This is my little adventure to Kenya, Africa where I was on a photography tour to places like Nairobi, Lake Naivasha, and Safari at Maasai Mara.
N.B. Some images below might not be for the faint of heart due to the nature of the animal kingdom.
Day 1 – August 15th/16th, 2019
My aunt and I left Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and transit at Bangkok International Airport for our final destination of Nairobi, Kenya.
We landed at Kenya’s Nairobi international in approximately 5:30 am and its a fairly small airport with about 8-9 jet bridges. Immigration was fairly quick and if you hold a Malaysian passport, you do not need to apply for a visa since Malaysia is part of the British Commonwealth country. I did notice that folks from Taiwan had to apply for a visa but do not get their passport stamped due to the country not recognized by Kenya but instead get a stamp on a separate piece of document.
After the baggage claim, It was interesting even though you do not have anything to declare, you are still required to scan your bags as they are looking for contraband including drone. It looked like they will confiscate it and store it for you but you will be required to pay for a storage fee.
After you exit the terminal, there are 3 places to buy sim cards for your data plan so that you can access the internet and make phone calls via WhatsApp. The sim card purchase takes a while as it took about 30 min per person. The next question is why do we need to buy a sim card versus just pay for roaming. The answer is that for 6GB data plan, it cost me only USD $7 vs a daily roaming fee of $5 from t-mobile or Verizon will charge you arm and leg for it.
Note that I didn’t take any pictures of the airport. Apparently, it’s forbidden to take any pictures of the people and the airport.
We were then met by our transportation drivers who took us to Lake Naivasha which is northeast of Nairobi about 2.5 hrs away. It’s basically a minivan for passengers which can hold about 10 people.
We first past by the poorest part of the city of Nairobi which is the Shantytown.
The road trip was what we called a boneshaker and the road to hell as the traffic was dangerous due to only a single lane shared with the truck delivering goods to inner Kenya and landlocked country of Uganda
The countryside is swarmed with corn and a lot of people hanging on the roadside selling roasted corn from makeshift fire pit. Sorry, they looked a little too dry for me to want to buy one.
The countryside has a lot of stopping areas similar to the picture below and it’s definitely a lot different than the US. I did notice that there are no motel or foodchain from the US along the journey. However, the US chain establishments are available in the city of Nairobi.
I found out a lot of people were waiting for buses which are pretty much minivans. There is no set time and you may wait for hours before catching a ride. it’s like from the Netflix tv show Sense8 where the bus is called Van Damme but in this case it’s a lot smaller.
Our first stop is a tourist trap to overlook the Great Rift Valley viewing area.
Upon arrival at the lodge gate, we were greeted by a large number of security guards carrying out a security sweep of our van. The gate opened and we entered a very large manicured compound.
We found out that we couldn’t check-in as we arrived too early at 1030am. So lunch was at 1 pm and we stroll the compound until lunch. I made a new friend along the way… my first African cat.. meow!!
Lunch was pretty good as we were served buffet-style food. It was interesting that there were a number of northern Indian food selections. Desserts were great as they had a ton of fruits.
We got our rooms around 3 pm and we went on a photographic boating excursion immediately afterward.
We saw a ton of local birds including kingfisher, eagle, stork and quite a number of hippos.
More photographs available on the PhotoGraphy Link below
Guess what’s grazing below… it’s a badass animal.. we had to be surrounded by electric fence as it’s a mean animal when threatened.
Dinner is again buffet style and we sat inside as it got a little cold. We were served a lot of varieties of food including sushi which didn’t look too fresh and a lot of meat dishes. Dessert was pretty and tasty.
Day 2 –
August 17th, 2019
Next morning, we had our breakfast at 6:00 am. Then, We went on another boating excursion which was enjoyable.
We noticed a lot of Local Fisherman trying to catch the Tilapia fish.
We spent a little too much time and everyone had to scramble to checkout. Our driver was a little upset about how late we were as we didn’t leave till 11 am and our flight was at 2:30 pm and it will takes us about 2.5 hours to get to the regional airport.
Our guide, Danny managed to book us on the last flight out of Nairobi leaving at 3:45 pm for Maasai Mara.
We got to the regional airport safely around 1:30 pm. We had lunch at the airport and we hop on the last flight with Safarilink to Maasai Mara.
The flight took about 40 minutes and it was an interesting flight as we were able to sit right behind the pilot. Since it’s almost like a bush plane…maybe a lot better as it sat 12 people plus 2 pilots.
And… We made it to Maasai Mara, Kenya!! Yahoo!!
Upon arrival at the airstrip, we were greeted by our local Maasai and Kenyan guide who drove us on our first safari hunt as it was still bright daylight.
We spent the next 4 hours on the drive before heading back to the Matira Bush Camp. We reached the camp pitched black around 6pm..ish and were greeted by the Maasai and Kenyan staff.
We were quickly assigned the bush cabin and to our surprise, we were shocked to see two proper beds, stand up showers and proper flushing water closets. However, the shower temperature can be tricky to operate but if you can it working, it will clean you well. The water closet w/c needs to be flushed multiple times and you have to wait 5-10 min before each flush.
Matira Bush Camp
We had our first dinner at 730pm and it was a buffet style with a good amount of choices but vegetarian meals are somewhat limited. To our surprise that the food has some Indian influence as every night we had some sort of variation of Indian cuisine. All the meals are served with different soup daily. This camp has a lot more personal touch to it than some of the other bigger camp.
We got ourselves set up for charging station and started to unpack our stuff. We had to charge all our phones, cameras and backup batteries before 11 pm as the power is powered by diesel generator. The power will come on early in the morning upon request and there is Wifi available around the dining and lobby area.
Day 3 – August 18th, 2019
Next morning, We had to get up way early like at around 4:30 am to get ready for our light coffee at 5:30 am. You can see that there was barely anyone at the dining tent above. By 6:00 am, we were on the safari hunt heading out to the wilderness and it’s still dark.
We were partnered up with the same 80 years old father and son, Kevin from Taiwan. The Masai Mara plains driving is not for the faint of hearts as the makeshift roads are fairly…oops extremely bumpy. So we got our first pit stop under a tree and yes, you do them out in the open. Ladies usually do them behind the bush or behind the 4×4 vehicle. Its literally like camping but on four wheels.
So one of the early sighting we saw was the Cape Buffalo which is one of Kenya’s Big 5 to see… So we got One of Five to see list checked! Yahoo!!
So what is the Big Five?
At one time, the “Big Five” were at the top of hunters’ lists, as they were considered the most difficult of Africa’s big game to shoot while on foot. These were: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and cape buffalo. Fortunately, it’s tourists who do most of the shooting today but only with their cameras.
CAPE BUFFALO ( 1 of Big 5)
Since we were out roaming the plains, it would be pointless to go back to resort for lunch. We had packed breakfast and lunch every day with the exception of the camp moving day where we had a sit-down breakfast.
So everyone asks what kind of water we drink and it’s mostly bottled water. I encountered two brands while in Kenya but I am sure there are more than two. I did also bring my own filtration bottle from the US but found it unnecessary.
After breakfast, we saw a number of different types of animals
Look it’s Pumbaa (Warthog aka Wild Pig) Sorry!! no Timon here as I can’t find them…
The next two animals which we will be keeping an eye out for are the Wildebeest and Zebra as they will be the highlight for the end of the week.
We didn’t get back to the bush camp till about sunset which is about 7 pm. We were exhausted on the first full safari day and we dropped our things off in the cabin prior to having dinner.
We slept hard the second night at the camp and we will continue the next day.
DAY 4 – August 19th, 2019
We started off with a very beautiful sunrise and you can see from the gallery pictures below.
So we started off our animal sighting with two hyenas mating and we learned from our guide later that he has been on the safari for the past 10 years and this is the first time he has seen a hyena mating. I can say that I am very privileged to be able to see them in action.
Photographers in action…
EAST AFRICAN LION (2 of Big 5)
The female lion just hunted and ate her breakfast.
Next animal we saw was the BLACK-BACKED JACKAL and it was trying to steal some food from the Lion
The Lion then gave the jackal a little scare… don’t worry, the lion didn’t eat the doggie..
We drove around for another hour and we found a bunch of Lion including the King of Lion. This would cross two out of the Big Five off my list
Just a little farther down, we saw a bunch of cubs and their mama…
Oh… sometimes when they are in disagreement with their partner… hehe…
Next Image says it all…
AFRICAN ELEPHANTS (3 of Big 5)
Next animals we saw crosses out three out of the Kenya’s Big Five and that’s the elephants
The next venue is the infamous river crossing for animal migration at the Mara River.
A Bunch of Hippos
There were a ton of tourists waiting to see the crossing and we got a glimpse of a fairly small crossing of Wildebeests on the Mara River.
So that wraps up for Day 4 out of 11.
Day 5 – August 20th, 2019
The first thing we saw this morning was the Lion King and its breakfast…
Next sighting, we ran across more lion cubs
Next sighting is the Lion King
We stopped for lunch in a safe area
We drove around the plains for the next few hours and we noticed the Wildebeests were heading to the direction of the Mara River. So we followed…
The guide took us to a spot which he predicted that the animals might cross and we waited. While waiting, we saw a fat Hippo just sunbathing away…
All we know pretty soon, we saw a zebra walking by our path heading to the river.
They would then congregate amongst themselves whether to cross or not.
Guess who’s coming for dinner… however, the croc just came up and rested and were not interested in them.
All of a sudden… we had a few Wildebeests crossed over the river safely…
Then the rest of the herds started crossing including the zebras. This round everyone made it safely without any issue.
So it’s started to get late and we headed back to the camp. on the way, we spotted our first cheetah…
I believe we had a good day and had a lot of good sightings of the animals. On to the next day… note that I have only seen three out of five Kenya’s Big Five… so the hunt is still on…
Day 6 – August 21st, 2019
This morning we came across a Cape Buffalo which is been stalked by a bunch of teenage lion. The buffalo looked hurt and we are not sure whatever happened to it as we heard on the radio that there is a specular sightings of one of our Kenya’s Big 5 animal. Our local guide drove like a madman to the next sighting and we were thrown all over the place.
RHINOCEROS ( 4 of Big 5)
Yes, I have now seen four out of five of Kenya’s Big 5 and this time it’s the Rhino. However, what made this sighting a little different than all the others is that we are seeing three Rhinos all at one time. This is truly a rare sighting not seen often. I am glad we didn’t miss it even though we sustained some very minor bruises.
Once we lost sighting of the Rhinos, we moved on searching for the next animal. We saw a bunch of Ostriches and we were fascinated by them.
We moved on again and this time we caught a glimpse of something which would complete my sighting of all the Kenya’s Big 5 and it’s the …. you guessed it…
LEOPARD ( 5 of Big 5)
Wow! So it has taken me six days to get all the Kenya’s Big 5 and I have yet to see the full River crossing.
We moved on again and we saw a bunch of other miscellaneous animals
Some more lions
We moved on again and we spotted a bobcat from afar… another pussycat meow..
We moved on again and guess what… we spotted another leopard, Wow.. two leopards in the same day…
It’s that time again and we started rolling back to the camp and we spotted a baby Zebra and it has a different color stripe than Mama Zebra.
Not too far from the zebra, we noticed two lions laying on the grass …
and then we realized what they were up to….
If you were to watch, it’s ironic that it will be over in less than 30 seconds And then the lioness will roll around and then they will go to sleep for 15-20 minutes. They will then repeat all over again for at least 10 times.
Day 7 – August 22nd, 2019
Day Seven is a little different than the other days as we are focusing more on the river crossing and we headed to southwest of the Maasai Mara. Don’t forget that it’s going to be hard to match Day 6, so we predict that we will not have that many pictures as we had before.
The first this morning, we had a roadblock by the Wildebeests and Zebras. So we had to let them pass through before we head south.
We reached the Mara River and we waited for a little while and we saw a bunch Wildebeest looking into crossing. However, there were a bunch of Americans playing volleyball illegally on the river sandbar from their camp that’s above the cliff. Yes, you can hear them pretty loudly. Unknowingly, there is a lion that’s roaming around on the left side of their camp. So these folks are taking a very big risk playing down on the sandbar.
The Wildebeests got spooked and then ran away from the river.
We followed them and see where they lead us to next
It did not seem like they will cross today and we moved on and then we found a bunch of animals dangling from the trees… They heard us coming and started running towards the bush. Yes, it’s the infamous baboons.
We moved on to the next animal which is the gracious calm Giraffe.
That pretty much completes Day 7.. I know right… it’s like is this safari over? Let’s see what Day 8 gives us…
Day 8 – August 23rd, 2019
This country amazes me and it’s another beautiful morning..
We navigated back to the same area where we saw the leopard during the previous outing. All of a sudden, we noticed something just zipped passed by us ….
and we got a shocked that it was the leopard chasing after what looked like an impala. It was quite a distance away and I had to really zoom in to see it.
The next thing we saw was that the leopard grab the impala to a more secure area and started his breakfast.
Then the leopard decided that he would like to move his kill to a secure spot. You will see that the impala is double his weight and he will move a few feet and pause. he will keep repeating until he crosses over the river.
then.. he moves the kill to behind the bushes which ended our wait for it.
We moved on to the next animal… which are a bunch of big cats… meow… cheetahs… I hope by now you can tell the difference between a leopard and cheetah. We heard that they haven’t eaten yet and so we waited for them to hunt for some animals…
Tick Tock… The next thing I saw was interesting… It smelled something and then did its deed.
The big cats didn’t do much other than walk around…
so we decided to just drive around and get different pictures. We saw some elephants feasting on some scrubs on the ground.
Then.. the magnificent giraffe… check out the birds on the back…
We just saw a bunch more animals along the drive
It started to get late and we decided to give one last shot and headed back to see if the cheetahs will go out for their hunt. You guessed it.. they are a bunch of lazy cheetahs…
At least we got some great sunset pictures
Day 9 – August 24th, 2019
Since we had to pack our bags to move camp, we didn’t have to get up till 530am. Today we had a sit-down breakfast at 6:30 am for the first time since we left Lake Naivasha. Everyone was really happy about it with a ton of smiley faces.
Then we packed up and took one last photo of us and the cabin
Bags to be moved over to the new camp.
Last stop at the souvenir store…
So we started off this morning with a breakfast hunt by the cheetah.. yes.. it’s a cheetah but different cheetah from the pack we saw yesterday. You can see it chasing after a Thompson Gazelle
So we decided to go back to the lazy cheetahs again… This time they are five males and one female who are lying down. The story goes that they are fighting as who should have the dominant rights to mate the female. They went on for hours and it’s kind of boring… 🙂
The owner of Matira Bush Camp, Anthony tried to make a Banana Call to the cheetah to hurry up!
It got late and the warthogs were more interesting to watch as it kneel down to eat something off the ground.
So some of us decided to head to the new camp while there is still daylight. This camp is a lot bigger and feels more like a honeymoon resort than a bush camp. We had our first dinner and its more of a-la-carte and no buffet. Food is a little fancier and catered more for European cuisine. Every meal had a soup that goes with it and it has a fancy plated arrangement. Just an fyi.. there were no curry dishes this time.
We had issues with the shower and it’s actually worse than the Bush Camp. Believe it or not, We liked the bed at the Bush Camp better.
Day 10 – August 25th, 2019
This is our last full day at Maasai Mara and we have seen pretty much all the animals. However, there is one last item left on our menu, which is the full river crossing of the Wildebeests.
Today, we headed back to the original crossing which we went to earlier during the week.
We started the morning again with a wonderful sunrise and air balloon display in the background
A mile-long of Wildebeest heading to the Mara River.. I believe today is the day!!
An itch for a zebra
When you see Vultures, you know it’s feeding time
We are now at the river crossing and we do see a zebra trying to make it across the river but ….
it got into trouble with the resident croc and for some miracle reason, it survived… Yippee!
It looked there is going to be a second attempt and…
However, during the chaos, one felt victim to the croc
and also the lion
Almost within a few minutes… there is a new attempt to cross over the river. This would make the second successful crossing today.
We moved up north and search for another activity and we noticed a new massive amount of Wildebeest just waiting near the riverbank. However, there were no activities for a few hours… so we had time to take other pictures
We soon found out that there was some sort of stampede and it created a massive amount of dust in the air causing all the next bunch of pictures looking like monochrome.
We now have a new attempt to cross the river making this the 3rd attempt.
However, like every crossing, someone is going to be a victim to the croc. However, this time is a little different as one of the croc wounded a Mama Wildebeest and her baby Wildebeest came looking for her. She is too weak to climb up the cliff despite multiple attempts. She didn’t want her baby to hang around so close to the river as the croc is not done with the Mama Wildebeest. So her maternal instinct kicked in and she sacrificed herself to the croc so that her baby can move on.
Unknowingly, we looked to the left and we have another attempt to cross the river making this the fourth attempt all in a same day… Wow!!! yes.. Wow!!
And again… damn croc if you didn’t notice the pictures above.
Remember, the baby Wildebeest… Apparently it hung around the unsafe area looking for its mummy. No worries, a bunch of wildebeest came down and helped escort the calf up the cliff and rejoined the pack. So we ended up with some sort of good news after all…
Oh by the way, a lion across the river caught a Wildebeest and I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of it.
I think four river crossing on the same day has been a great day considering all week we just saw partial crossing with no drama.
We started to move away from the Mara river and we got lucky again and we got near a smaller river with another crossing. I called this half point because it’s not the Mara River with crocs and lions.
Our Victory and Self Congratulation Picture. We have seen 4.5 river crossings!
So we ended the day with….
Giraffe Mating…hahaa.. more mating…
Wow.. what a day.. Today was like Day 6 and how can you compare it. So in order to capture everything, it looked like you have to spend at least 10 days on safari.
Day 11 – August 26th, 2019
Final day for all of us at Maasai Mara. A few of us opt not to go out for the safari drive but instead stayed back and collect other type of shots
Some shots of the camp we stayed in…
The next pictures have some interesting stuff to look at… and yes, it’s the US President Barack Obama who also stayed at the same camp I stayed in.
Our final lunch together
Back on the road again and this time to the airstrip…note below is the first dog I have seen in Kenya since the beginning of the journey.
We finally reached the airstrip after some very bumpy and dusty road… Note that the tree is the control tower. just kidding…it’s just a landing strip and a security person to help out if needed.
Our plane finally arrived… every one helped out to get the bags to the plane.
Off we go back to Nairobi..
We arrived safely at the regional airport and we made a little detour to the supermarket Carrefour to buy some coffee and tea for our trip home. At 6:45 pm, we headed to this restaurant called Carnivore and we became a meat-eater. Since it’s all you can eat, it cost each of us USD $36 plus drink another USD $5. You can read from the menu below what they served. However, a few of us ate some of the exotic meats including crocodile, ostrich and ox ball. I like the crocodile meat as it wasn’t as chewy as I thought it would be. The ostrich meat tasted like softer turkey meat. I ran out of room for the ox ball and I believe our Taiwanese friend, Kevin ate them. We paid our bill and left by 8:15 pm for the International Airport.
We arrived at the airport to catch our flights home and my aunt got her business class connection to get us a faster check-in. Almost everyone left for Bangkok then to Kuala Lumpur or Taipei. However, for myself, I have a flight to catch to Dubai where my adventure continues…
That’s it folks… See ya next time…
Safari Gear List
Want to know what I brought for my Safari? Check out my gear list.. http://www.pomusa.com/gear-list/
MAP of Maasai Mara
Map of where all the activities happened during our Safari Outings