On day 3 of our safari we were on a mission to find the elusive cheetahs and leopards. Cheetahs there was a likely chance we would find them, but leopard? That was very unlikely – or was it?
Our game plan
Paul our guide informed us that if we wanted to see cheetahs we’d have to drive 2 hours to the other side of Mara where they hang out. This meant no time for breakfast and we’d have to leave before dawn. We may even be out all day looking for cheetahs. And so our amazing chef at the camp prepared a phenomenal to-go breakfast that we took on the road.
Hitting the road by early dawn
Did I mention that I love, love love the African sky! These colors, the drama, the shear sense of calm and vastness is meditative! Folks there are no color enhancements on these pics!! What you see is exactly what the sky looks like here in Africa! Just magical!!
Spot the cheetahs!
After a 2 hour drive and communication with other guides on the road we arrive at our destination to see 4 cheetahs lounging in the tall grass. To the naked eye one can easily miss them.
When the cheetahs finally sit up we see all four figures. Paul explains that this posture means they are looking out at the horizon and are getting ready to hunt. He also noticed their bellies were rather slender which meant they hand’t eaten days.
Breakfast on-the-go on the Mara plains
As we watch cheetahs for almost an hour, Paul befriends a fellow guide and asks him to radio him when the cheetahs move. In the meantime we drive to a nearby clearing where we grab our to-go breakfast.
Just as we settle in for a delicious meal within 30 minutes we get a radio call that cheetahs are moving! You’ve never seen a group of people eat and pack up so fast! LOL We rush to where the cheetahs are and see them move onto a mound for a higher vantage point to look for a lone prey they can hunt.
After watching the cheetahs watch the horizon for over an hour they start to move again
Cheetahs walk for miles looking for their prey
We follow the pack for miles as they meander through the plains in search of prey.
The first attempt at a kill
After walking for a good 45 minutes the cheetahs spot a lone topi and get ready for their kill. But their first attempt fails 😌.
Then the strangest thing happens – the topi goes after the cheetah! As if to dare him to come after him again!
Exhausted cheetahs take a few minutes to rest and get ready to do try again.
We follow the gang of 4 as they continue on their quest for another prey
We follow the cheetahs for another 1 hour as they continue to walk for miles looking for their next food source. Can I just say again – don’t you love the sky at the Mara!
Cheetahs stop and look off at the horizon in search of any animal sighting
Then continue on again for few more miles
We watch for another hour as the cheetahs continue walking on the lookout for an antelope or topi, as the sky gets dark with rain clouds
We could have gone on following the cheetahs for hours but we could see the rain clouds coming in and we still had a 2 hour ride back to the camp. Sadly we had to leave.
The story of the 5 cheetahs – Tano bora – the best five
The story of these cheetahs goes like this. They started off as a band of five cheetahs. Two were brothers and the other three were not related, but they all hunted together and lived together. About a year ago when a female came into their territory they followed her for a while and the fifth cheetah kept following her even though the others stopped . This lead to them losing their 5th band member. He was the lead hunter whose role was to go first and set the time for the kill. Without him Paul explained that the other four have struggles to hunt effectively. We could see this with the failed attempt at killing the topi. Paul explained that the timing was set wrong by the lead hunter cheetah. His hope was that the 5th cheetah would come back one day so the cheetah pack could be the band of best five again.
Just as we think we’ve seen the best! there is more to come!! Leopards!
As we rush back to our camp it starts pouring rain! We are so focussed on getting back and giddy with excitement at our successful cheetah viewing – what could possibly top this?
“We get a radio call from the other jeep with our extended family – come back! They’ve spotted the most elusive of animal – the leopard!”
It’s all about timing and luck because we just drove past this grove! But our fellow jeep behind us came across the leopard as he walked right by their vehicle.
Not just one but two leopards!
We watched and followed these leopards for a long while… sadly we did have to leave to get back before nightfall
An incredible exhilarating day!! We couldn’t have dreamt up such an amazing game drive!
Excited, tired, hungry and ready to celebrate. Wine and appetizers, dinner and a good night’s sleep were on the agenda. It started pouring rain by the time we got back. It rained buckets and buckets all night long which added its own charm to a perfect day.!
Tomorrow’s post: Day 4 of our safari. Quest for the famous marsh pride and flight back to Nairobi.