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This is Part Two of my 2016 African trip to the Masai Mara during October.

 

Part One ~  The South Luangwa N.P., Zambia during September can be found here.

 

Preamble ~ I had not been to the Masai Mara for decades. Whilst no one can argue that the abundance of wildlife is astonishing and the scenery beautiful I struggle with the number of vehicles jostling for position at many of the sightings. For me, who prefers a feeling of isolation in the wilderness, this degrades the experience considerably and I often wonder whether I am actually witnessing natural animal behaviour.   

 

Peter, my travelling companion, had said that if I could put up with the crowds in the main reserve it should be quieter in the conservancies and mostly that was true though there were some sightings (mainly of leopards) in the conservancies where there were in excess of 10 vehicles present.  

 

The itinerary for this portion of the trip consisted of;

 

1 night Nairobi (after arriving on a flight from Lusaka @ 9:00 PM)

7 nights Entim Camp

5 nights Kicheche Bush Camp

2 nights Kicheche Valley Camp

 

Entim camp within the main reserve sits on the edge of a forest with a private outlook over one of the crossing points on the Mara River. This was the rationale for staying here but unfortunately the number of wildebeeste I saw investigate the crossing point was a grand total of four.

 

Kicheche Bush Camp situated in the Olare Motogori Conservancy has long been a favourite of Peter’s and he has stayed there many times, often a few times a year. From reading many other TR’s I note that quite a few members of ST have also stayed here.The current hosts Darren & Emma are a delight and the tents are spacious, extremely comfortable and private. Whilst my tent and I suspect all others looked out onto the bush there is nothing in the way of what I would call fabulous views. We had hoped to stay here for 7 nights but the owner was hosting a photographic tour and the camp was booked for the last 2 nights of our intended stay so we decided on Kicheche Valley Camp for those 2 nights.

 

Kicheche Valley Camp (as the name describes) is in a valley in the Naboisho Conservancy. The area around the camp comprises of acacia woodland & rocky (granite?) outcrops with permanent water in the river system at the bottom of the valley. As such the area in the immediate vicinity of the camp provides a slightly different game viewing experience to other areas of the Mara. Though the open plains that typify the Mara are a short drive to the north of camp.

 

When the first wildebeeste takes the plunge the others will follow

Kicheche-Wildebeeste_86I6390.thumb.jpg.63305eb7fc8c010baa59eaf72386afa7.jpg

 

A lioness surveying the plains passes extremely close to the vehicle

Entim-Lion-eye_G8A0508-2.thumb.jpg.bc3862b4bcf63a1f490e83d028b9cec9.jpg

 

A Griffon vulture arriving at a carcass

Entim-Griffon-vulture_86I0911.thumb.jpg.e656db5e769381ddf94d538a96575b74.jpg

 

A confiding Little Bee-eater at morning tea.

Entim-Little-Bee-eater_86I0776.thumb.jpg.db3e3d60172825eb16a7a334736215f1.jpg

 

Buffalo with Red-billed Oxpecker.

Entim-Buffalo-with-Red-billed-Oxpecker_G8A2496.thumb.jpg.5d89c1bc3373fbda0b08acf7549c900a.jpg 

 

 

 

 

 

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@Geoff - look forward to this report!!! 

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Geoff on the Mara. I have been looking forward to this for some reason. I just never saw you and the Mara getting along I guess.

 

I suspect I met Peter once, although that would hardly be remarkable given how often he goes..... or  one of the highlights of his century to date. :D  Just saying. Yes, re. the leopard sightings. You're dead right and many conservancy regulars and guides seem to have a bit of a blind spot about that.

 

Oxpecker pillbox hat. LOL

 

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Thoroughly enjoyed the S. Luangwa report, now anxious to see the Mara through your eyes!  Speaking of eyes, the lioness shot above is brilliant!

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Thanks @Geoff - I'm really anticipating this trip report.  Already some very nice photos - the Bee-eater is crisp!  And I like the leaping Wildebeest a lot.

 

 

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That's a lot of Mara!  Great start!

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On 13/07/2017 at 8:13 AM, Geoff said:

 

Preamble ~ I had not been to the Masai Mara for decades. Whilst no one can argue that the abundance of wildlife is astonishing and the scenery beautiful I struggle with the number of vehicles jostling for position at many of the sightings. For me, who prefers a feeling of isolation in the wilderness, this degrades the experience considerably and I often wonder whether I am actually witnessing natural animal behaviour.   

 

 

Hi Geoff, I totally agree with you on that.

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Frustratingly, during the first 4 days it rained often with a few thunderstorms. Sunny breaks were brief and infrequent and the light was mostly dull and flat though at times there was unusual atmospheric lighting.

 

8:00 am.

Entim-Giraffe_G8A2291-5.thumb.jpg.6581427c5beea6491f9e0db168d35f31.jpg

4:30 pm.

Entim-Rainbow_86I1077.thumb.jpg.ff5d5f78f1b2112c6a8dcdd1c557ded4.jpg

 

Watching a lion pride on one afternoon drive we noticed a storm approaching so we battened down the hatches. Ten minutes later the rain was torrential and the vehicle shook in the squally wind. It was only 4:30 pm and darkness had descended. We discussed our options and as we had to cross the Talek river to get back to camp we decided to head back. During the drive the tracks had become little streams and the 4x4 skidded about. We reached camp just before 6:00 pm and it was still raining heavily. After a hot shower and now wearing warm, dry clothes I watched the lightning show from the dining tent. At 8:00 pm we decided to have dinner and the waiter told us that we would be the only guests dining as everyone else was stuck on the other side of the river. At 9:40 pm the first of the other guests made it back to camp.

The storm approaches...

Entim-Landscape_G8A3649.thumb.jpg.94abd6231632f7c8cb1d61025bead816.jpg 

 

The next morning the plains were littered with abandoned vehicles and there was a noticeable lack of traffic. We found a bedraggled but actively hunting cheetah family. The light was still dull but it was enjoyable to spend a lengthy period with them.

 

Entim-Cheetah_G8A2828.thumb.jpg.58fcd8c72c26b3f6465d6af7b1670014.jpg

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There were a few unsuccessful hunting attempts by the youngsters so the mother took over. The chase continued through high grass and at times I could only see the end of her tail.  Even so she caught her quarry.  

Entim-Cheetah_86I1443.thumb.jpg.12d3ae16b5dcabcb387696394494bbe1.jpg

Soon they were all tucking in but the mother only ate a small amount and left the bulk of the meal to the youngsters.

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The King of Beasts.

Patrolling the territory...

Entim-Lion-cub_86I1750.thumb.jpg.03037ac6ce3784d3dfb892d9e547844e.jpg

Entim-Lion-cub_86I1769.thumb.jpg.ba863d6cfdd4e44055ab2f512cf7ff71.jpg

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Entim-Lion-cub_86I2406-2.thumb.jpg.420a23526f4f3a5dd064128479190f29.jpg

 

And staring down the tourists...  

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Entim-Lion-cub_86I2413-2.thumb.jpg.fa57e6aca55489f1a0bc6454104aa4fe.jpg

 

Until Mum decides that's far enough and carries the little tacker back to where she's resting.Entim-lioness-cub_86I2349.thumb.jpg.5ec91ade87bdbd92b2ba7e465363a721.jpgs

Entim-Lioness-cub_G8A3202.thumb.jpg.1525a26375dbca4ed5ce11bf8490ee5d.jpg

I couldn't believe how closely she passed the vehicle. I quickly changed cameras but even then using a zoom lens @ 100mm she was still too close.

Entim-Lioness-cub_G8A3188.thumb.jpg.02dd4321e11e7da2d9b9a41c46d37a58.jpg

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Entim-Lioness-cub_86I1813-2.thumb.jpg.5a4caf2bbc6c9794d7b1a3c9987accf1.jpg 

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oh boy that lil fella was so adorable! i still won't get down to cuddle him. that look from Mom into your camera said it all. ;)

 

 

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That one must be the cutest cub ever photographed - adorable. :D

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oh my super cute, that one's younger than any I've seen! So sweet!

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@Geoff  Pretty special to see one that young out and about like that. Pretty well fed little fella too. Sightings are more than making up for the weather I think!!

 

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Posted (edited)

Another great report in the making. The lioness and cub sequence, the bedraggled cheetah family, the action shot of the female cheetah speeding towards a successful kill, the Naboisho landscapes prior to a drenching storm, were all highlights. 

Look forward to more. 

Edited by AKR1
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On 7/26/2017 at 1:45 PM, pault said:

Sightings are more than making up for the weather I think!!

 

Yes @pault  I couldn't complain about the sightings.

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After a few days the sun was finally starting to make an appearance.

 

A lone distant giraffe in the early morning.

Entim-giraffe-Sunrise_G8A2801.thumb.jpg.1e3eb0529cee4113c18af0b4d89b9a1e.jpg

Was soon joined by 3 hot air balloons.

Entim-giraffe-sunrise_G8A2811.thumb.jpg.c97b14fca5251723e3867c656f4eb3d0.jpg

With the sun shining we had our first leopard sighting.

Entim-Leopard_86I0622-2.thumb.jpg.a7787d09553fed3e5aab9c3909ea8ef7.jpgEntim-Leopard_86I0625.thumb.jpg.610e7251a7b21f464a55f476b22d2775.jpgEntim-Leopard_86I0630-1.thumb.jpg.95e4788e77aacdbc4df5d71af2d825ac.jpgEntim-Leopard_86I0642-3.thumb.jpg.7b4af1807a4ae09015f6a7020a77e0e0.jpgEntim-Leopard_86I0651-2.thumb.jpg.58b6d6c9e7b77fc3ef76044a5043a6c3.jpg

Later we passed a few buffalo

Entim-Buffalo_86I0734.thumb.jpg.3c7af3397d828ea5dc0e43f0bfaad586.jpgEntim-Buffalo_86I0754.thumb.jpg.adc36f2d31a01bba674276a96d4afe23.jpg

and then a hyaena carrying a reedbuck carcass towards a den site.

Entim-Hyaena_86I1116.thumb.jpg.e412a3ea56038a77669155f219646e4e.jpgEntim-Hyaena_86I1119-2.thumb.jpg.2cc38e5147074b344253276c1c9b3d06.jpg

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Great sightings so far. I really love that first wide-angle shot of the giraffe at sunrise. So evocative. 

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Serval. When you think 'Mara' and you think 'Big Cats' well this smaller cat stole the show. I recall 3 really good sightings all in the main reserve.

Entim-Serval_G8A3273.thumb.jpg.aacf96178753ec70046b14f653e8b682.jpgEntim-Serval_86I1991-5.thumb.jpg.c08cd5bdc81bf8342cf2381736cc10af.jpgEntim-Serval_86I2026-5.thumb.jpg.f254cb1bfc71b1aa974948caf9d18c5e.jpgEntim-Serval_86I2034-5.thumb.jpg.2b048693ed40e122803088af2ff87362.jpgEntim-Serval_86I2037-5.thumb.jpg.023770406f3faa769190f0802caf7004.jpgEntim-Serval_86I2039-5.thumb.jpg.241d38795e75ad44dcb89fba1d119545.jpgEntim-Serval_86I1902-5.thumb.jpg.a8f895b186a904e4554bcb86b4b83aba.jpg

A mother with 3 kittens was great to watch.

Entim-Serval_86I2071.thumb.jpg.c45aff3636cbff51503646221e96b02e.jpg

Entim-Serval_86I1830.thumb.jpg.cc086ca459803ff7c8e085fc0464973f.jpgEntim-Serval_86I1828.thumb.jpg.388ac4753ea128fd0e64a59e168389cc.jpgEntim-Serval_86I1908-5.thumb.jpg.6b8ae371dd641ca24fe460517bf58fa2.jpgEntim-Serval-kitten_G8A3214.thumb.jpg.344df958b5ecd1b5e26e12acf20769b0.jpgEntim-Serval_86I2078-5.thumb.jpg.a03d58bbcc6d612172285c3b8f09972c.jpgEntim-Serval_86I1177-5.thumb.jpg.2ca816e90f5a550af3961f2175671afb.jpg

and to finish off... One of those times when you wish that branch was not in the way.

Entim-Serval-Kittens_86I1835.thumb.jpg.3d5490f3d5cc9cdd6ac3223e28c91a40.jpg

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Those serval sightings are something else. I've seen quite a few recently but nothing as good as that! Nowhere near in fact. Action in the last shot is fabulous. 

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Wow!  Great photos!

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 Superb!

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Fabulous serval shots!

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Please let it continue... :) 

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Posted (edited)

I was lucky to witness a few crossings both in the main reserve and OMC. Nothing of gigantic proportions, from maybe 500 individuals down to a mere 6 brave little Tommies that took on a swollen Mara river after the recent rain. Seeing Tommies cross was a first for me. We had that crossing all to ourselves too. The guide said "I witnessed 19 Tommies attempt a crossing last week and not one of them made it. With the crocs fighting over the spoils" Well this time they crossed safely. :)

The lead animal assessing the situation.

Entim-Tommie_86I2998-2.thumb.jpg.054f9201d1808e1528d5e066265b5b64.jpg

The first two take the plunge.

Entim-Tommies_86I3002.thumb.jpg.65a278b5314f3f3a251bd35bdb96ad1a.jpg

swimming for their lives. In the strong current.

Entim-Tommies_86I3011.thumb.jpg.ea9dd4961aed3c92e64048515452e0fb.jpg

 

Entim-Tommie_86I3014.thumb.jpg.70e1c57bd23e23cb92293e1b4e8904da.jpg

 

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Entim-Tommie_86I3029.thumb.jpg.2bcc3572641c4e5a8d796a53adee04e1.jpg

On the same morning we witnessed another crossing.

The general mayhem begins.

59913acd18315_Entim-Wildebeeste-crossingTalek_86I3047.thumb.jpg.33795f4552a895fe47dd2e3f6ec64299.jpg

 

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Entim-Wildebeeste_86I3089.thumb.jpg.f0a0c4757bbcc19d2c2fbb02e5cb5f13.jpg

Followed by Zebra that milled about before taking the plunge.

Entim-Zebra_86I3212.thumb.jpg.9200c47ecc9932320f2319728dac08fe.jpg

 

Entim-Zebra_86I3180.thumb.jpg.08c73afa5084a2066775baa2ba9e3277.jpg

 

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Entim-Zebra_86I3338.thumb.jpg.b9dff21838ec80a97d1eed947cae43d2.jpg

And it seems that Topi always bring up the rear.

Entim-Topi-crossing-Talek_G8A3934.thumb.jpg.2b1d7d9f58c1122df8772e97862e5cca.jpg

Edited by Geoff
Added images
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@Geoff your photos make me wish I could hear what that wildebeest crossing sounded like!  I imagine a rather large "whoosh"?  And I think I'd have a harder time watching the few tommies go across than that massive herd of wildebeest!  I'd hold my breath waiting for them to get out on the other side!  Very nice images.

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