Part 1: Flying into the Great Migration
It had been 20 minutes since we’d our twin propeller passed over the great rifts that separates modern Kenya and the timeless Masai Mara. Since then a carpet of cloud had prevented us from seeing the plains below. We had hoped to see the great migration from the sky but so far had been denied. The pilot
announced over the PA shouted back to us that we were beginning our descent to Ol Kiombo airstrip. The nose went down and we slowly began to cut through the cloud.
As we descended the small black dots sprawled across the plains grew into creatures with horns, long necks and stripes. As the propellers slowed and the flaps started to fight the wind we could start to make out wildebeest, giraffe and zebra. From the air it looked like a battle scene from Braveheart or Lord of the Rings with a thousand creatures sprawled across the metaphorical battlefield.
After we landed we were first greeted by a group of zebra who were not impressed with the noise our plane was making. Once the aircraft had finished its taxi and the door opened, we were met by something that had been roaming the Masai Mara for a lot longer than those zebra: our safari guide, Eric.
Eric has been a safari guide for the last 20 years. His father was a safari driver and Eric learned to navigate the Masai Mara and spot a preying cheetah from half a mile away by sitting up front in his Father’s jeep many years ago.
Despite having seen everything there is to see in this special corner of the world, Eric is still a bundle of energy and excitement. He was thrilled to be stalking leopards and lions whether it was sunrise, sunset, or if it was his 7th game drive that week.
Minutes after leaving Ol Kiombo airstrip we were in the middle of the migration. We got confused looks from wildebeest and buffalo, nervous glances from zebra and doe-eyed gazes from impala. Giraffes glided past the jeep as they went on tree crawls and vultures circled overhead waiting for the predators to hunt and leave them scraps.
We drove towards a river and saw a pod of over 30 hippos. An amazing sight that you can smell well before you get to see it. The hippos huddle around their young in the water, defending them from the Masai Mara’s other river beast: crocodiles.
Eric drove us to a crossing point in the Mara river. One of the perils of the great migration is that the wildebeest will need to cross the rivers of the Mara and Serengeti to access the fresh grasses on the other side. We watched as a herd of buffalo nervously surveyed the waters before leaping in and then feverishly wadding to the other side before a prowling crocodile could pounce.
Thankfully, our herd of wildebeest made it across safely, but the river was littered with the remains of animals who had not been so fortunate.
Eric is the head driver at Julia’s River Camp and his experience shows in his choice of places to visit. On the first day we did a sundowner to watch the sun set over the valley below.
The next day we enjoyed a packed lunch on Paradise Plain.
Then on our last safari morning I sat down for breakfast on a cliff overlooking the crocodiles of the Mara River… until Eric informed us that we had to get back into the car…
We had visitors. Visitors that wouldn’t hesitate to have us for breakfast. More on that in Part 2 of our Safari Adventures with Eric and Julia’s River Camp.
Julia’s River Camp is located in the north of the Masai Mara and is a safe, comfortable and charming glamping camp. Julia’s River Camp offers really good value for money and game drives are included. We will be publishing a full review of Julia’s River Camp on the blog so please check back next week. Thank you to Julia’s River Camp and Kananga International for sponsoring our stay. We had only been asked to review their tented camp, however had such a great experience with them that we wanted to share with you other facets of our amazing adventure. As always our opinions are always honest and our own.
Last modified: 2nd October 2016