Reading Time: 3 MINUTES
Into the wilds of the Mara Triangle ventured nine intrepid first-time safari goers … and survived to tell tales that surely will grow with the telling
Gogo Elizabeth had never been inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve. She had lived her entire life on its outskirts, on the other side of the imaginary fence, but had never had the means to explore her own ‘backyard’. Her situation is by no means unique, as many of the women in the nearby areas have never had the opportunity to experience what visitors to Kenya travel thousands of miles to see.
The Mamas of Angama are a group of nine Maasai women who work in the lodge’s Beading Studio; incredibly talented with their hands they craft beautiful, colourful and creative designs. Yet of the nine only two had ever been on a safari.
It was time for that to change …
They arrived dressed in their finest and, climbing into the car, took their seats with nervous excitement. I spied an open seat and jumped at the opportunity of joining the ride.
The prevailing theme of the safari was one of laughter. Bumbling along the 6-hour outing was a huge success and a few stellar moments stood out. The first had to be Elizabeth cowering away from a massive elephant bull who was peacefully minding his own business some 50 meters away. A huge animal only ever encountered before on foot or when raiding her crops, she literally dived onto the guide’s lap and covered her body with his jacket. The others dissolved into laughter. With time her confidence grew and one eye appeared out from behind the jacket – she relaxed and started to soak in the sight of the mighty elephant.
The second moment of magic was when all the Mamas’ cellphones beeped in unison. They reached into their pockets and read their texts. Giggles spread through the car as they read messages from their airtime providers welcoming them to Tanzania. We were still about 1km from the border and Wilson, our guide, decided it would be fun to take them to a concrete bollard and sign demarcating the end of Kenya. Not only was this now a safari, this was the chance to ‘visit’ another country.
A third moment of wonder was when we found two male cheetah sleeping under a tree in the midday heat. The ladies chatted away in hushed tones – for many this was the first cheetah they had ever seen.
The final sighting of the day was by far the best and most amusing. A large male lion had killed an old buffalo in an open clearing. He had finished gorging himself but, with a clan of marauding hyenas threatening to steal his food, he was insistent on sleeping in the baking sun. He saw the vehicle as a source of shade and headed our way. At the start of the drive gentle Elizabeth had decided to sit in the passenger seat, closest to the safety of Wilson. She would quickly regret that decision as the male lion slouched in the shade right beside her. He couldn’t have been more than a meter away from her tiny frame. She disappeared into the foot well with the others cackling away under their breaths. After 15 minutes of stern negotiation Wilson managed to convince her it was safe to sit up. She arose and ever so shyly peered out over the door and down on to the back of the massive 200kg lion. I managed to capture her look of inquisitive nerves in the rear view mirror as the Mamas once again doubled over with laughter.
A day none of us shall ever forget.