On our first morning game drive, we had breakfast on the plains. We drove up onto the escarpment, chasing a troupe of baboons up the slope so we had a view of the whole plains. Our guide, Alice, and our guide-in-training Elias found us a nice, safe spot and laid out the spread: coffee, tea, hot chocolate, fruit, yogurt, juice, single-serve frittatas, and fresh crepes with honey.

Kyle even enjoyed it all a bit more after a mini-snooze.

Below us, a curious giraffe hung out for a while before loping off to find other trees to munch.

To the right, a group of DLTs grazed. Oh, DLTs? I am stealing that from Philip's friend: Deer-Like Things.(ha!) We saw Thompson's gazelles (my favorite), impalas, bushbuck, eland, topi, waterbuck, the miniature Kirk's dik-dik, and (slightly less deer-like) zebras. (Pictured here, topi and possibly a Thompson's gazelle--the smallest one.)

The only reason I didn't fully enjoy myself, though, were the buffalo way off to our left. As I'm sure you remember, Alice told us that buffalo would lay down and hide until you get close and then attack you! In February in the Mara the grass isn't high enough to hide a buffalo, but they still made me nervous.

They just seem to glare at you with their Alfalfa horns:

(See the resemblance?) The rest of the animals seemed to coexist quite peacefully with the buffalo. There were always a few warthogs running around among the herd. But to me, the buffalo somehow seemed especially likely to change its mind suddenly and decide you were foe, not friend. We drove close by one resting herd, and as we passed a buffalo jerked its head up from its grassy lunch to glower. I just as quickly dropped my camera and tried to be invisible. Minutes later we passed a beautiful mother and baby very close to the vehicle, but at that point there was no way I was clicking shutters and adjusting focal points.

The best place to watch buffalo, in my opinion, was from the pool.

Yes, our tented camp had a pool--a pool overlooking the Mara no less. In fact, our tent looked out toward the plains as well.

As did the hammock.

Ok, in the spirit of full disclosure, I guess I should say that "tent" is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, it was canvas-covered and zipped up. But it also had a carpet, down comforters, electricity, steaming hot showers, a wooden dressing table with a inlaid sink, laundry service, and "wake up calls" that consisted of your tent steward laying out freshly made tea/coffee/hot chocolate on the writing desk. We weren't exactly roughing it. 

In fact, the only actually scary "wildlife" encounter we had on the whole trip was the first night when Kyle slipped into bed to find something, warm, soft, and wiggly at his feet. The yelp was halfway out of his mouth (and he was halfway out of bed) before he realized it was a hot water bottle tucked between the sheets.

With that kind of treatment, we could skip the buffalo on the game drives. I was content to watch the herds moving across the plains from the safe side of the camp fence.

Three down, two to go.