Maasai Mara to Lake Bunyonyi
By Tracey Bell
We had two full days to experience Maasai Mara's magic. Within the first hour we had spotted a dik dik (the smallest antelope and an extremely shy creature), some eland and two lionesses with a cub feasting on what looked to be a zebra. We then spotted a lion and his mate out on the savannah enjoying their honeymoon - lions can mate for a week, resting for approximately 15 minutes between short, sharp sessions (about 30-60 seconds). It was hard to top the lions, but as we headed towards Keekorok Lodge we realised there was a leopard hiding in the trees. She was hard to spot, but we managed to get a glimpse of her.
The rest of the days we saw vultures, gazelles, topis, impalas, owls, ostriches, hartebeest, warthogs, banded mongoose, wildebeest, zebras, waterbuck, baboons, buffalo, hyena and giraffe. We had a picnic lunch at the Mara River where a ranger led us on a walk to show us where the famous crossing occurs during the Wildebeest Migration. We met King Solomon, a massive Nile crocodile lounging on the banks of the river, and several families of hippos. The aroma was not favourable as there were still numerous wildebeest carcasses floating in the river, the remains of the migration, which the crocs are saving for a future meal, although the Maribou Storks and Vulchers were already tucking in. Nearly back at camp, we spotted two bat-eared foxes outside their burrow, which is incredibly rare as they are so shy!
On the second afternoon we visited a Maasai village where we were invited to see inside their huts and learn how they live. It was vastly different to what we know at home, with little ventilation while cooking on charcoal inside the hut. The beds are made of sticks and they keep the baby animals in the front room of their hut. The huts are set out in a circle which are surrounded by a fence made of acacia branches (they have massive thorns) to protect the cattle from lions during the night.
From the Maasai Mara we drove to Kisumu and then onto Jinja in Uganda the following day. Jinja is a pleasant town and we spent a couple of hours in the afternoon wandering the main street. Our accommodation overlooked the Nile as it flows out of Lake Victoria and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset sampling Uganda's beers.
Next stop: Kampala. We took a city tour with Ishmael, visiting the Ghadaffi Mosque, Catholic Cathedral, Ba'hai Temple, Palace and National Museum. At the end of the day we tried to get to Lake Victoria, but the closest we could get was the port where the wooden fishing boats were bringing in their catch for the day. The smell was a bit much so we didn't loiter... and certainly any idea of a swim disappeared quickly!
It was a long drive, contending with extensive road works from Kampala to Kabale, the next day. We stopped for lunch on the equator, but did not test to see if the water drained down the plug hole in the opposite direction. Finally we arrived at Bunyonyi Overland Resort, overlooking Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda's western highlands.