Distance: 135km (Cumulative: 13 295km)
Moving time: 8:20
Average speed: 16km/h
Road surface: 100% Gravel
Eluai Public Campsite - R390 p.p
No facilities, beautiful views
We didn’t hear any lions during the night, only hippopotamus. A strong wind was however blowing all night dampening most other sounds. We forgot to set an alarm and only got up at 08:00.
We quickly packed up and saw a safari vehicle passing us. While eating breakfast we saw the vehicle standing still on the opposite hill. At first we though they were just looking at the large herd of wildebeest, but after closer inspection with binoculars Hugo saw a lion tearing into a wildebeest carcass right next to the vehicle.
We quickly packed up and drove in that direction, but got to a muddy water crossing with a steep incline on the other side. There also wasn’t enough evidence that a vehicle recently passed through it (no clear tracks or mud on the grass). We thus reversed and turned around looking for an alternative route. After a few minutes another safari vehicle came through the Sand River gate. We let them pass and then followed them. They went straight for the mud-river crossing. The spotter standing at the back of the vehicle signalled something like ‘don’t follow’ to us, but we decided if they can, we can and followed. There was no road on the other side, but they just drove straight over the hill and through another ravine to the carcass, by the time we got there the lions were replaced by hundreds of vultures.
After a few minutes both vehicles set off further away from the gate going further off-road. Again we decided to follow, after about a kilometer we saw the lions. Two big males and some females walking towards the river and then crossing it as we stopped on the river bank. The other vehicles then turned around a went even further off-road spotting two hyaena at a different carcass.
We decided to rather follow our GPS track back to the gate when the two vehicles set off even deeper into the off-road territory.
When we got to the gate the friendly rangers asked us about our night before telling us that they will have to fine us 10 000 KES for driving off-road. They saw us with their binoculars. We explained that we just followed the other vehicles and that we saw there was a rule that said you’re allowed to go off-road to view big cats. Regarding the other vehicles who haven’t returned yet, they just said they’re also in big trouble. Luckily Caro found the rule on the entrance map we received. They looked confused by it and said it didn’t count, but that because we didn’t know the correct rules we can go. We thank them and went on our merry way.
By this time it was already 10:00 and we had to be out by 12:40. We did a small circle route to the east before heading for the bridge between the Maasai Mara and the Mara Triangle in the west. As we got closer to the Mara Triangle the game seemed to get less and less.
We got to the gate at 12:15 and had lunch until 13:30. We handed over $204 this time (technically Hugo just swiped his card). It was cheaper because either the rules differ between the two Mara areas or they cheated us at Talek. Since we are staying inside the Mara Triangle the entrance fee is only $70p.p and not $80p.p, while camping at the Eluai Public campsite was also $30 p.p.
After entering we first turned right along the river and spotted a few Topi, Eland and Gazelle, before stopping at a river viewpoint with a large pod of Hippo below us.
From there we decided to go to the Inselbergs (island mountains/hills) and the Serengeti border.
For two hours we saw almost nothing just endless fields of tall grass and Elephants.
On the border road we took a left somewhere and the road just kept going deeper into the Serengeti. We kept thinking it was going to turn back soon, but in the end we were almost 2km into the Serengeti and decided we should probably turn around.
The border is simply marked with white stone pillars every few hundred meters.
From there we headed straight for Eluai Public Campsite. It is on top of a hill with amazing views over the plains and Mara River. It was only 16:00, but we wanted to make sure we know where the camp is and how to find it. There were no-one in sight and again no facilities. There’s nothing public about this public campsite.
After a short break we went for another game drive along the Mara River. We finally saw some more game but nothing new. Gazelle, Topi, Giraffe and Elephant.
We started following a safari vehicle. After passing them a few times and then letting them pass again the driver signalled for us to stop next to him. He asked if we had seen a lion today to which we said “No, not in the Triangle”. “Follow me” he replied. So we did. He however then went much faster and further than we wanted to. We almost reached the Oloololo gate when we spotted the hordes of other safari vehicles standing still. We followed our ‘guide’ to the sighting. A big lion male lying under a tree, but barely visible from our vantage point through the thick grass.
In total more than 10 vehicles stopped here. We turned around and had to make haste to get back to the camp before 18:00 as we didn’t want to set up camp in the dark.
On the way back we saw more elephant and a side road leading to them. We got real close to a herd with the cutest baby elephant playing around. We watched for a while before proceeding on a small two-spoor track for what felt like an eternity with the clock ticking by. While racing back to camp we passed mongooses and a jackal.
At the campsite we quickly opened the tent and boiled some water for a bucket shower. While Hugo bathed Caro made 2-minute noodles again. Just as Caro finished bathing and our food was ready it started to drizzle. We went to sit in the car to eat dinner. The rain stopped for a while and we quickly brushed teeth and packed everything away. Just as we got in the tent a hell broke loose. A massive thunder and lightning storm started with strong wind and lots of heavy rain. In the middle of this a ranger vehicle arrived and dropped of a poor ranger/guard. We told him to stand under the tent overhang.
It was only 19:30 and Hugo’s Kobo stopped working again. We tried to watch a movie, but forgot to bring up our earphones. Even on full volume we couldn’t hear anything as the rain was too loud. Caro then read the guide for Ethiopia on the iPad while Hugo read Stan’s tips for overlanding and their long list of highlights on their Africa trip, glad to have also witnessed some of the items on the list and excited for what still lies ahead.
By 21:00 the storm was over. The rain stopped, the thunder stopped and even the wind was gone. We could finally hear all the wildlife again with the occasional interruption of the ranger speaking on his phone.