Kenya (13) – Maasai Mara
The Maasai Mara certainly lived up to its big cat reputation today. After driving around for a couple of hours, and taking in the zebra, impala and giraffes, we were called by the other vehicle to a cheetah sighting. Four cheetah – three males and a female, snoozing by a small waterhole. They were very comfortable in the long grass, which made it rather difficult to photograph them without stray pieces of grass in front of their faces.
We stayed and watched them for about half an hour, our attention to the cheetahs only broken when another vehicle got itself stuck in the thick mud, and could only be moved by being pushed by our other Landcruiser. It took a few attempts and a lot of burning rubber to get them out.
After the cheetahs we found ourselves a nice picnic spot for our breakfast, under a tree housing a couple owls. I managed to get one quick shot before they moved.
We’d hardly been going anytime before we found the one thing I really wanted to see, but barely hoped to – a leopard! The leopard was doing exactly what the script said it was supposed to – resting in a tree with its legs and tail hanging down. After a little while it got up and we thought we might see it leap down from the tree, but instead it jumped to a branch on the other side, a move which I unfortunately wasn’t quick enough to capture.
The leopard looking like it wasn’t going to move again for a while so we drove off to another tree, where our guides had spotted a leopard’s kill hanging. Can you imagine how surprised we were when we not only saw the kill, but a second leopard lying down nearby in the grass? It’s unusual to find two leopards so close together, opinions as to whether it was a mother and young adult cub, or a mating pair were divided.
Whilst we watched the leopard stood up and slowly walked up to the tree where the kill was hanging, and then climbed up the tree to lie down near it.
We left him hanging there as though he didn’t have a care in the world, and carried on, stopping to photograph the occasional lilac breasted roller, and an elephant standing in the tall grass.
For our lunch break, we picked a nice large rock, sheltered under a tree, with a view onto the large expanses of grasslands.
After lunch, during the hottest period, we came across another pair of cheetahs, taking shelter in the grass. They didn’t seem to have any intention of getting up to much action, so we left them there in peace.
Some more sand grouse along the way. Whilst we were watching we saw an interesting bit of behaviour – one of the grouse suddenly fluffed up all her feathers, and then rolled over onto her side. She only stayed that way for a minute before getting up again and wandering off. Whether this was supposed to be a bit of playing dead distraction behaviour, I’m not sure.
Another giraffe on the distance, and as we slowed, I made myself promise that I wouldn’t take more giraffe photos, having so many already. No sooner did I make decision then we came close enough to see that it was a mum and baby, the baby being so young it’s umbilical cord was still there. Of course, there was no way that I wasn’t going to photography a baby giraffe!
Leaving the giraffes, we finished our drive back with last night’s pride of lions. They were scattered about in the trees, mostly resting, but with some of the cubs finding the energy to play despite the heat.
One more stop for a crested crane, and we went back to camp, where they’d set up a campfire for us. Unfortunately, I was the only person to enjoy it as everyone else went straight to the bar. Whilst I waited for them not to turn up, I had a nice chat with a couple of the staff, and my own private bar!