Susie Allan is a born and bread Kenyan and has a great passion for plants, traditional artefacts and wild places and shares some of her sitings on a recent January safari and explains why this is such a magical time to visit the Mara
Why do we only ever talk about game viewing in the Maasai Mara when The Great Migration comes to town? Yes, so a million animals and more crash through the non-existent border between Tanzania and Kenya each July, much to the annoyance of the resident game who call the Mara home for 12 months of the year. This little blog is going to right that wrong and give some well-deserved airtime to the numerous and diverse creatures that actually have a birthright to live here. And we will kick off with a lovely January story … (Ed) What a treat to visit the new Angama Mara Lodge on the Oloololo or Siria Escarpment and watch work in progress. It has to be one of the most stunning sites in Africa, and it was thrilling to see the beautiful new tents going up with their elegant roofs and their impressive steel infrastructure. The construction staff camp is one of the most sophisticated in Africa and the teams are already enjoying a formidable game of football.
A stay at Angama Mara has got to be one of the greatest Out Of Africa experiences. I love the road in – seeing the pastoralists, antelope and zebra just mingling together as they would have done for decades – a truly timeless scene. And how fortunate to have such an amazing hardtop airfield so close to the lodge for a really comfortable landing. We had zebra, topi, and impala close to camp and heard leopard calling nearby. Sadly for the Mara, there were few tourists at the end of January, but, selfishly, we had wonderful quiet sightings of leopard, one walking along the river bed and the second just so relaxed and asleep in the branches of a magnificent Diospyros abyssinica tree.
We found ourselves amongst a beautiful herd of giraffe drinking water in that strange way that they do with straight forelegs apart. A cackle of hyenas kept us amused and in the midst of about fifteen scurrying to and fro, a little banded mongoose popped out of his burrow in search of his usual tasty insects, only to make a rapid retreat when he saw a hyena within a few feet. Little hyena, close to us, peeped out of the grass, enjoying the sunshine. A beautiful lioness awaited an opportunity for a kill but we just enjoyed watching her, before seeing a huge herd of magnificent elephant with several little ones, trying out their trunks! I thought I saw a rhino and calf but couldn’t be sure, just before they moved into hiding in a lugga. A couple of young male topi, with their ochre-coloured stockings, tested each other’s prowess and their horns interlocked on a few occasions. Our vehicle surprised a pod of hippo and unusually they leaped out of the water onto the opposite bank. Perhaps the water was too shallow to make their normal retreat? We were glad that we were not recipients of their modified incisors, which made a fearsome clank.
Black Crowned Cranes began to dance and White-fronted bee-eaters caught the warmth of the last light. It was magic!