Saturday, January 29, 2011

KENYA Part 3: Simba is swahili for Lion

An antelope named Barati roams freely in our camp at Mara Siria

After 47 years I finally made it to the Maasai Mara Reserve, King of the Safari experience in East Africa, the Crowned jewel being across the border in Tanzania known as the Serengeti. Actually the Maasai Mara is the northern extension of the Serengeti Plains into Kenyan territory.

The African savanna is just how I pictured it would be and more. This area seriously delivers what it promises the visitor. Awe inspiring scenery right out of a Hollywood Academy Award Winner like "Out Of Africa" (some of the movie scenes were actually filmed at Maasai Mara), tireless hours of game viewing through the open top roof of our jeep, a well informed guide capable of explaining animal behavior, approaching them respectfully and getting daringly close to them.

After a total of 5 safaris in a 3 day period we were lucky to see a huge variety of gazelles, lions, hyenas, cheetahs, giraffes, buffalos, crocodiles, wilderbeest, cranes, elephants, impalas and more.

A pride of lions is resting under an umbrella acacia. The only male is sleeping while the two lionesses are keeping watch. There are 4 cubs in the middle

A lioness is tearing the warthog pray she just killed. Her lioness partner is keeping watch a few feet away (out of the frame). Lionesses always hunt in pair or in group of more than two individuals. She started tearing up the softest part of the warthog (the rear) and worked her way inside.

Viewing cheetahs in the wild is quite rare since they are an endangered specie with fewer than 15,000 Worldwide. We were very fortunate to have 3 sightings during our visit to the Mara.

Plains Zebras are the most common specie of Zebras. They are found throughout tropical Africa. Here at the border of Tanzania, they graze the fresh open grassland of the Serengeti Plains. Skittish, they swiftly gallop away when pproached.

A solitary animal, the cheetah gazes at the horizon for potential pray. This is the World's fastest land runner. Cheetahs can speed up from 0 to 64mph in 3 seconds and reach a record 75mph in short bursts. They lack the strong climbing ability of other big cats, are able to purr while inhaling but cannot roar.

This is the warthog, Africa's only wild pig specie adapted to grazing and to savanna conditions. They live in groups called sounders. They do have a home range which they freely roam in search of food.

An Agama lezard in Maasai Mara.

The Savanna of Maasai Mara is sparsely planted with umbrella acacias.

Water Buffaloes are fierce and dangerous to humans. In Africa, they kill 200 people a year and are nicknamed "widow makers".

The Mara river is witness to the annual Wilderbeest Migration from Maasai Mara to the Serengeti National Park accross the river in Tanzania.

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