Off to the Maasai Mara for a 3 night safari. We have one last breakfast delivered to us in our cottage.
We don't have much time but I want to check and see if I can find Beryl Markham's cottage. Shelley and I eventually find a way across the railroad tracks, but don't get much further. We see a few huts across the way, but there's no way to tell if they're the right ones.
Robert picks us up and we take off for the Mara. We drive back towards Nairobi until after Naivasha, when we turn and to Narok. We have really nice roads all the way to Narok, as we drive along the valley floor and then up and out of the Rift.
We stop for lunch at the Transit Inn in Narok, but someone screwed up their big sign to say “Transist Inn.” Out of Narok, the road becomes the pothole-filled mess I've come to expect of Kenya.
After an hour or so, Kahenya wakes up in the back and says “oh, we're still on the tarmac?” Michele can't believe what happens next: an hour and a half ride down jarring dirt roads. We pass through stark, flat land with mostly scrubby vegetation. We see tons of Maasai herders with the goats, sheep, and cattle. We bounce so much that it's physically tiring. I feel for Robert.
After about an hour off the pavement, a woman in the middle of the road flags us down. She looks like a trekker with a big backpack and a map in her hand. As we stop, we see that she has a partner, and two guys filming her with TV cameras. It turns out that she's on some French version of the Amazing Race (she called it X-factor) and is desperately trying to get to Narok.
Since we're going the exact opposite way, we tell her no, she can't have a ride. Even for just 5km. If you watch a lot of French TV, look for me as the mean American who dashed the hopes of the nice French lady.
When we finally get to our camp, it's after 4, so we decide to forgo the afternoon game drive. Instead, we relax and check out our lodge. Each couple has a tent with beds, lighting, hot water, flush toilets, and a porch overlooking the Talek River and the park. Not exactly roughing it. (Aruba Mara is the name of the camp.)
We relax in the bar/restaurant area and look across into the Mara. We see some warthogs, some guinea fowl, and then out of no where a herd of six elephants. We watch the elephants forage as the sun sets behind them. Not too shabby for no game drive, huh?
We eat our dinner and then off to be for an early rise.
Up early for a 6:30 game drive. We actually don't head into the park, but away from it. The National Park proper is surrounded by a conservancy which still has tons of game.
We've heard of leopard in a certain place and head off. Along the way we see many giraffe and antelope, a bunch of hippos, mongooses, ostriches, a vulture, warthogs, zebra, guinea fowl, etc. Added to the lot of things we've seen: hippos, eland (the largest antelope), wildebeest, hartebeest, topi, vulture, ostrich, hyena. Eventually, we happen on a pride of 6 lions. They do absolutely nothing while we watch them.
We head back towards the camp and see a mother cheetah with two older cubs. They too do nothing. We race off after another leopard rumor. Apparently minutes after we leave, the cheetah goes on a hunt and brings down an antelope (which is promptly stolen by a lion).
The leopard has thwarted us once again. She is the white whale of the plains. Everyone has just spoken to someone who just saw one. But it never materializes. Maybe in the afternoon.