Safaris & stories
Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Photographer of the Year 2021

Written by: Hema Narayanan

After the wilderness of Amboseli National Park, I could not wait to travel to the fabled and world famous Maasai Mara – 260 kilometres from Nairobi



Here are my top ten sightings in the Maasai Mara: 

1. The Mara landscape 

The landscape of the Maasai Mara is vast with trees dotted here and there and huge cloud formations. It has a diverse array of animals that can be seen in from miles away.


2. The cheetahs

Hearing a lot of chitter chatter in Swahili, on the guide’s walkie-talkie, I sensed there was a promising sighting. Our jeep turned into a rally-car and soon we were in front of a lonely tree in the middle of the plains. After 25 long minutes two cheetah emerged. The golden light of the morning accentuated their beauty.

For more on the cheetah, see: Saving Cheetah: A Need for Speed 


3. Rhinos 

As we got further into the Mara we encountered a black rhino. His raw power was so evident.


4. The lion hunt 

A hunt unfolded in front of our eyes. Short, but thrilling – a lioness decided to chase a Maasai giraffe just a few feet away from us. After a bit of a chase, the lioness noticed that a tower of Maasai giraffes was standing like a rescue-team further away. Fearing the hard kicks of these giraffes, the predator gave up on the chase and turned back.

For more on giraffes, see: A Journey of Giraffe 

giraffe-lioness-hunt lion-hunt-maasai-giraffe

5. A lion kill 

This time, the lioness got lucky and caught an impala. When I arrived at the scene, the lion had finished eating its share of the antelope and was letting the other lions tuck in.


6. Topis 

The topi is rather interesting with an elongated head, a distinct hump at the base of the neck and a reddish-brown body with dark patches on the upper leg. It has angled horns and a mask-like dark coloration on the face. I was amused by this animal, and later learned that they are one of the fastest antelope in Kenya.


7. Grant’s gazelle and the Thomson gazelle

There are two species of gazelles in the Mara. The Thomson gazelle has a black stripe on its thigh and has white below the tail while the Grant’s gazelle has no black stripes at all and the white colour is above the tail.

Grant’s gazelle
Thomson gazelle

8. Olive baboons 

Baboons are always entertaining. It was amazing to watch the big male baboons with their great manes and the mothers as they cared for their babies.


9. Happy hippos 

Post the wildebeest migration, the Mara River becomes a bit more somber. Countless hippos were lazing in its water, carefree and scattered among the crocodiles.


10. Leopard kills 

The leopard is the most elusive of the Big Five in Africa but in the Maasai Mara we had luck on our side! On a bumpy road late one evening we found ourselves eye to eye with a leopard that had just made a kill. What a sight – a grand finale to the trip.

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