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It was one of the best days - Porini Lion, Olare Motorgiri Conservancy


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'It was one of the best days' was the understated verdict of Christopher, our spotter, after we returned from seeing a leopard stalk, another leopard chasing guinea fowl, the Queen of the Mara, the introduction of 3 week old lion clubs to their extended family (and the world at large) as well as the minor matter of a significant Mara crossing in early February despite the best efforts of a lion to disrupt it.

This was my second full day at Porini Lion on a short trip that took in a night at Nairobi Tented Camp, 3 nights at Porini Lion and a last afternoon at the Tented Camp before heading home.

Although I would have taken the experience of this single day as sufficient for a full safari there was much more. Highlights included the experience at both camps, lots of active cats, some very cute babies and lots of nature red in tooth and claw.


A single photo for now as the internet at Nairobi airport isn't great and I have about 2000 images to sort through.

This is a crossing pioneer having second thoughts on seeing the welcome committee; the hippo plays no part in this story. Much more to come.



Edited by pomkiwi
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Can't wait to hear! I'm not surprised though, Porini Lion and OMC tend to deliver like that!

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@@amybatt Thanks. It will take me a little while as so much went on - the crossing itself will take a few posts. Although I've noted your comment about never repeating perfect it will take a lot to stop me trying to return later on in 2018...

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Sounds great already, can't wait to hear more, as a Kenya/Tanzania trip (for the migration) is most likely our next Africa trip. Please include any thoughts/tips on how you selected your when and where to go. Thanks.

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@@xyz99 There was not a lot of detailed planning. Witnessing the migration was not my priority (the crossing I witnessed whilst impressive and dramtic was not on the scale of 1000s of animals that may be seen later in the year) but good size crossings may occur at almost any time I'm told and there have been a few recently with unusually heavy rains in the Mara in the past week or two. Weather patterns seem less predictable of late. I had originally planned to go in November but family events made that impossible and a date in February was the next I could do - it is low season and generally avoids heavy rain which are good things I feel.


I only have a few days available for safari whenever I go (my wife doesn't share this passion and I do not feel able to be away for long on such a selfish jaunt!) and Kenya seemed the obvious choice after a few trips to South Africa in the past few years. I had a good look through the reviews, reports and planning sections here on ST and Porini Lion appeared to have frequent glowing reviews - both as a camp and people but also as a fruitful location.


I organised flights independently (choosing Emirates as the flights allowed an evening departure from the UK and afternoon arrival in Nairobi whereas the BA option takes a full day with an early start requiring an overnight stay at Heathrow beforehand and then gets in around 8pm). I dealt with Gamewatchers (who own the Nairobi Tented Camp and Porini camps) directly and they were kind enough to waive the single supplement if I paid in full at the time of booking. They were flexible with a few minor changes I made and I believe the price was competitive given that they sorted me out from the moment I cleared customs on arrival until I was dropped off at the departure terminal. I met others on my trip who arranged more complex and lengthy itineraries with Gamewatchers including time in Tanzania and Rwanda who were all completely happy with the service and care they had received.


I would make one cautionary comment - everyone I spoke to about the main crossing season said how crowded and competitive it is nowadays with hundreds of vehicles jostling for position and often impacting heavily on animal behaviour. It is of course not possible to predict beforehand when the main 'season' will begin and the guides we spoke to said that good size crossings such as we witnessed are becoming more common at other times. I certainly found the event we saw fascinating and very emotionally immersive, as you will see later it was impressive but without the carnage of crossings involving 1000s of animals so graphically reflected in the report from @@PHALANX. There were only around 15 vehicles at the event I saw and it was a relaxed and well mannered affair with careful positioning and repositioning of vehicles to avoid obstructing the animals even as they moved up and down the river deciding where to actually cross.


Travelling out of season is generally more relaxed with far fewer people around even on general activities. It is of course also much cheaper out of season :-)

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Great info and things to ponder on. Our Kenya/Tanzania trip will be migration related, but have no idea where or when...other than it will probably be in 2020, for 2-3 weeks. Lots of time to read, plan and decide what to do. Until then, I will follow your journeys.


We were hit with unpredictable current weather patters both last year in Honduras and this year in Costa Rica, so I understand this might affect other parts of the planet.


Thanks for taking the time to elaborate on your thought process, and for the note about Gamewatchers. I'll keep them in mind :)

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Great to see Porini Lion and OMC are still delivering, we had a wonderfully productive time there in 2010.


@@xyz99 - like @@pomkiwi we weren't expecting much in the way of migration crossings (it was early November) but were still rewarded with a good sized one and were the only vehicle there to watch!

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This proves once again how unpredictable Mother Nature is, and that any time is a good time to go to Africa. Being the only vehicle around must've been a great experience!

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Arrival and thoughts on Nairobi Tented Camp / Nairobi National Park


The flights from Birmingham to Dubai and onwards to Nairobi passed uneventfully. Although we left Dubai 40 minutes left we were only 10 minutes late arriving so no significant loss of safari time! Me – excited? Never!




The lines for the e-visa queue were shorter than the general lines despite the warning from @@offshorebirder – although I’m still not sure the time spent getting the e-visa outweighed the small time saving at the airport (but it’s dead time at home and safari time at the airport, excited – me?).


I was met as I left customs and driven to the East Gate of NNP where I transferred to a safari vehicle and we headed off for a game drive. It started well as the first animals we saw were a trio of female lion occupying a small mound close to a waterhole (mind you I am the guy whose first animal in South Africa was a wild dog 100m from Skukuza airport so pretty routine really). After that though time passed fairly slowly to be honest. I did see some new animals for me having only been to the south before but overall the NNP looked very dry and most animals were far off (in contrast to the Kruger where animals seem easier to see in proximity to the roads). My guide was very engaging and very enthusiastic which fitted my newly arrived mood and after a chatty couple of hours we pulled into the camp.












The drive I did on the way home was a mistake. NNP was even more empty and moonscape like with very little game visible even through binoculars. My guide was on secondment from another Porini camp and clearly missed home, family and open spaces. He tried hard initially as did I but it gradually became clear that both of us would rather be somewhere else and conversation dried up. My advice to readers here would be to skip the drive when staying at the tented camp especially as it is quite an expensive add on.


However I do recommend the tented camp. It is beautifully situated in a wooded valley with spacious tents arranged on the slopes. The staff are charming (not a word I use often but it fits here) and cope well with the task of relating to a generally very transitory group of guests. The cooking wasn’t the best I had on the trip but it was OK and the experience of being in the bush sleeping under canvas was a great start. I really enjoyed spending the afternoon there on the way home and it would have been better to stay and enjoy the peace rather than heading out.


The stay was made a even better by meeting @@Seniortraveller (who does not fit her ST name at all) and having an all too brief introduction before our upcoming trip to Mana Pools in November (not excited by that either at all).


So in summary I’m pleased I went to the tented camp and will return but won’t bother with a game drive.



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Looking forward to hearing and seeing more, as we had such a fabulous time at Porini Lion in September...I am always daydreaming about a quick return trip like you have made (although its a bit less quick coming from the USA!)

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Off to the Mara


I was woken at 6.30 with a tray of coffee and cookies brought to my tent – I could (and indeed would) get used to this. Breakfast was shared with @@Seniortraveller and very enjoyable it was too. I left for Wilson airport at 7.30 and despite being told that traffic was light it still took 90 minutes to get there. Check in for the Safarilink flight was quick and just over an hour and 4 stops later I arrived at the airstrip where I was met by Jackson and Christopher. As instructed I remembered one or two Safaritalk members to him (a little difficult as I only know their forum names and presumably Jackson knows the real name…).




We set off on the 40 minute drive to the camp and I had my first immersion in the open landscape with views that seem infinite. I was immediately taken by the large amount of game around and watched some sparring impala.






There was a warm welcome at the camp, lunch and a cold Tusker followed my brief tour and I settled into Tent 8. Given that I was one of only 2 guests I was a little disappointed that my tent was one of the few lacking a direct view of the river or right at the edge of the camp. That being said the view was pretty special and the tent itself roomy and comfortable.






A quick shower followed (I try and take my shower in siesta time as there is no time in the morning and no energy in the evening). And I wandered down for the afternoon drive. Watching a bird fight itself amused me until we set off.





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Ah wonderful, you had Jackson. He is still the guide to beat in my book. I've never seen more or learned more with any other guide. Looking forward to hearing more!

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>> Watching a bird fight itself amused me


Awwww, poor birdie.....We had a hornbill do the same at a camp in South Africa. He kept flying into our window....every day....you would think that after a few days they learn, but no :)

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@@xyz99 At least this bird didn't seem in any danger of hurting itself. It had given up by the time we came to move the vehicle.

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A High Diving Hippo


As well as lion Porini Lion enjoys a reputation as a good place for hippo due the river and a number of deep pools. We set off and I was surprised to see a number out of the water in the sun. I was told that this was because recent rains made the river too cool for the hippo who came out to warm up.




One however was not particularly impressed with our presence (we were on the opposite bank though) and decided to return to the safety of the water.




We did not really believe the direct route would be taken.




However after an inelegant slide.




The inevitable happened.




We needed a few minutes to stop laughing.

Edited by pomkiwi
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The kingfisher was unimpressed......



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First Cats


The remainder of the drive was more reflective as the animals we found were all in 'portrait mode' rather than doing much.




This cheetah looked well fed (a general theme for most of the predators we saw) and was clearly very comfortable in his own space.







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The OMC has a lot of lions, we were told that a recent census/estimate put the figure at 35. The largest single pride comprises of two adult males, 4 adult females (sisters) and around 10 cubs varying in age from just over a year to 3 weeks of age. Unsurprisingly we saw some or all of the pride on every day of the stay.




On the first afternoon we stopped and viewed a couple of the adult females and a selection of cubs around 4 months of age. It was still warm and even the cubs were taking it easy.








The cubs all looked in good condition and were nice and clean. This would not be the case when we caught up with them again the following day.

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As the evening drew in we found a tawny eagle and Verreaux's eagle owl sharing the same tree.








Finally we watched a troop of baboons in the last of the sunlight.







Time for a sundowner.





Not that there was much sun left..... Overall not a bad first afternoon.


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Early Morning Lions


The lions had been noisy all night (and they always sound close by through a canvas wall even when they are not). It was the obvious objective to set off and find them. To be honest it didn’t seem all that difficult as there was still a lot of calling going on.


In the pre-dawn we found a pair one of whom was identified as the male called Lipstick, presumably because of the small growth above his upper lip (although this seems a cruel name for a macho male, shades of a boy named Sue for any Johnny Cash fans).







The female was apparently the mother of the four females making up the large pride we had seen yesterday. She seemed to be determined to give flirting a bad name.










I was struggling a bit with the movement as this sequence was shot at ISO 8000 and the aperture fully open but in the end feel the slight blur adds to the sense of motion













Lipstick however appeared somewhat distracted by the constant roars we heard from not too far away.




This I was told was because the brothers who had fathered the large pride were aware of his presence and were encouraging him to leave.




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@@xyz99 Thank-you. Yes it was an unusual light. We had quite a lot of rain in the first part of the night and it was still quite cloudy with some mist. It was extremely slippery - Jackson was throwing the car sideways with a very happy grin on his face for much of the time :) I can see why the Lion Camp closes for the period of the heavy rains in April and May as it must be very difficult to get around.

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Lions retreating


The male lion was not happy with the roaring and decided to walk away.




The female tagged along but seemed reluctant.




The Tommie was watchful but confident the lioness posed no threat






The two lions decided on a drink - it was a shame their chosen water source wasn't a mirrored pool but I tried to make the most of an imperfect photo opportunity!









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