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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lions No Tigers and Bears

Sunday June 1, 2008

Today is the day! I got up at 7 and got the rest of my things packed and all my treated clothing packed in my overnight bag for Masai Mara! I got downstairs on time and went to check out. Unfortunately there were some discrepancies with the bill that took longer than expected to sort out but we did. It turns out that the EXCHANGE rate I had been given during my stay was 58.05-59. On my bill however the rate was calculated at 62.35. It turns out they have a rate for exchange and a rate they use to bill. I don’t get it! For comparison just to jump ahead a few hours, the hotel in Masai Mara uses 56.40! If you figure it out please let ME know!

Anyway it was time to head to Wilson airport to catch my Air Kenya flight. At almost 10am we boarded. There were around 30 people on the flight. When the pilot turned the propellers on we didn’t go anywhere. The pilot came over the intercom and told us that the ground crew spotted a hydraulic leak! We had to disembark and waited for another hour before they were able to board us onto another craft.

Finally we were airborne! I found out that the plane was like a bus and that I would be stop number 3. It was nice to watch out of the window for awhile but next thing I knew it 40 minutes had passed and we were making our first stop. When we arrived at the Mara Serena airstrip, those of us staying at Mara Serena Lodge got off the plane. We headed towards the parking lot and were told to choose a vehicle. I got into one with a nice young couple. There was a man outside with a video camera narrating his film: we are now at the landing strip for Mara Serena, here is our vehicle….” Blah blah blah! He made the entire jeep wait for him to finish. Thankfully, he chose the other van!

Our driver/guide’s name is Dickson. He is from Samburu and has been her for over two years. He is very knowledgeable and we found out that he would be our guide from here on in.



There was NOTHING along the road coming to the hotel/lodge. As we approached the Mara Serena Lodge however, it seemed like paradise! The hotel consists of small cottages built into the side of a mountain. One side overlooks the plains and the other side overlooks the pool and plains. We had lunch and then we were shown to our rooms. My room is SO lovely! It is a hundred times nicer that Panafric and I only wish I had more time here! There is a king size bed, very nice dresser, a beautiful bathroom with a shower and real flushing toilet! The bed has a mosquito net that you pull around when you got to sleep. Then there is a sitting area with two chairs and a table that overlooks a huge window that you can open to reveal the Mara. I saw a herd of elephants and a buffalo just with the naked eye! If you remember earlier in the post meant for yesterday I mentioned that the man who showed me to my room warned me never to leave the window open when not in the room because the baboons are known to come in and snatch things!


We had the afternoon free so I decided to sit by the pool for a bit and see if I could get any color that would show I had been in Africa! It was a lovely view out over the plains and I saw what is known as a Gamma Lizard. He was beautiful and the funniest little guy I hope I can figure out how to post videos on here because you have to see this creature’s mating ritual it is hysterical He bobs his head up and down a bunch of times trying to court the female. Just as in every living creature except man, the female is never as pretty as the male. (looks like superman!)

video

I relaxed until it was time for our game drive. I was SO excited! This is something I have always wanted to do and here I am! As I entered the lobby I saw Adam and Jennifer who I had shared the ride from the airport with. I asked Dickson, our guide, if it would just be the three of us that if the Indian man with the camcorder was on our vehicle I would not be happy! He said he is not because he had the manifest and we were only waiting for one more man and someone said the video guy was already in his car. We couldn’t find our last person so we headed out to the car, the while thinking “please don’t let him be in our car”. Well, sure enough he was in OUR car! The three of us just looked at each other; we had no choice. We get into the vehicle and the guide starts talking to us and all we can hear is the guy in the back self-narrating another video! We begin our journey to find big game!!!! We stop to see some impalas and Dickson is talking and all of a sudden mr videoman starts narrating: “here we have some impalas, they are….” We couldn’t hear the guide so both Adam and myself tell him we are trying to hear the guide!

We went on to see impalas, different varieties of antelope, hippo, cheetahs. Zebras, buffalo, and LIONS!!!!! We first saw a male who had just gotten his fill from a kill, possibly an Impala. He was gorgeous!!! After a few minutes he just rolled over and plopped down and was sound asleep as evidenced by his rib cage moving up and down rhythmically. video



We moved on in search of more animals and all of us hoped for more lions. We finally saw some other vehicles congregated around an area and knew lions had been spotted! When we got there it was an amazing sight! There was a pride of lions that included lionesses and cubs. There were 14 total! They were magnificent!

They were lounging around, sometimes shifting positions, sometimes moving from the rocks to the grass. Again, hopefully I will be able to figure out why I can’t upload videos and be able to because the video is amazing. I even caught one of the lionesses bathing a cub! The game drive was from 4-6:30 and then we headed back and had some tea/cocoa with Dickson.

I went back to my room and changed into long pants and got a jacket to be as safe as possible from the mosquitoes.

Dinner was excellent! The hotel is first class all the way. It is buffet but everything is always cooked perfectly and hot with great selection of fish, meat and salad and deli items. There is a full dessert buffet as well as a coffee/tea bar. The service is also excellent. There are over 100 employees here and capacity of guests is only 120 so there is plenty of service. It’s also cool to see little gecko’s just running up and down the walls and ceiling!

When we were having tea before dinner there was a guitar player who sang with a lovely voice. After dinner there was another singer/guitarist and he had a beautiful voice as well. I went and sat by the fire which overlooked the pool and that is where I am typing my blog. It is so peaceful, the breeze is refreshing and there are stars everywhere. I wish I could stay here for a week!

Game drive starts at 6:30 am and I can’t wait!

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