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Found 35 results

  1. There was a suggestion to have a topic with updates on Mara cheetahs. I think it is a great idea as there are a lot of places where updates are posted (or maybe somebody just recently traveled and knows first hand information) so it will be nice to have them in one topic. At least I love to know who to look for on safaris I will start with quite sad news. It was posted on Olare Motorogi Conservancy page: https://www.facebook.com/Olare-Motorogi-Conservancy-512622932155217/timeline/
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. This was a special safari for three reasons: It was my tenth (if I can count India and the Pantanal). It was the way I had decided to celebrate my 40th birthday. And my mother had agreed to stop being just a @@screentraveller and joined us (@@AndMic and me) for the last week of this trip. So, what did we do? Enjoy Akagera National Park in the East of Rwanda, a rarely-visited jewel with so much potential. We wanted to do something special for this trip, and what can be more special than seeing our closest kin? Gorillas of course - Volcanoes National Park. The Mara was where we hoped to get our "Big Cat " fix. Kakamega, the last part of Congo jungle in Kenya. And home to some very special birds. Some leisure time at Lake Baringo. Flamingos! Flamingos! Flamingos! (Lake Bogoria of course) Rhino h(e)aven in Solio. And of course return to my favourite place, the Aberdares. So - how difficult were those Gorilla treks? How much rain in November/December? How many birds did we see? Who was hit by a Gorilla? Which baby animals from last time did we see all grown-up, and their nephews/nieces as well? How did Jesus feature in this trip? How many punctures did we have? What do you do when angry young men block the road with burning brushwood? In how many colours do Bee-Eaters come? How c-c-co-cold are the Aberdares at night? Which unexpected guests made walking around Sandai Farm much more of a challenge? And most important: Would Mum like it?
  5. https://www.porini.com/blog/amazing-images-of-a-leopard-ambush-near-porini-lion-camp/
  6. Hi guys tonight we had some facebook live specials with SafariLive where they followed a pride called the Purungat Pride. I was wondering if anybody in here had any information on them such as pride size, who dominates the pride and any identifiers that might stand out. Just a few screenshots to share.
  7. As promised, since my plans have changed, our title needs to be changed from: First timers too, mother / daughter combo http://safaritalk.net/topic/16784-first-timers-too-mother-daughter-combo/ Hubby Harry was sad to be missing out on all the fun, although 4 bulging discs in his back makes flying (sitting too long in one position) excruciating. Ergo, our plans are evolving. It is likely that his vacation schedule will dictate a trip beginning in mid-June, so Aberdares is off the table for this trip. Samburu and the Masai Mara are still "must-do"s and I have two bookings at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, hoping to make one of them work. I was browsing the Porini Rhino website yesterday and saw a walking safari mentioned on Laikipia. It looks delightful. Has anyone done walking safaris in Kenya? I believe Sabache Safari Camp offers them too. Thanks!
  8. My wife, Mama Ndege and I have traveled to Africa on safari five previous times. All of these trips were organized by a young man who operates Cowabunga Safaris. He grew up in the lightly populated county in Kansas where we are from. Our first safari with his group was in 2001 to Kenya. We have not been back to Kenya since then. Most of the African safaris we recently have taken have been mobile camping safaris. Cowabunga Safaris was originally started by the Topeka Zoo Director Gary Clark, who is a legend in Africa. Mzungu Mrefu is our friends Swahili name that he earned while going to school in Dar Es Salaam. He is now a college professor in international studies and only takes groups to Africa in the summer during school vacation. So Mama Ndege and I decided to try a winter trip and used the services of Expert Africa to help us plan our trip. Ellie Dunkels was the TO that we used and she did a great job. She was always very prompt with her replies and all our connections and camps were trouble free and top notch. Most of the photos in this trip report will be from Mama Ndege's camera. We are a bit humbled by the fantastic photographers on safari talk. We actually met two really good photographers on our recent trip in Kenya at different camps. That would be @@tony Q and his wife @Thursdays Child at Offbeat Meru and @@offshorebirder at Offbeat Mara. It was fun to visit about our safari talk acquaintance. We flew from Kansas City airport on a cold 4 degree Fahrenheit (minus 16 Celsius) day to Chicago. From there we flew to London Heathrow and then on to Nairobi. We landed about 9:30 PM a day after we left home, around 28 hours in transit. We were taken to the Nairobi Tented Camp in Nairobi National Park. While driving into the park we saw a leopard and hyena cross the road on the way to camp. What a way to start our Kenya safari!! After a hot bucket shower we were in bed by midnight anticipating our early morning safari at 6 AM. We met our guide, Andrew, and three fellows from California who were spending their last day in Africa after climbing Kilimanjaro and taking a short safari in Tanzania. The light was still not very good when we took off from camp but soon we were seeing game with the skyline of Nairobi in the background. It wasn't long before we came on a black rhino family consisting of a large male, female and baby. Andrew mentioned it was unusual to see a male with a female and young one but we didn't complain. A little further on we approached 4 white rhino sleeping in the road. They were quite content to look like big couch potatoes. White rhino sleeping in the road We stopped and talked to one of the few safari vehicles that we saw during our time in Nairobi National Park and he must have given Andrew the info that there was a pride of lions up ahead. We found them lying on a rocky outcropping set to sleep the day away. There were three females and five 9 month old cubs. We continued on with our drive and were astounded at the variety and quantity of game in this park. Here we were not more than a mile or two from the bustling city with the skyline in plain view, and we had fantastic game viewing of healthy, contented wildlife. After this first morning safari of less than three hours, we were overwhelmed with the wonderful sightings and had to pinch ourselves to think that less than two days ago we had been in freezing Kansas. Here we were in Kenya living a dream. What a privilege to be able to experience this!!! It was now back to camp for breakfast. The guys from California who had accompanied us were soon off to fly back home. We had been having so much fun that we hadn't even thought about jet lag. Here is the lounge tent and mess tent at Nairobi Tented Camp.
  9. I was very sorry to read this just now: "A Belgian was trampled to death by an elephant near Kenya’s famed Maasai Mara wildlife reserve, police said Wednesday, the second such incident in a month. “He was badly injured by the rogue elephant and succumbed to injuries at the Talek Health Centre,” a police officer in the area said on condition of anonymity." https://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2016/10/belgian-trampled-to-death-by-elephant-in-kenya/
  10. This 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.
  11. Keep abreast of news from the greater Mara ecosystem here: https://www.flipsnack.com/flip-preview/ftji6phhw/
  12. This trip has already been booked therefore not looking for camp/lodge information more in the direction of recent sightings, which areas to visit. I will be continuing my own research (including all the trip reports) but will be glad to have any info/tips which spring to mind. Mara is a return visit. Any info from recent visitors? I have two nights in the reserve and 3 nights in Mara North. Meru is a new park for me therefore any information gratefully received. 4 nights here. Thanks in advance!
  13. I have a question and would appreciate any thoughts. My three previous solo photography trips to Kenya have been in the shoulder season including the last two years in the conservancies in late October, early November. Both times the weather was quite gray with quite a lot of rain last year -making for lacklustre photography and cutting short several late day drives. I have a pretty good itinerary in front of me for 14 nights this summer in early to mid July (4 at each Kicheche Bush, Mara and Valley camps and 2 at the Emakoko) Cost is decent (aside from the CDN exchange on the USD!) It would be the first time I would be going in high season, staying in camps that were full and sharing a vehicle. (Previous 2 years in shoulder season I stayed at Ngare so had my own truck and a couple of days with SUV at Kicheche. So, thinking about the pros and cons.... - before the biggest crowds, which I believe fall more August-September? - likely better weather given July historically has lowest rainfall so more light for photos (and the novelty of blue sky?? :-) - busier sightings although conservancies are still pretty good for this. The reserve likely busy. - much busier camps (can be good or bad depending! Last year I was alone at 2 camps. - shared vehicle (although Max 4 at Kicheche) - possibility of seeing migration if it arrives a little ahead to time-ya never know! Anything else I should be thinking of? Would love to hear from anyone who has done the Mara in July. Thanks NJ
  14. Morning ST'ers. Yesterday, @@Calvin wrote the following write-up and presented the attached 'Powerpoint'. While I'm unsure that this will ever be agreed to by the many operators in and around the reserve, I do believe it's the way forward for the Mara ecosystem. I believe there's also no reason it cannot be replicated and tweaked to fit other National Parks and Reserves in Kenya (and elsewhere) - mandating that tourism operators pay for ecosystem services to protect the very wilderness areas from which they profit. "So, in an effort to rationalize and correct the imbalance in tourism revenues being paid inside the Mara Reserve (where natural habitat is not actually threatened) compared to what is paid outside (where agriculture is growing at 8% per annum, where human population is growing at 19% per annum, and where wildlife is being removed by landowners at up to 4% per year for land use change), I propose a voluntary 'land rating' scheme for lodges and camps in the Mara ecosystem whereby all lodges are vetted and rated according to how much land they lease per room - the more land secured, the more tax and selling advantages they get from the selling chain ( DMC's and tour agents). To get onto the land rating scheme, lodges and camps 'freeloading' inside or just on the peripheries of the Mara reserve SHOULD have to be required to also lease land outside the reserve because national protected land where their lodges are situated is not under threat from subdivision, farming, and elimination of wildlife 'vermin'...these lodges will have to increase their prices, continue to pay the Narok County their Mara entry fees, while using the additional money they charge to lease land outside the Mara reserve. This is the right thing to do - for the Maasai Mara National Reserve ( as it will help in decongesting the reserve) , for the wildlife generally, for the people because it boosts livelihood income, and for the government because it resolves human wildlife conflict and uplifts the economic outlook for their voting constituents.. But for this to work, we need the 'buy in' and total understanding and commitment of the tourism selling chain - the agents and local ground operators have to priorities and support the the lodges and camps with the highest ratio of land secured per room...and educate their clients on this need. Please go to www.maraconservancies.org for more info on how the conservancies work, and which camps are leasing land for wildlife." https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=88C853BAB6E9694A!113&app=PowerPoint&authkey=!AG_qIBzJTHSuEh8 EDIT: Apparently I am "not permitted to upload this kind of file" as an attachment, so click on the link above instead.
  15. 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
  16. Reference @@Antee’s comments in the below post - http://safaritalk.net/topic/15906-should-we-help-wild-animals/ 1. @@Antee Post #5: “Mara today is a playground for ignorant people. Not a healthy nationalpark.” 2. @@Antee Post # 12: “Mara isn´t a nationalpark anymore. Just an awful playground for ignorant people with even more ignorant guides and rangers. “ @@Antee - I have to disagree with your comments above. We’ve traveled to the Mara Triangle six times during the shoulder season (late January or early June) and have had a wonderful experience each time in no small part due to the dearth of other visitors. At most sightings we were by ourselves (leopards, cheetah, serval, lion, rhino, etc.) save for a ranger. There have been a couple of sightings with four or five vehicles but they were well behaved. I’ve never seen anyone either harassing animals or interfering with hunting/feeding, etc. I have been in vehicles where other visitors wanted to get really close and the ranger at the camp we stay at politely explained that he didn’t want to stress the lions in question. Also, there was one time in June 2010 when the migration was ahead of schedule that we went down to the Tanzanian boarder and it was a bit of mini-van hell which just by sheer vehicle volume presumably must have been worrisome to the animals. Two minor incidents in six visits. Have we been lucky, or am I just an ignorant tourist in my favorite playground? In my opinion the reality is that due to human population growth animals and people need to adapt to coexist if the animals are to survive in any meaningful, wild way; whether in dedicated national reserves or conservancies where tourism displaces farming/grazing, or a blended use model such as ol Pejeta. I don’t believe that it is realistic that large tracts of land will be solely dedicated to conservation (where neither tourism nor development is allowed) unless the land had no "value” to humans (grazing, farming, mining, industrial/residential development, etc.). I also don’t think that the Botswana model of a relatively few upscale camps is scalable as it’s in a sparsely populated country in areas not suitable for mass agriculture/development. You made the proclamation that the Mara isn't a healthy reserve (by what I believe is extrapolating the bad behavior of a few). I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that this type of behavior (or far worse) also occurs in every reserve, conservancy, national park to some extent. So what is the definition of a "healthy" national park/reserve?
  17. ------------------------------- 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Offbeat Mara Camp, Mara North Conservancy, Kenya 2) Website address if known: www.offbeatsafaris.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). January 21 to January 25, 2016 Shoulder season 4) Length of stay: 4 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? We were staying in two other Offbeat properties and they were having a nice special… stay 4 pay for 3. Also we wanted to visit the Mara but stay where there was not so much traffic like one of the conservancies. The added part of that is we could do walks and night drives. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? We used Expert Africa and Ellie Dunkels. Everything was handled quickly and efficiently. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was safari number six. 8) To which countries? SA, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Kenya 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Nairobi Tented Camp, Offbeat Meru, Sosian, Rufigi River Lodge 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No fence. 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 tents 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We stayed in tent number 5. Tent 5 and 2 have the best view out on the plains. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very nice. King size bed. Two chairs, a desk, tables, night stands, The bathroom area has a curtain for privacy. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Food was 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?) The menu was varied and tasty. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? There is communal dining with the managers eating with the guests. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? The breakfasts were fresh and varied. Pancakes, sausages, eggs, bacon, muesli, fruit. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Toyota Cruisers 19) How many guests per row? Three rows of seats, two guests per row. We had a vehicle to ourselves all but three drives. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Morning game drives were at least 5 hours. Evening drives were 3 to 4 hours. Varied routes. 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? They are flexible. You can do whatever you want as long as the guests in the vehicle agree. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? This is a private conservancy. There are 12 camps in Mara North. The location of the Offbeat Camp is on the southern edge where there are only a couple of other camps so the game viewing early and late in the day is less busy since the other camps on the North have to do the road time back to camp. The location of the camp seems to be in a really good spot for cats. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Light 24) Are you able to off-road? A little when you see a good sighting. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Don’t know we never had many vehicles at any sighting. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? All three cats. We saw all three cat species two different days. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent, David as the guide and Kapen as the spotter were 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? 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: They tried to get us where the action was on the cats. They took plenty of time on other animal sightings that we were able to watch the interaction between the animals. They were good on the birds as well. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes, they were great. The managers Kyle and Lara are fun and do a good job. Kyle took us for a walk. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, we took a visit to a local village and they also support a school. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/15790-the-offbeat-circuit-safari-in-kenya-january-2016/ 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: The location of the camp, the quality people, the conservancy, all make this a top notch camp. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  18. Just saw a post on the Olare Motorogi Facebook page that cheetah Amani has another litter of cubs. The way the post reads, it looks like it may be six (it says three were following her and another three were asleep under a bush). Cheetah conservation jeep is following her and keeping an eye out. "Richards Camp Maasai Mara" Facebook page has a few photos from today. Looks like she's up in Mara North now. For those who live vicariously through news like this for 11 months out of the year. Like me.
  19. We've been quietly reading many of the posts across this forum (Safaritalk as a whole) recently. One post stuck out to us. @@Soukous says: Perhaps what Kenyan operators should be doing is asking "What would it take to make you book a safari in Kenya?" So here we go - we're asking you, Safaritalkers, "What would it take for you to book a safari in Kenya at the moment, all things considered?" Several of you have already mentioned that you had booked safaris before Ebola started scaring people away, but you're sticking to your plans. Good for you! And thank you! Kenya needs your business. So perhaps you can go to your friends, family, and fellow travellers and ask them the same thing. What incentives do people need in order to make that step and book a safari in Kenya? We all know there have been no Ebola cases in Kenya. Will big discounts on safaris attract more travellers? Will more dissemination of reassuring information about the lack of Ebola here attract more travellers? We look forward to seeing some feedback from you as seasoned Safari-goers, but also perhaps from your less-seasoned family members or friends. Thank you all! And here's to some super safaris across Africa for 2015!
  20. Could this be a faint sign of hope? or is this political wrangling between Narok County and the national government? http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-130951/county-cancels-20-mara-lodge-licences "Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY KIPLANG'AT KIRUI THE Narok County government has revoked over 20 licenses which had been granted for the establishment of lodges in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Governor Samuel Tunai accused National Environmental Management Authority for granting the licenses even though the applicants did not meet the necessary environmental conservation. Speaking in Maasai Mara yesterday,Tunai said the county will make conservation policies and enforce them because Nema has failed in its mandate. “As a county we are drafting policies and amending the existing ones under the Maasai Mara Management Plan. Once this is complete, it will be tabled in the county assembly for debate,” said Tunai. He said he has stopped three firms from putting up a 300-bed lodge within the reserve and that the county board has instructed its lawyers to review all leases to ensure those granted without following due procedure are nullified. In response, Nema’s director general Prof Geoffrey Wahungu absolved the authority from blame saying over 30 percent of the licenses were fake and had not been issued by the authority. “We issued stop orders three months ago and in the past two months we have told all lodge operators to bring their licenses for inspections. The affected lodges have not surrendered their licenses because they know we did not issue them,” said Wahungu. The Nema boss called for a joint cooperation between his authority and the county government so that unscrupulous investors are brought to book. The governor said a contractor to tarmac the road up to Sekenani Gate will be on site before the end of the year, “We are also in the process of streamlining our revenue collection to make it efficient and user-friendly,” he said. He revealed they will equip warders with modern weapons to help in the fight against poaching. The director said uncontrolled human activities in the Mau region pose a great danger to the Mara ecosystem. He said such activities are responsible for reduced water levels and pasture for wildlife and livestock. - See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-130951/county-cancels-20-mara-lodge-licences#sthash.UrmGIQ8s.dpuf
  21. My addiction to Tanzania has now become severe enough that the thought of not going at least once a year is no longer an option. So, I had a short period of time available in September and used it to go to the Mara region of the Serengeti. Five days in the Mara. Then an overnight in Karatu and back home. For many people probably not worth the cost of the flights, but as I said, this is an addiction and we all know how those can take control. It is just me this time as my significant other is off in Canada with “the boys” doing manly stuff… fishing, or canoeing, or drinking and doing nothing. Who knows. Our addictions are a bit different. I did the usual, air miles flight on American from my Midwest town to Chicago. $5. There are two flights, one early morning and one about noon. I always take the early one because you never know when one of these commuter flights gets cancelled. Then, because the ticket is completely separate from the KLM ticket, you are really hosed. So I had a lot of time in Chicago and there was a well spent $30 for a day pass to the Delta lounge (awesome place) to await my KLM flight. In our 5 previous trips to Tanzania this has always gone off without a hitch. So I guess I was about due. It starts with a text that states the 4 pm flight to Amsterdam is now scheduled to leave at 6:15 pm. Hmh. Will it really leave then? So I inquire about getting on a flight to Minneapolis and then onward. I am told no, you will still have 90 minutes in Amsterdam so no problem. Do they really believe these things they tell you? They add that if I miss it, then they will get me on another flight even if it is a different airlines. Uhhh, clearly they don’t know how flights to Kilimanjaro go. Oh well. Nothing to do but wait in this awesome lounge. Eat more stuff even though I can’t possibly be hungry. Drink more wine. It’s 5 pm somewhere. Well, at about 3 pm I wander over to the international terminal. Here’s where I make a critical mistake. I have everything packed in carry on. I have already checked in on line but haven’t printed the boarding passes. When I go to print them I get directed to the desk. (Never good). They print them no problem then ask how many bags to check. I say none. I have a day pack and a roller bag that fits in the overhead. They say no problem but we want to weigh them. Uh oh. 4 kgs too much. Drats!!! So I check the one without all the camera stuff and the I-pad without giving much thought to what I would wear if it doesn’t show up. This occurs to me after my bag has disappeared. Oh well. It will be fine. Right? So I wait. And wait. And wait. It’s about 5 pm. Plane is at the gate. Then it’s 6 pm. Still waiting. 6:15 we start to board. We land in Amsterdam and I have 40 minutes. I go directly to the gate and through all the gate security and I’m among the last 3 people to board. Plane is completely full. Arrive in Kili, fill out a form that asks me if I have been sick and I hand this to a person who just puts it in a pile. Visa line, then out to luggage. No luggage. So off I go to the luggage guy who is very pleasant and pulls up a form with my name already on it and says your luggage is in Amsterdam. No surprise here. “Where are you going?” I tell him we are driving the next day to the northern Serengeti. He says my luggage will be in tomorrow night, then the next morning they will fly it to Kogatende. Okay. I have extra underwear in the backpack and a pair of pants. The longish skirt that I always wear to fly because it is so comfortable seems a little unsuitable for safari. The flip flops I am wearing will have to do. I am met by George Mbwambo, the same freelance guide we always use. He asks where my suitcase is? I give him the short version and the number he is supposed to call tomorrow night to check if it arrived. Off we go to the Outpost Lodge. Before George leaves I ask him if he can bring an extra fleece tomorrow and some deodorant. (Good job this is not my first trip with George.) I get the standard George response of “no problem”. The Outpost Lodge is economical and perfectly suitable for one night of sleep with one exception…..the 2 am arrivals from Turkish airlines flights arriving next door with roller bags going thump, thump, thump. We leave at 6 am the next morning. George arrives, hands me a travel mug of coffee just as I like it and off we go for the long drive to the Mara region. We have traveled with George so much now that it’s very comfortable and I don’t feel odd being the solo traveler. We catch up on his family and mine, world politics (not really) and just listen to music and enjoy the ride. He has my standard favorite travel food – dates and cashews. I contribute Jolly Ranchers and the beef jerky he has requested. It was an unremarkable trip. No traffic/police stops. The usual sights on the way to the Serengeti that we have seen so often now but I still enjoy them. A bit of a struggle at the Serengeti gate with the card George is using but a couple of calls to various banks and it gets settled. I think George might have had a mild bit of panic setting in but everything was taken care of, as always. We drive across the central Serengeti, then exit at the Ikoma gate and drive north through several small villages and then enter back into the park in the northwest. Shortly after we enter there is this lovely siting of elephants and just a bit further the suggestion of the rain that is to come. George thinks we need to speed it up a bit, as there is a low crossing on our way to the camp that can flood and be impossible to cross. As we continue it starts to pour with rain and there is standing water everywhere. I have never been this wet in the Serengeti, even when we’ve been here in April and May. George had just returned from the Mara region and said it rained many of the days the past week. It keeps pouring and as we drive past the Kogatende airstrip we notice it is COMPLETELY submerged. Uh oh. We make it across the area George was concerned about and to Wild Frontier’s Serengeti Wilderness North camp. A sign of things to come I get the usual camp welcome and orientation and then head for the tent, slogging through a couple of inches of water and slipping a bit in the mud. The tent is basic but very clean and the shower bag is quickly filled with very hot water. So I shower, then head down for some wine in the lounge tent and chat with George a bit before dinner. The rain has slowed to almost nothing now. The guides eat with their clients here and it is a pleasant evening, although my flip flops and feet are still a big soggy. George makes a call to the airport and they say my luggage is there and they will send it out the following morning. Excellent! The Mara River is very close to the camp and wildebeest are happily munching outside of my tent through part of the night. The bed is very comfy and it is cold enough I need the thick blanket so it makes for a very nice sleep. George and I meet up at 6 the next morning. I have some coffee and George picks up the breakfast and lunch boxes for the day. It is just turning light, and we have barely driven out of camp and George stops the car, saying he thinks he saw something move amongst several large boulders. We stare at it a while and then George says there is a leopard. And after several minutes I finally see it as well. It is a ways away (photo taken at the limit of the 200- 600 mm lens). We watch for a while and eventually another couple of cars stop and ask what we see. One has 3 boisterous women, one of whom exclaims praise god and George laughs. Their guide gives George a look of relief, as they are leaving this morning and had yet to see a leopard. We stay and watch the leopard, along with some spur fowl scratching in the mud alongside the car, until the leopard disappears between the rocks. This turns out to be a particularly good morning, as not more than 15 minutes later we happen upon a newly born impala right by the road, that is attempting to stand. Before we drive on, George makes a call about my luggage then hangs up and says “bad news”. The Kogatende air strip is closed. I said, “well, good job you brought me that deodorant then, isn’t it”. And we’re off……. George wants to know if we need to hang out by the river and hope for a wildebeest crossing or venture out elsewhere. I’ve seen crossings at the Mara before, although from the Kenya side, so it’s not the priority for me. If we see one, great, if not that’s okay. Since we don’t have to be back to the airstrip, we decide to drive some distance away from the river. As we drive back at the end of the first day we notice that there is some major earth moving going on at the airstrip. They are apparently trying to regrade it so it doesn’t always flood. Good plan because it continues to bust out with rain every evening for the next 4 nights. I was a little concerned that I would never see some clean clothes but the airstrip was back open the next day and we picked up my luggage that morning. Kogatende air strip after grading Guides waiting for clients and George waiting for my luggage Well, I am going to post this, and finish up later before I lose the whole thing for the 3rd time today!!
  22. As next year is going to be a significant year for me, I'm hitting 50, I have managed to negotiate the possibility of taking all my holiday allowance off in one hit and was planning a long self drive around Namibia (5-6 weeks). Unfortunately our eldest dog is getting old and growing poorly. My wife, Angela, does not want to leave him in kennels (or in the care of friends) for a prolonged period of time. So we are doing two or three shorter trips instead. After this years wonderful trip. I want to go back to Lakipia in late Feb/early march this time with Angela in tow for a good 5-6 days looking for dogs, hopefully there will be pups again. We want to combine this with the best possibility of seeing cheetah we can. We also want to incorporate a visit to David Sheldrick's Elephant orphanage in Nairobi. I've read @@madaboutcheetah 's Chasing Cheetah in Kenya thread and think that Naboisho in the Mara would be a good place to spend 5 or so days. But are there better places at the time of year we plan to go? Or should we combine with elsewhere in the Mara? I should add we have never been to the Mara and only plan on visiting the concessions when we do go. Our best cheetah sightings to date have been in Laikipia (Ol Pejeta). Given that we are going to be in this area anyway would it be worth returning to Ol Pejeta or going up to Lewa (MAC also mentions Lewa in Laikipia as a prime cheetah location). How about Tsavo East or Amboseli? They are well located for a road connection from Nairobi. Another alternative we are thinking about is to go over to Tanzania and try the Serengeti, maybe Ndutu? But we may just save that for a different trip. My remaining dilemma is what to do about that Namibia trip. 2016 is changing shape and we may slide a brown bear trip to Alaska or Ne Russia into the mix.
  23. Experience a luxury flying safari with 5 nights at Encounter Mara from $1895 USD. We're pleased to offer our newest special - a luxury flying safari with five inspiring nights of wildlife at the award-winning Encounter Mara where you will have twice-daily game drives, bush walks with Maasai guides, and days capped off with a traditional sundowner. OR 12 Days Luxury Kenya & Zanzibar from $2595 See the amazing beauty and wildlife of East Africa at a special price.Experience a luxury flying safari with five nights at Encounter Mara, Kenya’s leading tented camp*. Enjoy twice daily game drives, bush walks with Masai guides, and days capped off with a traditional sundowner. Combine this with the ‘spice island’ of Zanzibar where you’ll explore historic Stone Town and relax on the white sand beaches at the luxurious five star Dream of Zanzibar resort. .......................................................... $3295 USD JULY TO DECEMBER 2015 $2595 USD JANUARY TO JUNE 2015 Email us: info@encountermara.com *As voted at 2012, 2013 & 2014 World Travel Awards Rate includes all accommodation, meals, drinks, game drives, flight to the Mara. Rate excludes tips, visas, insurance, optional services, international airfare and airfare from Nairobi - Zanzibar. Not available April 1 - 30, 2015.
  24. Click on the link below to hear an interview by Tamara LePine Williams on ClassicFm.co.za with Jake Grieves-Cook http://www.classicfm.co.za/classic-lifestyle/podcasts/2015/january/15-january/masai-mara-conservancy-1/at_download/file
  25. Following the recent article by Calvin Cottar on the establishment of wildlife conservancies on community-owned lands in the Mara Eco-system, here are some maps which trace their development and show the locations: Conservancies in the Mara Eco-system

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