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janzin posted a topic in KenyaHaving several African safaris under our belt--South Africa twice, Tanzania, Botswana--and having read so many wonderful Kenya trip reports on SafariTalk, Kenya seemed the logical destination for our next safari. But where to go? I knew that the Mara had to be included. Should we add other areas and parks? Usually for a first trip to a country we like to get an overview and see as much as possible of different habitats but in the end, mainly due to time and budget constraints, we decided to concentrate on the Masai Mara--and do it at the optimal time to witness the "Great Migration" and the famed river crossings. The only other thing I was certain of was that we wanted to stay primarily in the conservancies, so that we would have less crowds and the ability to off-road. So, with the expert guidance of our safari planner, Bill Given at The Wild Source, we decided on the following itinerary, commencing mid-September 2016. 1 night Eka Hotel, Nairobi 3 nights Porini Lion Camp, Olare Motorogi Conservancy 4 nights Encounter Mara Camp, Naboisho Conservancy 4 nights Wild Source's private mobile camp, Enaidura, in the Mara triangle 1 Night Ololo Lodge, Nairobi The Wild Source has a new collaborative model with two local Masai guides, who have co-ownership in the Enaidura operation: Johnson Ping’ua Nkukuu (Ping) and Paul Kirui. They also have arranged with some camps to allow these guides (who are very well respected across Kenya) to bring clients to those camps in Wild Sources' specially configured safari vehicle. So this unique arrangement enabled us to have our own vehicle with well-known and highly regarded Ping as our private guide while we were at Encounter Mara and Enaidura Camps. At Porini Lion, we were to be in a shared vehicle (or so we thought...) As departure approached I started to get a little apprehensive--were we making a mistake staying in just one location--the Mara--for our whole trip? As birders, I knew we were unlikely to add many "lifers" in this area, since being contiguous with the Serengeti, where we'd been in Tanzania, there would be few birds that were unique or new. Would there be enough photographic opportunities?? Would we drive endlessly through featureless savanna without seeing much of anything?? Would we be bored with so many nights in one area...were the three camps different enough? Well...as those of you who have been to the Mara must know, there was no need to worry. I can honestly say that we have not been anywhere else on safari where there was never a dull moment--never a lull--always something to see just around the corner! And each camp was unique with its own attractions. And we learned a few things: the Mara is THE place for cats--we saw 7 unique leopards, countless lions, 12 different cheetahs, and 2 servals. And we even picked up 152 birds, with 15 of them lifers--more than I expected! Not to mention the endless plains of wildebeest, zebra, and all the other game species. And one other thing I learned--although I am glad that we saw a few river crossings--I don't ever have to, or want to, do that again. More on that later. So enough preamble, I'm sure you want to get to the meat of it--and some photos! A bit later...
1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Porini Lion Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya 2) Website address if known: https://www.porini.com/kenya/porini-camps/porini-lion-camp/ 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). September 15-18, 2016 High Season 4) Length of stay: 3 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? recommendation of agent and fellow SafariTalkers who have been there 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Agent (The Wild Source) 7) How many times have you been on Safari? this was the fifth 8) To which countries? South Africa x2, Tanzania, Botswana, now Kenya 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Tented camps in Botswana would come the closest 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 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? #3 There wasn't much of a direct view due to trees, but if you walked just a few steps forward you looked out over the river below, and a popular spot for animals to come down to drink--we had zebra, wildebeest, impala, and many birds drinking below. Lots of birds in the trees surrounding the tent which kept me busy during siesta time. A bit close to surrounding tents, we could hear loud conversations from #2. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable, spacious, and had a writing table which none of the other camps on this trip had; very useful for downloading photos on the laptop, etc. Typical bucket safari shower with scalding hot water--be careful! 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Very good food, home style cooking, rustic but very good. The pork ribs were especially delicious. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Both lunch and dinner was served buffet so there were some choices but generally one main dish with salads and vegetables. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Both communal and seperate tables. There was one large photo group of 12 when we were there so we were put at a table with one other couple; after the photo group left there was a communal table for the rest of us. Guides did not join at mealtimes. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Very good 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open sided land cruisers with canvas tops. Beanbags were available. I believe they also have one closed, pop-top type vehicle--some of the photo group was using this. 19) How many guests per row? three rows of two. We had a private vehicle and as far as I could tell so did everyone else at camp while we were there, so not sure how many maximum they might put at other times.. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Variable, depending on sightings...departure at 6:30 returning around noon, then from 4 until dark. You can also do night drives AFTER dinner here, which was great...one night we went out on a night drive at 9 p.m. until about 10:30. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? See #20 Since we had a private vehicle route and timing were very flexible. We did go out on one full day drive to into the Mara reserve, returning about 6 p.m. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Yes, Olare Motorogoi Conservancy. There are several camps in the vicinity but none TOO close. We usually saw vehicles from three or four camps at sightings. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? n/a 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. In theory, no more than five at a sighting. This was almost never an issue and we were never bumped--if we saw too many cars at a sighting we just went elsewhere. Most sightings were on our own or with one or two other vehicles. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Cats! It is not called Lion Camp for nothing. We had fabulous sightings of leopard (three different individuals), two different lion prides, lions mating, lions hunting, cheetah with a kill, leopard with a kill, serval on a night drive. Others while we were there had caracal (which we searched for but missed.) Also at this time the wildebeest and zebra migration was massing on the plains just outside of camp--tremendous numbers of wildlife everywhere. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent, our guides were Gerald and Josephat and they were both great, highly recommend either one. 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: Personable, fun to be with, informative, really understood about photography, genuinely excited at sightings, etc. Tried hard to get us the caracal! 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. As part of the Olare Motorogoi conservancy they are directly involved in that initiative. Here is a link to their statement on their conservation practices: http://www.porinisafaricamps.com/responsible-tourism.htm 32) Safaritalk trip report link: to come later 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: When can I go back? 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
bettel posted a topic in KenyaI 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
cheetah80 posted a topic in Lodge and Camp reviews1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Porini Lion, Kenya 2) Website address if known: www.porini.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Sept 2013 (High Season), June 2014 and June 2015 (Green Season) 4) Length of stay: In total I have spent about 15 days at this camp. 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? On my first visit I based my decision upon the consistently good reviews and the competitive pricing. My next two visits were simply because I had enjoyed my previous visits so much 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? First visit was through an agent. Subsequent visits were booked via their own Gamewatchers Safaris company. Enquiries were always dealt with promptly and I am happy with their service. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 10+ times 8) To which countries? Tanzania, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Madagascar + other destinations in South America and India 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? I mostly do self driving but I do stay at some camps occasionally: I have been to Elephant Plains and Gwala Gwala in South Africa, Flatdogs Camp in Zambia, Serian Nkorombo in the Masai Mara, Elephant Bedroom in Samburu etc. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 10 (I think) 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? I think I had 3, 4 and 5. The area is quite wooded so not much of an open view but it was quite private - from some tents you can see neighbours to your side but never any in front of you so overall quite private. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Tents are spacious and comfortable. The beds were very comfortable. There is also a desk provided and ample room to store and hang clothing. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food at this camp is very good - and even when we stayed there for 6 days in a row we never ate the same thing twice. I have special dietary requirements which were always dealt with (and not as an afterthought as it happens sometimes in other places). I liked the variety and the fact the food was never too heavy. Their soups are especially delicious. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Suitable alternatives for dietary requirements were provided - and I always asked in advance. Multiple menu offerings were only for lunch. Dinner consisted of dishes served directly to you on the table so no choice there. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Communal dining. The manager will come and chat to the guests before dinner and then check whether we are enjoying the meal but would eat separately. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? We loved them! Quite a nice variety and amount of food - and it varied from day to day. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open Toyota Land Cruisers with 7 seats for guests. They also have at least 1 closed Land Cruiser available too. 19) How many guests per row? two rows with two and one row with three. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone with three seats occupied in a row though. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? The game drives were as long as we wanted to - morning one till lunch time and afternoon one between 3 and 4 hours. We sometimes also made use of the full days in the reserve too. Routes are usually diverse except when we specifically wanted to find certain individual animals again. 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? Yes, they always accommodated our requests so they are flexible. One can also agree to go on night drives. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? The Olare Motorogi Conservancy is private and vehicle density is pretty low. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? There is the option to go into the Masai Mara reserve - vehicle density varied according to the sightings we were at - the better sightings in central areas are of course quite crowded. 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes, In the Olare Motorogi one is able to off road. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. I have never experienced this at Olare Motorogi though I do believe that they are careful not to have more than 4 or 5 vehicles per sighting - but you are not queueing as such and I have never seen anyone bumped off any sighting. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Porini Lion and the Olare Motorogi Conservancy are known for Big Cats sightings. On each of our 3 visits we have seen all the 3 big cats. On one of the visits we also saw Serval and Caracal. We always have incredible sightings at Porini Lion - especially big cats hunting. 27) How was the standard of guiding? The standard of the guiding is excellent - the guiding is in fact one of the main reasons why we keep on visiting. The guides are very good at spotting the animals and keeping tabs on what has been seen around by others. They are also very personable and enthusiastic people - a pleasure to spend time with. For sure Porini Lion’s biggest asset. 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? No we never had a bad experience with a guide at this camp. 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: I am amazed that year to year they remember our preferences exactly - which are our favourite individual animals, the fact that we like to pull the tarp on top of the car only half way through etc. They also know how to position the vehicle perfectly for photography. I cannot single out a particular experience - every day is a good experience 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes very. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes - another reason why I choose Porini. http://www.porini.com/responsible-tourism.html 32) Safaritalk trip report link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/12978-video-trip-report-masai-mara-june-2014/?hl=cheetah80#entry133886 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Here is a video summarising our latest experience at this camp (includes views of tents and vehicles)