pault

Ol Pejeta and Olare Orok October 2011

113 posts in this topic

Still dry thanks, Hari. Touch wood!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Day 4 we would be going to the Conservancy HQ to make a donation for Safaritalk the rhino (from both us and Sangeeta) but we weren't due there until 9.30 so we had a game drive first, going down to the Sweetwaters part of the conservancy for the first time.

 

It was another misty morning and Mount Kenya was visible today. The misty pictures of the sunrise in the introduction are from this morning. There wasn't much to see until the sun got up a bit and it was a slightly slow day for once. Just lots of herbivores and a couple of jackals tearing up a hare they had caught (but a long way off and no offroading allowed at all in Sweetwaters). Here is the area with public access and it can get a bit busy with daytrippers (they even bring in busloads of local school kids) but apart from a number of conservancy vehicles as staff came in to work or set off for work, we only saw three other tourist vehicles during the morning. It was a very pleasant morning and unremarkable.

 

We saw our first (and only) Grevy's Zebra, a stallion.

 

i-dqcHPKs-L.jpg

 

 

Some very pretty waterbuck ladies

 

i-tQVfQg8-L.jpg

 

A very large group of Impalas being herded by a male who was clearly losing the battle to keep them in one place.

 

i-w3L3hQJ-L.jpg

 

 

Lots of warthogs with young, including the tiniest ones I have ever seen (not pictured here).

 

i-GkdCZ3R-L.jpg

 

And quite a lot more as well, including Jackson's Hartebeest at a salt lick and Eland again.

 

The journey of giraffes is from this morning too.

 

i-Kwb8GB5-L.jpg

 

 

We had an early breakfast next to a dam and there were some Impala across the water drinking and foraging.

 

i-vWJtjp3-L.jpg

 

 

Then it was time for the Conservancy HQ, where we received a very good and informative presentation about their work and made our additional donation. It is a fascinating place and a massive project that incorporates a number of smaller projects: rhino conservation through protection and establishmnet of a viable breeding population; cattle ranching alongside wildlife rather than in conflict with it, as dual earners of income; mass tourism in a restricted area under strict rules; lower impact tourism in a larger area with more relaxed rules and considerably higher prices; lots of research projects going on - some of which undoubtedly bring sizable funds with them; establishment of important game corridors to allow animals - especially the wanderers like wild dog, elephant and cheetah - to flourish with less conflict with human settlement; community outreach programs and community involvement programs. All sorts of stuff - look at the Ol Pejeta web site - fascinating stuff. Lewa and the Craig family has been involved at Ol Pejeta, but I don't know how closely they work together - their work certainly seems very complementary.

 

After the visit we drove back to the camp, having decided to return a bit earlier than usual. Of course, we saw this, saw that and ended up back at 12.15 instead of the usual 12.30 - very early! :rolleyes:

Edited by pault

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

In the afternoon our vehicle mates eventually arrived and so we had company and I didn't have a whole row to myself. I guess I missed one or two shots because of it, but fortunately she liked to shoot out of the top and I like to shoot low, out of the windows, so we rarely got in each other's way. "He" and my wife are both quite adept at dodging lenses and understanding about an ample bottom swinging in front of their face very occasionally. In case anyone is now afraid to go on safari wherever I might be, I promise I am and will be careful where I put my bottom (although maybe carry a hat pin just in case).

 

We spent most of the afternoon with buffalo and elephant, and there was a large herd of Eland hanging around. Saw some other stuff too. It had rained in the afternoon a bit and it looked like it was going to rain again, but in the end it just stayed cloudy.

 

I am not common, I am SUPERB!

 

i-snfPMwR-L.jpg

 

This is about half of the Eland herd - if I'd thought I should have taken two pictures and stitched them together to show the whole herd (Note: "stitching" is a term for joining two photos seamlessly using software, in case you didn't know - it does not involve needles and thread).

 

i-Ffw4z2H-L.jpg

 

 

i-nzxJQtb-L.jpg

 

 

i-qjqkXtS-L.jpg

 

 

i-Rmn6GQD-L.jpg

 

 

One group of elephants we followed for a little while at dusk wasn't too friendly and the matriarch gave us a good trumpeting to let us know we were on thin ice as far as she was concerned. So we left them and that is how we found the three male lions, with the same female we had seen on day two. The male was not interested in my wife this time and things were quite calm, with them all seated in thick bush.

 

Eventually as the sun set and led by the female, they stirred themselves a bit....

 

i-bB8BsWn-L.jpg

 

i-dd4nvZL-L.jpg

 

 

Before setting off after the female the boys took turns vigorously marking a thicket of Whistling Thorn where she may have urninated, and "tasting" each others' smells

 

i-8SpFdrC-L.jpg

 

 

One appeared to get a bit more than he had bargained for... oooh, smelly! :o

 

i-KQJXG24-L.jpg

 

We followed them until after dark, but they weren't hunting or mating yet - the female just wanted a drink and was heading for the cattle trough. We lost them in the dark, but found them there drinking by headlight, just before seven. We quickly had our now long overdue sundowner and then returned to camp in the dark, spotting a jackal, a hyena, an owl and a nightjar by headlight.

 

There are night drives available, but we didn't do one. Those who did had from fair to very good luck, but nothing that really made me wish I'd gone. After all, we were doing all right during the day. Why be greedy?

Edited by pault
3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both your writing and the pictures are SUPERB! Just awesome stuff!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent, really enjoying both the words and the photos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great trip report and images......keep them coming :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely report and images, the one of the lion scowling/ growling through the bushes is fabulous!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your boring safari sure looks good. Now I'm totally rethinking my thinking-about-thinking about Kenya. This is magnificent.

 

Sounds like you're staying dry. That's good. I'd misread your "We've moved our stuff to higher ground" as "We've moved our staff..." Sounded quite dramatic there for a moment.

 

Onward!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This one is not boring Leely, it was "unimaginative". Please pay attention there at the back of the class! :rolleyes:

 

Thanks everyone. The rest of Laikipia is just awaiting words....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank goodness I have finished my report and I can now read yours. Superb photos and gosh I wish I had been there when the lion charged, that is something your wife will never forget! I did OP last year and loved it, apart from the cold!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh my, he did get a faceful, didn't he? That was hilarious.

 

Thanks for the photo framing software info. as well, Paul. Much appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Better skip through the last day or so, as I haven't processed most of the photos from day five yet, and do you really want to see or hear about more hyena pups or jackal pups? We again started the day at the hyena den, since our new vehicle mates hadn't been there, and we were very happy to go again. It was a little bit slower than the first time, but only a little, and it was a lot less misty this morning.

 

Some hyena pups seemed a little sceptical about our return so soon...

 

i-zHtqS9Q-L.jpg

 

 

While others were still sleeping....

 

i-BW8dsNc-L.jpg

 

After the hyenas Francis took us on a leopard hunt (somebody at camp had seen two mating leopards the evening before) which of course meant driving through trees, staring hard into bushes and seeing very little. I generally would prefer not to spend so much time looking for elusive leopards, but I quite like the drives in the woods and we saw some hornbills and a few steenbock that we wouldn't have seen otherwise. There was nothing memorable this morning, but of course there were elephants, giraffe and others and it certainly wasn'y dull. To be honest I was feeling quite sated and gave the photography a bit of a rest to better enjoy the view.

 

In the afternoon our vehicle mates were going lion tracking with another guide (we weren't interested this time) so we were back alone again with Francis. At last Mount Kenya was relatively clear, creating some nice photo ops.

 

i-N4Kqmdz-L.jpg

 

We watched two bull elephants dusting with Mount Kenya in the background for a while, and since Francis was familiar with this pair he moved in quite close.

 

i-n2Pq5wG-L.jpg

 

Of course I got some shote of the two elephants with Mount Kenya but they are among the ones waiting to be processed. After the elephants we headed back up towards the jackal den (at our request). We found only one pup at the den site, with the parents some way away and heading down into a valley. We hung with the left-at-home pup but no playmetes so after a while we headed for where the parents were to see what was up. There we found the other three pups playing in the long grass - the parents had either decided to move den and the fourth pup had misunderstood and got left behind (don't worry, the two den sites were close) or these three had decided to come out hunting with the parents but had decided instead to play at this other site (perhaps the den where they were born?). Whatever the reason we still had the pleasure of watching the three pups hunting butterflies, hunting moving grass stalks and (mostly) hunting each other, until the sun was low in the sky. We then left them on their own as we were going to do some photos that evening and I wanted a bit of light.

 

I haven't processed the photos from this evening as I have much better ones from Olare Orok, so you'll have to use your imagination. Here's a visual to help.... imagine what a jackal pup would look like without a tail?

 

i-sH4rQGz-L.jpg

 

With the photos, sundowners and some chat, it was already dark before we set off back to camp. On the way we passed a water trough and there were the cheetah cub and its mother taking an evening drink. I had the flash but I just didn't feel like bothering them after they had taken the trouble to come and say goodbye (we would be leaving early for the airstrip the next day).

 

Back at camp, we arrived at our tent to find that the chairs outside were missing. Who took our chairs? Why? I planned to walk back and report this immediately to the staff, but I didn't need to do that because one of them was already inside our tent, together with our chairs and a nicely set dinner table for two. "Welcome home Paul. When would you like dinner served? Would you like to shower first? And in the meantime can I get you a glass of red wine?"

 

He did leave the tent while we showered by the way. :P

 

i-wM87d9Q-L.jpg

 

I unkindly suggested to my wife that there must be a party on, and since there were only three couples in camp and one of them had ordered an early dinner, the quickest way to get rid of the other two couples would be to give them dinner intheir tents. That is very unkind and totally unfair, but my wife started laughing when we were told next morning that Andrew would be driving us to the airstrip because Francis was not awake yet! I almost repocketed some of Francis' tip but relented and handed it over to the manager - he had really been very good and very 'compatible' for us.

 

Although we were supposed to have a lie in, I still got up early that morning to take some pictures of the waterhole/lake in the mist, before breakfast at camp. The sound of the weavers nest-building was really loud in the morning and it is all very pretty. I'll try to add a photo before I finish (another set not yet processed). The drive to Nanyuki airstrip was uneventful and then we had to wait over an hour for our plane (blah, blah... due to.... you know how it goes in Africa; you never really know.) I took advantage of the wait to study the comings and goings and contemplate that while the white vans are obviously becoming less common, it was companies like Micato (who are rather on the costly side) who were still using them. Contemplation did not lead to revelation.

 

Anyway, in the end we almost had a fairly large plane to ourselves, and were landing next to Intrepids 45 minutes later. It was midday, hot and slightly humid, and I was looking forward to it.

 

i-42cgZdS-L.jpg

 

 

By the way, there are four more or less permanent guides at Kicheche Laikipia. Three were there while we were and all were highly recommended by the people who went out with them. I think Francis seems to be considered the "fourth man" or the floater, although he has been there permanently for a year I think, but he is really good. Guiding is of a good standard here for sure, and I guess it was thought to be needed as while the area is wildlife-rich it is not as "predator-on-demand" as the Mara, and so guides need to be able to entertain and engage guests with discussion of amaller things and bigger questions........ but that's just an unsupported theory! Ignore me. :rolleyes:

 

I forgot the ostriches....

 

i-t4SBSB6-L.jpg

Edited by pault
3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More please :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your writing always makes me chuckle. So entertaining.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We landed in the Mara at some time after 11.30, an hour behind schedule, and so were taken straight to the camp, although via the longer "nice, boring route" rather than the shortcut that passes some of the better areas for gameviewing and involves a very steep ascent and descent to ford the Talek (at least I assume it is the Talek - I just realised that I have never asked!). The fact that one of our new arrivals was wearing an expesive-looking sports jacket and wielding a Blackberry may have had something to do with this decision. By this time I don't think anyone looking at my wife and me could have imagined that we would mind taking the interesting route. We looked like a very odd foursome at that moment (I could see the concern in our guide's eyes when we met him that afternoon) but we ended up getting along very well as a foursome. Kicheche Bush Camp is very popular and so the chances of getting your own vehicle for more than a drive or two unless you book a private one are quite slim outside the very slow periods. Even in October the camp was full 4 of the 5 nights that we were there, and there were probably only vacancies on the 5th day because the way the other bookings were meant someone would have to stay only one night.

 

On the way to the camp, our vehicle mates were asking about zebra and impala and the like, and not quite sure what to make of us (and we them - and as I said, it all ended very happily). We stopped by a baboon troop, and without thinking I interrupted to excitedly point out that one of the mothers was carrying a dead baby (as they do - although this is the first time that I'd seen it). I hurriedly added "what a shame" in the silence that followed and the guide who had come to pick us up helpfully added "Oh yes, well spotted" or something like that, but from the faces around me it was clear that an impression had been made. Maybe it was a positive one, but I suspect not. Maybe I should have kept that "spot" to myself.

 

i-Ns4wc4t-L.jpg

 

We were met by the now-managers, Darren and Emma who are a friendly young(ish) British couple who previously ran a restaurant and bar on the coast (quite a change, and even after a number of months it occasionally shows, although they are very keen and friendly and we had no issues). The tents at Bush Camp are quite different to those at Laikipia Camp, but equally much more than enough. They are a little older of course, but everything still works (except one of the solar lights which would frustratingly not work only when there was nobody to show). Each tent has a solar panel to power lights and a bucket shower. They have just installed two solar water heaters so hot water is more easily available and they don't have to burn as much wood. They are eyesores but the area is so big and open that it would be a little "precious" to make a fuss over that - this is the Mara area and beautiful and wonderful as it is, and although it remains as God, the elephants, the zebras and the wildebeest made it, it is not a wilderness. I still like Bush Camp very much but hope they don't introduce too many more innovations.

 

The tents are very open, which allows the wind to blow through, and with the rest of the design compensates for the general lack of shade in this area, where the whistling thorns are again the primary tree - most are kept cropped by the browsers or torn up by the elephants if they do get too a good size.

 

i-9Q6PMLR-L.jpg

 

After lunch and a short rest back in our familiar tent (Mbuni) we went to meet our assigned guide, Nelson. Of course he asked what we'd like to see and this time we said "anything", but Mr Blackberry said "leopards" (damn his eyes!). More fruitless searching for sure. :angry: But at least after the shortage in Ol Pejetathere would be plenty of dik-diks in leopard country here! :)

 

We got pretty quickly to the nearby home of the large Moniko Pride, where there were a large number of cubs of various ages. This is a bit of a Hollywood pride, having apparently been under "star" lions Chiesa and Sala for a while and now being under the control of the famous Notch and his grown sons. Strange things in lion society in the Mara - or perhaps it was always strange but with such frequent monitoring now, it is noted that things do not run as smoothly as in the wildlife documentaries. Anyway, the Mara lions (originally all from the Marsh Pride apparently) had moved into Olare Orok and the lion prides that were resident last time we were here had moved on.

 

It was cloudy and rather dark that evening, but again this was a false sign as we would have clear weather for most of the rest of our stay.

 

The youngest cub and its mother

 

i-XWQdvnD-L.jpg

 

 

And with its brother

 

i-ZB75rnW-L.jpg

 

 

They were pretty active but their favoured rest spot of Moniko Hill (hence their name) is very bushy (a lot of the fly repelling crotons, hence its popularity) so we missed much more than we saw, but with so many young lions we were very entertained for an hour.

 

After that we headed off for another spot, where two lionesses without a pride were raising four cubs. They'd amazingly made it to four months this time (apparently a number of precious litters had died young; killed by the Monikos). They were playing next to a dry lugga and some rocks - what would be a small waterfall in the rains. They were much more active but the area for viewing was very tight, without getting right on top of them, and there were three vehicles there. This wouldn't actually be the only time there were three or more vehicles at a sighting, but there were few of them.

 

i-GHFPx6S-L.jpg

 

 

i-VtKn7Nt-L.jpg

 

 

When it got too dark and the cubs had settled down, we returned to Moniko Hill for our token sundowner (many sundowners ended up being token both here and at Laikipia Camp, as we almost invariably found something interesting happening in the evening) and watched a rather meagre sunset with one of the older cubs, and with the old pride male for company.

 

i-w8LMZNw-L.jpg

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just love your Mr Blackberry I can see him now! :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really look forward to this-the pictures from your trip are far from unimaginative so maybe you should stop giving wrong examples to the class :)

 

That lioness with the cub looks quite huge? Its amazing how we get along so well with the Mr Blackberries back home but in Africa they stick out.

 

PS: I was Ms Blackberry too as that was the only way could avoid family texting my guide and everyone else for an update, but the rest of me looked like it came out of some dusty mine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So great to hear about Ol Pejeta. We are looking at 3 maybe 4 days there this January and your report solidified the decision. Your photos are so enticing and beautiful. Sorry if this question has been asked and answered before, but what are you shooting with? And what do you bring with for backing up your photos?

 

Thank you for taking the time to write your trip report. Enjoying it for the second time this morning :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That sceptical hyena pup had me in splits! Oh boy, this gets better and better...

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So great to hear about Ol Pejeta. We are looking at 3 maybe 4 days there this January and your report solidified the decision. Your photos are so enticing and beautiful. Sorry if this question has been asked and answered before, but what are you shooting with? And what do you bring with for backing up your photos?Thank you for taking the time to write your trip report. Enjoying it for the second time this morning :)

 

I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Grass might be a bit long if there is a lot of rain this month, but as I mentioned in the report, weather is apparently more and more unpredictable.

 

I use a full frame DSLR with a 70-400 lens (swapped for a 16-35 lens for the tent shots and breakfast/sundowner shots) and a 1.5x crop DSLR with a 400mm lens and often a 1.4x teleconverter on that. I download my photos to a netbook. I assume that's what the question was - I don't want to give you the "full-spec, what's-in-the-bag" version as I hate to sound like a gear-geek.

 

 

@ Sangeeta... I will be pleased to keep on posting slightly anthropomorphic "funny animal pictures" for you. I am glad someone else finds the idea of a sceptical hyena pup amusing. :)

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Despite such comfortable tents and free laundry, I was starting to look a little the worse for wear by Day 7...

 

i-wgJhB4C-L.jpg

Edited by pault
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Despite such comfortable tents and free laundry, I was starting to look a little the worse for wear by Day 7...

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

In the morning we went straight out to see the Monico pride, who had been clearly gathering for a hunt as we had left them in the near darkness the evening before. However, they had now clealry killed and finished whatever eating there was to do as they were all back, laid out flat and with bulging bellies. Most were obscured under the fly-free croton bushes, with just a leg here, a tail there, protruding. Three cubs were playing "king of the castle" on a big termite mound, but apart from that there was little action, even though plenty of lions.

 

i-zk9qL2s-L.jpg

 

Next stop was to watch a herd of impalsa getting very excited as a bachelor herd came in close. Lots of bounding about and a couple of skirmishes ensued.

 

i-cK3mqLC-L.jpg

 

 

Then it was time for the leopard song (only previously ever performed in my head). Go on... you know the tune!

 

Follow the river that's dry

Follow the river that's dry

Follow, follow, follow, follow

Follow the rainbow over the stream,

Follow the fellow who follows a dream

Follow, follow, follow, follow

Follow the river that's dry

We're off to see the leopard, the wonderful leopard - or not?

You'll find he is a wiz of a cat, if ever a leopard there was.

If ever, or never a leopard there was, its worth all your day because

Because, because, because , because, because

Because of the wonderful things that he does.

We're off to see the leopard, the wonderful leopard - or not?

 

Down by the lugga the bush is thick and spotting anything is clearly going to be difficult, but Nelson is determined and on we go. We see our first dik-diks of the trip, and once Nelson accepts that we were not joking when we said we wanted to see dik diks, we magically started to see more - naturally what we see and what Nelson sees are two entirely different things and the thicker the bush or the further the distance the bigger the difference grows. Mr B (actually, very nice Mr B may I remind you) noticed what he was told to notice but Mrs B actually turned out to be a very good spotter by any standards, and racked up a few finds for us.

 

i-cvGMB2T-L.jpg

 

The "riverside" here was very different from that in Ol Pejeta, where big Fever Trees grow along the riverbanks, providing lots of shade and convenient spots for leopards to hang. Here the whistling thorn remains the common tree, and small, twisted, dense acacias are the leopard's only relaible choice of perch (there are some other trees, but not common).

 

We moved along the lugga for nearly two hours but no luck. Just the dik-diks and a few birds to show for it. So just before 9 we turned off and heading uphill for breakfast. Without any real trees in much of Olare Orok (I make it sound very depresssing and barren, but think about the Mara as Olare Orok without the Whistling Thorn and you'll get the picture). Our first choice breakfast bush was found to be occupied by three hyenas during our pre-disembarkation check.

 

Sorry mate... taken.

 

i-zjX2sr7-L.jpg

 

But we found an alternative bush with a beautiful view all the way over the reserve and into the Serengeti. There were giraffes wandering along the Mara River (near Rekero unless my sense of direction was off) and wildebeest on the open plains. From here though we could clearly see that the migration was over, so no expectation of a crossing. Nelson confirmed that a crossing was unlikely, although he said there were still some wildebeest that would be returning to Tanzania, so it was not impossible. No way I'm spending all today looking for leopards and all day tomorrow waiting for a crossing , I thought.

 

After breakfast we find a cheetah and cub relaxing. We'd revisit them if the afternoon on our way back out to a leopard hunt (us doing the hunting, not the elusive leopard I am afraid). They were awake, clearly hungry and relatively alert, but happy to scout for prey from a prone position under the tree.

 

i-w2RZK78-L.jpg

 

 

And in the afternoon the cub spied some potential prey!

 

 

But how to kill it?

 

i-ZNBvvBx-L.jpg

 

 

Confusion!

 

i-ssz3Tjc-L.jpg

 

We also stopped off to watch a male giraffe trying to mate. THe female appeared ready and accepting but he couldn't get it up (get his body up on top of hers, I mean). We waited for a while but the foreplay got less rather than more intense and as it was lunchtime we decided to leave them to it.

 

i-tzPM8h6-L.jpg

 

Since the afternoon is going to be more leopard hunting I declare it Mongoose Afternoon. It was intended humorously but while looking intensely and unsuccessfully for the leopard we "happened" to see dwarf, slender, banded and white-tailed mongooses. We also saw some baboons, including one with a white leg, but it is dull weather, the bush is thick and nothing stays in view for long. I haven't processed any photos from this afternoon yet - it was that dull. Saw a bushbuck and other than the mongooses, excitement level was low. I can't even remember the sundowner and if we had one (maybe we had three and that's why I don't remember?).

 

No problem though - every drive is enjoyable even if not every drive can be memorable. But this is the trouble with these leopard hunts .... putting all of your eggs in one basket. Could have stayed near the cheetahs!

 

 

(Edit: Hang on... cheetah cub trying to hunt a tortoise, four different kinds of mongoose, a baboon with a white leg... how is that not memorable? Spoiled brats with their "Oh we barely saw any leopards this time..." trip reports. :angry: )

Edited by pault
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just love this report Pault. The Dik Dik is gorgeous, such a difficult animal to photograph, especially with a "Brownie" !!!! :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Despite such comfortable tents and free laundry, I was starting to look a little the worse for wear by Day 7...

 

 

Well, ONE part still looks rather clean...

 

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


© 2006 - 2017 www.safaritalk.net - Talking Safaris and African Wildlife Conservation since 2006. Passionate about Africa.