Safari Day 1 24/07/06

Left hotel at 8am still 1 suitcase short. Driving down the rift escarpment we stopped to admire the view before continuing through the valley towards the Masi Mara. We stopped for petrol in a minging little town that was described as being full of touts and con men!!! Needless to say I ignored them all and we continued on along the worst maintained roads I had ever been on.

There is no sense of lanes or even official side of the road to drive on – at one point there were two mini vans next to each other with another 2 side by side coming the other way. None of the drivers agreed to give way and it was as though we were all in a big game of chicken! Also featuring on these appalling roads are police road blocks which allow only one vehicle through at a time as there are large metal spikes blocking the rest of the road.

The closer we got to the game reserve the more people try to sell you useless wooden animals or tacky bracelets. There were at least three who tried to sell stuff to us at the entrance to the game reserve. Once again I refrained from looking at them and managed not to get too angry – if I want a souvenir I will go and buy one, I don’t want them thrust at me by some local ‘chav’.

Once in the national park things changed dramatically – there were no more annoying people, just lots of grass and lots of animals. Before we reached the lodge we had seen lots of gazelles, zebras, wildebeest, cows and goats. We were also lucky enough to see a number of giraffe, a couple of elephants and a monkey.

We got to the lodge in time for the end of lunch. There was a large selection of different foods from the buffet available. We ate with Tony and Catherine (safariing with us) and after lunch we walked around the grounds, finding the “hippo bar” which overlooks a small bit of water then at 4 we set out on our first game drive.

We drove around for about 3 hours and saw tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebras migrating across the plains. we saw a few elephants taking shade under some trees but weren’t close enough to take any photos (not that we have a camera as it is somewhere between Heathrow and Kenya in Bob’s suitcase).

Our next encounter was with some giraffes who were relaxing by a small watering hole. it was interesting to see them bending down to drink – they have to spread their legs whilst bending them in weird directions before their bent neck is close enough to the water to drink. When the giraffes had moved on we crossed through the water to the other side but managed to break the air conditioning off the bottom of the van!

Once the a/c unit had been removed we headed back to the main track and jouned with a number of other white vans to see the best sight of the day. A mother lion and her three cubs were relaxing in the early evening sun. The cubs were happy to play with each other whilst we watched. Another brilliant photo opportunity missed.

After seei enough of the lions, we left the “pack” of white vans and continued home. We passed more zebra and wildebeest and we also managed to spot two more lions in the tall grasses a couple of hundred yards away.

Once back at the hotel we showered and went to supper. After supper some of the Masi tribesmen did some dancing (very much like on the BBC intro sequence). On our walk back to our rooms we were escorted by a member of staff as the hippos and other animals wander around the lodge and before we were in our rooms we had seen zebra and hippos!!

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