Today began bright and early (but more early than bright!) with a game drive out through the Masai Mara. We took photographs of the bright orange sunrise, the beauty of which was complemented by hot air balloons touring the horizon. According to Teeku, passengers on these balloons enjoy a 45 minute tour and a “champagne” breakfast, all for the low price of around $400. Although these tours allow visitors to the Mara a bird’s eye view of the park, they can be rather destructive in that the balloons, once they have landed, often require tractors to haul them out of the area.

Shortly after the sun came up, we encountered a group of elephants enjoying breakfast in the grass, not far from our base camp at Matira.

An elephant greeting us at breakfast--photo by Rebekah White

The day was spent leisurely driving around and photographing wildlife, including warthogs, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, dik diks and Thomson’s gazelles. Unfortunately, we also witnessed quite a few cattle, the grazing of which is a controversial issue in and around the Mara. We saw a hippo napping in the grass and, shortly after spotting a group of buffalo, some sleepy male lions. Later in the day, after lunch, we encountered another pair of lions asleep beneath a tree. Must have been a good day for a siesta!

A male lion napping in the midafternoon heat--photo by Rebekah White

Another male lion sighting--but awake--photo by Rebekah White

We returned to camp late in the evening, ready for showers and a good night’s rest, needing to refuel for another day out in the Mara.

Shiv rescues a tortoise from a close call in the middle of the road--photo by Rebekah White

Today our attempts at trapping more birds were in vain. Going to a different part of the reserve, we realized belatedly that the arrival of the wildebeests in the area we were in yesterday is where all the action is. The few bateleur eagles and vultures that took into interest in the trap were chased away by screeching, attacking crowned plovers!

Setting the trap. / Meera Subramanian

A goat head is our lure. / Meera Subramanian

While there is not the animal concentration we saw yesterday, today’s drive through the park gives us a feel for what the Masai Mara feels like most of the year. Still we see hyenas, elephants, bataleur eagles, vultures, impala, and many other birds and animals.

Common zebra / Meera Subramanian

Topi / Meera Subramanian

Crowned crane / Meera Subramanian

African elephant / Meera Subramanian

Pair of tawny eagles / Meera Subramanian

Tawny eagle up close / Meera Subramanian

Secretary bird, a most unusual raptor. / Meera Subramanian

A brief rain turns the red soil slick, but a good heave-ho gets us out.

Push! / Meera Subramanian

The days in the field are long, but picnics under acacia trees allow time for a little r&r.

Drew takes a siesta. / Meera Subramanian

Teeku enjoys the landscape. / Meera Subramanian

Almost ready to call it a day, we stop for a sundowner, watching a storm move across the horizon, bolts of lightning flashing up the dark clouds.

As clouds move in. . .

Just as we were about to load up, a group of wildebeests were startled and a closer look revealed a lion! We went to get a closer look and saw four lionesses lounging in the tall grass, slowly preparing for their evening hunt.

One of a few lionesses. / Meera Subramanian

After madly snapping photos, as the last light faded from the sky, it was time to go. Really. But the park wasn’t done with us. On the way out, we came across another pair of lions. The male snoozed just feet from the vehicles that had gathered to observe.

Lion / Arianwen Jones

You just never know what might be around the next bend when you’re in the wild world.