The Hiding Hippos!

Attractive fellow, isn't he?  This shot came after we had massive rain that flooded parts of the Mara. In fact, I still can't believe we were able to capture this shot. I don't think it would have happened, had we had another driver, too timid to drive the trails we pursued that day.

Anderson was so familiar with every bit of the Mara, that when we came to a flooded area, he drove right in, knowing where the road was.  What we didn't realize was that the water off to the sides was actually quite deep! We were driving along, not seeing a lot of anything, when all of a sudden, these hippos appear! There were tons of them, swimming around just feet from our jeep.

Thankfully, Anderson knew what he was doing, and we didn't end up swimming with these guys. They're not the friendliest, I must say. But they are fascinating to watch.

Even Leopards Need a Moment

This was quite possibly the biggest highlight of our African Safari, with the lion cubs being right up there with this! To enjoy safari in this location, we chose to stay at Larsen's Camp, which sits right by the river. 

Leopard spotted in Samburu, Kenya

Leopard spotted in Samburu, Kenya

Our driver was excellent at spotting the local wildlife, and before we encountered this gorgeous leopard, we had already enjoyed a number of other sightings, including an owl, gazelle, rutting impala, and so much more.  (For more photos of this day, feel free to explore our gallery!)

But this fellow...magnificent. I couldn't get enough.  He allowed us to watch him for over an hour.  I wanted to capture every moment and gave my best effort to do so, with both my senses as well as my camera.  Just amazing!

Stalked by a Lion

While you may have imagined for years what it would be like to come face to face with an imposing, stately lion, pursuing unsuspecting prey in his natural habitat, nothing quite prepares you for the bewildering deluge of contradicting emotions that flood through you as the scene unfolds, just steps away.  All that stands between you and this massive, powerful nothing.

Lion in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, East Africa moments before he attacked an unsuspecting baby water buffalo

Lion in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, East Africa moments before he attacked an unsuspecting baby water buffalo

My husband, Ryan, and I watched helplessly as an abandoned newborn water buffalo we had just befriended unwittingly, began to cry.  His hushed whimpers grew quickly into a loud wail as we tried unsuccessfully to lead him away from the danger we knew was just over the hill, but it was no use.  In moments, we spotted first one, and then two male lions, brothers we had just been photographing with their cubs, stride slowly but confidently toward this baby, their piercing eyes intelligently assessing the situation. He never had a chance.

While we were distressed and wished we had been able to save this sweet creature, we couldn't help but marvel at the strength, grace, and prowess of these two male lions.  Unable to tear ourselves away, we watched for several more hours as they not only devoured their meal, but also kept the females and their cubs at bay.  Only one baby cub was foolish enough to get too close, and he immediately earned his dad's wrath, limping sadly away with nothing to show for his courage.  It was an unforgettable experience!