Day three…Safari…Beyond our wildest dreams…The Big Five…Accomplished in our first 10 hours on safari!

Up close and personal! We were in a Toyota Land Cruiser with open sides, 25 feet from this lion. Much to our surprise we never felt frightened or at risk at close-range to any of these big animals, including this massive male lion who gave us a great show.  Many more lion photos including a graphic kill and mating shots will follow in posts to come.

Anderson, our guide at the Olonana at the Sanctuary Retreat has far surpassed our hopes and expectations in ensuring that we have a memorable safari experience in our short three days at the camp. 

Had the expense, not been $5000 including air, all-inclusive, we surely would have stayed longer.  Maybe someday we’ll return to the Masai Mara and Olonana.

At this point, we don’t flinch over the cost. There is no amount of money that could have provided us with a more life-changing and valuable experience that which we’ve had thus far; 19 hours on safari in the 49 hours since we arrived on Saturday.

Encountering these creatures from close proximity was Anderson’s goal. In most cases, we were within 25 feet of any of the animals in our photo.  Notice, this older elephant resting his trunk on his tusk. Anderson expected this one to be around 60 years old, close to his life expectancy.

With one more safari remaining tonight, we’ll begin to wind down, pack to return to Diani Beach on the tiny plane, with plans to continue to relive this experience over and over for years to come.  Now we know that safaris will be an integral part of our ongoing travels.

The Big Five…we had few expectations.  Now wanting to be the typical traveler, we made no requirements to Anderson that we accomplish this treasured undertaking that most safari attendees get stuck in their heads.

The Big Five may vary by certain standards.  In Africa, it’s listed as follows:

1.  Elephant
2.  Black Rhino
3.  Cape Buffalo
4.  Leopard
5.  Lion (particularly the male lion)

Leopards are nocturnal and seldom seen during daylight hours. We were so excited to see this leopard to round out the Big Five sightings in the first 10 hours we were on safari. 

There’s so much to tell, I almost don’t know where to begin. With limited time and connectivity, we’ll continue as we have over the past few days, as many photos as we can with less dialogue.

But, there’s a story here from beginning to end that we’re anxious to tell, the rich experience of the gift of nature, the local people who regard it with reverence and, our own discovery of that which has remained inside us that is finally let free.  We’ll never be the same, neither of us.

At this point in time, there are only 30 remaining rhinos in Kenya with 10 in the Masai Mara. So far we’ve seen 5 of these elusive and endangered animals.  Lots more photos of rhinos and babies to follow.

When returning to Diani Beach, we’ll begin that story with many more photos as well as our own personal journey of a life-changing adventure we’ll never forget.

We took these photos posted today of The Big Five in our first 10 hours on safari.  That story is but a small portion of the treasures we beheld day by day as we bounced around over winding rocky uneven road without concern or thought to any discomfort.

This old cape buffalo was covered with flies and mud, huddled close in the hot sun with other family members and friends. Most likely he was what Anderson referred to as the Retired Generals, male buffaloes who was been banned from the herd for life, having lost for dominance in battle with other males. The males hang out together in small groups for safety reasons.

We will highlight many additional photos of The Big Five and the many other amazing animals that we discovered each day on safari. 

By the way, as we write this, we’re sitting in the outdoor restaurant at the lodge, soon to go on our second safari of the day. Across the river, we see giraffes and impalas (photos coming soon) and in the river, playful baby hippos. Ah, this is living!

Please come back as this story continues to unfold. Thanks to all of our readers for their comments and email messages and of course, for following along with us.