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Everything posted by Gilgamesh

  2. Thank you so much...we were so lucky to have witnessed all of this, especially the leopard-lion sequence...after all of these weeks, I can't believe we were actually there and saw what we did...African wildlife is such a beautiful gift to the whole world.
  3. Introduction: This was our first safari ever, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Easily the best vacation we've ever had. I will try to keep this trip report as short as possible and mostly let the photographs speak for themselves. We are in our late 40's. We chose All Seasons Safari to organize our trip. Our trip involved both flying and driving between camps. It also involved lodges and tents, Mara reserve and the conservancy. This allowed us to experience different options and I will give my opinion on how they compared. Itinerary: 1N Nairobi 2N Amboseli 2N Ol Pejeta 1N Naivasha 4N Masai Mara Warning: This is not necessarily a safari report, but rather a report of our entire trip. Although it was purely a safari trip, we witnessed a lot more than animals and I will be posting a variety of photographs. I prefer landscapes, still life, people more than close up of animals. However, there is plenty of the latter too. The report is primarily catered to the beginners, but I will try to keep it entertaining for the regulars as well. But, I can guarantee even the hardened safari goers, an image I will post will be very interesting to even them. In fact I'd like to know whether anyone has ever witnessed it was an image taken at ISO 16,000 at f4 and a shutter speed of just 1/30 at, its beauty is not in its image quality but rather what it depicts...but, alas it happened on day 9 and everyone will have to wait to see it. It is worth the wait Camera gear: I wanted it to be a compact package, all fitting inside my Lowpro Fastpack 200. We only took two backpacks for our other things. Pentax K5, K7 Pentax 60-250/4, Sigma 50-500/4.5-6.3 Pentax 12-24/4, Pentax 21/3.2, Pentax 43/1.9, Volna 9 50/2.8 1:2 macro
  4. Trip report Masai Mara - Kenya
  5. You almost got it though...just didn't expect the Leopard to be there with the kill. Yes! Doing a safari has always been number one on my bucket list...sooo glad, we got it done.
  6. Wow! Didn't think there will be a Hyrax club Taken at the Mara Serena Lodge, Masia Mara Reserve, Kenya.
  7. Kenya Trip report here...
  8. The trip report is here The Cheetah Flickr album is here...if you click the link, you can see the Cheetah hunt the Warthog in sequence (First some Cheetah shots and at the end frame by frame capture of the hunt)...
  9. I have to say I keep coming back to see your photos...they are breathtaking.
  10. I'm going to link this report in TripAdvisor and would like to add this post, so it will help newbies who frequent that forum. I am not an expert, just been to Kenya one time....this is my personal opinion. Driving in Kenya: I will never drive in Kenya, but I will not say it's impossible if you know exactly what you are doing. You cannot drive on your own inside the parks. You've got to know the inside information (where animals typically are, all the internal paths, some of which are impossible to know etc.) You will still see a bunch of herbivores and think you had a great time, but would have missed almost everything. Hiring the parks own guides/driver should be better than hiring a guide from Nairobi as they seem to work as a team increasing your chances of interesting animal encounters. Driving vs flying: I enjoyed seeing rural Kenya. I will strongly recommend at least one or two legs of driving. I know we are going to Kenya for a safari, but I doubt we missed much game drive time as we made up for it by staying out longer. 6 hours of driving is easier to handle for me in Kenya than here in the USA, as the drives involved seeing so many new, fascinating things. However, obviously in the 6 hours we can probably drive twice the distance here. A good tour operator like 'All-seasons safari' will not let you pick the wrong routes/itinerary - like they refused to drive from Ol Pejeta to Mara on one day and said we had to break journey in Naivasha. Reserve vs conservancy: The conservancy all the way. Our next trip will solely be in conservancies. Almost always less crowded. Sometimes unbelievably so, as in when we were the only ones with the lion cubs one whole evening. Driving up to the animals is priceless - IMO, the only way to do it. Conservancies are into environmentally friendly policies too, so that's a bonus. Lodge vs tent: Lodges were always better, so nice to sit down in a comfortable lobby, put your legs up with a beer in hand and enjoy a lot of the animals right from there...most of the lodges we stayed had a watering hole or a Savannah where the animals came close to the lodge. Numerous birds too. Food was great as well, but they were excellent in the conservancy too. However, as the conservancy are mostly all tents, I will pick tents next time not for the sake of wanting to stay in tents, but because the game viewing is much better in a conservancy. Lenses: Lens- loved the versatility of the 50-500 zoom I took. 500mm on a cropped body is necessary. I did not have one but even your 70-200/2.8 will be very useful in a conservancy. Take some wide angle, normal and macro lenses too - photographic opportunities in Kenya is limitless. All-seasons safari. (Rating 8/10) They were always on time. From the time they came to the airport to every game drive etc. Delivered everything as promised and at times more. The only thing they promised but did not provide was a bean bag. But, I didn't need it. I guess if I needed it they would have made arrangements for it, but we were already in Amboseli before I realized there wasn't one. Our driver/guide Joseph was from Amali safari - All seasons hired him. He is a very safe driver. We felt totally safe when we drove from location to location. He knows all three parks we visited very well, including where various animals typically will be. He is not highly knowledgeable like porini guides in animal/bird knowledge. This did not affect our experience too much as we were beginners. More experienced safari goers may want to hire someone with more specific knowledge. Although he made friends with other guides to get info for the next day's safari, I suspect the guides from the camp will have more information on ideal sighting. Also, I would think they will work as a team, like in Porini and thus several eyes looking for animals. Here we had to rely on his past experience only and if we happen to stop another vehicle and ask about what they had seen. Did not feel like a coordinated effort among several guides like it was in Porini. So, we may have missed a lot. All season safari email response was very weak. At times certain emails will never get a reply, even after repeated prompting. Some took several weeks for a reply. I did find that very frustrating. However, as they delivered everything as promised (except the bean bag), I will recommend them. I was asking for driver names for weeks, and was provided only the night before When it rained on that one evening, everyone except us left on time. Joseph wouldn't leave till it stopped. The cost was $4370 per person, not including international flights. So, it included two internal flights, all park fees, game drives, 10 nights of accommodations, all meals and most of the water supply. It did not include the Naivasha boat ride (6,000 shillings for two). It also included driving us around Nairobi on that last day. All Tips extra. Porini lion (10/10): ...Exceeded our expectations. Game watchers/Jake were awesome. I've also mentioned Meshack and other guides. Patrick the camp manager was equally exceptional. He was always there when we came back from each game drive asking us how it went. He was there to send us off on almost all game drives. He had an excellent sense of humor and really made us feel like home. The whole team did. My wife who was apprehensive of the "tents", upon our return said at Porini Lion camp she felt like she was amidst friends. When you stay here, you will not only have the best animal viewing but at the same time keep this wonderful concept alive - Protecting the animals, environmentally friendly while supporting the local tribes. I posted my first thread in safaritalk, exactly a year before my first African safari. This trip could not have been this wonderful without the help of the members here. So, a big thanks to everyone here.
  11. Jake, You are welcome to any photos taken in Porini lion camp, if you want them for your website. Jake was extremely helpful to us, prior to and during our visit. I want to elaborate on one of the things he did... Jake has informed me even prior to us leaving the USA that he had contacted 'All-seasons safari' and informed them how the transfer to Porini lion will happen. I also verified with 'all-seasons safari' that they had done so. However, on that last day at Mara Reserve, Jospeh our driver/guide told us he wasn't sure how the transfer will happen as we were retiring for the night. The transfer was supposed to happen the next morning. It sounded like, Joseph wanted to change the transfer point to make it easier for him to return to Nairobi. I emailed Jake around 9pm that night and went to bed. I wasn't holding onto much hope...however when I woke up, Jake had already taken care of everything. He had emailed me back within minutes that he will look into it further. Then he must have contacted the camp, all seasons and agreed to the new transfer point. I received the second email prior to midnight. So, even that extremely last minute change of plans was all taken care of as I was sleeping...that kind of service is unparalleled...Jake, my wife and I really appreciated that...thank you!
  12. Pen Thank you! When I was viewing that whole hunting sequence just through my viewfinder I missed some action. For instance, my wife who was looking at all 5 cheetahs, the 3 baby warthogs and the mom was able to see all of what was going on. But facial reactions etc. like that can only be viewed by seeing the photos. I also love the way he looks at the baby warthog in the last two frames...still eyeing him, wishing he could get at him. We saw so many new things like this on photographs that we did not realize at the time. So, I am glad we got to enjoy extra things as we were viewing the photos again. The five Cheetah brothers are so's awesome to just sit there and watch them. On the first night when others said they had seen the five cheetahs, I was so jealous...who even dreams of seeing five Cheetahs all together in the wild...having heard it, I was so wishing to see them too. Never dreamt of seeing them actually hunt. It was a beautiful trip.
  13. Thank you! I love those final cheetah shots....I feel like I was able to get portraits of Cheetah and Leopard to my satisfaction and decent lion ones too. It is so hard to get that ideal shot when all of this is happening in the wild, and not a well manicured zoo...obstructions, light, distance etc to deal with....a lot of luck involved in getting the ideal shot. I am very pleased.
  14. Thank you so much. You will love is truly spectacular. I'm sure you'll have a fabulous time...we were having a blast even in Amboslei and Ol Pejeta. Kenyan wildlife is gorgeous.
  15. Peter, Thank you so much for the kind reply. I am so glad you liked it so much. You are very welcome.
  16. Jake, the owner has already responded. Yes! On that vehicle they are. I don't think our vehicles for game drives with the closed roof had them...anyhow, I didn't look for it.
  17. Thank you! We love the Mara, especially the conservancy. IMO, the only way I will go there again. That last photo is the Mara airport ...the tree is the checking counter. That row of white rocks demarcates the vehicle area from the aircraft area...overcrowded???? ... I guess it's all relative. I'll take these types of overcrowding anywhere. Next time, I will spend a few nights in the Mara conservancy and visit Tanazani. Jake said they are developing a new combined itinreary. This is the tentative plan he had sent us - "We are developing a new itinerary in Tanzania as an “add-on” of 5 or 6 days to a safari to the Porini Camps in Kenya, taking in Serengeti 2 nights, Lake Manyara and Ngororongoro 1 night and Tarangire 2 nights. We will be flying guests from the Mara to Serengeti and then by air to Manyara for Ngorongoro then by road to Tarangire and on to Nairobi by air." Sounds ideal to me. Kenya was synonymous with safari to me. My research started and ended there. I will recommend it for anyone wanting a first safari...a fabulous country.
  18. Day 10 - Our Final game drive (Porini Lion camp) Jackson was the main guide today. It was still dark and we saw this pride of lions on the move. High iso images We went to see Fig, she was sleeping. We haven't seen lion cubs on a carcass yet, so fixed that next Then this little brat walked towards it's mother and then and the winner is... Then they soon left the area Hey! but we haven't seen you drag a carcass yet???...another lioness came and showed how that's done It's hard work Then on our way we realized I never got that Cheetah shot with nothing on the background...The Cheetah sisters obliged with a few incredible poses... On our way to the airport I took these shots to show how open many of the Porini vehicles are...some have solid roof though. Look at that skyline! At the airport The gang of two waiting at the Mara airport. And this most amazing trip of our lifetime came to an end...taken from the plane looking down on our vehicle I will be posting my thoughts, recommendation, advice etc. on the next post. Thank you! "Africa!!!...There is no substitute" <I am a life long, die hard Porsche fan. There's no higher compliment...none!!!>
  19. There were four lionesses on the ground. We went there the next morning and did not find the Leopard but the prey was still up on the this Leopard stood its ground and made the lionesses chicken out...may be too young to know better.
  20. I can't believe the luck we had either...I will be telling my wife what I wished to see and literally the next day we"ll see was unreal.
  21. Day 9 (Porini Lion) Evening Drive cont'd We had just finished enjoying our sundowner by the sight of the mother Leopard. We were about to call it a night when Meshack saw her son on a tree not too far away. This juvenile male was actually with a kill. Something else I've wanted to see. He was just a few feet away from mom...what a sight!...but of course it's pitch dark now....I was able to get some of the first images with natural light (I think) and then Meshack had to pull out the IR light. He tried to lift the prey higher But, it kept sliding down... It was getting darker and darker, and the Jackals were howling...I was using iso 16,000 at f4 to shoot the images, the shutter speed kept coming down and down...the above image was shot at 1/100....what does these data mean?, the alert reader will know what's coming next... Yup! A Lioness didn't just climb a tree to get at a prey left by a Leopard, it climbed while the Leopard was still there...I was told this is very rare and the above image is what I've been calling the rare/surprise image. Like I said previously, this image was taken at 250mm, f4, ISO 16,000 at a mere 1/30 shutter speed. I am curious whether anyone has witnessed this? She backed out though Now, lets track back a little bit... We were watching the Leopard with it's prey up in the tree and Meshack saw the glowing eyes of lions in the dark...the Jackal's howling had attracted them...four lionesses started to swarm around the tree The Leopard was very anxious and was scanning the ground... The tree was tall But, one Lioness attempted the unthinkable... The Leopard was growling at the Lion The Lioness growled was awesome! ...the sound, deafening!! Inching ever so closer And that one final push which made the image of the trip for me...once again Once she quits and got down to the ground, they were still eyeing the Leopard up above. He kept a constant vigil We left him there with the lions as it was after 7:30pm by now...on the way we saw another creature I've been hoping to see Bushbaby (Galago) That brought an end to the most memorable single day of vacation we've ever had. Meshack was a big part of it and I will be sending him full resolution images of any image he wants from this day as a thank you. Believe it or not, even the short morning drive on day 10 was amazing....that's next!
  22. Thanks!...If you'd like, once I'm done here I can add the relevant post with pictures there.
  23. That is strange. I'm using the free Opanda EXIF viewer on my internet explorer desktop and they are there. It was shot at 144mm first and then at 93mm on a crop sensor. Then cropped. I included a full, uncropped image above. I think the relatively light zoom gave me tremendous flexibility and hand holding was very useful. With a more expensive fast telephoto prime some of the images will of course be much nicer, but at the same time will miss a lot of opportunity.

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