Leaving the hot and humid climate of coastal Mombassa and Diani Beach we flew by charter aircraft direct to the Masai Mare – Kenya’s animal kingdom wonderland.
Enroute the Mombassa Aerial Service pilots took us close to Mt Kilimanjaro which for our good fortune had both snow capped peaks visible. Kilimanjaro stands at 19,500′ and with adequate fitness training and altitude conditioning is climbable without technical climbing gear.
In the Masai Mare we were accommodated at the newly constructed Sanctuary Olonana Lodge. Previously a tented facility, Sanctuary Olonana is now an exceptional luxury safari lodge on a private stretch of the Mara River (complete with its own bloat of hippo), at the foot of the impressive Siria Escarpment and close to where the famous last scene from “Out of Africa” was filmed.
Game drives were conducted each morning and afternoon by Olonana’s experienced Masai guides who are all trained guide/naturalists. Game is in abundance and includes lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant, cape buffalo, baboon, hippopotamus, zebra, various gazelles, wildebeest, crocodiles and an abundance of birdlife.
We happened on a lion pride which had recently killed an adult zebra. The male lion was trying to drag the zebra into safety of the nearby trees while fending off 20 hyenas. Dramatic everyday life and death in the African animal kingdom witnessed first hand. This is what we had come to Africa for.
Some of our more adventurous members took to the air in a hot air balloon to get a mornings bird’s eye view of The Mare plains.
A highlight of the stay was the drive down to the border of Tanzania’s Serengeti in search of lions and wildebeest which included a delicious picnic in the field.
On our final afternoon at Olonana we were invited to visit a nearby Masai village where we received a very warm welcome (traditional jumping dance in which we were invited to participate) and a briefing from the Chief’s son on Masai warrior culture and village life.
And all of a sudden after 2 weeks, seven flights, meeting some amazing new people and having the privilege of viewing African wildlife very close up in their native habitat , our safari was over. At least until the inevitable next time…….