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    • MMMim
      @Biko Thank-you for your kind words.  The cheetah were very special. We absolutely loved the Mara camp.  Our guide David and drivers (we had 2 because of a shift change), Daniel and George, couldn't do enough for us, and were excellent at sighting and tracking wildlife.  All 3 of them had a wonderful sense of humour.  I am still in touch with David regularly.  The manager of the camp, Jimmie, was very friendly.  There seemed to be 2 groups of Maasai men at the camp, the 'background' workers (cleaned tents, guarded the camp at night), who didn't interact with the guests very much - I think it was a language barrier and they may not have been used to talking with guests, but they were polite and helpful.  The second group were those men interacting with the guests regularly, in the dining tent, tending bar.  A bit quieter than the guys at the Amboseli camp, but still really nice, and helpful.  The service was great, the food was great.  I would go back in a heartbeat.   There was plenty of room in the tents - we had one with 2 double beds.  The tents were kept spotlessly clean.  I loved the camp, very beautiful setting and small, only 6 tents, so not busy or overwhelming.  The wildlife in the conservancy was wonderful too.  I would highly recommend this camp.  We are planning a return to it in 2022.  Can't wait!! Heather
    • Biko
      @MMMimyou are a very entertaining writer, I read your lastpart with a big smile. Beautiful pictures of the cheetah at the river. Could you say something about the atmosphere in the camp, was the service good? I ask this because I saw a quite critical remark about this specific camp on Expert Africa’s website.
    • MMMim
      2019 October 10 (Thursday) We awoke quite bleary eyed this morning, as some unbelievably noisy bird, or birds, woke us 2 or 3 times in the night.  While I was awake, I also heard lions, hyenas, zebras, and jackals making a racket, but it was still pretty wonderful to hear.   We described the night noises to David and our jeep companions and we were told that it was actually a bush baby making those ungodly screams above our tent, not birds.  Hard to believe that such tiny creatures (David was able to show us one later that evening, just after dark) could emit a noise like that.   On our early morning drive we first encountered a pack of black backed jackal pups, followed by a rambunctious encounter with Nebahati and her cubs.  It was difficult for her to look elegant this morning with several of her cubs pouncing on her and wrestling with her. But she overcame her adversaries with well-aimed rabbit kicks, sending her offspring tumbling.                Next up, a spotted hyena youngster having ‘breakfast’, toting around a wildebeest head (or part of one), and refusing to relinquish it to the other hyena, more giraffe, and mongoose too.              Dwarf mongoose     Slender tailed mongoose   We stopped for a scenic bush-breakfast, and were amazed at what was served; a hot breakfast including sausage, egg, beans, pancakes, coffee and tea. Ridiculous!  I asked David about a silvery, smaller type of thorned tree I had noticed.  He informed me that about 80% of the trees/shrubs in Kenya have thorns (I found that out disembarking from the jeep last night after the high-test sundowner, and I stepped on a very small plant that bit my calf quite hard).  This particular plant was called the Whistling Thorn Acacia, which produces a pair of straight thorns at each node, some of which have large bulbous bases. The swollen thorns are naturally hollow and are occupied by a symbiotic ant species; in the tree we were looking at it was a teeny-tiny species called the cocktail ant.  The ants drill a hole in the bulbous thorn when they ‘move in’, and when the wind blows through the thorn, the tree whistles.  In exchange for shelter in the bulbous thorns and tree nectar secretions, the ants are thought to defend the tree against herbivores, such as elephants and giraffes.  The ants certainly swarmed out of the bulbs when David disturbed the tree branch. Also, David told us that the Maasai use the very young thorn bulbs as a remedy for stomach ailments, so David picked us one and we all tried it.  It was very astringent, and I would prefer a Tums, thanks.     Our next unusual sighting came at what looked like a man-made water hole; a hippo, covered in turtles.  We were all pretty sure the hippo was dead and was being used as an island haul-out site, but then the hippo opened its eye.  Weird; was this a hippo with a turtle problem, or turtles with a hippo problem?        At that point, David, with a wry smile, challenged Jay to a swimming competition, but offered Jay a head-start.  This started a running joke between David and Jay, with each challenging the other to poke a lion, swim a race with the crocodiles, and to clear the brush away from sleeping lions and hidden leopards…. Always with David insisting that Jay go first and that then he would surely follow.   Later, David pointed out a fireball lily, which blooms during the wet season.  Apparently there had been enough rain recently to allow this one to bloom.  The flower was a beautiful big red ball, apropos name.  I think I was the only one impressed enough to take a picture of it.       There were more hippo sightings, these ones obviously not dead, a croc sighting, and some yellow-billed storks thrown in for good measure.     Yellow billed stork                 Egyptian goose   Bare-faced go-away-bird   Red headed rock agama (male)   Rock hyrax   Von der Decken’s hornbill   On our return to camp we discovered that the English Ladies had caught up with us.  After lunch we were shown, just outside the dining tent, the worlds cutest little owl, the African scops owl, only 6.5 inches tall, and perfectly camouflaged against the tree.        We shared the secret of the worlds’ best TV screen with the English Ladies, who joined us for the afternoon, and lo and behold, Miki and Rod showed up too (the couple from San Jose).  While viewing TV, we saw a female bushbuck; looks like a deer but with stripes on its back.  John and Gwendolyn had told us that they had seen one outside of their tent earlier that morning.  Late in the afternoon, Rod thought he saw a rhino at the very top of the hill and convinced everyone that the unicorn had been real.  Not long after, we found out that Richard and June had arrived at the camp. It was like old home week – the gang’s all here!   White browed robin chat   We headed out on the evening drive with John and Gwendolyn, and told David and Daniel that we had seen a rhino behind the camp.  They were highly skeptical (laughed their asses off really) and informed us that there was no rhino in the conservancy.  We may as well have seen a unicorn!  Not long after, we found a lion pride with a couple of lionesses and their young, sub-adult, probably 2 years old based on their mane growth, male lions, part of a bigger pride of 12.  David was always pointing out “loser” impalas with no girls; he seemed to enjoy that.             Later into the drive, we came across a very big herd of elephants decimating the landscape in order to feed themselves.  There must have been at least 30 elephants, but it was hard to count as they were scattered all through the brush.  There were bulls, cows, babies, and juveniles in the group, and it was amazing at how close they were to us.  We moved a bit to go watch some of the bulls feeding, and then returned to the main herd with the cows and calves.                 It was fun to watch the juveniles sparring with each other, and babies nursing, but I was a bit nervous, as one cow was teaching her calf to uproot trees not 12 feet from the jeep.  However, she didn’t appear to mind at all and it was fabulous to watch.  In fact, we were all so engrossed in the activities of this pair that we hadn’t noticed the approach of other animals.  John looked up and asked D2, “what about that one”, a cow rapidly descending on us, with purpose and ears flapping.  She looked like she really meant business.  David, as only David could, stated “she looks quite gloomy, we should leave”.  Well I’ll tell you, those jeeps don’t have a good turning radius, and we had the baby elephant behind us, a tree right in front of us, and the gloomy elephant immediately to our left, and yet somehow, Daniel managed a 3-point turn and got us out of there quite quickly all things considered.  Gloomy ran after us just to ensure we were truly on our way!                           Gloomy bearing down on us   We all had a laugh at our scary predicament as we enjoyed a sundowner on the plains, surrounded by wildebeest making their ‘mooing’ noise, and watching a glorious Kenyan sunset.  We finished-up our liberally poured drinks (we all felt we needed them to steady our nerves after our earlier encounter) and headed back to camp.      At dinner, we realized that another Amboseli Camp guest had been at the camp, although we hadn’t got to know him or his wife at the other camp.  Rick sat with us at dinner and shared a funny story that happened at Amboseli camp.  He recounted that one morning, they had been brought their allotment of water for their bucket shower.  His wife showered first, and when it was his turn, he wet himself down and soaped up, but when he went to rinse, there was no water.  He roundly cursed out his wife, and yelled at her for not leaving him enough water for a shower.  She was adamant that she had left plenty of water.  Their tent was configured as such that there was a ventilation panel that provided a view of the bucket.  When Rick looked out, he saw a vervet monkey sitting in the bucket, effectively plugging the water flow, taking his own bath!              
    • MMMim
      2019 October 09 (Wednesday) After breakfast, John and Daniel took Richard and June, and us on a short game drive, en route to the airstrip (Kili still visible, btw).  We said our goodbyes (hugs all round!) and flew, with the English Ladies, back to Nairobi.  We spent a while at Wilson before heading on to the Maasai Mara. This time the flight was on a twin-otter plane – yuck.  The flight left me feeling a bit sick to my stomach, especially as we had 3 take-offs and 3 landings – a bit of a milk run really – between dropping off and picking up passengers.  We flew for about 35 minutes, landed, took off, flew for 5 minutes, landed, took off, flew for 5 minutes, and finally arrived.  We did have to laugh, as the flights went further out, the airstrips got more primitive.  At the second airstrip, we saw a guy on a motorcycle chasing the wildebeest off the runway.  We arrived in one piece, and we were greeted by David (guide) and Daniel (driver) – D2.  They took us back to camp, and there were quite a lot of game sightings, including topi (new to us) and eland (amazingly close so we were able to get a good look at them) on the way between the airstrip and camp, through the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, into the Ol Kinyei Conservancy where the Porini Mara Camp was located.     The Ol Kinyei Conservancy is an 18,700-acre reserve, owned by the Maasai, that has been set aside as a wildlife sanctuary, with open plains, forests, and riverine habitat supporting a wide variety of wildlife, including all the usual suspects, as well as many lions, cheetah, and leopards. It is one of the sixteen conservancies making up the Maasai Mara National Reserve.  The wildebeest migration also passes through Ol Kinyei when herds from the eastern plains of Loita join the migration to the Mara Reserve, although we arrived too late for the migration, and the wildebeest we have seen in the area are year-round residents (David said that they had failed to obtain their passports in time).   Entering the Ol Kinyei Conservancy   The camp was situated along the banks of the Laetoli River, surrounded by yellow barked acacia trees, and was really very lovely.  We were greeted at the entrance to the camp by an assortment of wildebeest, zebra, and waterbuck – the welcoming committee.  The camp was quite small, having only 6 tents, managed by Jimmie, and again staffed entirely by Maasai men.  Our tent was a bit smaller than at the Amboseli Camp, but still very nice, decorated with an elephant motif, and also having an en suite bathroom with a flappy curtain for a door.  Jay and I got to know way more about each other, even after 27 years of marriage, than we really wanted to.    The welcoming committee   After lunch, Jay and I obtained a libation, found a shady spot (it was stupid hot) by the river, and watched the best TV screen ever (Jimmie’s description).  All afternoon, just across the river, right in front of us, paraded a constant stream of zebra, wildebeest and waterbuck.  I was supposed to be journaling, but the view was too good.  Jay also had lots of birding opportunities (after all this time, he finally saw his first parrot – a brown parrot).  Fantastic!  I was truly in my happy place; I was always supposed to be here.       not the brown parrot, but another little visitor near our seats - woodland kingfisher   In the late afternoon, we headed out on a game drive with fellow Canadians, a couple from Halifax, John and Gwendolyn, spotting many of the usual antelope, including the topi, which David described as wearing blue jeans with yellow socks and a Coke’s hartebeest.  As well, we saw some mongoose, warthogs, red headed rock agamas, olive baboons, and finally, some vultures.        Black-backed jackal       Northern white-crowned shrike   African white-backed vulture       And giraffes, we’ve never seen so many.  When you think there is just one, look around, because there will be more poking around in the bushes.  It got to be a bit of a game with us, upping the ante.  I think the most we counted at one time was 13 giraffes.          One of the other notables on the drive, and I’m not sure how David spotted it, was a tommie fawn that was only a few hours old, lying down and trying to remain inconspicuous out in the middle of no-where on the open plain.       The big prize of the evening drive was the sighting of the female cheetah, Nebahati, and her 4 cubs (about 9 months old).  Her name means ‘lucky one’, and was obtained when she survived a lion attack when she was a cub that killed all of her siblings.  We arrived at their snoozing spot, watched them rise and get on with their evening.  I think there were another 4 vehicles with us, a far cry from what we would later witness in the Mara.  Nebahati was elegant, and everything you would expect a cheetah to be.  I’m not sure of the gender of her cubs, but they were sure mischievous and playful.  The family wandered down the hill, had a drink, and crossed the river.  They stayed a while on the hillside, surveying their domain, and returned to the river valley.  By this time the other vehicles had abandoned the sighting, but we stayed to watch the cubs chase each other around, and hunt birds, enjoying a sundowner with the cheetah family.  Magical!  As the sun went down, Nebahati took her family off into the dark.                                
    • JayRon
      No, we had a full day gamedrive.. But never got away from the crowds.. I think it was the worst gamedrive in my life☹️☹️ But I am glad to see that you actually can get away from the crowds. I thought I done my research, but obviously not. 😬
    • wilddog
      Not quite @MMMim If Ihad skipped the trip to the village the vehicle would not have had time to return to camp to collect me for the evening drive. I could have gone to the village and just stayed in the vehicle, while everyone else had a look around, but I felt that would be rude on my part. So I did. the whole thing.    Sorry you missed super dude. Perhaps he has done so well he now has a vehicle taxi instead of a motorbike. It is all progress 🙂    
    • MMMim
      @wilddog Gamewatchers didn't let you go on the game drive either?  That seems like a bit of a punishment.  It's not like the vehicle was full, it was just Richard and June in the 8 seater, so there would have been room for us if we had declined (maybe that really isn't an option).  I would rather just donate the $14 and skip the village visit and go on the extra game drive.   Oh and I missed the stylin' dude.  We saw a few motorcycles, but I never noticed the driver     @Pamshelton3932 not a hijack, glad to see you village visit appeared happy.  Nice picture!  There were no smiling faces, except the 1 little boy we had been interacting with when Jonathon beckoned us into the house.  Perhaps it was just an off day.  I'd probably get fed-up with all the visitors too, but then they have made the agreement with Gamewatchers.  Perhaps they should rotate the villages (maybe they do, I don't know) to take the pressure off just the one, as it is the entire community, of many villages, that have entered into the agreement.   I did have a lovely time talking with the guys in the camp and our guides and drivers.  We had a lot of good discussions.  Jackson in the dining tent was hilarious!
    • Pamshelton3932
      Not to hijack your TR, but my 2016 trip to the Masai Warriors at Amboseli with Gamewatcher's was a lot of fun.  I've attached a picture where the women seemed to be enjoying the interaction.  Maybe they are sick of visitors by now, or maybe they were laughing at us!  I still found it a bit awkward although enjoyable, so I won't be returning either.  AS you said, been there done that.  
    • Dave Williams
      Interesting observations @JayRon. Out of interest, was your Yala Block 1  a half day trip ?
    • wilddog
      I was reluctant as I have been on these visits before but found that if I did not go I would also miss the game drive.    They do benefit from our attendance in various ways.    Did you meet the sunglass wearing motorcycle taxi chap? Very stylish. 
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