Day Three: Wednesday 2 March
Today, Steve suggested a long drive to the Mara River. It would take all day. “It will be nice for you to have a safari lunch on the savannah,” he said. So we set off after breakfast, just the two of us in the Landcruiser, with a picnic (Mandari) packed into a canvas holdall, plus bottles of water, coke, and beer in the cooler.
Recent early rains have made the grass grow tall in places. Steve explained that the herbivores tend to avoid these areas because the long grass makes it difficult to spot predators. So, for long periods, as we made our way south, it seemed as though he and I were the only creatures on the planet, certainly the only humans. Even the sky was pristinely devoid of vapour trails.
Near the river though, some larger animals including Cape buffalo, zebra, eland, topi, and giraffe, enjoyed the lush vegetation. On the far side of the river a family of elephants seemed to glide across the landscape. How on earth can such huge creatures be so elusive? One minute they were there and when I looked again two minutes later, there was no sign of them.
The river itself was full of hippos keeping cool, sinking below the surface and rising again to show the tops of their heads. On the banks we saw half a dozen enormous crocodiles basking in the sun, still as stones, waiting for the rainy season when they ambush the migrating herds of wildebeest crossing the swollen river.
We took our lunch out in the open under a solitary Bossia or Leopard Tree, so named because their branches offer good perches for leopards to cache their prey. Steve made sure that this tree was uninhabited before we stopped and we got out of the vehicle to eat our picnic.
We were not alone however. A posse of giraffes stood in a semi-circle around us at about 50 metres distance and eyed us intently throughout our meal. I said to Steve: “You know the film Dances with Wolves? Maybe I should be given a Masai name: Dines with Giraffes.” The joke was rather lost on him as he hadn’t heard of the film, but he laughed anyway.
It turns out that a rough Swahili translation of Dines with Giraffes would be Kula Na Twiga. Not quite as dramatic as Dances with Wolves I grant you, but I still rather like the idea.