Kenya; Masai Mara and Diani beach

I have been watching Big Cat Diary, the famous BBC series about lions leopards and cheetahs, so many times, I decided time had come to visit the Masai Mara myself. Flying that far and spending so much money, I designed a little extension to the trip; a trainride and a couple of days at the coast.

August 27 Swiss Air flew me to the capital of Kenya, Nairobi. Equipped with professional photogear (rentals ofcourse) I arrived in the city nicknamed Nairobbery. Not feeling very comfortable traveling with a 5000 euro worth lens I took a cab to the guesthouse. A dirty and quite chaotic city (what else do you expect) offered me a surprisingly clean tented camp with decent food. After a good night sleep I couldn’t wait to fly into the Masai Mara, a longtime dream!

After landing in the middle of the game reserve I was picked up by one of the guides of the Aruba Tented Camp, a comfortable and affordable camp just outside the Talek gate. The next five days gamedrives were on the agenda.

Having been to South Africa and Botswana I had already seen many animals. Cats however were difficult to spot in the Southern African countries. I was hoping to see as many leopards and cheetahs as possible here in the Mara. It turned out to be truly spectacular, almost every day I was treated with cats in abundance. Lions everywhere and every now and then a cheetah or leopard came by…

It was great to work with professional gear. In low light conditions the lens performed really well, the Nikon 300mm F2.8. As a relative novice with regards to working with mirror reflex cameras and heavy lenses like this one, it was great to play with settings and making some great pictures. I borrowed a beanbag which worked great on the roof of the jeep. Steady shots of beautiful animals in spectaculal surroundings, how good does it get?

My favourite animal is the cheetah. An elegant cat with a fragile position in the animal chain. A predator that has to watch out as well because lions and hyena’s are serious enemies. Furthermore they can only run for a short while because bodyheat can’t get to high and because they only have a certain amount of energy to play with. They are really walking on a very thin line!

I have seen them in South Africa in a rehabilitation center but this was the first time I saw them in the wild. It was great! Next time I’d like to see them hunt…

After five days of gamedrives I was done, time for a change. Another item on my Kenyan wishlist was the trainride from Nairobi to Mombasa. I expected an old train with a good atmosphere on board with some interesting scenery on the way. And that was exactly what I got!

From Mombasa I got a ride to Diani beach, a beautiful piece of coastline. I stayed in a special stilthouse, an interesting experience to say the least. Everytime I returned to the hut, chairs and tables on the porch were knocked over by baboons. In the night monkeys and bushbabies were playing on the roof and according to the manager, a resident snake had found his home in the roofs of the huts as well. Luckily for me, I didn’t see the snake because I’m pretty sure I would not have slept knowing a creature like that was on top of me!

The next day I went to the beach to relax for a day. I’m not a beach person at all but I have to admit this beach was really beautiful. Uncrowded and bright blue water. Temperatures were perfect for the beach and they offered some nice food. Unfortunately the so-called “beach boys” were also present. Traveling solo I was an easy victim. The following day I decided the beach was no option anymore and I went on another safari, this time to Tsavo East.

My expectations of Tsavo East were low after visiting the Masai Mara. Still I was hoping for a good time, why else would I go? I stayed in a huge lodge, the Voi Wildlife lodge. This 4 star lodge had a great buffet and beautiful views but ofcourse it was lacking an intimite feel. The gamedrives were limited but the park was nice because of its red colour. It was something different.

After two days in Tsavo East I went back to Mombasa to fly back home on the 6th of September. It had been another great trip!

Click here to see more pictures of my trip to Kenya!

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