Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Mara Me Amazed

Yes, I realize the title of today’s blog makes no sense but I felt like enjoying some alliteration while I prepared to tell you about my fabulous weekend of animal spotting. After two years of Hubby’s “there’s no rush” attitude, I finally convinced him to go to the Masai Mara in honour of Madaraka Day. (ie a long weekend)

Let me start by explaining that we decided to cheap out and drive to the Mara. While we were smart enough to at least go with a tour company so as not to traumatize our poor car too much, we were not quite smart enough to realize that the tales we had heard about the craptacular state of the roads wasn’t an exaggeration. Bumpy and pot-hole-lined doesn’t even begin to describe the southwesterly drive while sitting in the back of a safari van. (Read: slightly more comfy version of a mattau. Unlike the Serena vans pictured here our van was more like riding on a cloud of rocks.) Given a choice between spending a few hundred dollars on a 40 minute flight, or saving money on a back-breaking, headache-inducing, six-hour drive – open up your wallet; you’ll thank
me for it later.

Our arrival at the Mara Serena Hotel (naturally the hotel that was the furthest from the main gate), we checked in and made our way to the buffet lunch. While the buffet-style food at every meal was OK little thought had been put into its arrangement. For vegetarians the typical choices at lunch and dinner was either pasta from the live cooking station, or Indian food. Despite not actually being veggies this suited both Hubby and I to a tee until the night when someone put the chapattis in the same chafing dish as the beef. Poor taste, Serena!

Our room was comfy (though not that large) and boasted a spectacular view of the plains beneath us. In fact, when we weren’t sitting up on the hotel’s main “deck” enjoying the view, we could usually be found in our room with the windows open enjoying the view and a pleasant breeze. Every evening during dinner, someone came to turn down the bed and, more importantly, open the mosquito net curtain which would keep us safe from the Satan’s Minions (aka mosquitoes with a taste for my blood).

Our driver, who called himself DikDik after the small antelope of the same name(seriously, I’m not making this up), was fantastic!! From the moment he picked us up in Nairobi, throughout the drives, and the long ride home, he was polite, funny, and incredibly informative. Quite a contrast from the joke of a driver that BBS, Eleanor, and I had back in December. DikDik’s willingness to put his van to the test, driving through the grass and over rocks was awe-inspiring. Plus, his gut instincts almost always paid off and ensured that we saw everything: from a pride of lions chilling in the grass to a pod of hippos relaxing on the banks of a river.

Over the next few days, I will share just a few of the photos and stories from our weekend in the Mara. So stay tuned and prepare to plan your own trip to the Masai Mara.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wish I was there with you--one of these days, ah?