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Masai Mara Trip Report January 2018


mtanenbaum
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I had a terrific first trip to Kenya with a 4 night, five day trip to Offbeat Mara. This camp is in the Mara North conservancy. I wasn't sure what to expect exactly with weather and sightings in January, but I was pleasantly surprised! With the changes in weather patterns, the Mara was green like a giant golf course (I was told it was supposed to be dry in January). We had several rainstorms during my stay which provided some beautiful lighting. My other trips to Africa were in the dry season, so I was thrilled to have the chance to photograph the animals with the lush green backgrounds. My main goal was to see lion cubs, and I saw lots of them, from all three prides that roam that conservancy. I still have not managed to see a successful hunt, but we saw two unsuccessful hunts--a cheetah going after a warthog baby, chased away by mom, and 2 young lions stalking warthogs unsuccessfully. Lots of babies around--impalas, zebras, kopi, gazelles, elephants, and of course the lions. We even saw a gazelle give birth, which was very exciting. I was very impressed with the guide I had throughout the stay there, Stanley; he was the equal of the best guides I had in Botswana and South Africa. 

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the trip...

 

The first afternoon we had a great lion sighting--we followed a lioness while she retrieved her 3 cubs at the top of a cliff, where they were well hidden, and then joined her sister and her 3 cubs at the remains of a zebra kill. The lionesses were jealously guarding the kill, while the cubs were playing around in the carcass. The next day the carcass had disappeared, so some other animal had made off with it. It was fantastic to see the six cubs, nearly the same age, playing together!

 

 

 

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Other great sightings--a crowd of hyenas at a hippo carcass and a mother hyena peacefully nursing her pups...DSC01912.thumb.JPG.b2d9cc9bd7a00e1bdb72a75c986e9ed4.JPG

 

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Edited by mtanenbaum
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Hi @mtanenbaum  may i ask when were thedates you were in mara north - was that the only place in Africa you travelled. It seems such a short trip but wow your sightings sure packed a a punch!

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@mtanenbaum

Lovely photos. Good to hear you liked Stanley- we had him when he was at Offbeat Meru and also thought he was very good.

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Seniortraveller

Thanks @mtanenbaum, for a very opportune trip report. I will be at Offbeat Mara the first week in March, looking forward to seeing all those growing lion cubs. Did you stay mainly in the conservancy?

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It's been raining in the mara (yay!) and it's definitely green at the moment which is fantastic news considering I'm going to be there in a few weeks!

 

Glad to see your trip was so great. Fingers crossed I'll have the same luck! :)

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I was at Offbeat the 2nd week of January. It was an add-on to my 2 weeks in Uganda (separate trip report!) . Here's a few more pictures below....We actually did not go into the National Park at all. The staff seemed to think there was no point at this time of year--no river crossing going on (we did go down to the Mara river, the part that's in the conservancy). We did all our game drives on the reserve--there were hardly any vehicles, and of course they can go off-road, which you can't in the park, so I was good with that decision. 

 

I think I have developed an addiction to Africa--as soon as I come back I'm planning more trips! But I'm also thinking of doing grizzly bears in Alaska...so much to see. They told me at Offbeat they have a lot of repeat customers--I'd love to go back but there are so many places to visit it makes it very hard to decide. I just wish it wasn't such a long trip for us from California all the way to Africa. 

 

Here's a hippo lying in a small pool, filled with lots of hippo waste (yuck!)

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Another picture from the hippo carcass--it appeared to be a very large male, so the guide thought it had probably died of natural causes. What animal would go after a gigantic hippo?? Even the lions would be scared off, I would think!  We were the only ones at the sighting and it was so quiet you could hear the hyenas cracking the bones of the hippo. They kept chasing off the vultures but they kept coming...

 

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The vultures are so ugly but also fascinating...here's one in a tree. It is gigantic.vulture.thumb.JPG.5dbb295d1d6e2012369525788ef22942.JPG

 

You can see here how green the Mara was... (golf course with lions....)

 

 

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Edited by mtanenbaum
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@mtanenbaum  We were at Offbeat Mara in January 2016.  It rained almost every night we were there.  We had a hard time getting in one night drive.  

Your luck with the babies was fantastic.  

We certainly would consider a return visit.  We are retracing a safari taken in Tanzania ten years ago, this summer.

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great photos! 

 

What lens were you using? 

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Thanks, I bought a new camera for the trip, a bridge camera from Sony...it's the RX 10 III (they just came out with a IV but it was even more expensive so I got the III). It has a 24-600 equivalent lens. I was pleased with the results, although I had trouble working the manual focus on it. I need to practice more with that.

 

Here's a few more of my favorite shots from the trip:

Gazelle giving birth...we saw the whole process, since the guide saw just a tiny bit of one of the legs popping out (which you can see in this first photo) and then we settled down to watch the wonder of childbirth! The whole process didn't last very long. Mom seemed very nervous, constantly looking around for predators--both jackals and hyenas were not far away.

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It was surprising to see how after the birth, the mother rejoined the herd, and left the baby in the grass, where is was well camouflaged as long as it didn't move...

 

We also saw many zebra foals. I hadn't realized their stripes are brown when they are small!

 

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@mtanenbaum wonderful experience with the birth!  You were in the right place at the right time for that!

 

I have the same camera and love it!!  Glad you had such a good experience with it.

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Yes, Amybatt, I think I picked this camera off your recommendation (LOL!) I spent a long time reading about different cameras before going with that. 

Here's a few more shots to share:

 

We had a great elephant sighting in the rain, but the sun was out, so we got to enjoy a rainbow on top of the elephants. But were the elephants maybe a bit TOO close to our vehicle???

 

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Is this an elephant hug?

 

And a few more lion shots--these were pretty big cubs...but I loved the way they were posing with mom. 

 

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We had a lot of cheetah sightings--we didn't see the hunt, but the cheetah was having breakfast on a baby gazelle. 

 

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We had only one good leopard sighting in the five days--the leopards in this area appear very shy (on my first trip to Africa I didn't realize how lucky I was to see leopards every day! that was in Botswana...)

 

But this one was hiding in the bushes, and finally decided to turn so we could get a nice view. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@mtanenbaum I love the Vulture perched up in  the tree - love the plumeage.

Also pic 6 in post 11 is a beautiful photo. Thanks for your TR.

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  • 3 weeks later...

That group shot of the eles and rainbow is striking! Such distinct shadows and alluring light.

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beautiful shot of the eles with the cloudy sky - I have never been on a safari in Kenya during green season - looks like its worth a consideration :-)

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  • 2 weeks later...

How cool you saw the gazelle birth.  That sky with a hint of rainbow behind the elephants makes for a gorgeous picture!

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