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Found 18 results

  1. Where: Mara North Conservancy for 6 nights (preceded by 5 nights in Rwanda, which is reported on here) When: Feb 2017 Who: Amy (me) and Kim. We did our China Panda Volunteer trip together and our first safari in Tanzania together. We only see each other on these sorts of trips but we both agree that it's rare to find someone that we travel this well with. Honestly, I've never had an easier, no-friction travel relationship with anyone. It was a no-brainer to ask her to go with me. How: I booked with Offbeat Safaris directly. I worked with Peter at Offbeat on booking the 6-for-5 deal last June. He arranged for our pickup at Nairobi Airport, transfer to Wilson, the Safarilink flights, and a driver for the day on our return to Nairobi before we flew out at midnight that night, all included in that package. Why: I am ridiculously, passionately in love with the Mara. There was no way I'd go back to Africa and not return. I also had a bit of "business left unfinished" from my last safari, and I wanted to remedy that. I read a bunch of trip reports here and decided on Offbeat pretty easily. I wanted to experience a different conservancy again and appreciated honest feedback from other STers. Whatever I had wished for during the last 12 months (and I wished for a lot and bargained with the Safari Gods for even more), the Mara delivered for me far beyond even my wildest expectations. My rule of "never try to repeat perfect" may have to come into play again. Guides: David and Kapen. I consider us blessed to have been assigned to these two guys. David is an incredible guide. His knowledge of the area, the animals and their histories and his ability to convey it so that it's interesting and memorable is unsurpassed in my limited experience. And Kapen…man, if anyone has better eyes out there in a safari vehicle, I'd be surprised. He's so good that he can spot something you'll never find on your own miles away, and then turn around to where you're sitting behind him and point your arm to exactly where you need to look to see what he sees. To say he's incredible is a vast understatement. When Kapen stood on the seat and popped his head out of the rooftop, we knew he was looking for something and he always came through with a sighting. More on these two coming up. Accommodations: Pretty typical canvas tent with porch, bucket shower, flush toilet and dual sinks. Comfortable beds. Meals were excellent, even for this vegetarian (to be honest I don't eat as well at home!) I'll write a more extensive lodge report once I'm done with the TR. They offer a lot more than game rides, like walks, village visits, etc. but we only took advantage of the night drive. We were all about game rides and eaked out every one we could. Camera: for those who suffered listening to me whine about the Nikon that was failing me, fear not, I invested in the Sony RX10 iii and LOVE IT. I knew I couldn't buy my way to better photos, but could buy a more reliable camera. So I figured that if I’m investing in the camera, I better know how to use it. I took classes, shot a lot of animals at zoos and got up on weekends for sunrises more than I wanted to. But I think in the end, it paid off. I’m beyond thrilled with the results. I took 7 16-gig memory cards which I almost filled (5880 photos and 65 videos) and 7 fully charged batteries and only used 4. The Sony has excellent battery life. Logistics: I spent the last 8 months worrying that five hours to connect between NBO and Wilson would not be enough on a Friday late morning. In reality, between our empty flight, no lines at customs/immigration, almost immediate delivery of Kim's luggage, and the new bypass road that takes you from NBO via the Mombasa Road to Wilson, we had just shy of 4 hours to kill at Wilson, which we spent having a late breakfast and vacuuming up iced coffee at the Java House at the Aviation Club nearby. We'd been up since 3:45 am and at that point needed every ounce of caffeine to keep us going. But soon enough, we were on our Safarilink flight to Mara North.
  2. I hesitate to bring this up, knowing what a mess I made of my last query about travel to Africa! But Kenya is my siren song and I want to return, NOW! Happily, while I can't return NOW, I can return in 2018. Hubs wants to go (although it will require a long layover each way), and his union managers are willing to make it happen (two weeks in a row, maybe even during prime time.) We will probably have 12 nights on the ground, and want to spend our time in the Mara and surrounding areas. Suggestions for the best bang for the buck in late March or June? Thanks in advance
  3. We had a special sighting this week with a crossing at the river I don't think anybody was expecting to see. We were watching a crossing point but the camera was focused on a small group of male giraffe and we just assumed they were taking a drink and grabbing a few bits to eat before turning back, but we then noticed another male on the opposite side which seemed to have motivated these giraffe to not only contemplate, but actually cross the river successfully just to be with the larger male on the opposite side. It was such an epic sighting we got to witness with Stef Winterboer as our guide. WE did see this live on one of Wild Earth's river cams that they use during the drives. Here is a link to the video for those interested in seeing it. It's about an hour and 14 mins into the drive. These are all screen shots I took during the event. The giraffe on the far right in the bush is the sole reason they crossed the river.
  4. As is often the case, the Daily Nation frustrates with poor journalistic practices. But buried in the following article, I found this hint: "Last week, Governor Samuel Tunai’s administration announced a ban on livestock grazing in the world-famous reserve and imposed a Sh10,000 fine for every cow impounded." Perhaps this means the authorities in Narok County will no longer turn a blind eye to illegal grazing in the Masai Mara National Reserve? http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Lions-face-extinction--experts-warn/1056-3988396-wigd4r/index.html
  5. http://www.nation.co.ke/counties/narok/wildebeest-migration-lights-up-tourism-in-maasai-mara/1183318-3983122-if4lda/index.html ~ From Daily Nation: “Wildebeest Migration Lights Up Tourism at Maasai Mara”
  6. I received this email this morning from Offbeat Safaris, thought it would be of interest here. Such a bummer for a well-regarded camp. I hope there's a quick(er) recovery! Not sure if this is the best forum location for this, but mods can move it as they see fit. As you are well aware, parts of West Laikipia have been unsettled since the beginning of the year and Sosian re-located all their bookings during this time to err on the side of caution. Today, the seven owners/shareholders of Sosian have taken the decision to down scale the lodge to their private house until such a time that they are confident that our guests will the receive the top class safari experience that Sosian has become so well known for. Whilst we shall miss our guests hugely over this time, we will also be able to focus 100% on re-habilitating the land and working with the government to path a positive long-term future. Sean Outram, the general manager, has done an extraordinary job during these difficult times and he will continue to work tirelessly on rejuvenating Sosian back to the point of welcoming guests again. The lodge managers, Simon Kenyon & Rosie Constant have some exciting plans in the interim, as Simon becomes head riding guide for Offbeat Safaris and Rosie begins some free lance safari work sharing her secrets in the kitchen and office as well as her faultless hosting! We’d like to thank so many of you for your incredible support of Sosian. We couldn’t do it without you, and we’ll be looking forward to letting you know when we shall be welcoming guests once again. Offbeat Safaris continues as normal with an exciting riding season ahead of them with Simon and the team, plus Piers’ Offbeat Mara Camp with a stunning new mess tent and a busy migration season ahead! Best wishes from all of us at Sosian & Offbeat Safaris
  7. You can't get much better than this, folks. Enjoy. If you want me to share any stories regarding any of these sightings, comment below and I'll respond as quickly as I can.
  8. Our 8 days in Kenya and here are some of the lions we saw:
  9. Our recent trip to the Mara (December 2016) was again magical. Every day was jam-packed with outstanding sightings. We are novice videographers and put much more effort into photography. I just haven't had a chance yet to start processing any photos from the trip. Heck, I'm still processing videos; I have about 4 or more videos I have yet to upload, including our final compilation of each place we visited in Kenya. Here's some lengthy video of each day in the Mara. Most video capture is a bit raw and shaky, but hopefully you can enjoy the animals despite our lack of skill. All thumbnails for the videos are my unedited photos from that day. Day 1 (just a short evening drive; not too much to see in this video: Day 2 (good action! Lion kill and Malaika hunting with cubs): Day 3 (more great action!): Day 4 (outstanding elephant river crossing): All the rest of our videos are here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6QF9c_66AVy2c58fdZ8AnQ/videos
  10. We had asked out guide if we might really look for serval cats this time around on our 4 days in the Mara. Thankfully, in late December, the grass was still short and this made potential viewings even more likely. We were rewarded with 5 sightings of 4 different cats in four days. In fact, we saw our first one within about 5 minutes into the Mara from camp on our first drive. Two of the sightings were us all alone with the beautiful creature. Here's a compilation of some of those moments, including two successful "hunts", one right in front of our vehicle. At 3:20 into the video, we had a real close up with one. Haven't had much of a chance to edit the photo yet, or put a watermark on it. Have several hundreds of these kinds of shots.
  11. I'm in the middle of planning our October Safari in Tanzania and Kenya. Does anyone have any recent experience they could share with me about crossing the border between Tanzania and Kenya in Isebania and flying to/from and driving between Tarime and Migori? I'm wondering if that is just a giant waste of time and we should skip it. I requested the TA to look into it as I'd really like to avoid wasting a night in Nairobi. I may be making my trip too complicated!
  12. I´m pretty much decided on doing a 2-week Kenya trip in autumn 2014, with Meru, Samburu, Aberdares, Nakuru and the Mara. I have a pretty appealing offer for a jeep safari from an operator with 3 nights Meru at Murera Springs Eco Lodge 3 nights Samburu at Samburu Game Lodge 2 nights Aberdares at Aberdares Country Club 2 nights Lake Nakuru at Flamingo HIll Camp 5 nights Mara at Mara Bush Camp Does any of you have personal experience about these accomodations? (Game drive times at lodges are not an issue since we would have our private car for the whole trip.) Our time frame would be September/October. Of course we would like to have good chances for experiencing a crossing so advice on when to go would be welcome, and of course I am interested in your thoughts about this itinerary. Thanks in advance.
  13. "Africa? Are you mad? With all that Ebola? What? KENYA?!? Completely mad? With all that terrorism I hear about on the news? Haven´t they even issued travel warnings?" Normally when I tell friends and familiy about my safari plans they are pretty positive. Though they think I must have seen enough animals by now and are not really getting it, it´s mostly "Wow, safari! Really cool, must do that sometime." (Sometime=never in a million years) Not this year. All my "Africa is huge, Spain and France are closer to the Ebola countries than Kenya" and "Really, trust me, I´ve researched this, it´s totally safe where we are going" did little to convince anybody that I was not out of my mind. A minor nuisance for me. A heavy blow for Kenya´s tourism, and therefore devastating for the country. Bloody shame. What a fantastic country it is, and how much it has to offer. I always felt completely safe and people were friendly and welcoming everywhere. On this 16-day-trip I was totally blown away by the many facets one can experience in Kenya, and how different all those magnificent places are I was lucky enough to visit. The unspoilt wilderness of Meru: Samburu with its unique Northern animals: The Aberdares, the surprise highlight of this safari for me. Wow, did I love this place. Lake Nakuru, good for rhinos and - yes! - still flamingos. No need to say anything about the Mara. A gnu´s world there. And of course THE place to see all the big cats. And some smaller ones. You know what they say. Relax and go to Kenya! I will again, that´s for sure.
  14. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Encounter Mara (an Asilia camp), Naboisho Conservancy, Maasai Mara, Kenya 2) Website address if known: http://www.asiliaafrica.com/destinations/kenya/greater-maasai-mara/encounter-mara/ 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). February 2016 4) Length of stay: 5 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Having stayed in conservancies in Kenya in 2014, I wanted to stay in a different conservancy near the Mara when I returned. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Safari planner handled the booking 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was the third 8) To which countries? Tanzania, Kenya x2 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Porini Lion Camp, Porini Mara Camp, Porini Rhino Camp, Serengeti Wilderness Camp, Ndutu Wilderness Camp – all tented camps 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? Yes, a 50,0000 volt electric fence, but was told it "only keeps out the buffalo, rhino and hippo" LOL! 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 tent 11, which is quite a distance from the pick-up location and the common areas, but that remoteness is rewarded with no noise from fellow guests. It was not overlooked and looked out over a field that yielded to a riverbed of some sort. I was told that Osirata, the conservancy's resident leopard, spent much of her time on the other side of that field. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable. Nice big bed, one chair, plenty of room to spread out. Bathroom had double sinks, which I don't think I've seen before in a tent! Standard bucket shower 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was good; I certainly did not starve. Although I think I've had stronger meals at the other tented camps I've stayed at. They handled the vegetarian request fairly well. I suspect it might have been better had I eaten meat, as a lot of the variety and creativity seemed to go towards the meat products in themed meals like the Indian meal and the barbeque. The "Unbelievable Red" blend wine is not to be missed! Very good! 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Vegetarian was available, requested in advance. But otherwise a set menu. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? A communal table, but there looked to be a couple stand-alone tables too. Whether that is for overflow from the large table or for eating alone on request, I’m unsure. At least one manager was at each meal, eating with us and helping to serve, as well as one of the guides, which is a very nice touch. I appreciated getting to know and talk to other guides over the pre-dinner firepit and during the meal. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? The breakfasts on the gamed drives were wonderful. Very plentiful and hearty. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Land Rovers 19) How many guests per row? Three rows behind the driver, two passengers in each row except the last row, which held three. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Routes varied based on what was seen the night before and what guests hadn't already seen. For example, we saw a leopard before sunset the night before, we'd head out in the morning to see if she was still in the same location. 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? Mornings were 6:15 – 11 or 11:30. Afternoons 4:15 – 7:00 or so. There is the option for night drives, which is really just taking longer to get back for dinner. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? We saw vehicles frequently from the other Asilia camps in the Naboisho conservancy as well as other camps. There were never more than 7-8 vehicles at any one sighting (four immediately on it, three waiting to get in per answer to #25) 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Didn't go into Mara Reserve with Encounter. 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. Limit is four vehicles per sighting. It is enforced. I couldn't ascertain though who was meant to give up their spot on these sightings. A few times we were the fourth on the sighting, and the first to surrender the final spot, especially to other Asilia vehicles (and sometimes to the detriment of our enjoying the sighting). It did not seem to be a "first in, first out" situation, but that's purely anecdotal. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? The Mara conservancies are known for their big cats. I thought the sightings were good, but not the quality or quantity I've had on a previous stay in the Mara. Talking sheer numbers: 85 individual cats in 2014, 41 on this safari. Not nearly the number of "enlarge this photo for the office" experiences. But this could be due to Mother Nature, tall grass due to El Nino and just the luck of the draw. 27) How was the standard of guiding? The guiding was good, but not as strong as I've had at other camps. Knowledge of resident animals was not as strong nor was the eye for setting me up for ideal photos. 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: N/A 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes, the camp staff were excellent. Everyone who interacted with me was personable, friendly and cared about my experience. I suffered a logistical snafu with my booking and Andrew and Sammy handled it for me as if it was nothing at all, for which I’m deeply appreciative. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Unsure. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/15901-my-safari-3-kenya-again-and-again/ 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: I cannot say enough about Andrew and Sammy. Both really lived and breathed the safari experience and did what they could to add to it. Sammy "heard" leopard sightings from the camp on a couple of occasions, went out to investigate the noise, then radioed to the guides where he'd found them. Unbelievable talent and willingness to go the extra step for guests. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Interior of tent #11
  15. The Lipault Ladies go to the Mara It was meant to be my second solo trip to Africa. Singapore had a short working week in February and I wanted to make use of it to have a longer trip. But feb is packed end to end with projects for my husband so that meant I would go alone again. As I narrowed my short list to kenya (thanks to much advice and input by the ST-ers in this thread: http://safaritalk.net/topic/13027-february-where-to-go-kenyazambia-safrica/ ), @@SafariChick jumped on board. I had originally wanted to see wild dogs in Laikipia but in the end, Laikipia didn't work out so we were happy to settle for a Masai Mara-focused trip that minimized travel to land transits between neighboring areas, and sealed a what turned out to be 9-night trip. The schedule was finalized - Feb 8 - Emakoko in Nairobi National Park for @kitsafari Feb 9 - meet @@SafariChick at Eka Hotel, Nairobi Feb 10-13 Serian Mara camp, Mara North conservancy Feb 13-16 Serian Nkorombo mobile camp, Masai Mara Reseve Feb 16-18 Mara Plains, Olare Motorogi conservancy Feb 19 - Emakoko for @@SafariChick Once we had the schedule pinned up, @@graceland jumped in, eager to relive her happy memories at Serian in Mara. So it became a threesome and it worked out marvellously as with the power of three we could command a PV at MP. Serian provides PV and guide for each tent, one of 2 big draws in clinching the deal, the other being a stay 6 and pay 4 deal. How we ended up being the Lipault ladies is something of a tale that @@graceland has to tell since she was the catalyst!
  16. It was announced at the International Congress of Relais & Châteaux in Paris, celebrating the association's 60th year, that Mara Plains Camp, Kenya, has been accepted on all standards as a member camp based on its experience, fine cuisine, hosting and accommodation. "This is our third camp to become a Relais & Châteaux member, an honour and responsibility we don't take lightly. The association stands for excellence at all levels and in general celebrates the art of living which in our case is all about the life changing experience of a safari," says Dereck Joubert CEO Great Plains Conservation from Paris, last night. Mara Plains reopened in August 2013, after being completely rebuilt to become one of Africa's finest ecological camps. Located in the exclusive Olare Mororogi Conservancy, bordering the Maasai Mara National Reserve to the north, Mara Plains Camp has the largest traversing area of any camp in the Mara ecosystem with additional access to the Mara North Conservancy. Mara Plains Camp has seven, expansive tents, each with views over the classic savannah grasslands of the Maasai Mara ecosystem, yet the camp is inconspicuously shaded by the riverine vegetation of the Ntiakitiak River. Of the seven tents two of these form a two-tent family suite on a shared deck, and for honeymooners one tent is perched above the river with its own rope-bridge access. Each spacious tent has a copper, free-standing bath, indoor shower includes the complimentary use of professional Canon EOS 7D camera equipment and Swarovski high-definition binoculars. Mara Plains Camp joins its sister property ol Donyo Lodge, in Kenya's southern Chyulu Hills, as East Africa's only other Relais & Châteaux member property. Great Plains Conservation's third member property, Zarafa Camp, in the Selinda Reserve of northern Botswana, was the recipient of last year's Relais & Châteaux Environment Trophy 2013. Life changing experience at Mara Plains, shot by a guest using camp's photographic equipment
  17. To secure the wildlife around camps in the greater Mara ecosystem, many lodge owners have over the last few years leased land for wildlife conservancies giving them the possibility to better control the wildlife experience for their guests while paying the Maasai landowners to keep the wildlife alive on their land and averting the 'de-wilding' process that normally happens as land is converted to food production...this conservancy movement has shown that leasing land to remain extensive and open, unfenced and inhabited by a wide variety of wild animal species has given the landowners very good alternative to farming and land fragmentation, and it has been good for the local Maasai people, their culture, the wildlife and the tourism industry. However, with the security issues the country has recently had to face and which undoubtedly has the potential to reduce tourism arrivals to the country, some conservancies may not be able to meet their payment commitments to their landowners....The consequences of not having these conservancy payments underwritten and guaranteed is clear; it can result in the loss of trust by landlords, reversal of all the good conservation work that has been achieved and may well prompt the removal of wildlife from these conservancies and conversion of this land to farming. Should wildlife in Kenya - or anywhere for that matter - be dependent only on the sensitive and fickle tourism industry ? What would give the wildlife conservancies more financial resilience?
  18. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=534856839918366&set=vb.340468316023887&type=2&theater

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