You reach the gate to the Mara Triangle with the anticipation of a novice rollercoaster rider. The approach itself has been eventful, winding through the wooded edge of the Oloololo Escarpment while grazing zebras and impalas glance mildly at your passing. You exhale loudly, unclenching your jaw as the ranger saunters from his station to allow entrance. You had not noticed how tightly you were holding your breath until it escaped you. Beyond this gate, within the ancient valley, could be anything. You will soon discover it is everything.
The sky that emerges in front of you on your inaugural game drive through this pristine portion of the Maasai Mara National Reserve is never the same twice. Your first day out, on a late Friday afternoon in March, it is a bank of thunder clouds that spares you with slight drizzle, casting a Moorish shadow in the middle of a tropical afternoon. Early the next morning, the sky unfurls the sister sunrise of others you have loved – pink and orange peeking through blue-gray clouds, sprinkling a herd of elephants with all the sweetness of sherbet.
You have come to Angama Mara to be held in the most elemental manner – by nature and by community. The scale of each captivates you.
As you crisscross the Mara Triangle on game drives, walking safaris, and a hot-air balloon ride, your eyes slowly (but not always surely!) adjust to discern a termite hill from a trundling bull elephant; a large knot in an acacia tree from a lounging leopard; a rock from a rhino. Your spirit will never get used to the reverence of witnessing baby elephants, giraffes, and lion cubs suckling their mamas. Nor can it contain its explosive excitement the first time a pod of hippos peeks at you from their pond, or when a serval sprints in front of you with a look over its shoulder like a dare. Or when, after observing a herd of buffalo corner three lionesses in a tree then leave some brethren behind, you become spectator to the primal passion play unfolding constantly on this plain: a hunt, a kill, a meal. Another day of death for some, and survival for others.
“Nature knows best” has been your mantra for some time, but you’re not always sure you believe it. You’ve borrowed these words from writer and naturalist Mary Oliver’s transcendent essay, Bird, about her attempts to revive, then let go the life of an injured gull. It’s hard to know what nature knows, but here in the Mara, you begin to trust it, and yourself, a bit more. The gracious community at Angama Mara plays a large role in this. The majority Kenyan staff celebrate the abundance of the land they steward and openly share their knowledge of local history, culture, and the African ecosystem. You will laugh, and cry, and sit in peaceful silence with many of them during your visit. And you will leave not knowing what thrills you more: that your time here has been a revelation, or that, in many ways, it feels like a homecoming.
Filed under: The Mara