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Found 18 results

  1. Since I'm totally remiss in posting my full trip report from this past September (yes, still processing the photos!) I thought I'd just give a quick taste with this remarkable lion fight which we witnessed in the Mara. We were in the Naboisho conservancy, out of Encounter Mara camp, with the excellent Ping guiding us (this was a (mostly) privately guided trip arranged by The Wild Source.) We had been watching male #1 mating with a female for quite awhile that morning (amazing in and of itself--more of that in the eventual trip report.) He started to wander away, so we followed. Well apparently he had stolen this female from another male who he then happened upon, and this fight ensued! It all happened so fast and as luck would have it, at that moment I had the wrong lens on (70-200 on the D500)--and there was no time to change it! So these are highly cropped. Meantime Ping was gunning the car to follow while I was trying to keep my camera and bean bag from flying out of the vehicle! (Later Ping said that this was only the 2nd time he'd witnessed this fierce of a fight over a female in all his 20+ guiding years.) He was as thrilled as we were! Stay away from my woman! I really mean it! I'm bigger and stronger than you! I'm high-tailing it out of here--although its nice to be fought over, this could get dangerous! (note female running away.) Down for the count. Ouch! (they then rolled behind that tree, making photos even more difficult.) I hope you got the message, stay away! Amazingly, the fight ended with neither of these very powerful lions seriously injured. The "loser" walked away with only his injured pride. Shortly thereafter the victor was back to mating with his lady. Here is the "loser" not too much worse for wear, thankfully. They are just so powerful and that thick mane really protects their neck. Full trip report to come...eventually!
  2. This trip report covers a safari I took to Kenya with my friend Tommy Graham. Tommy is a good naturalist who also knows his birds, though he is not a lister or twitcher by any means. Mammals are his primary natural history interest. Tommy went to school with my father and has been a friend of the family since before I was born. This was the first trip to Africa for both of us. Prologue By rights I should do acknowledgements first - because this exceptional safari would have been a much poorer experience without the safaritalk community at large, as well as several individual members who were extremely generous and helpful with their advice for this Safari newby. For key advice I am particularly indebted to @@Safaridude, @@armchair bushman, @@pault, @@Tom Kellie, @@madaboutcheetah, and @@Geoff. For inspiration - too many to list but particularly @@Safaridude, @@Game Warden, @@madaboutcheetah, @@twaffle, @@Paolo, @@Bush dog, @@michael-ibk, @@pault, @@COSMIC RHINO, and @@AKR1. And for outstanding guiding, agent services, and "riding to the rescue" to overcome the unexpected loss of a private guide in the Mara at the last minute - Ben Mugambi of Ben's Ecological Safaris. I am so glad to count Ben as a friend and field companion - he is a "birder's birder", a fabulous field man and safari guide, and a scholar and a gentleman who is rock-solid dependable. The theme of this safari was "good luck". And baby animals I suppose. Time and again the guides or camp managers said "We have never seen X before". Or "we have only seen Y two or three times in our lives." I suspect some camps say things like that fairly often to set the hook with their guests - but in our case, I believed the statements to be true! Itinerary: January 7 - Arrive Nairobi late pm. Overnight at Purdy Arms. January 8 - Recovery day (birding the 20-acre grounds) + shopping in Nairobi. Overnight at Purdy Arms January 9 - Day trip to Ngong Hills + Magadi Road w/ Ben's. Overnight at Purdy Arms. January 10 - Day trip to Nairobi NP w/ Ben's. Overnight at Purdy Arms. January 11 - Drive to Mt. Kenya NP with Ben's. Overnight at Castle Forest Lodge. January 12 - Mt. Kenya National Park with Ben's. Overnight at Castle Forest Lodge. January 13 - Drive to Samburu + Buffalo Springs. Overnight at Samburu Simba Lodge January 14 - Full day in Samburu + Buffalo Springs. Overnight at Samburu Simba Lodge. January 15 - Full day in Samburu + Buffalo Springs. Overnight at Samburu Simba Lodge. January 16 - Short game drive in Samburu, drive to Naro Meru River Lodge. Overnight Naro Meru. January 17 - Bush flight from Nanyuki to Mara Naboisho. Overnight Encounter Mara. January 18 - All day in Mara Naboisho. Overnight Encounter Mara. January 19 - Morning game drive then vehicle transfer to Offbeat Mara in Mara North Conservancy. Overnight Offbeat Mara. January 20 - All day in Mara North, overnight Offbeat Mara. January 21 - Masai Mara National Reserve 7am-4pm, game drive in Mara North, overnight Offbeat Mara. January 22 - All day in Mara North, overnight Offbeat Mara. January 23 - Morning game drive, lunch, then 4pm flight to Wilson Airport, transfer to the Boma. January 24 - Depart JKIA for USA We flew Jetblue from Charleston to New York City, then Emirates to Dubai and another Emirates flight to Nairobi. It was a 26 hour trip and I was not able to sleep a wink. My carryon was a Think Tank Photo camera backpack - Airport Essentials. I loved it - but next time I might get the model that is one size larger. It held my camera, lens, a Swarovski spotting scope, Swarovski binoculars, laptop, iPad, memory cards, batteries, a La Cie portable hard drive, cables, camera cleaning kit, and 1 day's clothing. I checked two bags, including a large duffel bag (Patagonia Black Hole Bag). This was to take my tripod, beanbag, and other bulky gear. Next time I will travel lighter - did not need sweater, long underwear and various other ballast it turns out. Upon arriving at JKIA, there were not different queues for eVisa and Visa-on-arrival. But the lines moved quickly. The immigration agent asked for my eVisa and I said we needed Visa on arrival. She scowled slightly but then took $50 from each of us, gave us the slips of paper and we were on our way. The baggage claim was chaotic, crowded bedlam. After following our flight number as it moved from carousel to carousel, we watched an endless succession of luggage parading around and around. After close to an hour, we finally started seeing our bags. Huge relief! When we got outside and saw the guy holding the sign with my name on it, a wave of relief washed over us. We were home free now and on our way to our lodging. We were the only guests for our entire stay at Samburu Simba, and the only guests in camp for the first part of our stay at Encounter Mara. There were only a couple of other parties staying at Castle Forest Lodge while we were there. We had private vehicles the entire safari. I cannot say enough good things about Offbeat Mara camp and Encounter Mara camp - we loved them both immensely. And I loved the Purdy Arms in Karen - a nice laid-back place, green + leafy + good birds, very affordable, good food and drink, convenient to Magadi Road + Ngong Hills and Nairobi National Park, as well as the Galleria mall (for beer, Forex, and a SIM card). Many thanks to @@armchair bushman and @@pault for suggesting Purdy! There are those who scoff at the notion of a photo safari in Kenya during the green season, particularly one this green - high grass everywhere, etc. Let me tell you - things worked out very well. The green season is a double-edged sword for sure but the good edge far outdid the bad edge on our trip. We were still able to find extensive short/cropped grassland areas, and even in tallgrass areas we could usually pop out the top of the roof and shoot down on targets to overcome the tall grass. The Vehicles: Offbeat Mara won the "most functional safari vehicle" contest - closely followed by Ben's Ecological Safaris. But the vehicles at Encounter Mara were very good and completely satisfactory as well. Ben's Ecological Safaris vehicle: Encounter Mara vehicle (David on the left and our guide Wilson on the right): Offbeat Mara vehicle (the short wheel base was invaluable for not getting stuck): Interior shot of Offbeat Mara vehicle, showing the very handy storage shelf behind the cabin: The companions: For our first week we were guided by a sharp young birding and safari guide named Francis Rutich, from Ben's Ecological Safaris. And our driver John was a fine driver and very good spotter. Francis has some of the sharpest eyes I have encountered in my field travels. I run with guys like Steve NG Howell and Todd McGrath - and Francis would give them a run for their money at sea. He might take them on land... I am no slouch at spotting birds + wildlife, even in heavy cover but it was spooky how good Francis is. Francis on the job: We had a Maasai gentleman named Wilson for a guide at Encounter Mara - he is one sharp safari guide! Good driver, good at route planning and very attuned to our wants and needs. No complaints whatsoever. A young man named David from Koyaki Guiding School was attached to Encounter Mara during their semester break - he was very sharp as well. * See the above Encounter Mara vehicle photo to see Wilson and David. During our time at Offbeat Mara, we were fortunate to have a Maasai gentleman named Josphat for a driver/spotter/guide. Josphat is superb! Though we had intended to have the legendary James Sengeny for a private guide at Offbeat, a foulup that we learned of 5 days before our arrival in the Mara meant James was unable to guide us. This is a somewhat sensitive matter, and I won't mention the agency involved, but suffice it to say I am 100% convinced that James was in no way at fault either for the foulup or for us not getting notified very far in advance. When I learned the bad news, I was sitting in the bar at Samburu Simba at 3pm on January 14. By 4pm Ben Mugambi had agreed to fly to Mara North and guide us during our time there. Ben handled the Safarilink tickets and other details, and he knows the crew at Offbeat well. What a relief! Ben saved the day and I am so glad to have spent time in the field with him - great learning experience and lots of fun all around. Here is a photo of Josphat, Tommy, and Ben at our first sundowner together: The next post will cover our first day afield - a day trip visiting the Ngong Hills, a long stop at 'Corner Baridi' (cold corner), and various stops on the way down to Oltepesi and beyond. Lots of birds and birding, but also a very unexpected mammal find!
  3. It's been about a week since my return and I'm fighting off the nostalgia along with the jetlag. I'll start this now but will likely have to wait for photos until the weekend. There's only so much I can get away with at work nowadays. My itinerary: BOS -- LHR -- NBO via British Airways. Overall a fairly good experience but for freezing cold plane between NBO and LHR both ways, and too long layover at LHR (4 and 6 hours, respectively). I paid to pre-book seats in economy class, choosing to sit where the configuration goes from 3-4-3 to 2-4-2, so that being in that second "2" on the window allowed me additional legroom along the wall. Worked out well. 1 night Nairobi -- Eka Hotel 3 nights Amboseli -- Tawi Lodge 5 nights Mara -- Encounter Mara 1 night Nairobi -- Emakoko @ Nairobi National Park (arrived mid-day Wednesday, left at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, so in essence a full day and a half there, part spent at Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage Many thanks to @@Sangeeta for finding me Tawi and Emakoko. Tawi was the perfect place to decompress from the real world and really get into the safari mindset. Emakoko is where I want to retire, I think. Both were heavenly in their own ways, and I often wondered to myself "what did I do to deserve this?" Then I remembered that I work to be able to do this, and it all seemed justified! On my first trip to Kenya, I sort of ignored Amboseli. My focus was cats and more cats. This time I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My guide Julius said "you come to Amboseli to see the elephants and the mountain (Kilimanjaro)". I was not disappointed on either front, but throw in an unexpected lioness sighting and that made it all the more tasty. For me, the Mara was tough this time. The high grass made it a challenge for me photography-wise. Too many times I lost a decent shot because the focus was on the grass and not the cat behind it. Newbie curse, I suppose. All I could think about was how many cats we must be passing by because we can't see under bushes/trees like we used to. I had one trip into the Reserve itself and I am not exaggerating when I say grass is as high as a giraffe's knee and herds of elephant appear to be swimming in the fields of gold. I have photos to prove it. That's not to say I had a completely dry season in spotting cats, just lighter than last time. Two attempted kills and one intra-pride fight were pretty stunning. I'd heard from many on here how fruitful trips to NNP have been so figured it was worth at least a night (a couple game rides, right?) In retrospect I'd spend at least 2 if not 3 nights here. I felt I only scratched the surface. I'll spoil the whole trip report for you right now and just say (because I can't hold it in any longer) that in my last 20 hours in Kenya there, a dozen rhino and an enormous, gorgeous male leopard were my highlights. What on earth more could I possibly ask for, other than another couple days there? I can only imagine what more I'd have seen! Probably the highlight of the trip outside the game rides (and maybe even including the game rides) was my time spent at Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage. I had 5 fosters there before I left and was easily persuaded by one to foster him as well while I was there. I did the morning public visit, the evening foster parent visit and at the last minute, at the behest of @girlinstilettos who was there the week before I left, the 3:00 private visit, which was just me, my guide Peter and 24 elephants with their keepers in the nursery. Heaven!! My biggest life achievement thusfar (and I say this only partially sarcastically) was to travel carry-on only. I used the Lipault bag that the lovely ladies @@SafariChick, @@graceland and @safarikit used last year, and it was hugely successful. Not having to wait for bags in NBO or BOS was such a plus. With Global Entry at home now, I went from deplaning to my awaiting vehicle in 6 minutes! Having eVisa meant absolutely nothing. Other eVisa holders and I were herded into the "Visa" line, which seemed odd, and indeed when we reached the front were chastised by the immigration officer who was "only collecting money". He tried to force us to wait in another line, but after 70 minutes in line at that point, I refused. He stamped the passport and off I went.
  4. I am back from my 10 nights safari in Maasai Mara: 3 nights in Naboisho (Porini Mara) and 7 nights in OMC (Porini Lion) Warning #1: it was a little bit different type of safari so I guess this trip report will have a very limited audience. I spent 80% of my time with cheetahs. I sat with them almost from sunrise till sunset. We visited other animals only when cheetahs were sleeping (e.g. early morning or after cheetahs seemed to be settled for the night) or if we could not find our "victims". Saying this we still had some very very nice leopard and lion sightings but there will be a LOT of cheetah pictures. Please don't complain , I warned you. Warning #2: Please don't shoot the pianist, he is playing the best he can ©. While I was trying to do all my best to have good pictures, due to the lack of light, a lot of action, and lack of photography skills some photos are not that good (or better to say " not good at all") but I will post them anyway as they are part of the story
  5. 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
  6. The lions of Naboisho We recently had a guest at Naboisho Camp share with us his footage of a young Lion Pride spotted near the camp. Thank you to Victor for sharing this with us! Please enjoy the short clip below and read on to find out more about the Lions that roam the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. The Lions of Naboisho One of the major issues outside the Maasai Mara National Reserve is the increasing pressure from the Maasai on wildlife and natural resources. One way of enhancing wildlife conservation outside protected areas is the creation of conservancies where important areas with known lion populations are transformed into a kind of semi-protected areas where the numbers of Maasai settlements and livestock herds are managed in a way to maintain a sustainable balance. In order to know where these conservancies should be placed and what benefits they will have, it is essential to understand the exact movements of the lions in time and space” – Mara Naboisho Conservancy By achieving this, it will be possible to advise the Maasai people about when and where not to graze their livestock during certain times depending on where the lions are situated and thereby avoid direct confrontations between Maasai and lions. It is about achieving the goal where the Masai people and the wildlife again can live in harmony as they have done before. The Mara Naboisho Lion Project is supported by Kenya Wildlife Trust and Danish Zoological Society. Read more about what is being done to help conserve the numbers and habitat of the Lions of Naboisho on the Mara Naboisho Website. If you would like to visit the Mara Naboisho Conservancy then please get in touch with your local travel agent to help plan a stay at our Naboisho Camp. Or you can also make an enquiry directly with us. Watch the video here>
  7. We thought we might take some time to tell you all about Encounter Mara, what we do, what we believe in, and what sets us apart. Where are we? Comprised of 50,000 acres North-East of the Masai Mara National Reserve, Mara Naboisho Conservancy provides an exclusive safari experience. The land includes contributions from over 500 Masai landowners and conservancy fees are directed back to these landowners, providing them with a sustainable livelihood. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy also limits the number of tourists who may enter the area, thereby reducing the crowds of vehicles. Guests often find themselves the only vehicle around, giving spectacular, unspoiled views of exciting wildlife. Initial research indicates that Mara Naboisho Conservancy has one of the highest densities of lions in Africa. One of the major prides, comprised of 22 lions, makes its home nearby Encounter Mara. The conservancy also has impressive numbers of elephant, giraffe, and other plains animals, in addition to hosting some of the rarest animals in Kenya, such as Wild Dog. Please visit the Mara Naboisho Conservancy Home Page To learn more about the Conservancy movement in the Mara and across Kenya, please visit the Maasai Mara Conservancies Website Naboisho boasts one of the lowest tourist densities in the whole of the Mara ecosystem, and indeed in any of Kenya's popular wildlife destinations, yet game-viewing here is arguably better than it is at many times of the year in the National Reserve. What kind of a safari can you expect with us? A classic East African safari with a very high standard of guiding; lovely, healthy food; friendly, helpful staff; personalised service; unpretentious, but very comfortable accommodation; and superb game-viewing Away From The Crowds. Who are we? We started Encounter Mara in June 2011 after we were invited to become part of the unique, proactive Mara Naboisho Conservancy - an offer we couldn't refuse. We intentionally decided that we wanted local Maasai to make up a high percentage of our staff - currently at 90%. We did this for two reasons: 1. The time has come for the tourism industry to start making a difference in the lives of the local people. Aid and handouts have not proven successful across much of Africa, but creation of employment has. It would have been very easy to bring in Kenyans from other parts of the country to fill the roles in camp, but that would not benefit the local Maasai. If the locals don't benefit, neither will the wildlife. Those employed by the tourism industry begin to realize that the tourists are there because of the wildlife and that they have a job because of the presence of wildlife. 2. We want our guests to have a fully immersed experience. Why go all the way to MAASAI Mara if you're not going to interact with the Maasai, learn from them, share a laugh with them, and see how they live? So whether you're chatting to one of the waiters by the fire in the evening, or to your guide on a game-drive, you continue to get that cultural experience as well as the wildlife experience. The Maasai have been a part of the ecosystem for over 300 years, and their insights into it are fascinating. As you photograph that sleepy lion under that Acacia, why not speak to your Maasai guide about their culture and the significance of Lions to them as warriors? Why not chat to your waiter or your housekeeper about their wives, children, and cattle? They're only too happy to share. What about the camp itself? We have 12 tents, each identical in size and basic layout. Tented accommodation includes: - Large bathroom with wonderfully hot canvas showers and flush toilets - King sized, twin or triple beds, dresser with full length mirror - Private length-ways veranda with sitting area, day-bed, and hammock - Nightly turn down service, including a hot water bottle tucked under sheets - High quality, eco-friendly shampoo, conditioner, and soaps - Optional morning wake up call with fresh coffee or tea and a selection of breakfast pastries A comfortable lounge that overlooks a natural salt-lick - a natural attraction for the local wildlife! We've got write-ups on Naboisho, lion research, cattle grazing, and local bird-life. We've got maps, magazines, books, checklists, and board-games. We've got peace and quiet. We will never have WiFi in our lounge tent. It is a place to unwind and unfetter yourself from the chains of modern society. It's a place to UNPLUG. The Hide We are, as far as we know, the only camp in the area with a hide. The Hide is a short walk from our lounge tent, completely hidden behind a bank and some Euclea bush. It overlooks the Ol Morijoi River, a seasonal stream, and is a great place for both bird-watchers and big-game fans alike. Its proximity to the long salt lick along the river means there's often plenty of plains-game, and guests are often treated to cheetah and elephant as well. Bush Walks One of the greatest advantages of being located in a conservancy is that we have the ability to get away from being couped up in the dusty, bumpy vehicles, stretch our legs, and see the Mara in a completely different way. You can choose to be led by one of our experienced, well-qualified Maasai guides for a medium bush walk, focusing on birds, tracks, dung, and the medicinal uses of plants, etc. A second option is to take a longer walk with our manager, Colin Smit, a FGASA Level 3 Advanced Trails Guide who has led walking safaris and trails in both Kenya and South Africa for many years. Day and Night Game Drives Another great advantage of being in the conservancy, instead of a National Reserve or National Park, is the fact that we can offer night game-drives. Naboisho requires all night game drives to be conducted with red-filters on the spotlights so as not to cause temporary light-blindness in the wildlife. This means our drives interfere less with the wildlife than traditional night-game drives. For Photographers: Our vehicles are completely open-sided, affording you the best, uninterrupted view of the wildlife. We also have detachable (not shown in the photo above) camera platforms that swivel 360 degrees and can be raised or lowered almost a foot. We can also provide you with our simple bean bags, or we can fill up your own bean bag. Our guides have hosted a number of professional and amateur photography groups over the years and have become well-versed in vehicle placement for good shots as well as just having a basic understanding of what photography groups require throughout the day.
  8. 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.
  9. Hello Safaritalkers! We're pleased to announce some special rates that we have on offer for 2015. Note that these offers are valid for new bookings made before the end of 2014. So don't wait! - 50% off from your second night onwards for low season bookings (2nd January - 15th July, AND 1st November - 19th December 2015) - Pay for 3, Stay for 4. Make a booking for high season next year before the end of 2014, and receive your 4th night free! for more details, get in touch with our reservations team on: reservations@encountermara.com OR info@encountermara.com We look forward to seeing more Safaritalkers in Naboisho in 2015.
  10. Good afternoon Safaritalkers! We're please to present a new special offer for the current wildebeest migration as well as for the rest of the year! Pay for 2, Stay for 3! Pay for 2 nights at Encounter Mara, and get your 3rd night absolutely FREE! This offer is valid from 1st September to the 31st December 2014, is valid for new, non-resident inquiries only, and cannot be combined with other special offers. We still have other previous special offers going as well: Honeymoon Special: A FREE hot-air balloon safari, OR newly-wed brides are charged at 50% for their stay at Encounter Mara. This offer is valid for the rest of 2014 for non-resident inquiries only, and cannot be combined with other special offers. Family Special: First child or teenager (4 to 17years) is free of charge if sharing a room with parents in 2014. Send us an email to find out more: info@encountermara.com Learn more from our website: www.encountermara.com "Like" us on facebook for news and updates: https://www.facebook.com/EncounterMara Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/encountermara Check out other travellers' reviews on Trip Advisor: Here Thank you all for your support. We hope to see you here in our special corner of the world soon!
  11. Please read this much more interesting report on Koiyaki first. This one is early - Game Warden isn't even here to chase it up. Here But it's much easier for me to post from home, and I am not sure that I will have the opportunity again this week. So I'll get started, and hope it pushes me to complete the basic travelogue pictures for the rest of the trip. It usually works for me (although it doesn't seem to work as well for Anita ). Anyway, here we go.......... It's time again for the annual ritual of reporting my seemingly ever less interesting and ever less challenging annual pilgrimages to hunt for the leopard; bump around for days on end with wind whistling around my head and dust in my eyes; sleep like an angel; eat like a king; defy the tsetses; develop an alarmingly red nose and sometimes a comically red neck; shower in a minute, rotate clothes without always washing them (not the inner layers though ); never read a page of the book I brought with me just in case; try desperately to be quick enough on the draw to avoid the traditional kudu bum-shot; try even harder to keep my worn out and crooked neck in reasonable order for two weeks; and wait patiently for the very, very special minutes or hours that I will remember until next year and beyond. Same as it ever was, new as it ever is. What's around the corner this time? Will it be a hippo feeding like a croc? Could it be time for a pangolin? Perhaps a lion acting like a leopard? An elusive nocturnal creature seen in the middle of the day? Or just lions behaving like lions and a bird flying in the night? If you don't want to know the answers to those questions, there'll be little new here. You can safely glance through the pictures and move on. No revelations, little of further educational value; just a few stories of familiar places and some familiar faces, with a couple of twists that you couldn't predict even if I gave you a clue....... which of course I already did. This year's "sexy as a Donald Trump-in-string-vest-and-socks selfie" itinerary was 30 November - 5 December Naboisho Conservancy @ Encounter Mara Camp (one familiar face already!) 6 December - 7 December Emakoko @ Nairobi National Park 8 December - 14 December Elsa's Kopje @ Meru National Park 15 December Day room at Purdy Arms, Nairobi We booked through Chalo Africa (another very familiar face, even if you don't know it) and they used Cheli & Peacock as the ground operator. Both took very good care of us and unfortunately there are no hitches, disappointments or crossed lines to amuse you with this year. Damned efficiency! Safaridude and others recently wrote up Emakoko, while Paolo and twaffle revealed most of Meru's secrets, and Naboisho is hardly a new destination any more (and covered by Anita and Stokeygirl at the least). So I'll just have to tell you about it as best I can, roll out the smoke and mirrors, and hope some minor mental disorder will make you forget that you have heard it all before. And if you do forget, I'll lead you over dry hills and through dry valleys. I'll let you peek through the bushes with me. And I can hope at least to give you a different perspective. But in Naboisho and Meru, being "in the bush" can take on a very literal meaning, and so you'll have to take the rough with the smooth.... Picture perfect. All in a row... one, two, damn!
  12. Good Morning Safari-Talkers! We haven't been very good about posting news and updates on Mara Naboisho Conservancy here on SafarTalk. We did, however, want to give you a quick update about the Loita Migration. There are at least 70,000 Loita wildebeest Loitering (couldn't help that one) in Naboisho at the moment. About a 2 weeks ago, they were just entering the very Northern end of the conservancy from Ol Kinyei and Maji Moto areas. They are now slowly moving further South and West, filling the high plains in front of Encounter Mara. Yesterday evening we witnessed a double line of wildebeest on the move at least 2km long! We've just reopened the camp after having been closed throughout April. Most of the other camps in the conservancy are still closed, so we've got the wildlife to ourselves! We're already having great sightings, with plenty of elephants and lions around, the usual high numbers of giraffe, and Striped Hyena tracks right through the middle of camp!! May and June are FANTASTIC times to be in the Mara. Wildlife numbers are high, but tourist numbers and rates are low. Come pay us a visit before the end of June to catch some of our special offers. Email us on info@encountermara.com to find out more! Kind regards, The Encounter Mara Team PS: A parting shot from 2 evenings ago - A very playful cub from the Core Pride along the Enoolera stream. She settled down just long enough for us to snap the photo after her brother jumped off the tree stump.
  13. Could people who are interested in the sponsorship ( like last year), send a PM to GW ( @@Game Warden with their commitment amount so we can have an estimate of how many girls we can sponsor this year. Many thanks! These are the links from last year- 1.) Pault's visit in December 2013 http://safaritalk.net/topic/12025-koiyaki-guiding-school-december-2013/?hl=koiyaki 2.) The scholarship thread from last year http://safaritalk.net/topic/9806-safaritalk-guiding-scholarship/?hl=koiyaki 3.) How it all started http://safaritalk.net/topic/9771-why-arent-there-more-female-guides/page-2?hl=koiyaki#entry81616 GW or I will get back asap on some of the following info: a.) Progress report on current 2 sponsored girls b.) When does the new school year start c.) Possible candidates for scholarship d.) School fees this year and what percentage of school fees are sponsors advised to cover. For example, last year the school fees was USD 2300 and it was advised that USD 300 per girl should be paid by their family so they have some kind of commitment and equity in the whole thing - a very positive plan. If you need any other info, just ask the questions here. Once again, big thanks!
  14. If you don't know about it, here is a link to the thread concerning Safaritalk's sponsorship of two female students at Koiyaki Guiding School, located in Naboisho Conservancy, adjacent to the Maasai Mara Reserve. http://safaritalk.net/topic/9806-safaritalk-guiding-scholarship/?hl=koiyaki I had the chance to visit the Koiyaki Guiding School while I was staying in Naboisho Conservancy adjacent to the Maasai Mara recently. I just wanted to see what it was like and maybe casually check how the Safaritalk-sponsored students are doing, so I didn’t pre-flag myself as a “sponsor’s representative”. Since my guide from Encounter Mara, Daniel Ntika, was a graduate himself (and a very successful one) I didn’t need anyone else to show me around. It is only 10 minutes from camp and so we just popped in on the way back from following lions for a few hours. The Principal, Simon Nkoitoi, wasn’t there, but we went to announce my presence to the Deputy Principal, Julius Kiseimei. He was already very pleased to have a visitor, and that pleasure doubled when I told him I was part of the group from Safaritalk who were sponsoring two women currently enrolled. Definitely do not hesitate to drop by when you are in Olare Motorogi or Naboisho (good excuse for someone staying in Olare Motorogi or the reserve near Talek Gate to take a legal peek at Naboisho, actually – you could easily see something interesting on the way). The school Assistant Principal Julius Kisemei The school reminded me of other proudly run, basically funded rural schools I have seen in developing countries, although of course they do quite a bit of the learning outside, and that is where they all were today – learning to drive a truck in preparation for taking their HGV tests. The curriculum is clearly based on a vocational school and the place has that kind of feeling – oil as well as chalk. If you’re like me you’ll not have thought that of the training and learning, the birds, animals, ecology and plants are only part of the story, and key subjects at the school are things like driving and basic mechanics, geography, first aid and communications (they need to learn how to communicate with foreign guests, understand what they need, and how to present things to them). Another surprise is that their students can now come from all over the country if they have the sponsorship, although the vast majority (around 85% says Daniel) are still Maasai. The school also runs short courses open to anyone in the local community, such as foreign languages. The intention of all is to teach people in the local communities skills that will help them benefit appropriately from the safari boom on their doorstep, and that wider responsibility is actually more at the heart of their mission than simply turning out Kenya Professional Guides Association qualified guides. This, reading between lines, is what I understand. They take just over 20 students a year (basically one classroom full) and have a very high graduation rate. Although I don’t know exactly how many graduates have gone on to get Bronze Medals, I believe it is more than 50% (probably substantially more, but keep in mind the KPGA qualification is not the sole goal of all students - employability is first) with at least 10% now having Silver Medals – a number growing as rewards from the camps for improved qualifications increase. The school recorded 16 or so Silver Medal alumni as of last year, but Daniel thinks that is seriously understated and that the actual figure is now in the high 20s but the school haven’t updated their records. Daniel should know, as one of the early Koiyaki Silver Medalists (2009) but I am sure there are real stats somewhere - keeping in mind Kenyan stats are often out of date. So don't go quoting theses figures with certainty - it just gives you an idea. The honor roll - graduates of Koiyaki by year. Hopefully you can click on this to see a big enough picture to play look for your guide. Daniel and Benjamin (our guide at Kicheche in 2009) are there in the first class. The current class is not in this picture as it was obscured by other paper (it's not history yet!). Note the stats on the left-hand side are for up to 2008!! But of course the class of 2013-2014 is most interesting to us and Daniel found it for us. There are actually about 6 female students this year I think. While I was there a couple of students came back from their driving lessons to say hello, including one of the students that we sponsor, Sophy. People really appreciate it that you sponsor students here, as they clearly love their school and are grateful for the opportunities it has brought or will bring them. I went up two levels on the Daniel respect ladder instantly when he found out, even though I told him my personal role was insignificant as a group of us had come together to do it. The rest of you should definitely visit to get that feeling of what it means. I am not someone who likes that kind of attention at all, and I really only ‘fessed up on behalf of the rest of you – go and see yourself. I'd have stayed incognito if I thought I could. Despite the lack of correspondence from the Director, my feeling is that the people there are not at all indifferent. And Sophy is really quite impressive – confident but not too much so, and clearly intelligent and attentive. I am sure she is going to be a fine guide and camp owners if you don’t snap her up now, you can’t cry when you hear of her raking in the tourists by word of mouth at another camp! She says thanks to you all and that this is something that is really great for her. I didn’t ask to see either of the women and I didn’t ask Sophy why she doesn’t write, before you ask (hahaha). Like I said, I didn’t really want attention. I did feel I had to ask the Deputy Principal why the Principal doesn’t write, and he looked pained and said to please email him (the Deputy Princiipal). He checks his email and promises he will reply if we do. So how cool is school? Students say hi to Safaritalk More mugging for the camera and I smell a bit of true romance among the usual Maasai bromance! Sophy, a teacher (I think) and the proud alumni Daniel And of course I managed to put my foot in my mouth. Another two students came to say hi and thanks, in lieu of the other student we sponsor. Just because it was what they were studying, I asked the girl if she was finding the truck driving difficult, without thinking that was probably the most obvious question to ask a woman in the world (Why didn’t I just come out with “That wheel must be a bit heavy, love. Can your wee feet reach the pedals?”). But she wasn’t at all put out, rolled her eyes and said she had no problem with it – and she was better than the guy (in the picture) sniggering at my question beside her. To his credit, he admitted that was true. This is another who is going to be a hit as a guide. In the classrooms – current topics were clearly the stars at night and of course the driving. Looks like there has been a nasty accident in the simulation! A small snake collection. Early days - getting familiar with some facts about the wildlife. And don't forget where you come from. And after the photo Sophy ran off and then came back to give me (on behalf of us all) some gifts, which I wore for the rest of the day. Daniel took the picture and seems to have focused on the wall, but I think the resulting soft focus favors me, although Daniel's near NBA height does neither of us a favor. Not sure which prankster student slipped a turtle under my jumper though. Little devil! Really nice visit and close to a perfect morning - but I'll wait for the full trip report to explain why that was!
  15. Encounter Mara Camp is looking for a camp manager (single or couple) to run our camp in Mara Naboisho Conservancy for this coming season (and hopefully many seasons to come!) We are looking for someone who is dynamic, respectful, hard-working, a team-player, and enjoys being in the bush. Camp Manager duties include (but are not limited to): - Some hosting of guests (although not as much as some similar camps) - Oversight of all departments and staff in camp - Monitoring consumptions and costs - Weekly supply orders - Monthly Reports - General quality control Food and accommodation are provided on site, and medical cover is included in the package. If you would like more details and are interested in the position, please email Zarek Cockar, our Operations Manager: zarek@encountermara.com
  16. I am planning a safari and am interested to get your opinions. I have been to the Okavango a couple of times and so I am now planning for East Africa. I like to concentrate on one possibly two areas within the one country to maximise time in the bush. I am as interested in the landscape as I am the wildlife, so am prepared to trade some animal volumes for general scenery (open plains, kopjes, streams, yellow barked acacias, date palm trees and doum palms). So we are considering either: NCA / South & Central Serengeti, perhaps late January / early Feb vs... Masai Mara (likely OOC / Naboisho, etc) to avoid the crowds. Timing TBC but would prefer a greener landscape and have little interest in river crossings. So when I look through the forum I get the impression that many of you are big fans of the Mara. By comparison I don't see as much commentary on the Serengeti (except the Lamai Wedge in the north). Ignoring the benefits of being in a private conservancy, can you share thoughts on why the Mara over NCA / South / Central Serenegti or vice versa. Landscape wise the images I had seen had me leaning towards the Serengeti, but I am keen to get your thoughts as to why the Mara instead. And yes, eventually I will likely to both, but that could take a while. Thanks!
  17. The crowds have left Masai Mara, but the wildlife in Mara Naboisho Conservancy is still bursting at the seams. Many thousands of wildebeest from the Loita plains to the North-East are still "Loitaring" (sorry, couldn't help it) around and gnu-ing across the plains with lions in tow. Elephants are back in large numbers, and our clients are seeing more and more leopards every month! So you see, right now is a FANTASTIC time to visit Encounter Mara Camp, so you can experience all this wonderful wildlife without anyone else around to spoil it for you! Book to stay at Encounter Mara any time between now and the 14th of December 2012 and get 50% off from your second night onwards! *offer valid only for New Non Resident bookings, and cannot be combined with other specials.
  18. Back by popular demand, we're reintroducing our Free Hot Air Balloon Safari for any new bookings to stay at Encounter Mara between the 15th of December 2012 and the 2nd of January 2013!! This includes road transfers to and from the balloon flight (game-drive on the way back to camp), the balloon flight itself, and a full, cooked, champagne breakfast on the plains! This comes at a great time for families to spend their Christmas and New Year holidays with our expert Maasai guides, scouting for wildlife, and experiencing the magic of Masai Mara *Offer valid only for new non resident bookings between the 15th of December 2012 and the 2nd of January 2013, and cannot be combined with other special offers.

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