Another early morning game drive. We head through the gate into the park. Our main goal is leopards once again. But first we stop by the lion pride with its buffalo carcass. The whole pride is back with the kill. It's been reduced to pretty much skin and bones. The adults' bellies are bulging with food. The cubs continue to play.
We head to the river and its trees to look for leopards. Instead, we find elephants, hippos, and French tourists. The French are all out of their vehicles for a pit stop. They start doing silly stuff like approaching a mother elephant with calf for better pictures and going down to the shore for pictures of themselves with hippos. Our guides were appalled. The mama elephant was clearly agitated and it could've ended badly for the Frenchman. All the French we meet on this trip are doing crazy stuff.
At lunch, Michele and I go for a tour of a Maasai village. We have to pay 1000 Ksh, but it was interesting.
Patrick, the Maasai guy who works at the camp and has been coming on our game drives, walks us over to the village. The chief comes out to greet us and then calls forward all the teenage boys and girls of the village who sing and dance their way to us. We get pulled into the procession as well, then we all file into the village (manyatta). It consists of a brush fence to keep wild animals out and about 10 huts, roughly in a circle. The girls treat us to another song, and the boys showoff their jumping skills. I try to hold my own in jumping, but probably fail.
We get shown into one of the huts for a tour. They're made of sticks covered with a dried mixture of cow dung and dirt. The hut has 4 rooms: one for young calves, one for a visitor's bed, one for the parents' bed, and one for all the kids. The nominal family size is about 10. There is a small fire that's kept going in the hut, which has no chimney, just a small window. It's a dark and smoky place.
After the hut tour, they unsurprisingly try to sell us souvenirs of questionable value. Somewhat surprisingly, they don't hard sell and don't seem to mind that I don't want their stuff. Hell, I did pay 1000 shilling just to get in.
We leave while the rest of the Austrian tourists are haggling. Patrick takes us back along the river and teaches us a few things about the bush.
Our afternoon drive has one goal: leopards. (Do I sound like a broken record yet?) We range farther into the park than before. We cruise by the river, looking in the trees.
We get distracted by baby elephants, crocodiles, and all other manner of animals, but never for too long. We cover a lot of ground and ask a lot of other guides, but no one is seeing leopard today.
We get yet another flat tire. Somehow, once again, there are no animals any where near us while we change it. While Robert is tightening the nuts on the new wheel, somehow the iron flies off out of his hand and hits me right in the shin. That's gonna leave a mark.
As time ticks down, we see a bunch of vans congregate. Is it a leopard? No, of course not. But it is a lioness with 4 very small, very cute cub. They make a fitting end to our safari as the sun sinks over the Mara. Robert races to get out of the park before dark.
I guess we'll have to come back to Africa if we want to see a leopard in the wild.