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Lois Hild Photography posted a topic in KenyaThis was my longest, four weeks, safari, and the first time I was responsible for leading a group, unless you call my husband and myself a group. There were actually two groups. One group of eight visited three of the four David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust facilities, leaving out the Voi Reintigration Unit, and spent a week in the Mara at Kicheche Bush Camp in Olare Motorogi, and then a more serious group of photographers joined me at Kicheche Mara Camp in Mara North Conservancy for a week followed by a week at Lewa Safari Camp in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The first group consisted mostly of supporters of the DSWT who wanted to visit the orphan elephants they sponsor and add in a little safari. None had ever traveled out of the US before, let alone been on safari. I will spare you the details of the joys of managing that and stick to the facts you really want to know about the places we visited. The arrangements were all booked through Bustani Safaris. It is a husband and wife team, the wife being native Kenyan. They only do custom safari arrangements, no pre-packaged trips. You tell them what you want to do and they make it happen. Jambi has a way of getting things done! The safari really started in Karen with a visit to the Giraffe Centre to see the Rothschilde giraffes there. I know we all go to Africa to see animals in the wild, but there is also something about being really close. I mean REALLY close. (My beautiful daughter.) From there we went for a private visit with the orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in the Nairobi National Park. Our group was allowed to mingle with the elephants at feeding time. Dinner and overnight accommodations were at Karen Blixen Cottages. Highly recommend. The group was in high spirits from the day's activities and in anticipation of the bush flight the next day. The next day it was off to Wilson Airport. The completion of the Southern Bypass has definitely helped eased the traffic congestion. It's a shame though the impact it has had on the park. We chartered a Cessna 208 Caravan from Safarilink to fly us to Umani Springs in the Kibwezi Forest in the Chyulu Hills. There are no scheduled flights near here and with eight in the party plus extra photo gear the cost was reasonable. The even had a sack meal for us for the 45 min. flight! They took special care of my camera gear, two rolling bags, a large Gura Gear backpack and my 400mm in a soft case. They let me keep it in my possession right up until the time it was loaded into the cargo hold. Our two guides and vehicles and Jambi and Peter had left in the wee hours of the morning with the food and the ALCOHOL in time to meet us at the grass airstirp. The DSWT properties are self-catering in that you provide food and beverage. They provide everything else, including a chef named Peter at Umani who in my book could cook at any 5 star restaurant. The waiter, another Peter, was friendly and attentive. Housekeeping and laundry was done with a smile by Lefty and Michael patrolled the unfenced grounds at night to make sure wildlife didn't cause any trouble. It's about a 20 minute drive through Chyulu National Park and the Kibwezi Forest to the lodge, but it's not really a game drive. The bush is very thick and other than a few bushbuck and a squirrel that kept playing chicken with our Land Cruisers, we could spot very little wildlife. Tse tse flies were also in residence at the time, so the vehicles had to remain closed up. In other words, we were there to see the elephants, not go on game drives. The lodge itself rivals some of the finest in Kenya, as long as you enjoy outdoor showers and commodes for some of the units. Showers are running water, solar heated. Hyrax right outside my balcony As guest of the lodge you have exclusive rights to visit the orphans at the Umani Springs Reintegration Unit. Most of the elephants here have special needs and have been brought to this newest unit in the forest environment which is less demanding that the Tsavo region of the other units where orphans are reintroduced to the wild. You can visit at 6am at feeding time until the elephants decide it is time to walk out into the bush, usually about an hour, again at 11 am at the mud bath right in front of the lodge, and again at the stockades at 5pm for their evening feeding. The keepers are with you at all times for everyone's safety and are happy to answer all questions. They are also very happy to take pictures of you with the elephants, especially if your camera is set on burst! While relaxing at the lodge we were able to observe many birds, butterflies, baboons, and a distant herd of wild elephants. We took a bush walk to the springs hoping to see the 12 ft python that is a resident, but no luck. After three nights we packed into the vehicles and headed for the northern part of Tsavo East and Ithumba Camp. To be continued... And I hope this green tint is gone once I post. It's not in my photos in Lightroom, only when I preview them here. My monitor was calibrated two days ago.
TonyQ posted a topic in KenyaOur first trip to Kenya. (MrsQ a.k.a @Thursday’s Child and I) We have visited a number of other African countries but never Kenya. Why? – ignorance based on inaccurate stereotypes of a Kenyan safari. Well, Safaritalk has put us right – many thanks to those of you who have contributed Kenya trip reports. The trip was booked through Expert Africa following long and helpful discussions with Richard Trillo (a Safaritalk member @@richard Trillo) and with Eleanor Dunkels. We had used Expert Africa to book our Zambia trip a couple of years ago and were pleased with them again. Summary of Trip: Wilson Aero Club Nairobi 1 night (January 9th) Offbeat Meru 4 nights Kicheche Laikipia, Ol Pejeta 5 nights Kicheche Bush, Olare Motorogi Conservancy 4 nights The rains had been heavier and longer than is usual. Before the visit we nervously checked the weather forecasts and hoped! All of our previous safaris had been in the dry season. Still, it would be interesting.
Lois Hild Photography posted a topic in Lodge and Camp reviews1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Kicheche Bush Camp 2) Website Choseaddress if known: http://kicheche.com/our-camps/bush-camp 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). September 2014, High Season 4) Length of stay: 4 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Chosen due to its guiding reputation and accommodations for photographers. Unlimited game drives. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Booked through Bustani Safaris 7) How many times have you been on Safari? Twice 8) To which countries? Kenya only 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Several of the Serana properties, Galdessa 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No. Our first night there we were visited by both elephants and lions in camp. All is good as long as the hyenas don't get into the mess tent. Askari patrol at night to keep you safe. 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? Six tents 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Tumbili. View of the savanna. Private 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was outstanding. Darren, the manager was formerly a baker. Request the Macadamia Nut Tart, or the Creme Brulee, or... 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Set menu, but dietary preferences and restrictions were cheerfully catered to. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal dining with the managers supplying interesting and lively conversation and information. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Excellent, especially the Kenyan Quesadillas! 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. 19) How many guests per row? We had a private vehicle 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? You set the length. You can stay out until lunch, or even take a packed lunch and stay out until dinner. No specific route. You go where there is something interesting to see. Game sighting starts in camp. 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 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Private conservancy. I think the most we saw was two other vehicles at any given time. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? 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. The one to make the sighing does not get bumped. That way everyone is more likely to inform everyone else when they have made a good sighting. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Big cats. Fifty different lions in one day! Five different cheetahs in four days. A leopard within the first 3 hours. All the species the Mara is known for. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Top notch. They only hire Silver level guides. 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? Nelson and I are now Facebook friends and he keeps me updated on what's going on with the different animals on the conservancy, so no bad experiences! 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: His knowledge was immense and his ability to read the environment to find cheetahs was almost mystical. He was able to find lions in complete darkness. Always seemed to be able to anticipate an animal's movement and be able to position the vehicle for the best angle for viewing and light. The guides at the Kicheche camps have driven for some of the best wildlife photographers in the world. 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. Yes. http://www.mmconservancy.com/wildlifeconservancy/ 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: The Kicheche camps are owned by a wildlife photographer and therefore know what the needs of photographers are and cater to them. The guides are well trained to drive for photographers and many are accomplished photographers themselves. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Inside tent Veranda Bucket shower Path to tent Visitor that strolled past during lunch