Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Early Bird Catches The…..

Our first full day on the Mara started early – it’s best to get up and out by 6.30 am as it’s cooler and the animals are more active. After a sleepless night (see previous post) it wasn’t easy getting out of bed, but it’s amazing how quickly you perk up with the cool breeze blowing over you, a beautiful sunrise, and the sight of hot air balloons rising slowly in the distance.

We soon realized what the blankets in the car were for (Queen Mother chic) but we didn’t need them for long. And to be honest, the excitement of seeing a leopard (Big 5: Done) meant that any thoughts about temperature went out of the window.

After rocking around the Mara for almost three hours Anderson drove us to a perfect spot on the banks of the river: breakfast time. I’m not sure what I was imagining but it wasn’t a five course gourmet feast, with hot coffee. Amazing. More animal bothering and then back to the camp for lunch. I’m sure we did more each day than just eat and drink wine!

Oh yes, we also went to the spa. Yes, on top of all the other luxurious touches, there was a spa in camp. The memory of lying in the open air next to the river being massaged, lifting up my head and realizing we were being watched by a baboon and a hippo, will stay with me for quite some time!

That evening took a magical turn. Up until that point there’d only been a few people in the camp with us, but some new arrivals meant our numbers had risen to nine. Nothing like feeling you’re in your own private hide-away. Because of this the camp decided to throw us a surprise party… the middle of the bush, under the moonlight. They tricked us into going with promises of moonlight animal watching, and as we did actually stop to watch hippos grazing, we all fell for it. It was pretty special to sit under the stars and the full moon with a cold glass of wine whilst (yet another) amazing meal was prepared for us.

We did have a brief altercation with the Texan contingent after a particularly stupid comment by them about the Middle East. Needless to say Auntie Andrea put them in their place, which meant that they gave us a wide berth for the rest of their stay..bothered?!

Anyway all of that was forgotten after a few hours of wine and food. And the highlight….the entire camp arrived, with guitars, singing their own Olonana Camp song. In what can only be described as a conga. It might sound cack, but it was hilarious. Obviously the English girls were straight up out of their seats and joining in (no coincidence that we were propositioned about ten times by the end of the trip. We did consider how we’d cope with the life in the local village but decided on balance, we couldn’t hack it). Some enchanted evening.

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