Wednesday, February 26
Woke for my last day in Kenya at an even earlier ungodly hour. A nearby lion decided to start roaring his head off around 3:15 and kept getting closer and closer to our camp until the Masai staff chased them off so we could get up and out for our game ride.
It was a beautiful clear morning and there was just a sliver of a moon out with the brightest star seemingly hanging off of it. I was anxious to get out and see what we'd catch at 6:00. Not far out of camp, Jackson spotted two female lions from the Enkuyani pride just strolling down the hill. We tried to capture them as silhouettes against the sunrise, but I think while my camera skills have improved dramatically over the last week, thanks to the Norwegian wildlife photographers who tutored me over dinner for four nights, I don't think I've nailed sunrise yet. As we moved on, we found a Double Crossing male lion who was on the hunt for these two Enkuyani girls. As I mentioned before, these Double Crossing males are hanging out with two different female prides with no ill effects on the relations or the cubs. In fact, this male was seen mating with both of these girls earlier in the week. Nice life for him, I guess!
We decided to go back and see what Fig the leopard was up to. Turns out she was up in that same tree, with her second impala kill. She'd moved the first up to higher branches (long term storage, I guess) but she was in effect held hostage by a hyena who was circling the tree, hoping for either a dropped impala carcass or Fig the leopard herself. We were right under the tree with a great angle and the gorgeous early morning golden light. I took at least 150 shots here, so at least a few are bound to be enlarged and hung. She is just such a beautiful cat. I really felt honored to have gotten to see her in such a spectacular sighting, twice! And with so few people around!
We had to take the New Zealanders to the same airstrip I'd be going to later in the day. So we cut the morning drive off at 9 and went back for breakfast. This morning they had a tremendously good museli of all dried fruit and nuts that was absolutely to die for. We zipped off to the airstrip where I partook of some seriously good sunshine while waiting for the plane to land and whisk my new friends off to the next phase of their adventure. We hit the road again and didn't take long to find Amani's three cheetah sub-adult cubs again, flaked out under a tree. And right after that we found the Double Crossing females with the seven cubs again. It was getting close to my having to return to camp again and get ready to leave myself, so this was an excellent way to say goodbye to the Mara. These cubs were really hungry and the moms appeared too hot and bothered to want to nurse. One cub in particular was really vocal, letting out these irresistible little squawks that apparently only I could love. Once I saw that everyone who wanted to nurse could, I felt good about leaving them. As if I'd be able to do anything about it in any event...
Jackson and Stanley wanted to stop at a topi kill. It appeared that it was a natural death, as there was no sign of trauma or even that anything had tried to eat it before the jackals got there. The jackal made a good start at it, but was chased off by different types of vultures and maribou stork. Several individual jackals made an attempt at getting the topi back for themselves, but the vultures won out in the end. Not really what I wanted my last sighting in the Mara to be, but it was sort of interesting. I think I'll just pretend my lion cubs were the last thing I saw.
Lunch was really good back at camp. They have done wonderful pizza for us before and today was no exception. They also had a three bean salad that was to die for. I drank two more Tangwizi, my last while I'm here, and took a shower and packed up for the trek home.
It was sad saying goodbye to my guides and Joseph. I really enjoyed my stay at Porini Lion and I think they did an excellent job at catering to my particular interests. I'm still mulling over a return next year...I'm sure my photos will only fuel that desire.
A 45 minute flight on SafariLink had me back in Nairobi at 5:00, a full 5 1/2 hours before my flight. To kill time, my driver suggested trying dinner at Carnivore, which is world renown for their meat. This place has about 20 kinds of meat cooking on spits; everything from sausage of all types (turkey, pork, lamb) to beef, ostrich, alligator. They just keep coming to your table and carve it off right on to your plate until you tell them no more. I didn't try anything too adventurous, but it was great meat and especially good sausage. The pineapple pie with ice cream was good, as was the dawa drink, honey, sugar, lime and vodka, which was meant to help you eat more meat!
My flight out of Nairobi airport left on time at 10:40 and arrived early to Amsterdam, extending my already six hour long layover. Argh. Now that I'm headed that way, I just want to be home, but I still can't believe the trip I've just had. So anxious to see the photos!!!