We’re back from the Mara folks and I’m already suffering serious withdrawal symptoms. I wish we were still there marveling at the splendor of our beautiful country. We truly are blest with a magical Kenya. I never imagined I’d thank Covid19 for anything. Because of corona, I traveled with my baby shark to Masai Mara to catch a glimpse of the migration. I’ve usually had the mindset that it’s too expensive to visit the Mara during the migration. Then add the typical Kenyan mentality that I’ll go one day since we have it here with us every year so let’s leave it for the mzungu.
Several factors influenced my going to the Mara and corona was the overriding one. This pandemic has given us time to reflect on why we do what we do. Many of us are having a personal migration from a human doing to a human being or becoming. We are getting in touch with ourselves and summoning the courage to live and thrive not just to exist. I doubt this would have been possible with the fast pace of life that we have been addicted to. So, thank you corona for the deeper self-awareness. But you can leave now. You have overstayed your welcome. if the aim was to get us to this point of living intentionally then we are almost there. Please go away.
Thanks to the heightened self-awareness, my boys and I decided to make this trip with our sons. The aim was to bond with them and have some alone man time in the wilderness. Boy child manenos. Some intentional parenting. It was the first trip I have taken along with my baby shark alone. My man-cub was ecstatic on this trip. Though he did miss his mum and sisters on the first night as we retired to our tent. Maybe it was the laughing hyenas and roaring lions that sounded closer than they were.
The other motivation for making this trip was that the road is tarmacked all the way to the Sekenani gate. It was a smooth trip. Now you don’t have an excuse that you need a big 4 by 4 car to get there. We saw small cars going and coming from the Mara, including ata Probox. Though those have a 4 by 4 attitude I hear hehe. Kenyans, please go experience the magic God has given us for free. Even a Boda Boda can get there now ha-ha. You won’t regret it. I’m definitely going back.
We stayed at Castel Mara camp just two kilometers outside the Sekenani gate. It’s a lovely small camp with five tastefully designed luxury tents. The clubhouse is built with a log cabin design and blends very well with the nature around it. It has a raised wide deck facing the expansive hills and plains of the reserve. It’s ideal for sundowners and just chilling as you commune with nature. They even have a resident baboon and waterbuck as part of the welcome committee. The clubhouse also houses the dining area but you can also get excellent tent (not room) service from Eric (the manager) and his delightful team at the camp.
The game drives were a lot of fun thanks to our experienced guide and driver Tom. It’s like he’s in the same WhatsApp group with the Big Five and had asked them to show up for us. A short while after getting into the park we spotted the famous tano bora. A coalition of five cheetah brothers that were strategizing on how to kill some breakfast. Tom is largely responsible for the photos I took. Visit the gallery on my website and take a look. I can also enlarge and print what you like (at a friendly corona rate) for you guys to hang on your walls and bring some Mara magic to your homes and offices. Just inbox me if you find something you like.
The rates at Castel Mara were very friendly again thanks to the pandemic. But even with the usual high season, they are reasonably priced in comparison to other similar lodges and tented camps. You can find them on twitter @castelmara and Castel Mara on Facebook and Instagram or on www.castelmara.co.ke The location of this camp gives you a taste of the game drive even before you leave the camp for the park. Zebras and impala come right up to the electric fence as if to check out the visitors. The highlight was seeing elephants come so close to the camp at night as we enjoyed the bonfire on the solar lit lawns. Maybe they wanted to warm themselves too and join the party.
Folks I could write a dozen stories from my trip to the Mara. My soul was refreshed and I didn’t realize how I had missed the open outdoors, including sleeping out in a tent. One night after dinner my man-cub and his two age mates joined a Masai Moran dance around the fire. They were so fascinated at the high jumps by the Morans that they attempted their own too. It was hilarious yet special. I hope the man spirit in them was stirred for them to grow into brave, confident yet caring men that our world desperately needs. I bought my son a necklace on the way back signifying that he’s now a Moran. There was an ivory shaped white carving hanging on it. I told him it symbolizes a lion’s tooth so he should wear it with pride as he has interacted with lions and lived to tell the story. He now has a lion’s heart. That’s the story I created and I stick with it if it will help my little man become all he was created to be.
I also bonded with my mates and took time off from endless webinars and zoom calls. American poet Emily Dickinson sums it up well. “Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough”. So, go to the Mara if you can folks, and find ecstasy in your life. And if you can’t then find a way of bringing the Mara magic into your life. Ordering some of my images is a good place to start hint hint.