Well you asked for it and I am here to share it. On my instagram poll majority of you asked to hear about my top 3 craziest sightings from my recent Masai Mara Great Migration tour. It was really difficult to choose only 3 crazy sightings as there were tons of dramatic crossings, leopard kills, cheetah kills, lions mating, new born elephants, lions hunting hippo and so much more. But anyway, let me give this a go...
SIGHTING NUMBER ONE
Let me start at the end. We were rushing to the airstrip to catch our flight back to Nairobi, when one of the guests asked tongue-in-cheek what would happen if there was a crossing en route: would we stop to watch, or would we rush on by? I jokingly answered that we would have to close our eyes or look the other way and carry on making our way, so as not to miss the transfer. With this exchange, the trip to the airstrip was jinxed. As we approached the famous BBC crossing point, we saw that a substantial crossing was already in progress. First it was silence and then nervous laughter came over the vehicle as we took a hard right down to the river, to witness and take in one last crossing. My eyes were drawn to a crocodile. The largest I have ever seen in my guiding career. It was after a wildebeest, which it appeared to have grasped by its tail. But as the wildebeest approached the bank, we established that it was its hindquarter that was, in fact, in the grips of this enormous predator. The wildebeest was fighting hard and persisted in trying to make it out of the river when we had to rush off. Meters away from dry land, but in the firm hold of the crocodile: this was the image we left with. We cannot be certain of the fate of the wildebeest, but it was the size of the crocodile that was the talking point for the rest of the drive to the airstrip. The below images my be disturbing to some.
SIGHTING NUMBER TWO
For me, sometimes the best moments aren't necessarily the "big" moments, eg kills, drama, etc. In this instance, it was just a wonderful moment at sunset, which felt like I had been transported into a picture perfect, postcard moment. We'd had a wonderfully packed day of crossings and were heading back to camp. The sun was setting over the hills, which were dotted with massive herds of varying species, including some elephants. It was this moment that took my breath away. It wasn't a crazy moment, nor exciting in terms of drama, but it was a beautifully subtle reminder of the sheer privilege it is, to be in those incredible spaces, to see and try to remember these special moments. It's impossible to explain this sight in words, it is something that can only be experienced: the sights, the sounds, the smell. I hope these images can do even just a bit of justice to my memory.
SIGHTING NUMBER THREE
This sighting was definitely one for the memory banks. I've always enjoyed cheetah, but I got to witness behavior that I hadn't come across before, and - quite frankly - left me stunned. A cheetah mom with her 4 cubs made 4 kills - but one in particular is what left me speechless. Mom had successfully hunted a Thompsons Gazelle and still had it in her mouth, when her movement in the veld flushed another gazelle out of hiding. Now trying to escape, in plain sight of the cheetah mom, the predator was confused as she had another opportunity, but already had a meal in her mouth. She decided to drop the gazelle she was holding, and gave chase to the youngster, now running away. One could see her confusion, as it was almost a stop-start sort of chase. She finally decided to commit, which sealed the fate of the second gazelle. Talk about excitement on top of excitement. At least the cheetah cubs were all well fed.
It is very difficult to choose only 3 sightings when one talks about the Masai Mara. Some are dramatic and exciting, others subtle and beautiful. Combine these experiences with the incredible Masai people at camp and you have a safari experience that you'll never forget. All I can say is that you need to experience it for yourself.
Great Migration - Wild Eye Mara Camp
Experience the migration by being in the middle of the herd. The Mara camp is situated on the Mara river only 10 minutes from the nearest crossing point. Lie in your tent at night listening to the bush sounds and approaching herds of gnu.
Masai Mara Experience - Wild Eye Mara Camp
When the herds are gone the predators stay. Experience the fierce fight for survival with Africas big cats in the Masai Mara. Be in the middle of territorial lion battles or leopard hunts as you stay in the Wild Eye Mara camp which is set on the Mara River where all the action is.