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AV Trip Blog – Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

 

Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

A Cheetah and her cubs

Masai Mara is a special place and one that I had heard of prior to visiting Kenya. Masai Mara is named in honor for the people which have lived there for many many years, the Maasai. Mara is a Maasai word meaning spotted which accurately describes the vegetation in the region. With the combination of Maasai and Mara, you have Masai Mara.

The area is in fact quite spotted and is mostly wide open plans with rolling hills. There are some large hills throughout the region which offer some breakup of the geography and the Mara river.

What had me excited for Masai Mara was the real chance to see Lions, Leopards, and Cheetah in the mix with all of the dare I call them “typical” animals such as Elephant, Giraffe, Antelope, etc. I wanted to see them in action!

During our safari, we went on three different game drives – an evening drive, a full day drive, and an early morning drive. The combination of these three drives was an incredible experience. Masai Mara knocked it out of the park with not only tons of animals, the big animals (lions, cheetah, etc.), the situations we saw, but aslo in just how close we could actually get to the animals – it was incredible!

The Reserve is located in the Southwestern region of Kenya on the border with Tanzania and the Serengeti National Park. I added a map below to show you where Masai Mara is and also its relation to the Serengeti. We stayed near and used the Ololamutiek Gate located on the right-side of the map.

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AV Trip Blog – Lake Nakuru National Park – Kenya, Africa

 

Lake Nakuru National Park – Kenya, Africa

Playfully rolling around in the dirt, apparently to remove ticks

Our second safari stop in Kenya on our way to Masai Mara was Lake Nakuru National Park. Lake Nakuru is famous for hosting one of the largest flamingo populations in the world (think millions hanging out on one small lake). Unfortunately for us, flooding over the last couple of years has depleted the flamingos food source and most of them have temporarily relocated north in neighboring Ethiopia to survive. Luckily, the park was full of other animals, including one of Kenya’s largest concentrations of rhino. Our time exploring the area was certainly not wasted :)

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AV Trip Blog – Samburu National Reserve – Kenya, Africa

 

Samburu National Reserve – Kenya, Africa

Alright, WTF – which one of you just shot flash at me from 50 meters away?

After completing our 21-day tour of Southern Africa with G Adventures, we made our way north to East Africa where we would embark on 15 days of pure animal safari bliss through the Kenyan and Tanzanian wilderness. Our goal over the 15 days was to see as many animals as possible in some of the best parks on the planet. We wanted to be sure that when the wheels lifted on our plane out of Africa that we both truly had a grasp on the whole safari experience. That and of course we were absolutely (pun intended) stoked to check out AV #4 – The Serengeti Migration in Tanzania.

Our tour through East Africa started in Nairobi, Kenya. It is there that we met Brad’s dad, who would travel with us for a week through the Kenya leg. The three of us joined three others, a guide and a driver. Together we packed up a deceivingly powerful safari van and made our way north to our first park in Kenya – Samburu National Reserve.

Samburu was a place that we knew basically nothing about prior to visiting. Our sights were focused on the much more famous Maasai Mara park that was on our itinerary a few days later in Kenya.

Samburu left an impression on both of us and it is a park we absolutely recommend visiting for people coming to Kenya looking for animals. The park is full of animals and it is especially easy to spot leopards. Equally important, the surrounding landscape is incredibly beautiful, which really helps enhance the overall experience and certainly yields better photos for you to take home.

Here are some of our favorite photos from our visit. We hope that you enjoy all of the animals and of course we’d be thrilled if browsing through our experience gets you one step closer to booking a trip to come see it all for yourself. Enjoy!

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Looking for Her Next Kill – Masai Mara National Reserve

 

AV Trip Photo – Looking for Her Next Kill – Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

We spotted this lioness late on our first evening game drive in Masai Mara. In fact, there were two separate female lions sitting atop these mounds and staring towards a distant herd of Buffalo. Dinner anyone?

The intensity of the lions stare could not be broken as they seemed to be memorizing the movement of the Buffalo yet methodically strategizing their next move to bring home food for their family. I usually don’t find it all that interesting to watch animals doing “nothing”, but somehow watching these beautiful creatures stare off into the distance is different. But, I guess they really aren’t doing nothing! Perhaps its the mind games?

Looking for Her Next Kill - Masai Mara National Reserve
 

Buffalo Soldier – Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

 

AV Trip Photo – Buffalo Soldier – Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

The Cape Buffalo is one of the Big 5 and in this photo, you can quickly see why. Their massive head-piece coupled with a short-temper makes them one scary beast. We happened to see this guy in a heard of several hundred buffalo who were being hunted by lions. Interestingly enough, the buffalo came together and actually charged the lions away from the heard – awesome action!

By the way, for all of you hoping to hear some Bob Marley – go here.

Buffalo Soldier - Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
 

Lions Growing Up – Maasai Mara National Reserve – Kenya

 

AV Trip Photo – Lions Growing Up – Maasai Mara National Reserve – Kenya

One of our favorite sites from all of the parks in Kenya was watching this mom look after her cubs as they walked around the bush in front of her. You can see so much emotion and love in the eyes of the lioness as she proudly sees her kids growing up in the wild with her.

Lions Growing Up - Maasai Mara National Reserve - Kenya
 

Unorthodox Zebra Cleaning – Lake Nakuru NP – Rift Valley, Kenya

 

AV Trip Photo – Unorthodox Zebra Cleaning – Lake Nakuru NP – Rift Valley, Kenya

Most of the zebra we came across in the parks displayed behavior similar to that of a horse we’re used to seeing back at home. While driving around Lake Nakuru we found this guy rolling around in the dirt giving himself some sort of crazy dirt bath.

Unorthodox Zebra Cleaning - Lake Nakuru NP - Rift Valley, Kenya
 

Friendly Rhino Grazing – Lake Nakuru NP – Rift Valley, Kenya

 

AV Trip Photo – Friendly Rhino Grazing – Lake Nakuru NP – Rift Valley, Kenya

Watching several thousand pounds of rhino walk gracefully in Lake Nakuru National Park next to other animals weighing less than our camera bags was an incredible sight. We’d both seen rhinos in zoo back at home, but seeing them interacting with various wild animals in Africa is such a different experience.

Friendly Rhino Grazing - Lake Nakuru NP - Rift Valley, Kenya
 

Elephants into the Sunset – Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

 

AV Trip Photo – Elephants into the Sunset – Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

On our very first game drive in Kenya, we wrapped up the day with a beautifully scenic drive along the river running through Samburu National Reserve. To top it off, a family of Elephants quickly crossed the river crossing through the suns vibrant rays laying in the water. This was the perfect way to kick-off our safari in Kenya!

Elephants into the Sunset - Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
 

Leopard Sunset Tree – Samburu National Reserve – Samburu, Kenya

 

AV Trip Photo – Leopard Sunset Tree – Samburu National Reserve – Samburu, Kenya

We were headed back to camp after our first afternoon exploring Samburu National Reserve when we came across this beautiful leopard relaxing on this quintessential African tree branch. The sun was setting – creating soft light, our van was positioned in just the right spot and the leopard was cooperating with our intense photo shoot. Everything was just perfect at this moment. What an incredible start to our safari in Kenya!

Leopard Sunset Tree - Samburu National Reserve - Samburu, Kenya
 
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The Top 100 Places in the World
1 Great Wall of China
2 Pyramids of Egypt
3 Machu Picchu
4 Serengeti Migration
5 Galapagos Islands
6 Grand Canyon
7 Angkor Temples
8 Antarctica Cruise
9 Taj Mahal
10 Iguazu Falls
11 Amazon Rain Forest
12 Great Barrier Reef
13 Bora Bora
14 Victoria Falls
15 Bagan
16 Petra
17 Potala Palace
18 Karnak
19 Mt Everest
20 Cappadocia
21 St Peters Basilica
22 Fjords of Norway
23 Jerusalem Old City
24 Burj Khalifa
25 Borobudur
26 Forbidden City
27 Kashmir Valley
28 Li River Cruise
29 Ladakh
30 Alhambra
31 Louvre Museum
32 Perito Moreno Glac.
33 Banaue Terraces
34 Colosseum of Rome
35 Easter Island
36 Venice Canals/Alleys
37 Kathmandu Valley
38 Wat Phra Kaew
39 Yellowstone NP
40 Pompeii
41 Rio Panoramic View
42 Palace of Versailles
43 Dubrovnik
44 Golden Temple
45 St. Basils Cathedral
46 Vatican Museum
47 Florence Cityscape
48 Acropolis
49 Amalfi Coast Drive
50 Kremlin
51 Hong Kong View
52 TerraCotta Warriors
53 Mezquita Cordoba
54 Chichen Itza
55 Damascus Old City
56 Shwedagon Stupa
57 Sahara Desert
58 Mont St Michel
59 St. Marks Square
60 Egyptian Museum
61 Hagia Sophia
62 Angel Falls
63 Delphi
64 Teotihuacan
65 Baalbek
66 Banff NP
67 Santorini
68 Matterhorn
69 New York Skyline
70 Neuschwanstein
71 Chartres Cathedral
72 British Museum
73 Prague Old Town
74 Burj al Arab
75 Yangtze River Cruise
76 Yosemite NP
77 Hermitage Museum
78 Torres del Paine
79 Chambord Chateau
80 Lijiang
81 Portofino
82 Great Ocean Road
83 Tongariro Alpine
84 Las Vegas Strip
85 Tikal
86 Topkapi Palace
87 Sydney Opera House
88 Eiffel Tower
89 Luxor Temple
90 Kerala Backwaters
91 Golden Gate Bridge
92 Cinque Terre
93 Metropolitan Mus
94 Uffizi Gallery
95 Ayers Rock
96 Cliffs of Moher
97 Pacific Coast Hwy
98 Shanghai Skyline
99 Glacier Bay NP
100 Wulingyuan
Cappadocia  Cappadocia, Turkey
 
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