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Found 276 results

  1. Having several African safaris under our belt--South Africa twice, Tanzania, Botswana--and having read so many wonderful Kenya trip reports on SafariTalk, Kenya seemed the logical destination for our next safari. But where to go? I knew that the Mara had to be included. Should we add other areas and parks? Usually for a first trip to a country we like to get an overview and see as much as possible of different habitats but in the end, mainly due to time and budget constraints, we decided to concentrate on the Masai Mara--and do it at the optimal time to witness the "Great Migration" and the famed river crossings. The only other thing I was certain of was that we wanted to stay primarily in the conservancies, so that we would have less crowds and the ability to off-road. So, with the expert guidance of our safari planner, Bill Given at The Wild Source, we decided on the following itinerary, commencing mid-September 2016. 1 night Eka Hotel, Nairobi 3 nights Porini Lion Camp, Olare Motorogi Conservancy 4 nights Encounter Mara Camp, Naboisho Conservancy 4 nights Wild Source's private mobile camp, Enaidura, in the Mara triangle 1 Night Ololo Lodge, Nairobi The Wild Source has a new collaborative model with two local Masai guides, who have co-ownership in the Enaidura operation: Johnson Ping’ua Nkukuu (Ping) and Paul Kirui. They also have arranged with some camps to allow these guides (who are very well respected across Kenya) to bring clients to those camps in Wild Sources' specially configured safari vehicle. So this unique arrangement enabled us to have our own vehicle with well-known and highly regarded Ping as our private guide while we were at Encounter Mara and Enaidura Camps. At Porini Lion, we were to be in a shared vehicle (or so we thought...) As departure approached I started to get a little apprehensive--were we making a mistake staying in just one location--the Mara--for our whole trip? As birders, I knew we were unlikely to add many "lifers" in this area, since being contiguous with the Serengeti, where we'd been in Tanzania, there would be few birds that were unique or new. Would there be enough photographic opportunities?? Would we drive endlessly through featureless savanna without seeing much of anything?? Would we be bored with so many nights in one area...were the three camps different enough? those of you who have been to the Mara must know, there was no need to worry. I can honestly say that we have not been anywhere else on safari where there was never a dull moment--never a lull--always something to see just around the corner! And each camp was unique with its own attractions. And we learned a few things: the Mara is THE place for cats--we saw 7 unique leopards, countless lions, 12 different cheetahs, and 2 servals. And we even picked up 152 birds, with 15 of them lifers--more than I expected! Not to mention the endless plains of wildebeest, zebra, and all the other game species. And one other thing I learned--although I am glad that we saw a few river crossings--I don't ever have to, or want to, do that again. More on that later. So enough preamble, I'm sure you want to get to the meat of it--and some photos! A bit later...
  2. Blue-headed Tree Agama This prologue is for a trip report covering a recent Kenya safari I took with my friend Roger, who is a fellow birder-naturalist. Conditions were DRY throughout our travels, which ran from January 14 - 29. Throughout much of Kenya, we learned that the short rains came late or little this year, or almost failed completely - depending on the area in question. After reading @@michael-ibk's recent Kenya trip report, I suspect places like Kakamega Forest (that seemed OK when he visited) had dried out by the time we came through a few weeks later. Our guide Ben Mugambi said it was the driest he had ever seen Kakamega Forest - and also Aranbuko-Sokoke Forest on the coast. The forest trails and forest floor in Kakamega and Arabuko-Sokoke were carpeted with crispy dry leaves - which made moving quietly or stealthily pretty difficult. Dry Kakamega undergrowth - January 18 In the Mara, Musiara Swamp was almost completely dry, with dust devils blowing round. Orange-leafed Croton bushes were either shriveled or bare all around Mara North. Dry and dusty Musiara Marsh with Governor's Camp and the Mara River in the background -- But we still did very well - and the theme of the trip was "quality over quantity". Another theme was "improbable chance meetings". We got almost all our major bird and critter targets and the Mara delivered fabulously again. Some highlights of the safari included: - Three big cat species in 19 minutes in Mara North Conservancy, followed by a sighting of the "Offbeat male Leopard" from the porch of our tent #4 after lunch. Viewing two male Leopards within a couple of hours of each other was a real treat! Leopard stalking Leopard resting Cheetah - 18 Suni in Nairobi National Park! Photos and video obtained. - Black Rhinos parading and sleeping in the open in Nairobi National Park. And the first Verreaux's Eagle sighting in Nairobi NP in over 10 years. And a pair of Crowned Eagles over the forest just west of Nairobi Tented Camp. Black Rhinos - Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. (wait for that day's report for a photo) - Frank and Jesse the Offbeat pride males, are still large and in charge in Mara North. Had good quality time with the Offbeat Pride of Lions with cubs of varying ages. Jesse - A very enjoyable birding over lunch experience at Little Governor's Camp and finally meeting a "nemesis bird" - Schalow's Turaco. Crossing_Mara_River - Great shorebirding and coastal birds at Mida Creek and the Sabaki River Mouth. - A neat boat excursion on Lake Victoria to break up the drive from Kakamega Forest to the Mara. - Stumbling on a great birding spot at a crest in the Tugen Hills and photographing a Narina Trogon. Narina Trogon - Great birding at Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria. Heuglin's Courser Pygmy Kingfisher - Ongoing evolution and improvements at Offbeat Mara camp. They are so flexible and accommodating to guest desires. For example: one day we did a bush breakfast and all-morning game drive, then afternoon game drive, transitioning into a fine bush dinner with some other guests and then straight into a night drive ending up back at camp after a couple of hours. Birding behind Offbeat Mara - down behind the dining tent, beside the Olare Orok River. - Shy and difficult-to-observe birds in Kakamega Forest Spotted Flufftail Dusky-crested Flycatcher -- Before the trip, I had warned Roger that "something will go wrong" and that we would just go with the flow and with Ben and his network's help, things would work out. Sure enough we had a few blips during our time on the coast, but things worked out just fine. Our first issue was before leaving the USA - our Emirates flight was very late departing JFK and we missed our connecting flight from Dubai to Nairobi. But we were met exiting the plane in Dubai with tickets for the next morning's flight to Nairobi, a hotel voucher, and an explanation that we did not need to collect luggage - it would be put on tomorrow's plane for us. So we got a free night in Dubai and had some good birding in the hotel garden that afternoon. The downside was that we would miss our day trip to Nairobi National Park on January 14 but I had a plan to address that. Our itinerary ended up being: January 14 - Arrive at JKIA one day late. Hit the Nakumatt, do some birding along Red Cross Road. Overnight Boma hotel. January 15 - Drive to Lake Baringo for lunch and afternoon birding, Overnight Tumbili Cliff Lodge. January 16 - Lake Baringo + Lake Bogoria. Overnight Tumbili Cliff Lodge. January 17 - Drive to Kakamega Forest by way of Tugen Hills and Kerio Valley. Overnight Rondo Retreat. January 18 - Kakamega Forest, overnight Rondo Retreat. January 19 - Kakamega Forest, overnight Rondo Retreat. January 20 - Drive to Mara North, via Kisumu. overnight Offbeat Mara. January 21 - Mara North Conservancy, overnight Offbeat Mara January 22 - Mara North Conservancy, overnight Offbeat Mara January 23 - All day in the Main Reserve, lunch at Little Governor's, overnight Offbeat Mara. January 24 - Morning game drive in Mara North, after lunch bush flight to Malindi, overnight Ocean Sports Resort in Watamu. January 25 - Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. overnight Ocean Sports Resort in Watamu. January 26 - Sabaki River Mouth and Mida Creek. overnight Ocean Sports Resort in Watamu. January 27 - Morning birding at Mida Creek, fly to JKIA in Nairobi. Overnight Boma hotel. January 28 - All day outing in Nairobi National Park. Overnight Boma hotel. January 29 - Morning birding along Magadi Road south of Nairobi. Fly home in the late afternoon. -- I talked to Ben and Roger and we agreed to cut a day off our time at the coast, in order to return to Nairobi a day early and get a full day in Nairobi National Park. For this safari, I had obtained a new camera backpack - Think Tank Photo's Airport Commuter. I love this camera bag! It held my camera, lens, a Swarovski spotting scope, Swarovski binoculars, laptop, iPad, memory cards, batteries, a La Cie portable hard drive, cables, camera cleaning kit, and 1 day's clothing. I checked two bags, including a large duffel bag (Patagonia Black Hole Bag). This was to take my tripod, beanbag, and other bulky gear. When we arrived at JKIA, there was a long line of dozens, maybe hundreds, or people in the e-Visa line. Roger and I walked up to an empty desk for Visa-on-arrival passengers. I see no reason at all to put forth the effort and time (and online credit card activity) for an e-Visa. We spent part of our first afternoon in Nairobi birding Red Cross Road - the road where the Boma hotel and Boma Inn are located. We tracked down the ATM near the gate of the Boma Inn and of course we had our binoculars with us and started birding from the gate and out onto the sidewalk. There is a nice hedge and some trees across the street from the Boma complex - we had close to 30 bird species just standing by the gate. Both young security guards - a gentleman and a lady - were interested in the birds we were seeing. We loaned them our binoculars in turn - they could not both be distracted at once you know. They both relished seeing the birds closer and clearer and the young man in particular looked and looked at birds. He had fun tracking swifts and swallows especially. Boma birding We were guided throughout the trip by the incomparable Ben Mugambi, of Ben's Ecological Safaris. I booked all the accomodations and bush flights through Ben's as well. Ben and his office staff handled everything deftly - including a few unforeseen hurdles. Ben knew people everywhere we went, which came in handy a couple of times. The vehicles: Offbeat Mara won "Best Safari Vehicle" again - closely followed by Ben's Ecological Safaris. Offbeat continues to improve and evolve, and their vehicles are no exception. They seem to have taken @@pault's advice and added flat trays to the armrests of their game drive vehicles. These trays are great platforms for photo beanbags. Offbeat photo tray While at Campi ya Offbeat, we had the same trusty Landcruiser as last time - with the photo tray improvements. This vehicle has pop-top roof hatches over both rows of rear passenger seats, and another pop-top hatch over the driver and spotter's seats. These hatches let you see and photograph birds and other things directly overhead. Or stand on the seat and observe + photograph from above roof level. Or sit on the roof in certain situations. Or close the hatch if you need a break from the sun. Offbeat vehicle We used two of Ben's vehicles during the safari - his large Landcruiser for most of the non-Mara safari, then his pride and joy - a 1980 Toyota Landcruiser VX - in Nairobi National Park and Magadi Road the last two days of the safari. Ben's primary safari vehicle, with Ben and driver Simon parked in front of a Baobab Tree near Mida Creek. Ben's Safari Vehicle Ben's Landcruiser VX Ben's VX Landcruiser is the quietest safari vehicle (and quietest diesel SUV) I have ever seen! It is a 12-cylinder turbo-diesel and Ben has the idle speed turned down low. So it purrs along very quietly through field and forest. Ben has some real war stories about using it to deliver late-arriving clients to the Mara late at night in stormy weather and passing abandoned Landrovers and other Landcruisers stuck deep in the muck. The companions: We were fortunate to have Ben Mugambi with us the entire time. We also had great local guides helping in different areas. Super-sharp Francis Cherutich guided us on his home ground of Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria. We were fortunate to have Josphat and Kapeen at Offbeat Mara. At Arabuko-Sokoke forest we had William (Willie), and on Lake Victoria and adjacent land birding we had Solomon. I hope this teaser post stokes some interest. Maybe a few videos will help:
  3. Greetings! So: I have been reading and stalking and think I have a general outline for what I'd like to do; however, I would appreciate any/all feedback/suggestions. I can't book flights yet (insert eyeroll) so this is the proposal and I hope I'll be able to book the content once the flights open. Anyway, onward! Who: Parents (70s), self and husband, son (will be 3.5). All fairly experienced travelers, all have been to Africa before, none have been to this region. Mom happy to be on the trip, most wants Giraffe Manor and to see whatever there is; Dad is participating because he's a good sport, would prefer not to move too much and too often at a time; husband wants to see gorillas and go in a hot air balloon to see the great migration; I want to see everything and it's probably reflected below. This will be my parents' last trip to Africa and they want to go big. We care most about good food. I don't want to break the bank, but I want it clean and high end. My husband doesn't do "outdoors"--he's a former submariner so "camping" is not a thing for him. Ha! When: September 2018 Proposed plan: Not sure how I will route us from the US, so we'll start counting days from when we land Concerns: - Too much movement? Not enough (i.e. am I missing anything you'd recommend? There is no shame in our tourist game). This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing--my mom won't be able to get my dad to go back to Africa, so she wants to leave no stone unturned . . . - I've found five places we would like to stay (Wildwaters Lodge, Giraffe Manor, Hyatt in Zanzibar, Masa Fairmont, Clouds), looking for feedback on those and suggestions for the rest. Will mention chances of changing my mind on Giraffe Manor is zero since it's my mom's wish ;-) My husband prefers a chain so he has a venue to complain if stuff goes wrong (*sigh*) c'est la vie. -21 days on the ground is probably the max I will be able to get out of my dad so I technically have a few extra, but if we don't use them, that's okay, too, since my husband's leave will be at almost zero . . . Day 1: land in Entebbe, rent car (I'm the driver--have driven in a lot of places so feel comfortable on both sides of road with all types of terrain) to stay at Wildwaters Lodge, sunset cruise on Nile; overnight -- this is one of our only 1 night stops, is that okay or would you recommend 2? Day 2: Drive to Nkuringo; overnight at Clouds Day 3: Husband and I gorilla hike (a must for husband); overnight at Clouds Day 4: Second full day at Clouds--suggestions for what to do? Parents don't want to hike, I think it might be nice to stay 3 nights in one place to ease on movement; however, I don't want to spend a day just to spend a day . . . ; overnight at Clouds Day 5 (Assuming we stay a third night): drive to airport drop off car, end independent travel. Fly to Nairobi and transfer to Fairmont Mara Safari Club Day 6: Masa hot air balloon (a must for husband); overnight Fairmont Mara Safari Club Day 7: Safari; overnight Fairmont Mara Safari Club Day 8: Transfer to Serengeti; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 9: Safari (should we plan a second hot air balloon in the event it's not possible in Masa?); overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 10: Safari; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 11: Transfer to Ngorongoro Crater; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 12: Explore Ngorongoro Crater; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 13: Transfer to Amboseli; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 14: Safari; overnight at recommend lodge--any suggestions? Day 15: Transfer to Nairobi airport, flight to Zanzibar; overnight at Hyatt Day 16: All day Zanzibar; overnight at Hyatt Day 17: All day Zanzibar; overnight at Hyatt Day 18: flight to Nairobi, transfer to Giraffe Manor; overnight Giraffe Manor Day 19: All day Giraffe Manor; overnight Giraffe Manor Day 20: Transfer to airport; flight home Very sincerely thank anyone who reads and/or is able to provide suggestions and advice. Also: I finally got around to uploading the earlier video: Michelle
  4. Here is a photo already posted under birds in flight, page 11 COSMIC RHINO asked me to post this photo of Oxpeckers taking flight from a Rhino he saw during a 2017 visit to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. It is a PDF scan of a photo I converted to JPEG for posting to Safaitalk. Click to see a larger version. Edited June 28 by offshorebirder Thursday's Child, Peter Connan and TonyQ like this 3 Like this Lewa is consistently superb , this visit no less than my others every year since 2012 I had seen rhinos with Grevy's zebras before , but they were not good sitings the above picture was on my final morning game drive leaving 630 am with the picnic box this trip I saw Grevy's with rhinos together 5 times , rhinos mud wallowing 5 times, has a good siting of rhinos with reticulated giraffe, many great rhino sitings , elephants ,Grevy's and other animals another highlight was seeing twice a baby rhino suckling with mother and a close look of a small elephant family mud wallowing Quote
  5. This is Part Two of my 2016 African trip to the Masai Mara during October. Part One ~ The South Luangwa N.P., Zambia during September can be found here. Preamble ~ I had not been to the Masai Mara for decades. Whilst no one can argue that the abundance of wildlife is astonishing and the scenery beautiful I struggle with the number of vehicles jostling for position at many of the sightings. For me, who prefers a feeling of isolation in the wilderness, this degrades the experience considerably and I often wonder whether I am actually witnessing natural animal behaviour. Peter, my travelling companion, had said that if I could put up with the crowds in the main reserve it should be quieter in the conservancies and mostly that was true though there were some sightings (mainly of leopards) in the conservancies where there were in excess of 10 vehicles present. The itinerary for this portion of the trip consisted of; 1 night Nairobi (after arriving on a flight from Lusaka @ 9:00 PM) 7 nights Entim Camp 5 nights Kicheche Bush Camp 2 nights Kicheche Valley Camp Entim camp within the main reserve sits on the edge of a forest with a private outlook over one of the crossing points on the Mara River. This was the rationale for staying here but unfortunately the number of wildebeeste I saw investigate the crossing point was a grand total of four. Kicheche Bush Camp situated in the Olare Motogori Conservancy has long been a favourite of Peter’s and he has stayed there many times, often a few times a year. From reading many other TR’s I note that quite a few members of ST have also stayed here.The current hosts Darren & Emma are a delight and the tents are spacious, extremely comfortable and private. Whilst my tent and I suspect all others looked out onto the bush there is nothing in the way of what I would call fabulous views. We had hoped to stay here for 7 nights but the owner was hosting a photographic tour and the camp was booked for the last 2 nights of our intended stay so we decided on Kicheche Valley Camp for those 2 nights. Kicheche Valley Camp (as the name describes) is in a valley in the Naboisho Conservancy. The area around the camp comprises of acacia woodland & rocky (granite?) outcrops with permanent water in the river system at the bottom of the valley. As such the area in the immediate vicinity of the camp provides a slightly different game viewing experience to other areas of the Mara. Though the open plains that typify the Mara are a short drive to the north of camp. When the first wildebeeste takes the plunge the others will follow A lioness surveying the plains passes extremely close to the vehicle A Griffon vulture arriving at a carcass A confiding Little Bee-eater at morning tea. Buffalo with Red-billed Oxpecker.
  6. so we have been back 4 weeks and plannign for next summer. this trip was ol lentille, kicheche laikipia and kicheche mara. next trip will either be a new mobile camp in meru for 3 nights, liakpia wilderness for 4 and then offbeat mara for 4 or ol Lentille for first 4, and then lwc for 4 dn offbeat mara for 4.. is this too repetitive? we are repeating mara north again...has anyone else done this? we tried to book other conservancies but could not find any deals with kicheche or asilia. price matters as there are 4 of us.. is kicheche similar to offbeat in regard to guiding, vehicles, tents and food? just want it to be as wonderful as the first trip.
  7. I am leaning towards Kenya for next year, early July 2015. I am thinking of spending 4 nights in the Mara area and then 8 nights in Laikipia/Meru. I am struggling to decide which concession to stay in. I am hoping for lots of cats and elephants just in case the sightings aren't great in the other areas I will be in. I am partial to Mara North and staying at Serian since they assign a private vehicle but am worried it will feel a little too crowded. Any thoughts?
  8. we loved our first family safari so much! back a month now. kids were 13 and 15. eka for first night, 4 nights ol lentile, 3 kicheche laikipia, 4 kitceche mara and a private sheldrick visit on departure day. what we loved: the people! ol lentille was a perfect first stop. it was to have been sosian but we had to change. our flight was 25 hours from the us. thank goodness we had access to the admirals club lounges. the one in paris is amazing! we stayed in the captains house (2 br 3 bath) and had our own butler, valet, guide and vehicle. so dry here so not many animals but we loved our camel safari where we met our guide's son, nephew and friends. we also visited a school and did a village visit that was to be an hour and we were there for almost 4! we took pics of the kids, and then family photos and shared them with the villagers. they delighted in them. my daughter and i loved the unlimited spa treatments and we did atv rides where the locals came out and waved to us. we chased a lone bull elephant away from a village. we really got to know our butler, valet and guide and had some very interesting and respectful conversations. dd and i also had some with the women at the spa since we visited it so frequently. we have never experienced such level of luxury, gracious hospitality, amazing views, cultural interaction, fab food etc. it was a great way to better understand the country we were visiting and to rest up before the real safari began. many of you have done the kicheche camps-we loved the lack of schedule (we typically went out at 6:15 and returned at 12:30 then out from 4 to 7 ish. loved the bush breakfasts and open topped vehicles and wonderful guiding standards. only time we saw more than 1other vehicle is when we witnessed a kill and found a huge pride or lions. small intimate camps that always made my kids feel welcome and included (who knew we'd meet a family from canada who love hockey as much as my son and husband!) my kids had their own tent at k mara and were the last tent and always surrounded by tons of cape buffalo (my son calls them the spawn of satan) and baboons but they knew their askari would keep them safe. while i wanted very nice accommodations i realized we spent so little time in out tents (not true at ol lentille) so guiding, vehicle, food became most important to me. i could never rough it but don't need an over the top tent bc so little time is spent there. that said, we want to return and hope to return to kenya. however the sand dunes in namibia also sound so different. was considering namibia and south africa but sa seems so scheduled-a few hours out and then back for breakfast! is this accurate? if so, it is back to kenya for us! as of now, we are considering laikipia wilderness, then a mobile camp in meru that the folks from lwc are opening and then to the mara and hopefully to kicheche bush to see all those leopards? thoughts? thanks so much.
  9. So, I'm putting up a review for everyone's benefit, but I start with a disclaimer that I didn't stay at this lodge as a guest, but as a lodge-based guide for 2 sets of guests as a favour. I have stayed in two different guest rooms, though, and partook of all their activities. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Lentorre Lodge, Kenya 2) Website address if known: 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). 6th - 10th June & 19th - 23rd June. I don't know pricing as I was guiding. 4) Length of stay: TOTAL 7 days. 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I had actually been wanting to visit for a long time, and this temp job opportunity presented itself, so I jumped at it. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Direct with a director 7) How many times have you been on Safari? Umpteen 8) To which countries? Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Serian, Kicheche, Encounter Mara, Naboisho Camp, Laikipia Wilderness, etc. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 units, but room 2 and room 6 are "family units" with two rooms each. So technically 8 en-suite rooms. 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? All tents have great views across the top of the woodland, down to Shompole hill, the most prominent feature on the horizon (other than the Nguruman escarpment, which is ever-present and runs North to South) Tent 1 and 2 have good views of the waterhole in front of camp (as does the lower common/dining area). All tents are completely private with no access in front of the tent. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very. Huge beds, hot showers, fully open fronted rooms, and each room has a little plunge pool. I know plunge pools are not for everyone and I'm generally a purist who doesn't need them, but when it's there and it's 39 degrees, I'll happily use it! 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. All the food was fantastic. Simple, but subtle flavours. Nothing over the top showy, but very good, very hearty, and plenty of it. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Menu is varied from day to day, plenty of vegetarian options. The F&B manager is basically vegetarian herself, so she works with the kitchen to produce a great menu for all requirements. Yes dietary requirements are requested during the booking phase so camp can plan ahead. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? The camp is block-booked for each group, so there is no sharing of tables or vehicles with other groups anyway. Everyone sits down for a dinner together from the one group. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? No packed breakfasts. Camp can organize bush breakfasts and dinners, but only tea, coffee, and small snacks go out 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Toyota Land Cruiser Station Wagons with 3 roof hatches cut and 2 rows of seats on the roof. 19) How many guests per row? Maximum 3, but usually 2. There are 3 vehicles, and additional ones can be brought in for very large groups. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Due to the heat and the unique relationship with cattle (I'll get to that later), game drives usually leave the camp between 5:45 and 6:00 am and have breakfast out in the bush or back in camp at around 8:45 - 9:30 am. Evening game drives would never leave earlier than 4:30 and could come back any time between 6:30 and 9:00 pm depending on how long you wanted to extend the night drive after sunset. There are two main routes directly out of camp, which then split into around 5 main game drive routes. We'd try to take a different route each time, but it also depended on where we'd heard hyenas, lion, and leopard the night before. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? See above for standard times. Times are flexible, but there's really no reason to change those times as the heat and the cows (again, I'll get to this in a bit) mean that outside of the normal game drive times, you'll just be hot, dusty, and uncomfortable, and won't see much game. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Olkirimatian Conservancy is a section of Olkirimatian Group Ranch. It is a community conservancy around 25,000 hectares. Lentorre has exclusive rights to Olkirimatian for game drives, so other than the odd pickup or pikipiki (motorbike) on the main road at the edge of the conservancy, you've got it all to yourselves. Olkirimatian is on the northern border of Shompole conservancy, around 60,000 hectares. Lentorre has traversing game drive rights on Shompole as well. The other operators here are Shompole Wilderness (nothing to do with the original Shompole Lodge), and Lale'enok Research Centre. In the 7 days that I was guiding there, I saw the research centre vehicle once, and no others. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? N/A 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. No need for it with no other vehicles around 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? This is probably the only place I have been where I heard Leopard almost as often as Hyena (which was a lot), and more often than Lion. We had a very good sighting of a leopard at the waterhole at 5:30 in the morning two days in a row. It's also unparalleled for Striped Hyena. You can see Striped & Spotted Hyena, Aardwolf, and Leopard all on the same night just sitting at dinner. Lesser Kudu is common. Gerenuk are present, but not easy to spot. Fringe-Eared Oryx, Grant's Gazelle, and Eastern White Bearded Gnu (a sub-species of Wildebeest, quite different from those in the Mara) are ever-present out on the shompole plains. Zebra, Impala, and Dikdik are very common. Coke's Hartebeest and Waterbuck are present, but less easy to spot. Banded, Slender, White-Tailed, and Dwarf Mongoose are common. Black and White Colobus present. In fact, I can't think of another place in Kenya where you can see Colobus and Oryx on the same game drive. Genets and Civets are also common. There are a few elephant bulls that roam the two conservancies and the Nguruman escarpment behind. Larger families only really seem to come down in the wet season or if a pipe bursts and there's free water! Lions are present and their numbers have increased hugely over the last ten years as the "South Rift Association of Land Owners", the Lale'enok Research Centre, and an organization called "Rebuilding The Pride" have worked to reduced Human Wildlife Conflict and the Maasai tradition of killing lions when they're warriors. We heard lions on numerous occasions and found very fresh tracks, but were unable to follow into the thick bush. I would estimate every other group of guests gets to see lion there. Cheetahs are present as well on the Shompole plains, but we never spent enough time there to find them. Birding is great. At least 4 species of Owl - Southern White Faced Scops, African Scops, Pearl Spotted, and Verreaux's. I reckon there must be plenty of Spotted Eagle Owls as well, but never saw or heard one. Great habitat for them. 27) How was the standard of guiding? As I was the one guiding, I'll decline to answer this one. But the Maasai spotters are excellent and the head spotter/guide, Stephen, is really excellent. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? Oh they were just terrible 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Oh, they were just wonderful 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Staff are great. On top of things and plenty of them, so there's no shortage of people around to ask for anything. Manager is present and helpful, but not in your face. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Pay annual lease to the conservancy as well as monthly bed-night fees. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: N/A 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Cattle and heat. Olikirimatian is sandwiched between the Loita Hills/Nguruman Escarpment to the West and the Southern Ewaso Nyiro River to the East. The Maasai and their bomas switch from one side of the river to the other depending on the rains and the grass. As you may notice from some of the pictures below, there really isn't much grass in Olkirimatian. There's plenty on Shompole. I can't really figure out what the difference is. Maybe soil type. There are two migrations we talk about at the camp. The Macro Migration is the larger movement of cattle, bomas, and wildlife around the larger ecosystem throughout the year looking for better grazing. They'll move to the Eastern side of the river and graze all the way towards the shores of Lake Magadi, and then when the grass there runs out, some of them (not all) will move to the Western side, into the edge of the conservancy. The Micro Migration is the daily movement of cattle and wildlife. Every day, when the cattle come out of the bomas to graze, the wildlife heads West to the foothils of the escarpment. In the evening, the cattle go home and the wildlife spreads East across the conservancy. What seems like an overgrazed wasteland during the day comes to life at night with plains game and predators. It really is very unique. Apparently when it rains, there genuinely is a lot of grass, but I suspect that the shoats don't allow for much perennial growth, so you end up with pioneer, annual grasses every rainy season. Pioneer grasses are great for re-seeding the soil and holding erosion at bay, but they're usually (not always) less nutritious or palatable - more seed, less leaves. There probably are too many shoats there, as is the case across the rest of Maasai land, but I still can't stress how diverse and how abundant the game there is. Other things to mention: - The hide/blind at the waterhole is excellent. Fully enclosed in concrete, so you're safe from ellies, buffalo, and lion. Open from 6am to 6pm. The tunnel to get there extends half way up to the lodge. Once they finish it all the way, it'll be open at night as well. - The hike up the Nguruman Escarpment is lovely. Not a difficult, strenuous hike, but it'll get your heart rate going and the views on top are VERY worth it. Again, we heard leopard just before sunset way up high on the ridge before we started to make our way down. - The boma visits are just about as un-commercial and authentic as they come. Every time guests go out, they visit a different boma, so everyone gets a piece of the pie, but no one gets used to it and starts making a business out of it. There's no cheesy welcome dance or trinkets for sale. You get out of the vehicle late in the afternoon and walk the cows home from pasture, chatting with the herdsmen and the Maasai spotter, learning all about their cows, culture, families, etc. Then you can meet everyone at home. If you really want, they can pierce one of the cow's neck veins so you can taste the blood. Both groups I was with did this (ok, only a couple people from each group). - The sundowner spots are seriously good. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Lake Magadi on the way to the lodge - most people will fly, but I drove. Took about 3.5 hours from Karen (Nairobi) Tent 6 Tent 6 Sunrise from one of the sundowner spots Sunrise from Shompole plains View from the first, lowest ridge behind camp. To the left, you can see the higher ridges which take another half hour or so to get to from here. Walk and talk till the cows come home. Getting ready to draw blood One of the mzees from the boma A dormouse who found his way into my backpack and nearly gave me a heart-attack. If ever there was a time for a rugged safari guide to squeal from being overcome with cuteness, this was it. Walking around looking at all the different tracks on the road. See next photo. Once upon a time, a Civet, a lion, and a porcupine went for a stroll. No explanation needed here Poor quality phone photo of sundowners on the riverbank watching the changing light on the sand wall opposite. Hiking up to one of the higher ridges on the escarpment behind camp. Plenty of zebras on this grassy section. Great light. Panorama. To the left and dead ahead you can see the beginnings of the loita hills rising from the top of the flat-topped nguruman escarpment. Looking out over the Western finger of Lake Magadi on the way back to Nairobi.
  10. Read this morning that Air France is going to start up 3x a week flights from Paris to NBO in March 2018. Not sure if this is a game-changer for anyone headed that way, but it seems odd to me in that Kenya Air already flies that route as an Air France codeshare. Will the Kenya Air flights continue or be replaced by this, I wonder?
  11. Reports To read the full article click here.
  12. Reports To read the full article, click here. When did you last visit Tsavo and were you witness to the problems the park is facing? Are reports like this likely to discourage tourists from visiting, or will it be the filip for action to be taken?
  13. Reports To read the full article click here.
  14. I hope this is permitted on here. I just read this magazine with some great articles.
  15. ~ From BBC: “Kenya Cholera Outbreak Hits Dozens at Health Conference”
  16. “Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don't need a diploma to plant a tree.” ~ Dr. Wangari Maathai in ‘Unbowed’ Respect for the Land ~ During an eventful safari in August, 2014 there had been ample evidence suggesting that Kenya’s seemingly timeless landscape was, in fact, changing as a consequence of ongoing development, whether in the form of urban expansion or in the form of herding and grazing activities by those squeezed out from the benefits of high technology and advanced education. As a guest in Africa, it wasn’t my place to judge what I saw as the antecedents were far too complex for a casual safari tourist like me to adequately understand. While I cringed when observing large herds in national reserves and national parks, it was clear that the economic pressures involved were far beyond any simplistic understanding which I might have. Added to that were several less than pleasant scenes with safari van overcrowding around plainly harassed predators, sparking questions in my mind about my own presence as part of the telephoto lens and smart phone scrum. Leaving Nairobi for the long journey back to China, there was a malaise which sullied the memories of the wildlife I’d observed. Was Kenya’s verdant land in the process of losing much of the natural charm which had originally attracted me? My very good fortune was having true friends guiding me in farflung areas of Kenya. Safaritalk member @@Anthony Gitau and his wife, Maggie, of Bigmac Africa Safaris,, had been with me on four highly productive safaris, including the August, 2014 visit to Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru. We had developed trust and rapport such that there was unspoken understanding of what made an ideal game drive. Anthony and Maggie are both such intelligent, warmhearted, humorous individuals, representing Kenya’s finest qualities. One week after returning to China, I contacted them to ask about their availability for a safari in the first week of October, when universities have a one-week vacation in connection with China’s National Day on 1 October. The turnaround time to plan the safari, booking accommodations, was brief, little less than one month. With admirable finesse, Maggie Gitau pulled together the elements of an itinerary which matched my interests and limited time schedule. There were no complaints, despite the scant time available for arranging the details, which is typical of Anthony's and Maggie’s graciousness. They implicitly understood that I needed to return to Kenya as soon as possible to restore my enthusiasm by visiting land with minimal human impact, where the songs of birds and the tracks of herds were the primary evidence of life. Anthony had told me several times that his uncle, who now resides in the United States but was once a safari guide ranging throughout East Africa, had taken him to Meru National Park. That initial visit has triggered Anthony’s love of wildlife tourism, and had given him a special appreciation of Meru National Park. In communicating about possible locations for the October, 2014 safari, I stressed that an itinerary with Meru National Park would be especially welcome. After Anthony praised Meru’s charms, my interest inspired me to learn more about it. Having read several of Mrs. Joy Adamson’s books set in and around Meru National Park, I sensed that a visit there might be a special experience, no matter what sorts of wildlife might be observed. Meru National Park is the training base for newly recruited staff for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and therefore is well maintained despite the relative paucity of visitors. I’d visited nearby Samburu National Reserve with Anthony in May, 2014, and was eager for a return visit. With those considerations in mind, Bigmac Africa proposed an itinerary comprising Meru, Samburu and Lake Nakuru, beginning and concluding at the Sirona Hotel in Nairobi. I agreed with gratitude, for I realized that it had been a complex process to arrange a private safari on such short notice. As I enjoy fresh challenges, I decided to take only one camera, the EOS 1D X, with three lenses, the Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2, the Zeiss Apo-Sonnar T* 135mm f/2, and the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto. As it turned out, that trio of lenses was more than adequate for photographing all that was observed during the safari. I’d never used Tv, Shutter Priority shooting mode before, therefore I resolved to use it throughout the safari, with a constant shutter speed of 1/2000 sec. An untested piece of equipment was an iPad Air which I’d purchased somewhat reluctantly, with the hope of being able to share with Anthony any especially satisfactory images from game drives on the previous days. On every safari there’s invariably something forgotten. In this case it was a recharging cord for the iPad Air. In Hamad International Airport, in Doha, Qatar, it was possible to buy a replacement cord. Nothing else was forgotten or broken, such that it was a trouble-free safari from start to finish, with exceptionally lovely weather every day. The Qatar Airways flights were all on-time, with ample connection time in Doha. The in-flight meals were excellent. At my request, we stopped for lunch at the Trout Tree restaurant near Naro Moru, making a pleasant break during the all-day drive from Nairobi to the Murera Springs Eco-Resort near Meru National Park. The off-the-menu trout en papillote at the Trout Tree restaurant is a special joy on any Meru or Samburu safari. Accomodations were respectively at the Murera Springs Eco-Resort, the Samburu Sopa Lodge, and the Kivu Lodge in Nakuru. Making allowances as needed, all were more than adequate for my needs. I’d previously stayed at both the Samburu Sopa and the Kivu in prior safaris, but it was the first visit to the Murera Springs Eco-Resort owned by Safaritalk member @@nhanq. What a terrific experience! The staff was delightful, adding to the pleasure of visiting Meru for the first time. I had no idea that I would subsequently be a guest at Murera Springs on two later safaris. I’m not especially meal-oriented, but felt that all meals throughout the safari were excellent. As is my custom, when Anthony stopped in Nairobi on the departure morning to fill the fuel tank with petrol and check both tires and suspension, I wandered into the service station convenience shop, strolling back out with a rather large sack filled with small boxes of juice. Apple, black currant, red grape, guava — they sustain me during long drives between destinations, and refresh during lulls between game drive sightings. Whenever the white Toyota safari van stops for refuelling, Anthony’s ritual is to rock it back and forth to assess how the suspension is functioning. That’s a favorite with me, because it signifies “safari” in my mind. Notes about each day on safari were made, as usual, in a mini-notebook from Muji. I’m a devoted Montblanc fountain pen user, therefore two pens were brought along for late-night notes and sketches. The late @@graceland told me that: “a trip report is for you. If others enjoy it, that’s great, but write to express what you feel”. In that spirit this trip report is prepared fully two years after the fact. Life has gone on in Kenya and for me, but the natural beauty I observed during the October, 2014 safari retains its appeal. As will be apparent, this was a “Big Five” safari, the third of eight consecutive “Big Five” safaris. Encountering any species is a treat, whether obscure or “Big Five”. I’m especially drawn to plants, including wildflowers and palm trees. Beauty abounds if one takes time to spot it. Although my profession involves teaching life science students about field ecology, in a trip report I’m far less concerned with precise species identification and far more interested in appreciation of the intense loveliness of the natural world. Simply being outside in Africa’s vibrant scenery is more than enough. There’s a place for carefully reasoned analytical reports about wildlife behavior. That’s not my purpose here, where I prefer to share what I saw, using photographs and poetry to convey cherished memories of a hastily planned safari. A special thanks is in order to @@fictionauthor, @@Peter Connan and @@offshorebirder, all of whom have regularly encoraged me during the past half a year, each being remarkably gifted individuals and loyal friends. Most of all, heartfelt thanks to @@Anthony Gitau and Maggie Gitau, for making this gem of a safari possible.
  17. We were staying at Kitchwa tembo camp on the west side of the Masai mara, just outside the actual reserve. We chose this area as we knew from past experiences that this was good Lion country. We were not far from the Musiara mash and it's famous Lion's when we thought we had found Lion's on a kill, technically we had, but on close inspection we realised that the Zebra was still alive. The other unusual thing was, all the Lion's were youngsters. We could not see an adult, but did not think these young Lion's had made this kill as they did not seem to know what to do with the Zebra which was braying and trying to get up. Two of the female Lions were holding the zebra down while the male kept walking backwards & forwards near to the head. It was as if the females were waiting for the male to finish the Zebra off, and the male looked like he knew he should, but how? He jumped on the Zebra which gave out a stifled cry. He bit at the Zebra's neck but looked confused, as did the females who were depending on the male to give the coup de grace. The male tried to pull the Zebra over to expose it's throat but the females holding it would not let go. We had been here about half-hour and it was a little distressing but were aware this has to happen for the youngster to learn. The male walked around the other side and jumped upon the Zebra again biting at it's neck. The zebra was kicking out weakly when the other female decided to join in and grabbed at the Zebra's flailing leg's. As the Zebra struggled it cried out in desperation which startled one of the Lion's which leapt backwards looking a little confused. At that moment we noticed a movement in a bush just beyond where the Lion's were. We thought it must be another youngster about to join the struggle. We drove slowly around to the other side and there was the architect of the kill, Mama. She had reacted to the Zebra's last cry of desperation, probably not believing her young had still not finished the job. She made no attempt to go and help them. She had chosen well, the Zebra was a sub adult, a good size to test her youngsters but had they been paying attention when she had previously shown them what to do? From what we had seen so far the answer was No!. The last effort by the Zebra caused it to turn more onto it's back and the male suddenly gripped the Zebra by the throat, a few adjustments and a final effort by the Zebra to get free, and it was all over. It was only now that Mama came over to show them the art of opening up their pray. As distressing as it all was, we must assume the Zebra was in shock through out. It had been about one hour in all and mama had resisted any temptation to help. She had done her part in bringing the Zebra down. You can imaging the scenario; Ok kids, here is your lunch. You have seen me do it now don't disappoint me. And eventually they didn't. On another occasion in the north of the Masai mara near the Talek river we saw a mother Cheetah do the same thing. She caught a young Thompson's Gazelle and carried it back to her three cubs. She dropped it in front of them and surprisingly the gazelle just lay there.The cubs stood looking at the young gazelle and then at each other and then back at the Gazelle. The gazelle got up but the cubs never moved, the gazelle started to run and the cheetah cubs instinctively gave chase. They soon caught the up with the gazelle and the lead cub tripped it with a quick flick of it's paw. The three cubs once again surrounded the gazelle and standing there staring at the gazelle seemed totally bemused as to what they should do. Two of them clawed at their prey but without any real conviction when suddenly the gazelle was up and running again. Once more they gave chase and caught the gazelle once again, this happened two more times until mama decided that was enough practise for one day, and she calmly walked over, dispatched the gazelle, opened it up allowed the cubs to feed first. Resting a short distance away she waited until they had finished and then ate herself.
  18. Reports To read the full article click here. Meru NP is truly a beautiful place as many Safaritalkers, including myself, are aware. It needs more visitors but how to encourage them?
  19. This is part three of Mr. Safarichick and my three-country safari in February 2017. The first two parts were in Ethiopia and Rwanda We’d tried to get to bed early the night before in Kigali at the same hotel at which we’d stayed the night before our two nights in Musanze. We had made it back with a full battery worth of charge and I think the other one even still had a little bit left on it. @@Sangeeta had kindly checked for me after I WhatsApped her where we might be able to find another charger. She found a store in Nairobi that sold Panasonic Lumix cameras that might have our charger. (I knew that Nairobi traffic might make that impractical, though). We had a 7 a.m. flight from Kigali to Nairobi so we had to be at the airport early. Luckily we had no problems such as @@michael-ibk and @@AndMic had on their trip out of Kigali and got through security very quickly. We were pleased that our plane to Nairobi had been changed from one with a stop to a non-stop so that we would arrive in Nairobi an hour earlier than we originally thought and Chalo Africa had emailed Laikipia Wilderness about that. But when we arrived, our driver was nowhere to be seen. He was to be driving us all the way to LWC, about a 5.5 hour drive. We were having trouble with communications – our phones didn’t have phone service and wifi was only free for about 15 minutes. To get wifi you paid for you had to go inside to one of the gates. Luckily, we found RwandAir which let us use their wifi so we could contact Chalo Africa. They got in touch with LWC who got in touch with the driver. Apparently LWC had never seen the message we were arriving early so the driver didn’t know. And then he was at the wrong terminal also. So by the time he found us, it was about the time we’d originally expected to be picked up. We asked our driver about the camera store @@Sangeeta found online but he said it would be a big delay to go there, and we decided not to do it. We were not at all sure our camera battery would last for four days at LWC though so we were worried about it. I was hoping maybe by some miracle some other tourist would have left one at LWC just as we’d left ours at Bale Mountain Lodge. When we got to Nanyuki, the last city/town/civilization before we’d reach Laikipia Wilderness, we stopped for some lunch and then asked our driver if we could drive through the town to see if by some miracle there might be a store that had a chance of selling our battery charger. We didn’t really think it would be likely but we thought why not just see. We passed one store that had a Kodak sign and sure enough, it was a little camera store. We went in and told the proprietress what we were looking for and amazingly, she had a collection of used camera battery chargers – including one for a Panasonic Lumix – but not ours. She told us if we had about 3-4 hours in town she thought she could get us one (from where I have no idea!) but we told her that unfortunately we could not wait, so off we went. Our driver was not quite sure where the turn off was for LWC and there was a bunch of calling LWC on his cell phone, losing reception, stopping to ask directions of a local who didn’t seem to have a clue, etc. Finally Steve Carey, owner and guide at LWC, was dispatched to meet us on the main road and then we followed him back to camp. It had been a long travel day, from a 7 a.m. flight from Kigali to now about 4:15 pm. Other guests were having tea and getting ready to go out for their afternoon activity, so we went to our tent quickly, washed up a bit, and came out to tea as well. After a quick bite of delicious cake with a passionfruit frosting, we were off on a game drive as well. Our first guide was Steven. (It was a bit confusing because there was this Steven, Steve Carey, and then Mr. Safarichick whose name is ALSO Steve!) Also with us in the vehicle was a young woman named Emmy, an Australian student taking a gap year who was living at the camp volunteering. She wants to be a guide eventually and was to be starting university in the fall. We found one of the dog packs in the area, the Tui pack (not sure if I’m spelling that right). The Tui pack seems to be the one that LWC sees most regularly these days. It was the one I was aware of before arriving, that I’d seen photos of on Facebook and Instagram. I knew how many puppies this pack had – I think it was 10 - and had been looking forward to seeing the pack with excitement. I was shocked and saddened to hear that there were only two puppies left. Not sure if it’s known what happened to the rest. But at least the two pups seemed happy with each other and I was grateful that at least they had each other and that at least these two had survived this far. You have to be grateful for small favors sometimes, as my mother used to say. When we first saw the pack, they were still resting, so we hung out watching. Eventually, they began waking up, first the puppies playing then all the rest began to wake up and take part in a greeting ceremony. From where our vehicle was stopped, we couldn't see the greeting ceremony well as they all had started moving to the side. Steven asked whether I wanted to go down on the ground. On our very first outing at LWC? Oh, ok, twist my arm! Emmy got out with me and we got down on ground on our stomachs and tried crawling forward. Unfortunately it hadn’t occurred to me that we’d be doing this when we went out on drive and I was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt so my knees and elbows were not very comfortable! The dogs didn’t take any notice of us and we watched them for a little while from there. This is me and Emmy: When they began to walk off to go hunting, we quickly clambered back into the vehicle. We attempted to follow them hunting and we would see them and lose them. At one point something jumped out and almost crashed into the car - it was a warthog dashing out of its hole - luckily it stopped short of crashing into us and ran off the other way. Eventually, we had some success. We didn't manage to see what they caught but we did see the alpha male regurgitate food for the pups which was very cool! The alpha male and female are both collared; the male is very old, much older than the female: It was pretty dark by now - here's the only halfway decent photo we got of the whole (or most of?) the pack: In addition to the dogs, on this drive we also saw zebra, giraffe, white-tailed mongoose, vulturine guinea fowl. All in all, we were quite happy with our first drive!
  20. ~ This September, 2016 research article published in PLOS One is titled: “Extreme Wildlife Declines and Concurrent Increase in Livestock Numbers in Kenya: What Are the Causes?”. The study suggests that the viability of wildlife is directly threatened by substantial increases in livestock populations in Kenya's 21 rangeland counties. The authors question the effectiveness of Kenya's wildlife conservation policies, strategies and practices.
  21. ~ From Daily Nation: “Wildebeest Migration Lights Up Tourism at Maasai Mara”
  22. ~ This article from Daily Nation explains that in Kenya's Lewa Conservancy there were 14 rhino births in 2016. It also notes that no rhino has been poached in the conservancy in the past three years. Lewa Conservancy has also seen a substantial increase in both Grevy's Zebra and African Buffalo populations. Author Kennedy Kimanthi attributes these successes to the excellent community relations.
  23. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Porini Lion Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya 2) Website address if known: 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). September 15-18, 2016 High Season 4) Length of stay: 3 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? recommendation of agent and fellow SafariTalkers who have been there 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Agent (The Wild Source) 7) How many times have you been on Safari? this was the fifth 8) To which countries? South Africa x2, Tanzania, Botswana, now Kenya 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Tented camps in Botswana would come the closest 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 10 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? #3 There wasn't much of a direct view due to trees, but if you walked just a few steps forward you looked out over the river below, and a popular spot for animals to come down to drink--we had zebra, wildebeest, impala, and many birds drinking below. Lots of birds in the trees surrounding the tent which kept me busy during siesta time. A bit close to surrounding tents, we could hear loud conversations from #2. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable, spacious, and had a writing table which none of the other camps on this trip had; very useful for downloading photos on the laptop, etc. Typical bucket safari shower with scalding hot water--be careful! 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Very good food, home style cooking, rustic but very good. The pork ribs were especially delicious. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Both lunch and dinner was served buffet so there were some choices but generally one main dish with salads and vegetables. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Both communal and seperate tables. There was one large photo group of 12 when we were there so we were put at a table with one other couple; after the photo group left there was a communal table for the rest of us. Guides did not join at mealtimes. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Very good 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open sided land cruisers with canvas tops. Beanbags were available. I believe they also have one closed, pop-top type vehicle--some of the photo group was using this. 19) How many guests per row? three rows of two. We had a private vehicle and as far as I could tell so did everyone else at camp while we were there, so not sure how many maximum they might put at other times.. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Variable, depending on sightings...departure at 6:30 returning around noon, then from 4 until dark. You can also do night drives AFTER dinner here, which was night we went out on a night drive at 9 p.m. until about 10:30. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? See #20 Since we had a private vehicle route and timing were very flexible. We did go out on one full day drive to into the Mara reserve, returning about 6 p.m. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Yes, Olare Motorogoi Conservancy. There are several camps in the vicinity but none TOO close. We usually saw vehicles from three or four camps at sightings. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? n/a 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. In theory, no more than five at a sighting. This was almost never an issue and we were never bumped--if we saw too many cars at a sighting we just went elsewhere. Most sightings were on our own or with one or two other vehicles. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Cats! It is not called Lion Camp for nothing. We had fabulous sightings of leopard (three different individuals), two different lion prides, lions mating, lions hunting, cheetah with a kill, leopard with a kill, serval on a night drive. Others while we were there had caracal (which we searched for but missed.) Also at this time the wildebeest and zebra migration was massing on the plains just outside of camp--tremendous numbers of wildlife everywhere. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent, our guides were Gerald and Josephat and they were both great, highly recommend either one. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? n/a 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Personable, fun to be with, informative, really understood about photography, genuinely excited at sightings, etc. Tried hard to get us the caracal! 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. As part of the Olare Motorogoi conservancy they are directly involved in that initiative. Here is a link to their statement on their conservation practices: 32) Safaritalk trip report link: to come later 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: When can I go back? 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  24. ~ This news article from The Star is an interview with Dr. Margaret Mwakima, the Public Secretary of Kenya's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. Dr. Mwakima describes the steps her ministry has taken to achieve sustainable natural resource use, including planting drought-resistant tree species.
  25. ~ This March, 2016 communication published in the African Journal of Ecology provides the background of observations of a Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi, Rothschild's Giraffe, in the Soysambu Conservancy of Kenya's Rift Valley. From 2010 to 2016 the male giraffe was observed, gradually developing pigmentation changes as white spots spread and enlarged on the neck. The change was attributed to adult onset vitiligo, rather than to genetic factors. Several photographs illustrate the giraffe's condition.

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