Trying to compose a descriptive illustration of this safari in writing is simply immeasurable to the true feelings and emotions felt on what was undoubtedly one cracking adventure. In short I would recount its as being utterly breathtaking, amusing, educational and unpredictable leaving everyone fully satisfied at the end by having both seen and done the unexpected.
Sunday the 15Th of July, 10 guests arrived of which three woman were traveling alone, 2 sets of young couples (one on their honeymoon) and a family of 3 returning for their second annual safari. All had flown far distances from their various countries overseas. Simon, Megan and I met them all at the Mara North airstrip and it was at this point they had not quite realized the fun-packed week they were in for.
Everyone did well to settle right into camping lifestyle, sleeping just above a pod of hippo on the banks of the Mara River at the first camp in Mara North Conservancy. All were remarkably pleased with their horses on the first afternoon out as they got a feel of them whilst admiring scenes of giraffe, hyena, elephant, zebra, tope and gazelle. 2 Nights were spent here and the guests were treated to some incredible viewings both on horseback and on game drives as we explored the northern end of the Mara. Some notable scenes included 2 beautiful male cheetah
and a big pride of 4 lionesses, 1 male and 8 cubs of varied ages. Adrenalines were fired up when we watched a hungry lioness take down a Thompson’s gazelle right before us. Given the lion hierarchy system, it inevitably resulted in the dark-maned male swooping in to steal the prize with a few deep intimidating growls and an effortless snatch of the animal. We were also extremely lucky to spot an aardwolf in the evening, one of the rarer animals found in the Mara, who we watched for some time before shyly fleeing.
On Tuesday the 17th we set off south on a moving day towards the Mara Triangle. On this ride we were treated to a wonderful Mara river crossing. Although inhabited by both hippo and crocodile, the waters depth was at a level just safe enough for all to cross. There were a few long canters across the Mara’s famous endless plains. We had a close encounter with a hippo bull and elephant bull, both of which were trouble-free. We also entered virtually the same breathing space of a herd of buffalo, with a deep gully separation in our favour. The ride concluded with a few stream jumps here and there until we reached the bottom of the escarpment ready for the steep off-horse climb to the top. The G&T’s were certainly flowing in full force after such an epic day encouraged by the exceptional campsite view overlooking the picture perfect landscape below us.
The next day we were greeted by a magical sunrise at 6.30am before heading East towards our next campsite in Olare Orok. 2 nights were spent here in the undergrowth of thick fig river line trees. This camp was packed with all sorts of game including the local wildebeest migration that gave guests a small insight to the larger Tanzanian migration. Fun was certainly had galloping alongside massive herds of these wildebeest, as well as zebra, eland, impala and topi.
One of the early morning rides may easily have been the heart-throbbing highlight of the trip. The group came across a couple of honeymooning lion who we watched for a short period of time. Our presence led to a quick swish of the tail before the male charging began towards us. Although there were slight feelings of terror, it was difficult not to admire his long soft mane blowing majestically in the wind as we did our best to sit tight. As luck would have it, the bravery of the offbeat horses meant that all the guests sat the mock charge astonishingly well with any sense of insecurity quickly relieved by our expert guides Simon and Megan. It was a terrifically unforgettable moment to be a part of.
The long moving day began with an early morning ride towards our last campsite, Olare Lamun. This involved an approximate 60km trek through varied terrain of rocky hills, thick acacia trees and gallop-friendly open plains. This moving day included both breakfast and lunch en-route.
The long ride ended with an extraordinary canter with giraffe in the early evening light before a safe arrival at our last campsite. 2 more nights were spent here with 3 short rides around the area including one up to visit a Masai village to get a real taste of their culture.
All in all the trip could not have gone better with the strong competency of the riders making it even more enjoyable for everyone. A family-like bond had certainly been made by the end with this unique, quirky group of individuals that all got along splendidly.
The horses were all perfectly matched to their riders; everyone had bonded perfectly with their mounts after the week, being brave enough to jump a few jumps, kindly created by the destructive elephants.
With Simon and Megan having a few surprises up their sleeves during the trip, the guests were certainly kept on their toes, in good spirits and constantly entertained. A rare form of entrainment one could only experience on a safari in Kenya. With the help of our hawk eye spotter Netty the Masai we were able to spot plenty of game including a whopping 9 cheetah.
Here's one of the couples:
The trip was also made by the fantastic behind the scenes teamwork of the camp, kitchen and horse staff with all their hard work and management going towards making the guests feel like royalty. All the horses ended with as much energy, charisma and condition as the started.
Mwana and the Offbeat Riding Safaris Team