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A Cat Trick, A Crossing and a Kill - an Outstanding Opening to a Superb Safari


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Your views look very familiar to some I've got @@JulieM but much more water than in Nov 2010 - I can't remember the name of the hill either. Kili still being difficult also strikes a chord as I'd noticed someone just sitting in the viewing shelter when we had a wander up the hill before going back down to have our lunch by the gameviewer at the foot of it. After lunch we wandered up again & he was still sitting there with his camera looking mournfully at the clouds in front of where Kilimanjaro should have been so I asked if he was hoping to photograph the mountain - turned out he'd been there all day and was desperate to get his photo as he was heading back to Japan first thing next morning so it was his last chance. Our guide wasn't optimistic :(

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Wow - that's pretty extreme and such a waste of time! So much else to see there, that seeing Mt Kili is really just the icing on the cake.

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Just catching up to this...


Fantastic lion impala kill sequence; gruesome topi head; vervets in the tree; waterbuck in the mist. Enjoying it!

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Really like the swimming eles in the pano and the way their trunks curl daintily upwards, almost like a snorkel. The baby gerenuk is cute and the photo of mother and baby provides an interesting size scale between full grown and young.

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I rather like your fish eagle photos (and everything else)!




Even the puppies weren't cute!


However, this borders on blasphemy ;)

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@@JulieM the dog pups are adorable! especially when I ook at those little button noses.


I have to agree with @@Marks though, the hyena cub still has a certain charm to it with that piece of meat dwarfing it!


I have a question on laikipia - when you say it was quiet - was it empty of plains game animals (antelopes, giraffes, zebras) or was it empty of predators? how many nights were you there, and if the dogs are not denning, will it be difficult to see them in the area still? But you saw a fair share of rhinos!


love the pano shots of the amboseli and the marching eles. how lovely to be in their midst!

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I'm sorry @@Marks and @@Kitsafari :( Maybe there is a certain amount of charm to the puppies....


With regards to Laikipa - well, Ol Pejeta conservancy specifically - there were plenty of zebra, and a scattering of antelope. We only saw a couple of giraffe. It was certainly empty of predators - we saw those two lions and two cheetahs but that was all. We stayed 4 nights. Finding the dogs without knowing the location of their den was very difficult - we got lucky with our sighting, but only one other truck saw them because they had moved on again. When they are on the move and not needing a den then I think you do have to be pretty lucky to see them.

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And so, just like *that* it seemed, our Kenyan safari was coming to an end. We had one final day in Amboseli before we flew back to Nairobi and beyond. How lucky I was, then, that Mt Kilimanjaro came out to play!






We spent quite a bit of time watching the elephants coming in from the hills again, which we still weren't sick of, and as we were peacefully enjoying our game viewing, lots of vans went rushing past us. We eventually caught up to them all and found they had all been racing to see two lions in the middle of a grassy area. They were too far away to make a decent image - so I shot the vans instead. It was the most vans we had seen on our safari, except perhaps on our crossing. Most of the time in Amboseli we were on our own, which was great.






We moved on pretty quickly, not wanting to be part of that crowd! We were headed for the dry lake area, hoping to see some animals crossing the vastness, billowing with dust - what a great shot that would have been.


There were some baboons along the way.






Unfortunately the animals weren't really playing along, although this zebra looked kind of cute.




The experience we had next was a bit of a highlight for us. As we were driving along the lake, we saw a cow sitting on the ground by itself, beside a stick that had a plastic bag and a cape on it so that it looked like a person from the distance. Nixon explained that this cow must have been unable to go home with the herd last night and they had left it there, with the stick to help protect it from predators. Far away in the distance we could see a group of men who were obviously heading back to the cow. "Let's go and pick them up", says Billy. Nixon was very surprised that we wanted to do that, but we were very happy to help out. They had already walked a long way by the looks and they were probably still a couple of kilometres away, so we did. They were also very surprised to see us pull up and offer a lift, but were happy to accept. When I saw the big stick and their big knives, I was thinking the worst! I couldn't watch them slaughter the beast out there, so hoped we would just drop them and run. It was my turn to be surprised when the older man pulled out a big needle and syringe and filled it with a vial of ?antibiotics and proceeded to inject the cow with it. I figured they weren't going to waste valuable medicine on a cow and then kill it! And the stick was going to be used to haul this poor thing up onto its feet.










There were a couple of failed attempts to get it up,




before eventually it could at least stand,




and then it took off!




Billy and the old man did a happy dance! They danced, and high-fived - it was very cool!!






Unfortunately it fell down again and so a mobile phone was pulled out and a ute summonsed to get the cow home again. We left them to it but not before Nixon translated their thanks to us - the older man said there weren't always many good people around, but we were good people for taking the time to help them out.






It had been quite an experience!


Heading back to the lodge for lunch we saw another group of Masai with their cows having a drink.




The wildlife viewing didn't stop even though we were back at the lodge. Giraffes and elephants came in for a drink and then a mud bath at the waterhole.








We had one more afternoon game drive, and so we spent it with…..you guessed it….elephants!! I can't pick which of these three images I like the most - let me know your favourite to help me decide which one to put up on my wall!








And so, sadly, our last sunset in Kenya...






















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An old man elephant came to the waterhole to say goodbye to us in the morning.




Love this picture of a couple of old bulls...






We had a 9am flight back to Wilson but our flights out of Kenya weren't until 4pm so we had organised for a driver from Chameleon Tours to pick us up and take us around for the day. Of course we went to the Giraffe Centre, and the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, where we saw our foster elephant Basilinga.












After a BBQ restaurant lunch, we headed to the airport. Billy and I were headed back to Johannesburg where we had one night before flying to Motswari Private Game Reserve for another 5 nights on safari, but sadly Augustine and Dave were headed back to Australia. We had had a wonderful safari, the absolute highlight being the Masai Mara. My love affair with Africa continues, and I am already plotting my return, most likely in 2016 and hopefully to Mana Pools, the Lower Zambezi and SNLP, with the NEW Canon 100-400 lens! Happy days!


Thank you all for reading my report and giving me such positive feedback!! Cheers!



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armchair bushman

!!!!!! @@JulieM !

I've only just gone through your report now (from start to finish). Stunning images, great writing, SUPER sightings in every location.
I can't pick my favourite photos. There are just too many.

You've seriously had an EPIC safari.


Although, you've done things in a bit of a weird order. Most people would start at Ol Pej, and then do Amboseli, and THEN finish in the Mara. It's not ideal to do it the other way round because of flight routings, timings, etc. but mainly because you're going in opposite order of where the best game is. As a rule, always end your Kenya safari in the Mara.


Charles and Andrew are two of my favourite guides in Kenya. Especially Andrew. He's not only one of the most knowledgeable, but also one of the most passionate.


I must disagree, however, with your statement that Ol Pejeta doesn't have very many predators at all. You simply seem to have had worse luck there than you did in the Mara. Ol Pej is actually beyond its supposed carrying capacity for Lions, which is why it's so amazing that the dogs have been thriving there the past few years. Usually any place with a high lion population does not support dogs very well.

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Very enjoyable throughout - great pictures and writing and lots of great sightings.

I am pleased the mountain came out to play - an your picture with the group of elephants in front of it is excellent.

A great experience trying to help people with their cow!

Of the 3 elephant pictures, I prefer Number 2 - a good sized group with trunks and tusks clearly defined - but all three are very good!


Thank you

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Thanks for the kind words @@armchair bushman. I can see that we probably did things a little backwards. I think it came about because we realised that we were at the tail end of the migration season and so we wanted to get to the Mara first, before all the wildebeest left. From there we were guided by the travel agent. And yes, I should have clarified - we didn't see many predators in Ol Pejeta but that doesn't mean they aren't there.


Thanks @@TonyQ - the second image has been most popular amongst my friends on Facebook too!

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@@JulieM I don't know how I've missed these past posts! But happy to have found you had continued on....


LOVE the pups, and Amboselli Ellies; lucky you to have the mountain realize it need to be photographed.


As everyone else has stated; what an EPIC Safari you and your mates had; I felt I was riding along with you on the game drives!


Have not read much about Amboselli, but you sure brought it to life with your pics and writings. I love love the high five of your husband (or friend?) with the older Massai; that has to be a framer! And that you had the heart to stop and give them a lift, which turned into such a great photo op and meeting of a new friend.


Just terrific all around - thanks for sharing. And I am sure you are constantly "smiling, because it happened" :)


P.S. On our Zim trip everyone said we were doing it "wrong" going to Mana first (the highlight), but I disagree....After Mana we went to Matusadona and Hwange with not many expectations of sightings - and were blown away by both!

They were both very special and exciting as well. My husband loved those two parks more than Mana (just don't tell anyone on Safaritalk :o )

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I am lucky enough to have sat beside Julie for the trip she has so ably described above and I would have to say that she certainly did it justice with her narration and her images (which are always mind-blowingly terrific).

Her opening description of me and Mr Mohican the lion is a very accurate portrayal of my sheer terror and awe. It is funny to read something like that written from the perspective of someone else in the vehicle.

Anyway, I write this because Julie suggested that I share my image taken at Laikipia of the waterbucks chasing off the hyenas (post #87). I was a little reticent as my images are not of the same calibre as my esteemed travel buddy but then I figured - this is a safari forum, not an international photography critique group :)
So as a thankyou to Jules for a terrific trip report and a special big hug for organising such an outstanding safari I give you...


Exit stage right... and left



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Thank you for sharing this, Julie, a really terrific report with very beautiful photos - I thoroughly enjoined this! Glad you got your Kili shot. I think the second ele pic of those you asked about is my favourite as well. Also love the one where he´s blowing water. I haven´t done the Giraffes or the Eles in Nairobi, but it really does look very nice.


Will you cover Motswari as well? (Please do!)




Welcome to Safaritalk, you really had a terrific start as a safarista. Interesting pic of the Waterbucks chasing away the Hyenas, like that a a lot.

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Welcome; what a terrific time you had with Julie and co.. Your closing shot is great.


And yes, I plan on "Join the Journey" and will enjoy reading your blog..


Please come back and share more with us on Safari Talk :)

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@@michael-ibk - thank you for your kind comments! I'm not sure about covering Motswari, as it did kind of pale in comparison to Kenya and I wouldn't want to do it a disservice...


@@graceland - I'm glad I'm not the only one doing things backwards! I don't regret our decisions either though… :)

Edited by JulieM
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@@AugustineM Awesome photo! it's not often you get a chance to see a prey chasing off a predator , so thanks for sharing!

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@@JulieM i'm just catching up as i've been away for a while.


tanks for sharing your experiences with us. what a thrilling trip it was. and your photos are really good. now, if only mine were half as good....

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@@JulieM , I'm catching up, as well... Great trip report with fabulous wildlife and landscape photos! Loved the last Mt. Kilimanjaro images! Thank you for sharing!

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Hippos, so many! Ele face, so close! Impala sparring, so surprised by the lion! Lion kill, so close to the action! Cheetah cubs, so cute! I hope they make it too. Jackals, also so cute. Husband, so happy. All this on page 2! So much going on!

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Thanks again everyone!


Haha @@Atravelynn - hubby was definitely happy!!

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Beautiful closing posts. It sounds like you've made up your mind already about which of the three ele pictures to hang, but I'd agree that #2 is something special, definitely the right choice IMO.


Thanks for taking us along, now to start reading your Motswari trip. :)

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  • 2 months later...

@@JulieM I just realised I hadn't actually read this to the end. I must have been preoccupied at the beginning of Novermber. Really a pleasure to find it.


FWIW, I think the shots with Kilimanharo in cloud actually look better than the "classic" ones - not because the classics aren't classic though. You really did get some excellent stuff from this trip throughout, though.

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