Kenya Part 1: Maasai Mara


After a hectic end to 2014, I decided to escape the cold British January weather. Some of you may know that it was wildlife that originally encouraged me to take up photography as a hobby but these days I seem to have very little time to dedicate to my first photographic love. I was also looking for an excuse to test out my new Sony 70-400 4-5.6 G lens so, when researching possible destinations, a safari in Kenya seemed a pretty obvious choice. Within a week I found myself on a plane to Nairobi. Once again, I had the nice but difficult predicament of having too many photos to choose from. I would love to be able to show eveything to you but I fear I would crash the internet!

This first instalment of my Kenyan adventure gives a glimpse into the first 3 days, my trip into the Maasai Mara. The Mara is located about 4 hours drive from Nairobi in the South West of Kenya.

We arrived in the Mara in time for an evening game drive. I was not sure what to expect so it was an incredible experience to see a cheetah chase and kill a rabbit within 5 minutes of being inside the National Park. Trying to capture a shot of the actual kill was pretty much impossible with my long lens poking out of the top of the Toyota van which was moving quickly across the rough terrain. Once the van had stopped, I was able to snap the cheetah enjoying his (her?) dinner. I definitely felt like I had arrived in Kenya!

The African buffalo (often incorrectly called water buffalo) can weigh up to 900kg (I'm a fairly chunky chap but that's 9 of me!). Despite being an apparently languorous herbivore, the huge beasts are prone to stampeding and are feared by locals, especially when travelling on foot. I love the facial expression of this large male as an ox-pecker bird sits on his head. "Ohh, sod it - I give up!"

I was fortunate to see quite a few lions during my 3 days in the Mara, making it very difficult to narrow down the selection. On the first evening, we came across this male who had just woken up from a nap. I know the feeling!

Due to fading light, this photo isn't qiute as a sharp as I would like but there's something oddly human about the facial features that I felt the need to share it anyway...

A short distant from the first male, we found the rest of the pride. I really like the dappled

lighting on this young male. You can see the tufts of his mane starting to push through...

The original male again, roaming his kingdom just before sunset...

Day 2: After an early breakfast, we set out into the reserve for a full day of safari. We came across our friend the cheetah again. This side angle really shows off the athletic physique of nature's Usain Bolt. The big bushy tail helps for balance when cornering...

The following photo may not be dramatic compared to the rest of the collection but I have decided to include it anyway, simply dbecause of its ridiculous name. Please meet the "Bare-Faced Go-Away Bird". Whoever first discovered it must have got out of bed on the wrong side that day...

We saw quite a few more lions on the second day, often trying to escape from the heat of the sun (they mainly hunt at nighttime and rest during the day). Again, there is something remarkably human about their faces... although be careful when going in for a cuddle!

This strange creature is a secretary bird. You can't really see while it is sitting in the tree but it has long legs which it uses to stamp on snakes before consuming them...

You must be havin' a giraffe, mate!! Maasai Mara: the birthplace of cockney rhyming slang...

The crowned crane actually features on the national flag of Uganda. They seem both beautiful but awkward at the same time, a bit like a catwalk model who has had too much drink...

A bee-eater, ermmm, waiting for bees...

The African elephant is the largest creature found and bulls can weigh up to 7 metric tonnes! Here are a couple of shots of a mother bathing her baby and then an old male patrolling the savanah...

I had previously only seen impalas when watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the wild, they are more graceful, less orange and choose not to wear green wigs...

Hungry hippos. Another herbivore with a nasty temper - distrurb them at your own peril as they are prone to attack.

On the evening of day 2, I had the opportunity to visit a Maasai village which was a real eye-opener. We often take for granted Western luxuries and moan about menial things yet we don't realise how lucky we are. The Maasai were very welcoming and showed me round their huts, fashioned from sticks, mud and dung, before giving me an insight into village life which revolves largely around their cattle.

At the age of 15, as part of their rite of passage to becoming a junior warrior, boys must endure a painful circumcision ritual. Any sign of pain will bring dishonour. They then spend 3 years on walkabout in the Maasai Lands, learning valuable life skills before returning to the village and progressing from warrior to elder.

Day 3: On my final day in the Maasai Mara, we managed to fit in a pre-breakfast game drive, arriving in the park just before sunrise...

The low lighting conditions didn't lend themself to capturing fast-moving action shots but I still managed to pick up a few photos. We followed a pack of hyenas for a while - they wouldn't look out of place on the set of Lord of the Rings...

Much to the excitement of our guide, we also came across a pack of wild dogs. I wasn't aware of the significance but apparently they are one of the rarest animals in Kenya. Game keepers will try to scare them away when there are reported sitings and locals will kill them at any opportunity. The reason being that, with their ferocious pack mentality, they will kill anything if it means a meal, including lions! Anybody fancy a game of fetch?!

After breakfast, we had to say goodbye to the Maasai Mara as we embarked on the next leg of the adventure in Naivasha and Nakuru. Keep your eyes peeled for more blog posts coming soon. Expect eagles, kingfishers, zebras, rhinos hippos and more!! As with the majority of my photos, prints and other products are available to purchase. Please get in touch on info@robinboot.com for more information. For more frequent updates, please like my Facebook Page.

If you are interested in going on safari in Kenya, please check out African Breeze Tours for affordable, tailored packages. They were great for me!!

#safari #kenya #travel #africa #wildlife #landscape

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