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Kenya Diaries Finale: Mara River, Cheetahs & Bush Planes

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DECEMBER 29

Today is our last day on this wonderful trip, and appropriately we are going on an all day safari - we're driving out to the mara river to see crocodiles and hippos. The day started out beautiful and we saw so much in just a short time! Elephants, ostriches, cheetahs (with very young cubs, and also a pair of males)...

We saw one of the best sights so far this morning: we're driving along and someone spots a hyena - and when I say 'someone' I mean David, because whenever we in the backseat 'spot' something it turns out to be a clump of grass. I am telling you, if the world ever returns to a time when we depend on our senses for survival, all white people are going to die instantly.

So. A hyena.

Then we saw a group of hyenas. Then we came over the top of a hill and saw the lions, mouths red, licking bones and panting in the sun. Usually when we come upon lions they are sleeping or licking each other but these ones were looking quite fierce as they gnawed the remains of a water buffalo. 

Watching the lions was amazing. A few of them came right up behind the vehicle and lay down in the shade of the car. Bubbie assures us that she has 20/20 vision but I don't think she noticed the lions circling the vehicle or if she did she kept very quiet about it.

We continued driving and went through some pretty muddy spots but never got stuck. We also managed to avoid the big rain all the way until we actually got to the Mara River (after about 2 hours of driving), when it started pouring on us. I knew that at some point in the day we were going to get rained on, since we were surrounded by these huge thunderstorms in every direction. In any case it provided a very dramatic backdrop to the beautiful landscape surrounding us.

The Mara river and storm clouds rushing through

Over the stormy distance and into Tanzania

The rain did put a damper on our plans though, because to properly see the mara river and all the life around it, you must drive on a quite precipitous dirt road located DIRECTLY on a precipice next to the river. I don't even have a fear of heights and I was clenched tight as a fist. The rain had made the road slick and we fishtailed even at the most cautious of speeds. However we couldn't leave without seeing what we came for...

'Crocodiles.' Says David.

He says things like that. Not 'hey guys, look, crocodiles.' just... 'Crocodiles.'

I was like:

Outwardly "wow!" *snaps fast crappy picture through windshield*

Inwardly "we are all going to get eaten by crocodiles if this vehicle moves one more centimeter to the left."

My only crocodile shot, with a bonus hippo!

We went back up to the lookout point (aptly named 'lookout') & ate our boxed lunches from the lodge. There is really nothing so perfect for a picnic lunch as cold fried chicken.

On our way back, we saw a beautiful cheetah with 3 cubs - a hyena strolled by and the cheetahs became very alert, sitting up and watching the hyena. Cheetahs are incredibly graceful, with long lean bodies and thick tails. Just beautiful animals. We also saw Maasai giraffes and some elephants. As rainy and dark as the day was, I still feel like we were lucky to see so many amazing animals. Every time you see them it feels new.

Last buffet dinner of the adventure... and I'm totally exhausted and ready for sleep!

DECEMBER 30

We are taking a tiny bush plane from the airstrip in Maasai Mara back to Nairobi. It's only a 45 minute trip but I can't help but pick up on all the nervousness around me. I'm not known for my strong resistance to motion sickness, but I wasn't really worried until Alix got worried. Then I was like 'Oh yeah, one of my biggest fears is crashing in an airplane.' But at least Jed is with me, so if we go down we're all going down together.

NAIROBI

The pilot gave us pack lunches in the plane. There were egg-salad sandwiches, fruit, and water. As strange as it was to get a pack lunch I figured the egg-salad wasn't going to improve with age so I ate it first thing before my stomach had a chance to complain.

The adventurous safarians

The adventurous safarians

We made it! Flying over the rural areas into Nairobi was interesting - you can see these strips of bright red earth (roads), circles spread out in the bush (villages) and, surprisingly, a lot of wind turbines.

Harrison picked us up at the airport and we're spending the afternoon relaxing at home. It's not safari, but it still feels good. These past 10 days have taken us through just a small part of Kenya, but we've seen so much. It has been eye opening in many ways: from the surprising amount of micro-commerce and simple rural life; the colourful villages and active streets; the generous and friendly people we've met and the beautiful animals... It's all been out of this world for me and definitely tops any trip I have ever been on. 

I'm lucky to have such a great family of adventurous souls :)