Touching down in the Masai Mara - you're greeted with an airport that looks like this:
Not only is there no security check, it turns out you don't even need a ticket to fly back to Nairobi when your trip is done! Our camp was a short drive from the air strip, and set in a big group of trees next to a river (it was called Mara Intrepids for those interested).
We stayed in a tent set right on the river, with a big deck overlooking the water where we could see crocodiles, hippos, monkeys, mongooses, monitor lizards (~2-3 feet long), genet cats, and TONS of birds, especially kingfishers, who were almost always fishing in the river. Quite a bit to see without even leaving camp!
Camp was patrolled fairly routinely by a big tribe of Vervet monkeys. On our first day after we had moved in, they came by our tent all together to check out the newcomers. While a few were hanging off the roof distracting us, one of them unzipped and ripped open the tent flaps, peeking his little head in to see if we had anything good inside!! Here's one of the adults in the pack:
1) The Big Cats:
There is something magical about being close to big predators in the wild & the leopards, lions, and cheetahs certainly fit the bill (not to mention the Servals and smaller cats we saw). We had assumed big cats would be relatively scarce, but we saw >40 on our short trip - they were everywhere! Unlike many of the smaller animals, they were not remotely troubled by the land rovers we drove around, and so we saw a lot of the most interesting behaviors from them: eating, keeping food away from scavengers, mating, grooming, etc.
Greg's favorite shot from the whole trip is of a mother cheetah feeding on a fresh wildebeest:
3) Highlights from the lesser known species: In addition to all the animals you hear about before you come, we were struck by just how many other very interesting animals we saw frequently down there. We got pictures and positive IDs for something like 64 different species and we've only covered ~15 so far in this post. #16-64 were just as cool, and we wish we had space here to share them all (and the internet bandwidth to upload them in a reasonable period of time :p). In there interest of space, here are just a few of our other favorites: