A Typical Day on Safari
It is not easy to put a safari in the Masai Mara into words. However, our Africa specialist, Georgie, has summed up her whirlwind experience in order for you to catch a glimpse of what your holiday could entail.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to wake up in the middle of the bush? I am not one for quoting renowned writers, but Ernest Hemmingway was not lying when he said "I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy". After my recent trip to the Masai Mara, I wanted to try and paint a picture of a typical day in the Mara. Seasoned safari goers would argue it is impossible to describe the magic, but I am going to try.
First of all, the early mornings. That might sound absurd to some. Why should I wake up at 5:30 on my holiday? Quite simply, because it is the most beautiful and peaceful time in the bush. Guests are still in their camps, not a vehicle in sight, leaving you to just lie in bed with your cup of tea to take in the beauty of the early morning light, the stillness in the air, and the sound of the birds. If you are lucky, you will have heard the exhilarating, yet somehow soothing noise of lions roaring through the night, but the night's events are now over, leaving us excited safari goers to see what the night left behind on our first game drive on the day.
Setting off around 6:30, early enough so the predators are still active, with the first light peering through the cloud, we make our way onto the great plains of the Masai Mara. You're far too excited to think about the early start. Wrapped in your Masai blanket to fight the early morning chill, you are already scanning the vast savannah dotted with acacia trees, admiring the odd Thompson gazelle or wildebeest. I think my favourite early morning sighting was spotting a herd of giraffe poke their heads through the trees. There is something so serene and graceful about giraffes, and combined with the early morning mist, I had never seen anything so beautiful.
Rolling into the camp at around 9:30 and eager for breakfast, we helped ourselves to the most incredible spread for breakfast. It is amazing what you can do with the smallest kitchens in the middle of the bush. Guests swap stories of the incredible warthog family running for their lives as a pride of lions investigate their den, or the curious cheetah who bravely approached their vehicle for some incredible photography shots!
Game drives are exciting and unpredictable, but during the day the sun is hot, and it is the perfect time to soak up the beauty from your camp. I have been lucky enough to see some incredible camps, with an inspired interior design, turning the basic concept of camping into something luxurious. My favourite camps were those that encouraged the 'bush life' feel, with bucket showers, and no internet connection whatsoever. It is time to totally unwind and connect with the incredible nature around you. A dip in the pool or simply relaxing on the open decking, taking in those breath-taking vistas, is all you need to do to enjoy the wonder of the Mara. If you are lucky enough, you may find the animals come to you. One of the most thrilling moments of my trip to Kenya was when a herd of elephants, parched in the intense heat of Samburu, approached the camp's pool for a drink as we observed with our toes dipped in the water other end.
After a wonderfully indulgent afternoon tea, you head out for your late afternoon activity. Whether in a vehicle or on foot, dusk is an incredible time on safari, as all the wildlife resurface after a day hiding away in the sun. My personal favourite is a walking safari. Somehow getting on foot and feeling the bush beneath you, learning about the various trails of the wildlife, really heightens your senses and makes you feel alive! Just before the sun sets, you'll find yourself in the most spectacular spot, perfect for a sundowner. Nothing beats sipping on a refreshing G&T and marveling at the nature around you!
Finally, back to camp. It has been a long day, and a hot meal is waiting for you back at base. Bush meals are hearty and warming - nothing over the top, but without doubt some of the best food I have had. Of course, it helps that you are sitting under the African night sky, studded with stars, listening to the mesmerizing sounds of the bush.
After an evening of bush tales from the guides, plenty of wine and warming yourself by the fire pit, you head to bed. Zipping yourself up inside your cosy tent, knowing what is outside, is a somewhat adventurous but comforting sensation - especially with the hot water bottle waiting to keep you warm through the night - what could be better!