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Ol Pejeta and Samburu, 5th - 12th March 2016


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Hi Safaritalkers !


Time for another trip report. This time I went my self, and the trip was a combined trip with four days in Ol Pejeta and four days in Samburu. I booked it all including private car/guide through Bush Adventure, and in Ol Pejeta I stayed in Sweetwaters and in Samburu I stayed in Sopa lodge. I left Stockholm, Sweden friday evening and had an uneventful flight with Ethiopian via Addis and landed in Nairobi in the morning. There I was picked up by my guide David and we left for Ol Pejeta. I brought my "standard" equipment kit: 2x Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm f/4, Nikon 300 mm f/4 PF, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, Nikon 24-70mm f/2,8, Ricoh GR and a bean bag.





Day 1, 5th March 2016


After a long drive we arrived in the afternoon in Ol Pejeta. Wasting no time, after a quick check in, we continued with a "game drive". I don´t really like that expression, but I use it because of lack of a better term. First off we were greeted by an reticulated giraff.




Next thing we bumped in to a family of white Rhinos. Here is one of the adults. Wonderful sighting, and something I got used to as rhinos both black and white is seen frequently at Ol Pejeta.




Another strong and impressive animal is the Buffalo. They are easy to forget as they are so common.




We were still at the "Elephant Dam" and it did also offer some birdlife. A pair of Grey Crowned Cranes with chicks.




And of course the Herons, Black-headed Heron and Grey Heron






We turned back out to the plain and had some nice sightings of Jackson´s Hartebeest and a trio of Thomson´s Gazell.






The light was falling fast, and a pair of Impalas made beautiful posé. Common animal, but with the background and light, I was very happy with this.






Heading back and just outside the lodge a couple of lionesses found a interest in a warthog in the distance. I got a couple of shots before it was to dark and we had do leave the scene.




Serena Sweetwaters is a really nice lodge. Everything is well organized, very good food and good service.






This was a very good first day. Good sightings, good light, and a very nice lodge. What I also like with Ol Pejete is the grass. It has a small crown (not as big as in Lake Nakuru) which I think is beautiful for photos and easier to work with than normal plains grass (like in Masai Mara).


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~ @@Gregor


Before leaving on a work-related trip, I must write that the standard of your photographs is exceptional.

I've written that in your past posts, but here it's once again the case.

Such saturated colors, vivid compositions.

During the past several days several members have posted wonderful photography.

Now your new trip report is adding a new element of color and focus, which I greatly admire.

To think, you will also be showing Samburu, which I love!

Thank you so much!

Tom K.

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Beautiful photos (as we´ve come to expect from you), bravo! Love the Crowned Crane chicks, never seen those.

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I am pleased to be reading about a trip to Ol Pejeta as we were there in January. Your photos are beautiful - a great one of the White Rhino - and the Crane Chicks are lovely. I look forward to the rest of your report!

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Nice start to your safari and trip report...it's always great to see rhino and I hope that you saw a few black ones as well. I particularly liked the Jackson's Heartbeast and crowned crane shots and look forward to more!

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@@Gregor I have never seen Crowned Crane chicks, thanks for this safari first!


The photos of the trio of Tommies and the evening impalas are very evocative.

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Day 2, 6th March


After a very good night sleep (tired after yesterdays long travel) I am ready to go at 6 am as usual. On safari I always go with packed breakfast. Sweetwaters have a well visited dam.




In Ol Pejeta the main area is on the right side of the river. Everything on the left (west) side seems to be visited rarely. We start of cruising the plains in the main area. There is good density of plain animals; Gazelles, Zebras, Giraffes, Buffaloes, Hartebeest and Elands. An Grant´s Gazelle, early in the morning, before sun is up hence the (lack of ) colors.




An Eland




An Reticulated Giraffe




The Giraffe with a couple of black Rhinos




An white Rhino with a calv.






An Kestrel, I´m not sure which one but I think it is the Common Kestrel.




In the afternoon we found first two cheetah brothers. They seemed in a hurry and disappeared in a bushy area.




And then just a few hundred meters away two female lions. The lions seemed like they were looking to find some food.






She looks to me pretty slim.




A couple of Thomson´s Gazelle were very interested in the lions and actually seemed to follow the lions, but the lions ignored them.




I guess they were looking for something else.




A day on safari goes by so fast.






Back at Sweetwaters dam, a lady sat looking at the animals coming and going.



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@@Gregor - lovely images. I particularly like the lone impala ram in the last light. I also thank you for including the camera settings - a big help to me as I continue to explore photography.


kind regards



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Your usual high standard of photographs and composition comes through in spades. The camera settings on your pictures are very useful to others. Thanks for sharing.

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Beautiful photos - giraffe with rhino is a real favourite.

The light on the grant's gazelle is very interesting - it really shows the texture of the skin

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I love the photo of the giraffe flanked on either side by rhino. That's not something you see everyday. Beautiful photography, as everyone before me has said.

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Gorgeous photos, really captured the feel of Ol Pejeta.

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~ @@Gregor


Carefully re-reading your excellent trip report, I noticed what I'd carelessly overlooked before.

You stayed at the Samburu Sopa!

That's an old favorite of mine. I've been a guest at the Samburu Sopa four times and would gladly return.

The morning game drive, gradually approaching the Ewaso Nyiro River while passing through scrubland, is a particular favorite of mine.

In that area I've seen giraffe, woodpeckers, African wild cat, leopard, buffalo, vulturine guineafowl, orange-bellied parrots, dwarf mongoose, oryx and Grevy's zebra.

I'm smiling at my desk after learning that such a perceptive photographer as you also was a Samburu Sopa guest.

Tom K.

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@@Gregor, +1 to everything already said, absolute joy to sit and quietly scroll through such beautiful images.

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I love the shot of the two black rhinos and the giraffe...talk about opposite personalities!

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No need to repeat the accolades to your super photography!


Thus I have done a quick statistic that might be useful for some photographers out there looking for a new lens ( @@FlyTraveler is one ):


Total # of photos posted: 30

50mm: 3

70-200mm: 1

300mm: 7

600mm: 19

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Welcome back from the safari, @@Gregor! Great images, as always! Ol Pejeta looks very beautiful, looking forward to seeing the rest of the report and Samburu.

P. S. I wonder how do you manage to get into your carry on luggage this very impressive photo gear equipment (keeping in mind that this time you traveled alone):

"standard" equipment kit: 2x Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm f/4, Nikon 300 mm f/4 PF, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, Nikon 24-70mm f/2,8, Ricoh GR and a bean bag.

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Thank you all for your kind words.


@@xelas I have enjoyed your trip report from Kglagadi a lot, and will soon dive deeper into it. But to comment your statistic, my statistic from the trip is as follows:


Total # of photos: 3823

50mm: 11

24-70 mm: 2

70-200mm: 1092

300mm: 624

600mm: 2094


I think I was a bit more restrictive than usual, as I had not any computer with a hard disk to back up to with my. But I really had so much space in my XQD and CF cards. I use XQD as primary slot with Raw and CF as secondary with backup jpg.

I usually have my 70-200 on one body and 600 mm on the other. My last trips it has been ca 50/50 between them. The 2/1 for the 600 mm this time, reflects an increasing interest in birding. Which maybe also reflects that this trip habitats (compared to for example Masai Mara or South Lunagwa) have a bit less density of animals, and hence more time spare for the birds. It surprises me that I shot so much with the 300 mm, since I have to change lenses. I really like the 300 mm, both IQ and I think the length often suits my current photography.


@ FlyTraveler


I travel with the 600 mm with one body, free on my shoulder. Rest of my gear fits in a soft photo backpack, and weights ca 9 kg. Works for me.

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Thank you for you complete statistics! As you have said, for bird photography there is no such thing as a lens too long :) ! Your skills of including the wildlife into the landscape is already well known; next trip (Namibia) we will dedicated more time to that particular type of wildlife photography. And of course, there will be more job for 70-200 and maybe Zvezda will try also how the 300 lens does in that department! Thank You again for all the amazing photos, and very useful informations, which both have contributed to ours being improved little by little.


Do the airline agents allows you to enter the plane with the camera+lens just hanging off your shoulder?! I have had to buy a new super-light catty-on to compensate for the weight of our new lens :blink: .

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Day 3, 7th March


I love to go up early during my safaris. I know the first hour is the best, most animals is active and the light is wonderful. But I also like the calm in the lodge before leaving. Having a tea, chat a bit with the lodge employees, and with my driver. Both over the previous day experiences and a bit over the plans for the day. I almost always have an idea what I am looking for. But rarely specific like one animal. Many times I want to start with a check up on previous sighting or a sighting somebody else had. But This day I was still new in Ol Pejeta and we started out with cruising the plains om the main gamer area.




Soon we had once more a good sighting, in the glowing morning light, of a couple of black rhinos heading for one of Ol Pesetas many water dams.






Another common Kestrel, they seemed very common at Ol Pejeta




And a slightly bigger bird, well above ground level (on top a very high tree).








A very black waterbuck. I have never seen one this black. Maybe the light tricks a bit, but still a very dark individual. Among my local swallow deers at home, most are brown colored, but some (not unusual) are very dark/black. Maybe this is usual among the "deers"?




Any id? (I have looked through Helm Field Guide, Birds of East Africa three times now. I do think I did found it then, but now I don´t.)




This is a Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater. One of many new birds for me this trip.




After a while me and my driver/guide David decided to do something new. Ol Pejetas main area is pretty small, and If there is not anything to stop and spend hours with, in a half-day you basically have covered it. I love the areas along creeks, and we decided to cross the bridge and go west. This was new for David, and he asked the rangers if this was ok, which it was. We started out along the airfield and out on Scott´s plain. Shortly after the airfield we found a small bush road going south. We followed it through the bushes and after a few km we found the river. And then we followed the bush road along the Ngobit river for almost three hours. This bush road was definitely one less traveled. But the nature along the river was absolutely beautiful with a lot of small meadows. We drove this from maybe 10.30 to 13.00. I would love to drive this road in a "better" time of the day. I could vision animals in every meadow, and what beautiful pictures it would be. Well, this time of the day is not very active. But suddenly, at noon, a Leopard walked out in the open. He stopped looked at us for a moment and then took of straight in to a bush/tree. I was just not fast enough and didn´t caught his face, only this. David told me that Leopards is not usual to see at Ol Pejeta, and this Leopard was not used to people/cars since nobody except a ranger from time to time drives this road. That might be a reason for him to walk in the open midday, not expecting anybody and then taking of in a blink.




We drove past Ngobit campsite and when we reached a larger road, at a crossing, there we had a wonderful lunch from our breakfast leftovers. I love this. And then the weather changed, from blue skies to skyfall (well, rain anyway). I would have loved continuing a long the river and then head back the same way in the afternoon. But that was not possible. We headed up to the plain and started driving back. It was quite muddy and we had to stop and ask some cattle herders what way to go.




On Scott´s plain we saw our only Gravy Zebra in Ol Pejeta.




Wet jackals :)




Just across the bridge, in the river a elephant had a bathing session.




This trip only hyena passed through and had a look at the elephant.




To bad I did not get this posé from the Hyena and the Elephant clear in the background...




Back on the plain. A not so friendly hug.




We end this day with a portrait of a Saddle-billed Stork



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"Do the airline agents allows you to enter the plane with the camera+lens just hanging off your shoulder?"


Yes, they do. From my understanding you are always aloud to carry a camera on you (no rules on camera size :) ), it does not count to your hand luggage weight/bag. It even works on the domestic flights and really small Cessnas.

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Terrific Zebra shot, love that one. I think the bird you asked for is a (non-breeding) Wattled Starling.

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Good to know. The lens is on a BlackRapid or similar shoulder harness?

Edited by xelas
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your lovely photos continue to be a delight - and you show Ol Pejeta so well

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Good to know. The lens is on a BlackRapid or similar shoulder harness?



I use a shoulderstrap from a bag.

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