The Arctic & The Mara – June 2017
June 2017 has been a busy and exciting month. At the beginning of the month a party of wildlifers headed off to Svalbard in The Arctic in search of Polar Bears, accompanied by naturalist Stephen Mills. Before boarding the ice-breaker we enjoyed a morning dog-sledding. Such beautiful huskies.
June continued to be an exciting month with a fabulous safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya hosted by Jackson Looseyia (Big Cat Diary fame), Shivani Bhalla, Director of Ewaso Lions and Liz Drake. Our safaris are intimate and intensely focused on the wildlife. Jackson Looseyia is probably one of the best native guides in Africa and certainly in the Masai Mara. It is his home and it is where he works every day, so he knows every bush, lugga and most of the big cats. Shivani Bhalla devotes her life to saving lions in Kenya and particularly in the northern region near Samburu. Lions are constantly under threat from local farmers and whilst there are healthy numbers in the Masai Mara they struggle to survive in places like Samburu and the Westgate Community. Lions are critically endangered and with out the dedication of people like Shivani they could disappear completely from some parks in Kenya in the near future.
We were up before dawn each morning and out on the plains by 0615 hours to see what action there had been during the night. We would remain out following packs of hyenas, or herds of elephants or lions on a kill or waiting to see what the five cheetah boys plans until we returned to camp for a late lunch around 1500 hours. We would stop for a bush breakfast around 0930 hours but not for long – there is always so much going on in The Mara, that we didn’t want to miss anything. We would then be back out on the plains by 1630 hours until the sunset. Some days we stayed out for a bush lunch too without returning to camp until 1900 hours. Our morning game drives were 9 hours long and on the days we stayed out all day it was for 12 hours. These are long days and not your normal ‘game drives’ (2 -3 hours in the morning and sometime after breakfast in the camp and 2 hours in the late afternoon) or suitable for anyone but really avid and keen wildlifers.
We had the very best possible safari with the maximum amount of time out on the plains and with an off-road permit we saw lots and had close encounters with lions including Scar, and five cheetah boys. We also had an impressive wildebeest crossing. I love The Mara and can’t wait to return. Our next trip will be 11 – 18 October 2018.
The thrill, fear and anticipation of a wildebeest crossing is on everyone’s wish list. We saw one on our safari in the Masai Mara two weeks ago, but the migration itself is equally compelling because of the sheer scale of it. Nature is a wonderful thing.