You had me at Mara!

You had me at Mara!
Photo: Mara bush houses breakfast. Photo/Alice Mburu

A streak of beige appears through lush green croton bushes. There is a tour van parked near the bushes with a group of tourists looking out in anticipation.

“That must be a lion,” announces Martin, a guide as he quickly veers off-track and manoeuvres towards the site. This is a morning game drive in Mara North Conservancy, South of Masai Mara Game Reserve.

Out of the green undergrowth a lithe lioness soon emerges. She glides gracefully through the bushes towards a clearing too close to the car. In the ensuing seconds, a huge lion comes from the bush with his eyes trained on the lioness. The lioness lazily yawns, before they both sprawl themselves on the ground.

“This is a mating pair,” reveals Martin. The notoriously elusive cats are easy to spot in Mara North Conservancy, which is home to Leopard Gorge, a vital birthing ground for the big cats.

Leopard Gorge is world-famous thanks to BBC’s Big Cat Diary. Impalas, warthogs, zebras, wildebeest, elands and giraffes freely roam the vast pristine savannah. They scatter when they hear the roaring engine.

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On the banks of Mara River, we stop and set up a picnic breakfast. On a deep part of the river, a group of hippos are submerged in the waters.

Engaged in a resonant bellow, they occasionally peek their wide mouths above the water and open them revealing sharp teeth — marking territory, we are told.

After breakfast, we drive through the rough terrain, spotting a male elephant. It fans its ears vigorously walking slowly towards the vehicle. I am scared stiff and look anxiously to see if there is a cue from the guide for us to flee.

He switches off the engine instead. It’s safer that way, he later explains. The jumbo draws even closer. It’s surreal; intoxicating and terrifying at the same time.

The jumbo engages us in a staring contest before he moves on to nearby bushes.  Sunset finds us on top of Kileleoni Hills. It’s the highest point of the greater Masai Mara ecosystem.

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The stunning landscape of conservancies, the game reserve and the surrounding villages are sprawled right beneath the rocky outcrop vantage point.

On another end, golden skies beautifully hug Olololo Escarpment, which stretches all the way to the Kenya-Tanzania border.  We make our way into Mara Bush houses at dusk.

The two houses, Mara and Acacia are neatly tucked in tranquil camphor wood bushes within the conservancy. Dinner is served in a cozy, elegant dining room of Acacia House.

Guests in the bush themed houses enjoy double beds, en suite bathrooms rustically decorated with tree trunks and branches, personalised itinerary and warm staff, which all make them ideal for family and group holidays.

In the stillness of the night, crickets, birds and animals in a water hole overlooking the house fuse into a bush orchestra lulling the night away.

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