Maasai Mara

Walking in the footsteps of the Big Five in Maasai Mara.

It’s my first morning in Mara Naboisho, and the 6 a.m. glow surprises me; the side of my tent must have been thoughtfully rolled up while I slept so that the morning could reveal itself to me. From bed, clutching my hot water bottle, I watch the baboons return home. In the distance, male topi lock horns (you can hear them clash), warthogs cavort, and zebras graze unfazed. After a flask of tea, it’s time to walk into that same view. I’m mere steps from my tent when elephant dung is first pointed out. A rush of exhilaration runs through me knowing I’m standing in the same spot. My guide, Rokoi, informs me that there’s a good chance of seeing the culprit at some point over the next few days, or one of its kind at least.

Elephants, and indeed all species, have increased in Naboisho. The nearly 600 Maasai families, who own the area, have collectively set it aside for wildlife. The distinctive land – smattered with acacia trees – is deeply entwined with their heritage. Safaris like this mean the Maasai can afford to keep in it their hands, and protect the species they have shared their habitat with for generations.

Into the Lion’s Den was first featured in Msafiri magazine.