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philw

Mara and Olare Orok (again...)

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philw

We have just returned from a week in Kenya (Mara and conservancies) and, even though we have been there on numerous occasions, had a great time. I’m conscious of the fact that there are numerous reviews already on the site so will briefly summarise as follows…

 

We travelled in the first week of November, i.e. the first week of low season rates. Given that the migration normally leaves the Mara in September and that rains are very unpredictable, I’m not sure why anyone visits in late October when rates at some camps are almost double! After a night at the Tamarind Tree in Nairobi on arrival, we stayed at Enaidura Camp for three nights followed by Mara Plains for four nights (on a 4 for 3 special at low season rates which mean meant that the average nightly price was about 65% lower than the previous week….), followed by a day room at the Emakoko in Nairobi National Park. 

 

The reason we chose Enaidura was that Ping had guided us on two previous occasions at Mara Plains – and, for the few who don’t know, he is now freelance with a stake in Enaidura camp. Our only concern with booking Enaidura was that it is in the main reserve and we were worried about vehicle numbers. I have it say that, other than a rare wild dog sighting, it was totally unfounded – partly because of being low season but mainly because Ping likes to find his own animals. A word of warning is that Ping is ‘hard core’, i.e. other than at night, we were out game viewing for all bar two hours of the day! We had an exclusive use vehicle so I guess it might be different if sharing with others. The camp itself was excellent – in fact we had it to ourselves for two of the three nights, with only one other guest on the first night.  Staff were excellent and food really good. Also the best bucket showers we have ever had!

 

Mara Plains had a major refurbishment since our last visit in 2012. It was incredibly luxurious  (perhaps a bit too OTT) and the food superb. Cattle management in the Olare Orok conservancy was much better than on our last visit, i.e. we hardly saw any in the game viewing areas. But, as with Enaidura, the guide was the main positive. We specifically requested Kevin who had previously guided us before at Mara Plains (part trained by Ping). I can’t underestimate the importance of a good guide – on numerous occasions both Ping and Kevin found great cat sightings by picking up on herbivore behaviour and being patient (whilst lesser qualified guides left after 10 minutes of waiting).   

 

Game viewing was excellent, highlights and a few photos (very amateur compared to other posters on this board!) being:

 

·     Hippo storming through Enaidura camp during pre dinner drinks, temporarily taking out the solar panel….

 

·     Two sets of very young lion cubs just a few hundred yards from Enaidura camp

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·     Wild dog sighting – albeit just one dog who sadly had very bad mange. I believe vets were going to treat it 

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Mother leopard and year old cub on a kill (in the reserve)

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 Male and female courting (but not mating) leopards – solo viewing in the reserve, i.e. on our own with them for over an hour

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·     Thompson Gazelle giving birth

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Amazing interaction  between jackals, grants gazelles, hyena and zebra. Two jackals were trying to grab a one day old gazelle, being fought off by what we assumed to be the parent gazelles. It looked a tough task for the parent gazelles but one which they appeared to be winning….until a hyena appeared and grabbed the baby.  Three or four zebra then chased/butted the hyena for a few minutes, presumably to try and get it to drop the gazelle. To no avail…quite sad to see what I think was the dad gazelle chasing the jackals 15 minutes after the hyena had eaten….Sadly no pictures as 40 yards away.

 

·     Seven years ago, we were one of the first guests to see (the then unnamed leopard Fig). We didn’t see her on a subsequent visit to the Olare Orok conservancy and it looked like we were going to miss her again – until, on our last morning drive, she appeared out of nowhere, looking pregnant. Again, it was a solo sighting, made interesting by her almost accidentally walking into a pride of lions stalking some giraffe – and deciding to take evasive action up a tree…

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 Three cheetah sightings culminating in a female cheetah with three cubs hunting (and just missing Grants gazelle) with some good interaction with an aggressive warthog who was charging the cubs

 

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·     Two other leopards  (both daughters of Fig) on numerous occasions

 

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Good rhino (black and white) sightings in Nairobi NP.

 

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A few others...

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In summary, we had a great time on our last safari in Zambia but, if you choose the right camps, guides and time of year, you just can't beat this place I'm terms of the quality of gaming viewing and the true safari experience. None of the 'lets go back to camp for breakfast - or - lets eat before we go out'...every breakfast we had was in the bush...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by philw
duplicated photos

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TonyQ

@philw

Excellent sightings, and despite you reticence, great photos.

Very enjoyable to read about the conservancy in November 

The little Cheetah cubs are adorable 

Thank you for posting

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Hads

Wow - what awesome sightings and Photo's, Thanks @philw

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Seniortraveller

@philw woderfu photos, I especially like the back view of mother and young cheetah.

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michael-ibk

A great selection of photos from the place that never disappoints! The Cheetah on the mount is especially striking, bravo! Oh wow, that poor dog - he really looks like in a very bad state.

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Atravelynn

All this animal action (documented in your excellent photos), best bucket showers ever, and good pricing too?  Thanks for sharing about Ping, Enaidura, and Week 1 of Nov!  I'm really wondering about those showers.

Edited by Atravelynn

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Alexander33

@philw

 

Thanks so much for this post. Great sightings, great photos, and great narrative. 
 

It disturbs me when I keep hearing reticence from members about posting reports of their trips to the Mara, on grounds of, do we really need another one?  
 

Yes, in fact, we do. Not only does the Mara really produce, but I would hate to see people ashamed of posting their reports from this amazing area simply because it’s not “new” and “exotic”. 
 

We’re going back there in January, and I can’t wait. Thank you for whetting my appetite. 
 

Edited by Alexander33

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pault

Looks like you had some great sightings. The gazelle action sounds like quite something. 
 

I am pretty sure we haven’t had a report from either camp for a while and am pretty sure there are no trips from early November, so yours is interesting. 
 

it is a great question why people prefer late October over early November! In the Mara the short rains can be heavy but most years they don’t last long. And my understanding has always been that the rain can come any time from mid-October to early January. In fact when the weather has been really bad at that time of year (infrequent) it has been later, in December, that it has become a problem.  Food for thought, but a number of other places in Kenya will more likely be wet.

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philw
On 11/25/2019 at 11:54 PM, pault said:

 

Thanks all for the kind comments. I hear that the weather has now changed very significantly with very heavy rain/flooding. seems we got lucky with our timing...

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pault
45 minutes ago, philw said:

Thanks all for the kind comments. I hear that the weather has now changed very significantly with very heavy rain/flooding. seems we got lucky with our timing...


Nah... missing it by a day is lucky - by a week or more is “good planning”! :D

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Atravelynn
On 11/27/2019 at 6:09 PM, philw said:

Thanks all for the kind comments. I hear that the weather has now changed very significantly with very heavy rain/flooding. seems we got lucky with our timing...

Those kind of "showers" get no accolades.

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