This is a brief story about why there are no pictures to post from a trip to the latest wonder of the world – the Masai Mara
We were scheduled to leave very early one morning. So the night before, I went to the ATM withdraw some cash to buy some batteries for a digital camera. However, the ATM was acting up (no cash on Sunday night) and so I went to Uchumi with whatever cash I had left in my pocket. I didn’t have enough for any of the alkaline batteries (about 230 shillings for 4 AA) and so I settled for some “super heavy duty” Eveready batteries.
Early in the trip, I started taking some pictures of road construction work around Narok area, but soon the low battery prompt began to blink at the corner. I ignored it, as the batteries were new, and continued on taking pictures.
At the gate of the Mara, that garden full of almost every significant animal found on the continent – the camera conked out. The last picture the camera I was able to take was of a group of Masai ladies dancing and trying to sell some beads to a minivan of tourists. So much for the super heavy duty batteries, which only lasted for about a dozen pictures.
Great Mara: Driving through the Mara (no game drives or searching for animals), we were able to see buffalo, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, baboons, monitor lizard or crocodile (dived into the bush near a river as soon as we approached), wildebeest, gazelle, warthog, and ostrich. The only ‘kill’ I saw was a secretary bird stomp a green snake and swallow it in about 3 seconds.
Also encountered, separately walking along the road was a hyena and a jackal, whose odd location could probably be attributed to tourists who had (illegally) thrown scraps of food at them. In addition, outside the park (which is not fenced), there were considerable herds of gazelle, wildebeest and zebra grazing close to herds of cattle watch over by Masai lads. There are no photos of these animals as I was neveready for the Mara.
Tourist economy/inflation: Back to the dead batteries. One peeve of domestic tourists is the inflated price of everyday goods sold at (and around) hotels and resorts. The batteries I couldn’t buy at Uchumi for 230/= were being sold at a kiosk outside the park for 500 shillings and at 700/= at the hotel shop. Eventually, I had to relent and buy them for 550/= at another shop we stopped at. These 100% mark-ups on the price of everyday items like toothpaste, slippers and batteries are a nuisance and should be cut down as the hotels/vendors don’t add any value to them.