After a dizzy flight through a typical equatorial thunderstorm, we landed on the core of Masai Mara, Olkiombo Airstrip just by the Talek River, where it became our home for the next days. The crew took us to the Mara Intrepids Camp where we will meet our tent-room and join the remaining fellows of our group for a quick game drive before the sun goes down. In the Masai Mara the rules are strict and you cannot drive after sunset. We have been very lucky, the light could not be better and the clouds of the storm we had just flown through gave a heavy dark background to the scenery, and from the other side, the golden glow of the lightbeams of the lowering sun provided the final touch to the beautiful view of the Mara plains – a fantastic warm welcome of Masai Mara.
LANDING ON THE MARA
The first scene we have came across was the Olkiombo pride finishing their afternoon feast. Just before we have got there this pride had chased and killed a blue wildebeest and then they were still working on the carcass.
FEAST IN THE PLAINS
LIONESS AFTER KILL
Lionesses and cubs calmly feeding from the wildbeest body, there was no sign of other predators or hyenas nearby, so they had all the time to eat without being disturbed. We could get very close to the site and 400mm for the close-ups was more than enough. The beautiful light filled in the scene also in more wide ranges of view, so we just could frame all the scene with a superb background – and this was just the first encounter!
HUNGRY LION CUB
We left the happy lion family and continued our quest for more action, now with the comfort sensation of having already our daily dose of excitement. Not far from there, we had a beautiful open view of the plains and luck striked again: three cats moving across the plain. With the full yellish light of sunset just hitting on them , 3 cheetahs have materialized just in front of our path.
CHEETAHS TRIO WALKING
We had just to observe their movement and position the vehicle for just waiting them to come to us. And they did.
THE 3 BROTHERS
The 3 cheetahs were actually 3 adult males, brothers. They were Honey’s sons, or the 3 Honey Boys as BBC Bigcat staff called them in the latest series (BBC Bigcat Live 2008). They are orphans because their mother, Honey, was accidentally killed by a tranquilizer dart that stung the wrong spot, but now after being rescued in 2007 and reintroduced back into the wild, they became “killing machines”. We were told that they successfully kill prey every day and they are indeed look very strong and in good shape.
ONE OF HONEY’S SONS
They stop and take their time marking the territory by urinating around a tree. Next, they continue the stroll just straight until they reach a small elevation of ground (actually a earth mount produced by the park staff after digging to get stones for paving the main tracks). Cheetahs are very alert cats and, as a technique of surveillance, they like staying higher from the ground to get a better view of the neighbourhood and it is then usual to see them on top of termite mounts, low dead tree branches or small ground elevations like this.
UNDER THE TREE
They sit and relax, and they seem to be, like us, just comemorating the end of one more fantastic day. The just stay there for a while waiting for the sun goes down. Time for very special sillouette pictures. It was very tricky to take this picture because the vehicle was also in another small elevation and then we had to keep as low as possible to get the backlight just behind the cheetah and the light vanishes very fast, but we have got it! Thanks to Mark tips.
We have been so luck today. It is amazing how much things we could see in just 1 and a half hours of game drive. The Masai Mara is really wonderful. Time to go back to the camp for a good shower and dinner. What a day we are starving!!!
THE CHEETAH DUSK