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Tsavo West, Amboseli, Meru & Samburu — January, 2015

Tom Kellie

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie


Thank you for a fabulous report.That is a really beautiful set of elephant photos at the end - perfect light on mother and baby - a wonderful sight.

Yours is a very distinctive voice. The pleasure you take in the small things that are so easily overlooked is a feature that will stay with me, and I think influence me on my next safari.

Thank you for all of the time and effort you have taken with this - I have really enjoyed following it, and seeingsome of the northern species. I was particularly keen to see Meru national park (as we will be visiting it) but all of it has been very engaging.


I look forward to your next trip report!


~ @@TonyQ


It's so nice of you to offer such supportive comments.

After all, it was your own trip report writing which served as the quality standard throughout the writing of this trip report.

I deeply admire your skill at highlighting the sightings and settings while leaving yourself on the periphery. Very much as William Shakespeare did in his plays.

The small organisms — invertebrates, smaller birds, wildflowers, small reptiles and mammals — add to the richness and texture of a safari. The same is true rocks and geological formations.

As thrilling as it is to observe an apex predator in action, the loveliness of the petite is akin to the joy in viewing a well-cut gemstone — very small yet precious.

With Respect,

Tom K.

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Quenching And then there were elephants...by the dozen! We rounded a tight bend to head onward to the lodge when Loxodonta africana in force appeared. They were hustling along, as if urgency co

Madoqua kirkii Pair ~ Just the two of them. Nothing else in sight. Small. Wary. Yet not so anxious. Madoqua kirkii, Kirk's Dikdik in the tall grass beside a Tsavo West track. Nothing fancy, yet

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie


Waited a while hoping that it is not the end of this trip report. To repeat the words of others would be superfluous; enough to say that I have followed it almost religiously, opening it every day, reading every word and enjoying every photo.


While I will never be able to repeat (the quality of writing, the knowledge, the portraits of the nature) your trip report, I am hoping one day I can repeat your trip!


Thank You, and please do post more!



~ @@xelas


Such very kind words mean so much to me.

Your recent Namibia self-drive trip report was magnificent!

Visits to Kenya are journeys into ecological diversity.

I highly encourage you and your wife to visit Kenya.

As to the trip report being over, the final posted words — in a red rectangle above — suggest that our supposition may have been mistaken.

Please do see what's posted next...

Tom K.

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Lovely and touching final encounter between mother and baby elephant, and in such good light.


You wrapped this up just in time to set off on your South Africa trip. Between your in-depth virtual safari report and the real thing, you are forever safari-ing.


~ @@Atravelynn


Encouraging words from the lady daring to spend Halloween with Churchill's polar bears!

One safari leads to another, a concatenation of beads on life's string.

I'm so glad that you liked the elephant mother and baby, seen in late afternoon's golden glow.

Today I've booked the next safari, which will see me at Beijing Capital International Airport in the afternoon of Sunday, 17 January, 2016.

More adventure...more game drives...more photographs...more fun!

I scarcely dare add...more plunge pools!

Tom K.


Keep on plungin' !!

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@@Tom Kellie


Well I'm very late to the party here but I'm quite enjoying you're report Tom. I'm only 2 pages in but I look forward to eventually going through all this.

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Tom Kellie

A Leopard Runs Past Feeding Elephants

Suddenly, without explanation, Anthony accelerated the safari van to top speed. We sped eastward in the waning light, bouncing along, the cool air in our faces.

I was exhilarated, assuming that the long elusive cheetah had been spotted. There's nothing to compare with a mad dash through the bush towards a big cat.

Near the river a cluster of safari vans and...elephants feeding. Huh? Shrewd Anthony took us away from them to another spot. Out stepped a cat. A leopard!

Oh my! The beautiful young Panthera pardus confidently approached us, lit by the fading golden light, before breaking off to run past feeding elephants.

What a glorious ending to the long safari!


Fresh on the Scene


With the Subtlest Twitch of a Tail


Pardus Rex


Inspector General


Samburu Star




Elegance in Action


Unadorned Beauty


Cometh the Cat


Cometh the Cat — Detail






On the Go


High Alert


Running Past a Feeding Elephant


Running Leopard and Elephant

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie


Well I'm very late to the party here but I'm quite enjoying you're report Tom. I'm only 2 pages in but I look forward to eventually going through all this.


~ @@dlo


Thank you so much for taking time to visit this trip report.

It's really encouraging to read your friendly comment.

After reading what you said, I kicked myself for not having completed the report, as the finale had yet to be posted.

The leopard and elephant sequence introduces the improbable conclusion of the safari.

I hope that you'll enjoy the trip report.

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie


More to come?! Beautiful ! The leopard ... worth the mad dash.


~ @@xelas


Despite sunset, it turned out to be a game drive like no other.

Yes, there is more to come...

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

Leopard in the Grass

After having ran past the feeding elephants the agile young leopard headed towards an area of long grass. Its pace was even, unhurried with the natural insouciance

of one accustomed to undisturbed evening strolls. Ah, the confidence of leopards. Such a joy to observe firsthand. Not for them the anxious cowering of others.

Supremely gifted with awareness, their intelligence knows how best to utilize their arsenal for defense and predation. The final glimpses of sunlight

lit the leopard's profile as it surveyed the environs. The clean white tail tip provided a focal point in the golden grass as it walked away.


Leaving the Elephants Behind


Through Tall Grass


Evening Stroll


‘Follow Me’ Tail Tip




No Sidekicks


Sunlit Silhouette


Early Evening Leopard


Predator's Unhurried Pace

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Peter Connan

Ah what a beautiful sighting Tom!

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@@Tom Kellie


This is my first post on Safari Talk and after reading the first 7 pages of this report, it is a privilege to be making it to your thread. I have had only one short safari as part of our honeymoon 4 years ago and your enthusiasm for Kenya, photos and writing bring back so many memories. This report is a real joy and makes me ever more keen to get back to Kenya again soon. I look forward to making my way through the rest of this report.



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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie


This is my first post on Safari Talk and after reading the first 7 pages of this report, it is a privilege to be making it to your thread. I have had only one short safari as part of our honeymoon 4 years ago and your enthusiasm for Kenya, photos and writing bring back so many memories. This report is a real joy and makes me ever more keen to get back to Kenya again soon. I look forward to making my way through the rest of this report.




~ @@phil_b


What an honor you've accorded me!

Welcome to Safaritalk and thank you very much for your most kind remarks.

Kenya is truly a lovely safari destination, offering much to the senses.

The landscape and plant growth increase the pleasure in every wildlife setting.

I'm so glad that your honeymoon included a Kenya safari and hope that you'll both be able to arrange a return in the foreseeable future.

If time and circumstances ever permit, please do post a self-introduction in the Introductions forum so that others might get to know you.

I'm moved that your first post would be in this trip report, which is not quite finished.

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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I love "pardus rex," even if there is some royal stature lost when the elephant's towering legs are included in the frame. :P

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Good morning Tom.

I'm up as far as page 11 of this epic report and still loving it. I had to comment on the Elephant in front of Mount Kilimanjaro shots taken in Amboseili as they are awesome. They remind me of a day spent there on our honeymoon 4 years ago.

My 2 year old is beside me on the sofa as I read this shouting ele ele ele as elephant is the only animal he recognises! I will have to get him a field guide when he is a little older.

Looking forward to reading some more later, I'm off now to an RSPB event photographing something less exotic than you, Irish Hares.


Regards, Phil

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"There's nothing to compare with a mad dash through the bush towards a big cat."

I'm hanging onto the sides of my desk chair as I read this, just thinking about it.



It was the leopard-ele encounter that capped off this trip. What a way to end! And what a send off to South Africa. But if I am reading the dates/times right, you've already returned from the actual South Africa safari. And the trip mentioned above for January, is yet another. It's hard to keep track!!! :o

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Closest Approach

When the female leopard we were observing walked away, I'd supposed that we'd seen the last of her. Anthony repositioned

the van at a distance from where we'd last observed her. She emerged from bushes, walking more or less directly towards us.

There came a point where she looked directly up at the camera lens, her muscles tensed, at which Anthony gently moved

away. What particularly impressed me was her self-evident confidence, striding forward with no apparent concern for being

attacked. Does a healthy young female leopard go about her territory with a solid sense of confidence in her own abilities?

attachicon.gifThe Final Approach.JPG

The Final Approach



attachicon.gifFemale Panthera pardus in Samburu.JPG

Female Panthera pardus in Samburu

attachicon.gifLike a Beacon.JPG

Like a Beacon

attachicon.gifConsidering Her Options.JPG

Considering Her Options

attachicon.gifLess Than Three Meters Away.JPG

Less Than Three Meters Away

attachicon.gifWhither Goest Thou.JPG

Whither Goest Thou?

attachicon.gifProfil d'un Leopard.JPG

Profil d'un Leopard

attachicon.gifWhite-tipped Tail.JPG

White-tipped Tail

attachicon.gifA Long Night's Work Commences.JPG

A Long Night's Work Commences

attachicon.gifCharacteristic Walking Stance.JPG

Characteristic Walking Stance

That is an awesome sequence of shots. Loving this trip report!

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Tom Kellie

~ @@phil_b, @@Marks, and @@Atravelynn


Many thanks to each of you for taking time to read the most recent posts in this trip report.

I'm so pleased that you've found images which were meaningful to you.

As it happened, despite the onset of dusk, the game drive and thus the safari, were not over yet, as a few more posts will show.

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

Quo Vadis?

When it seemed that the leopard had sauntered away, Anthony had an idea that it might circle back, so he rapidly repositioned the safari vehicle

to a seemingly undisturbed location. Sure enough, within 15 seconds who should emerge from the grass and walk up beside us, but the leopard!

It paused to reconnoiter the environs, as my finger repeatedly pushed the shutter button. I claim no sophistication as a wildlife photographer

or safari guest, thus there was joyous frenzy where I stood, in contrast to the effortless cool of the elegant predator nearby.


I'm Back!


Evening Walkabout


At Your Service


Paso Doble


Ainsi, Soirée Commence




Les Yeux d'un Prédateur


The Tale is in the Tail


In the Know


Mother Nature's Child


Imago Pardus


Betwixt and Between


Long and Slender


Extensive Coverage




Quo Vadis?

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Tom Kellie

Sunset Interlude

When the end-of-the-safari leopard once again walked off into thick brush, Anthony repositioned the vehicle such that we faced the sole limited

clearing within it, as he reasoned that the leopard might go there to rest. While we waited for the leopard's appearance, I took these photographs

of the sunset sky colors to the west of us. Doum palm silhouettes were a pleasing contrast to the amber tones of dusk, almost as if gazing into

swirling armagnac in a snifter. The overall luminosity was low, requiring a shift to high ISO settings in order to capture the fading hues.


Amber Skies


Doum Palm Silhouette


End of the Safari Vista


Lingering Daylight

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Tom Kellie

Leopard Bolthole

Standing on the rear seat of the safari van — usually prohibited — I spotted a familiar pattern moving through the bushes. After Anthony heard where

it was, he slightly moved the van. The leopard walked into its bolthole, a small clearing in the midst of otherwise solid botanical growth. It rested for a

spell before sitting up, moving around the compact clearing to a position which suited its requirements. I supposed that it might be the final leopard

for a long time, but it would be three months later when I'd photograph a leopard in Masai Mara. A thrilling conclusion to the safari, we thought.


Secluded from the Paparazzi


Feline Shut-eye


Thinking It Over


No Pillows, No Slippers, No Tea


Vigilant Repose


Pardus Ocultus


In its Bolthole


Time for a New Direction


Perhaps a Better Spot


Recognized Wherever It Goes


Snug, At Last

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Tom Kellie

And Yet...

Thus ended the final game drive and the many day safari. An extended close range leopard sighting exceeded anything which we might have hoped for.

The Sun had set, it had been a long day and a long safari, there was nothing left for us to observe or photograph. We'd almost done it all.

And yet...

Anthony reacted to a radio report by once again driving at breakneck speeds, bouncing us along the rough track in the faint light of dusk.

What could it be? At this penultimate hour, why would he abruptly take off in the direction away from the track leading back to the lodge?

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Tom Kellie

Affectionate Cheetahs

In the lowest light where moderate visibility remains, we pulled up to a flat grassy area in the midst of which was not one, but two cheetahs!

Extraordinary! The one major species we hadn't encountered throughout the safari was before us, in the waning moments of the final game

drive. It seemed like an improbable event in a novel, yet there they lay, grooming one another, their pink tongues discernible in the camera

viewfinder. The camera's high ISO setting was indispensable under such conditions. Anthony and I were delighted that XU Ni would

leave Kenya having observed and photographed all of the major species about which he'd read.


Not One, But Two!


Early Evening Grooming


Photographed in Semi-Darkness





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Tom Kellie

Separation and Reunion

The cheetah pair consisted of an adult female and a younger male. The female scanned the area, which triggered an affectionate response from

the male. She walked away as the male watched. After waiting a short time, he followed her trail in search of her, as we moved so as to facilitate

observation and photography in the decidedly low light conditions. The young male's pace picked up as he neared where she was in repose. His

elegant motion was enthralling to watch, as he had the measured, energetic gait of a thoroughbred racehorse. Despite

the limited visibility, it was a pleasure to watch the reunion of the two.


Life Together in Samburu


Are We Moving?


Questioning Glance


Plotting Course Without a Sextant


Where to Next?


Similar Stance


Joint Vigil






Two Samburu Cheetahs




She Walks Away


Going Where?


Slow Retreat


Where Did She Go?


Young Male Cheetah Quietly Moving Along


Lonely Task


Very Special Sighting


There She Is!



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Peter Connan

Wow @@Tom Kellie, what a drive! Stunning images under very trying conditions that, just a few years ago, would have been completely impossible for imagery!

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Wow @@Tom Kellie, what a drive! Stunning images under very trying conditions that, just a few years ago, would have been completely impossible for imagery!

Agree completely with Peter, great images under very tricky connditions. Very well done Tom.

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