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Tales from Kenya I : Masai Mara. Finally

Masai Mara.

I was finally here.

I have been planning this visit for at least five years. I have read up voraciously about the place. Pored over countless pictures.

I knew almost every single clichéd image that existed about the place. That black and white portrait of a handsome male lion staring impassively into the camera. That other profile  which had the breeze gently ruffling that shaggy mane. The silhouette of the acacia tree with a giraffe next to it. Then the one of the wildebeest captured mid air as it was leaping into the frothing river in the course of its perilous annual migration.

I had read up about animal habits. Knowing what to expect helps you sense an opportunity a few precious seconds earlier and that might be enough time to compose a lovely image.

I learnt that if lions of a pride approach each other they will nuzzle each other or play. Perfect to get a cuddly shot.

That an elephant kicking at the ground would usually mean there’s a good chance it will use the loosened soil to dust itself by throwing the dirt on its body with its trunk.

That if cheetahs are lying on the ground and there is a mound or a termite hill nearby they are likely to get on that to get a better view from that raised platform.

That if one zebra starts to roll, others are likely to follow and especially since they tend to walk in a single file, the ones behind will roll in the same place.

I was possibly as ready as I could be.

Mara.

“Maaarrra”, our guide, Gabriel, carefully pronounced it. Stretching the first ‘aa’s, rolling the ‘r’s and dropping the last letter into a soft whisper. He repeated it a few times. For effect. It worked.

It means ‘dots’ in Maa, the Masai language, he explained.

“Look around you and you will know why”, he continued.

The grassland is wide open. And dotted with hundreds of small trees. None of them were close to each other. Nicely spaced.

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And what a place it is ! Covering 1500 square kilometres its HUGE.

There were times that we could look all around us, in a 360 deg sweep and see nothing but the blue sky, the golden yellow grass swaying with the breeze and the trees on the horizon. Nothing else. Nothing.

And then there were times that we look around and see the landscape dotted with animals. Thousands of them.

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A landscape that never tires of giving you exquisite opportunities to take memorable images.

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Masai Mara.

Rarely have I ever arrived at a place with so many expectations.

I couldn’t wait for the next few days.

More on that soon 🙂

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