BLOG Post 5 June 9th, Group A: Andy, Sol, Grace
Writing this blog after twelve hours in the Maasai Mara savanna, we realized that the only thing missing was the narration of David Attenborough. We started the day with breakfast at 5:30 AM under the constellations of the southern hemisphere, and the team was ready to hit the road. Looking out over the grasslands, it’s clear why Serengeti translates to “endless land”. Before the sun finished rising over the great expanse, we were already lucky enough to see zebras, gazelle, impalas, and even a sneaky hyena (or fisi in Swahili) – the game drive was on! Although we came set with charged cameras, an excess of water, and the famous Bunduz truck, nothing could have prepared us for the most captivating ‘lecture’ we would ever experience. The post-sunrise timeline was as follows: 7:00AM was Cheetahs and Warthogs. 8:00AM was African Crowned Cranes and Marabou Storks. 9:00AM was Elephants and Buffalo, and 10:00AM was a very elusive leopard! After spending much time with a magnificent (albeit sleepy) lion, we drove down to the Mara River to stretch our legs and soak up some sun.
Although the sun was blisteringly hot, the sight of the Mara River upon jumping out of the truck was enough for us to power through. After checking out some lizards including a red-headed agama, we met with our guide Daniel (and his associate Lenny) and set out along the shaded banks. Almost as soon as we set off, the sound of camera shutters began – a Nile crocodile! We continued our trek with multiple photo stops until we reached the Bunduz team, who had gone ahead to meet us on the other side. After a great lunch and a quick break among mongoose, we were back in the truck and into the thick of it. Our expert driver John took us to the Kenya-Tanzania border where we could have one foot in both countries at the same time, checking another country off the bucket-list (even if it’s on a technicality). We got back in the truck and set out again. This time, however, things did not go quite as planned. Shortly after finding a group of giraffes, disaster struck (well a slight disaster) – the mighty Bunduz truck got stuck! The whole team shuffled out into the tallgrass a purgatorial state between alert and amused, and the truck sprang forward (mutterings of perhaps we should skip dinner echoed). We were free to continue our adventure!
As if the first half of the day wasn’t enough, the evening game drive generated even more excitement. Our resident ornithologists were thrilled to spot a Hornbill, which re-energized the group for the rest of the ride. Nearing the end of our journey, we noticed the other safari vehicles congregating around a specific area – triggering our curiosity. As we got closer, we were fortunate enough to observe two cheetahs feeding on a topi, surrounded by jackals and a lapel-faced vulture (two species of scavengers) patiently waiting to clean up the leftovers. After seeing some wild Maasai cows or eland near the exit, Dr. Lougheed wrapped up our adventure saying this was the “best game drive [he] had ever been on.” Its safe to say that even without narration, today was better than any episode of Plant Earth ever could be.