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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Tampa chapter.

Family bonding was our goal the day we set out to the Masai Mara, Kenya. My cousins and I wanted to head somewhere quiet, where outside forces would not disturb us. Some of us were heading to uni, some of us were starting new jobs, but none of us were moving together. Uncertain as to whether this was the last time we’d all be together as a family, we wanted to make the most of our time together. The Mara sounded like the best place to do that. 

We spent the weekend at my Uncle’s camp, Mara Wajee. A beautiful campsite just at the border of the reserve. You could hear the birds chipping and at night the stars shone bright. It was almost perfect. My favorite part was the campfire. Every night, like clockwork, the guys at the campsite would start a campfire. We’d all sit around it with our hot chocolate discussing just about anything. It felt like a safe space.   

Our trip was very short…short and sweet. We spent Friday driving to the campsite. Saturday was our day at the reserve. Sunday was our drive back.

The entire day on Saturday was spent out in the game reserve. There were a lot of bumps in the road, but once we finally got in the swing of things it was undeniable going to be a great day.  

I have been on quite a few game drives in my life, but on that one trip I saw more Lions than all my others combined. It was insane. Usually when you go on a game drive, you cross your fingers and hope, PRAY, that you’ll see at least one Lion. Even if it was just a figure many million miles away. Seeing a Lion always felt like a privilege. This time round, they were everywhere, and I mean everywhere! 

Our privileges didn’t end there. We managed to spot a cheetah as well!!

If that wasn’t enough, much later in the evening, we saw a congregation of people surrounding a bush. We set out towards it, eager to see what got so many people in awe. Much to our surprise, it was  a Leopard! The game reserve Gods were on our side that trip. There is no denying that.

Along with some of the wild’s most popular cats, we saw an abundance of wildebeest and zebras scattered all through the reserve. We saw elephants, ostriches, giraffes and even got to marvel at some hyenas. 

This trip was not short of problems, with our van breaking down more times then I could possibly count. However, through it all,  it really was a journey worth remembering. The bonding trip my family most definitely needed.

If you are considering visiting Mara Wajee, you can check them out on their website here. They just finished construction, adding a new side with bigger and more luxurious tents. They’re calling it Castel Mara. You can check out their facebook page here. I highly recommend looking at both campsites out. The hospitality they showed us during our stay was amazing. I will definitely be heading back. 

University o Tampa '21 Journalism Major Just a Kenyan girl navigating life in a new country.
Amanda Thompson is a native of Portland, Maine who is currently a Senior studying Communications at The University of Tampa. When she's not binge-watching New Girl, you can find her dancing around to Jhené Aiko, Lana Del Rey or Kehlani. If you want to keep up with Amanda, follow her on Instagram @amaandathompson