Safari Day 6 – 07/31/08

We had a long day today. We drove up to the Mara River on the border with Kenya in hopes of seeing the wildebeast migration and wildebeast crossing the river.  We saw 10s of thousands of Wildebeast in different herds along the way – amazing! Often we had to stop the vehicle and let them cross, although mostly they were afraid of the vehicle and ran out of the way. There has been more rain than usual in this area so there are many more animals near the lodge than expected.  Normally the wildebeast are not seen so close to the logde.  The country side was truly beautiful and it was an enjoyable ride with many zebra, giraffe, gazelle, and impalas along the way in addition to the multitude of wildebeast!  There were also many carcasses with vultures doing their part of the natural cycle.

Wildebeest Migration

Wildebeest Migration

We had lunch at the ranger station near the river.  Then we watched a herd for awhile hoping that it would cross the river but there were no brave souls to take the first plunge. Since we had a long drive back (100km) we couldn’t wait for too long.  We also saw some herds of hippos in a bit less congested and cleaner setting then the hippo pool yesterday. And HUGE crocodiles – it is hard to believe they can grow so big.

Hippos out of the water on beach by a river

Hippos out of the water on beach by Mara River

On the way back to the lodge we saw an injured zebra baby that at first we thought had been hit by a vehicle. But, closer inspection revealed that it was wet and had a gash and teeth marks in the neck. There was water close by and the guides surmised that it had probably been attacked by a crocodile.  Another example of life in the wild but still sad to see.  The drivers do have to be really good to avoid the animals when there are so many herds. The wildebeast and zebras are very unpredictable and the drivers really need to slow down when the animals are in or near the road.  On the way back to the logde at the end of the day the drivers were traveling very fast – up to 50km/hour on uneven dirt roads. They do an amazing job of reading the road and wildlife and slowing down as necessary to avoid holes, animals, or when making turns.

On the way back we were very fortunate to see a pride of 20 lions laying in the field!!! Our driver went off the road so we could take a closer look and get some pictures.  Since it was the end of the day the light was low but it was magical to be so close to that many lions. There were 12 cubs (some about 4 months old the others about 6 months old) and 8 females – an unusually large group.  Our guide said that all of them looked very healthy and that it is not common to see such a large group since they would need to make more than one kill to feed them all.

Yawning Lion Cub

Yawning Lion Cub

It was a long day. It would have been nice to see the wildebeest crossing the river, but with conditions so good on this side there is no real reason to cross.  Even though it was a long drive it was certainly worth seeing all of the wildebeast herds and the varied countryside.  I am exhaused – riding in the Land Cruiser (we stand most of the time) and taking photos is tiring!!!

~ by Becka11y on August 6, 2008.

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