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Found 293 results

  1. We are hoping to return to the Masai Mara next year. This year we stayed with Brian Freeman Safari's which is located in the Talek River area in the reserve. We have been looking for something less expensive. There are some new(ish) camps not far from Brian's place but hardly any reviews of them. Even on TA they are mainly 'one hit wonders' which I often suspect might be friends or relatives. The camps are called Legends Camp, Mara Olapa Camp and Malaika Camp. All are offering quite competitive prices with a private vehicle. Anyone know of these camps or have even visited them? As some camps closed last year I am a little concerned that these new camps may not survive the challenges of the Kenyan tourist industry. Thanks Pen
  2. Our remaining days were spent covering as much of Ol Pejeta’s 90,000 acres as was possible, but we soon came to realise it would not be possible to see it all, the remainder would have to wait until next time. The area east of the river is normally the most productive and with the most amount of game, but on this trip the west side of the river was proving to be much more productive. We constantly found small herds of Elephant, many with young and in all sorts of terrain. On one occasion as we worked our way through the bush near to the Chimp sanctuary we were surprised by a magnificent bull Elephant which suddenly materialised from out of nowhere. He was in musth with the glands on the sides of his head distinctly marked by the oily secretion produced when his testosterone levels rise. We could also detect the scent of urine as the light breeze wafted the aroma in our direction, and we could see the stains on the inside of his back legs. Sam our driver became hyper alert when this big guy appeared ahead of us. Watching & waiting to see where he was going so as not to obstruct him. He momentarily gave us “that look” that big bulls give as a distinct warning, and after a shake of his head he turned 180 degrees and moved off having first to cross a small stream. It was amazing to watch this enormous animal tackle this small but tricky obstacle. The stream was about a meter or so deep so he had to be careful, first placing his front legs in the stream, his back legs were now bent so as to be on his knees, he slowly pulled one back leg forward, then the other and in one movement pushed up on his front legs was soon on the other bank. A little further along the stream we found several Buffalo standing up to their stomach’s in the stream feeding on the rich vegetation.The Buffalo are doing very well and on one morning drive we were seeing large herds everywhere. Approaching the Ol Pejeta dam it was like watching an exodus. Buffalo were coming from all directions and there were so many calves among the herds which was a good sign for the future. The herds were all converging on the dam and in the early morning light it was a magical scene which lay before us. With the rains coming much of the game had young and there is nothing more endearing than a young Giraffe. We came across one such endearing creature with its mother, whom we had seen from a distance earlier, and we were amazed at the distance they had covered to where we had now found them. The youngster was about 10ft tall so we took it to be about a year old. This area was also where we had seen the two lionesses’s so mum was very alert and wary as they moved through the low whistling thorn bush. We were seeing black/silver back Jackal on most game drives; constantly on the move they always seemed to be going somewhere. Occasionally they would rest, but something in their psyche seemed to prompt them in to action and they were off again. The large amount of Jackal is probably the result of the immense amount of young we saw in March. The Eland is without doubt my favourite antelope and I will photograph them at every opportunity if possible. This is fine when I travel alone but on this trip my family & friends were not impressed when I asked Sam to stop for a photo opportunity while we were heading to where we were told there were two male lions. But they were very generous knowing my love of Eland, and we did find the lions, and they were the two comatose lions we had seen before. Overall, I think you will agree, it had been a successful safari, and an amazing one for my first time visitors, I mean “wild dog” on their first visit. They were very happy, especially with the Elephant sightings, and assure me they will return. Apart from Leopard they had seen just about everything Ol Pejeta has to offer. Roll on next year.
  3. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Porini Mara Camp, Kenya 2) Website address if known: www.porini.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). November 2017, Shoulder Season 4) Length of stay: 4 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I have visited another of Porini's camps, Porini Lion, and wanted to try out another of their camps. I liked the fact that Porini Mara is situated in a conservancy, Ol Kinyei - and only Porini vehicles have traversing rights to that conservancy 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Though Gamewatchers - enquiries were dealt with quickly and efficiently, and special requests catered for. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 14 times 8) To which countries? Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Other Porini camp (Porini Lion) + various other properties in East Africa: Entim Camp, Serian Nkorombo, Encounter Mara, and Asilia's Dunia and Sayari Camps to name a few. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Tent 3 I believe ... It had a nice view of some trees, a little stream/river, and an open grassland. It was quite private. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Simple but very comfortable - ample space and 1 double + 1 single bed. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes, food was great! I loved the soups as a starter for dinner. Lunch was nice and varied with various vegetarian and meat options. Great desserts - sometimes fresh fruits, sometimes decadent baked sweet desserts. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) For lunch a few dishes are offered to choose from - both vegetarian and meat based. They had no problems catering for vegetarian options or in my case exclusion of some meats. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal dining around one table. No hosting and no guides, but the manager dropped in at the end of meals to converse with the guests. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? We took packed breakfasts every day and they were very nice! Sausages, bacon, toast, pancakes, fresh fruit, yoghurt, eggs, juice etc. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. We had an open Land Cruiser with 7 passenger seats. Modified to be large, so quite spacious. Vehicle was very reliable and never had an issue. 19) How many guests per row? 2 rows of 2 and back row of 3. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? We had a private vehicle so the game drives were per our request - usually morning drive till lunch, and then resume afternoon drive at 3:30pm and returning back just before dinner. Perhaps 7-7:45pm or so. Routes were chosen depending on the animals we wanted to see - in our case we were keen to see cheetahs. 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? At Porini they are very flexible and try to accommodate all requests as long as the guests sharing the vehicle agree. We had a private vehicle and they accommodated all of our requests. We often stayed out well after dark if we were enjoying a sighting a bit further away from camp. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Yes Porini Mara is situated in the Ol Kinyei Conservancy. In the conservancy there are very few vehicles because only Porini vehicles have traversing rights. That is a huge bonus for those preferring a more exclusive experience. Another big bonus is that guests at Porini Mara also have traversing rights into the Naboisho conservancy - so if there are interesting sightings there the guests can enjoy them too, and they can also experience more variety of habitats. Both conservancies have quite a pretty and varied landscape. 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 Ol Kinyei this is not an issue as there are so few vehicles. But if I am not mistaken the max is 5 vehicles. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Ol Kinyei is very good for cheetah and lion sightings. We also saw many elephants - the elephants were very calm and mothers had no issues with their calves approaching the vehicles closely. We saw many wildebeests, which was a surprise to me as I was not visiting in the migration season - but these were part of the Loita wildebeests. We saw many other interesting birds, animals and reptiles. 27) How was the standard of guiding? The guiding was excellent as I am always used to with Porini. Our guide and spotter did their very best to find what was most important to us - namely cheetahs. They were very enthusiastic, and fun to spend time with, and they seem genuinely happy to share their wealth of information with us and proud to show us the beauty of the area. 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? No issues whatsoever - we were very happy guests. 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: I love it when the guides seem to genuinely love their job and love the animals and the beautiful wilderness where they live - all Porini guides I have had the pleasure to spend time with fit this description to the dot. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes, very much so. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, Porini are very well known for this, and it is a reason why I choose them - it is important for me to choose ethical companies that value conservation and communities. Porini support many initiatives spanning both conservation and communities, with their main pillars being conservation, education and water. There is plenty of information about their initiatives here: https://www.porini.com/about-us/supporting-communities/ 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: We had a great time, and we really enjoyed our stay in Porini Mara and Ol Kinyei - the conservancy is beautiful and rich in wildlife and the experience is quite exclusive with so little vehicles around. The small size of the camp promotes a more friendly and intimate dynamic. I don't know why it took me so long to visit this little gem! 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  4. Hi, I'm leaving in less than a month on my 3rd Africa safari--this time to Uganda and Kenya! My son will join me for 2 weeks in Uganda and then he will fly back to finish up his senior year in college and I will fly to Nairobi and then to the Mara for 4 nights at Offbeat Mara. Here is our itinerary: Day 1: free day in Entebbe (maybe visit Botanic gardens, relax from jet lag--Boma Guest House Day 2: Ngamba Island--overnight and Chimp Caregiver for the day experience Day 3: Entebbe to Kibale, Primate Lodge Day 4: chimp habituation experience (can't wait!) Day 5: Kibale - Queen Elizabeth National Park, Parkview Safari Lodge Day 6: QE Park, Kazinga Channel trip, Game Drive, visit to Kikorongo women (anyone done this one?) Day 7: QE - Ishasha - Bwindi, Mahogany Springs Lodge Day 8: Gorilla trek!, Mahogany lodge Day 9: Bwindi to Lake Buyonyi, Birds Nest Lodge Day 10: Lake Buyonyi - Mgahinga National Park, Mt. Gahinga Lodge, Batwa Pygmy experience Day 11: Mgahinga, Kisozi Caldera hike Day 12: Mgahinga, golden monkey hike, journey to Kigali. Overnight at Heaven Boutique Hotel Day 13: Tour Kigali and Genocide Museum, leave in evening for Nairobi, overnight near Wilson Airport Day 14: Fly to Offbeat Mara; 4 nights at Offbeat Mara, plus late departure, then fly back from Nairobi! We leave the day after Christmas! Already got our vaccines, visas, etc., and getting ready to go! Now I just need to get in some good practice with my new camera--I splurged on a Sony DSC-RX10iii bridge camera, which I hope will do great with the low light of the gorillas. Thanks for all the wonderful trip reports and advice posted on this forum--it was really helpful in planning this trip! We are using Let's Go Travel Uganda. I will report back on the trip after! Margo
  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. 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 before...it was an image taken at ISO 16,000 at f4 and a shutter speed of just 1/30 at 250mm...so, 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
  7. 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
  8. Airitalia will start direct flights to Nairobi and Johannesburg Spring 2018. 4 times a week. A possible alternative for those flying to/from Europe https://www.alitalia.com/en_it/fly-alitalia/news-and-activities/new-flights/new-flight-roma-johannesburg-nairobi.html
  9. I received an email this morning saying that Offbeat Safaris has just added two new (to them) camps to their portfolio. These appear to be existing camps that have joined the Offbeat family: "After a difficult start to 2017 we are thrilled to end it with some positive news. Mugie House and Ekorian's Mugie Camp are joining the Offbeat family. We will be handling their reservations for any new bookings going forward from the 1st of December 2017. With their mix of small, activity based safari camps and lodges and personal style in a vast unspoilt wilderness rich in wildlife they are the perfect fit for Offbeat. We hope that you are as excited about this as we are." Both appear to be in their own conservancy (Mugie Conservancy) in northwest Laikipia. Anyone know anything more about them? Something to keep in mind for future safari planning!
  10. A few days ago I was watching my ever wonderful safariLive and we were sitting with the Musketeer coalition of cheetah with presenter Scott Dyson. He was chatting with a lovely German couple who help fund the Mara Meru Cheetah Project. They relayed to him they are going to be funding the new Mara Leopard Project, not sure if that's the name, starting next year!! Meaning real documentation of the leopards of the Mara! They just got approved. You guys, I can't tell you how much joy this brings to my heart. I love leopards and I feel they get brushed aside in the Mara because they are 'hard to find' but there seems to be a high density of leopards in the Mara itself both in the Reserve and Triangle, and I know there's a decent population within the Conservancies as well. I don't know how many of you know this but I started my own Facebook group, once WildEarth annoucned they were going to the Mara, to help document and keep identification notes on the different leopards seen in the Mara by photographers, lodges and what is found on safariLive, which isn't many since WE don't spend very much time searching for them. I want to be able to help create a database for the big cats and I do hope I can be of service to this operation.
  11. After a few days relaxing and a couple of productive game drives, Lion and Rhino, it was my big day. It was an early start, and I came to realise very quickly this was not my sister-in-law’s favourite time of day. It was a beautiful start to the day, Mt Kenya was clear apart from a bit of cloud which soon dispersed as the sun rose from behind the mountain, up to then it had been covered in low cloud, and the bird song was a joy to awake to. The drive was very pleasant, though the game this morning was not abundant, but as always there were those magic moments, like when we came across a small breeding herd of Elephants, and later five white Rhino out on the plain. The birdlife again made up for the lack of game on this drive with two African fish Eagles setting up home in a large yellow fever tree near the marsh. Not too far from them on the other side of the marsh was a magnificent Martial Eagle. As we drove along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River we saw Grey headed Kingfisher’s flying from bank to bank, and unintentionally disturbed a pair of Little Bee-eaters. A little further on we came out into a small glade where a table had been set up, with numerous amounts of Birthday paraphernalia, the chef was busy preparing breakfast and we were greeted by friends from Sweetwater’s who were to see to our every need. After freshening up we tucked into a sumptuous full English breakfast, washed down by copious amounts of tea. I did say tea was to play a large part in our safari. After numerous photo’s had been taken we headed off back to Sweetwater’s. The birthday celebrations were not over. After resting up through the remainder of the day we set out on an afternoon drive. It had been raining on and off throughout the afternoon but it was beginning to stop now and we noticed there was more game around than in the morning. The cats though were proving to be elusive. Around 5.30pm we were driving along the road which runs along the back of the marsh and as we approached we could see there were 30-40 Buffalo in the marsh and a large flock of about 15 Grey crowned Cranes. As we turned the corner to drive down to marsh we were surprised by our friends from the morning who had set up a bar with some very tasty hot bites. The rain was holding off and we settled down to enjoy a sundowner, even if we would not get to see the sun go down. The low cloud cover caused the light to be less than it would have been at this time. Our driver brought our vehicle closer and turned on the headlights. We thought this was a very good idea until one of the staff informed us that the rangers think we should leave. “Leave” I said a little confused, “yes, leave now”. We had not even had a sundowner, but the rangers had raised their rifles and were looking quite concerned. We got into the vehicle and as we drove away we saw in the head lights scores of Buffalo coming through the bushes heading towards the marsh. A few minutes later the heavens opened. After a quick wash and change of clothing we finished the celebrations in the dining room telling anyone who would listen about our encounter with Africa’s most dangerous animal. The evening finished with the traditional birthday cake, which was brought out amid much singing and joviality by the staff. The end to an absolutely lovely day. Happy birthday to me.
  12. There are many Cheetah on Ol Pejeta but they are not easy to find due to the terrain and the conservancy rules which ban off road driving. Fortunately our driver Sam has a friend who is a ranger on Ol Pejeta. John would phone Sam if he saw any of the cats while he was out on patrol and give us a rough location. This obviously gave us a head start knowing where to look, but we still had to find them, and in the time it took us to get there they would have move quite some distance. John phoned Sam three times. Twice for Lions, & once for Cheetah. The lions were relatively easy to find as they were resting not too far from the road. The Cheetah was another proposition. It was a mother & two sub adult cubs and they were moving through the whistling thorn bush. When we finally found them mother was on the hunt, with cubs in tow. She appeared to be focusing on some Thompson Gazelles a little way down in a shallow depression. It was amazing to watch her weave her way through the thorn bush, not ideal terrain for a Cheetah, with the cubs instinctively copying her. The track we were on did not go in the direction of the Gazelles so all we could do was to watch them as they slowly disappeared down into the depression. As far as we could see the Tommie’s had not seen her but not much happened, so we can only assume she had been spotted and moved on to find other prey. On another evening we found two large male Lions near to Murera donga, they were doing what lions do best, sleeping. I say sleeping, but they were more comatose. Lions do not move much but there is usually a twitch of an ear or a momentary look up on hearing a noise, but these two never moved as much as a whisker all the time we were there, so much so as to cause us for a moment to think, “are they alive?”. We came across them several days later and amazingly the exact same scenario. We were told there was a lot of commotion behind the Chimpanzee sanctuary and that it was a Cheetah. On arrival, literally outside the back gates, the Chimps inside their secure quarters were screaming. We don’t think they could see the Cheetah, but may have earlier when she caught a young Impala. Their natural instincts must have told them this animal is a predator as they would never have had any encounter with a wild cat before. She was resting under a bush, not far from the sanctuary. We could not see any kill, then After a while she got up, sauntered a few meters and settled down to finish her meal. John made one more call on our penultimate day. It was around 5 O-clock and it was to inform us of a wild dog over on the Ol Pejeta house side of the conservancy. We headed off, crossing the bridge that has a sign which says.........and on to the Lodru plains. It was not long before we picked up on a lone figure lying a little way off from the road. In my mind when I hear “wild dog” I immediately think of a pack or maybe 4/5,I was surprised to see just the one. It was a male and we have been told he was born on the conservancy a few years ago. Why was he back? And alone?? He did not stay long and eventually trotted off into the distance where we could not follow. We made our way back passing through a small valley north of Kicheche camp. The sky was starting to clear and the sunlight lit the valley revealing a large herd of Reticulated Giraffe spread throughout the valley. At first we thought there was only 5/6 Giraffe, then the sunlight revealed 15 more as we scanned the full length of the valley. It was such a beautiful & peaceful scene, one which will stay with me for a long time to come.
  13. My goodness, where does the time go? I have been back from Ol Pejeta in Kenya almost three weeks and have only just about found time to share my latest experiences with you. As some of you will know, I am a great admirer of the Ol Pejeta conservancies work. The last five years has seen great advancements /improvements on the infrastructure & the continued success with their livestock – wildlife programme. Ol Pejeta integrates cattle with wildlife, and use livestock as a means to manage the rangelands more effectively. By day they graze out on the plains and at night are corralled in predator proof enclosures. There are over 100 herders, one for every 60 head of cattle, and there are now 7,000 head of pure Boran cattle on the conservancy, the largest herd in the world. There are also the amazing and most beautiful Ankole cattle which originate from Uganda. Much to the conservancy’s credit there has never been any conflict between the cattle & the wildlife, and No infections either. The threat of attack by predators is thwarted in the traditional way. The herders carry their traditional rungu’s, wooden clubs, and like all pastoralists they are very dedicated & protective towards the cattle. Ol Pejeta’s 90,000 acres are a paradise for the wildlife that lives there and their numbers are also on the increase. The dedicated work with the Black Rhino especially has gone a long way towards Ol Pejeta having the largest number of Black Rhino in Kenya. The Southern white Rhino is also doing very well, not to mention the valiant efforts being made to save the Northern white Rhino of which only three remain. Elephant & Buffalo numbers are up as are the numbers for the Reticulated Giraffe. There are now 5 large prides of lion on the conservancy and Cheetah numbers are stable. Leopards numbers are much harder to assess because of their elusiveness, but spotted Hyena always seem to have cubs so that is a good sign, and the stripped Hyena is also stable. Jackson's hartebeest are holding there own. Wild dogs, as a pack, have not been seen for a while, though there is one lone male on the conservancy at the moment. When I visit Ol Pejeta I always stay at Sweetwaters tented camp, Primarily for the excellent service & food, and for the very active waterhole, Though the waterhole in sept/Oct is never very busy, but night time makes up for that. But this time it was a special trip, my 70th Birthday, and I had come out with family & friends, who have never been to Africa before, to celebrate it. We flew out with BA, not overly impressed & I had arranged Transport/driver with Real Africa Safari in Nairobi. We drove up to Sweetwaters the morning after our arrival having spent the night at the Boma hotel, which I would recommend, and we arrived in time for lunch. On our way to Sweetwater’s we stopped at the blue post Inn to see the Chania falls and enjoy a refreshing cup of Kenyan tea & a toilet break. My family & friends were fascinated by the towns we passed through with all their variously coloured buildings. There were small markets creating an air of hustle & bustle but the largest market in Kenya at Karantina was not on that day. We crossed the equator, and then again when we turned off at Nanyuki. After lunch we unpacked and settled in with a relaxing afternoon watching for game at the waterhole, sadly it was very quiet, apart for a small herd of Zebra that paid a visit and three old bull Buffalo, but the bird life made up for the inactivity at the waterhole. In about two hours, with no effort on our part, save making a cup of tea, and tea would play a large part in our stay, we saw 34 species of bird, including three of the four species of Woodpecker to be found here. As I was getting ready for the evening I heard my name being called quite frantically. As I was in the shower I could only reply verbally. Chris wanted me to come and see the Black Rhino that had arrived at the waterhole. It was something of a dilemma, but having been blessed over my many years of coming to Kenya with more Rhino sightings than you can shake a Rungu at, the shower held a greater attraction for me. I told Chris to sit quietly, take it all in, and above all, enjoy the moment.
  14. I'm back from my trip and have to sort through many, many photos, but wanted to get something started. I will be providing lots of detail. I have to say that the variety and abundance of wildlife far exceeded my expectations and I certainly saw a lot more than in South Africa last year. I also can't get over what a birding mecca Kenya is. Coukd someone please enlighten me as to how to put text between photos so I can caption some of them? Here is a photo to start things off.
  15. Mr. SafariChick and I have been back about a week from the three-country 20th anniversary trip that we'd been planning for over a year. Still not entirely caught up on sleep and haven't been through all the photos yet, but thought I'd best get started on a report before too much time passes. I have decided to write the report in three separate parts, since each part of the trip took place in a different country. (And also because this allows me to use different fun trip report titles. This title was provided by Mr. SafariChick). Here is our oldest daughter hugging me farewell after she drove us to the airport to drop us off (a first for this almost-18-year-old) This trip was an ambitious undertaking, visiting three countries in 12 days - and with each country, our destination for wildlife viewing required a drive of some significance to reach from the airport in which we landed.Nowhere was this more true than our first stop, Ethiopia. After a flight from SFO to Heathrow, a 6-hour layover (at least spent in a very comfortable United lounge with some decent food and beverages), and another flight from Heathrow to Addis, which were about 24 hours total of travel, we arrived at Addis at 6:30 a.m. local time. We obtained our visas without much trouble, changed some money, picked up our bags, and went outside to find our driver, Demiss. Demiss was waiting for us and had us packed up into the car quickly. He was a very nice fellow, with good English and great knowledge of Ethiopia and its history, geography as well as it’s endemic animals. We knew we were to be assigned a guide employed by Bale Mountain Lodge once we arrived there, but having Demiss along was almost like having a second guide, which was great. We asked if there was somewhere to grab a quick bite to eat, not a sit-down place but just something to serve as breakfast. Demiss was a bit unsure what we might want and we tried stopping at a Supermarket called Safeway which amused us since we have a chain of supermarkets in the U.S. called Safeway. We ended up getting a piece of banana bread to share and getting on the road. The drive to Bale Mountain Lodge had been described to me as everything from 6 hours to 7-8 hours to an “all day trip” so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Even though the road was paved most of the way, the trip actually took us closer to about ten hours including about an hour lunch stop and a couple of short bathroom stops. It was pretty brutal after the air travel we had done, I have to say. In retrospect, it really would have been better to break it up with an overnight half way or at least have had an overnight in Addis first. But we were concerned about not being away from home too long, both because we were leaving our teen girls for the first time for more than two days (with their former babysitter staying at the house) and being away 15 days was about as long as Mr. Safarichick felt comfortable being gone from work. We stopped for a sort of brunch late morning at a restaurant that was quite good. (I am trying to find out the name from Demiss and will post it when I do). I had scrambled eggs and toast, and I don’t recall what everyone else had except that Demiss ordered a macchiato. I was surprised this was something they made in Ethiopia as I think of it as Italian (and co-opted by Starbucks and the like). But the coffee in Ethiopia was delicious and nice and strong and Demiss told us about the history of Italians having attempted to colonize Ethiopia – twice. He and our guide Biruk and some of the park staff would say “Ciao Ciao” to each other to say “goodbye” and he said that came from the Italians who lived in Ethiopia. The drive was made longer and more difficult by the many villages we had to pass through, each of which was populated it seemed by large numbers of humans and their cattle, sheep and goats, as well as cart horses pulling little buggies with people in them. We had to slow to go around all these obstacles and I became somewhat queasy from this and probably from my all around fatigue. In addition to the animals being moved along by people, there were many animals just hanging around at the sides of the road on their own, usually trying to eat something it found on the ground like this goat eating some orange peels. We passed through the park headquarters at Dinsho I think at around 3:00 pm and purchased our park tickets for the next four days, and I was surprised when Demiss told me we still had about two and a half hours to go to get to the lodge! And we actually still had to go through some populated areas even though we had entered the park. There are villages and people living around the park so you will be in what seems total wilderness but then come to a village before getting back to wilderness. The first wildlife we saw was some aggressive baboons that came right up to the cars, seeking a snack, and some warthogs and Mountain Nyala. I didn’t get great photos but here are a few: You have to drive up to and over the Sanetti Plateau, which would be our viewing grounds for the wolves, in order to get to Bale Mountain Lodge. We were hopeful that we might possibly get a glimpse of wolves on this first trip across the plateau but were dismayed to find it started raining and then hailing as we drove through the plateau! This was unexpected as it was not even the rainy season and we hoped it would not continue during the rest of our stay. (Luckily it did not!) The plateau is quite other-worldly looking in any kind of weather, but the hail really made us feel we did not know where we were. We were very glad to finally arrive at Bale Mountain Lodge 10 hours after we left Addis! We were given a room called a Tree House that was a free-standing little house up a half-flight of stairs about a five-minute walk from the main lodge where meals were served. It was r private and in the trees, but there were a few problems with it that would cause us to move to another room halfway through our stay, but more about that later.
  16. 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? Well...as 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...
  17. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well). The Emakoko, Kenya 2) Website address if known: www.emakoko.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). September 1, 2017, the day the election was overturned. High Season. 4) Length of stay: 1 night 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Came highly recommended by several Safaritalkers. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Agent who was very efficient 7) How many times have you been on Safari? Last year and this year. 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Not comparing as every property has its own features. 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? I was in cottage 2. There was a lovely view. The view was private. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The cottage was beautifully furnished 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes. The food was amazing. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?). There was no choice at lunch or dinner. However, I had sent a list of food I don't like beforehand so I could ensure I would like the food and I did. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? There is a dining room. I ate at a big table with others, but could have had my own table. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Very plentiful. I had a full breakfast delivered to my cottage very early in the morning (4:15am) and then they gave me a box to take as well. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Closed vehicle with windows that open and a pop top 19) How many guests per row? Two 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? I took a game drive on my way from the airport to the lodge. It was as long as I wanted. 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? It was flexible for me. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? I had arranged a private vehicle. The lodge is in Nairobi National Park, so there are lots of vehicles, but I didn't find any sighting over crowded. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Aa above. Not overcrowded, but definitely other vehicles. 24) Are you able to off-road? No as it's a National Park. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Wasn't an issue that came up. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Black Rhino, White Rhino, Giraffe etc. 27) How was the standard of guiding? The guide was great. 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? None 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: He was knowledgable and stopped at every animal. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Very and totally unexpectedly, went way above and beyond. More to come as my trip report continues. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. https://emakoko.com/conservation/ https://emakoko.com/community-outreach/ 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Anton and Emma Child's, the owners, are such lovely people. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  18. Hi folks, we are planning to go to Kenya this January, actually in the Massai Mara. Plan is to go to Ol Seki Mara Camp in the Naboisho conservancy for 6 nights (they offer a stay 3 pay 2), and 4 nights in the Offbeat Camp in Mara North (they offer stay 4 pay 3). Anybody has input esp. about Ol Seki Camp? Would that be too much time in the Naboisho conservancy? I watched up and down to find camps to fit into our budget (€ 6000 for 10 nights excluding transfer for 2). This seemed to be the most interesting possible combination. Thanks for your help Thomas
  19. 1) Name of property and country: Segera Retreat, Kenya 2) Website address if known: Segera.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). August 2017 so the High season. 4) Length of stay: Four nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I was looking for somewhere special to stay and this was provided to me as an option. It had everything I wanted, but it did come at a price. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? My agent booked it and yes, everything was well handled. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? Last year and this year. 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? I'm not comparing to this to other properties. I will list the other properties I'd people are interested. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? It's got cactus around the villas, but not fenced per se. 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 villas, another bigger villa and two larger houses. 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? I had villa 6. It was private and overlooked a watering hole frequented by giraffe and zebra. I also had a tee frequented by birds. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortably furnished. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Loved the food. The chef, Elizabeth is an amazing cook. Everything is fresh. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?). There is no set menu. You just tell Elizabeth what you would like and she will make it for you. You just have to tell her the day before. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? It was private dining in a different location for every meal. 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. I had a vehicle to myself. There was plenty of room. The vehicle has a roof, but is otherwise open. 19) How many guests per row? There were 3 rows with room for two guests. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Yes, the routes were varied unless we had a sighting and wanted to revisit. The drives could be as long or as short as you want. 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? There is no set schedule. You can go out whe you want, for as long as you want. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? As it is a private conservancy, other vehicles are not an issue. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? N/A 24) Are you able to off-road? Absolutely as it is a private conservancy. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. N/A 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Grevy's zebra, birds, cats and yes, I saw them all. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Fabulous 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? 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: My guide and I really hit it off from the start. We we on the same page. I wanted long drives and was immediately told that would be no problem. Together, we saw a huge variety of wildlife. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Absolutely. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. The Zeitz Foundation, Katubo Woman. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: My stay was exceptional and I really hated to leave. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. This was my villa This is the outdoor swing bed on the ground level Art work in the gardens My Villa from the outside
  20. 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: https://www.porini.com/kenya/porini-camps/porini-lion-camp/ 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 great...one 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: http://www.porinisafaricamps.com/responsible-tourism.htm 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.
  21. Dear me, I was not totally prepared for this airport and ended up very stressed out The lodge suggested I get to the airport two hours ahead of an international flight. So, we left 3 hours ahead allowing for the horrible roads and traffic (worst I have ever seen anywhere). It did take an hour to get to JKIA. On arrival, you have to get of the car and have your bags scanned. Then you drive to the departure terminal. There, you immediately have to have all the bags scanned again. People didn't realize you have to push your stuff through, so this caused a delay. Then, you can finally go to the bag drop. Then, you have to go to passport control. I spent half an hour in line here. What should have been a simple stamp in the passport was taking forever because they were photoing and fingerprinting everyone. Then, you have to go through security and have the bags scanned yet again. They were also having everyone scanned in those machines. So this took a long time. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for security, but three bag scans does seem excessive. So, I got to the gate 15 minutes before boarding began. Moral of this whole post, make sure you leave lots of time if you are departing from JKIA. Perhaps some of you know this already, but I certainly did not and was freaking out that I might miss my flight.
  22. 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.
  23. 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:
  24. 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
  25. Yikes! Was going to do Ziplock bags. Don't think I will chance it now. http://www.premiumtimesng.com/foreign/africa/241040-kenyan-govt-arrest-charge-anyone-caught-plastic-bags.html

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