‘’A lifetime experience – Adventure Walking Safari in the Maasai Mara!’’
By Professional Safari Walking Guide: Roelof Schutte – Naboisho Camp Asilia Africa, Kenya
In 4 days we walked 86km, we crossed 5 Mara Conservancies – Naboisho, Olare-Orok, Mara North, Ol Chorro & Lemek – on an adventure of a lifetime for Robbert (Dad), Ageeth (Mom), Bram (16), Gijs (14) & Boris (10) an adventurous Dutch family that was looking for far more than the standard morning and afternoon game drives offered at most camps.
An experience like no other
They were not disappointed as we criss-crossed some of the most amazing & diverse landscapes, unique only to the Maasai Mara ecosystem – not even mentioning the diversity and the sheer numbers of the ever present wildlife we encountered along the way! Walking amongst thousands of animals like wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, topi, giraffe, warthogs, hartebeest, gazelles & elephants – there was never a dull moment!
Ready, set, action!
Setting off from Naboisho Camp – the actioned starting very soon as we watched a dark chanting goshawk hunting a small lizard in a dead tree – he was all over the lizard but gave up in the end as the witty little lizard kept inside a small crack…
Then straight onto two massive old elephant bulls! We followed them, gentle giants swaying lazily in the afternoon heat headed for a small mud wallow. The boys stood enthralled with watching one of the bulls taking a mud bath, very different when you experience this without the safety and comfort of a safari vehicle on a game drive – an unforgettable first walking experience ! After hot showers, a scrumptious meal prepared on the open fire and shining African stars, everyone headed to bed for tomorrow the trek continues.
Day two ended with a beautiful sunset
The next day, during an almost full day trek – the group experienced the February heat and got a taste of how it must be to exist in this environment if you were a creature living here, we walked a beautiful gorge and spotted 5 Klipspringers, a rare animal in the Mara, as well as 3 African Hawk Eagles flying over our heads. That night as we arrived in our Olare Orok Campsite. A lone lioness was waiting on a rocky outcrop next to our campsite for us! A fitting end to a tough day of walking paired with an amazing sunset and even better sunrise the next morning.
Mbatinga – my Ndorobo tracker – stopped and pointed at some tracks – Elephants & Buffalo were the first animals sighted as we left our campsite after a freshly cooked hot breakfast in the middle of nowhere. Termites were the talk of the morning as the family was being educated in depth on how a small insect impacts immensely what happens in this complex ecosystem! We saw amazing scenes of the endless stunning landscapes covered with plains game in big numbers; we even saw a big hippo bull wondering around late morning.
The heat beat down
After a rest in the shade of an ancient Wild Date Tree in a beautiful valley, it was time to test the fitness levels as the heat battered our group as we walked to the camp situated in a small forest at the end of a stunning valley, green and lush with the unseen underground water streams…
Welcome to the real Kenya!
After a refreshing late lunch in the camp and a well deserve power-nap – we set out late afternoon to explore the valley and we found so many animals that it was almost unreal. A herd of elephant, eland, zebra, hundreds of impala’s, giraffes, baboons, buffaloes, topi – the garden of eden! Everyone fell into their tents exhausted after an action packed day once again.
Night time visitors…
It was morning – fresh lion tracks leading into our camp! We had night time visitors! The king of the savannah was there while we were sleeping. Hyena, Black backed jackal, Genet & White tailed mongoose were also there. As we walked closer and closer to the Mara River, the wildlife numbers increased even more, unbelievable! After the usual cool-off under a date tree, we turned west and walked to our shady lunch spot on the banks of the famous Mara River where a large pod of hippos and some crocodiles awaited our arrival. After some lunch and rest we tried our luck with catching some catfish in the river with hand lines – lots of laughter and fun as we initially struggled to get the bait deep enough into the river! Robert eventually caught a fair sized catfish and after it had been documented we returned it to the deep water.
A Giraffe encounter
After lunch we set off north into the Lemek conservancy, the most amazing scene greeted us as we entered an open glade surrounded by forest – the scene was quite surreal! Over 25 giraffe dotted the glade amongst eland, impala, wildebeest, gazelles, zebra, topi & hartebeest – and the late afternoon light was stunning…
Knowing if we break the upright human stick figure the giraffe will be less scared by our presence and might even take a curious interest in us! They did.
Getting close to the giants of Kenya
The three boys obeyed instructions to ‘’leopard crawl’’ towards the now very curious approaching giraffe as we sat down a mere 40m from them. Closer and closer they crept, until they were as close as 10m from the huge animals – it was an indrscribable experience for the boys – to be so close to wild giraffes while on a walk in one of the most amazing wildlife areas on earth! For almost 45 minutes we had one of the best interactions with the tall giants that I have had in my guiding career – it was magical and very very special!
That night we camped in a lovely forest with tall trees, the camp fire blazing away we had dinner, drinks and hot showers! And a well-deserved whiskey to celebrate another action packed day.
Surprise – A White Rhino!
Surprise! As we came around the corner, 2 white rhinos! From the nearby Rhino sanctuary, they were with their protectors – armed Kenyan Wildlife Service rangers –busy grazing at the foothills of the Kileleoni Mountains (meaning ‘’scales’’ in Mara – referring the way the rocks stand out). An amazing up close and personal encounter with the threatened, dinosaur like, grey beasts. One to never forget.
Our walking safari comes to an end
The end was near as our group crossed over the mountain in some soaring heat, but with brilliant views of the dry never ending Mara landscape! A quick and very welcome cool dip in the Mara Bush Houses swimming pool, an excellent lunch of fresh salads, delicious fish and chilled white wine before we headed further up the mountain for a late afternoon sundowner – and a Mara sunset to die for – ended this absolutely fantastic and inspiring great adventure walk!
The most amazing family safari
What an unforgettable lifetime experience – one that makes you feel one with nature as your senses come alive with the sounds, scents, and scenes of the Maasai Mara – Kenya .
When you walk in Africa wild places, you feel it in your blood!
Roelof Schutte[gdlr_quote align=”center” ]A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle, will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than a motorized tourist can in a hundred miles’’ – Edward Abbey[/gdlr_quote]
‘’If you want to truly experience the Mara, this is the way to do it…’’
By Namiri Plains guest – Robert van Nieuwkoop – The Netherlands
Last week my family and I were the guests of Roelof and his team. Two days in his beautiful Naboisho Camp with game drives were followed by four days of trekking and ‘fly camping’ in the surrounding bush.
Nothing else can compare
The game drives provide a magical experience with ample wildlife viewing opportunities from up close and give you an overview of the land. But it’s the four days of trekking and ‘fly camping’ that provided us with an experience that was truly exhilarating and that is probably (almost) nowhere else to be had. From early morning to late afternoon we walked 86 kilometers (53 miles) in total. During that time we truly learned how it feels, looks, smells and sounds to be part of the Mara. The longevity of the walks ensured that we were able to see great many things and take our time enjoying them. It also enabled Roelof to share as much of his knowledge of the bush as we could take in.
Exploring the Naboisho Conservancy
The nights we spent in our excellent private camps with cold drinks, warm food, bush showers, proper furniture, etc. shared with no one but the surrounding wilderness. For a backpacker like myself it appeared a bit plush beforehand but the comfort proved very welcome after a long days’ work.
Citing Edward Abbey: “..you can’t see anything from a car; you’ve got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thorn bush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you’ll see something, maybe.” (Desert Solitaire, about his time in Arches NP, Utah) I’d say whereas the drives give you a taste, the walks give you the experience.
Robert van Nieuwkoop – The Netherlands