Terror. This is the only emotion I was feeling as I flew in on a small rickety plane to the Maasai Mara, Kenya. The Mara was to be my home for the next two weeks. The fear of the unknown was overwhelming. What if they all hated me? What if I suffered a violent death at the hands (or claws?) of a lion? Or, most worryingly, what if the food was awful?
Let me put your mind at ease. The food was DELICIOUS! And despite a few mosquito bites I am still in one piece. As for the crew hating me? Well, you’ll have to ask them about that one.
As soon as I arrived my terror turned to sheer excitement of what lay ahead. My tent overlooked the Mara Triangle and is right on the edge of the Oloololo escarpment. The Mara is regarded as one of the most romantic places in the world and it is easy to see why. At times I felt just like Mufasa looking out from pride rock. This view alone would’ve been worth the entire trip. But luckily for me, the best was yet to come. In the following days I began to adjust to camp life; the early mornings, the lions roaring at night as well as the job itself. I remember my first afternoon in FC (Final Control) watching in disbelief as the directors worked seamlessly, pressing thousands of buttons, talking to 20 different people on the radio, directing the entire show without missing a beat. I couldn’t begin to imagine how they did it.
Even now after two weeks I am still in awe of their ability to manage every technical glitch and animal related mishap that comes their way. I took over the position of D2, and despite a few wrong buttons I loved the role. As I watched the comments and questions stream in twice daily from multiple social media platforms I learnt what makes safariLIVE such a unique experience – it’s the community that it interacts with it.
During my time in the Mara I was lucky enough to be taken on many adventures. On my third day, my new colleagues took it upon themselves to show me some ‘safari parkour’, which involved a few near death experiences. What started out as a gentle river stroll turned into advanced mountaineering. Despite a few bumps and bruises, perhaps some water borne diseases, I had a blast.
The camp is based on the edge of the un-fenced Mara Triangle Conservancy, meaning there is no barrier between you and the wild. Daily meetings were interrupted by herds of giraffe. I fell asleep to the sound of lions roaring, which may not be the most relaxing lullaby but is incredible all the same. The noise of the bush is unbelievable, a constant and sometimes deafening chorus of birds, insects, animals and nature.
I was lucky enough to accompany the presenters on a few game drives. On these trips I was exposed to not only the enormity of the Maasai Mara but also the sheer amount of life it supports. I had some remarkable sightings, hyena cubs playing outside of their den, jackal pups coming right up to the car and a large pride of lionesses and cubs who unsuccessfully hunted a warthog. The incredible thing was that it was not just me who was witnessing this. I was sharing these sightings with thousands of people around the world.
– By Ella Soule