The Ishara waterhole is the ultimate vantage point for private game viewing and has become a place where nature finds sustenance, transforming into a spectacular carnival of life from day to night and across the seasons. It attracts diverse wildlife from near and far, even acting as a checkpoint for birds and mammals undertaking their annual migrations.
The seasonal fluctuations of the Masai Mara, as well as warmer weather conditions in general, result in water accessibility fluctuating year-round. It becomes even more valuable in the dry season. This oasis had always been envisioned as a key sustainability feature for the camp once its use as a source of murram for the build had been completed. Its creation eliminated the need for over 200 trucks of material to be ferried from nearby towns, thus abating the environmental footprint. It has been designed to channel rainwater from the surrounding topography as well as from our own harvested supply and now provides all-season reliable sustenance for both terrestrial and aquatic life inhabiting the area, in addition to mitigating the negative effects of climate change on resident wildlife.
In just a short period of time, the waterhole has evolved into a thriving micro-ecosystem that is a joy to behold. From witnessing surreal sunrises and dramatic storms mirrored across its glassy surface that create spectacular photographic opportunities, to watching the unfiltered majesty of nature unfold before us, every instance spent here is one to be cherished.
Through the course of this past year, we have had front-row seats to a spectacle of abundance at our doorstep. From the resident hippos to the rich birdlife — Egyptian Geese, Hadada Ibis, Lilac-breasted Rollers, Verreaux’s eagle-owls and even a somewhat out-of-place flamingo once — the innumerable sounds that echo through the breeze are a tribute to the beauty of coexistence and blossoming together.
We are blessed to witness large herds of elephants wading through the water, their young cheerfully splashing around, trunks acting as snorkels waving in the air. Towers of giraffe visit in the early morning or at dusk, while hyenas and warthogs make their daily rounds. The resident big cats stop by as they patrol in search of prey. In addition to the servals around camp, cheetahs have sought refuge under the shade of our Balanite tree, a spot also popular for entire prides of lions and even our own ‘wild’ bush breakfasts and sundowners.
A couple of weeks ago, a large herd of about seventy buffalo came in at 4:00am, entirely unaware that they were being closely watched. As they began drinking, the lions pounced, creating a massive commotion that eventually led to a kill amidst the stampede. We heard it all from camp.
As the sky turned from blue to lilac and into orange, I approached the scene with caution, intent to examine the aftermath of the grisly night. Two large males were sitting by the water’s edge devouring their meal — the same ones that had killed a zebra within camp a few weeks prior. We affectionately call them “the Ishara boys” now — a band of four nomadic lions who have taken up residence in this territory and can be heard roaring most nights. They get bolder by the day, and it is heartening to see that the ecology around Ishara is flourishing and that it has become their favourite hunting ground.
Water is the custodian of life and represents divine generosity. A seed that was planted has germinated with the essence of water, igniting the interconnected energies of this sacred wilderness.
Photo credits: Eric Averdung