Kenya - Hippos against lions

My wishes for the Kenya trip were to see lions.. and hippos.. and lions fighting against hippos :D. But if only two out of those three wishes come true, I'm happy tho ;)!

Day 1 - Arriving in the jungle...Nairobi

I arrived in Nairobi late in the evening yesterday and had a hassle-free transport to the hotel, which is located in the middle of Nairobi. As I had to get something against hunger, I asked the reception where it's OK to walk at this time of the night and get something to eat and now I know that Hotels definitely don't want their guests to go lost. I ended up with a small plastic bag of fries :)

Nairobi Tourist Map

After walking in Nairobi city today, I realized that I overestimated the place a bit. I thought it would be cleaner and has lots of shopping malls and modern coffee shops in modern tall buildings.

However, I was sure that also in Nairobi city there are cool things to pictures of and I didn't get disappointed - as long they don't take pictures of government buildings, which is not allowed.

Uhuru parkview towards Nairobi downtown

Day 2 - Masi Mara with an Anti-Hippo fence

Anti-Hippo fences around a bungalow Now I'm in Masai Mara Nationalpark, which is one of the most famous safari parks, as it is famous for many lions :). Having an own small bungalow but no wifi. The only wifi spot is in the dining area.

Right next to the bungalow, there is the Mara river with its hippos inside. And hippos even sometimes walk up to the fence. Sadly no hippo walked up today and got electrocuted by the fence, rolling down in the water :D

Overview of Kenya with Nairobi and Masai Mara:

Tourist Map Kenya Masai Mara

While planning for this safari, I was not sure if I should join a group in a van or hire a private van with driver, but opt for the private option, as it allows me to tell the driver how long I want to stay watching at spotted animals. The way to Mara takes a few hours, but it's an OK ride, especially when having a whole minivan for my own ..haha! Although it's not going to be boring, there happen many things along the way.

Driving to Masai Mara National Park

Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley View Point. A standard viewpoint towards Masai Mara. The whole valley is about 6000 km, from Lebanon all the way down to Mozambique^^.

Also, modern Masais are standing along the way, not with spears, bow, and arch, but with stones! Yes, just waiting for tourists coming along and try to take photos so that they can throw stones.

An angry Masai Farmer. Probably not:), but they definitely don't like when taking pictures of them and throw stones after Vans if taking photos without paying, as they don't want to be like in a zoo!

(left) An angry Masai caught on camera while driving.

The entrance gate to Masai Mara. It looks like there is a fence, but there is no fence!

Yes, animals can walk outside of the park whenever they like to. So theoretically, it could be that for example, lions can walk up to Europe!

Accommodation inside the park

While driving towards the accommodation inside the park, there were already many animals to spot but back then I didn't realize that. Now after checking the photos, I do realize that there are more than I expected to see within the first hours.

An own private safari van or not?

Another great feature when opting for a private van with driver is, that I was able to decide when I want to start the tour in the morning and which are Id like to visit. Based on sightings from other vans yesterday, its possible to evaluate specific animal locations.

As my driver already knew that I want to see fighting lions vs hippos, he knew what to do.

And he did a good job. This morning a ten-minute ride from my bungalow there was the lion family, looking still tired from the night out hunting and eating.

Wow Lions!

Those lions showed up suddenly. Walking along as if the van is some moving stone. And I was overwhelmed by the size of these animals and the killer look in their eyes.

As approaching them with the vehicle they didn't care at all, no wonder when every day one dozen of safari vans drives around them like stupid idiots. But it was fun being one of those idiots :) But thankfully that morning I was the first in the place and no other vans far and wide.

And then even more lions showing up. Even small lions.

After following those lions for about 20 minutes, other vans got the information about this lion sighting and they all moved here. All of them! And when all vans within a dozen kilometers come to one place, it looks like this below.

Confirmed, why the decision of a private van was a good choice :)

So it the field looked like a battlefield when they showed up. There was a large group, probably a school class from the US, showing up shouting and yelling, in eight full packed minivans and half-circling the lions as mentioned above. It definitely was time to move on now.

Hippo-Pool with Hippos

Crocodile beside the Hippo Pool
Continuing the trip does now make sense:).

My wish nearly came true to see lions fighting against hippos, cause right next to the lions there was the hippo pool and one of the hippos was abandoned.

That one had to move out of the river from the other hippos and so it climbed up to the grass.

200 meters from the lion family was is the so-called "hippo pool". Too bad the Lions didn't spot the one hippo walking around alone.

The unfriendly abandoned hippo

This hippo was probably an unfriendly hippo and so the others chased it away. Its now on the grass, and just about 100 meters from the lion family :D But unfortunately the lions did not see it and so no fight escalated!

The van stuck: And the driver risking his life! 

In the mid of the afternoon, we drove through a small dried riverbed and got stuck.

The van didn't move anymore and after 15 minutes of trying hard to get out, the driver decided to get out and check what he can do.

He asked me if I can stand on the top of the van and check for "things"... put on sunscreen, the safari hat and tried my best with the binoculars to check for "things" :). 

Thankfully no lion around
The grass above the river bed was half meter high, I was unable to see very far. The driver was under the van and was digging holes to fill them with stones. I felt very uncomfortable, even I was in a relatively secured position while standing on the top of the van.

But the driver down there, I didn't really wanna imagine what would have happened if some "thing" would have attacked :)

I imagined and calculated, if I will be fast enough in case something attacks and how I best would get into the van and close the door :). 

However, I saw nothing (but wasn't so sure if "nothing" saw us) and after 1.5 hours in the heat, we still got stuck in there, but the continuous radio messages the driver has exchanged, resulted finally that one other vehicle found us down in the river bed to tow us out.

May 24 -  Last day - Final call for hippo vs. lion

Last day in Masai Mara. I asked the driver if we can start rolling down the road earlier, so the chance rises to see more "more", for example, rhinos, or cheetahs, as both of them are best visible in the early morning when the temperature is lower. Too bad the earliest possible time to enter the park was at 7am. I preferred to start earlier so that it would be possible to saw lions still hunting.

A few hours of continuous driving in the park and the last opportunity to take some photos before exiting the park.

Big lion and small lions

They have been looking at a giraffe and the chance to fulfill the wish to see lions fighting a hippo, sorry, giraffe, increased again. But maybe those lions were just looking at the giraffe making fun of its long throat ..hehe!

Thankfully also Cheetah showed up!

And before exiting the Nationalpark, finally, a cheetah was there lying on the ground and looking around a little. Maybe this time a fight incoming? No, nothing. Cheetah was just standing up for a while and then decided to continue sleeping again.

The last kilometers and then leave Masai Mara

The last few kilometers didn't happen anything extraordinary. Some zebras hanging around and some skulls hanging around too along the way. But I was glad having at least seen the cheetah at the very last end of the safari.

June 2 - Last stroll in Nairobi

Being back now in Nairobi and did the last walking visit to see Nairobi City. I have been here before Masai Mara and as it is my second visit here, I conclude that Nairobi isn't a world-class city. But I don't mind. It has its interesting point of view, no matter how run down and that makes it worth visiting anyway.

Tomorrow I will move on to Rwanda, Uganda and finally Burundi.

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