Africa Safari, I will be back: Masai Mara, the red Sky and the pictures that will not let me rest at home!

The highlight of Africa Safari: Sunset at Masai Mara!

“Masai Mara sunsets are the most beautiful one in the world. It is red, all red.” Said our Africa Safari guide and minivan driver, Ibrahim. Being a Masai, he knows the rules of the land. He promised he will find us the best spot outside the park from where we can take a lingering view of the stunning show!

Africa safari: Masai Mara Sunset
A safari jeep awaits on the African Savannah as the Sun sets at the background! A few zebras and wildebeests graze nearby. They have found Nirvana from the frequent tourists’ intrusion into the land of Masai!

 

To be honest, I knew about Masai Mara sunsets from the first day of the trip. After a fateful day, when the safari organizers failed to act on their promised service delivery and a lot of bickering followed, we reached the famous African national park at the neck of closing time. We entered the park at ten minues to six (the park gate closes at six, officialy) and stayed for half an hour or so. And it took Mara just five minutes to play her charm on us!

 

Before Sunset!
Believe me or not, the entire Savannah grassland took a beautiful yellow hue! It was before the sky had turned all red and I thought this was epic. “Kahani abbhi baaki hain mere dost!”

 

  • Masai Mara gate remains open for visitors: 6 am in the morning to 6 pm in the evening! 
  • Entry fee for foreigners: USD 80 per person as of August 2018
  • Night safari at Masai Mara is possible with prior approval from the government official at Narok county.

“It is Holi apparent, on the Mara Sky!”

(Holi: the Indian festival of colours, what else can an Indian born feel with this splash of colours raging in the sky?)

Even though an African savannah (and endless) grassland, Mara is very different than Amboseli National Park, arguably the second most popular in Kenya, or the forests in Zambia! It is not an arid land, the first look at it and you know. Instead Mara has this blue vignette of a dome, an all emcompassing sky from all around. The sky becomes ethereal as sunset takes place!

Migration in Masai Mara
A harem of Zebra (where a few wildebeest will be hiding too), at the horizon of Mara sky. As the night falls, the predators will come active and find a prey.

At first it was blue and purple for a while. It felt beautiful. Soon after the sky started to change colour. Bright red hues came up from nowhere and it left nothing untouched.

“Nothing but breathing the air of Africa, and actually walking through it, can communicate the indescribable sensations.”

By William Burchell, an English explorer

African lion
Basking in the glory of a setting sun, the lion king of Africa!  Migration at Masaimara is also the time of mating among the big cats, meaning the next season will have a lot of cubs playing around!

 

For the next three days, we did not leave a single chance to witness the Masai Mara sunset. Sure, you can view them from your hotel. The sky will turn pink and purple and you know it is the time!

But to be on a moving vehicle on the East African savannah, as the grand show takes place, is an experience of its own! In many ways, it reminds you of the hunter-gatherer ancestors of Homo Sapiens, who thrived on this vast landmass at the dawn of civilization! The DNA remembers!

A safari car rests under an Acacia tree. A day-long safari can be exhaustive and tolling on your health! A topi or eland grazes nearby.
Migration in Africa. Animal sighting is easier in Masai Mara than Serengeti.
A sea of migratory animals in Africa!

The wildebeest migration is often cited to be one of the most spectacular natural events. Millions of wildebeest, zebra and antelope migrate in search of water. Their path revolves around the Serengeti-Masai Mara ecosystem. The neighbouring countries of Kenya and Tanzania experience this mass groove, where birthing, courting and mating take place while the animals are foraging.

acacia tree
An elephant walks towards the Acacia tree. It is the favourite food of African elephants.

Migration at Masai Mara takes place from July to October end, with animals shifting on a daily basis. While we spotted a few herds on the first day at a particular spot, the next day, we learnt the animals had moved towards interiors.

The great migration of kenya
The sparkle on the horn!

Spotted near the Mara river. A pride of lioness were moving along the group too! You can wait and watch for a kill but we moved since it was the sunset time, the park gate closes at 6 pm.

Cheetah at masai mara
Have you ever heard a Cheetah chirrup? She generally does this to communicate with her children! This lady was resting with five more of the pack with the sun setting in the background.

But not all big cat family leads a happy life! The one down below lost her cubs. Nature exhilarates and breaks your heart at the same time!

 

A mommy who lost all her cubs. She emerged from the horizon and went in search of her cubs, chirruping all the way…

A few Topis graze on the land! Masais argue, even after migration, the lions at Masai Mara never have to starve, thanks to the Topis!

 

The layers of sunset at Masai Mara!

 

Masai village Kenya
A Masai man, wearing a Shuka, walks by the border of his village. The Masai believes that they are the universal protectors of the cattle world!

 

Practical tips for clicking the coveted Sunset photo at Masai Mara!

  • Move fast and capture the animals in action from various angles. I do not mean you should move the vehicle. Just manoeuvre with the camera for a better angle.
  • The sky is often more beautiful after the sun has set, so wait till the darkness beckons.
  • A storm must not deter you from being on the ground. Often, the most dramatic frame comes as clouds play with the orange rays of the setting sun. A rainy season will not necessarily hamper your chances of clicking the famed Mara sunset! rather you may just find a spot all on your own and not the typical tourist crowd.
  • You can always check the sunrise and sunset time, online and plan accordingly.
  • If you want to capture an emotion, an animal on the motion, at the action, trust the prime time at Sunrise or Sunset. During the morning, the animals are mostly resting.

“Africa has her mysteries and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them.”

by Miriam Makeba (South African singer and civil rights activist)

One of the best captures from Masai Mara that Sayantan clicked. If you observe closely, you can spot the ear piercing.

 

Here is a list of Camera and equipment we used.

  1. Camera: Nikon 5300 and Nikon 5600
  2. Lens: 18/55 and 70/300 (we did not have a better zoom lens but this one managed few good captures, nonetheless)

  1.  iPhone 6s and iPhone 7+
  2. Lightroom (the free version used on Android) and Photoshop CS5

 

Loved the read? pin it for the future read!

 

#masaimara #africa #africasafari #kenya

#masaimara #africa #africasafari #kenya

#masaimara #sunset #africasafari

 

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