The first three days were spent in the Masaai Mara.
Of all the write-ups I've read on the Maasai Mara, I liked this one the best:
"Brace yourself for a unique exploration of all that Mara represents. From Kenya's most exotic community (the Maasai), their culture and their co-existence with the wild, to the essence of a wild unscripted safari. "
Once we'd reached the entrance gate to Maasai Mara National Reserve and paid our gate fees, we drove through the park to our accommodation about 12km away. The first animal we saw was a White-bearded Gnu more commonly known as the Blue Wildebeest. This was probably the only wildebeest left in the park as the other 1.3 million had migrated to the Serengeti in Tanzania early in December.
As plains (Burchell's) zebra are also part of the migration, seeing this small herd was unique as well. The wildebeest grazed alongside the zebra
The next animals we saw were elephants. A small herd of elephants crossed the road in front of the vehicle and a little way ahead, we saw a mother and young elephant in the grass beside the road
Over the next ten kilometers, we saw giraffe, buffalo, warthog and a sleeping lion [almost hidden] in the grass
We arrived at Fig Tree Camp just after 1pm. As is custom in Africa, the porters assisted us with our luggage from the car park, across the bridge over the Talek river to the lodge reception. Once we'd booked in, we were shown to our tented rooms overlooking the river. Glorious!
The exterior of our tented rooms overlooking the Talek river. Every night we heard the hippos grunting and splashing about in the river.
Every evening we watched the resident pod of these fascinating but highly dangerous animals in the water directly below our tent
The interior of our tented rooms.
We had a double and a single poster bed with mosquito nets. Electricity at Fig Tree Camp is generated from 4am - 8am and again from 6pm until midnight. The accommodation was en-suite with hot water from a "donkey" (water heated in a large drum over a wood fire and piped to the rooms)
A small pride of lionesses with young cubs just visible through the grass in the bottom right photo
Later that afternoon we went for our first drive through a section of the park. We had to drive past the open grassland where we'd seen a sleeping lion that morning and we thrilled to see a whole pride that evening. The females were resting in the long grass and we could just make out a few young cubs with them.
Fig tree camp, is run entirely by men except for the manageress, named Margaret. Men did the cooking, serving and clearing up of the diningroom. Men tended the natural gardens surrounding the camp and stoked the fires for hot water every evening. Men cleaned the rooms every day and at night men turned down the beds and closed the mosquito netting .
When we returned to out tent, the man tending to our room told us that he'd seen a crocodile in the river. He pointed out to an island in the river and sure enough: a large Nile crocodile lay asleep in the late afternoon sun.
A large Nile crocodile asleep on an island in the river below our tent
Of course, I couldn't resist photographing one of the many weavers busily building nests in the branches overhanging the river
Our stay was "full board" which meant breakfast, lunch and dinner was included. The meals were served in the diningroom which, like the foyer and bar area outside, was decorated for Christmas. Soup, delicious varieties of meat or vegetarian, was served at the table. Thereafter you helped yourself at the a long counter, to vegetables, rice, potatoes, ugali (maize meal) and a variety of meats. The salads were different and begged to be sampled. When it came to desserts, the choice was mind-boggling. I won't write about them here, because even the names are fattening. I ate too much this holiday!
The diningroom was adorned with Christmas decorations . The food was self-service and divine!
A waiter waits (!) for us to be seated so that he can serve the soup
True to African hospitality, while we were enjoying our meal, a band of musicians danced past the tables and sang Kenyan songs of welcome.
A band of musicians danced in between the tables and sang to us
A few minutes later the chef and waiters joined in the fun
Soon our first day in the Mara, at the lovely Fig Tree Camp was over and we retired to our tents, replete and happy.