Today we woke up early - pre-sunrise, though an amazing sunrise it was.
Wildlife in the Mara are most 'awake' early in the day and around dusk; during the heat of the day, they tend to be inactive (though 'heat of the day' is a bit of a misnomer - it was chilly this AM!). Enock drove us through the unimproved roads, tracks and over land, tracking the various animals we might want to see the whole time from scat, footprints and damage they did to the countryside.
It is remarkable how quickly you became accustomed to things that would have seemed remarkable 48 hours ago. Herds of zebra, or a handful of giraffe, barely merit slowing the land cruiser down. We were looking for lions and elephant. We succeeded in both hunts.
First, the lion. We happened upon a tribe of twenty (!) lions on the hunt. Led by two males (one pictured above), there were numerous females and adolescents. We watched for an hour as they attempted to hunt a wild buffalo; eventually, the buffalo 'won' the battle as the lions retreated. Buffalo can actually kill a lion when they defend in numbers, and the lions in the hunt were immature and just learning. Our guide Enock indicated that it was likely that the lions would return in the evening to finish off one buffalo, with the help of some of the mature females.
After watching this incredible pride of lions for a while, we decamped nearby and had a 'bush breakfast' surrounded by wildlife. A word about the vehicles we're driving in. This is truly 'off road' driving - 4WD the entire time, never moving more than 10 mph across dirt tracks or the actual countryside. For some reason that still escapes me, the animals are not too upset by the vehicles, and in fact just ignore them about 90% of the time. We had one of the lions pictured above pass less than 6 feet / 2 meters from the car - from my elbow - and barely even notice it! The ride is rough but the vehicles get us where we need to be to see the best wildlife.
After a great lunch at camp and a rest, we did our afternoon/early evening game drive. We were slightly delayed by rain. November is traditionally the 'little rain' season in Kenya (explaining the complete absence of other tourists. Featuring short, afternoon, tropical-type rain storms, we were treated to the full range today. Like all tropical afternoon rains, they cleared out quickly but were intense for a brief period of time.
After the rains let up, we went for an evening drive in search of elephants. We found one, on an inaccessible hillside but nonetheless visible via binoculars. We stopped for a sundowner and a spectacular panorama of the Mara and Serengeti.
On the way back in the dark, we came across a hyena working on a recent kill, with two jackals standing by to finish off the left-overs.
We got to camp and had a wonderful dinner by the fireside with Enock, then headed off to bed.