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Introduction:

This was our first safari ever, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Easily the best vacation we've ever had. I will try to keep this trip report as short as possible and mostly let the photographs speak for themselves. We are in our late 40's. We chose All Seasons Safari to organize our trip.

Our trip involved both flying and driving between camps. It also involved lodges and tents, Mara reserve and the conservancy. This allowed us to experience different options and I will give my opinion on how they compared.

 

Itinerary:

1N Nairobi

2N  Amboseli

2N Ol Pejeta

1N Naivasha

4N Masai Mara 

 

Warning:

  • This is not necessarily a safari report, but rather a report of our entire trip. Although it was purely a safari trip, we witnessed a lot more than animals and I will be posting a variety of photographs. I prefer landscapes, still life, people more than close up of animals. However, there is plenty of the latter too.
  • The report is primarily catered to the beginners, but I will try to keep it entertaining for the regulars as well. But, I can guarantee even the hardened safari goers, an image I will post will be very interesting to even them. In fact I'd like to know whether anyone has ever witnessed it before...it was an image taken at ISO 16,000 at f4 and a shutter speed of just 1/30 at 250mm...so, its beauty is not in its image quality but rather what it depicts...but, alas it happened on day 9 and everyone will have to wait to see it. It is worth the wait ;) 

 

Camera gear:

I wanted it to be a compact package, all fitting inside my Lowpro Fastpack 200. We only took two backpacks for our other things.

  • Pentax K5, K7
  • Pentax 60-250/4, Sigma 50-500/4.5-6.3
  • Pentax 12-24/4, Pentax 21/3.2, Pentax 43/1.9, Volna 9 50/2.8 1:2 macro

 

 

 

IMG_2679.JPG

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Posted (edited)

Day1:

 

 We stayed at the Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi for our first night's stay. It was a great facility and the breakfast was superb

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Outskirts of Nairobi

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Unpaved road into Amboseli Park

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This guy was sitting outside my room at Amboseli Serena

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Our evening drive

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We saw tons of Wildebeest, Zebras, various antelopes and of course elephants.

 

Sunset images of ...

Elephants

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Wildebeest

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Zebras

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I promise, Day 2 will have the more conventional animal pictures :P

Kenya (1 of 1)-2.tif

Edited by Gilgamesh
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Nice start, @Gilgamesh and what a tease you are, making us wait until Day 9! 

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Glad you had an enjoyable safari @Gilgamesh.   I am very jealous for how light you were able to travel!     When the time comes, Botswana bush flights won't be a problem for you.

 

Looking forward to your report!

 

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Day 2 - Part 1

 

My computer has come to a stand still....so, I'll post some of the elephants for now as part 1 and continue later.

 

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, amybatt said:

Nice start, @Gilgamesh and what a tease you are, making us wait until Day 9! 

Ha! Ha!...well! The pictures and experiences kept getting better and better with day 9 filled with amazing experiences...I kind of planned it that way by keeping porini lion camp to the end. But, the surprise image cannot be planned...

 

Thank you for the encouragement.

Edited by Gilgamesh
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15 minutes ago, offshorebirder said:

Glad you had an enjoyable safari @Gilgamesh.   I am very jealous for how light you were able to travel!     When the time comes, Botswana bush flights won't be a problem for you.

 

Looking forward to your report!

 

Thank you! Once I stopped enjoying telephoto photography, the pack became lighter too. The consumer lens bigma is quite compact. But, I was surprised in how well it handled the trip.

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Posted (edited)

Day 2 - Part 2

 

I will break each day into parts for now...

 

As we were enjoying the various animals in Amboseli a call came into our driver, and a mad dash ensued...we sped by a bunch of interesting animal activities and good landscape compositions. None of the drivers really tell you what they are going after. When we finally reached the target, this is all we got...

 

Our first Lions...but so far away and within seconds disappeared into the trees.

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Ha! Ha!...Disappointing...but, I turn around  and there's still a lot of activity going on behind us...

 

It looked like they had killed a wildebeest overnight and was feasting on it...we were too late to see it, but the carcass had attracted others. It was so far away, even 500mm on a cropped body was too short. These are significant crops. No off-roading allowed, so we had to view and shoot from a distance.

 

First the Hyenas, with zebras looking on

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Then the jackals came in for scraps...

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Then the vultures and a few Marabou Storks started gathering as well

 

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Then they started to swarm the carcass

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These kind of various animal interactions were thoroughly fascinating.

Edited by wilddog
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Posted (edited)

Day 2 - Part 3

 

Some more from Amboseli

 

Hippo

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These hyenas were playing with a piece of bone

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One more from the previous part

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Egyptian Goose

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Amboseli Landscape

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Black-winged Stilt ?

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Egret

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Egret and African Spoonbill

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Ostrich

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These are truly ugly...The Marabou Stork.

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Edited by Gilgamesh
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Posted (edited)

Day 2 - Part4

 

Amboseli landscapes

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Flamingo

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Edited by Gilgamesh
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Wonderful Amboseli shots.  You did quite well to see lions at all, plus the kill and the hierarchy of creatures that take their turn on the carcass!

 

Your landscape shots are gorgeous, great color.  You brought back to me the memory of those gorgeous palm trees, which I don't think I've seen anywhere else in Kenya that I can remember.

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A wonderful report, your photos are first class! Particularly like the wildebeest reflection. Curious about day 9! Looking forward to more. 

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I too particularly liked the wildebeest reflection amongst all the lovely images. 

 

Great start and looking forward to the rest.

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5 hours ago, amybatt said:

Wonderful Amboseli shots.  You did quite well to see lions at all, plus the kill and the hierarchy of creatures that take their turn on the carcass!

 

Your landscape shots are gorgeous, great color.  You brought back to me the memory of those gorgeous palm trees, which I don't think I've seen anywhere else in Kenya that I can remember.

Thank you so much....your comments motivated me to finish a few more. 

 

We felt very fortunate to see just the zebras and the various antelopes strewn all over the landscapes....seeing this huge variety of animals was simply unbelievable. Words and pictures cannot convey how it feels to see a herd of elephants just slide by just feets away from your vehicles, or convey how fascinating their behaviour is. That's why I think, even after seeing thousands of images and reading hundreds of trip reports, we were still blown away by the experience....none of it even remotely came close to the true beauty of Africa....one can only truly appreciate it by being there.

 

I did not see palm trees anywhere else either. Amboseli is amazing for landscape photos. I, of course, have only scratched the surface.

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1 hour ago, michael-ibk said:

A wonderful report, your photos are first class! Particularly like the wildebeest reflection. Curious about day 9! Looking forward to more. 

I'm so glad you liked the pictures. It is a serious hobby of mine, so it's good to hear these kind words.

 

The encounters just kept getting better, reaching a high crescendo on the final day...I can't wait to share it all with fellow enthusiast here.

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, wilddog said:

I too particularly liked the wildebeest reflection amongst all the lovely images. 

 

Great start and looking forward to the rest.

Thank you so much...yeah! The light was great for the wildebeest reflection. We sped by that area when we were looking for the lions and I made sure the driver came back to that spot.

Edited by Gilgamesh

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Posted (edited)

Day 2 - Final part

 

Masai Giraffe

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Baboon

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Black-Faced Vervet Monkey

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There wasn't much crowd in Amboseli, this was probably the most

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Cape Buffalo

 

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I have to include more elephants...after all, that's why I came to Amboseli.

 

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Masai cattle grazing amongst wildlife

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Many elephants in the water eating the wet vegetation...chose this cutie to post

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We headed back to Amboseli Serena before sunset. We loved it here...can't beat seeing these lovely animals as we sat and enjoyed some cold beer.

 

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My wife took these pictures as I was clicking away.

 

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Elephants and us enjoying the sunset

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After sunset...1.2 sec exposure with camera held by hand on top of on an uneven rock wall.

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Amboseli Conclusion:

 

We absolutely loved it here. We came for the elephants and wasn't disappointed. We saw tons of them and they even posed well for the camera. Kili's peak was barely visible that first evening, but with the dense haze I could not take any good pictures. We were surprised to see not that many vehicles out there, which was a pleasant surprise.

 

Amboseli serena was superb, food was fine too. Highly recommended.

 

 

Edited by Gilgamesh
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Posted (edited)

Day 3 - Fly/Drive from Amboseli to Ol Pejeta and Evening Game drive.

 

We flew from Amboseli to Nairobi

 

There was a collection of bones on the side of the airport

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We drove from Nairobi to Ol pejeta conservancy

 

Nairobi Traffic

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Open stalls like these were a common site

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Street corner

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Boutique

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Billboard sign

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Butcher/Grill...how convenient.

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The Forgotten?

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The road to Ol pejeta were all in great shape. It was eye opening to take a little peak into a small slice of rural Kenyan life through the windows of a fast moving vehicle.

 

Our vehicle parked at Ol Pejeta conservancy entrance

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We saw the usual antelopes and zebras etc. during our evening game drive. Can you spot all four birds around the Cape Bull?

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As we were driving we saw a group of 6 vehicles. Must be a good sighting...this is what we saw with my 500mm lens

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We waited for a few minutes and five of the six vehicles left...the lioness wasn't moving. Our Driver/Guide Joseph suggested we should wait as she may decide to move once the crowd disappeared  (He works for Amali Safari but was hired by All seasons to take us around....we had requested a Land rover for just the two of us and we loved the privacy)...we waited...I'm sure all three of us were muttering, please get up! pleaaase get up!!!...after about 5 minutes she did this...

 

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AWESOME!!!...Now if only she turned towards the camera

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Hole smokes!!! she actually looked at us!!!...now, could she possibly get up???

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Wow!...what a sight it was....please!, Please!!, Pleaaaase!!! walk towards us...she again obliged and walked just feets away from our vehicle...needless to say we were ecstatic and our hearts were pounding out of our chest...it was unbelievable!

 

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After that long majestic walk, She  disappeared behind some trees...as we waited for her to come out of the bushes, we saw another lioness and soon she was moving towards the pathway as well and Jospeh drove ahead of her and parked the vehicle.

 

For the first time in our lives, a lion in the wild, just a few feet away from us looked right into our eyes...what a feeling!!!

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She stepped aside and surveyed her Kingdom

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Then she walked by us and walked back into the bushes...

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We had finally seen a big cat in the wild for the first time ever...and it was incredible!!!

 

By the end of the trip, we will see so many more. One of them would do something very unique on Day 9, which they rarely ever do. Don't worry she did not kill a Leopard or Cheetah.

 

We spent the rest of the evening in a quite area with no one else but just a group of Zebras and Impalas...it was serene.

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I picked Ol Pejeta for the Rhino. Hopefully we will see one tomorrow. We did not want to see any caged animals, so we skipped those options. 

Edited by wilddog
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Well you have certainly teased us enough now about Day 9 that we all are waiting with baited breath :D  Now we know it involves a lion! 

 

Meantime, thoroughly enjoying the report and photos...love to hear the enthusiasm of a first-timer! Although I don't think the thrill of a lion staring at you ever goes away....

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I particularly like the last two images in post #5.

 

I'm really intrigued about the day 9 image. Unfortunately I'm going to have an extended wait until late October to see it. 

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4 hours ago, janzin said:

Well you have certainly teased us enough now about Day 9 that we all are waiting with baited breath :D  Now we know it involves a lion! 

 

Meantime, thoroughly enjoying the report and photos...love to hear the enthusiasm of a first-timer! Although I don't think the thrill of a lion staring at you ever goes away....

 

I did sneak in a clue there...I think knowing it's a lion makes it even more interesting  :D

 

Thank you so much...yeah! by the end of it, we had seen so many lions we were starting to ignore them a bit...

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Geoff said:

I particularly like the last two images in post #5.

 

I'm really intrigued about the day 9 image. Unfortunately I'm going to have an extended wait until late October to see it. 

Those are my favorites...they look incredible in larger resolution. Thanks!

 

Why late October?

Edited by Gilgamesh

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Posted (edited)

Day 4 - Our last day at Ol Pejeta

 

First we saw this bird. Our guide, who is not that good in identification of birds thought it was a Tawny Eagle. But, it kind of looks different.

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Then Cape Bull

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Then there were a group of photogenic WaterbucksIMGP0906-Edit.thumb.jpg.5841551a88d3083c170bd92abf05d68c.jpg

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Then I spotted what we came here for - a Black Rhino. I am glad we saw it, as it would be very difficult to see this in Mara

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Looks like a significant cut on the side? 

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Then we went looking for the White Rhino which are a little easier to find...

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Then our driver guide knew of a location where a few elephants have been frequenting and we went there

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Then a mother, child Reticulated Giraffe

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Now I know these Helmeted Guinea Fowl are hard to photograph...they run away too quickly.

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Pair of Grey-Crowned Cranes

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A Zebra having a dust bath

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Then we saw this Waterbuck, and had to post it due it's pose

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Then we went into an area with dense vegetation. I think we were looking for big cats. We found this group of Cape Bulls. They were scattered around and then this light aircraft made a few low flying passes disturbing the group. I think they were filming them. Then the buffalo all grouped together and formed this defensive shield. It was awesome to see.

We did not find the big cats. That's what Mara is for anyways...

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Yellow-necked Spurfowl

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lastly we saw this Tawny Eagle

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Then we went back to Sweetwater Tented Camp

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There were a few birds there

Speke's Weaver

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And the nest it's building

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This looks like the White-billed Go-away-bird but the beak is yellow here ?

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A superb starling

IMGP4727-Edit.thumb.jpg.4c3162b402af2e340cc6dd1c0a487ed5.jpg

 

There is a water hole and the giraffe we saw earlier came for a sip of water.

IMGP4739-Edit.jpg.a34aa4cdbd9111145d30fc8a368989cb.jpg

 

 

We had an incredible time. Ol pejeta conservancy was superb. I am so glad we got to see both types of rhino, which is what we came here for... 

 

Sweetwater Tented camp facilities are great, food was fine as well. However, we found a number of large thick millipedes on the floor, wall and even the ceiling above our bed. My wife hates crawling bugs and it wasn't good finding so many. I am not a fan of waking up to them on ceilings either. Although it's an excellent facility, we will not be going back.

 

 

Edited by Gilgamesh
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2 hours ago, Gilgamesh said:

Why late October?

 

I leave for Zambia tomorrow.

 

1 hour ago, Gilgamesh said:

Our guide, who is not that good in identification of birds thought it was a Tawny Eagle. But, it kind of looks different

 

Hard to tell, can't see the tail but I'm guessing juvenile Martial Eagle.

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@Gilgamesh what a teaser you are! you are giving clues in dribs and drabs and hanging us on a thread! I can't wait to see what it's about and i hope you have tonnes of photos of it and this mysterious lion (or lions?). 

 

what time of the year was this trip in? 

 

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