AmyT

Q: Who Gnu that Kenya is so delightful?

177 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

When we arrived at the Naboisho airstrip, we were surprised to see a vehicle from another company waiting for us.  Porini Cheetah opened on June 1st, and by the time we arrived on June 19, were nearly full to capacity. They'd leased the car as a temporary measure until their new cars were delivered, but it was kind of awful.  There was very little headroom and the door sills were below eye level, even for shorties like my daughter and me.  This made gave viewing difficult and photo taking impossible. We were off to a rocky start as we entered Ol Kinyei conservancy.

 

Eventually we made it to camp where we were warmly greeted by Moses, the camp manager, and Nirmalya and Jui Banerjee, the camp hosts. Nirmalya and Jui, originally from India, had lived in Nairobi for 7 years until deciding to go into the safari business.  Their arrangement with Porini is an equity partnership.  The tents are lovely: spacious, with furniture for suitcases, large bathrooms with cubicles for bathing and the toilet. 

 

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Porini Cheetah Camp is located between a seasonal swamp and a beautiful white rock feature.  During the 4 months of camp construction, animals mostly stayed away due to the noise, but by the time we arrived, they were back in force. Vervet monkeys played alongside the stream (river?), elephants were often in view, giraffes hanging out around the bend, baboons adjacent to the swampy area.

 

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View from the white rocks, overlooking camp

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We were frank with Nirmalya and Jui about the state of the vehicle. They were apologetic and assured us that we would have the better car once a large party departed. Teething problems, and understandable.

 

Update from Nirmalya, from a couple of weeks ago:

Hi Amy. Our own vehicles will be ready soon. The first one will be handed over to us on Friday and will be driven down to the camp over the weekend. The next one will be available at the end of this month. We sent back the vehicle you were initially given, after your feedback and had it replaced. We're hoping our own vehicles will be really good. Not only will they be completely open on all sides but also have a fibre glass flip top roof that will normally provide protection from the sun but can be flipped up much quicker than the usual canvas roofs, in case a tall person wishes to stand and take photos with a clear view all around. It will also have a small fridge in the boot to keep the beer and white wine chilled.

Edited by AmyT
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The afternoon game drive produced some nice sightings, despite the vehicle.  Naborr was in a food coma, and her cubs were feasting on impala.Kenya4_9347.thumb.jpg.982407c0697b51e648b6d917929d1946.jpg

 

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Around a bend, and we found the usual suspects, part of the resident Loita wildebeest herd...Kenya4_9408.thumb.jpg.edbe790978d1a8aa0df1969b82bb1f36.jpg

 

... and then... bat eared foxes! Running away, of course.  They would stop, I'd struggle to frame a photo, and then they'd run again.

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Next was a winking black-backed jackalKenya4_9438.thumb.jpg.aa38813e2bd163b685b9228327bdc54d.jpg

 

and his mate. I learned that the jackals stay together but do not share the bounty of their hunts with one another.

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We spotted a leopard tortoise, who took a while to come out of his (her?) shell.Kenya4_9477.thumb.jpg.aacce5b174d18eb7d8295839978d54fb.jpg

 

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We followed a hyena for a while, hoping she would lead us to a den with no luck.

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And so the night ended.

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Sorry to hear about your car troubles.

That last tree image is a stunner!

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Fantastic cheetah series!  So glad I haven't missed the whole report.  Looking forward to more. 

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Quote

 

Great cheetah photos

 

even if you can it is best not to take photos standing up, they have a looking down appearance, it is best to use an eye level approach

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54 minutes ago, COSMIC RHINO said:

Great cheetah photos

 

even if you can it is best not to take photos standing up, they have a looking down appearance, it is best to use an eye level approach

@COSMIC RHINO

It's funny that you say that. This is the car we were in, and the top of the window frame was below eye level. We had to crouch down to be able to see out.  Happily, that didn't last forever, once the other guests in camp departed.

 

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3 hours ago, Alexander33 said:

Fantastic cheetah series!  So glad I haven't missed the whole report.  Looking forward to more. 

 

Thanks, @Alexander33... can't wait to find out how your safari went!

 

On 8/4/2017 at 8:39 PM, Marks said:

Sorry to hear about your car troubles.

That last tree image is a stunner!

Thank you @Marks!!

 

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I am really enjoying your report!  Your enthusiasm is bubbling our of every post!

 

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12 hours ago, AmyT said:

 

 

Thanks, @Alexander33... can't wait to find out how your safari went!

 

 

 

 

I echo this sentiment @Alexander33.  I hope you start your report before I leave on the 26th.

 

@AmyT I am eagerly awaiting your next instalment.

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So... very seriously, how does one get a room & board job to hang out at a camp??  I am going to have to unfollow Porini Cheetah on Facebook because I am yearning to return.

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On ‎8‎/‎9‎/‎2017 at 4:48 AM, Tulips said:

 

I echo this sentiment @Alexander33.  I hope you start your report before I leave on the 26th.

 

@AmyT I am eagerly awaiting your next instalment.

 

@Alexander33 !!! (taps watch)

 

@AmyT Welcome back. Great stuff - so many great cheetah sightings..

 

Bat-eared foxes do that sometimes... the resulting picture made me laugh

 

That vehicle is really weird. I am trying to see what they have done to it, but perhaps just put outsize seats in it, without realising that would bring your eyes above the window frame (or rather the roll-up tarp that replaced the windows). Very tall people might not have this problem as they might be able to see out of the top. I am sure you pondered this.

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2 minutes ago, pault said:

 

That vehicle is really weird. I am trying to see what they have done to it, but perhaps just put outsize seats in it, without realising that would bring your eyes above the window frame (or rather the roll-up tarp that replaced the windows). Very tall people might not have this problem as they might be able to see out of the top. I am sure you pondered this.

 

@pault

They must have put taller seats in; our heads brushed the top of the roof.  I was really grouchy about the vehicle any my friend hurt her back. :)  It's long gone and I am grateful that Nirmalya and Jui took our criticism seriously.  I'm getting back to my TR later today; school starts in a week so I need to get it done!  

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well I can understand that you were not impressed with the leased vehicles

 

the regular guests at Hemingways camp would be even less  so 

 

its is an elaborate place, using the prices quoted by African Mecca Safaris  http://www.africanmeccasafaris.com/travel-guide/kenya/accommodation/masai-mara/northern/mara-naboisho/ol-seki-mara-camp/room-rates

its is USD 750 to USD 1250 per person per night sharing 

 

this is beyond most peoples' capacity to pay

 

 

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Is the report done? Hope not :mellow:

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7 minutes ago, Gilgamesh said:

Is the report done? Hope not :mellow:

 

@Gilgamesh

Nope!!  I have some epicness coming up!! :)

 

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Posted (edited)

OK I'm back!  Still at Porini Cheetah camp. I was chatting with @amybatt today about why I've been dragging my feet on this part of the trip report. I don't think she will mind me sharing it...

 

Me:  I am purposefully not reading trip reports right now because I do get a little bummed when my trip isn't as awesome as someone else's. But it was! So I can't read them until I'm done with mine.  It's not a competition!

 

amyb: That's the thing, even your next one will be different. I felt it wasn't until my 3rd to the Mara and 4th overall that I got the safari in my dreams but they were all good and special in their own way. The Serval sightings have me sooo salivating.

 

Me: sssshhhhhhh!!!

 

amyb: Oh I won't tell you who because there were multiple people who saw them!!!

 

Me:  STOOOOOOPPPPPP, lol    So here's the thing, and why I've been dragging my feet. Cheetah camp was the least safari-like but my favorite camp. That's why I want to return, to give it another shot. Katy got sick, Olivia had bronchitis, and the car was substandard. We went back to camp, Katy went back to bed, we had breakfast in camp and just kicked it for the day.

 

amyb: The TR is your impression, like your journal for the trip.

 

Me: We got quality time with Nirmalya and Jui, got to really learn their story of their going into business with Porini.

 

amyb: And you're entitled to just kick it and enjoy the digs! If you read Pault report his wife and mother do all the time.

And that's just as valuable an experience.
 
Me: Yes! and I do totally want to return. They became friends, and I know they have so much more to share.
 
So that was day two at Cheetah.  Our morning drive started off early; we were supposed to have breakfast in the bush.  Olivia (my friend's daughter) wasn't fond of insects so eating on a drive isn't her favorite. Some ellies around the corner from camp were having their breakfast. I love watching their trunks in action.kenya4_9567.thumb.jpg.c6b556d04f93891616641e0f32c95070.jpg
 
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About this time, Katy complained of being queasy. We were unhappy with the vehicle anyway, and Olivia didn't want breakfast in the bush, so as reported above, we went back to camp. It was great to have a down day and I really enjoyed getting to know Jui and Nirmalya more.  We climbed the white rock formation and had a lovely view over the area.
 
In the afternoon, we went on a short game drive. We had a very early start the next morning!
 
dik dik
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reedbuck
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wee giraffes
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Verreaux's Eagle Owl, my favorite bird!  So glad you birders are here :)
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Sundowners
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Edited by AmyT
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For our third day at Cheetah Camp, we had an early start at 4:30 a.m. It took an hour to our destination, inside the Maasai Mara.  Moon and Jupiter over the Mara.

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Our first adventure of the day... 

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Preparing for lift-off

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An endless sea of grassKY0_9794.thumb.JPG.b3ba270f3b46fdb070f67f2c03eb8d1f.JPG

 

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Lots of zebra. Hyenas on the prowl.

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A pretty BIF. :)Kenya4_9860.thumb.jpg.5308995c4761488542ef1bf020ccafd9.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Oh my- the pure magic of a balloon ride over the Mara. My very first balloon ride in my life was over the Mara- that soul lifting experience will remain with me forever and will never be topped. So glad you did it. :)  I remember we landed in the middle of  a field next to the river. Had to wait for the trucks to catch up to us as we'd gotten taken further afield than planned. All of a sudden, there is a bunch of nervous tourists realizing we were out in the open with no jeep. Quite comical. This was the first time I heard the "you only need to outrun one other person". The sheer exhilaration of it all.

 

Edited by lmonmm
oops
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1 minute ago, lmonmm said:

Oh my- the pure magic of a balloon ride over the Mara. My very first balloon ride in my life was over the Mara- that soul lifting experience will remain with me forever and will never be topped. So glad you did it. :)

 

@lmonmm... it wasn't something I had planned!  I mentioned it in passing on our drive from the airstrip to Porini Cheetah and my friend lit up like a Christmas tree.  I'm so glad that we were able to arrange it!  The driver had to stay the night since we were so far from the starting point.

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Posted (edited)

Oh @AmyT please don't be afraid to write what happened.  No one is here to judge and everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I've seen some snide posts about luxury places. But......we are all different in what we are willing to do and pay for.  It's totally ok if people aren't feeling well or don't like bugs. I live in fear of spiders.  I hate them.  

 

Pleae continue your report without fear of judgement for your feelings.  You are entitled to them and I wouldn't have enjoyed paying large sums of money for that vehicle either.  So glad you haven't given up on the place, though.

Edited by Tulips
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Ohhh.. @amybatt totally outed my wife!  

 

Oh, no that was me, wasn't it? ^_^  Yeah, she motors along at full speed until she feels like some "me" time and then just stays in camp for a morning (or more common) an afternoon to recharge or reconnect or whatever it is she does (I am not there to see). She's actually done it since our very first trip and sees no reason to change.There are ofther "safari secrets" but Amy hasn't spilled the beans about those yet.

 

The shot  of everyone in the balloon is classic.... in fact it's a really nice series.

 

I'd (hint) that I (hint) like the bushbuck shot, but I think your editing window has passed so I won't.  Anyway I think I am stiill the Safaritalk miscaption brain fade champion with "Rhino Child". Seriously it's quite cool to see a bushbuck that close and relaxed in the Mara area - most of them are very skittish. Was it around the camp?

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@pault

 

Oops!  Reedbuck is bushbuck, people!! :D  I actually didn't look it up... and now that I read it, makes way more sense.  I had to go back to look at the sequence of photos... no, the bushbuck was near the sundowners location but wasn't fussed at all; didn't move a hair while I took 5 photos in a row of the very same set up at 6:29 p.m. The sundowners location, for those who are interested, overlooks the border between Naboisho and Ol Kinyei conservancies.

 

@Tulips... thank you. :)  I am just in such envy of what people have managed to experience that I don't want to let the readers down!!   I can say with complete confidence that my friends and daughter had far fewer complaints than I did, and mine were generally about keeping them happy. The baggage that we heap onto ourselves.  Honestly!!

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Posted (edited)

@AmyT you aren't letting anyone down.  It was your first safari and you learn what you like and what you don't like as you go and things don't  always work out as intended.  Ie the sickness and crappy vehicle.  But, you got to spend time with other people and get to know them and learned things you might not have otherwise.

 

As you said above, it's not a competition of trip reports.  On my safari last year, I took lots if photos, but didn't take notes.  As a result, my report was mostly photos with little detail.

 

 I also learned on my first safari that I don't like to spend hours searching for an elusive animal (leopard) and see little else as a result.  I can't have known that until it happened.

 

I'm enjoying your report and photos.  I'll be let down if you don't finish your report. LOL!

Edited by Tulips
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After the hot air balloon ride, we were treated to champagne breakfast. I could get used to this!IMG_0914.thumb.JPG.f6a99e8163f1a1c4997de6105c5069a7.JPG

 

We asked our driver from the balloon company to take the long route back to camp, and he happily obliged us.

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hippos

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A group of lions had brought down a zebra, and cubs were learning the ropes. 

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The driver had gone off the road, behind the lions.  Then he circled around them, coming within around 10 feet of them.  I was a bit surprised by this; I thought you're supposed to stay on the roads in the Maasai Mara.  Am I misinformed?

 

By this time, it was 10 a.m. and we'd been out since 4:30.  We thanked the driver for the diversion and told him we were ready to head back towards camp.  He wasn't ready to give up the tour, though!! :)Kenya4_9997.thumb.jpg.a2cd3918e3decb80d811cfda139f1b20.jpg

 

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Wildebeest in the Mara!

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By the time we came to the cheetah (at 11:30) I was certain that he was going to drop us off in Tanzania.  Here, he stopped and got permission from Mara Lion Project to approach closer in order to take some portraits of this beauty.

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And then we swung around and headed back north towards Ol Kinyei, making it back in time for lunch at 1:00 p.m.  I was impressed, he timed it perfectly.

 

Eland

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Ostrich

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Crowned crane

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Posted (edited)

After lunch and our siesta, Nirmalya told me that there was an elephant around the corner. I ran back to get my camera and saw this:Kenya4_0113.thumb.jpg.fe828a7f8f246e75f2576bb7d980d2b0.jpg

 

Jacob unfussed and washing the car.  I tried to get more photos showing the proximity of the rest of the herd but didn't think  to get my cell phone.

 

View from the fire circle, elephants on the other side of the stream bank.

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Terrible photo altogether, fuzzy Katy's head and blurry elephant beyond. But you get the idea.

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And because I'm a map person...

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So that was fun.

Edited by AmyT
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