KENYA - part 1

By muriel bartol

matt and muriel, our dear leaders, recently took a trip to Kenya and had an incredible adventure.

the goal of the trip was to see some elephants in the wild and in order to do that we had to get a vehicle that can handle Kenya's B and C roads which are dirt and difficult. think washboard on the "beginner" side, giant ruts, water crossings, and washed-out roads on the "expert" side of the scale.

with the aid of some friends (thanks Ian and Clair!) we found our beast: a Toyota Land Cruiser made for these conditions and kitted out to make the most of our trip. who knew you could rent such a beautiful beast of a machine?


on our first day we set out from Nairobi towards Narok, where we topped up on gas, and made it to Talek just as the sun was setting. we found a campground and set up our rooftop tent in the dark. our first night in the beast was very comfortable, though the deep growls of some unknown critter were somewhat disconcerting. we found out in the morning from our Maasai host that it was a hyena that had been prowling around the campsite.

the campsite was just across the river from the incredible Maasai Mara National Reserve, and in the morning we set out to explore. 

we drove in on a overcast morning, the the 583 square miles of the Mara stretching out before us. unsure of where to go, wondering if we should have hired a guide to show us the best spots, we set out to get a view from a hillock.

almost immediately we spotted a herd of zebras and antelope. we also encountered topi for the first time; a creature that could easily pass for a kindergartner's drawing with their wild idiosyncratic coloring and tendency to stand majestically on any sizable rock

we then changed our approach, which turned out to be the winning strategy in the reserve, and headed towards the closest river. we crossed it (our first water crossing of the day!) and noticed some movement off to our left. we quickly realized it was a lion. we stopped, popped the safari roof hatch, and watched in awe as a massive lion sauntered toward us and nonchalantly crossed the road not 20 feet from our vehicle.

when he disappeared into the bush, we continued on our way along the riverside and soon spotted a herd of elephants across the river. elephants! 5 or 6 adults and two babies!

 

we then made our way across the river to get closer and were rewarded by being surrounded by the herd. one of the two tiny babies was hilarious, a very boisterous little one, it would dash between bushes behind an adult and then run in the bushes to and fro, shaking all the leaves and tooting his trunk for full effect. we weren't able to capture all his antics but here is a video to give you a taste

what a treat! elephants in the wild! what wondrous creatures. our objective had been met and anything beyond this was an extra, as far as we were concerned. with full hearts we broke away from this herd and headed deeper into the park. 

Continue to part 2...