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Old 9th December 2023, 21:17   #1
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Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

Prologue


The African Safari, it always seems to be a distant dream which I and my wife both have for long time. But we could not believe that our wish of Safari to African savanna can happen so unexpectedly as we donít have any plan for it.While writing this blog, I am still in awe by thinking that we have ultimately achieved one of our dreams which I and my wife always discussed. And my seven years old sonís affection to wild animal also helps us to grab the opportunity when it comes suddenly. Setting aside my emotion which can make the blog lengthy, in a brief one day we met with one of my wifeís old friend and while discussing he just casually asked if we are interested for game drive to Masai Mara. We were initially hesitant because we had an impression that African safari is quite expensive but when he said he had some contacts and he had a good deal then without a second thought we said yes as it is always hard to find like minded people who are interested in safari and wildlife photography and also finding a good deal(Vitamin M always matters) might not be possible. So we decided the October as the moth of travel and the next 4 months we spent discussing about the itinerary, doing the advance booking, flight booking , visa application and all. So our itinerary was 3 nights and 4 days in Masai Mara and it includes the resort inside the Masi Mara conservatory including all foods, 3 days safari (including the safari vehicle and park entry) and dedicated driver/guide for 4 days who picked us up from Nairobi airport and dropped us to the Nairobi again after the Masai Mara stay and safari.

The Journey


So October 11th,2023 we started from Bangalore to Mumbai as our Nairobi flight was from Mumbai at 2.40AM. I was carrying Nikon D500, D5100 as camera and Nikon 200-500, Nikon 55-200 and Tamron 17-50 2.5f as lenses. I was carrying all the documents for camera which required for custom declaration but unfortunately I forgot to do custom declaration At Mumbai airport . But fortunately, while coming back to India, they did not ask for anything though they scanned the bags in custom, I might be the lucky one. But it is advisable if you carry more than one camera and many lenses then do the declaration to be safe. So we reached Nairobi at around 6 AM morning local time and the person who organised our Masai Mara trip came to airport to pick us up. It was a 6 hours long journey to Masai Mara and our resort was near to the Talek Gate of Mara reserve. So we reached our resort at around 1:30 PM and went straight to the lunch. And after lunch we went to our luxury tented stay, freshen up and then go out for our vey first Game drive at around 4PM.

First Game Drive


Once we entered in to the reserve we were awestruck by the vast landscape of the savanna. Which we used to watch on National Geography or Animal Planet , that is just in front of our eyes. Below are some of the photos taken during our first evening game drive.

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First look of Mara

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Vast savanna of Masai Mara

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During the twilight

The landscape was so captivating that we could not ask for more and we forget about the BIG FIVE for which mainly people visit Masai Mara. Suddenly our driver pointed towards a pride, spending a leisurely time. It was our first sighting of a lion pride in the wild and the experience is just impossible to describe. The sun was setting down and light was very less, I need to bump up the ISO to capture few shots

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Bow down to mother !!

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The training time ..innocent mind learning the survival skill Ö

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Another lion of the same pride coming straight towards the safari vehicle

After the mesmerizing first game drive we are back to resort at around 6:30PM and the weather was surprisingly cool and comfortable. We spent some time around the camp fire and then having a sumptuous dinner and crashed into the bed in our tented stay for the next morning which happened to be the day long game drive till Mara River.

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Second Game Drive


Next the day we woke up early morning , had our breakfast and started our second game drive at around 9:30AM in the morning. Our lunch was packed in the car. Today we were going towards the Mara river where famous migration happens, but this is not the time for that. Still we were fully enthusiastic. Tried some bird photography on the way

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During the game drive we encountered another of Big Five, the famous African buffalo, they are big and mighty I must say
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Their walking is so synchronise

Then we encountered the great African elephants. Their herd was coming straight to our safari vehicle. The moment was absolutely amazing.
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We reached Mara river at around 2PM, this is the famous river where the migration happens. When we went then it was not the time for migration, but there we get down from the Land Cruiser and had a walk inside the forest accompanying by a ranger. We went to the bank of the Mara river to see all the hippos and crocs in the water and walked till the Mara bridge. It was an amazing experience.

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Famous Mara river

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Then we came back and our driver/guide took us in an open land where under a tree we had our lunch. It was such a mesmerising and surreal experience which cannot be described in word. Having our food in the wild in Masai Mara national Reserve is really something which one should experience.
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After lunch , we started our journey back to our resort again and on the way we met with another lion pride where everyone was taking a good nap and it seems they had a good meal as we found a buffalo carcass near to them.

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The lion got up and came dangerously close to our safari vehicle. Seems he was disturbed during his nap
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we need to reach the gate before 6:30PM and we were already late as we were enjoying and cherishing the moment. So journey back was really bumpy as our driver had to drive fast on the barren dusty terrain, but we enjoyed the ride fullest. But I must say, the whole day game drive is really tiring and challenging due to the heat and dust. We reached resort at around 7PM, freshen up and came to the dinner place where the management organised a beautiful Masai dance performance. Their warmth and engaging performance was something which we remember for long.
In my next post I will continue with our last day game drive in Masai Mara with some more amazing sightings and photos. See you there and please enjoy the current post. Thank you......
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Old 10th December 2023, 12:22   #2
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

Third Game Drive


Then next day we have a plan for early morning game drive and come back by 11:30AM , have lunch and rest and again go for last game drive in the evening. So as per plan we had early breakfast and went into the Mara reserve sharp at 6:30Am in the morning. The early morning light was amazing.Just we entered the reserve and we were greeted by a herd of elephants.
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Then while roaming in the open land we suddenly noticed a Cheetah hiding in the golden grass. While waiting for her, she came out from the grass and walked straight towards our vehicle. Thinking about that still gives me goosebumps. Few photos of her
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Now it was time for coming out of the park and we got to see ostriches
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Then we came back to our resort and the plan was to go for last and final safari in the evening.

Fourth Game Drive


The last game drive in Masai Mara did not disappoint us and we got to see a leopard with a prey, we missed the hunting though.
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And an African Safari without spotting some beautiful cute lion cubs, how is that possible
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The king with the battle scar

So with this I am ending our journey in Masai Mara, Kenya. I would say it is quite unique and once in a lifetime experience. The African savanna is totally different compare to the Indian forests which I have visited so far. And the people, their culture and the Masai tribe and their stories, just so heart warming and touching. I hope you all will enjoy this lengthy photolog, Asante!!!!
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Old 10th December 2023, 12:47   #3
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

Amazing pics - I visited in August but my pictures are not a patch on yours!

Great report
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Old 10th December 2023, 15:49   #4
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

Your photos are amazing! Brought back welling memories of our trip there some years ago.
Truly Africa is at a different level entirely.
All those years of reading books by Hemingway and Wilbur Smith and all, have made me a lifelong aficionado.
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Old 10th December 2023, 15:57   #5
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

The pictures are stunning, and the experience seems terrific! Thanks for sharing!

I've long wanted to go to Masai Mara; hopefully soon, and will try to go during the Great Migration. It's surreal to see the landscape so similar to what you've seen in documentaries and movies over the time.

Could you share what preparation you had to undergo for this trip (I've heard you've to take shots for Malaria?). Also, did you plan this yourself, booking with resorts directly, or go through a group.
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Old 10th December 2023, 16:35   #6
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
Could you share what preparation you had to undergo for this trip (I've heard you've to take shots for Malaria?). Also, did you plan this yourself, booking with resorts directly, or go through a group.
Thanks for your kind word and appreciation. We need to take yellow fever and polio vaccine both, in government hospital it is available and they will ask destination country and will give both the vaccines with certificate.

And we arranged the Masai mara trip with a safari operator based in Kenya only , he will arange everything for you and the package includes everything including stay, food, safari, Pick up from Nairobi airport and drop at Nairobi airport, park entry fees and you can customise as per your wish and choose the stay option as per your budget. Please let me know if you want any more info
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Old 10th December 2023, 20:09   #7
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

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Could you share what preparation you had to undergo for this trip (I've heard you've to take shots for Malaria?). Also, did you plan this yourself, booking with resorts directly, or go through a group.
You need to get the Yellow Fever vaccination - details are here (A Kenyan Safari - The Homeless Way)
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Old 11th December 2023, 09:24   #8
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

Below are few points if anyone want to visit Masai Mara, Kenya:
  • For kenya, we can apply E-Visa , for adult it costs $50, for Kids below 10 years no visa fee, but E-Visa need to be applied
  • Yellow fever vaccine is mandatory, in Bangalore we took the vaccine from Sir CV Raman General hospital, Indiranagar. Vaccination slots need to be booked early, their phone does not work always, I personally visited the hospital and booked the slots. They ask for the destination country and if it is Kenya they will give polio vaccine also. And for both the vaccines they will give certificate which we need to carry while travelling.
  • Nairobi to Masai Mara is 6hrs long journey by Road. Otherwise there are chartered flights to Mara(there are few airstrips), but super expensive. Best to book with any reliable safari tour operator beforehand so that everything will be taken care. Genrally they offer pick up from Nairobi airport, resort stay(as per your budget you can choose), all meals, safari and park entry fees, dedicated driver/guide and drop at Nairobi again. Best part you can customise the itinery as per your convenience and you will have a dedicated Land Cruiser as your safari vehicle
  • you can carry dollar as it is accepted every where. Resort and most of the restaurants accept credit card, but for local shopping cash is required. Better to carry Kenyan Shilling too otherwise during dollar conversion they charge high.
  • There are different region in Masai Mara, choose as per your liking and convenience. We stayed near Talek Gate in Olare Orok Conservancy

After Kenya we went to Tanzania also and for that we need to apply separate Tanzanian E-Visa. Tanzania does not come under East African visa currently and Tanzania E-Visa also costs $50 per person. In Tanzania we mainly explored Zanzibar and their beautiful marine life and pristine beaches, which is another experience to share

Please let me know for any more information if anyone is planning to travel so that I can be helpful.
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Old 11th December 2023, 10:19   #9
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

Superb pics, really brought back memories of our recent visit to the Mara. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience!

Our plan to visit the Mara was delayed by the COVID19 pandemic and we were so thrilled to finally be able to go and be able to view The Great Migration. We stayed at the Mara Serena Safari Lodge, which offers a setting matched by few other hotels in the world - perched high on a bush-cloaked hill with sweeping views of the savannah and the meandering shoreline of the Mara River.

We had planned the entire trip by ourselves, and I would highly recommend air transfers from Wilson Airport to the air strip nearest to your lodge in the Mara - it is the quickest way to get in and less tiring than the road journey over rough interior roads.

If you are traveling between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda for tourism, it is best to apply for the East African Tourist Visa, from the country where you first enter. Note that children below sixteen years do not require a visa for Kenya (they are issued an EPASS) but Uganda requires a separate visa for children, which costs $50. Visas are typically issued within 1-2 business days and the supporting documentation is very straightforward.

Kenya - https://evisa.go.ke/
Uganda - https://www.immigration.go.ug/services/tourist-visa
Rwanda - https://www.migration.gov.rw/visa/visitors-visa

The yellow fever vaccine (YFV) is mandatory and for Kenya the oral polio vaccine (OPV) is required as well. These are usually available at select government hospitals and / or at Port Health Organisation centers, either at air or sea ports.

Last edited by arnieshwartz : 11th December 2023 at 10:34. Reason: added content
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Old 11th December 2023, 10:35   #10
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

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Originally Posted by arnieshwartz View Post
Superb pics, really brought back memories of our recent visit to the Mara. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience!

Our plan to visit the Mara was delayed by the COVID19 pandemic and we were so thrilled to finally be able to go and be able to view The Great Migration. We stayed at the Mara Serena Safari Lodge, which offers a setting matched by few other hotels in the world - perched high on a bush-cloaked hill with sweeping views of the savannah and the meandering shoreline of the Mara River.

We had planned the entire trip by ourselves, and I would highly recommend air transfers from Wilson Airport to the air strip nearest to your lodge in the Mara - it is the quickest way to get in and less tiring than the road journey over rough interior roads.
Thanks!!! You are right, the experience is something which is difficult to put into words.
The air travel is surely convenient one if one has that budget
The road journey to Mara is challenging considering the heat and dust and on top, those land cruisers don't have any air conditioning, though every car has a freezer inside to keep your drinks cool which give some respite.
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Old 11th December 2023, 10:44   #11
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

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Originally Posted by karsouvik View Post

And we arranged the Masai mara trip with a safari operator based in Kenya only , he will arange everything for you and the package includes everything including stay, food, safari, Pick up from Nairobi airport and drop at Nairobi airport, park entry fees and you can customise as per your wish and choose the stay option as per your budget. Please let me know if you want any more info
Could you please share the contact details of the Safari operator? Also, how many days would be enough for the trip? I'm just lookin to cover Masai Mara for now.
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Old 11th December 2023, 11:45   #12
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

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T
And we arranged the Masai mara trip with a safari operator based in Kenya only , he will arange everything for you and the package includes everything including stay, food, safari, Pick up from Nairobi airport and drop at Nairobi airport, park entry fees and you can customise as per your wish and choose the stay option as per your budget. Please let me know if you want any more info
Could you kindly share the contact details of the operator?
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Old 11th December 2023, 12:27   #13
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

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Originally Posted by karsouvik View Post
And we arranged the Masai mara trip with a safari operator based in Kenya only
Lovely photographs! Your beautiful writeup has certainly influenced me to make the trip soon before I get older. I expect that this needs to be planned at least 6 months in advance. As a few others have asked, would love if you can share the safari operator's details.
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Old 11th December 2023, 12:34   #14
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

Wow! Amazing pics brother! All of them are great, the potraits of all the herbivores, the lion pride, the cheetah, the leopard with bloodied mouth; so so good!

I was especially blown away by the composition of the first lioness with kids pic amazing composition - brings out the astonishing size difference between the mother and the cubs and somehow to me it shows also the mother enveloping the cubs in a warm embrace

too good!

As others have asked, please share the details of the logistics - tour operator, costing, etc. will help the future travellers

P.S:- sorry, just realised it is not the mother, but the father in that first pic. makes it all the more amazing. have not seen a lion being so much into the kids. usually they are the epitome of MCP not sharing any responsibilities of rearing the kids. their jobs are done as soon as they have done the deed (if you know what i mean)

Last edited by sach.sri : 11th December 2023 at 12:37.
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Old 11th December 2023, 12:51   #15
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Re: Experience of a lifetime - The Masai Mara - A dream heaven for wildlife lovers

Thanks to all for the appreciation.

The tour or safari operator was https://nativeafrikavoyages.com/
Name of the person is Mr David, contact number is +254 786623122, we mainly discussed over whatsapp call and video call.
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