Early mornings at Basecamp

Early mornings at Basecamp were beautiful. With most of the guests gone on their morning game drives, we usually had the camp to ourselves, and it was the perfect time to chat with the rest of the staff and enjoy a quiet (delicious) breakfast with a gorgeous view over the fire pit towards the national reserve.

Basecamp Masai Mara Kenya

But what made this my favorite part of the day was the little routine leading up to breakfast: we’d usually get up before six and stroll down to the main area,

Basecamp Masai Mara Kenya

dodging the funny families of monkeys, baboons, mongeese and other furry critters that call the place home:

Bascamp Masai Mara Kenya Vervet Monkey

Bascamp Masai Mara Kenya Vervet Monkey

Bascamp Masai Mara Kenya Baboons

Mongeese Basecamp Masai Mara KenyaArmed with fresh cups of hot pre-breakfast coffee, three different cameras and my grandad’s binoculars, we’d then walk across the lawn, towards the river and the well hidden viewing platform: notice the thick shorter trees in the middle of the picture below? That’s where it is!

Basecamp Masai Mara Kenya

From there we could watch the hot air balloons rise up in distance, every morning at 6:30 on the dot:

Hot Air Balloons Masai Mara National Reserve

Hot air balloons at Masai Mara National Reserve

They were a truly beautiful sight, and I’d wait for them patiently every morning and then stare and stare at them until they disappeared behind the horizon (though truth be told I am terrified of them and all the money in the world couldn’t make me go up in one  – a rare exception to my absolute non-fear of heights). But of course the balloons were not our only early morning companions: since we were in the Masai Mara in October, the great wildebeest migration of the Serengeti plains was in full swing, and the Masai grasslands were bursting with life. So we spent our mornings watching the playful but awkward wildebeest prance around – and if we were lucky there’d also be a  giraffe out on her morning stroll,

Giraffes and Wildebeest at the Masai Mara National Reserve

or even better, a whole giraffe kindergarten class!

Giraffe family Masai Mara National Reserve

Did you know that giraffes form nursery herds often leave their little ones in the care of another female while they go to work (aka foraging)? (giraffes became my favourite animal on this trip and now I have an endless stock of giraffe trivia, fyi). Amid the herds of wildebeest and giraffes, there’d also be these gorgeous things, just flaunting their stripes in the distance:

Zebras at the Masai Mara National Reserve

(Another fascinating piece of wildlife-related trivia: the swahili word for zebra is “punda milia”, which means “striped donkey”. Quite unpoetic – though they really do sound like donkeys. Also, did you know that their stripe patterns are unique, like fingerprints?). Sometimes, if we were really, really, really lucky, the elephants would drop by as well:

Elephants Masai Mara National Reserve

Elephants at the Masai Mara National Reserve

These sightings were our first contact with the wildlife of Kenya and watching all these amazing animals stroll by in front of us every morning before breakfast was thrilling – little did we know that we’d be getting much, much closer to all of them (and many more!) soon enough :-).

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