After leaving the Maasai Mara national reserve, we continued north along the road we had driven in the wet dark at 4AM that morning. We met back up with Kisame near the border of the Mara North Conservancy to continue our day, watching the morning's Land Cruiser disappear off into the distance.
I'll never get tired of big, wide-open landscapes.
We got a good look at a large eagle in a dead tree while Kisame talked to another driver about what game might be where (the bush telephone, they called it).
A pack of zebras was just chillin', eatin' some grass....when....
A hare ran away.
And the zebras FREAKED OUT.
A wee little hare decided the zebras were too close and it wanted to relocate, and the zebras went all OMGWTFBBQRUNRUNRUN!
While we wound our way towards our eventual lunch site, we saw a little of everything - a lazy hippo, gazelles, eland, and a lot of birds. If you're not already a birder, the birds of East Africa will turn you into one. They're spectacular, albeit very difficult to capture good photographs of.
Then...we came across a gazelle actually giving birth, and hung around for about half an hour, until the baby came out fully and finally stood up. Standing up is exhausting when you've just been born.
Just as we were driving away from that scene, we spotted a large monitor lizard.
Barely a half mile from the calving gazelle, we found the highlight of the day - part of the local pride of lions, with three lion cubs. We nearly missed them, too - driving parallel to where they were hiding I spotted them through a break in the bushes, and initially thought they were just sandy colored rocks, until one looked up.
We...may have taken a LOT of photos of them.
My favorite thing about big cats is how they behave exactly like housecats.
Really, really big housecats.
With teeth the size of steak knives.
And claws that you do NOT want to mess with. It's actually quite unnerving when they walk within a meter of your vehicle. Fortunately, these lions had clearly fed recently, and were feeling lazy.
One of the lion cubs was taking a nap. Or trying to, anyway. He seemed quite determined to rest with his chin on the rock, but as he fell asleep his head would slip, jolting him back awake. Rinse, and repeat (yes, there's video).
That would have been enough for any one day, but there was still a lot more to come - the Mara is just that full of creatures.
Not far from the lion cubs were a dozen or so female lions from the same pride, asleep in what can only be described a pile of lions, under a bush trying to keep cool in the mid-day sun.