The rich wildlife of the Maasi Mara has always enchanted visitors. During the day gazelles, ostriches, zebras, buffalos, giraffes and elephants are the stars of the show. But after dark, the fauna changes completely. It is the time of hunting lions, leopards and hyenas. And you’ll also meet a whole host of bizarre creatures like porcupine, springhare, owls aardvarks, the banded mongoose, bat-eared foxes and many more.
As Mara Bushtops is located in its own private conservancy, it offers the unique experience of a night safari – something that isn’t allowed in the National Reserve.
Accompanied by Masai Spotters, who have an unrivalled ability for finding wildlife in the dark, you’re also provided with the latest in night vision technology, a “flir”, heat seeking night vision camera, to help you get an in-depth look at the life that appears in the Masai Mara once the sun disappears and darkness takes hold of the bush.
My night safari experience
The roar of the lion at night is a noise unlike any other – it hits you through the calm air, vibrating the ground and makes your heart beat wildly in your chest.
I’m somewhere in the Bushtops conservancy. All around us is pitch black; only the spotlight on top of the safari vehicle lights our way. In the back of the car, a cool breeze blows. We’re wrapped in warm, soft blankets, breathing in the chilled air.
Again the sound comes. Muffled at first, far in the distance. But then it comes closer before it echoes only a few meters away, emanating from the high grass that surrounds us. Our spotters’ eyes, infinitely more efficient than our own, picks out five – three large and two small. He can tell they are on the hunt. He murmurs updates to us, reluctant to spoil the pristine peace of the night.
And then…the sparkle of several eyes flash like flares in the moonlight. They move closer…disappear…and then suddenly reappear even closer than before. The ranger turns on the lights and then, right in front of us there they are, scarcely 20 meters away from us.
They examine the ground, sniff the air and, with no prey in sight, they start playing. They throw themselves at each other in playful wrestles and come so close to our vehicle that I can see the whites of their eyes.
While we watch, the spotter offers us drinks. It’s too cold for beer but the hot chocolate is wonderfully warming in the freezing cold.
We watch the lions for over an hour before the moon disappears and it becomes time for them to continue their hunt. It’s time for us to move on as well – we travel further into the conservancy to track down more of these creatures of the night and experience the bush with our other senses.