Masai Mara Safari Day One: The Great Migration

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Masai Mara: Day One

Cheetah lounging in the Masai Mara

Going on an African Safari was without question the one thing on this round-the-world trip that I was most excited about. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little boy glued to the National Geographics in my elementary school’s library (and not just for the naked chicks…I swear).

We were incredibly fortunate to be able to go on our first African safari during the Great Migration when millions of wildebeest and zebra migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti into Kenya’s Masai Mara.

A spectacular sight, a feast for the eyes and truly a dream come true for the both of us!

If you are on a tight budget like us, check out our popular post, “The Masai Mara on a Budget” to learn how you can experience a safari in the Masai Mara without breaking the bank. 

Safari: Day One

Masai Mara Gate

Alyse and I, along with a sweet couple from South Africa, jumped into our land cruiser and left just after sunrise. The park opens at 7am and most of the animals, especially the lions and rhinos, are most active in the first few hours of the morning so we wanted to get an early start to the day.

After forking over the steep $80 USD entrance fee, we entered the park and I, overcome with excitement, began to hum the theme from Jurassic Park.

The Great Migration

It didn’t take long to spot a few thousand of the millions of wildebeest who have migrated up from the Serengeti. Odd looking creatures with lean awkward bodies and ugly long faces.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t liked wildebeests since they traumatized my me as a child. Why did they have to go and trample Muphasa?? Simba still had so much to learn!!

Fresh lion kill kenya

After what could have only been twenty minutes after entering the park, the South African lad we were with (who’s survival skills would come in handy later) spotted a lion sauntering into some bushes 200 metres away.

It was a fantastic eagle-eye spot!

As the first vehicle to see the lion we made a mad dash through the long grass and bumpy roads towards the it, hoping to have this experience all to ourselves. As we pulled up close we saw not one but four lions absolutely mowing down on a wildebeest. We couldn’t have asked for a better first encounter with the Africa’s greatest predator!

Lion in Kenya

No too long after watching the king of the jungle tear apart his breakfast, we ran into trouble. Deep in the bush, far away from any other vehicle and within ear shot of angry buffalos and hungry lions, our Land Cruiser sunk into a deep trench. Our wheels spun helplessly in the muck.

We were marooned in lion country!

Stuck in the Masai Mara

Luckily the South African guy we were with was on an overland trip with his wife across Africa. He knew exactly what we needed to do but with dangerous animals lurking nearby we had to move fast.

A few of us began digging frantically while others searched for sticks and leaves to place underneath the tires to give us some traction. For over an hour we pushed and pushed and tried everything to get the car out but just couldn’t get it up and over the lip of the puddle.

After an hour a pushing in the mid-day sun, we were dirty, hungry and exhausted. Thankfully, as we were almost ready to give up, another vehicle spotted us and came over to help.

We were finally free!

IMG_6734 2

As if they could sense that we all needed a mood booster, a herd of elephants and their babies seemed to magically appear right in front of us. Is there a more a more magnificent animal in our world?

As the four of us stood mesmerized by the family of elephants a call came over the radio. Someone had spotted a cheetah!

Two cheetah brothers laid together under a tree with bellies so full they could barely move. We couldn’t help but laugh as the two of them seemed like they were in actually pain.

Cheetah in the Masai Mara

Later that afternoon we had an incredible time visiting the hippos and crocs on the Mara River and then traversing the open plains where thousands upon thousands of wildebeest and zebra grazed watched carefully by the ensuing predators.

Here are some of our favourite photos from the rest of our day…

Zebra and her baby

Zebra and her baby

Lilac-breasted roller

Lilac-Breasted Roller

Hippos in the river

Hippo in the Mara River

Giraffe enjoying the sun

Giraffe enjoying the sun

Ostrich Kenya

Grazing Ostrich

African buffalo

The Big 5’s Most Dangerous

As the sun set on our day, we drove back to camp, all of us completely satisfied with what we had seen and experienced during our first Masai Mara safari.

Heading into our day we tried our best to have no expectations so that we weren’t unsatisfied if we didn’t see all of the Big 5 or miss one of the harder to spot animals. Thankfully, we were very lucky to say that by the end of the day we had seen all of the “Big 5” except for the rhino. More importantly though, we had some fantastic face-to-face encounters with the Masai Mara’s best and still had another safari planned in a few days.

We wouldn’t know it at the time, but our next safari was even better and even had us running for our lives from a crazy buffalo at one point!


Ross & Alyse

African Safari



Lover of travel, photography, nature, movies, and nachos. If you love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings we'll probably become best friends.

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