Why I love the Maasai Mara (22 September 2014 )

Many stories have been written on the Maasai Mara about how beautiful the park is – The incredible wildebeest migration as one of the wonders of the world. The Mara’s mysteries  continuously unfolding to present the kind of African dream people dream about: watching a roaring lion, photographing a hunting cheetah, spotting the caracal cat and even having a glimpse of the striped hyena.

I grew up in Kenya, and have been to the Maasai Mara many times. I returned to work in the Maasai Mara in 2013. Why, you may wonder, do I keep going back to the same place when there are thousands of beautiful destinations across the globe? I will tell you why – because going back to the Maasai Mara is like going to a new place every time. The cycle of the wild, the rebirth of the earth and the resonating energy of millions of souls in this reserve will toss you into a different dimension every time you visit.  The Maasai Mara just takes your breath away.  Simple.Mara Love 1

I climb into a Cessna aircraft that will fly me into Kenya’s most popular reserve. I am excited as we fly over the vast landscape of the country and I am greeted by my super cool Maasai guide. I ask him to stop a moment and I take in the sight that greets me – an infinite horizon of various shades of lush green, sprinkled with bushes and aligned with trees.  There are black dots as far as the eyes can see. The wildebeests were already here…

Mara Love 2

The sky is overcast, with patches of dark grey clouds threatening to pop open. The shadows being formed on the plains are forming their own picturesque canvas, and the wildebeest continue to graze as we drive by.  It finally starts to rain and I look through a glaze of cascading water, seeing the Mara under a stark grey sky. Zebras, gazelles and wildebeest continue eating, unfazed by the rain as the warthogs lead their little ones into their holes. We pass a pod of lazy hippos that slide into the water as the rain continues to pelt down.  I only realize then that I am leaning out and getting wet – It didn’t matter…  This is why I was back in this stunning part of Kenya – the wilderness just kept on breathing…

We finally arrive at our camp and it never ceases to amaze me how luxurious it can be in the bush. The cleared pathway, the big beds, the stunning colour combinations of matching settees and cushions, the bathtub facing the river and the twin sinks in the bathroom! The quiet rustling of the leaves outside and the distant grunt of the waddling hippos add on to the ambiance of my surroundings. It stops raining but it still smells like rain. The clouds part a little to allow some rays of light to shine through, and I am suddenly transported into the mystifying tales of an anecdote from Out of Africa. As dusk falls, the king of the jungle makes his presence known with a deep, incredible roar that raises the hair on the back of my neck.  This was my background hum …

I spent two nights in this glorious corner of my country. I saw crocodiles sleeping with their mouths open, and an unsuspecting yellow–billed stork five feet away from them. I found a family of the big cats with playful cubs licking off the last of their kill – an unfortunate wildebeest. I catch a glimpse of a serval cat among the tall grass and a hyena curled up inside a rugged rock face.

I see a half eaten gazelle in a tree, and know its killer cannot be that far off. We find the leopard taking short breaths under thick bushes. His attitude is blasé in our presence as he gazes up at the branches above him, then stands up and grooms himself.  He walks in front of my vehicle oblivious to my presence, and on to the stream of water on the other side of my jeep. He sits down again, laps up some water and then turns around and looks right at me… I stare back… he keeps looking – I know you shouldn’t stare back at a cat – let alone a wild leopard, but I couldn’t pull my gaze away from this one … his unblinking, yellowish green eyes are looking right into my soul … Just the two of us …  I had to break the gaze … this was my abyss.

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My experience back in Africa’s Leading National Reserve reminded me of how lucky I was to be so close to one of the most spectacular places on earth.  My visit to the Maasai Mara was completed with the appetizing and enticing dishes that I enjoyed for the three days I spent in the reserve.  The natural sounds of the wild were uninterrupted with the lack of bleeping cell phones and television sounds.  Here, I rediscovered my Zen.  And to top it all, I had an opportunity to see the Maasai Mara from a bird’s point of view.  I went on a hot air balloon ride – an experience that left me breathless.  Up in the sky, oscillating between 1000 and 2000 feet, I saw the plains and the game in a different light that begs me to write another chapter of the many reasons why I love the Maasai Mara.

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