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Sleeping with Hippos

 

Hippos in the River

Hippos in the River (Wikipedia photo credit)

Hippo

Hippo. Took this pic from my table at lunch

My bucket list included taking an African Safari. My tour company, Marura Safaris, booked us into a luxury tent located in the middle of the Masai Mara Reserve along side the Mara River called Ashnil Mara.

As we drove from Nairobi through the Kenyan Country Side, we were taken aback by the impressive views and all the animals we saw in the wild as well as a few herds of cows led by a fearless, Chukka Clad Masai Warrior.

Herd of Cows being led by a Masai Warrior

Herd of Cows being led by a Masai Warrior

We stood in the Safari Vehicle with our heads hanging out taking in the majestic scenes. We saw Elephants, Ostriches and even 2 baboons in the height of passion.

Ostriches

Ostriches

Passionate Baboons

The driver stopped suddenly as we drove pass some mundane savanna grass and told us to look at the lions. On Closer look we realized that there were 4 large lions in the grass gnawing on the Carcass of a wildebeest. My desire to step out of the van and take a picture on the Savanna died immediately!

Lions camouflaged by savanna Grass

Lions camouflaged by savanna Grass

Lion in the Grass

Lion in the Grass

After about 4 hours of driving, we finally arrived at the Ashnil Mara Camp. The staff ushered us to the dining room and gave us our pre-assigned table overlooking the Mara River.

 

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We saw crocodiles bathing in the sun, a giraffe grabbing a snack and hippos enjoying a dip.

Hippos Sun Bathing. Imagine Sleeping a few feet from this

I asked the waiter if the animals are able to come onto the property. He assured me  that there is an electric fence. He pointed out the fence which turned out to be a flimsy piece of wire.

Giraffe on the other bank of the Mara River

Giraffe on the other bank of the Mara River

The room was majestic with king sized beds, a beautifully furnished balcony overlooking the Mara River and Walled by a think white tarpaulin (they did say it was a tent). The room was luxury at its best.

Room Overlooking Mara River

Room Overlooking Mara River

My Bed

My Bed

After dinner I sat by the fire chatting with a Masai Warrior named John as he cleaned his teeth with a stick from a nearby tree. He made me a cleaning stick and assured me that it was better than my toothbrush. I didn’t want to try it fearing getting sick but I didn’t want to turn down his act of kindness so I accepted his gift and started picking at my teeth making a mental note to say an extra prayer and swallow some pepto Bismol later that night. He told me that the hippos sleep in the river at night. The thought scared me since mature hippos weigh up to 5 tons!

me and john

Masai Warrior John and I

As it got later I returned to the room excited about spreading out in the comfy bed. It was a little cold and as I crawled into bed I realized that the staff had placed a bottle of hot water under my blanket. I turned out the lights and snuggled up to it. The night was a different kind of quiet. No cars honking but there were crickets and other night insects everywhere humming the melodies of the night.

Suddenly I heard some loud grunting as if many hippos decided to sing a chorus. I thought of the fact that the only thing separating me from these 5000 lb killers was some flimsy tarpaulin and flimsier wire. The room had no phone and it was almost a block to get to the club house. I wondered why I decided to get my own room. I was downright scared until I drifted off to sleep.  And oh what a wonderful sleep it was.

 

Maybe its the fresh air or the fact that I was in my “ancestral lands”. Maybe it’s the fact that I was not on top of the foodchain or the luxuriousness of the tent.. Who knows? I can truly say the best sleep that I have ever gotten is when I slept with hippos

 

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Open mouth Hippo ((Wikipedia photo credit))