Safari in the Maasai Mara
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
We've spent the last three nights in the beautiful Ol Seki Hemingways camp in the Maasai Mara. And we've been so fortunate to spot some really special wildlife. We have literally taken hundreds of photos, so I've tried to select a few without boring you to pieces with photos of every Simba, Nala and Zazu.
We flew out from Nairobi on a little bush plane, which provided great views of the Mara. On arrival to camp we were warmly welcomed and shown our 'tent'. It's probably bigger than the downstairs of our house, with full shower and bathroom all heated by solar power. It's the most luxurious tent I imagine I'll ever step foot in.
So the wildlife... Lets start with the big five! Lions, rhinos, buffalo, elephants and leopards are what many people travel here to see. The phrase was coined by African hunters and refers to the five most dangerous animals to hunt on foot.
We have seen so many lions! From little cubs to kings of the savannah.
The cubs are so playful! I could sit and watch them for hours as they practice pouncing on each other. This guy was a little more scary though...
We've also seen elephants!
And buffalo! Ugly things aren't they.
There aren't any rhino in the part of the Mara we're in, so we'll have to come back again to track those down. And the leopard are so shy, we didn't manage to spot any during our time here.
My favourite animals we saw are the cheetahs. These can be tricky to find so I am so glad we got the opportunity to observe them on their morning scout and scratch.
They move with such sophistication that I really can't portray in a photo. This morning on our last drive we actually watched a female cheetah bring down a Thomson gazelle for her and her three cubs! It was the fastest hunt, the gazelles hadn't seen her coming and didn't stand a chance!
We were also lucky enough to observe another hunt whilst here. Watching the predators catch their prey is such a tricky game, as you have to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Right at the end of our first morning drive we saw a Jackal take down a very small gazelle for its breakfast.
My favourite of all the antelope are the Topi, who are affectionately known as the 'blue jean' antelope, you can probably see why.
And we've also seen a few zebra crossings (sorry I had to!)
And finally some hippos! (They stink FYI)
Our top tips for safariing are:
Stay hydrated! It can get really warm, and the Mara is at quite an altitude so effects can creep up on you too.
Wrap up! Layers. Layers. Layers. Game drives are first thing in the morning (6AM wake up call) and in the afternoon/evening (4PM-7PM as the sun goes down). This is because it's cooler and the animals are moving around more. On the typical drive I'm wearing trousers and a tee, a jumper, a jacket, and then I put a full waterproof poncho on as and when necessary (they're all the rage here - don't judge my fashion choices). They'll also send you out with flasks of hot drinks on your morning drive to keep warm and hydrated.
Bring your sunglasses, the sun is low during drive times so can shine in your eyes, but they're also helpful for keeping dust out of your eyes too.
Pack a camera with a good lens and/or binoculars for those pesky animals that are hiding!
Be patient - they're wild animals and sometimes you've got to wait until they're ready to make an appearance. It's worth it.
Ask loads of questions. Your guides know everything, literally everything, about every animal and plant you pass by.
If you get the opportunity for a night drive, take it! Lots of animals are nocturnal and therefore only observable at night. We saw an aardvark (which is very rare), cute little springhares (they look like mini kangaroos) and bush babies (very small primates).
Be social! Going on safari means lots communal dining, so get to know the other guests and have fun!
We have absolutely loved staying at Hemingways Ol Seki. We have been so well looked after (and fed!! I can't begin to explain how much wonderful food there is!). Last night they put on a beautiful private bush dinner for the two of us with a campfire and champagne. A perfect end to our honeymoon safari stay (two hyenas thought so too and came to say hello). The staff are incredible and so so kind. On our last game drive our guides bought sundowners for us and we drank G&Ts out on the savannah, served on the hood of the jeep.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our safari experience and would love to come back in the future to see some of those rhinos and leopards!