Posted by: Suzan | March 5, 2011

Celebrating Christmas Deep in the Bush of the Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve

Part 6: Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve, Kenya. For more stories, please scroll down. For more photos (including the one week old lion cubs), please visit our travel site: (will be posted within the next few days)!

Christmas morning, 2010 found us deep in the bush of the Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve. On our picnic table were wrapped presents. Baseball caps from our safari company, African Latitude with hand-written cards. I felt like a small child hovering over gifts from Santa. What a delightful surprise! We were also elated because the rain stopped in time for our first game drive.

 We climbed into the Land Cruiser, this time with the roof open to aid our viewing. As I stood up and leaned out of the roof top, it seemed as if I was on a Mardi Gras float in New Orleans. Yet our sudden swaying from the off-road terrain brought me back.

 Vultures circled overhead while packs of hyenas and jackals scattered around us. I smiled at the female hyenas that dominate the pack and can select whomever they want to mate with. Hmmm…Sadie Hawkins style out here in the preserve.

 Cheetahs relaxed on a dirt mound near us, resting from their recent travels upwards of 120 kilometers per hour. Balelore Eagles nested in the trees and took flight with enormous wing span much wider than I am tall (at 5’2”). Then we were able to get as close as 10 feet from sleeping female lions, one with cubs only one week old. They stumbled around as they walked as their eyes weren’t even open yet. We lingered here for more than one hour. Our guide, Salum, told us that in his 10 years of leading safaris, he’d never witnessed such young cubs. None of us wanted to leave. 

Salum shared that the female lions like to escape from the male lions because of their dependence on the females for their food. They never wander more than 2 kilometers from their pride (family), yet the females do what they need to do on occasion for their self-care. It reminded me how important it is as women to do the same. We all need a break from the routine, and it is up to us to make that happen.

 Our afternoon drive introduced us to Nile crocodiles about 15-20 feet long who shared their river with the hippos. Not a place anyone would dare swim and live to tell the tale. We actually climbed out of the truck for better viewing yet ran back to it when a large group of them splashed into the water from the opposite bank and began swimming toward us! 

Many other birds and animals from storks to wart hog families to huge herds of wildebeests and zebras crossed our paths. The wildebeests follow the zebras during the annual migration as they don’t have a sense of direction. The most important thing is they get to where they need to be, with a little help from their friends. The next time you think some goal is beyond your reach, try seeking help from those around you. Someone will always know the way and can guide you there, if you’re open to asking for direction. 

Then a sudden downpour and lightening storm descended. Our jeep swerved on slippery mud all the way back to our bush encampment. We observed a pack of lions stalking zebras. They fell short of capturing them as they generally are successful only 50% of the time. This pack of lions seemed to prefer shelter from the rain. Perhaps these females were worn out from being solely responsible for making sure everyone is fed. 

We shared Christmas dinner with our driver/guide, cook, and some of the Maasai tribe under a big orange tent being pelted by a deluge of rain. We feasted on an organic chicken stuffed with rice, cabbage, and drank some red wine toasting to a holiday we will never forget. I slept soundly, fully-clothed, awakening momentarily to Jim wiping my face with a wet wash cloth, removing my boots, and wrapping the blanket around me. As I drifted back to sleep I reveled in my final Christmas memory – the little things in life matter most.


  1. Wonderful story and what a great adventure!


    • You are so welcome Claudia.


  2. Thanks so much, Gina!


  3. I only can imagine how deeply connected you must have felt with life itself in appreciation for all the beauty and little things that you say matter most. Thank you for sharing it!



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