Africa - The Mecca of wildlife
By Debasish Ghosh
As a kid while growing up, I was always fascinated by the breathtaking photographs in the National Geographic magazines. Even though I never read the articles in detail to be very honest, I used to be awestruck and admired the pictures which in turn slowly had built a world full of imagination.
Journey to Africa, especially Kenya for the world famous Masai Mara National Reserve was always my childhood dream. I was inspired by the iconic novel Chaader Pahar by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay during school days and always fascinated by the stories and folktales of Africa.. Black Mamba, Marsh lions and the Cheetahs along with the African tribes used to haunt me for years while growing up. I desperately wanted to visit at least once in a lifetime. I moved to Bangalore for jobs after my studies and slowly over the years I grew an acute interest into wildlife photography which made me travel to many national parks in India. But Africa used to haunt me..and I only could plan and plan.
After years of planning, finally, one day I pulled up my socks and made my dream come true! This time for Africa.
I scheduled my travel during the Great Migration time when thousands of wild beasts traverse from Serengeti to Masai Mara and cross the most prominent Mara river and Sand river.
I never wanted to travel via any travel agent as that is not what a true traveler does! So with butterflies in my stomach, the planning begins and went on for months. I wanted to travel cheap, so planning and reading backpacker's blogs were part of my routine those days. And Finally the day arrived.
As I mentioned, my objective was to travel cheap so instead of boarding a direct flight, I took a flight to Adis Ababa from Mumbai. Adis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia. It was a brief stay at Adis Ababa, the city I never heard of ! Next day, I took a flight to Nairobi, Kenya.
Unlike the popular belief, Nairobi was quite safe for me. It's a bustling city caters everyone's need. Obviously you got to be careful and avoid dark lanes especially after sun down which somewhat goes true for any big city in a developing nation. Kenyans are generally warm but loud. I contacted one Ethiopian girl name Siyiee through AirBnB, who arranged my stay in her own apartment along with one Japanese lady who was travelling alone, a solo female traveler, travelling Africa..imagine!!
Siyiee was very warm, polite and gave us loads of suggestions which made our planning even more meticulous and rich.
Next day I woke up early and had sumptuous beef noodles prepared by Siyiee. It was cloudy and drizzling in Nairobi when our driver Tony arrived with his Land cruiser to take us to Masai Mara which is roughly 270 kms from the capital.
The journey begins...it was a life changing indeed. Traversing through the great Rift Valley and the amazing landscape is something to cherish for a lifetime. The Great Rift Valley is a series of contiguous geographic trenches, approximately 6,000 kilometres in total length, that runs from Lebanon in Asia to Mozambique in southeastern Africa (Sour Wikipedia). The first 4 hours till a small town called Narok was smooth. But after that, the final stretch to Mara was bone rattling! My bones were struggling to stay connected while the occasional glimpse of Zebras and Giraffes blocking your way making me stay alive. Remember we are still far away from the National Reserve.