Kicheche – ( meaning “mongoose” in Swahili)
March 6-10, 2014
We flew from Nairobi to a tiny airstrip, on a small plane half full with twenty passengers. The plane was about half full, and we did not fly very high which gave us some great views of the ground while we were in the air. Zev remarked that this was “the most interesting flight I have ever taken, and I didn’t even use any electronics!”
We landed in the middle of a field, our group of eight and another couple got off, and the rest continued on to other stops. Kicheche Bush Camp staff picked us up in two jeeps. Our guides were Maasai Warriors named Nelson and Livingstone, both incredibly knowledgeable about the wildlife and botany of the Maasai Mara. We started seeing wildlife within minutes of us leaving the airstrip. Right away, we saw a Serval cat (familiar from the Bowmanville zoo) Apparently they are rare to see as they are mostly nocturnal. We were lucky to see this wild one quite close up.
The “tents” were quite luxurious with flushing toilets, sink and a bush shower. A bush shower has a bucket that gets filled up with warm water and then gravity works its magic when you open and close the shower valve. One bucket per two people. To conserve water, you wet your hair and body, turn off the shower, soap up, and then turn the shower on again to rinse off.
Every morning we woke up at 6am, had a hot beverage with biscuits, and got in the jeep by 6:30, just as the sun was rising. We would drive around until about nine, when we would have a breakfast picnic out on the savannah. We would then drive around until about noon and have lunch at one. After lunch we would have free time until four, when we would go out again until about eight. We had dinner around 8:30, and everyone would be in bed by around ten.
We were lucky to see every animal we dreamed of seeing, except for a rhinocerous, which is not indigenous to that area of the Maasai Mara. We saw families of elephants, giraffes, banded mongoose, prides of lions, herds of zebra, and wildebeest. We saw eight species of antelope, hyenas, aardwolves, ostriches, hippos, cheetahs, crocodiles and a leopard. Equally interesting was the wide range of birds that inhabit the Massai Mara From the smallest swallows and starlings, to the Secretary Bird and Crowned Crane to the largest birds of prey, like Vultures and Eagles. These photos are just a small sampling of what we saw. We collectively took over 2000 photos over the 4 days.
What was even more fascinating than just seeing these animals in their natural habitat, was observing them for extended periods of time. We saw animals interacting with their babies; playing, nursing, hunting and eating. It was better than any television show. The interactions between different species were thrilling as well. We witnessed a mixed herd of Zebra, Eland and Cape Buffalo, push a cheetah out of an area when they felt threatened. The drama unfolding could never be captured by a photograph, we just had to sit and observe.
The adrenalin was pumping, as a young male lion looked our two youngest sons ( ages 4.5 and 8) right in the eye, hardly 2 feet away, chose to lie down in the shade under our jeep, and then refused to move. We sat holding our breath, wondering how long we would sit there, hoping the lion would not choose to jump into the jeep. Eventually, after three attempts at starting the engine, he moved on. Just a little too close for comfort. We watched a cheetah take down a baby antelope and feed her small cub, and spent ages just watching herds of elephants going about their day. What a breathtaking adventure seen from our jeep, but knowing full well that these were wild animals, not in a zoo. It was everything we could have hoped for and more.
As we organize the pictures, we will post more. This is just a taste 🙂
Next post will be about Bogani Cottages
Posted by Aubrey and Koren