You’ve read the stories, seen the documentaries. Now you want to experience a safari in the Maasai Mara for yourself, in real-life technicolour and surround-sound. If it’s a feast of wildlife sightings you’re looking for at Mara Plains Camp in the Mara, you’ve come to the right place.
There are so many lions in the Mara it’s almost possible to get bored with them. Almost. Think of anything lions can do and we saw it while staying at Mara Plains, from sleeping and feeding to playing, squabbling and mating.
Just when you think the excitement is getting too much and your cheeks are aching from grinning, your guide will find an open spot on the plains, with good visibility so he can keep a watch for predators, and unpack a picnic breakfast or lunch. It’s a chance to relax and refuel for the next batch of thrilling sightings and wildlife interactions.
Early one morning we saw a cheetah and her cub with the remains of a baby Thompson’s gazelle that she’d killed. An icy wind was blowing the cub’s mane as it worried at the meat, doing more chewing and licking than actual eating. They start eating meat at about two months old, though they still also suckle till they’re about four months.
Frisky in the early morning air, the cub pounced on and try to ‘kill’ what was left of the carcass, a small rock, a tuft of grass. Then it bit mom’s tail before racing through the middle of a bush, around it and back for another dash – as energetic as a small child hyped on sweets.
One of our best sightings happened late in the afternoon – a small group of spotted hyenas that kept growing with the arrival of new ones till there were 14 of them. Among them were a few six-month-old cubs and one of two- to three months, still brown before it will start to get spots at four months.
Great Plains Conservation’s Beverly and Dereck Joubert are keen photographers so all their open-sided vehicles in the Mara are customised. Think fold-down screens, raised roofs, adjustable camera rests, bean bags, multi-plug inverters, and places to stash one camera while you’re shooting with another. There’s a Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens in each tent at Mara Plains Camp, and one for each vehicle at sister camp Mara Expedition.
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