Nearly three hundred kilometers and seven hours after leaving Nairobi, we finally arrived at the Sekenani gate, one of several entrances to the Masai Mara.
John Mulei leaves the jeep. Take the papers for verification of rangers.
We go out to unwind our legs. We see ourselves as victims of a first attack. A bunch of Masai women surround us. Try to foist us jewelry and artifacts.
“Look here, look here! Very pretty for your lady!" they shoot with obvious mastery of tribal marketing.
As soon as they can, they pull the trick of romance and chivalry. "How about this?" They inquire as a resource solution, to show us rungu, the massive wooden sticks that the warriors of their tribes use.
We hadn't even been terrified of the trip. Stressing ourselves with shopping was the last thing we wanted. Faced with this obvious reluctance, sellers notice our cameras. Suggest us your images. “Take us pictures. It's only five dollars!”.
By this time, we already knew by heart that recording any non-stealth Masai image without paying was impossible.
And it was much more difficult for us to resist the exoticism of their slender figures, shaved heads, gaudy clothes and the panoply of jewels that adorn them.
We had just entered your domain. Other opportunities would appear.
John returns to the jeep. Women stick their hands through the windows. They hit the glass.
More than used to that pressure, the guide sends them a mouthful in the Masai dialect that – apart from his native kamba. swahili, from English and other languages from those parts of Africa – also learned to use.
A lost lodge in the Masai Mara
We left towards the lodge.
We had lunch late and in a hurry. Only after did we settle in the refined and welcoming tent, but something far away that we had come to.
“A little while longer, we would stay in Tanzania” we play with two employees who see us arrive at the room. "If they got there alive!" one responds, in good spirits, pointing to the electrified fence that prevented animals from visiting the hotel.
On the way out again, we came across a couple of dik-diks, fleeting samples of antelope that we could barely make out in the shadows of the dense vegetation.
They would be the first of several specimens of the antelope family that we would see in the next few days.
Pitch-black clouds cover the sky. A wind rises that foreshadows a storm.
The Monsoon Rain that Moves the Great Wildebeest and Zebra Migration
In a flash, the only rain falls that, in more than three weeks after the end of the dry season, we felt irrigate Kenya and Tanzania.
Although still distant, in the lower and southern lands of the adjoining Serengeti, the wildebeests had already begun their annual migration to the Masai Mara.
Without expecting it, just a few days later, we came across its hyperbolic, dusty and messy herds.
Aware that the weather was changing, the lions yearned for the capture of the wildebeest, easier and more assured than that of the other species they prey on. Lethal zebras, for example.
Visitors to the Masai Mara, in turn, were eager to locate groups of lions.
John tries it his way. It starts to descend a slope in circles that the tall vegetation makes almost imperceptible. We stopped without warning.
The guide scans the surrounding meadow. “Well, it seems to me that we found them”, he tells us with unusual calm. Look right here beside us." In fact, a couple slumbered subsumed in the tall grass.
O male lion gets up. Move to the top of a mound of termite mound.
From there, he contemplates herds of buffaloes, giraffes and elephants in the vicinity, prey that, by themselves, the pair did not have the power to defeat.
The light soon fades away. Visitors collect at the lodges. Predators indulge in their nocturnal hunts.
Visit to the Masai Village of Mkama
We wake up at sunrise, devour breakfast and head towards Mkama, one of the many Masai villages around the Masai Mara reserve.
Francis Ole Timan – his young boss – welcomes us with an eloquent speech in English.
At this time of morning, elders would herd the village cows – their obsessive wealth – to lead them to pastures. We followed them for a few hundred meters among the animals.
Returning to the fenced village core, Francis invites us for tea in the dark, spartan interior of a hut made of gorse and dried cow droppings.
We sat with you, one of your eight wives and two babies.
Francis ignores the crying of one of the children. Explain to us as much as you can about the day-to-day life in those huts built only by the women of the village.
After the masala tea, we returned to the outside.
Adumu: the Dazzling Masai Jumping Dance
The chief and the other young people group together. Secure them with a Masai welcome dance.
Side by side, William, Moses, Ole Reya, Oloshurua, Moseka, Mancha, Luka and Francis inaugurate a fascinating guttural chant.
Packed by the song that follows, alone or in pairs, they stand out at the same time as the lineup. They carry out a long sequence of impressive jumps.
After the exhibition, we asked them which one jumped the highest. “Ah, that's always Mancha”, they confess almost in chorus.
We analyze the boy more closely and notice his unique footwear. “Uhmm, you all wear Masai sandals (with tire soles), Mancha is the only one to wear crocs. Doesn't that make you suspicious?” we provoke them.
Francis and William, who had a better command of English, understand the intrigue and pass it on to their friends. The challenge generates a communal laugh that we all enjoy.
We still go around the small artisanal market in the village, an essential additional source of income for the ever-changing Masai mercantilists.
Soon after, we said goodbye and resumed exploring the surrounding Mara.
Back to the Wilderness of Masai Mara
Along the way, caravans of giraffes head to a small pond. They indulge in an eccentric gymnastics to sip water.
Impalas, gazelles and huge eland appear scattered in the green expanse. also searched by woodcocks and voracious ostriches.
In the immediate and distant, zebras and the occasional stray wildebeest dot the vast savannah until the horizon line, which, with the end of the afternoon, turns red again.
And it generates graceful silhouettes of spaced acacias and some more voluminous animals, such as topis.
We stop to admire a cheetah that slumbers, indifferent to our presence.
A few miles further on, Masai herdsmen lead a huge herd of cows.
They walk wrapped in their red cloths and carrying spears.
Keep an eye out for the threat of predators. Although the Masai manage to steal freshly captured prey from lion flocks, some Masai, with quiet pedestrian incursions.
Before the next dawn, we started the trip to the Serengeti.
We crossed a large part of the Mara and were dazzled by the beauty of the African scenery we passed, paying attention to the profuse fauna.
We watched huge flocks of weasels move like creeping storms, hyenas ambush water antelope and giant bustards – the heaviest flying birds in Africa – in strange vector poses.
Shortly thereafter, we ascend to Loldopai Hill.
We contemplate the landscape full of patches formed by vegetation and the shadow of the clouds, designated by the Masai term “mara” which inspired the region's name.
When we reach the homonymous river, a flock of lions patrols the viewpoint where the road leads, so we can't go out to enjoy the views.
Dozens of irascible hippos vie for the meander of the river ahead.
And, before crossing the bridge over the Mara, we came across a bunch of bully baboons.
After we chase them away, we check out the reserve and migrate to the Serengeti.
On the same route as the endless shuttles of wildebeests and zebras from these parts of Africa.