While planning a trip like this, one looks at maps, browse internet and dream about famous and legendary places deep in Africa. Sometimes you fantasize about seeing yourself looking at Kilimanjaro, visiting Arusha the frontier town, seeing wonderful different tribes, hearing Swahili, seeing the Maasai leaning on there sticks looking after their herds of cattle ……. Since Zanzibar we both found that our dream to do an overland trip through Africa has in reality also become dreamlike. The distances travelled in kilometers became less obvious…..it became more and more a deep emotional and spiritual journey with a dreamlike substance. The reality of a safari like this is more difficult than anticipated, but the joy is also much more than ever dreamed about. When one read or hear about bad roads, you don’t have the faintest idea of what it means. There are hungry days because there are no opportunities to stop to make something to eat, tiring and long days on the road because of the road and traffic conditions and sad days when you long for the children and grandchildren, wishing they could be with you to share this fantastic journey. But then there is also the joy of waving to the people, especially the children and seeing the light up of faces when they wave back, the goodwill of the locals, the beautiful scenery and the feeling of being alive! A bad road can mean anything from the vehicle rattling, shuddering, bone jarring or not even be able to speak to each other. It is harder on body and soul but also much much more than anticipated and at some stage in anyone’s life, one must try to do a journey like this to find out who you really are and what you are made off….We enjoy every bone jarring kilometer and every second of our dream.
The world-renowned Masai Mara needs little in the way of introduction; its tawny, wildlife stuffed savannahs are familiar to everyone who owns a TV set (Yes, taken directly from Lonely Planet). This was the one Park that we decided that no matter what it is going to cost, we will visit! It is not a cheap experience but it was something that one cannot really describe in words. We drove from Nairobi down the escarpment trough the great Rift Valley. In the valley they farm with wheat and maize and for kilometers it is a colourful picture of cultivated lands differing between maize and wheat. Then the tar ended!!! we drove on a very very bad road towards the Mara, changing frequently from corrugation to deep powdery dust holes. We met Chris and Julie who were driving a bit further behind us and we drove the last part from the Sekonani Gate of the Park together to our campsite. The road from the gate goes through Maasai land. At on stage when we had to cross a stream, I had to get out of the bakkie to see how deep the water is running. Arno drove through, Chris and Julie followed and I had to cross the muddy stream and ran for the bakkie (although Julie offered me a lift), who had to drive further and further because there were another vehicle coming from the back. It was all huge fun although I was even dirtier than before We camped at Aruba-Mara Lodge just outside the Talek Gate. The next morning we went into the Mara at 7:00 and started at first driving along the Talek river. Later on we decided to drove to the Mara river but to go across the Mara river into the Mara triangle. We thought that we saw a huge amount of Wildebeest before we crossed the Mara river but we were totally overwhelmed with what we experienced by driving on a two spoor track next to the river all by ourselves and saw hundreds of thousands of Wildebeest. We were really part of the migration!! We hoped to see a river crossing and sat for a long time waiting for the animals to start crossing the Mara and a few times they went down to the water but turned back again. We saw the huge crocodiles on the river bank, the Marabu’s and the vultures busy feasting on the dead Wildebeest in the river. All the while the Wildebeest that wanted to cross were milling around on the opposite bank wanting to cross but not willing to take the leap into the crocodile infested water! This was an experience of a lifetime!!! We were hugely touched by the magic of seeing nearly two million animals on the move. The urgency of the movement of the Wildebeest, the wide open plains and the sheer number of the migrating animals is really overwhelming
Then there is obviously the maddening crowd with their expensive cameras, driving up and down at hair raising speed with their long radio antennas and talking on radios, pushing you of the road in their search for a river crossing.
We and Chris and Julie had two wonderful evenings together in the Mara, making and sharing food. We felt very sad and alone when they left early the next morning for Uganda and we had to go back to Nairobi.