Masai Mara National Reserve (day 2)

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Good morning, Masai Mara!

The second day in Masai Mara blessed us with amazing gifts. It started off with having breakfast at the hotel watching balloons rise up to meet the daylight. In our morning safari, we got really close to a baby giraffe – who didn´t seem to mind us at all – and watched a wildebeest go crazy, jumping and running around, as if he was really enjoying his life. Well, that´s my interpretation of it, at least lol. I bet an expert could maybe say this means something completely different, but I would still choose my analysis over his – even though we all know which one would be correct…!

In a safari, no day is like the other. Of course you expect to see many different animals, but there´s no guarantee for which you will meet along the way, and what they will be doing. Of course the expertise of your guide does play a role in it, but it´s definitely not definite – if that makes sense. Some things are indeed considered special enough though, that you can call yourself really fortunate according to the guides, for example: animals mating, big cats roaring, kills, fights, and a chase. But what some consider lucky, others might consider tragic. Life in the savannah is not easy…

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Our favorite baby giraffe!
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Always a pleasure to meet with elephants!

In this sense, the second day also introduced to us the famous “5 brothers of Masai Mara”, 5 male cheetahs that, even though they are not real brothers, formed a brotherhood that is beautiful to see. You can imagine, the fastest animal in the savannah times 5…they are close to invincible. Together, they can bring down animals like a buffalo that, each of them alone, wouldn´t usually stand a chance. On this day that we spotted them, they targeted a baby antelope that was with his mother. We decided not to see the kill.

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Four of the mighty five

I know, I know….”it´s nature´s course”, “the law of the fittest” and all of that. But I promise you, that even though you think you understand and accept nature as it is (as we should), watching a kill is not the easiest, especially if there´s a baby involved that was probably not even a month old. The mother is going to try to protect it as she can, the baby is going to desperately run as it can, but its fate is sealed the moment a stronger animal (or five!) decides what´s in the menu for the day.

If, like me, you don´t have the stomach for that, that´s ok. You make your own safari! Just tell your guide, as we did, and he will drive away or not accompany the chase. The important thing here is that you align your expectations with your guide, in order that every day in the savannah is enjoyable, avoiding traumatic experiences.

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These cheetahs are so famous, it´s not unusual to see them in documentaries on tv.

One thing I will tell you: even though I chose not to watch the chase that ended up in the killing of the baby antelope, I absolutely loved to see the behavior of the cheetahs acting together. They know they can outrun any animal, so….what´s the hurry? They definitely took their time chilling, sleeping, rolling over on the grass while they watched their prey from afar. The exact moment the prey started to move, two of them, almost simultaneously, got up in a chase position – one of them even looking at the other as it got up, almost like mocking the move. You could clearly see who´s leading the group. Animal behavior is just fascinating! Watching a cheetah run is also one of the most amazing things you will see in your life. Let alone five, concurrently.

On this day we also saw the hippos – we were dying to see them! It was hard to realize that we were watching one of the most dangerous animals in Africa…they looked so chilled, harmless and playful in the water! We were allowed to get out of the car at that point of the Mara river, which was great to stretch the legs and also to admire our surroundings. We didn´t stay long though – in the end, you never know who might be hiding in the bushes!

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These guys know how to live through a hot day!
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They look like harmless cows sometimes but…make no mistake, you don´t wanna be the aim of a head bump!

Additionally we also saw elephants, impalas, hyenas, lions and lionesses, buffalos and ostriches. One of the coolest moments of the day was to watch a buffalo challenge the lionesses´ territory. They watched him carefully as he got closer but, in the end, they just conceded the space and left. I gotta be honest here, my bet was on the girls! Lionesses are amazing fighters, plus the buffalo was clearly outnumbered. He didn´t seem to mind though: he wanted to munch on the grass close to the river, and he was going to do so, odds against him or not! That must have been some damn delicious grass, lol. Another amazing display of animal behavior.

We also watched a hyena follow a cheetah in the slowest “chase” ever! It was clear the hyena was going where the cheetah was bound to, and nobody thought she had the best intentions. The cheetah couldn´t have cared less though. She would even lie down, take her time, take a look at the hyena behind her, while the hyena would stop and pretend she was just there, appreciating the view! Naughty naughty! Our guide said that the cheetah knows she is the fastest animal. So, in a way, she was basically torturing the hyena. This is better than telenovela sometimes.

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A lonely hyena. They were not my favorite animal at the beginning of this safari trip, but I have to admit, they grew on me.
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Another hyena, hiding from the sun. She was actually pretty hurt on her torso, which made my heart break for her.

My favorite view of the day was watching the sunset inside the national reserve. The colors were so mind blowing! One of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen. I could just watch the sun go down in the green horizon for hours, while wondering in my mind what the animals were doing in the 4 corners of the park.

Even though out there in the safari is pretty cool, we were always happy to be back at the hotel! As I wrote here, Basecamp Mara was offering us a magical stay since the day before. On this second day, we visited the “Obama forest”, a forest behind the accommodation where the former US president and his family planted trees while staying at Basecamp. The tent he occupied is now called “the Obama tent”.

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Sundown in Masai Mara
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The entrance of the Obama forest
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Masai performance (and a tourist guy who was the “lucky” chosen one of the night to perform with them!)

We had dinner on the restaurant deck, by the bonfire, under the stars – pretty fascinating! To make it even better, around 8:30 a group of Masai came to perform Masai chants and dances for us. At some point, all the hotel staff, who were also Masai, just joined in, making it a big unexpected love declaration performance to their own culture. Well, they made us all fall in love.

Click on the video below to risk falling in love you too 🙂

 

 

 

 

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