We had saved the sunrise safari at Maasai Mara for the last morning…..Despite the full day safari (Read: Full-day Safari at Maasai Mara) the previous day, where the customary Big Five had been sighted along with scores of other precious experiences, we hungered for more. We reasoned, we hadn’t seen lion cubs or a hunt, those that fire up TV screens when watching the National Geographic/Discovery channels…..As I said, we hungered for more….
Danielle smiled and nodded his i-know-what-you-want smile, told us to be ready by 5.15 am the next morning; he’d be waiting to take us back to the grasslands even before the sun woke up….
We were thoroughly excited – packed in a few cookies and bananas and water bottles in our knapsack, kept our jackets, sunscreen, camera and lenses ready, before we hit the bed. Not before setting an alarm for 4.30am. We couldn’t be late for our last date with the Mara!
Next morning, we set off for the sunrise safari at Maasai Mara when it was still dark. Danielle explained that permissions need to be taken separately for the sojourn in the dark since the Maasai Mara Park officials are very strict about not disturbing natural life in the park. Minimum sound and no strong lights too.
Slowly, it started brightening in the Mara. We soon spotted the old rhino that strolled around aimlessly, giving a free ride to the sparrows perched on its back; the vulture that must have woken up early; the antelope giving us a good look as if to go back to its herd to report about the morning visitors. And then Jayant noticed some action in a faraway bush. As soon as he told Danielle about it, Danielle spun around and drove uphill of about 200 meters…and we chanced upon one of the biggest treasures of the Mara — five little lion cubs and their mothers. Four of them. Dumbfounded. And soon so ecstatic that we could scream! Danielle shooed us down. Not a sound, he said, else they will hide inside the bush. No no, we didn’t want that. We contained our joy. Actually, stuggled to. For, soon the five cubs came to check us out instead!! Beat that! Five cubs around our jeep trying to figure out who we were, while the mothers lay lazily in the grass. By some miracle we didn’t lose our minds, I tell you!
And in a little while, when the sun rose in the distant horizon with the cubs playing with their Mammas right in front of us, we felt like kneeling down and thanking God for the morning.
We didn’t want to come back from the sunrise safari at the Maasai Mara, but then, there was a flight to catch from Nairobi in the evening. And so we bade the Mara goodbye….hoping that it stays rich and diverse forever….