Day 3 – Double River Crossing

After breakfast we headed out into the reserve. Today we were heading to the North Western side of the Mara reserve. We were off to find the stars of the BBC Big Cat Diaries and hopefully a lot more along the way.

After we crossed the Talek River we started our trek west. It was not long before we started to encounter animals. Our first encounter was Coke’s Hartebeest, these antelope always look malnourished, they are also extremely skittish and very shy. The last time we were in the Mara we could not find any Coke’s Hartebeest so we took this opportunity to bag some images. Whilst watching the Hartebeest, we were graced by the largest antelope in Africa, the Eland. Both the Eland and the Hartebeest can be found all over the Mara but mainly keep to small herds or can be seen grazing alone.
Eager to get to our destination we moved on, the sky was hazy but we could see that the storm from the night before had completely passed over and today was going to be hot.
After an hour of driving across the rugged terrain we approached the three river crossing. As the name suggests, there are three rivers to cross. Although not very big, the second of the crossings can be extremely dangerous. In this area of the Mara the only way to cross the river is to drive through it. In the extreme wet season the river becomes so fierce, the Maasai use a rope bridge to cross the river by foot and at this time no vehicles can cross. Sitting on the exposed rocks of the river are Crocodiles waiting for Zebra and Antelope to attempt a crossing or drink from the rivers edge.
As we approached the river, a 4×4 land cruiser started to cross from the other side, the land cruiser was much bigger than our vehicle and we could see it had a hard time crossing the river. The heavy rains from the night before gave the river a fast paced current and had unsettled the river’s bed. As the land cruiser cleared the river and drove past it became our turn to cross in the opposite direction. We gingerly made our way down the steep bank and entered the river, with a deep roar from our engine and using all Godfrey’s skill we worked our way across the river. You could hear the gravel and the river bed moving under the wheels. Every so often we would hit bed rock and make more progress, with each turn of the steering wheel and impeccable driving ability, Godfrey worked his way towards the other side of the river.
As we reached the incline of the river bank we suddenly hit a snag. With water above the wheel arches of our vehicle and now the lack of movement we seemed to be stuck. Aa tense moment for us, but with a few more skillfull turns of the wheel we were free! “Pole pole….. Hakuna Matata” (slowly slowly….. no worries) Godfrey turned around to us and said with a reassuring smile as we climbed clear of the river.
Once back on the track we stopped for Godfrey to check the tires and give the van a quick visual once over. Waiting over the other side of the river was the land cruiser that passed before us. An unwritten rule in the Mara is that everyone looks out for everyone, this way help is never too far away, so they had waited to make sure we could cross safely. With the all clear we waved to the 4×4 to signal all was ok and we headed off towards Billa Shaka…… The river would wait for us to return later on our way back to camp.

 

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