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michael-ibk

A Thousand Hills, A Million Smiles & Gentle Giants - a Rwanda and Kenya Safari

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michael-ibk

Watching animals drink always has something peaceful to it, and so we enjoyed the Zebras and Wildebeest quenching their thirst.

 

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michael-ibk

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Vultures are on the decline everywhere but you really could not tell in the Mara, they were all over the place.

 

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Lappet-Faced Vulture

 

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Rüppel´s Griffon Vulture

 

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The remains of an unfortunate Wildebeest.

 

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Hooded Vulture - a more solitary species

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michael-ibk

Few better places in the world to enjoy a coffee than under one of the Mara trees. :)

 

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We saw very, very few other cars in the Mara - one of the perks of going in the low (rainy) season.

 

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Patty

What wonderful bat-eared fox sightings!

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michael-ibk

But what we were looking for the most stayed elusive - Cheetah! The Mara was our only chance of seeing them on this trip, and a Cheetah-less trip is just unthinkable, I´d say an "I want my money back" trip. ;)

 

Our spotted quest was not an easy one. Other guests (who were on their 13th day in the Mara already) had told us that the main reserve was almost deplete of Cheetahs right now - all of them seemed to be in the Conservancies.

 

But take the Mara, add a little patience and a lot of driving around, shake and stir and this is what you will get:

 

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Our old friend Malaika! We were very happy to see her again (after September 2014 with five cubs then), and even happier to see she had a new litter. :)

 

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The grand lady of the Mara had no interest in us, kept on sleeping and just showed us her backside so we concentrated on her children.

 

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They were guarded by some park rangers, mainly from too much admiration, to prevent them from being closed in by too many cars, so only one car at a time was allowed to approach them.

 

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I am not really following Mara Cheetah news so I don´t know how many cubs Malaika initially had in this litter. I guess it must have been more than just these two (which were already quite big). Cheetah cub mortality is very high, and last time only two out of six made it to adulthood.

 

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The cubs were very sleepy as well, and after a while we left them again, very happy about this "reunion". :)

 

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Good Bye, little one, grow big and bold and become a fearsome hunter! B)

 

 

 

 

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michael-ibk

We had a late lunch and took a little afternoon break in camp - Mara Aruba camp.

 

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So why this camp?

 

We had considered going to one of the conservancies, but 1.) this does not work too well with a Round-Kenya trip with your own car and guide and 2.) budget! Three weeks (with two Gorilla permits) were quite a strain so we looked for something wallet-friendly, and Mara Aruba (recommended to us by Petra Allmendinger from Sandai) is just that. (Check their rates on booking.com)

 

The camp is outside the reserve itself but right next to Talek gate, two minutes, and you´re in. We were almost alone there, just one German couple was staying (the one with 14 nights), nobody else. I liked the atmosphere, sitting by the Talek, watching the animals come to drink, a very nice, peaceful setting.

 

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The tents were fine, quite spacious, airy, a nice outside shower, (bucket) shower inside, big bathroom. Quite dark however, and if the camp was full privacy would be an issue - the tents are quite close to each other.

 

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The bar and dining area. Staff were very friendly, and food very good to excellent - and plenty!

 

The advantage of being that close to Talek gate is also a downside because obviously this means it´s quite close to Talek village. On our second night there was some kind of party going on there, and while this was not terribly loud it was well audible. Also, not only wild animals (like the only Dikdik we saw on this trip) are coming to the Talek here to drink, the Massai with their cattle are as well. So the "in the bush" factor could be higher.

 

When it´s fully booked I would probably not come here, quite a lot of tents, and they also cater to their camping site guests, so in high season I guess it could be very busy. But all in all, I think this is really good value for money, especially in the low season when you almost have a "private camp" here. See their webpage here:

 

http://www.aruba-safaris.com/ausland/UK/index.html

 

I did not have too much time going "hunting "in camp but found a few nice birds - among other things.

 

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Variable Sunbird

 

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African Pygmy Kingfisher

 

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Yellow-Winged Bat

 

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Banded Mongoose

 

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Epauletted Fruit Bat

 

On the morning we left we missed something extraordinary - a Leopard with two cubs had walked straight through camp, walked right past the waiter who told us about it very excitedly. Damn! Five minutes ...

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Tdgraves

Gorgeous little foxes

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Caracal

Loving this- the Rift Valley,the Bat-Eared Foxes, the sunlit giraffe in front of the darkening sky, well everything.

 

Boy those flies are hammering some of the wildlife - were they an annoyance for you as well?

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dlo

So much goodness here Michael! I haven't seen a bat eared fox in years so needless to say I'm quite jealous. I'm quite enjoying comparing out trips, we also had one day with a large herd of wildebeest but then we hardly saw any the next 3 days.

 

@@Caracal Oh yeah the flies were awful in certain spots, so while we spent a fair amount of time swatting it wasn't all the time.

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Atravelynn

to 145 You made very good use of the dark clouds in your dramatic shots. Nursing bat eared fox pups takes the cake! Excellent series of mating lapwings. You were there in the right season for all the avian reproduction.

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madaboutcheetah

Michael, amazing report so far! Wow on the Gorillas ..... but, so too everything else! from Malaika to BE foxes to the mating lapwing ......... SUPER!!!!!

 

Can't wait for the rest of it ....... I'm hoping you will have news of the 5 male cheetah coalition in the Mara? ;)

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elefromoz

@@michael-ibk, more "oohs and aaahhs" for the BE Foxes, never seen them myself yet, still hoping. Too bad about missing the Leopard, 5 minutes is a lifetime on safari as things change so quickly. The first photo of the Lion in the golden grass is splendid. The later one looks a bit rattled by the swarming flies.

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COSMIC RHINO

these are wonderful photos, you must have had a great time

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offshorebirder

More great stuff @@michael-ibk - thanks for this continuing report.

 

I will catch up on the rest of it after I return from Kenya. :-)

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michael-ibk

Thanks!

 

 

Boy those flies are hammering some of the wildlife - were they an annoyance for you as well?

 

 

@@Caracal Oh yeah the flies were awful in certain spots, so while we spent a fair amount of time swatting it wasn't all the time.

 

@@Caracal

 

I would have answered with a convinced "no, not at all", but @@dlo ´s statement made me rethink that. I asked @@AndMic and now we both have a vague memory that flies were a bit irritating somewhere, and that it´s very likely that somewhere was the Mara. Admire my super-thorough-and-reliable master-brain memory now. :)

 

Anyway, I do seem to remember that no biting or stinging was involved - at least I think so!

 

It´s a good thing I apparently tend to forget these nuisances and just remember the animals. Selective memory ...

 

Can't wait for the rest of it ....... I'm hoping you will have news of the 5 male cheetah coalition in the Mara? ;)

 

@@madaboutcheetah

 

Very sorry to disappoint Hari, as mentioned Cheetah were scarce in the Mara, and the first time I´ve heard about a 5-male coalition was here on Safaritalk. That said, still have some Cheetah stuff coming up!

 

I will catch up on the rest of it after I return from Kenya. :-)

 

Have a great trip, @@offshorebirder !

Edited by michael-ibk

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deano

@michael-ibk; great episodes with the gorillas and cheetahs and everything in-between. I really liked the bat eared foxes - three of them all lined up was really nice. Very jealous of that sighting.

 

I laughed at your "drugs story". I had a similar episode here when I travelled with a bicycle and packed my smelly bike shoes in my back pack. I stuffed them with a sock full of bicarbonate of soda (it is supposed to absorb the smells) and you should have seen the face on the customs officer when she inspected said socks stuffed with 2Kgs of white powder! I think she thought I was a drug mule for Pablo Escobar or something.

 

Speaking of mules; great sighting and short video of the zebras and gnu drinking and your landscape images are stunning. I really have to get to that part of Africa.

 

kind regards

 

deano.

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Alexander33

@@michael-ibk

 

You may have had rain on that initial night in the Mara, but I have to say I love the photo of the giraffes silhouetted against that dramatic stormy sky (# 3 in post 142).

 

And then there was the next morning! Those bat-eared foxes are just fantastic. And with pups, no less. I can only hope that someday I will have as good a sighting as that.

 

Of course, Malaika needs no introduction and can stand on her own. I'm glad you managed to find her.

 

Very impressive bird shots as well.

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michael-ibk

Thanks, @@Alexander33 and @@deano

 

I had a similar episode here when I travelled with a bicycle and packed my smelly bike shoes in my back pack. I stuffed them with a sock full of bicarbonate of soda (it is supposed to absorb the smells) and you should have seen the face on the customs officer when she inspected said socks stuffed with 2Kgs of white powder! I think she thought I was a drug mule for Pablo Escobar or something.

 

Did she make that face before or after she sniffed your socks? :P

Edited by michael-ibk

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michael-ibk

Much less driving around on our (very cloudy and dark) afternoon drive. We first spent some time with two honey-mooners.

 

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A Black-Backed Jackal was a Voyeur, but to be fair to him so were we! We saw not many Jackals this time, maybe three of four pairs during the whole trip.

 

Moving on we soon found my favourite cat - another Cheetah! :)

 

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A beautiful young strong male.

 

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"Hello, guys, nice to see you again," he said. Well, he did not but we found out to our delight that this was indeed an old acquaintance - we had seen this very cat two years ago:

 

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Yes, he´s one of these cute little rascals - one of the (only two) survivors of Malaika´s last litter, her son. He was just named "Malik" - which means king. I´m afraid he did not behave as dignified as his name/title would suggest.

 

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This impolite behaviour notwithstanding, we were thrilled to see him! I had been following him and his siblings online for a while, was sad when I had to learn about the demise of three of them, one after the other, and was happy when I heard that he and his sister were all grown-up and had left Malaika. And now we were even happier to see him "in Cheetah". :)

 

 

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michael-ibk

We spent the remainder of the afternoon with him, waiting what he would be up to. News travel fast in the Mara, everybody was hungry for Cheetah because they were rarely seen right now in the reserve, and so this soon became our most crowded sighting. I´d say about 10 cars in total were there, but everybody behaved well and gave him the space he needed - Malik was hungry!

 

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Some Tommies were completely unaware that they were in mortal danger and slowly and gradually came closer and closer while feeding.

 

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How close would they come? How patient would the Cheetah be? Well, he´s still a young one, and so he could not control himself and started a bit early.

 

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The Tommies ran and zigzagged for their life, with their hunter hot on their heels.

 

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But he had started too early, and so his prey got away.

 

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(Sorry about the quality of these, the distance and the bad weather were a problem.)

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michael-ibk

The poor guy must have been very frustrated - he sure looked it. :)

 

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The other cars left because it was already becoming dark, but we asked to still stay a few minutes - we wanted to enjoy some time alone with "our" grown-up baby Cheetah.

 

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A herd of Wildebeest was grazing close-by, and he seemed to be interested. But much too big for him. The Wildebeest apparently thought so too, he was clearly visible for them, but they did not seem to mind. We were completely surprised when Malik got up, began running, not very fast at first, but became more serious soon and attacked them!

 

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And now they lost their cool and ran!

 

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Apparently he had hoped to get to one of the (few) young ones, but the adults blocked his way, he did not dare attack them, and so his second hunt was a failure as well. We felt sorry for him, but surely he would be more lucky soon. Malik had put on a good show for us, and very happy about this reunion we drove back to camp. :)

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optig

@Micheal-Ibk I think that the quality of your photos is just super. I love them because it shows just how much cheetahs depend on camouflage not just speed to stalk their prey, I learned in Pamushana that cheetah

can hunt like leopards.

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amybatt

Fabulous!! I have a co-worker who became a Malaika fan about the same time you saw all those little cubs, and she was thrilled with your Malaika sighting, she will be over the moon with Malik!

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janzin

We saw Malaika in September and she only had two cubs then (I can't believe I still haven't done the trip report, and you've already done yours! Yikes!) Its great to see them growing up! We were quite far from her and the cubs and there was no nearby track; and since it was in the Reserve, we could not get any closer. There were actually rangers keeping folks away and some of the tracks near her were shut down. She's such a celebrity :D

 

I wonder if we saw Malik...we saw some males for which I did not get names and I just can't tell them apart :o Awesome that you got to see some cheetah hunting action--the one thing I really wanted to see but didn't.

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dlo

Its funny our trips were only a few weeks apart but I lost count of all the jackals! Now if only I could have found some bat eared foxes. Great cheetah action Michael.

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