Mara 2019 – The Final Couple of Days in the bush

Kiok & Koshoke, Topi Plains Pride Males, Mara 2019
Kiok & Koshoke, Topi Plains Pride Males

After taking an afternoon rest the previous day, we were feeling completely refreshed on the morning of our last full day in the Mara 2019. We were back on top of our game by 6:20am photographing the Enkuyanai pride once more. I was happily adding to my portfolio of shots featuring the wonderful Olbarnoti while watching more of the antics from the cubs and sub adults. The light wasn’t wonderful and after a while we moved on, but it had improved considerably by the time we reached our next Lions.

This featured one of the Six Pack males mating with a lady and at this point the other four members of our group joined us. This was the final morning for two of our group so we had planned to meet up for a group breakfast, but there was more action to be seen before we satisfied our hunger.

We found some of the Bila Shaka female Lions feeding on a Buffalo carcass, watched over by the rest of the Buffalo herd. None of us were prepared for what happened next. The Buffalos organised themselves and chased the Lions away, before gathering around the body. It was as if they were trying to bring it back to life, even though the body had clearly been ripped open. Some were even licking it trying to get some response; it was a surreal experience.

By 9am we were all ready for breakfast and this one was to be more leisurely than usual. We spent some time on a photo call to record the occasion and to get pictures with our three guides Joseph, Jackson and Dominic.

Our Guests & Guides - Final Group Breakfast, Mara 2019
Our Guests & Guides – Final Group Breakfast

As our two guests left us to prepare for their flight back to Heathrow, the remaining four of us split up again the see what we could find. There was some more Lion action to be had and another fight between two Topi, but otherwise it was quiet. We revisited the Buffalo kill and found the Lions back feeding, but by now the Hyenas, Jackals and Vultures were gathering. The Buffalo herd had moved on.

We decided on an early lunch so that we could get to the airstrip to bid our guests farewell, thank them for joining us on Mara 2019 and wish them a safe journey. We arrived at the airstrip in good time, but the plane was late leaving after having to wait for a passenger from the nearby camp.

Looking around, we could see there was another late afternoon storm approaching, a feature of Mara 2019. Thankfully it was not on the flight path back to Nairobi for our guests. Once they were safely airborne we resumed our game drive and found a Tawny Eagle in a tree, superbly lit and with a clear shot. It also gave me one of my favourite landscape shots from my visits to the Mara.

Tawny Eagle, Mara 2019
Tawny Eagle

Soon after, the storm hit us and we thought it was game over for the day. There were still a couple of hours before darkness was due to fall, but the light was pretty poor so we started off towards camp. We were fooled though, as this storm passed through quickly and in less than an hour we were stopped beside a Hyena den outside of which a mum and young cub were sitting perfectly at ease. They were so relaxed, we didn’t get anything other than a few sitting shots, so our guide, Joseph suggested another den close by.

This was a good call as there was a mum with two cubs, who were both bigger than the one at the previous den. They were quite boisterous, so gave us more to work with. We could also see a second mum with a very young cub that Joseph estimated to be no more than a couple of days old. Mum was sat in the entrance to the den, shielding the cub from the outside world and therefore we only got an odd glimpse. Now it was time to head home for the day for a welcome dinner and preparation for next day’s departure.

Our final morning started at the usual time of 6am and our first subjects of the day were the five Black-backed Jackal pups. This time they weren’t very animated and just spent their time sat outside their den. Time was of the essence, so we moved on and the rest of the morning turned out to be a Lion-fest. First we found the Enkuyanai pride and as Lolparpit, Rose’s favourite, is a member of this pride, we spent some time with them. Eventually we left them and spent the rest of our time either side of breakfast with the Topi Plains pride.

Both of these encounters gave us some delightful head-on walking shots and in particular, male portraits. It was a great morning, but we had to get back to camp for two very important appointments prior to our final lunch.

Presentation to Joyce & the Village Elder - Photo courtesy of Helen Jones, Mara 2019
Presentation to Joyce & the Village Elder – Photo courtesy of Helen Jones

On our last two trips to the Mara, we have taken unwanted clothes donated by generous people local to our home, for the children in the local village. The village elder collects them from us and distributes them to the most needy families in the village.

We also sponsor a village girl by the name of Joyce, to help with her schooling and provide her with some clothing too. This was the second time we have met her and her Mum, but we weren’t prepared for what actually happened next. Out of the blue, Joyce’s Mum presented both Rose and I with Maasai blankets and the most beautiful beaded Maasai necklaces. We were truly humbled by her generosity and remain so.

And so Mara 2019, another successful visit, drew to a close. As we left, we were already looking forward to our next visit with guests in June 2020. Little did we know what was around the corner for us all.

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