Masai Mara National Reserve

Masai Mara National Reserve, often referred to as Maasai Mara or simply the Mara, is a renowned national reserve located in southwestern Kenya. It is one of the most popular and iconic safari destinations in Africa, known for its exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities, particularly during the annual wildebeest migration.

Here are some key points and frequently asked questions about Masai Mara National Reserve:

  1. Where is Masai Mara National Reserve located? Masai Mara National Reserve is situated in the Great Rift Valley in southwestern Kenya, sharing a border with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.
  2. What is the size of Masai Mara National Reserve? The reserve spans an area of approximately 1,510 square kilometers (583 square miles).
  3. What is the best time to visit Masai Mara National Reserve? The best time to visit Masai Mara depends on what you want to experience. The peak tourist season is during the annual wildebeest migration, which usually takes place between July and October. However, the reserve offers fantastic wildlife viewing throughout the year, with resident animals like lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and more.
  4. What wildlife can be found in Masai Mara National Reserve? Masai Mara is renowned for its diverse and abundant wildlife. It is home to the famous Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, and buffalo), as well as cheetahs, zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, hippos, crocodiles, and numerous bird species.
  5. Can I witness the wildebeest migration in Masai Mara? Yes, Masai Mara is one of the prime locations to witness the incredible wildebeest migration. Each year, millions of wildebeest, zebras, and other herbivores migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania to Masai Mara in search of fresh grazing lands. The migration usually takes place between July and October.
  6. Are game drives available in Masai Mara National Reserve? Yes, game drives are the most common way to explore Masai Mara and spot wildlife. You can go on guided game drives with experienced drivers and guides in open safari vehicles. Hot air balloon safaris are also a popular option, providing a unique perspective from above.
  7. Are there accommodations available in Masai Mara National Reserve? Yes, there is a wide range of accommodation options in and around Masai Mara National Reserve, catering to various budgets and preferences. These include luxury lodges, tented camps, and campsites. It’s advisable to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak season.
  8. Is it safe to visit Masai Mara National Reserve? Masai Mara is generally safe for visitors. However, it’s important to follow the instructions and guidelines provided by your guides or camp/lodge staff. Be cautious of wild animals, maintain a safe distance, and avoid any reckless behavior.
  9. How do I get to Masai Mara National Reserve? The most common way to reach Masai Mara is by flying from Nairobi to one of the reserve’s airstrips, such as Keekorok, Musiara, or Mara Serena. Alternatively, you can opt for a road transfer, which takes around 5-6 hours from Nairobi, depending on road conditions.
  10. Are there any cultural experiences with the Maasai people in Masai Mara? Yes, the Maasai people are indigenous to the region, and cultural interactions with them are possible. Many lodges and camps offer visits to Maasai villages, where you can learn about their traditional way of life, customs, and even participate in cultural activities.

Remember to check the latest travel information, such as visa requirements and safety guidelines, before.

 

Things to do at Masai Mara National Reserve:

There are several exciting activities to do and experiences to have at Masai Mara National Reserve. Here are some of the top things to do:

  1. Game Drives: Embark on thrilling game drives to explore the vast grassy plains and spot wildlife. Experienced guides will take you in safari vehicles to seek out the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, and buffalo) as well as cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, and more.
  2. Hot Air Balloon Safaris: Take to the skies on a hot air balloon safari for a unique perspective of the reserve. Witness the sunrise and enjoy panoramic views of the Mara plains while spotting wildlife from above.
  3. Wildebeest Migration: If visiting during the migration season (usually July to October), witnessing the epic wildebeest migration is a must. Witness thousands of wildebeest, zebras, and other herbivores as they cross the Mara River in search of greener pastures.
  4. Nature Walks: Some lodges and camps offer guided nature walks accompanied by Maasai guides. Explore the surrounding areas on foot, learn about the flora and fauna, and discover the smaller, hidden treasures of the reserve.
  5. Cultural Experiences: Engage with the Maasai community and learn about their traditions and way of life. Visit a Maasai village, interact with the locals, and perhaps witness traditional dances and rituals.
  6. Photography Safaris: Masai Mara offers incredible photography opportunities. Capture stunning images of wildlife, landscapes, and dramatic sunsets. Many lodges and camps have resident wildlife photographers who can provide guidance and workshops.
  7. Birdwatching: With over 450 bird species, Masai Mara is a paradise for birdwatchers. Bring your binoculars and spot a variety of colorful birds, including raptors, waterbirds, and migratory species.
  8. Picnics and Sundowners: Enjoy a scenic picnic or a refreshing sundowner drink at designated spots within the reserve. Marvel at the beauty of the surroundings while relishing delicious food and drinks.
  9. Conservation and Research Visits: Some lodges and camps offer opportunities to learn about conservation efforts and ongoing research projects in the area. Visit conservation centers and engage with experts to understand the challenges and initiatives for preserving the wildlife and ecosystem.
  10. Relax and Unwind: Take some time to relax and soak in the tranquility of the reserve. Enjoy the amenities and facilities provided by your lodge or camp, such as swimming pools, spa treatments, and stargazing.

Remember, it’s essential to book activities and experiences in advance, especially during peak seasons, and follow the guidelines provided by your guides or lodge staff to ensure a safe and memorable experience.

Conservancies at Masai Mara National Reserve:

Alongside Masai Mara National Reserve, there are several conservancies that surround and border the reserve. These conservancies are private or community-owned areas that work in conjunction with the national reserve to promote wildlife conservation, community development, and sustainable tourism practices. Here are some of the prominent conservancies in the Masai Mara ecosystem:

  1. Mara North Conservancy: Located on the northern border of Masai Mara National Reserve, Mara North Conservancy is a community-owned conservancy. It is known for its low-impact tourism, exclusive safari experiences, and high wildlife densities.
  2. Olare Motorogi Conservancy: Situated on the northwestern border of the national reserve, Olare Motorogi Conservancy offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities and operates under a partnership between local Maasai landowners and tourism operators.
  3. Naboisho Conservancy: Naboisho Conservancy is a private conservancy located on the eastern border of Masai Mara National Reserve. It is known for its pristine wilderness, diverse wildlife, and strict limits on visitor numbers to ensure a high-quality experience.
  4. Ol Kinyei Conservancy: Ol Kinyei Conservancy is a community-owned conservancy adjacent to Masai Mara National Reserve. It offers a range of wildlife encounters, including the Big Five, and provides economic benefits to the local Maasai community.
  5. Ol Chorro Oiroua Conservancy: This conservancy is located in the southeastern part of the Masai Mara ecosystem. It is known for its scenic landscapes, wildlife, and cultural experiences with the Maasai people.

These conservancies often have a more exclusive and intimate safari experience compared to the national reserve, with fewer vehicles and strict rules to minimize environmental impact. They offer guided game drives, nature walks, night drives, and opportunities to interact with local communities.

Staying in one of these conservancies allows you to enjoy the remarkable wildlife of the Masai Mara ecosystem while contributing to conservation efforts and supporting local communities. Many lodges and camps operate within these conservancies, offering luxurious accommodations and personalized safari experiences.

 

Best Safari Lodges & Tented Camps at Masai Mara National Reserve:

There are numerous safari lodges and tented camps in and around Masai Mara National Reserve, offering a range of accommodations and experiences. Here are some top options known for their quality service, stunning locations, and wildlife viewing opportunities:

Luxury Lodges:

  1. Governor’s Camp: Located in the heart of Masai Mara, Governor’s Camp offers luxury tented accommodations with en-suite bathrooms and stunning views. It has a long-standing reputation for exceptional service and wildlife experiences.
  2. Mara Serena Safari Lodge: Perched on a hill overlooking the reserve, Mara Serena Safari Lodge offers panoramic views and comfortable rooms. It combines modern amenities with a blend of traditional African architecture.
  3. Angama Mara: Situated on the Oloololo Escarpment, Angama Mara provides breathtaking views of the Mara below. The lodge offers elegant tented suites, private safari vehicles, and personalized service.
  4. Elephant Pepper Camp: Tucked away in a prime wildlife viewing area, Elephant Pepper Camp provides an authentic safari experience with spacious tents, en-suite bathrooms, and a focus on eco-friendly practices.

Mid-Range Lodges:

  1. Ashnil Mara Camp: Located along the Mara River, Ashnil Mara Camp offers comfortable tented accommodations and excellent game viewing opportunities. It has a serene setting and a relaxed atmosphere.
  2. Karen Blixen Camp: Named after the famous Danish author, Karen Blixen Camp offers luxurious tented suites with private verandas overlooking the Mara River. It combines modern comfort with a traditional safari feel.
  3. Mara Intrepids Camp: Situated along the Talek River, Mara Intrepids Camp features spacious tents with modern amenities. The camp offers game drives, guided nature walks, and cultural visits to local Maasai villages.

Tented Camps:

  1. Porini Mara Camp: Located in the Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Porini Mara Camp provides an authentic bush experience with comfortable tents and an eco-friendly approach. It offers game drives, guided walks, and night drives.
  2. Kicheche Mara Camp: Set in a prime wildlife area, Kicheche Mara Camp offers intimate tented accommodations and excellent wildlife sightings. It focuses on sustainability and offers game drives and bush walks.
  3. Rekero Camp: Positioned in a prime location for the wildebeest migration, Rekero Camp offers comfortable tents and personalized service. It provides an immersive wildlife experience with knowledgeable guides.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other lodges and camps in the Masai Mara region to suit different preferences and budgets. When choosing a lodge or camp, consider factors such as location, wildlife viewing opportunities, amenities, and the type of experience you are seeking. It’s always recommended to check the latest reviews and compare options to find the best fit for your safari adventure.

Flights from Nairobi to Masai Mara National Reserve:

To travel from Nairobi to Masai Mara, you have the option of flying from Nairobi to one of the airstrips located within or near the Masai Mara National Reserve. These flights provide a convenient and time-saving way to reach the reserve. Here’s some information about flights from Nairobi to Masai Mara:

  1. Wilson Airport (Nairobi) to Masai Mara: Many flights depart from Wilson Airport, which is located in Nairobi, to various airstrips in Masai Mara. The flight duration is approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the specific airstrip and weather conditions. Some of the common airstrips in Masai Mara include Keekorok, Musiara, Ol Kiombo, Mara Serena, and Siana.
  2. Airlines and Operators: Several airlines and safari operators offer scheduled and charter flights from Nairobi to Masai Mara. These include Safarilink, AirKenya, Fly540, Governors’ Aviation, and Mombasa Air Safari, among others. It’s advisable to check with these operators for flight schedules, availability, and prices.
  3. Flight Departure and Arrival Times: Flights to Masai Mara usually operate in the morning, with departures starting from around 7:00 AM. The last flights typically depart in the early afternoon. Return flights from Masai Mara to Nairobi also follow a similar schedule, with departures in the morning and early afternoon.
  4. Luggage Restrictions: Please note that there are often luggage restrictions on these flights due to the small aircraft used. The weight limit for checked baggage is typically around 15-20 kilograms (33-44 pounds) per person, including both soft and hard-sided bags. It’s important to inquire about specific luggage restrictions when booking your flight.
  5. Airstrip Transfers: Once you arrive at the designated airstrip in Masai Mara, your lodge or camp will usually arrange a transfer to pick you up. This transfer is typically done in safari vehicles and may include a short game drive en route to your accommodation.

It’s recommended to book your flights in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure availability. You can either book directly with the airlines or through tour operators who can help arrange your flights along with other safari arrangements.

Please note that flight schedules, operators, and prices may change, so it’s always advisable to check with the airlines or tour operators for the most up-to-date information before planning your trip.

Experience the Great Wildebeest Migration between Masai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania:

The Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the most spectacular wildlife events that takes place annually between Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is a natural phenomenon where millions of wildebeest, accompanied by zebras and other herbivores, migrate in search of fresh grazing and water.

Here’s some information about the Great Wildebeest Migration in Masai Mara and Serengeti:

  1. Timing: The migration is a year-round event, as the wildebeest are constantly on the move in search of food and water. However, the most dramatic and renowned part of the migration is the river crossings. These typically occur between July and October, when the herds cross the Mara River from the Serengeti into Masai Mara, and then make their way back south.
  2. Migration Route: The migration follows a circular pattern, covering a distance of approximately 800 kilometers (500 miles) annually. In the dry season, usually from December to March, the herds are in the southern Serengeti, where they give birth to their young. As the dry season progresses and the grazing becomes depleted, they start moving north towards the western corridor of Serengeti and eventually cross into Masai Mara.
  3. River Crossings: The river crossings are the most dramatic and thrilling moments of the migration. The wildebeest gather on the banks of the Mara River, and in a display of bravery and instinct, they plunge into the crocodile-infested waters. River crossings can be unpredictable, and the timing and location can vary each year. They are often accompanied by high levels of drama and predator-prey interactions.
  4. Wildlife Viewing: The Great Wildebeest Migration offers incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. In addition to the wildebeest and zebras, the migration attracts predators such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas, making it an ideal time for spotting these predators in action. The abundance of prey also attracts numerous vultures and other bird species.
  5. Viewing in Masai Mara: Masai Mara is renowned for providing excellent sightings of the river crossings. The Mara River crossings, particularly in the northern parts of the reserve, offer some of the most dramatic and accessible opportunities to witness this incredible phenomenon.
  6. Viewing in Serengeti: The migration can also be observed in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The western corridor and the Grumeti River crossings are popular spots to witness the migration in Serengeti.

It’s important to note that the exact timing and location of the migration can vary from year to year due to factors such as rainfall patterns and availability of food. It’s advisable to consult with local tour operators, guides, or rangers to get the most up-to-date information and plan your visit accordingly for the best chance to witness this remarkable natural spectacle.

Nairobi National Park – the only wildlife park within a city in the world

Nairobi National Park is a national park located in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. It is unique because it is the only national park in the world situated within a major city. The park covers an area of approximately 117 square kilometers (45 square miles) and was established in 1946.

Nairobi National Park is known for its diverse wildlife and is home to a variety of animal species, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, buffalos, and more. The park also hosts over 400 bird species, making it a popular destination for birdwatching enthusiasts.

One of the main attractions of Nairobi National Park is the opportunity to go on game drives and observe wildlife in their natural habitat. There are several well-maintained roads and tracks within the park that allow visitors to explore and spot animals. Guided tours and self-drive options are available for visitors to enjoy the park’s wildlife.

In addition to wildlife viewing, Nairobi National Park offers other recreational activities such as picnicking, camping, and nature walks. The park has designated picnic sites and campsites where visitors can relax and enjoy the serene surroundings.

Nairobi National Park plays a crucial role in conservation efforts, especially for endangered species like the black rhinoceros. The park is actively involved in breeding and reintroduction programs to increase the population of these endangered animals.

It’s worth noting that although Nairobi National Park is located close to the city, it is separated from the urban areas by a fence to prevent human-wildlife conflict. The park provides a unique opportunity for residents and tourists to experience wildlife and nature without having to travel far from the city center.

Overall, Nairobi National Park is a remarkable wildlife sanctuary that combines the beauty of nature with the urban landscape, making it a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists interested in wildlife and conservation.

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Nairobi National Park:

  1. Where is Nairobi National Park located? Nairobi National Park is located in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. It is situated just outside the city center, approximately 7 kilometers (4 miles) south of Nairobi’s central business district.
  2. How big is Nairobi National Park? Nairobi National Park covers an area of approximately 117 square kilometers (45 square miles).
  3. What are the park’s operating hours? The park is generally open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. However, it’s always best to check the official operating hours before your visit, as they may be subject to change.
  4. Can I go on a safari or game drive in Nairobi National Park? Yes, game drives are one of the main attractions of Nairobi National Park. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the park and spot wildlife during organized game drives or self-drive experiences.
  5. What types of wildlife can be found in Nairobi National Park? Nairobi National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, buffalos, hippos, various antelope species, and over 400 bird species.
  6. Are there guided tours available in the park? Yes, guided tours are available in Nairobi National Park. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the park’s wildlife, conservation efforts, and ecosystem.
  7. Can I go camping or have a picnic in Nairobi National Park? Yes, the park has designated picnic sites and campsites where visitors can enjoy outdoor activities like picnicking and camping. It’s advisable to make prior arrangements and check the park’s regulations regarding camping and picnicking.
  8. Is it safe to visit Nairobi National Park? Nairobi National Park is generally safe to visit. However, it’s important to follow the park’s rules and guidelines, such as staying in designated areas, not approaching or feeding the wildlife, and being cautious during game drives.
  9. How do I get to Nairobi National Park? Nairobi National Park is easily accessible by road from Nairobi city center. It takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the park, depending on traffic conditions. There are also tour operators and taxis that can arrange transportation to the park.
  10. Are there entrance fees to visit Nairobi National Park? Yes, there are entrance fees for Nairobi National Park, which vary for residents and non-residents. It’s advisable to check the official website or contact the park authorities for the most up-to-date information on entrance fees.

Remember to check the official Nairobi National Park website or contact the park authorities directly for any specific information or updates regarding your visit.

Achieving Personal Excellence

Personal excellence is perhaps the most important of all invisible and intangible assets that you can acquire. Achieving personal excellence in your business or industry requires lifelong dedication. But once you get into the top 10 percent of your field, you will be one of the highest paid people in the country. You will enjoy the respect and esteem of the people around you. You will be able to live your life the way you want to live it. You will enjoy high levels of self-esteem, self-respect, and personal pride.

Build Your Intellectual Assets
Each person has or can acquire three forms of intellectual capital. These require an investment of study and hard work, but they pay off in higher income for the rest of your life. The first type of intellectual capital you can acquire consists of your core knowledge, skills, and abilities. These are the result of education, experience, and training. They determine how well you do your job and the value of your contribution to your business.

 

Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Goals and Make Them Work!

Here are some simple ways to set goals so that we achieve them! After all, what good is a goal if it isn’t something you achieve? Follow these simple steps to make sure that you see change in your life this year.

Narrow your focus. That’s right, start small. Pick two or three areas, tops, that you want to work on. Too many people say to themselves, “I want to do this, and this, and this, and this…” and they end up doing nothing! Most of what you do throughout your day can be done without a lot of mental or emotional exertion, but change isn’t one of them. So focus on a couple. This way you can win some victories in those areas. Here are some areas to think about: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Financial and Relational. What areas need some work? Now, what one thing should be the first item on the change list? The others will come later, but for now, you should focus on two or three.

Keep the long term in mind, but set your sights on achieving your goals in the short term. Do you want to lose 75 pounds? Good. Long term you will. But for now, think short term. Don’t think about losing 75 pound by summer; think about losing 5 pounds by next month. This does two things. First, it makes it urgent. Instead of blowing it and saying, “Oh well, I still have 17 months to lose the 75 pounds” (because eventually that becomes 2 months to lose 75 pounds) your goal is only a few weeks out. This is better in terms of reaching your goal. Secondly, as you reach these shorter-term goals, it gives you regular victories instead of regular progress. Progress feels good, but achieving a goal is awesome!

 

Potatoes, eggs, and coffee beans

Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.

He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.

After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup. Turning to her he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”

“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied.

“Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.

“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.

He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity– the boiling water.

However, each one reacted differently.

The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.

The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.

However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

“Which are you,” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean? “

Moral:

In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us.

Which one are you?

 

The Elephant Rope

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

Failure is part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.

 

 

 

Shake off your problems

A man’s favorite donkey falls into a deep precipice;
He can’t pull it out no matter how hard he tries;
He therefore decides to bury it alive.

Soil is poured onto the donkey from above.
The donkey feels the load, shakes it off, and steps on it;
More soil is poured.

It shakes it off and steps up;
The more the load was poured, the higher it rose;
By noon, the donkey was grazing in green pastures.

After much shaking off (of problems)
And stepping up (learning from them),
One will graze in GREEN PASTURES.

 

Everyone has a Story in Life..What is your story?

A 24 year old boy seeing out from the train’s window shouted…
“Dad, look the trees are going behind!”
Dad smiled and a young couple sitting nearby, looked at the 24 year old’s childish behavior with pity,
suddenly he again exclaimed…
“Dad, look the clouds are running with us!”
The couple couldn’t resist and said to the old man…
“Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor?”
The old man smiled and said…
“I did and we are just coming from the hospital, my son was blind from birth, he just got his eyes today.

Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. The truth might surprise you.

 

The wise teacher and the jar

There was once a very wise teacher, whose words of wisdom students would come from far and wide to hear. One day as usual, many students began to gather in the teaching room. They came in and sat down very quietly, looking to the front with keen anticipation, ready to hear what the teacher had to say.

Eventually the teacher came in and sat down in front of the students. The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. On one side of the teacher was a large glass jar. On the other side was a pile of dark grey rocks. Without saying a word, the teacher began to pick up the rocks one by one and place them very carefully in the glass jar (Plonk. Plonk.) When all the rocks were in the jar, the teacher turned to the students and asked, ‘Is the jar full?’ ‘Yes,’ said the students. ‘Yes, teacher, the jar is full’.

Without saying a word, the teacher began to drop small round pink pebbles carefully into the large glass jar so that they fell down between the rocks. (Clickety click. Clickety click.) When all the pebbles were in the jar, the teacher turned to the students and asked, ‘Is the jar now full?’ The students looked at one another and then some of them started nodding and saying, ‘Yes. Yes, teacher, the jar is now full. Yes’.

Without saying a word, the teacher took some fine silver sand and let it trickle with a gentle sighing sound into the large glass jar (whoosh) where it settled around the pink pebbles and the dark grey rocks. When all the sand was in the jar, the teacher turned to the students and asked, ‘Is the jar now full?’

The students were not so confident this time, but the sand had clearly filled all the space in the jar so a few still nodded and said, ‘Yes, teacher, the jar is now full. Now it’s full’.

Without saving a word, the teacher took a jug of water and poured it carefully, without splashing a drop, into the large glass jar. (Gloog. Gloog.)

When the water reached the brim, the teacher turned to the students and asked, ‘Is the jar now full?’ Most of the students were silent, but two or three ventured to answer, ‘Yes, teacher, the jar is now full. Now it is’.

Without saying a word, the teacher took a handful of salt and sprinkled it slowly over the top of the water with a very quiet whishing sound. (Whish.) When all the salt had dissolved into the water, the teacher turned to the students and asked once more, ‘Is the jar now full?’ The students were totally silent. Eventually one brave student said, ‘Yes, teacher. The jar is now full’. ‘Yes,’ said the teacher ‘The jar is now full’.

The teacher then said: ‘A story always has many meanings and you will each have understood many things from this demonstration. Discuss quietly amongst yourselves what meanings the story has for you. How many different messages can you find in it and take from it?’

The students looked at the wise teacher and at the beautiful glass jar filled with grey rocks, pink pebbles, silver sand, water and salt. Then they quietly discussed with one another the meanings the story had for them. After a few minutes, the wise teacher raised one hand and the room fell silent. The teacher said: ‘Remember that there is never just one interpretation of anything. You have all taken away many meanings and messages from the story, and each meaning is as important and as valid as any other’.

And without saying another word, the teacher got up and left the room.

And another version of the same story

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.” The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now”, said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends, your favorite passions – things that, if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car.

The sand is everything else – the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. There will always be time to clean the house, and fix the rubbish. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand”.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that, no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers”.

The Chinese farmer

There is a Chinese story of an old farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and, when all the farmer’s neighbours sympathised with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, ‘Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?’

A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, ‘Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?’

Then, when the farmer’s son was attempted to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, ‘Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?’

Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?