Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Day Nine -- THIS is how you leave the Mara

4 a.m. found me awake just before what sounded like a pair of lions started to roar right near our camp.  I made note of the direction and listened, then heard a chorus of jackals start yipping like the next door neighbor's yip yip dog.  When I got out to the land rover to leave for our game ride, Nabala hadn't heard them!  I tried to explain where they were coming from.  Sammy, the camp manager, heard them and was going out to find them.  We got about 20 minutes out and I could tell we were off course, because by now I could see my tent on the other side of the plain and knew we'd gone too far.  Sammy radioed and said they were right where I said they were, and off we went.

These were 3 males, likely the mohawk boys I saw earlier in the week.  They had full bellies but there was no sign of a kill around.  Two of them were quite skittish and ran off when I moved around in the vehicle, but one stayed to comply with photo requests. We followed the other two to a large bush that would be their bedroom for the day.  The morning light was just perfect and I think/hope I got some wonderful shots.  We went back to the remaining boy and waited to follow him back to the same bush.  He followed the scent his brothers' paws left in the grass and went right though the same opening to the bush to sleep the day off.  How funny!

It wasn't much longer before Nabala spotted a lioness in the grass evaluating a herd of zebras.  We watched her for a bit and then she disappeared, further on though, the 6 sub-adult lions from Friday night (who attacked the two interloping brothers) were all lying in the grass keeping an eye on the same herd of zebras.  One female was quite in the lead, crouched low and watching as the zebras cluelessly (oblivious to the lions' presence)  wandered in her direction.  We sat there for about 90 minutes, just Nabala and me, waiting.  I suggested we go eat breakfast and come back if he thought it'd be ok to do.  He felt it better to wait, so we ate right there.  Just as we'd finished the food but still had coffee, another of the females went for it.  She sprinted down into the salt lick where a few zebras had gathered and out she came, with her siblings joining as quickly as they could. It all happened so fast.  When the lioness was very close, it seemed like she'd grabbed the zebra but it flipped over and tried to kick her, then flipped back and got away.  I didn't even have time to even think about lifting the camera until it was well past me.  It was just insane, but what a rush!!!  Of course that would be my last sighting in the Mara, and I'm so hungry for more.  Incredible.

Nabala dropped me at the airstrip and we said goodbye.  I did have a good time with him and some amazing sightings.  As the plane lifted off, I was a blubbering mess.  I so love it here.

Got to Nairobi and was met by Peter at Emakoko.  He knows a lot of the folks on Safaritalk, so we have that in common.  He asked what I'd not seen so far and I said "rhino" and next thing you know, we were in front of 6 white rhino.  Unbelievable.  I cannot believe this is in the middle of a major city!

The Emakoko is gorgeous.  It's made up of five houses set into a hill.  Each house opens out on to a balcony with large double doors.  There's running water and electricity, which is a bonus!  A beautiful queen bed that is dying to be slept in.  Rock hyraxes are all over the place here, and they even come into the rooms!  The girl who showed me to my room said it's ok to leave doors open, completely safe.  I'm sitting on my balcony now, where it's nice and cool, and getting ready for a 4:30 game drive.  Lunch was fabulous.  There were little spicy thai peanut spoonfuls that were heavenly.  The entree was a fish (red snapper) fry with salad, grilled tomato and eggplant.  They offered me a glass of sauvignon blanc. Dessert was a warm rhubarb custard with meringue top.  I could get used to this!

Went on a game ride this afternoon with Peter, my guide here at Emakoko.  The contrast between the city skyline and the expanse of the land here is striking.  45 square miles of beautiful with a skyline looming in every direction.  Just incredible.  In the few short hours I was out, I managed to see 12 rhino, both white and black, so I've seen the big 5 on this trip too.  We spent some time at a hippo pool for one lone hippo and at a lake for several others.  Peter says the lone hippo likes the shallow pool for himself, even though he can't submerge himself, he will loll about and do flips in it to cool his back off.  Lots and lots of white storks and some Maribou storks at the lake, many Coke's hartebeest here too, many more than I've seen anywhere else, I think.   We spent that golden hour before sunset with some rhino and that was quite impressive and very memorable.  I can't believe what a treasure this park is and that it is so accessible.  I'd be here all the time if I lived here.

My sundowner tonight was a Stoney Tangawizi.  I think my time with Stoney is drawing to a close so I'm trying to remember it as best as I can.

Dinner tonight was wonderful.  More Sauvignon Blanc, with cream of tomato soup and vegetable phylo, followed by white chocolate mousse.  The phylo in particular was very yummy.  Believe it or not I think it was all mushroom based, which is surprising that I liked it as much as I did if that's the case.  These folks here know how to do vegetarian food.  It may be a toss up between here and the Tawi Lodge for best food!

I'm already behind my mosquito netting in a wonderful king-sized bed listening to the noises of the night.  No need to close anything up, just listen to it all and breathe in the air.  I've been outdoors now for 10 days straight!  That's a lot of fresh air.

Tomorrow are my Sheldrick's visits.  I cannot wait.  Although I'm sad to be headed home at the end of it!

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