Duniart – Photography and Blog by Toine IJsseldijk

Serengeti Mara & Maasai Mara

Tanzania, July 2015

Day 9 – 21-Jul: Central Serengeti – Serengeti Mara

The more north we drove, the greener and lusher the grass. That wasn’t necessarily a good sign, and when we eventually found some large herds of wildebeest still fairly far from the Mara River we started to really believe we were too early in the season… Were these the first herds to head for the river, or just a small herd left behind..? We had to wait until we arrived at our camp to find out.

Kimburu Camp

We arrived at the seasonal Kimburu Camp, where we were literally the first guests of the season. The camp had only 6 tents, and we were the only guests for the duration of our stay! What a luxury…! The camp had an open restaurant tent, while the staff did the cooking in the staff area. There was no electricity and only a couple of oil lamps for the early evenings. It was perfect for us! 
The camp was only a short drive from the Mara River and the bridge crossing to the Maasai Mara plains in Southwestern Kenya, which allowed us to watch the possible river crossings from both sides of the river. And of course to explore the Maasai Mara itself..! 

Day 10 – 22-Jul: Serengeti Mara & Maasai Mara

One of our most memorable mornings in the African bush… We were the only guests, and half a dozen very friendly Maasai staff looking after us. It almost felt uncomfortable for us… We could not complain!
The staff in the camp told us they had seen a herd of wildebeest nearby, on their way to the river. But they were not sure they would get to the river today though… But just to know there was a herd in the area gave us hope, and at least something to look out for..! Super excited we made our way to the river…
Wow, what a spectacle…! One of my childhood dreams had come true: seeing the Great Migration and the Mara River crossings…! We were ecstatic! Tears in our eyes… We hugged each other… “We did it!”
It was time to drive back to camp, as we had to be back before sunset. That was the unfortunate rule of this and most other parks… We crossed the river, back into Tanzania, and on our way back to camp we drove straight into another massive herd of wildebeest, also on their way to the river…! Awesome, because that meant that tomorrow we would most likely be able to witness another river crossing, and as it looked like an even bigger one…! We were over the moon…!!! 

Day 11 – 23-Jul: Serengeti Mara & Maasai Mara

We were so ready for a full day around the Mara River and hopefully another spectacular river crossing. The large herds of migrating wildebeest that we saw the day before promised a good day…!
Completely satisfied it was time to drive back to camp, for our last night. What another awesome day, and this time with a perfect position and view of the river crossing. Chris couldn’t have planned it better! But he had one last surprise for us…
Chris had picked up news from another guide that there was a  leopard den nearby, and that the cubs had shown themselves for the first time today…! The den was more or less on the way back to camp, so we rushed to the location, as we didn’t have much sunlight left…!

Day 12 – 24 Jul: Serengeti Mara – flight to Arusha – Back home…

We had an early morning flight back to Arusha, and from there we would fly directly back to Bali. But we still had time to stop by at the leopard’s den…!
And that was literally the last photo I took of wildlife in Tanzania, can you imagine that…? How is that for a send-off…! We had no more words for all this Africa magic. A once-in-a-lifetime experience that we’ll never forget. And we’ll be back…!
It was time to say goodbye to Chris… That wasn’t easy! I honestly believe we couldn’t have been have wished for anyone else. And we knew that Chris also really enjoyed driving and showing us around. We hope to meet again…
And that was the end of our private safari trip to Tanzania, our first time in Africa. And not our last…! Africa had always been on top of our bucket list. For me probably for over 40 years… I’m so glad we did it the way we did it, with the professional assistance of an expert agency. Particularly as we didn’t have much time, and also not the time to research and plan ourselves, which is usually how we travel. It wasn’t cheap either, but in return we got an action-packed trip with everything we could have wished for, and as crowning of the trip witnessing the Great Migration and literally the first Mara River crossings of the season. It was all simply perfect…! Africa, we’ll be back!
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