Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya
Life on the Savannah
July 2000
(Click any photo throughout to see a larger version)
Masai Sun Rising
We spent the final few days of our trip on the Masai Mara Game Reserve. The Masai Mara is the geological continuation of the Serengeti. The name and governing body change when you cross the border from Tanzania to Kenya. I think International Expeditions put the Masai Mara last on the itinerary because (1) it has a lot of lions, and people like to see lions in Africa, and (2) the drivers are allowed to drive anywhere they want, rather than sticking to predefined "roads" (dirt trails) as at most other parks.

The Masai Mara is mostly wide open grassy savannah spotted with occasional acacia trees, though the large and important Mara River cuts through it. I'll say more about the Mara River on a later page.

Mongooses Escaping
Termite mounds are everywhere here, and many animals make use of them. Here is a troop of banded mongooses running for cover in their burrows in a termite mound. I really wanted to call them mongeese but that's not what the mammal books say.
Rock Hyraxes Scouting
Here's another party of mammals using a termite mound for a home. These rock hyraxes weren't nearly as wary of our vehicle as the mongooses. They're keeping an eye out for more dangerous game.
Vultures Squabbling
These African white-backed vultures were fighting over the scraps of meat on a none-too-fresh carcass, perhaps a wildebeest. They may be ugly birds, but they're big ugly birds.
Ostriches Quenching
These ostriches would like to point out that the biggest vultures around are puny in comparison. And also, they do not consider themselves ugly. And you wouldn't really want to argue with an ostrich, at least not if it's in kicking distance.
Mudfish Squirming
We found one nearly dried-up pool in a trickling stream that was just writhing with mudfish. Each of these squirmy eel-like fish was a couple of feet long or so. The combined effect of all of them squelching their way through the mud simultaneously was disquieting, so say the least.

When the ponds dry up the mudfish burrow deep and hibernate until the next rains. So don't you worry about them too much.

Hyaena Staring
This rather unkempt spotted hyaena was not-so-patiently waiting for the nearby lions to finish gnawing on a buffalo carcass so she could have her turn.
Topi Posing
Topi are among the more beautiful antelopes, with their interesting horns and distinctive face paint.
Zebra Rolling
Large herds of zebra meandered about the savannah, looking for tasty grass to munch on and fresh dirt to roll in.
Albanus Visiting
Here is our Kenyan guide Albanus Ndiku entertaining a troop of Masai children while we visited a Masai village. The Masai danced for us and tried to sell us things.

Onward to Cats and Kittens

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