Imagine an unfenced safari camp just inside the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Now imagine luxury, delicious food and good wildlife sightings – both in and out of camp. You’ve just imagined the classic safari world of Little Governors Camp.
On our first afternoon drive, guide Jackson Inganji gave us some insight into this 1510-square-kilometre national reserve. He introduced us to the African green-heart tree, or elephant pepper bark, that dominates the plains, and the flat-topped umbrella trees, or balanites, that create pools of shade for animals.
‘The word Mara means spotted,’ he explained, ‘and refers to it being dotted with lone trees and termite mounds.’
More rain. More thunder.
Two lionesses huddled next to a bush, licking their paws and enduring the downpour with half-closed eyes. They had the pinkish blush of blood on their faces so probably had a kill hidden behind the bushes.
After supper we found three hippos grazing near our tent – a reminder why we needed askaris to escort us after dark – and the night was filled with the gruff honking of hippos, the whooping of hyenas and the distant roar of lions.
Hot air ballooning
On our afternoon game drive, we found two hyenas, each half-submerged its own pool of water after the previous afternoon’s storm. Another three loitered near a den burrow, one comically poking its head out of the hole.
Jackson accepted the challenge and began rootling through his field guide. They are, he revealed, indeed both Burchell’s/plains/common zebra, but the ones here are Böhms race/subspecies, whereas those in Southern Africa are Chapman’s. Puzzle solved.
So much wildlife
A surreal moment was being surrounded by hundreds of resident wildebeest on the plains – our own mini migration, even though it would be a few weeks before the migration actually arrived in this part of the reserve.
Then near Double Crossing we found some lappet-faced and hooded vultures on the ground and the day’s highlight – 12 lions on the move, including one young male, four lionesses and various cubs. They stopped to drink water and – as lions do – lie around doing nothing.
Ten minutes later, another female with a two-and-a-half-month-old cub joined them. The little one flopped down, tired from a long journey on stubby little legs. One of the lionesses roared to pride-mates further away over a koppie, but most of them just chilled. Then she set off and the rest followed, a bigger cub swatting mischievously at the little one’s back legs to trip it up.
Note: I was a guest of the Little Governors Camp for two nights, but I was given free rein to write what I chose. I paid for park fees and drinks.
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