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Into the Wild #18

By Adam Bannister

During the 21-day interval between which the two photographs below were taken, 350 mm of rain has fallen. Isn’t it extraordinary the immediate impact that rainfall has on a landscape? Just a few weeks ago the topic on all of our tongues was when, and indeed if, the rains would come. The earth was dry, the grass desiccated and the wildlife losing condition. And then, as if on command, the heavens opened.

There is nothing quite like a massive storm in the heart of Africa. The build up of the clouds, the drop in pressure, the rumbling of thunder, and then just like the flick of the switch the rain comes. Rejoicing, rejuvenating and reviving.

Rain is life.

9 March 2023

30 March 2023

I know that many places in the Mara close at this time of the year, but I personally think it is one of the best times to be here. Without a doubt it is at its most pretty in terms of the scenery. Everything is fresh and sparkly. The grass is electric green, and the sky seems more blue than normal. There is no dust in the air and instead there is a freshness and an energy of prosperity and opportunity. The skies take on an entirely new meaning and provide so much excitement and depth to an image.

Of course there is mud, and you could get rained on at any moment, but its so worth it. If you come prepared it has the potential to be a fantastic safari.

It's also during these wetter months that the conservancies come into their own. The reason: the length of the grass. In other parts of the Maasai Mara the grass can explode in height during the rains. It can literally swallow elephants, making it near impossible to find animals, let alone photograph them. The Northern Mara conservancies, however, are able to manage the cattle in a holistic grazing system, using the bunched herds to graze the grass in a way where both livestock and wildlife can thrive. The herbivores prefer the grasses to be a little shorter as it gives them a chance to see the predators. Animals are scared of the long grass.

Even after living in the Maasai Mara now for 5 years I still love every moment. Each time I go out on game drive I have fun, and manage to see something new or capture a moment in a unique way. Prior to coming to House in the Wild my portfolio of images had a rather glaring hole in it: Cheetahs. Of course, I had a few great images, but it was relatively thin. Within no time that has now changed. The Cheetah viewing here has been sublime. Short verdant green grasses, very few cars and no limitation of gate-entry/exit times has just set the scene for wondrous moments with this most feline of spotted cats. I think best to just let the pictures speak for themselves... all taken on just two game drives!

Back at House in the Wild, the lodge is looking spectacular. Everything looks fresh and clean. Recent renovations to Olerai and Marula Cottages have gone to plan and the lawns are just asking to be enjoyed. Take your shoes off, play some croquet, kick a football, or try your hand at badminton. The river is up, the hippos are happy and the resident pride of lions seem to have set up shop in the forest thicket behind camp.

Back in August last year I remember taking this photograph of a huge flock of Crowned Cranes and Egyptian Geese. About 200 birds were resting in the base of what I was told was a large dam. The dam, however, had no water in it at all. You had to use your imagination as to what it would have looked like had it had water.

Well, that all changed over the last few days. Kilimanjaro Dam, located at the centre of Naretoi, is now absolutely full. Fortunately, the land managers preempted the rain and reinforced the dam wall in the preceding drier months. It is now the most beautiful of sites.

I look forward to the Crowned Cranes returning soon, to enjoy it.


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