With each exhilarating game drive, our yearning for adventure only intensifies. We find ourselves drawn towards the unknown, driven by an insatiable instinct to uncover the secrets of this remarkable ecosystem.
Reflecting on our experiences last year, some memories emerge as beacons, poignant reminders of the unpredictability of the wild. Every day brings with it unexpected surprises, and the untamed wilderness becomes a stage for breathtaking stories to unfold.
In this ever-changing mosaic of experiences, certain moments stand out, leaving an indelible mark on us that reaffirms our deep connection with nature.
From their regal manes to their menacing roars, lions have always captured our hearts and filled us with a sense of admiration and wonder. They not only possess a strength and grace that is unmatched, but their constantly shifting social dynamics and individual personalities make them all the more intriguing. Unlike the elusive leopards and timid cheetahs, lions live their lives in the open, their every move and interaction visible for us to see. Whether they are lounging in the sun, playfully interacting with their cubs, or brutally defending their territory, lions are always true to their character, unapologetically living out their stories in the African savanna.
Ishara has been a lion-lover’s paradise this year, and the sights and sounds of imposing lions roaming the vast plains around us has filled us with endless excitement. As if drawn by a magnetic energy, the Black Rock Boys, Salas Boys, Moniko Boys, the Fig Tree pride, and others, have made their way to our camp, making it the epicentre of lion activity. While the bourgeoning Topi and Rongai Prides have enthralled us, the Fig Tree pride has captivated us with their unyielding tenacity and determination to survive. Despite facing the challenge of not having any males to protect them, these fierce lionesses have proven time and time again that they are more than capable of defending themselves from intruders.
One morning, as we headed out, we heard loud roars echoing from the Talek River. As we made our way to the sighting, we found ourselves witnessing a one-on-one standoff between Olobor, one of the Black Rock Boys, and a Fig Tree lioness, sizing each other up intensely. Suddenly, without warning, they viciously charged at each other, leaping into the air, and clawing at one another in a ferocious battle. The ear-wrenching snarls filled the atmosphere, until finally, the confrontation came to an abrupt halt. The lone lioness had successfully kept the massive male at bay, and as the dust settled, warm blood dripped down Olobor’s face as he humbly accepted defeat and retreated under a nearby croton bush. I realised that I had witnessed an extraordinary ‘dream’ sighting and it left me lost for words.
Every year, the migrating herds journey to the Mara, and this year, they treated us to some of the most spectacular encounters yet. The once-serene landscape was transformed into a pulsating spectacle, a vast sea of hooves that echoed the heartbeat of the earth. As thousands gathered and began advancing towards the precipice in a swirling sea of movement, they created a sensory symphony. Then, as if compelled by some unseen force, the wildebeest surged forward, leaping into the river, a tumultuous cascade of dust and water. The clicking of our shutters synchronised with their thunderous rhythm, capturing the essence of this primal procession. It was a moment frozen in time, a dance of survival and determination, and we could not help but feel humbled to witness it.
The allure of a safari captures the imagination of adventurers and nature lovers from around the world. It is not just the stunning landscapes and encounters that draw us in, but also the rollercoaster of emotions along the way. When we focus our lenses on the creatures that call this land home, it is as if we become one with their world. We feel as though we are experiencing reality through their eyes, gaining a new perspective on life and the beauty that surrounds us.
One evening on our way back to camp, as daylight waned, bright orange hues danced across the horizon. Drawing closer, we noticed the plains ablaze: a controlled burn by park authorities to eliminate long, dry grass, and foster new growth. We spotted a herd of zebras standing against the fiery backdrop, creating striking silhouettes against the flames. We stopped to observe the surreal scene. To the left, a mother and her foal shared an embrace, a sign of maternal love and protection amidst the chaos. It was a haunting sight that will forever be etched in our memories, and one of the most profound moments we have witnessed here.
The elation that comes with spotting a leopard is supreme, and we have been truly blessed with recurrent sightings around camp and within the Reserve this year. Amidst all these incredible creatures, there is one particular leopard that has captured our hearts—Faulu. Her spellbinding eyes and ethereal presence have left us in awe time and time again, and just when we thought we could not be more infatuated, a recent sighting left us breathless. It was so rare that it may well be a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.
Known to hunt piglets, jackals, hares, and mongooses, Faulu ventured into a burrow in pursuit of her subterranean prey. To our amazement, two bat-eared foxes emerged from the hole. One managed a fortunate escape, while the other found itself ensnared in Faulu’s powerful paws. Just spotting a bat-eared fox is a rare spectacle, but observing one being captured by a leopard added an entirely new dimension to the experience. With her triumphant catch, Faulu gracefully traversed the plains adorned with tissue paper flowers, creating a poignant tableau—a poetic yet stark reminder of the unyielding cycle of life.
What an adventurous and awe-inspiring year it has been in this beautiful corner of the world. Here’s to another year filled with astonishing sights, heart-pumping adventures, and enchanted experiences at Ishara. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Photo credits: Eric Averdung, Japheth Supeyo, Imara Njeri