give up, EVERYTHING is slippery, slushy, muddy, whether on or off the road, driving feels like skidding on ice. So back to the Main Road. Once across the park and the trail leads us back again to the Mara Conservancy.
At the Hippo Pool just before the barrier today we are all alone with four elephants, they bath and play. We just sit there and enjoy the rare spectacle. Three of the four animals have fun with each other, while a fourth, a young wastrel, is making show, into the water, out of the water, up the embankment, up trumpeting, the slope back down. Woonderful. What a spectacle. Next door are some hippos are on land.
A Hippo eats away at a piece of wood. The three elephants warp right to the shore from the water, they reach for the fresh green of the embankment. Soon, the hippos are in the water again. On the banks two palm trunks protrude into the water and the hippos tries again and again, to bite at the stem, the strange behavior of before is now clear to me, it probably has a toothache? When the elephants are gone and the hippo has calmed down, we continue to the gate, we got our permit and the advice to keep on the lookout for 11 lions. We should look for a green car. We find the green car with the ranger, on a side street, he leads us to the point where he has seen the lions.
We do not find them, but we see two leopards. On the crossing point ther is no crossing today. Fortunately, the roads in the Mara Conservancy are drier than in the Mara National Reserve. Today is Elephants day, we see determined 15 to 20 different groups, also buffalo, eland, zebra, impala, gazelle, waterbuck, crowned cranes and at least a hyena. At some point we must go back, we will try to drive straight through the reserve, we could easily take this road yesterday. Not a chance. Four trials do we need to get over the normaly dry river beds, on the last attempt, we make it. But there is an ugly sound nothing good guessing. Something is not right on the wheel.
Fortunately, it sounds disappears soon. 5 km before the gate we are lucky again, a huge pride of lions is on the edge of a grove. Good thing we left so early, now we have two more hours. Of course we are not alone with the lions. In two hours at least 15 Safari Company cars come and go, some come three times. We count a total of 16 lions, 4 old, huge lionesses, a younger lioness and a younger male, 10 cubs of all ages. The lionesses are really huge, as big as the males in the Kruger Park and in Kgalagadi.
The four old ladies are probably already 12, 14 years old. The are HUGE, have torn ears, one sees that they have arthritis, one can hardly open her right eye, but they are well fed. Man, Mara lions are HUGE! While the aged are still resting, the cubs are playing, cuddle, hide on the other side of the street, chasing each other, try the stalking. We don’t see a pascha, but the ladies will probably only need one to reproduce.
With heavy hearts we head at 6 o’clock, we would like to stay there longer, but its getting dark. The rest of the way we drive without getting caught in the mud, but the car looks terrible. The first thing we do then in the camp, is to scrape the dirt out the wheel arches, which sticks like cement. The Maasai are surprised that we have seen, even without their guide services, lions, hyenas, leopards and elephants bathing. B
ut once we have been the only self-drive in the park, which is rather rare here in the Maasai Mara, and probably in the national parks in Kenya.
180 km, 13 hrs, 30 ° cloudy,900 KSH in Aruba Mara Camp, Talek, near Maasai Mara
Tags: Talek Gate, Aruba Mara Camp, Maasai Mara, Talek, Maasai, Kenya, Mara lions