Jambo folks. Today I’m even sending salams first because I’m guilty. Last Friday I didn’t post a story here which is very unusual. I should have given notice the week before. Maybe I was too excited about the week that was loading so I forgot. My apologies good people. At the beginning of this year, I wrote down four goals. Big hairy audacious goals that I want to achieve. Going on a photo safari to the Mara was one of them. I have done photo safaris before but this one was different and maybe that’s why I wrote it down. It was to be a photo safari with Usha Harish, one of the best wildlife photographers I know whom I deeply admire. I call her my Canon ambassador because she’s that good.

Usha came to Kenya more than ten years ago and has made Kenya, specifically Masai Mara her home. She runs a cute camp called Mara Siligi near Talek town. It’s a camp that’s nature and community-friendly. Runs fully on solar and even distributes clean water to the neighborhood from its borehole. They also have a tree nursery to increase tree cover in that area and beyond. These are the guys who should have been invited to the recently ended climate conference. They have put their money where their mouth (and hands) is.

We had been planning for this trip for a few months together with another mutual pal, Shiro who has also been a huge influence on my photography journey. Elena from Moscow flew in just for this trip. It was a delight meeting and spending almost a week with her in this magical wilderness. We were surprised that she even knew some of the Big Five cats by name. We therefore adopted her and named her Luluka, after one of the celeb leopards of Masai Mara.

I had the excitement of my baby sharks before and during the trip. They often ask, “Daddy are we there yet?” That was me counting down the days impatiently. I was resisting asking Paul our driver to speed up so we get to Mara sooner. We arrived safely, checked in, and jumped Into our land cruiser for the park. The plan was to spend maximum time in the reserve.

What happened over the next six days was magical and even miraculous. We all agree that nature cannot be scripted but this to me felt scripted. It’s like nature had instructions from above to show up for us. We had long days. We would leave camp before 6 a.m. to catch the sunrise shots and would come back after sunset. I went on this trip with a strange confidence that there would be drama, good drama from nature. And Mother Nature did not disappoint. It was a full action, suspense, and thriller movie all in one that lasted six days.

For starters, it began raining at the Mara a few days before we arrived. It had been dry all along and made worse by the fires that had burnt a huge chunk of the vegetation. That reduced the wildebeest migration that usually peaks in July and August. The animals cross over to eat and calve. The food on the Kenyan side was kidogo so they started retreating to the Serengeti earlier than anticipated. At least that’s what I was told by our ‘animal whisperer’ guide Robert.

So I wasn’t expecting to witness the migration going in September, maybe just the aftermath in the Mara River. I was in for the surprise of my life. Because of the rains coming late the Wildebestes held a quick special general meeting and decided by unanimous vote to return to the Mara plains. We witnessed four crossings from the Mara Triangle side to our side. It was a sight difficult to explain in words. There is a reason it’s a wonder of the world.

It was full chaos. From crocs drowning their victims and reaping them apart to suicidal jumps into the river and even some of the animals changing their minds midstream and going back. Folks if you haven’t witnessed the migration yet please have it as one of your bucket list items. Fuliza if you have to and thank me later hehe.

Every morning we would declare what we would like to witness and it came to pass. Sometimes even with a bonus. There was yet another surprise. Our pro wildlife mwalimu, Usha has top-end cameras that can even sense your mood hehe. She gave Shiro one to use. Shiro in turn gave me her camera to try out. So we both were shooting as we learned about these cameras. I think my usual camera even got moody after hardly being used. The upgrade was a pleasant addition.

Be careful what you wish for folks. I asked for a full experience and nature plus the good people around me just kept giving and giving. Sir God was clearly in this mix. Nature does take orders from above seriously and I was a gladly overwhelmed recipient. Folks wacha I give notice now that for the next few Fridays, I will attempt to share some reflections from this trip. It’s impossible to do it all in one day.

I feel good that I got to tick one of my main goals for this year. The first goal to accomplish was climbing Mt Kenya during Easter. Now this. This was not just a hairy goal, it was hair-raising at many levels. From witnessing Nashipae the cheetah mum hunting at top speed for her four little cubs to the alpha males of the Marsh and Topi lion prides up close. Even the rainbow was thrown in on the last day (which we had extended by the way) as the background for some of our shots. And that’s how the curtain came down at the end of our Netflix Mara movie that lasted a week. To be continued next week.


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4 thoughts on “Goals With Hair.”

  1. Bonny says:

    Wow I can literally “taste” your excitement!!! Can’t wait for your adventures to unravel here… and hope you include those amazing shots please…from the little you have mentioned I think it should be something definitely to be included on the bucket list! Yaayi!!!!

  2. Anne Njenga says:

    Thank you for describing your adventure so vividly. Looking forward to hearing details in the weeks to come, plus seeing some great shots!

  3. David says:

    Awesome stuff and story Lucas. Looking forward to the next part of that great story. Thank you for sharing the hair-raising moments with us.

  4. Linda Gitau says:

    I love your writing brother. You made me want to go to the Mara and watch the Wildebeest migration. God bless you Lucas.

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