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This Week At Angama #154

Having been away from the Maasai Mara for the past month, Adam writes about how wonderful it is to be back in the fresh air. The cliché, he believes, is so true: absence truly does make the heart grow fonder
One of the seven cubs in the Salt Lick Pride looks out on the mothers moving through the long grass

As comforting as it was to be back home in South Africa, spending time with family for Christmas, there is just something so special about the Mara. I used to fly into the Mara after my leave, but of late I have in fact have preferred to drive. I love leaving the busy streets of Nairobi and watching the scenery unfold, and the pace of life start to slow down. As you drop down the escarpment into the Great Rift Valley there is a sudden change of energy as the landscape starts to go on seemingly forever. 

A lone elephant bull strides through the magnificent Mara landscape f 4.0, 1/5000, ISO 1600

My favourite part is when you turn off the tar road beyond the town of Narok and start to see the first wild animals. Usually it is a herd of gazelles, or perhaps even a solitary giraffe happily feeding on an acacia. It could even be a lone elephant bull trudging into the emptiness. 

The lone figure of a male giraffe silhouetted against the backdrop of the Oloololo Escarpment f 4.0, 1/640, ISO 500, -0.33

The roads get more bumpy, the mud gets thicker and cars start to drift. I call it The Mara Drift and there is nothing quite like it.  I wind down the windows and take a deep breath. If you have been to the Mara then you know the smell I am talking about. If you have not been to the Mara, then you have a treat in store for you. 

Elephants mating; an unusual and exciting sighting

There is a lot to be said about the inner healing qualities of wildlife, and in fact of a wild life. Being able to drop down into the Mara Triangle for game drives on a regular basis is so good for the soul. The world is in a challenging and stressful time; each day we march into the unknown. Even in Cape Town I found myself having to remind myself daily of the rules and regulations, the do’s and the don’ts. Reality is changing.  And dare I say it: right now reality is challenging.

Slitlip, the dominant member of the Inselberg Coalition f 4.0, 1/640, ISO 1000, -0.

I am the first to admit that here at Angama we live in a bubble, a beautiful bubble. A bubble created by a group of gentle, caring and well-intended people. We have all made the decision that we prefer life in the wilderness to a life in the city. We know the sacrifices and we are all too familiar about the conveniences that we miss out on. Do you know how hard it is to get Dairy Milk Mint Chocolate out here?

Spot the lions. A failed hunt of a Topi by three members of the Salt Lick Pride f 5.0, 1/1600, ISO 800

But, we also know how privileged we are to be isolated and away from much of the chaos; to live in a place that teaches us new things daily, and continually reminds us of what is important and of natural beauty. 

The Salt Lick Pride; playing and hunting - what lions do best

After a good play session with the cubs the lionesses from the Salt Lick Pride meant business as they stalked down and successfully hunted a young warthog. A meal that, when divided by so many mouths, doesn’t go very far.

Guide Alice, takes a drive in the gentle drizzle F3.2, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.67

We all love the animals and we all take great enjoyment out of sharing this with others.  For us animals are the greatest source of happiness and we are incredibly lucky that our bubble includes what is arguably the greatest reserve in Africa. 

Upon returning to Angama and unpacking the car, I immediately retrieved the memory card from the remote camera trap I had left covering my garden in my absence. We take bets as to who visited us. Which familiar faces, and who is new in the ‘hood. It has become something of a ritual. 

The ageing Shepherd Tree Male allowed us a wonderful sighting in his territory

Still fighting, the Shepherd Tree Male, is starting to show real signs of ageing now. He has started to lose much of his fur and his walking is slow and often cumbersome.

Being able to drive around the Mara, and to sit quietly enjoying the animals is magical. To feel the wind in your face, to smell the rain and to gaze into the eyes of a leopard is why we made the decision to live out here in the Mara. And whenever you are willing, ready and able to join us, just know that we are here with open arms. Karibu Kenya.   

This Week Two Years Ago

The Shepherd Tree male, photographed two years ago f 5.6, 1/1600, ISO 400, +0.33

Despite the lengthy grass we continue to view amazing wildlife. I find it wonderful that during this exact week two years ago we found the same Shepherd Tree Male leopard resting up in a tree. Remarkably, he was in a tree that was within 100m of where we found him this week. What are the chances? The question on all the guides mind right now is how much longer can he continue to control vast expanses of the Mara Triangle? And who shall replace him …?

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Elephant , Lions of the Mara , Photographic Safari , Safari Photography , This Week At Angama , Wildlife Photography

About: Adam Bannister

A South African-trained biologist, safari guide, author, filmmaker and photographer, Adam is, above all else, a gifted storyteller. After spending the past 10 years working in some of the world’s most beautiful wild places – the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, Rajasthan in India, Brazil’s Pantanal, and the rainforests of Manu National Park in Peru – he is delighted to share his stories of one of the loveliest game reserves of them all, the Maasai Mara.

Browse all articles by Adam Bannister Meet the angama team

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