The view from the hotel's outside stairwell of Gonder:
After descending the flights of stairs, the entrance to the hotel's restaurant:
The Great Rift Valley is a name given to the continuous geographic trench, approximately 3,700 miles in length, that runs from Israel or, some say, Lebanon's Beqaa Valley to Mozambique in southeastern Africa. Again, because of the rain, we weren't able to see much.
The town of Kum we drove through was known in English as Hot Water because of the springs, Maya Meyou, it once had. They had now disappeared because of human encroachment in the area.
Anthony told us a little about his country's political history. Kenyatta, the fourth and current Kenyan president, was the son of the country's first president. Both were members of the biggest tribe in Kenya, the Kikuru. A member of that tribe always won the presidential elections because of the numbers of people in the tribe compared to others.
As in the Serengeti, the wildebeest are the dominant inhabitants of the Maasai Mara, and their numbers are estimated in the millions. Around July of each year, these animals migrate north from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture, and return to the south around October. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 500,000 Thomson's gazelles, 97,000 topi, 18,000 elands, and 200,000 zebras. These migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by predators, most notably lions and hyena.
We saw lots of Maasai herding cattle, but unlike the herders in Ethiopia we had seen, none of these animals luckily were in the road so it made for a far safer drive!
I was immediately drawn to this painting depicting the Maasai people but not to the price! Luckily, I was able to find a similar painting back in Nairobi another day.
I really liked these bags but again thought the $60 asking price was too steep.
It was interesting that Anthony always made sure that he personally locked each of our doors every time we got in the car. I wish I had asked him why he felt the need to do that.
One of the town squares in Narok:
This turned out to be the most common tree we saw throughout the Reserve which was still another two plus hours away. It was a type of cactus called a debra tree that could hold a lot of water which was then accessed during the dry season.
Anthony mentioned that all animals in the Conservancy are protected. Conservancies throughout Kenya are owned by individuals and they provide free schools to the locals but otherwise don't help the people at all, Anthony said. The owners of the conservancies benefit, he continued, because they get donations from NGOs to protect the animals and can still build lodges on the lands.
Anthony cautioned me not to take pictures of any Maasai from the front.
As we drove through the village outside the camp where we would be staying for the night, we saw an appalling amount of trash. The last time we had seen such careless disregard for the environment was in the fall of 2013 when we traveled through rural Mongolia.
The tent was small but it had its own bathroom and shower and electrical outlets. The latter, we were told, only worked though from 6:30 to 10 pm and 5:30-7 am when the generator was on.
The leaves were pretty but very rubbery.
A Maasai 'shuka' or 60x80 blanket was conveniently left out on a table among the tents for us to admire and possibly buy. The pattern was attractive but it wasn't an item we could see using at home.
After resting for a bit longer, we then began our afternoon game drive, the reason we had come to the Maasai Mara Reserve! Since this part of the day is already such a long post, the drive will be on the next one! Sorry to keep you waiting, especially you, Janina, who has been waiting with baited breath for the animal photos!
Posted on New Year's Eve, 2016 from Littleton, Colorado. Steven and I wish our family members, friends and other readers of the blog a very healthy and happy 2017 as well as safe travels wherever the New Year make take you.