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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.
pault posted a topic in KenyaLet’s get straight to the main point here. Bibi vs the Invaders was of course a “no contest”. “Right then. We’ll have no more of this invading. Naughty, naughty boys.” Note for Kenyans: Yes, we know ‘bibi’ means “wife” in Swahili but it is also “grandmother” in some areas of Tanzania and it is difficult to drop its use, even though using it in Kenya would have created all kinds of misunderstandings – like was my wife our adopted daughter or was I a bigamist with two wives (something that would not have raised an eyebrow in much of Samburu County)? One funny thing our guide Zarek told me was that he had assumed in past reports that Bibi was my wife, making Bibi’s comments and adventures hers, and creating a very confusing narrative! So I will probably more frequently use Mum or Mama this time around, with Bibi saved for “Bibi-like events”. We discussed the option of using the proper Swahili word “Nyanya”, but it also means “tomato” so that seemed likely to create even more misunderstandings, given that she was not grandmother to anyone on this trip. We stuck with “Mama” when discussing her with staff and guides and being a junior was just fine with my wife, who had a shocking “first” experience when she revealed her age to one of our young Samburu moran hosts at Sabache Camp. “How old are you?” “47” (Surprised) “Oh… Mama!” Actually the young moran nearly had a nasty experience too, but my wife was too shocked to get the slapping reflex going for days afterwards. Itinerary June 17 Boulevard Hotel, Nairobi (unscheduled) June18-19 Fishing Lodge, Aberdares National Park June 20-22 Sabache Camp, Namunyak Conservancy, Samburu County June 23-26 Saruni Samburu, Kalama Conservancy, Samburu County June 27- July 1 Kicheche Bush Camp, Olare Motorogi Conservancy July 2 Day room at Ololo Safari Lodge, Nairobi National Park So, a real Kenyan conservancy safari, without forgetting to pay our respects to the Daddy of them all, the Kenya Wildlife Service. Spending another small fortune may as well be virtuous. Of course the amount of love given to the NRT conservancies and the Samburu in particular was based on decisions made prior to the escalation of the Laikipia land invasions by the Samburu, and I probably wouldn’t have had quite the same itinerary if I had booked in May 2017. However, I checked out the security situation as thoroughly as I could and decided there was no reason to change things up, especially as Mum hadn’t read about the armed robbery in Samburu National Reserve and carelessly assumed that her son and daughter-in-law would never go anywhere that wasn’t completely safe anyway. And it did seem completely safe. While you can never say more than “seem” both Sabache and Saruni have good security and intelligence networks (although Saruni may need to review their protocols as the genet breached them a number of times) and our experience was very positive. The first 6 nights was a road safari with Zarek Cockar and team. The last 9 nights were genteel fly-in safari, coordinated by Chameleon Tours. The parts were knitted together with care by Chalo Africa. Main characters pault - Your narrator and most careful planner. What could go wrong? Mrs pault aka Mrs K aka wife - The only person I know who cried when arriving at a camp Bibi aka Mama aka Mrs. Tomato - The one and only Bibi, Queen of Adventure Zarek Cockar - A fine guide and a very good man to have an adventure with, but would he be able to answer all of Bibi’s questions? Job the moran - Driver and assistant guide for Zarek and occasional Samburu warrior Vincent - Our excellent cook brought by Zarek to Fishing Lodge Lepayon Lekotip & James Leitore - Our guide and spotter at Saruni Samburu - a great team but could they find the proverbial needle in a bone-dry haystack? Nelson Kasoe - Our guide at Kicheche Bush Camp – a recurring character in our adventures, and no bit player either. Could he do it again? I don’t think you’ll find this one as dull as the last one, although of course I would never expect to please everyone. Some highlights - with some surprises saved to make sure you don’t skip the full report Servals (yes, there is an s or two) Singing wells Bibi vs the camels Sleeping on top of Mt. Ololokwe (and getting up there!) I’m a wild dog magnet The fearsome genet that grew to the size of a leopard The Grevy’s megaherd Six hunts - arguably many more but half-hearted ones don’t count Four kills as a result of the hunts (but not always quite what you’d expect - including my most shocking safari moment ever) Zorilla (sorry @Tom Kellie – yes, again) Aardwolf and Striped Hyena? Oe were they one and the same? The beginning of the great rut Of course, as part of the ceasefire deal Bibi struck, my wife does now have to adapt to life as #3 wife of a Samburu elder....... apparently she's doing as well as could be expected.
Mrsmurphy posted a topic in AfricaI am a safari and safaritalk newbie and would love some seasoned travelers' opinion on a proposed Kenya safari for my husband and me. I am dealing with a US operator who was recommended by a friend who has used them several times. This and my communications with them so far make me believe they're both reputable and experienced. They have quoted me $8800 pp for the following itinerary: 1 night Fairview hotel Nairobi 3 nights Kicheche Laikipia Camp 3 nights Borana Lodge 3 nights Kicheche Bush Camp All the camps/lodges sound wonderful to me (although I really don't need a plunge pool, whatever that is, at Borana) but the price is about $1800 pp more than I was budgeting. The only way to pay less with this agent is to go to cheaper camps or shave off days. Where should I go from here? Any opinions or ideas? Mrsmurphy