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


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In love with the bat-eared fox babies and mamas, oh my goodness - what wonderful sightings - and safari is so funny, giving you two sets within such a short time! Lovely cheetah sightings - brings back happy memories to me too about seeing Malaika and cubs in 2013 :-)

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I couldn't view the videos of the gorillas on the office server but i'll try on my home pc tonight. I hope @@AndMic didn't get knocked too hard, but how many humans can say they were touched by a gorilla! add me to the list of people dreading those treks. but i will go one day even if the porters have to carry me up and then down, just to look into the gorilla's soulful and peaceful eyes. meanwhile I can live those moments in words and pictures you so vividly portray.


BEF babes! awww so adorable and so cute and so jealous! bathed in the golden light too. i think back to the African countries i've been (not that many compared with others!) but i do think Mara so far is still the best place to see a high density and widest variety of wildlife. now if only aardvark and caracal appear more often.....


btw - such gorgeous photos of every bird and every animal and every scenery and every landscape (can you tell I'm such an amateur?). :)

Edited by Kitsafari
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Skies and flies are dominant among the many excellent photos. You had cheetah overload and really captured the hunting sequences. Too bad the cheetah did not capture as well. Frustration was exactly the emotion that the cheetah exhibited after losing the gazelles.


Thanks for the camp info. Did you consider Mara Bush Camp again? Or is that a Sunworld accommodation? You had tremendous luck on that trip to the Mara too.

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Got that, but another acronym? Hmmm.... but posted twice? It wasn't that funny once! Possibly even deserves a caustic "well at least I don't....." response from Kit. Everything is going twice today - even emails. Has my computer gone mad? Will this post twice too?

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@@pault well at least I..... DRM (dont repeat myself). Another acronym for you. We love acronyms in Sinagpore. LOL.


BTW, @@SafariChick got it - Bat Eared Fox.



Edited by Kitsafari
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Well, not only BEF but BEFWPITGML - much better! Next time I´m going for BEFIF btw. :)

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.

I think I´ve also heard that about Cheetah in the Kafue where they are said to be total ambush predators.

Aruba Mara Camp is ridiculously cheap!. Book three tents to resolve the privacy issue!! :D

Of course I would only ever base myself in the conservancies due to my saintliness and hugely good taste but if it is ever a choice between Phuket and Aruba Camp.... hmmmmm

Pault the saint - you should put a halo on your avatar cat. :P

Thanks for the camp info. Did you consider Mara Bush Camp again? Or is that a Sunworld accommodation? You had tremendous luck on that trip to the Mara too.

Mara Bush Camp is Sunworld, yes. We wanted to go back there but it was closed in November for a bit of refurbishing.

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Next morning we had a leisurely late start, at about 08:00. Well, we had an all-day drive down South, cross the Mara, and into the Triangle ahead of us anyway. The weather was a bit of everything, sunny, cloudy, rainy, dark, light, it would often change in a very short time. Most of the time it would be pretty dark, however.


Again we looked for Cheetah (of course) but our Cheetah luck for this safari was over - no more Speedy Super-Cats. :(


We missed Leopard very closely, when we got to a little grove near Lookout Hill, the one car standing there told us they had just seen one resting in a tree, but apparently a shy one - it had jumped down and got in. We waited for quite a while, circled the area, but finding a Leopard which does not want to be found is pretty much impossible after all.




Birds from home - we saw dozens of White Storks this morning, a lovely sight.




Again, big herds everywhere, especially Topi and Wildebeest.




Four species in one shot.




Elephant herd in the distance




The Mara certainly is the best place in the world to see Spotted Hyenas. We rarely stopped for them but these two looked so comfy.






Bohor Reedbuck are never seen in huge numbers but we encountered them a couple of times in the Mara.






Buffalo herd, always a nice sight.




A Serengeti sighting - these Giraffes were standing on the other side of the Sand River in Tanzania.




Lookout Hill

Edited by michael-ibk
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The Zebras put on a good show for us today - their fighting was quite vicious. Biting, jumping, kicking - the gloves were definitely off.



























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Some birds of the day:




Three-Banded Plover




Steppe Eagle




Sooty Chat




African Wattled Lapwing






Ground Hornbill, always a special sighting - our only one on this trip.




The buffet is open!




Black-Backed Puffback




No need to introduce this one!



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We saw lions a couple of times.




Some of them had made good prey in the night - an Eland!




The little ones were happy about all the food apparently.










On the smaller side of the carnivore spectrum, this was our Banded Mongoose safari - never before have we seen these cute litte critter so often.










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I particularly enjoyed the scenery along the Mara river on this day.




Many, many hippos along the river.






All taking well-deserved naps. :)




Mommy makes a good pillow apparently. :)


When we reached the Mara Bridge (in the very South of the reserve) we went on a short walk along the river with a ranger. This was lovely, especially since the sun came out again.






This was Vulture capital.




My good old friend, Mr. Pied, was also hunting here.


A nice spot to get close to the Hippos.






And Crocs! Some seriously huge "monsters" here - they are well fed.






Many Marabous here - for a reason ...




About a week ago a huge crossing had taken place - and many of the casualties were still rotting in the river. Too much food, the scavengers could really pick and choose.




A sky full of Vultures.






A monitor also appreciated the rich choice.




A bit Hieronymus Bosch. :)






The Southern side of the bridge - much less busy.


The stench was really awful, and so we moved on and crossed the bridge - into the Mara Triangle.







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So, welcome to the Mara Triangle, the part West of the river. We bought our park tickets here for the next few days. It was a bit unfortunate that we had to buy two full day tickets though it was already 4 pm and so we would be only able to use 2 1/2 hours of our second ticket - and the Mara fees are USD 80,--. (As an aside, this was the first time we always paid for our tickets ourselves, normally fees are included in packages. This has pros and cons, the plus is you are very flexible, the minus is you have to carry around an awful lot of money. More sensible to pay in Dollar instead of Shillings by the way, the exchange rate is really bad.)




This was the only time we would see a Rock Agama.




Vervets have made the entry post their home - obviously they appreciate the safety here.






Also, a colony of Grey-Capped Social Weavers lives here - first time I´ve seen this one.




This Giraffe at the gate was almost tame - we could approach it on foot less than ten metres.




A beautiful rainbow brightened up the landscape, the dark clouds and the sunray made for a beautiful composition. It was the last sun, however, we would get on this day.








It soon started raining heavily, and so we drove up to camp almost all the way with the roof and windows closed down.

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Apart from our rainy drive through camp in the late afternoon we only had one day in the Triangle, definitely not enough to form a proper opinion about a place like this. It was very noticable that it´s so much better managed than the main reserve, the roads are incomparably better and the rules are rigolously controlled, and that shows. No off-roading tracks anywhere, and everybody keeps to the designated tracks. In the Mara, even if you try, it can be quite tricky not to off-road - sometimes it´s really hard to tell what is a good road and what is an illegal offroading track. We had seen few other cars in the main reserve, and even fewer were here. Also, it´s a very pretty place, the Olooloolo escarpment is a nice background, and there are a few beautiful, jungle-like forests which you don´t really see across the river.






But I´m sorry to say we were disappointed after our stay here. Of course we saw lots of animals, it´s the Mara after all. But really no comparison to the main reserve where there probably was not a single moment without a mammal in sight somewhere. Big herds were missing, almost no Wildebeest at all, and significantly fewer Topis and Zebras. We would drive for quite a while and times and would see nothing at all. But the main reason for our disappointment was the lack of - carnivores! This was a cat-light trip by design, but we had banked on the Mara to get our predator-fix here. The reserve had duly delivered, two very good Cheetah sightings, lots of lions everywhere, more Hyenas than you can shake a stick at and of course the wonderful BEFWPITGML.


Nothing in the Triangle! Though we searched long and hard, our quests for spots were futile, and we were frustrated. We also tried for Rhino but also no luck there. I know it´s a bit unthankful being in a wonderful place like the Mara, gorgeous scenery everywhere, fantastic animals like Elephants, Giraffes and Zebras around, sunny weather (probably the best day weather-wise). How could one not be happy here? We were, kind of, had nice sightings, good photo opportunities, but all in all we really felt let down by the Triangle. Especially the afternoon drive was a downer. As much as I love my birdies, when your highlights are a Woodpecker and a Hornbill, something is not quite right.


I guess it´s expectations. We were sure we would find predators here, and if something you take kind of granted does not materialise (not even lions) it´s a bummer. Of course it would be very unfair of me to say the Triangle is "not good". We spent only a day there, and the cats ARE there. On our day nobody had cat sightings as far as we could tell (everybody we asked had drawn a blank), but the one guest who shared camp with us had seen Lions (of course), the two Cheetah brothers (twice), Leopard and Rhino (once each) in her two days before. So it was mostly a bit of bad luck, a slow day (as they happen sometimes). IF we had had a good Cheetah sighting, IF our Leopard and Rhino quest had been successful I would surely sing a very different tune, would say that the Triangle is super, perfect roads, much prettier, fewer people, super sightings.


Well, next time. :)


And I lied a bit when I said we saw no predators at all. Of course there were Hyenas from time to time.




Black-Backed Jackals - a few.




Two flat lions in the morning and one fierce lioness on the way to camp in the rain.






And I am probably just a spoilt safari brat. :)

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The Oloololo gate ( I just love that name). :)




As mentioned before, we had a very nice, sunny day, and all the regulars were there and posing nicely for us.














Zebras - they simply would not get along.






Waterbuck. We had seen none at all in the main reserve but they were quite common here in the Triangle.










Sleeping Hippos

Edited by michael-ibk
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Triangle Birds:




Crowned Crane




Yellow-Fronted Canary






Yellow-Billed Oxpecker




Yellow-Throated Longclaw




Little Bee-Eater




Spur-Winged Lapwing




Coqui Francolin




Green-Backed Woodpecker (One of our "afternoon highlights")




Black-and-White-Casqued Hornbill - an immensely cool bird.

Edited by michael-ibk
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We spent quite a bit of time with Giraffes - always worth it.









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We really enjoyed all the Elephants in the Triangle - much more numerous here than in the main reserve.










And what is cuter than young elephants?




Nothing, of course - these two rascals were so much fun to watch.















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All your photos are wonderful, but you're opening my eyes more to birds. Nice detail, great roller shots! I love the bird with the red ring around its eye.

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While we were not totally satisfied with the Triangle this was anything but true for our camp here - Mara Sira (http://mara-siria-camp.com/)




This is a really great little camp which we absolutely loved - definitely the place to return to for a future Triangle stay. It´s on top of the escarpment, so outside the park - like most of the Triangle accomodations, only Mara Serena and Little Governor´s are inside. 15 minutes to the gate. Not an issue - the Triangle is not fenced of course, and animals do not know the borders. We saw lots of Elephants, Waterbuck, Impala, Zebras and Eland outside on the way up or down, and we were warned that Lions and Leopards do roam around and in the camp area. Made my birding hunts much more exciting. :)




Our lovely tent, spacious, airy and comfy - without being over the top. Perfect.








The "lounge".


Food was delicious, staff very friendly, and the camp is spread out over a huge area, so the tents are not too close to each other. And most of all - the view!




This was really wonderful, the Mara river to our feet, I loved standing there, scanning the wide open plains. And having breakfast and lunch there - it does not get better.




We shared the camp with one other guest the first night and had it to our own the second. It was really nice to have so many "private camps" on this trip, though I sometimes felt a bit weird being outnumbered by staff 5:1 at least! And of course I do enjoy interacting with others guests, chatting with people from all over the world, and that was often not possible. But - plenty of opportunity to do that at Volcanoes and Sandai especially, and we really enjoyed our talks with our guide (and friend) Paul - he told us much about Kenyan life, and we about Austrian, and it was often funny how similar things in our two oh-so-different cultures would actually be. I remember when I told poor Paul about the quite anarchic Nikolaus and "Krampus" tradition in Austria - he was quite convinced we are very weird barbarians in Europe. Well, I never saw it that way, but I guess people might find grown men dress up as demons with bells and beating everybody they can get their hands on a tad weird. :)


Plunge pools have a bit of a bad rep here on Safaritalk - but Mara Siria has the absolute coolest one in the world - how can you resist getting in there and enjoy that view?



Edited by michael-ibk
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As you may have noticed some areas around camp are quite rocky - which meant these cute animals were around:




Hyrax. :)




And I found some nice birds in camp:




Violet-Backed Starling




Chin-Spot Batis




Rufous Sparrow




African Paradise-Flycatcher




Brimstone Canary




Red-Rumped Swallow




Purple Grenadier




African Blue Flycatcher - I was particularly delighted about finding this one.




Greater Blue-Eared Starling. Super-common but super-striking when the light hits them the right way.


But my favourite was this this guy:




A Red-Headed Weaver. Not a shy one - he liked to keep us company for breakfast. And knew what he wanted. :)








The female - not quite as interesting, and not as bold as her mate:



Edited by michael-ibk
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Michael superb pics again. Thanks for showing us. It brings nice memories to me. I haven't read it all, I'm sorry but time is too much limited.

Looking for rhinos in the Triangle you have to search around Little Governor's Camp.

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All your photos are wonderful, but you're opening my eyes more to birds. Nice detail, great roller shots! I love the bird with the red ring around its eye.


Thanks, @@amybatt ! Resistance is futile, the birds will get you in the end. I was not really interested in them on my first safari - things have changed a bit. :) Yes, the Three-Banded Plover is a striking bird, and often quite confiding fortunately.


Michael superb pics again. Thanks for showing us. It brings nice memories to me. I haven't read it all, I'm sorry but time is too much limited.

Looking for rhinos in the Triangle you have to search around Little Governor's Camp.


Thanks, @@Botswanadreams . We did try in that area, but sometimes they just don´t want to be found. :)

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