We woke in the dark to the sound of an elephant trumpeting and hyenas enjoying a pow-wow. We were at Mara Expedition Camp and we were getting ready for a full day of safari thrills in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Our guide Nick Ratia had spoiled us with lions, leopard and cheetah the previous day. We hoped he was still on form.
Cheetahs and lions
Nick drove back to where we’d seen the cheetah and her cub the previous evening, scanning the area to find them. This time mom was sitting up. Although the cub suckled a little, it was as hyped as any toddler, jigging up and down, going on little adventures a short distance away from mom then bounding back again. Mom lay down sphinx-like and the cub tried to tackle her paws, her head. It all ended in lots of pink-tongued licking.
So far we’d been in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy bordering the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Now we passed through the gate into the reserve and found four maned lions resting under a bush. One called Scarface had only one eye. The coalition is called the Four Musketeers and Nick said they’re adept at taking down hippos.
This was the fifth group of different lions we’d seen in just 24 hours while staying at Mara Expedition Camp.
But the Mara still had more in store for us. On our way back to camp we saw 11 lions of the Topi Plains pride, a splinter pride of the Marsh pride. One was a small cub of only about two- to three-months old. They were all lying in the sun and warmly lazy. Closer to camp we spotted the dominant male of this pride. His scarred face and a wound on his back leg showed that he’d had some battles to hold on to his status.
On our last game drive the next morning, we found the dominant male of the Seketa pride walking through the bush, then 14 females and cubs of the same pride playing, jumping up on their hind legs and showing their white tummies, wrestling and tackling. One carried off a clump of grass in its mouth, another came to sharpen its claws on an acacia tree near us. One grabbed a stick and another snatched the other end for a tug-of-war to prove whose jaws were strongest.
It’s almost as impressive as the number of lion sightings we had during 48 hours at Great Plains Conservation’s Mara Expedition Camp.
Note: I was a guest of Great Plains Conservation’s Mara Expedition Camp for two nights, but I was given free rein to write what I chose. I paid for my flights to and around Kenya.
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