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The Lipault Ladies go to the Mara


It was meant to be my second solo trip to Africa. Singapore had a short working week in February and I wanted to make use of it to have a longer trip. But feb is packed end to end with projects for my husband so that meant I would go alone again. As I narrowed my short list to kenya (thanks to much advice and input by the ST-ers in this thread: http://safaritalk.net/topic/13027-february-where-to-go-kenyazambia-safrica/ ), @@SafariChick jumped on board. I had originally wanted to see wild dogs in Laikipia but in the end, Laikipia didn't work out so we were happy to settle for a Masai Mara-focused trip that minimized travel to land transits between neighboring areas, and sealed a what turned out to be 9-night trip. The schedule was finalized -

Feb 8 - Emakoko in Nairobi National Park for @kitsafari
Feb 9 - meet @@SafariChick at Eka Hotel, Nairobi
Feb 10-13 Serian Mara camp, Mara North conservancy
Feb 13-16 Serian Nkorombo mobile camp, Masai Mara Reseve
Feb 16-18 Mara Plains, Olare Motorogi conservancy
Feb 19 - Emakoko for @@SafariChick

Once we had the schedule pinned up, @@graceland jumped in, eager to relive her happy memories at Serian in Mara. So it became a threesome and it worked out marvellously as with the power of three we could command a PV at MP. Serian provides PV and guide for each tent, one of 2 big draws in clinching the deal, the other being a stay 6 and pay 4 deal.

How we ended up being the Lipault ladies is something of a tale that @@graceland has to tell since she was the catalyst!



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Everyone knows about the Maasai Mara and the Mara conservancies.


There are a number of private conservancies in the Masai Mara area bordering the Mara National Reserve. When I was doing research on the area, I was often confused by the names of the conservancies. A map was helpful in pinpointing where I was going. Here's a snapshot of a map that was helpfully slotted in the Serian vehicle:






and here is Porini Safari Africa’s map, which I feel, is the clearest

(@@Game Warden, if it's not in accordance to copyright, pse remove this! and apologies ahead of that).







the quintessential shot of Mara

Edited by Kitsafari
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Feb 8-11


As it worked out, my airline carrier (Singapore Airlines - who knew that a first class carrier could cancel flights booked like 5 months ahead!) cancelled my original flight on feb 9, forcing me to go a day earlier on feb 8 ahead of my companions. So since everyone spoke in superlatives of Emakoko, I ventured to find out what made it tick.

James from the Emakoko picked me up at the Nairobi airport and was my eye for the next two days.

I flew direct from Singapore to Johannesburg, then waited for 4 hours to catch the 4-hr flight to Nairobi. The arrival was to a small bare concrete building at a rather surprisingly small airport and we all were screened for fever, installed since the ebola scare reared its head. The immigration queues weren't that long and I cleared in over half an hour.

The Jomo Kenyatta international airport is about a half hour drive to the east gate into the park, a very quiet entrance. It was a Sunday which meant several self drive cars were noticed but it was nearly noon when I came in so it wasn't crowded. Even the evening drive wasn't that bad. There were like 4 other cars parked to see lions and Cubs hidden in a bush, but that was the most crowded that I recall.


Plenty of firsts for me - elands were in fairly big herds of a dozen or so.



not in the best light - an Eland but I was anxious to take a pix as I entered the park, without realising there were dozens of them further in!




And Lots of hartebeests, also my first sight of them. I was bit underwhelmed by the hartebeests. For me personally, I think the topis and wildebeests are more remarkable looking. Although, perhaps it is good to be average and blend in with the crowds – less chances of the predators taking note of you! Wishful thinking....




The brown parched fields were littered with tommies and grants, both gazelles that I had not seen in Okavango and in South luangwa. It was good to be reminded how petite the tommies were. I had forgotten how delicately intricate the markings were on their faces.


I don't seem to be able to find many pix of the gazelles in my pictures from the park. I suspect it was because the lighting was often very harsh and I didn't get good angles on the flighty gazelles.

Edited by Kitsafari
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Hundreds of vultures and maribou storks roosted in the trees that lined a stream in the park. My only sighting of predators was of two lionesses lying in a distance although I heard lions roaring close to the lodge that night. Four lions are now collared for research but I guessed they were not the two male lions who decided to trek out of the park on feb 17 into the traffic congested streets just outside the main park entrance.







and my first sunrise in Nairobi! still breathtaking, even next to the capital city.









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Lipault? L'i'l pault? (Seeing as it was graceland). Ladies in pink avoid ultimate love triangle? Live in Paardise: Ukitmate Ladies Trip? I could go on but I keep on getting distracted by the pault bit, and my only connection with the trip was that I followed it on Facebook, so that is a dead end. I will just have to wait!


Good start! I am really looking forward to this.

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Seconded, eager to find out about the Lipault stuff. I veto the title which is discrimnating against my favourite African cats which are just left out because they have the misfortune of being L-less. So, show us your Leetahs, Ladies, you have seen lots of them, haven't you? :)

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Seconded, eager to find out about the Lipault stuff. I veto the title which is discrimnating against my favourite African cats which are just left out because they have the misfortune of being L-less. So, show us your Leetahs, Ladies, you have seen lots of them, haven't you? :)

You are so right @@michael-ibk how did I forget the Leetahs, especially when they figured so strongly in our trip....and my favourite cat, after the Tigers. I'm truly remorseful..... Nah.....


@@pault. Je ne comprends pas.

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Another first for me – rhinos close up! I had seen a couple in Ngorongoro but they were so far it didn't count. There are 40 rhinos in the relatively small park, which helped loads with viewing. Rhinoceros was one of two animals at the top of my list for this trip, so I was thrilled to see 10 rhinos in 2 days! The most encouraging thing was the number of calves I saw - at least 4 for both black and white rhinos. James assured me I didn't see repeats as they were a distance from each other. It's a piece of rare good news amid a depressing world of poaching.



Hmm, that's a .....welcome?



mum and calf



mum and calf








Another mum and calf






a mighty male

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As this is a park, there is no off road driving and you have to be back at camp by 7pm. The park is fenced in on three side with the fourth side open, serving as a corridor. According to James, few predators move outside the park as there is plenty of prey in the park. But when I arrived, there had been no rain since November and the grass was dried up and brown. the major permanent waterholes at the dams were filled , still providing a lifeline to the animals.




Zebra having a rollicking good time amidst the hartebeests



dazzling zebras


Every where I turned, there were buildings, factories, city skylines, constant reminders that the animals lived on borrowed time. The park is protected by a parliamentary decree and many believed the government will have no way to remove the park status. Even so, I come from a region where laws can be changed if the ruling parties are in majority, so I have little faith in the permanency of laws or decrees. Hopefully I am eternally wrong.






wildebeests beautifying the skyline



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other wildlife in the park:







supermodel strutting by.







Crowned lapwing (thanks @michael-ibk)!




Black bellied koribustard






maribou stock looking shockingly quite attractive




juvenile martial eagle




tawny eagle







Rock hyraxes sunning up.

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Good to see you had great Rhino sightings. And love the picture of the Hyraxes!

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A great start. A lovely rhino sighting. NNP seems to get better (as odd as that sounds).

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What a start. I actually love the tree with marabou roosting, makes them look very pretty. And your rhino welcome is very well captured. May they live long and prosper!

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"Ready to begin your Lipault adventure? You are in the right place."



I had the Lipault bag, but I wasn't in the right place. The Mara was calling my name. When I saw the itinerary from @@Kitsafari and @@SafariChick, the urge to join up was stronger than the urge to unpack my bag from the previous safari.


Did you know you could have all your clothes washed at camp, pack the bag to go home; and be ready at any given moment to return?

Smart reasoning on my part to return quickly. (And convince the DH I was ready, willing and able)


Now, how Lipault came into play; though I'd dearly love to lay claim to bringing @@pault along (accompanied by Bibi, naturally); the truth was I was trying to convince two "bag checkers" into becoming two "carry-on'rs" and after many emails and ideas exchanged; lessons in rollup packing; what to take, what to leave out (Bug Suits) -- before you know it, Lipault has two more afficianados...





The Lipault Ladies and their bags....

(notice the bag similarities) I should be their US rep.







I was in the air to Nairobi, entertained by this lovely young women for 20plus hours





Arriving first at the Eka hotel to wait for the Lipault Ladies; Brian the bartender kept me laughing -and me him I suppose :rolleyes:






Until we finally were in the air to the Mara,






Settling into Main Serian Camp


photo of my tent, no. 6 - the stairmaster tent, as there are over 30 rugged stone steps to ascend and descend everyday, thereby increasing my need for g&t's hydration....





And enjoying the first of daily bush breakfasts with James, our intrepid guide from Serian; enjoying (loving) all six days with him at both Main Serian and Serian Nkoromobo.....



Edited by graceland
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Oh and there is a "Leetah" but not quite yet..


Can you spot the Leopard


post-5364-0-95796200-1425824468_thumb.jpg here.




The Lipault Ladies one and two captured better shots than I, but here are a few.... a cub waiting for mom from the other side of Leopard's Gorge


James keen eye caught it as we were leaving....thinking there were none to be found...








I am sure they want to start from the beginning (LOL) but seeing this made the day!

Edited by graceland
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A perfect topic for International Women's Day!!

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A perfect topic for International Women's Day!!

Yes it is! We were quite the "international " set as well :D


Happy International Women's Day to All!

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I guess I have been too slow in starting this report as @@graceland is raring to go and has raced ahead of me, jetsetter that she is. :):wub:


So I'd better catch up! so i'll have to drag you all back to Nairobi.....


Emakoko is owned and run by Anton (Anthony) and Emma Child's and a team of most capable staff some of whom had worked with the Child's for many years and followed them to Emakoko. The lodge is located on a private piece of land across a small stream that demarcates the park border. A bridge spans across the stream, which brings you when you alight from the vehicle to the lodge. A nifty touch, which all turned out for nought when the Nairobi Tented Lodge was set up IN the park around the same time that Emakoko was set up.


Still, you have the feeling you are in the park as the animals give no toss to a very human concept of borders, and cross to and fro the invisible border, making you feel you are still in the national park.


For those who need to know - wifi is great in the main lounge but connection is great. Anton is a wonderful host but i was recovering from jet lag and couldn't stay up to chat with him after dinner. I had the whole lodge to myself!






dining area








A visit from African Pied Wagtail (tx @michael-ibk) during breakfast




A visit to the fireplace in my chalet from a hyrax! i disturb his nice warm and safe home. :(

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I had fostered two orphan elephants Kauro and Murit, and the two orphan rhinos Solio and Maxwell. By the time I went, Kili the orphan giraffe had died, the loss of which was quite painful for the keepers at the David Sheldrick Orphanage. I visited during the 11am slot, and because I was a fosterer, I was also there for the 5pm slot.

There seems to be a general discouragement to go to the morning visits because it gets too crowded and noisy. Personally, I enjoyed the morning session just as much. The babies showed so much personality as they rushed in for their feeds, some more impatiently than others, trumpeting loudly if the keepers were too slow with their giant milk bottles. the utter exuberance and joy as they threw themselves into the waterhole n threw sand on their bodies was a delight to witness. I got to pat and touch them as the curious babies came close to us. I loved the experience.

The 5pm session is simpler n quieter affair. The babies were led back into their pens n then you could visit all the babies n ask their keepers any question you had. My Murit was smaller than other babies her age, and was quiet and withdrawn, while Kauro was more interested in feeding the branches of young leaves thoughtfully left in the pens. Wrapped in the Masai bright red blankets, they looked adorable and so vulnerable. The keepers sleep above the babies as they are fed every two hours during the nights, just like humans.


A Sheldrick fest:








Maxwell, the blind rhino. Because of his lack of sight, Maxwell will stay at the orphanage for the rest of his life. Solio is already in the wild, and returns occasionally





Kauro looking cute in the blanket




Murit hiding in the blanket, poor baby.





a very wrinkled bum





Edited by Kitsafari
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and a few more:








rather harsh light in the middle of the day, but they looked so happy wallowing in the mud. just had to share.

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Thanks to constant changes and ongoing construction on new roads, James took a while to transfer me to Eka Hotel. Taking short cuts ended at a dead end and trying new unofficial roads means a quick trundle on rocky and dusty road that lined the border of the park, and making exits where they are none. Entrepreneurial and creative juices are much required traits in the chaotic city of Nairobi!

So the three Lipault ladies finally met at Eka hotel - Nancy with her quintessential G&T, and a shaken Jane, who had witnessed an accident en route to the hotel. Unbeknownst to her, the victim had died on the spot - another digit in a crazily discordant city.


Eka hotel is supposed to be close to Wilson airport. “Supposed” is an indefinite term since it takes nearly an hour early in the morning in congested roads on what would have been easily 20 minutes ride. So be prepared to give yourself plenty of time even if your hotel is apparently “close” to Wilson Airport.

At Wilson Airport, we would take a flight on air kenya to one of the mara airstrips and transfer to a smaller plane to mara north.

It's a blur for me - this trip. Did James the Serian guide pick us up? What was the airstrip like? I still recall details of the Vumbura and Mombo airstrips in Okavango that I used a year ago, but I can't at all, for the Mara north strip. Perhaps the wide green plains dotted with trees and animals distracted me. Perhaps it was the excitement being with my two new friends. Perhaps it was James, the tall and rather serious looking guide from Serian that commanded my attention.

But it was the green grass that struck a discord, coming as it did after the brown sparse fields in the national park.

The Mara north in February was sparse only of the two legged humanoids. Which was perfect for us. We drove through small open plains, thickets, rocky paths and plenty of ditches and gullies. The landscapes were so diverse that I was hardly bored. We were often the only vehicle on the roads, while sightings were not overly crowded – at most, 3 or 4 cars and we were often not crowding into the sighting.


It was baby season - so many babies - baby giraffes, baby zebras, baby gazelles, hartebeests, wildebeests, baby lions baby leopards baby cheetahs. the drives were just resounding with the awwws and wooos.












Run, Bandits, Run








a very pretty Eland.



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Game Warden

@@Kitsafari Re the Porini map in post #2, I've spoken with Jake Grieves-Cook and it's no problem at all.


He gave me this link as well, which is a piece about how the conservancies were established.



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I have been waiting for this trip report for quite some time :)! Thank you for sharing! And I am looking forward for more :).

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Glad you returned to Nairobi, @@Kitsafari!


Was sorry to miss Emakoko..


I was just giving a teaser... :rolleyes: of life at Serian..




I do remember the drive to Wilson, the excitement of what was to come; handing over passports (which would come to bite me later :blink: )


climbing into a rather large (for a bush plane) Air Kenya, and being told to get off with Steven! Which we eventually did...






Landing to let the first group off; as we passed this "shop" to use the loo and get on a smaller plane ( I think...perhaps @@SafariChick remembers that day more lucidly!)






and seeing the same as your snaps above, upon landing;


this being one of the first I've even seen three zebras faces, instead of bums....





We will get the reported sorted out...soon enough!!


@@Kitsafari, @@SafariChick and myself sort of " preliminarily " agreed they should write and post pics, with me coming in with a bit of commentary as I had already been once to Serian -


And maybe a shot or two, but they really had the best shots.


loved our guide, James but he ended up in most of my photos - a bit of his cap, an arm,,, or the outline of the jeep as I sat in front with him. Back stuff - better ride.


No worries though, I loved the ride! And being in the moment.

Edited by graceland
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Glad you returned to Nairobi, @@Kitsafari!


I was just giving a teaser... :rolleyes:

That's a great shot of the cub @@graceland! And a lovely pix of your room. I think it had the best view of the lot. Was it no 3? I think mine was no 4. I can't recall now.


Emirates looks really nice! I can see how well you can be pampered!


And about the :Lipault bag - I'm so glad you introduced it to me and got me invested in it - it's light, roomy and squash-able. Trying to convince H to get another so I can get the turquoise one. But he's not buying into my sales pitch. Darn.

Edited by Kitsafari
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