A cacophonous chorus of groans and grunts keeps me wide awake on my first night in Kenya’s Masai Mara. It’s not my first time at a safari camp in the Masai Mara and I’ve been looking forward to sleeping with the wildlife.
I arrived at my camp in darkness and was escorted to my tent by the river. The earthy scent of the African bush filled my nostrils and I decided to hitch the canvas flaps of my tent up. The plan was to allow the natural noises of the wilderness to rock me to sleep.
As soon as I dozed off, a choir of grunting hippos started snorting into my tent.
Hippos in Africa
From the level of the noise, it sounded like there were at least 12 hippos camping on the grass around my tent. I was tempted to poke my head out to take a look but was too frightened to unzip the green security mesh.
The warning of the guard to keep my tent zipped up at all times rang in my ears.
Hippos are responsible for killing more people in Africa each year than any other wild animal and they are especially dangerous when they come on land at night to graze. In fact, never get between a hippo and the water or you might be attacked.
Camping in luxury
Governor’s Camp is not fenced and as we’re camping in the middle of the Kenyan wilderness, it’s important to keep tents zipped up and stay inside.
Fortunately, everything I need to have a good night’s sleep is in my tent. There’s a comfy Queen-size bed, bedside tables, desk, chairs and a wardrobe.
The bathroom comes with bathrobes, towels, luxurious toiletries and hot water. It looks like a tent and feels like a tent but when you measure the level of comfort it provides it’s actually more like a luxury hotel room.
Purple hippos in my dreams
I eventually fell asleep and dreamt of psychedelic purple hippos riding across the Masai Mara on a fleet of gleaming new Harley Davidsons. Was this strange dream the side-effect of anti-malarial medication?
Of course, there are no purple hippos in Kenya. But there are plenty of real muddy coloured hippos, giraffes, antelopes, lions, elephants and cheetahs.
My dream was interrupted by a machine gun being fired into my tent and an unpleasant stench. Then something large bumped into the side of my tent and by this time, I was wide awake.
It turns out the machine gun was an elephant passing wind at the opening of my tent. The stench was horrible enough to cause me to leap out of bed and close the flaps.
Hot Air Balloon
A highlight of my stay was the hot-air balloon flight. There were seven other passengers in the balloon. We drifted over the vast lush green savannah plains, hills and forests.
From above, we saw giraffes grazing on trees, a herd of topis graze in a clearing and elephants drinking from the river. The balloon floated over the Mara River, where we saw those noishy hippos swimming in the coffee-coloured water.
Back on the ground, the chefs had prepared a hearty cooked bush breakfast which we washed down with champagne.
Then we piled into a 4WD and drove cross the plains.
The camp’s tariff includes three game drives a day and each safari is different from the last. The animals turned on a good show.
We saw cheetahs one day and hyenas the next. One time we followed a mother hippo and its baby wandering through tall grass. There were zebras, gazelles, giraffes, elephants, buffaloes and baboons.
Governor’s Camp established their first luxury safari camp 30 years ago. The group has a close relationship with the area’s original inhabitants, the Maasai.
While staying at Governor’s Camp there’s an opportunity to visit a Masai village.
The best part about staying at Governor’s Camp is the medley of wildlife that turns up at your doorstep. You could be eating breakfast or lunch and a herd of wild elephants might come stomping past.
Christina Pfeiffer was a guest of Kenyan Tourism Board and Governor’s Camp.
Governor’s Camp has twin-share tents from US$246 a person a night. Rates include full board, transfers and 4WD safaris.
Most countries require a valid yellow fever certificate upon returning from Kenya.
The best time to see lots of wildlife is during the migration from July to October.
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