Wednesday 04/10/17: The dried and cracked stream-beds look like rhino skin and we’re thrown about our seats as if on a crap decrepit roller-coaster. Oh my God, I’ll never complain about Glasgow pot-holes again! Peter explains that the main road had been getting fixed for many, many years but we only see two small JCBs in two hours’ travel. Maybe it’s just a quiet day. This teeth-jangling road is the only way to one of Kenya’s main tourist attractions, the Maasai Mara. The 1500km2 game reserve is famous for its wide variety of animals.
There’s blue sky, dried-out earth and the odd scrub bush. A river acts as the border for the West side of the reserve but there are no man-made fences here so as to allow for the great wildebeest migration. The wind whips across the flat plains and we can hardly see anything for dust. Dust storm tornadoes twirl madly as we drive along, some reaching high into the sky.
There is a lot of litter. Our guide says the locals and masai just dump their rubbish wherever they happen to be but when the rains eventually come, it all gets washed away and they get to start again. The Kenyan government has recently instated a new law banning plastic bags at the risk of four years in prison, and it’s easy to see why. It feels like Kenya is years behind the UK in terms of litter management. I don’t recycle as much as I should at home but it’s obvious even to me. We’ve seen no recycling facilities on our tour yet despite the countless plastic water bottles that our one truck alone is consuming.
The roads have deteriorated since the last time our guide was here so after a couple of hours, we stop for lunch at the road side. Peter, our guide, isn’t worried, “Nature has a way of making the best for us. Hakuna matata”.
Sure enough, two hours later and then 10 minutes into the actual reserve where the landscape softens and becomes greener again, we see a herd of African elephants amongst some shrubs followed by the most incredible meeting between a returning lioness and a dozen cubs of varying ages. Their gentle grumbles and moans accompanied by head bumps and shoulder nudges can’t be mistaken for anything other than love.
Over the next few hours, we see galloping wildebeest, zebra, chirping cheetahs, and even a leopard napping in the crook of a tree with his gazelle dinner hanging from the branches. This place is amazing!! There’s buffalo, ostriches, eagles and a hyena sighting shortly after but nothing can beat the buzz from the elephants and lions. The setting sun creates magical light with long shadows and our bumpy journey here is forgotten.