- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: 22 July 2013 22 July 2013
The morning brought another chilly start to the day, for sure. It is pretty amazing how much it cools down here at night, and then the morning stays chilly until about ten or so. Eventually we begin to shed coats and sweatshirts and then comment on how warm it is outside!
Breakfast was again at our camp here. We had eggs, crepe-like pancakes and bacon and sausage. Pretty tasty, really. We departed from camp around 7:30 AM to begin our safari adventure.
It was another spectacular day! I can now differentiate the first-day safari goers from the "experienced" ones because they stop to see and photograph the first zebras you see (that was me yesterday!).
Here is another synopsis of the creatures we witnessed today on the Masai Mara.
Zebras: We noticed today that they will stand with their heads resting on each other. We are not sure if this is for grooming purposes or to help rest a sore neck. Either way, I still find these animals to be unique and beautiful.
Wildebeest: We saw thousands of these animals in herds today! I would imagine that a safari would be kind of desolate without the wildebeest around, because, even when it is a struggle to spot another animal, you can see a wildebeest! Unfortunately, we saw a ton of animal carcasses today when we did not notice them at all yesterday, and all of the carcasses we saw were wildebeest. I am assuming the zebras must love it when the wildebeest migrate here because the wildebeest is now the hunting target instead of the zebra. Wildebeests have such a strange running gait. They kind of hop and attempt to gallop all at the same time. Wildebeests are definitely slower than zebra, so they are certainly the easier prey. The wildebeest are herbivores, so we tend to eat lunch with them each day.
Lions: Unfortunately I do not have any pictures from today because we were on the wrong side, but we saw quite the lion event today! We (and a ton of other safari vans) came upon two lions eating a wildebeest they had recently killed. Then, once the female finished eating, she got up, walked a short distance, and laid down. Promptly the male lion followed and they began their mating process just seconds after eating. Then they went to lay in the shrubs and begin their seven days of mating. I cannot believe we got to see them eating, though!
Hippos: In the afternoon we actually crossed a few miles into Tanzania and went down to a different section of the Mara River. Here we met a ranger armed with a gigantic gun who took us on a short nature walk (the gun is for protection!). We walked down to the river and got super close to the hippos. Apparently they can run up to 30 kph! For weighing several tons, this is quite impressive! They really were making lots of hippo noises when the saw us. We saw where they come out of the river at night to graze. It is pretty neat to just see their snouts, ears and eyes sticking out of the water. There were several sunbathing too.
Crocodiles: The nature hike in the other direction took us to see some crocodiles. They wait in the water for prey to come by, specifically wildebeests. Apparently the crocodile catches the wildebeest and then holds it under water until it drowns. Pretty amazing.
Monkeys: We did see monkeys in the trees along the river bank. They were cleaning each other, playing and eating away.
Giraffes: These animals are just massive and so majestic to watch.
Elephants: These are still my favorite. I love to watch them use their trunks to eat and to see their ears flap. We came across this one elephant with gigantic tusks! The guides thought he must be about forty years old. Later on we found another smaller group of four elephants, and we saw this approximately one-week-old elephant with its mother. Just adorable! The baby elephant was still nursing as well as learning how to eat.
Ostrich: What an interesting bird! They are very entertaining to watch walk and eat, and you can spot the males easily on the horizon as black dots.
Vultures: They sit high in the trees and watch while waiting for prey. They eat on the dead carcasses after the other animals are finished. They are huge birds!
Birds: There are many beautiful and tropical birds here. I hear this is a great place to bird watch.
Warthog: We came across a family of warthogs yesterday, but today we found this great guy just rooting along the side of the road.
Hyena: We finally saw one lonely hyena on our way out of the park tonight. Apparently they come out at dusk. They are kind of ugly. This is not the best picture, but they actually have spots on them.
During the day we had our picnic lunch under an African Olive Tree right near the gigantic wildebeest herd. The camp packed us the same gigantic lunch as yesterday. It was quite refreshing.
We did seem to have a harder time finding animals today, but we have been blessed with seeing all of the major animals each day. I think we only missed out on a rhinoceros, and our guides said there are only 28 in the park and that they are hard to come by. The middle of the day is still the hardest to find anything. Mornings and late afternoons when it is cooler are best. We did some definite four wheeling today and were off on our own quite a bit from the other vehicles. It was quite nice.
Tonight we returned, dusty and tired from the past two days. Dinner at camp was beef tips, cabbage, potatoes and potato soup. Pretty tasty after a long day. Tonight we are all heading to bed quite exhausted. One more night of camping (and we are looking forward to these warm showers and comfy beds!). What an amazing couple of days it has been. What an experience!
Kwaheri from Kenya!
Saint John's member Kimberly Pepmiller is in Africa through July 25 with ten other doctors and nurses, lending her medical skills at clinics in Kisii, Kenya, operated by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod's Mercy Medical Team.