Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Africa Part VI: Maasai Jumping, Leopard Eating, Balloon Riding, Animal Sighting

We arrived in the Maasai Mara National Reserve and went to visit a Maasai village. It was interesting to see the warriors dancing, jumping, and singing with the strangest sounds. Amelia and I were dragged into the dancing with the women in what ended being an engagement dance and they gave us beaded necklaces to wear while we danced around with them. After the dancing, we visited inside their village and were shown into one of the homes. It was interesting, but this village seemed a little commercial which was disappointing.

After the village, we went on an afternoon game drive. As soon as we entered the reserve, our driver began driving faster and wouldn't answer our questions while he listened to his radio to the other drivers in the park. We figured out pretty quickly that he heard on his radio that there was something very exciting and he was wasting no time in getting us over to it. He didn't want to tell us in case it wasn't there when we arrived.

We saw our first leopard! Up in a tree! And it was eating a kill! This was amazing to see and I tried to get the best pictures I could. We were pretty close but far enough away to not bother the leopard too much. The leopard had stripped the animal and looked up at us a few times. We were not sure what animal it was but our driver guessed a young wildebeest because of the hair on the animal that was still visible.

The next morning, we woke up very early to go on a hot air balloon ride. Before we even got into the balloon, the excitement began! Two women got attacked by ants! These ants were about two centimeters long and bit hard! Very quickly, these two women had ants all over them. They literally had ants in their pants and the only way to get rid of them (according to the balloon workers around) is to take off your clothes and get them all off you! So, the two women, not caring about anything other than getting those ants off, stripped down and started pulling off ants.

When we got in the balloon, one of these women was standing next to me and was still picking off ants. I helped her when I saw one, but also was crossing my fingers that no ants would make their way to me! They didn't but they sure did ruin the first half of the balloon ride for these two ladies!

In the balloon, we could spot so many animals below us. At some points we were pretty high above them, but then the balloon pilot would let our balloon sink down to not very far off the ground at all! At one point, when we were near landing, we parted a herd of wildebeests and zebras.

After landing, we got back in the vehicles and on the way to breakfast saw some hippos.

After the hippos, we had a champagne breakfast in the bush!

After breakfast, we we had another game drive that was supposed to last until the afternoon. This meant that we also got to have a picnic lunch in the bush.

During our game drive, we saw a couple of cheetahs chilling under a bush.

We saw a very big elephant.

And we also saw some very small elephants.

And some medium-sized.

We found a big lion.

We found some Maasai giraffes.

And then we had lunch.

After lunch, we found some more hippos.

This is where I took one of my favorite pictures of my mom during this trip (after of course the one with Kalama).

That evening, to round out our bush meals, we had dinner in the bush! No pictures for that one though.

As always, more pictures are at my flickr site.


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