A little bit of local entertainment with our sundowners. As the performers chant, the men take turns jumping as part of a competition to show the women who can jump the highest, and who is thus the most virile.

Giraffes are cool to look at. Here is one of my way too many photos of them.

Maasai Mara is the small piece of the Serengeti that is located in Kenya. So we continued our quest to see all the various big game animals and many of their smaller friends.

About that search for a leopard: We did indeed manage to find a leopard here — kind of, sort of. Our guide, Sophie, was tipped off by another guide about his whereabouts. He was up in a tree, but the first guide got his vehicle stuck in the mud trying to get close to that tree. Sophie miraculously spotted the leopard up in the tree from a huge distance and helped us all to locate him with our binoculars. He wasn’t much more than a blob in a tree with a wisp of a swinging tail below. No possible way to get a photo. So I now feel like I’ve seen about 4-1/2 of the big 5.

After nine days of safari drives, I’m pretty content with all the cool things we’ve seen. And pretty ready to not do any more long safari drives for a while.

From here it will be a short flight to Nairobi, where we’ll get to reconnect with Jim and even all have dinner together again. Then the Smiths will head back to their real lives in Washington, DC (Dan and Lorraine), New York City (Ruby), and Madison, Wisconsin (Angus). And Jim and I will head on to our next big adventure on the remote African island of Madagascar.

You might think the departure lounge for our flight from the Tanzania/Kenya border to Maasai Mara looks a lot like an open-air gazebo in the middle of nowhere

The view of the Serengeti from our lodge

These cute little guys are rock hyraxes, and they would be hanging out on the rocks next to our breakfast spot each morning. While they look somewhat like large rodents, their closest relative in the animal kingdom is actually the elephant.

Enjoying all the wildlife Maasai Mara has to offer. That’s an impala on the left and a water buck on the right.

A topi surveying the vast landscape

Seeing the lions in the wild here is sublime

Hippos spend their day mostly under water to avoid the sun. But since they can’t breathe down there they eventually come up for breath or to yawn or for a big snort.

Lorraine and Ruby watching the hippo fun

Another head pops up and checks us out

A topi shows off the dirt on his horns. The male topis actually stick their horns in the dirt to make them appear bigger and more attractive to the ladies.

The grey-crowned crane is actually the national bird of neighboring Uganda and appears on their flag. We saw lots of them here, usually in pairs. And that’s an elephant in the background, in case you missed it.

Warthogs don’t get a great rap, but we found them peppy and cute.

Local naturalist, Fred, gave us a tour of some of the fascinating plant and animal life taking place immediately around our lodge

Nobody messes with the crocodile

Our wonderful guide, Sophie, waits patiently for the road to clear

Ostriches relaxing. The female, on the left, is mostly brownish, while males have black feathers and reddish heads an legs. The males turn really bright red when they are ready to mate. Makes them look embarrassed.

There’s nothing like a good roar from a male lion to let you know who’s in charge out here

Black rhinos are few in number, somewhat isolated, and hard to get close to. We watched this guy with the binoculars for a long time before he moved a little closer and gave us a nice clear profile shot.

The highlight of our drives here is Maasai Mara was spotting a cheetah, high on a ridge, then watching him unexpectedly walk right toward us and put on a nice show

On our last day at this lodge they gave us a tour of their huge, beautiful garden, where a lunch bursting with fresh produce awaited us