While it may sound strange to some, for me, driving and exploring an area of the reserve that I don’t know all that well is just as exciting as a great sighting. Sometimes, I will set out on a morning drive with the sole intention of finding a ‘new’ area. It may be a grassed-over track, an under-appreciated viewpoint or a majestic, but unnoticed tree.
Huge rainfall over the last two years and reduced tourism numbers have meant that many of the roads in the Mara have been unused for extended periods of time. Believe it or not, there are some roads that haven’t been driven at all this year.
I love exploring parts of the Reserve that others tend to overlook. I guess it’s a quest for wilderness and a search for the unusual and unknown. That bubbling excitement you feel inside when you spot a leopard, or a pride of lions, that haven’t been sighted by another soul for ages. Perhaps today is the day that I see something that no-one else has ever seen before?
It is probably this personal mission that causes me to refrain from using the vehicle radio to listen for sighting updates. I am a bush-boy through and through and take huge joy in getting to know the lie of the land and building an intimate relationship with the ecosystem. Reading the subtle clues that the grasses tell you about the soils, watching the daily movements of animals as they forage and rest. Sitting still and observing.
One of the joys of having a weekly photographic blog post is that it forces me to be creative. It pushes me to find new things, showcase unusual behaviour and paint subjects in a fresh light. It encourages me to go out on each drive with intent.
I highly recommend that when you come to the Mara, you stay for long enough to dedicate at least one day to exploration. Get off the main track, forget about the pressure of ticking off the Big Five, and instead look for the beauty that lies in the Mara’s hidden gems.
Here, there is magic around every corner.
A year ago, we were in the midst of unprecedented rains. Even the roads turned into streams. All animals had moved away from the Mara River, which had broken its banks and was flooding the surrounding grasslands. Olalashe was maturing fast and in the process of taking control of the Owino Pride.
Two years ago we had a pioneer group of wildebeest hanging around, incredibly confused. They were a few months early and seemed to be wondering around aimlessly. Believe it or not, we nearly had an April river crossing. At the last second, they stepped back from the Mara River, turned around and walked away – heading back south into Tanzania.
Three years ago Tyler Davis, and the guiding team (who were on a training drive), were fortunate enough to watch a buffalo giving birth – a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Filed under: This Week at Angama
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