A night at the Maasai Mara can be ruined by a lion pawing at your tent as he breaks out into a thunderous roar every two minutes. The tent barely shields you as it is comprised of light material sewn together and slung over rods of steel stumped into the ground for some stability. You try to ignore the lion and get through the night in one piece, but of course being human coupled with the scary animal stories your tent-mate has volunteered precisely at that moment to narrate, you totally fail at catching forty winks.
You are happy when day breaks and you get to chat with the ranger at breakfast. He assures you that the noises you heard were from a wounded lion miles away, not outside your tent as the animals don’t venture this way, and in any case the lion was slowed down by the injury. Your fears are allayed somewhat, though you are camped in the middle of the park where dangerous wild animals roam freely.
That was my last memory of the Mara, a full decade or so ago. While we were apprehensive of wild animals straying too far into the human settlements area, high tea at Treetops Lodge and fine dining at Mt Kenya Safari club made us feel like local tourists.
Now I’m back at the Mara. There’s no camaraderie this time, no jokes over a bonfire, no poking fun at the bosses, but we have just as nice a weekend as the last time, because I am here touring after years spent abroad.
Being far away from home gives one a fresh appreciation of all things Kenyan, so your journey beginning with a trip to the Rift Valley is punctuated by oohs and aahs, bubbling from a place of nothing else but nostalgia.
We stop over at Narok for a toilet break, lunch and shopping at a supermarket. The journey from then on is difficult, with long winding bumpy dusty roads but we finally make it to the Nalepomara Lodge where we will be staying for the weekend.
Bright and early the following two days we make our way to the Masai Mara game reserve. At the entrance Masai ladies selling their wares immediately swoop down on our van and we make a few purchases before proceeding into the park.
Zebras and the wildebeest that have survived the migration quickly come into view. The Masai Mara game reserve is vast and we drive around the rest of the afternoon catching views of a herd of elephants, a lion and lioness, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles and even a leopard relaxing in the tree.
The game drives were unforgettable, a good memory of my visit back home and something special for the kids. We did not have the Cultural tour to a Maasai village, yet it was listed as part of itinerary.
The trip to Masai Mara was taken with Sundowner tours at a discount price of 11,000 kshs per adult, and 8,000 kshs per child. Opinions all my own.