When our alarms went off at 5:45am we had no clue that Day 2 would go down in tour history as “Kill/Migration Day.” The previous day my Nomad Adventure Tours group had agreed that we wanted to wake up exceptionally early in attempt to catch the Great Migration, since we had heard reports that the 1.5 million wildebeests, zebra and other migrating antelope were due to be making their way across the river into the Maasai Mara National Park that morning.
After a delicious breakfast of toast, scrambled eggs and sausage we broke out into our smaller groups and made ourselves comfortable in our 4×4 mini busses. My group consisted of Lisa –my Aussie tent-mate, John and Jess – a lovely Aussie couple who had been traveling since Johannesburg, Ralf – a Swedish photographer and bird expert, Mogens– a Danish retiree on his tenth trip to Africa, and myself. Leading my group was Nyika, our Nomad Adventure Tours guide, in the front passenger seat, and our driver Peter from Kenia Tours. We navigated our way down the uneven dirt road and into the same entrance to the National Park that we had gone through the previous day. We had a plan to make our way to the Maasai Mara river, so we found ourselves going down the same paths – and as we made our way to the same area that we saw the lion cubs feasting on wildebeest the evening before, we witnessed an incredible sight. Before our eyes were tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebra as far as the eye could see.
This was what we had come to the Maasai Mara to see. This is why we spent nearly half an hour on the first day of the tour begging Nyika to change the itinerary – even if it meant we had less time in Lake Naivasha. It was astonishing. Even as we gazed off into the distance – speechless – our jaws dropped as we realized that the thousands of black specks were actually wildebeests and zebra, making their long trek.
We decided to keep driving to the river – just in case there were some stragglers who hadn’t get crossed. When the wildebeest and zebras cross the river, many perish due to the hungry crocodiles that patiently wait just under the surface, or from broken legs from falling down the steep hills on the riverside. Peter navigated his way through the park for a couple hours, we revelled in watching the various game pass us by through the window of the mini-bus –giraffe with their babies, elephants and tons of wildebeest, zebra and antelope.
The mini-bus finally reached the river – but unfortunately as we gazed upon the hippos happily sunbathing in the river, and the very fat comatose crocodiles on the riverbank, we knew that we had missed watching the Great Migration come across the river. Regardless, the fact that we managed to see them roaming throughout the park was very impressive – and we considered ourselves to be quite lucky.
Realizing that we would have to start heading back to the gate – some 2.5hrs away from where we currently were, we turned around and drove off. We bumped and bobbed around like kernels of corn in a hot pan as the mini-bus bounded down the dirt roads of the Masai Mara. As we were stopped watching a young male elephant investigate our vehicle, Peter received some chatter over his 2-way radio.
“Uhh… yeah.” “I suppose.” “… sure…” came some of the responses from our mouths.
“Good.” And with that he stepped on the gas. We lurched forward and awkwardly took our seats again. The mini-bus bounded along the open savannah, up and down small hills, around small gatherings of bushes. And then we saw it – a sure sign of something exciting – about 9 other safari vehicles lined up on the side of the road. A heard of about 25-30 wildebeest and a handful of zebra were to the left, and some tall grass to the right. “She’s in the tall grass. The lioness.” Peter announced.
My heart fluttered with excitement. I thought we were lucky the previous night, with encountering the lion cubs feasting and the lion couple on the edge of the road, but this was in a category in and of itself.
Peter positioned our vehicle so we had a very clear view of the lioness, hiding herself in the long grass, stalking the wildebeest and zebra’s every move. I got goosebumps as I realized that we had a very good chance of seeing her make a kill – which would help me tick off another bucket list item!
And sat and waited.
Peter even moved the vehicle over to where the others were, hoping we may catch some action.
Roughly 30minutes later, there we stood in the mini bus, massive cameras ready, and the wildebeest FINALLY started making their move. They started to cross the road- on the other side, a river… and a hungry and patient lioness. When the majority of them were as close to the river as possible – the zebras stopped in their tracks. The winds had changed. They must have picked up her scent. Before they could give out their familiar “woop woop” warning call the lioness made her move! She lurched out of the tall grass at top speed. The zebra and wildebeest scattered – turning back and galloping off in the direction they had come from. All except two – who had become the lioness’s target. She hit top speed and the gap between the herbivore and queen of the jungle closed. One of the wildebeests must have noticed it was running away from it’s herd and seemed to slow and turn, as if to try to turn in the direction of it’s herd, but that mistake cost it it’s life. In one swift move the lioness leapt on the wildebeest’s shoulders and buried her mouth into its neck. The wildebeest collapsed under her weight. The lioness remained in her position with the wildebeest in a chokehold for what seemed like 5 minutes. We watched – completely in awe of nature. Of how quick and simple it all seemed. It was brilliant.
We were on the biggest high as we left the Maasai Mara National Park – even the impending 3-hour ride back on some of the worst roads in Kenya – back to meet Sandile, our Nomad Adventure Tours driver, Noah, our Nomad Adventure tours cook and guide, and Junior – the Nomad Adventure Tours truck.
Myself? I put my head against the window, and despite it bobbing around thanks to the uneven roads and potholes, I managed to sleep most of the way back to Junior. We pulled into the parking lot of a hotel and there we saw our truck, Sandile and Noah – happily waiting for us – despite us being an hour or so late. We quickly unpacked the mini buses and loaded our stuff back onto Junior and quickly helped prepare our lunch – sandwiches and pasta salad, complete with pineapple and bananas. Once we cleaned up, we all hopped on board – bound for Lake Naivasha.
Unfortunately due to us changing our itinerary to include a drive out to the river in the Masai Mara, we were unable to participate in many of the optional activities in Lake Naivasha – heck, we didn’t even make it to camp until it was nearly dark. It wasn’t much of a big deal though – even if we had to put up our tents for the first time in the dark. Thankfully, there were a handful of us who had used the Nomad Adventure Tours tents previously, so we were able to get them up pretty quickly.
Once the tents were up, we were given a bit of free time as Noah and Nyika prepared our dinner. Many of us took advantage of the hot showers, or used the time to grab a cold beer at the bar. Personally, I spent the next hour or so sorting through my clothes, trying to locate where I had put this item or that.
Dinner was served around 8:30pm and we all settled in to a delicious beef stirfry over rice. As we happily filled our bellies, we did official introductions, and smiled as everyone shared a bit about themselves. Once dinner was finished, we washed up our own dishes and I received the amazing news that the campsite had wifi! It meant I was going to be able to get some updates out there on the online world, including a few pictures to show off the amazing lion kill we had witnessed! I updated the outside world about the goings-on of tour life until my eyes couldn’t stay open any longer. I tucked my laptop away, safely in my bag, and crawled into my sleeping bag, and promptly fell asleep in the darkness of my tent.
Start reading about my experience on the Masai Mara & Gorillas tour from the beginning! Click HERE for Day 1
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**DISCLAIMER: While Nomad Adventure Tours asked me to partake in this tour and did provide me with a discounted tour price, all expressed thoughts, opinions and experiences remain my own.**
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