Viewing the Big Five twice over in a matter of days is an expected experience when you visit Kenya’s magnificent Masai Mara. Viewing wild animals from a hot air balloon is another experience entirely. Baroque Travel visits this special part of Kenya and shares a few bucket list adventures
Karen Blixen was the author of the famous book about her life in Africa, called Out of Africa, which was made into a movie that was just as legendary, with Meryl Streep as the star. One of the best places to stay in the Mara is a safari lodge named after her – Karen Blixen Camp is a luxury tented camp that has the added advantage of being completely eco-friendly (solar energy is just one of its many energy-efficient projects). It also boasts an unmatched location next to a river, where animals come to drink. Here, overlooking the African plains, one sees buffalo basking in the sun, crocodiles fast asleep, giraffe bending their skinny legs into an awkward V to reach the water with their long necks and drink.
In the Mara, visitors spend their days exploring the plains, viewing warthogs and zebra grazing, lions like fat cats asleep with full bellies, hippo, buffalo, leopards, lions, elephants, cheetah… The Mara is a treasure trove, the Big Five just some of its gems.
Kenya is a safari heaven, the vast variety of wildlife its biggest treat. And when you come to the Mara in winter, the weather is still balmy, the Masai people just as colorful and friendly, and the spectacle even more breathtaking. This is the time of the migration, when vast herds of wildebeest and other animals head from the Serengeti in Tanzania to Kenya through the Mara. Of course, like any main attraction in the wilds, there are setbacks. There’s no times set for the migration. Some days it happens, and on others the animals aren’t seen at all. It’s a waiting game with the prize a chance to see hundreds or thousands of animals crossing a river fast and furiously.
This time round, it’s early in July and the migration isn’t in full swing yet. There are more than a hundred wildebeest grazing peacefully in a field, but the highlight is more likely to be a leopard sunning its belly after a kill, a herd of zebra dancing in the tall grass, a mother lion and her cubs playing on a hilltop.
A highlight of a visit to this beautiful slice of paradise is a very early morning wake up call followed by a drive to Governor’s Camp in the Mara. From here, you embark on a glorious 45-minute game-viewing journey up in the sky, in a hot air balloon. As the sun rises, the colors of the landscape lighten, the animals below you come out to play, to graze, to drink, to wander.
You have a bird’s eye view of one of the greatest spectacles on earth – animals living in their natural habitat enjoying their daily life. There is nothing more satisfying, nothing more beautiful, nothing more fulfilling.
From gourmet meals under a starlit sky to breakfasts in the bush, dancing with Masai warriors to showering in the outdoors, a visit to Kenya’s Masai Mara is an incomparable bucket list experience.