Masaai Mara (Part II) | Jaini’s Safari Tales

Make sure to catch up with the first part of this epic trip here, before reading on.

After spotting my favorite animals, we revisited the Offbeat pride of yesterday and spent some time admiring their grace and how healthy they looked with their full bellies. One of the lionesses even climbed up a tree, which I thought was pretty cool.

Photo | Hitesh Shah

img_4217Then came the best part of the trip! We saw a female leopard called Tamu by a grove of bushes. One of the most elusive cats in the savannah, it was a sweet sight as I hadn’t seen a leopard in the wild for over 12 years.img_4212img_4210Tamu was looking for prey to hunt, and as the cars (just about three cars as we were in a private conservancy) trailed, she came just about two meters away from the car to my side where I got a good look at her muscular frame. At this point, I was just so EFFING EXCITED! I think this would be one of my highlights of 2017, and perhaps one of my best safari moments.img_4214We followed the leopard for an hour or so, but she didn’t hunt as a herd of impalas followed her and then scattered away only to come back to follow her again (don’t ask me why, but I think it is to keep track of her). This coupled with the birds singing to warn potential prey of her intentions, she gave up and disappeared into a bush.

As we were busy tracking the leopard, Stanley received the news of a cheetah with a fresh kill. We rushed there to find a cheetah by a bush with a tiny impala. The impala wasn’t even dead yet. The cheetah didn’t even look hungry and then Stanley explained that the cheetah killed the baby impala just for fun. Turns out, even animals like some sort of entertainment too! We stayed with her hoping she’d walk around, but she was guarding her kill. If a pack of hyenas arrived, the cheetah would be forced to abandon her kill, as unlike leopards and lions, they can’t climb up trees to escape from the hyenas, nor can they fight them.img_4218img_4213It was already 10:30AM and we had been out for four hours, so understandably we were all ravenous now. So we stopped at the banks of the Mara River, overlooking a pool of hippos just lazing around in the water for a lovely bush breakfast.img_4227Stanley had brought a basket full of goodies, including crepes, sandwiches, berry muffins, boiled eggs, muesli, fruit, yogurt, and tea and coffee, of course. We had also carried a canvas chair for me so I could also get out of the car since my wheelchair was still at the camp. Stanley also had some foldable stools that doubled as a food stand and as seats for us. The views were epic and the food scrumptious. Honestly, nothing can really describe the feeling of eating in the wild till you experience it.img_4215

Haven’t posted one in a while 😉

After we were done, we cleaned up and went on to look for more game. We spotted more lions – the river pride. These were a mother and her cubs feeding on a topi. I could not help but notice how healthy these lions were, too. They seemed to be living in a stable ecosystem.

Around 12:30PM, after six hours on the move, we went back to the camp.

Hungry, we settled for a light lunch of assorted salads, fettuccine with red tomato sauce, roasted vegetables and then some fruit salad for dessert. When I approached the table, I noticed that a little straw had been placed next to my plate. I was touched that the waiter knew that I would order one for my drink.

After lunch, we sat in the living room area. While the parents relaxed, and Diva opted to study in the tent, Saj and I played several games of Monopoly Deal. I absolutely love this game and highly recommend this very addictive game.

Around 4PM in the afternoon, I went back to my tent to change into warmer clothing as the plan was to have a bush dinner if the rain stayed away. After a round of tea and coffee with some freshly made shortbread cookies, we went on another game drive.

Soon we reached a rocky hill where the Offbeat Pride lions were lounging and about the same distance as us from the lions was a group of people on a horse safari. Offbeat Safaris is one of the few companies that offers guided horse safaris in Amboseli, Masai Mara, and Laikipia. It really made my heart skip a beat as I watched the horses so close to the lions, approximately a 100m from the lions, but Stanley told us that the Offbeat Pride lions were used to people on horseback so they wouldn’t attack unless the horse goes closer.

Photo | Hitesh Shah

img_4216Soon, the gray clouds pregnant with rain let go and it started pouring and thundering. After driving away from the lions, we stopped to shut the roof and close the windows with the tarp, but the zippers were stuck. Stanley rushed through the roads, as the car skid in the mud, to cross the dry river before flash floods occur and the river becomes impassable.

Through the pouring rain lightning and thunder, we reached the camp at 5:30PM. We decided it would be best to wait in the car till the intense rain reduced. We had a “raindowner” in the car with the drinks and snacks (including chevdo*) that Stanley had carried with us.

Suddenly at 6PM, the chatter in the car died down as everyone was glued to their phones as the Wi-Fi turned on. Hey! We had to post a ‘gram of the leopard, okay!

The rain soon stopped, but my wheelchair had gotten wet in the mess, so they covered with dry blankets before I could sit on it. We gathered in the living room where other guests were having a drink and snacking on some warm, spicy cashews, before heading for dinner at eight.

Due to the rain, the previously planned bush dinner was obviously canceled so we had a communal dinner at the mess. We started off with some bread rolls and butternut soup, which was creamy and delicious, but I thought it could do with a little more salt. This was then followed by a grilled eggplant parmesan for vegetarians and beef fillet and gravy, with sides of mashed potatoes and vegetables. I particularly enjoyed the eggplant parmesan as it was crispy on the edges but perfectly char-grilled in the middle, making it a delectable treat to devour.

While we dined, the constant chatter died down as the guard pointed out that three genet cats visited the mess. Since it was raining, the shy cats crept in to feast on the flying termites that had come out due to the rain and were attracted to the light.

Diva couldn’t snap a photo of these shy cats so check out this shot from Goway

For dessert, we indulged in some chocolate mousse to end the long, but fruitful day. Rich, the mousse had hardened in the cold giving it the consistency of refrigerated chocolate frosting. Nevertheless, it was really yummy and a good palate cleanser.

Since it was still pouring, we went back to my tent where we all just hung out for a bit before heading to bed.

The next day, we decided not to go out for an early morning game drive as it had poured a lot and the roads may be inaccessible, plus we had seen everything we wanted to see (though I wouldn’t have minded if we went for another game drive).

So instead, we slept in until 8AM, before freshening up to head for breakfast at 8:30AM. The chef had fresh fruits and muesli laid out with milk. Along with tea and coffee, they even had fruit juice. We all ordered our eggs the way we liked them. The chef even brought out some vegetable fritters and some French toast too. I had some muesli that was crunchy and not too sweet, a delicious juicy mango and then a Spanish omelet, and a French toast as I couldn’t resist the home-made berry and passion fruit jam that I just wanted to bottle and take home.

After breakfast, everyone packed up and we took a few memento photographs, said our goodbyes to the friendly staff, guides and Chania.img_4208 We loaded the car and left at 10AM. Chania had gotten Richard, who had guided us to the camp, to guide us back onto the main road as the route we took had been flooded the previous day with the rains. We even spotted a herd of elephants in the distance on the drive out.

Around lunchtime, we reached the temple in Narok. We ate the sandwiches Chania had packed for us and had a loo break before heading back to the road. We got home in the evening at 5:30PM, and then the holidays blue started!

But before I leave you to wallow in my holiday blues, check out this video I compiled of the highlights of what could possibly be my best safari ever or at least this decade 😉

*Indian snack mix

Photos, unless stated otherwise, are by Diva Shah 

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