Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Masai Mara - Day 1 & 2 - Nyumbu Camp

The Masai Mara is what people say it is – a miracle! They say the Mara never disappoints and even during the off-peak season, it didn't disappoint us. 

Mara is a large game reserve in south-western Kenya and is the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named after the Masai people, the traditional inhabitants of the area, who we could see grazing their cattle in the outskirts of the park. It is famous for its exceptional population of Big Cats and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson's gazelle and wildebeest from the Serengeti.

The road to Mara

We were lucky to have gone with one of the best Safari companies in Kenya - As You Like It Safaris which is run by the charming Vivien Prince. We were not sure about staying in tented accommodation as April was supposed to be the rainy season so opted for Lodges for most of the trip. However, Vivien advised us to stay at Nyumbu Camp for the first two nights at Mara to get the real "African Experience". And we are sure glad we took her advice because that turned out to be the best place we stayed at during the whole trip! 


Nyumbu Camp
Even though all the lodges we stayed at were swanky & modern places, for us, Nyumbu Camp was the best. There were no facilities like swimming pool, wifi, etc and in fact, there was only one place to get all our electronic equipment charged and in our case that was a lot (they do have laundry service though!). However, it gave us the real camping experience minus the hassle of cooking, cleaning, etc. Nyumbu (which means Wildebeest in Swahili) Camp is located on open ground just outside the official boundaries of the Masai Mara reserve but since there are no barriers, wild animals roam about through the camp during the night. Masai warriors keep guard over the tents with their spears and are available to make sure we are safe during our walk to the restaurant and back. The staff are friendly and know how to give the guests a truly unique experience of the wild.

The camp has several large and spacious safari tents with an en suite toilet and shower. Yes - a proper toilet, shower cubicle with hot water and wash basin are included WITHIN the tent! There is ample room for clothes and equipment and there are 2 beds - 1 double and 1 single - easily able to accommodate 3 adults comfortably. The tents are very secure and there is a good distance between each of them to ensure privacy. A long winding road leads to the restaurant and bar.  The best thing about the tent is that it has 2 layers - the outside layer, when fully zipped up, covers the tent and offers complete privacy. You can open up the outer layer and leave the second layer made of netting, with the breeze sweeping through the netting. In the morning, when you wake up you just lie in bed staring at the sky, a sunrise and a tree full of birds just outside the tent – it is an experience worth dying for.

Click on any image for larger size. Click back button to return

The tent from outside

The tent inside - with all our mess


African sunrise

Right next to the restaurant area, there was a big tree which was full of Masked Weaver bird nests. Several of the nests had young birds inside and many of the adult Weaver birds were busy feeding them. We spent quite a bit of time viewing these birds fluttering about and it was at this time that we heard the chirps of a very young bird coming from the ground - one of them had fallen out of the nest! With the help of the staff we were able to restore it back to its nest. 

The young bird which had fallen out of the nest - ugly looking yet soooo cute!


Masked Weaver Bird (not sure which kind - though, it does look very much like the Northern Masked Weaver, they are supposed to be found only in the Lake Baringo area though) 

The most striking feature of the Masai Mara is how the reserve stretches out for miles and miles with just grass. We were worried that we would get lost in that stark wilderness but Camara (our driver/guide) knew the area very well.







And now for the real Mara experience 

Wildebeest


Surveying prey


Peek-a-boo..... I see you!


Lone Impala


We had some good views of Giraffes








There were quite a lot of birds as well

Saddle-Back Storks building a nest 


Not sure which species


This Water Thick-Knee walked very close to the vehicle


The Common Ostrich - female


The Common Ostrich - male


A very sleepy Verreaux's Eagle Owl

Spur-winged Plover


Black Kite

One of the more interesting birds that we came across was the Kori Bustard, a large terrestrial bird which stands more than 3 feet tall. They are one of the heaviest flying birds in the world and the male can weigh up to 12Kgs! They are omnivorous with a diet of insects, lizards and seeds and they nest on the ground. They have a very interesting mating display which involves inflating throat sacs or elevating their elaborate feathered crests. 




We drove around a lot trying to find a Leopard or Cheetah with no luck. All of a sudden Camara turned into a road leading to a tree under which there was a herd of Elephants. You can imagine our surprise when we saw on the other side three cheetahs relaxing in the grass.




The elephant herd kept moving towards the cheetahs while grazing and at one point, one of the bigger elephants decided that the cheetahs were a threat to the little baby elephant in the group. So she made a dash and chased the cheetahs off. It was quite funny to see the cheetahs running away from the elephant. She nearly caught up with one!





The baby elephant they were protecting






More elephants




On the second day, we did a full day Safari where we got a packed lunch and did a whole day in the park. This was our picnic site on top of a hill over looking the plains.






Second day was a bit disappointing as we didn’t see much during the day as it was extremely hot. However, on our way back to camp we came across a lion family consisting of a mother and 2 cubs. They seemed to have just woken up from a long nap.






Finally we saw this Jackal just before we headed off to the Camp


A slideshow of the shots – a few more additional ones in here


6 comments:

  1. These are absolutely beautiful! I love the symmetry on the saddle-back stork shot as well as the intimacy with the rhino and lion shots. The photography is beautiful and I'm quite jealous about your experiences over there--- these look amazing!!!

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  2. Abari! This is my first time here,and will definitely not be the last! You guys have an awesome thing going!

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  3. Wow, Riyazi! just wow! these are really spectacular, what a trip, thanks so much for taking all the time to edit and blog about your trip! I am in awe of all the portfolio level shots you got, just awesome big man!

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  4. Great post, and pictures, you two!
    Masai Mara looks just amazing through your lens.
    I think you are too generous in including all these captures in one post. ;)

    Wow, to your wide-angle, and black and white captures. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Hi,

    Amazing photos, I am planning to go Masai in Aug. 2012 and was browsing the net for more info. and came across your blog. Its very nice blog and very good pictures.

    Regards,

    Amar (amarsuhas@gmail.com)

    ReplyDelete

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