Jump to content

Appointment with a Leopard - Masai Mara one year on


penolva

Recommended Posts

penolva

You may have read my trip report from 2017 when we stayed at Brian Freeman's camp in the Masai Mara? During that trip, we spent a lot of time with a leopard called Bahati and she had two cubs, a male and a female. I fell in love with that leopard and longed to see her and the MM again. We booked our return but this time arriving a month later than 2017, September instead of August and also changed camps. This time we stayed at Malaika Camp which is on the banks of the Mara River. 

 

We set out early on the morning of our second day. We drove past a small pathway and something made me look back. 'It's a leopard!' I shouted to George our guide and he skidded to a halt. As we slowly reversed she walked towards us. Bahati! George said we had made an appointment last year and she had kept it. We all high fived as she walked towards us passing right beside the vehicle. She allowed us to spend another hour with her. Magic. 

 

 

1X1A3554.jpg

Edited by penolva
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 104
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • penolva

    58

  • KaliCA

    8

  • Birdie

    7

  • Amylovescritters

    6

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

You may have read my trip report from 2017 when we stayed at Brian Freeman's camp in the Masai Mara? During that trip, we spent a lot of time with a leopard called Bahati and she had two cubs, a male

Thanks for following along! A short distance away and sitting under a tree was Imani and her three beautiful cubs. They were quite young and had their 'honey badger' fur clearly visible. They fol

We planned a very early start as George was taking us to the edge of the border between the reserve and the conservancy to try to find the 'Five Musketeers', cheetah coalition, we had seen several tim

Posted Images

penolva

Back to the beginning. We flew Kenya Airways from London Heathrow. We have been pleasantly surprised by the high standard of KA and it's a direct flight. We slept well.

 

We arrived in Nairobi at 5 am and Gilbert our taxi driver from last year was waiting for us. We have kept in touch with him all year via WhatsApp.  We were staying at Acacia Tree Lodge and they gave us our room straight away. Its a really nice, newish, hotel in the Karen area of Nairobi. This allowed us time to freshen up, have breakfast and be ready for Gilbert to return at 10 to take us to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. We were happy to see our orphan Luggard was doing well despite his injury. The keepers were throwing shovels full of wet mud onto the orphans to protect them from the sun.

 

We had a rest during the day and returned to the orphanage for the adopter's visit at 5 pm. I got to exchange the elephant greeting with Luggard. He blew down his trunk into my face and I blew back at him. He is a lovely little elephant.  We then enjoyed dinner back at Acacia Tree with Owen @optig who is joining us next year with @Pamshelton3932 and @blindbumpy and his partner on our trip to Ithumba HIlls and Umani Springs. 

 

We said goodnight to Owen and had an early night before our flight to the Masai Mara the next day. 

 

IMG_4600.jpg

_DSC9005.jpg

IMG_4563.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

We took the 08.30 flight to the Masai Mara. We were returning on the 15.30 six nights later. This gave us maximum time in the Masai Mara with no extra costs. We had originally hired our guide, Josh, from Brian Freeman's camp freelance but he had vehicle problems at the last minute. With luck, Malaika Camp was able to help out and provided a private vehicle and George as our guide. We had a bit of a panic as this all happened two weeks before we were due to arrive. We had booked Malaika Camp on a bed and board only basis so we were very grateful that they could step in and save the day. We did see Josh during our time there and we were able to shake hands and forget the problems. 

 

As we flew over the Mara river we could see crossing points, hippo in the water and lodges along the banks. We could also see that, unlike last year, the migration had almost completely gone. We had already heard that due to unseasonal rains the migration had moved back to Tanzania earlier than usual. We were fine with that as we had really come back to experience the open spaces and wonderful wildlife the Mara offers and although the migration adds significantly to that it is not the main event for us. As it happened we did see millions of wildebeest in the end but not in quite the same way as last year.

 

 

IMG_4637.jpg

IMG_4642.jpg

IMG_4640.jpg

_DSC9028.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Imagine that, Bahati coming to welcome you back to the Mara. So fortunate. I can see why you like it there.  So great that Malaika camp came to your rescue with a vehicle. I can imagine how nerve-wrecking it must have been not having a guide and vehicle only two weeks before your trip. But, you kept at it and it all worked out. 

Looking forward to traveling with you the next few days in the Mara. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

@KaliCA thank you. It was great to see her again. Lots more cats to come! Pen

Link to post
Share on other sites

You did have a lovely view of the river and crossing points as you flew in. We have never been that low. Is that Malaika Camp on the edge of the river among the trees? Bahati is a beautiful leopard.

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

@Birdie thank you. I am really pleased with the photographs from the flight. Information etc on Malika Camp will be included in the TR. Pen

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

We landed at Ol Kiombo airstrip which also serves Brian Freemans camp. George our guide from Malika was there to meet us. All the staff and one of the owners of Malaika Camp are Masai. Johan Fink the co-owner is German. He and John met while Johan was on safari and John his guide. Together they have realised their dream of setting up their own camp. Prior to booking, I was concerned that Malaika might be one of the so-called 'illegal' camps that are set up in the Masai Mara. Johan was able to send me proof of their permit to operate, 30 years, and with their very competitive price and location we didn't hesitate to book. The fact they also helped us out of the guide/vehicle problem confirmed they are determined to give guests the best service possible. The camp is certainly not luxurious, has nice but simple tents, a bush shower and the food is nice. The staff are lovely, all men, so maybe the housekeeping could be a little better! We really enjoyed our stay and will be returning to Malika Camp next time we visit the Masai Mara.

 

We drove to camp for lunch and passed this lovely group of giraffe. The adult must have been a babysitter as I have never heard of giraffe having more than one calf at a time but maybe I am mistaken?

_DSC9048.jpg.7a1b0ca6b2d08e83e99988f18be3dff1.jpg

 

 

1X1A3480.jpg.d79cf76d945df3dc44dce54abcb3786d.jpg

 

We passed a group of hyena with one hiding in the grass very near the track. 

 

_DSC9044.jpg.a7da8e7bcd9997ff28178fe4d34392ff.jpg

Edited by penolva
Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

We arrived at camp and George dropped our bags at our tent and we went for lunch. The camp is set in a clearing but a short path leads to the banks of the Mara river. During the migration, they have had herds crossing just down the river from the lunch spot. We saw eland, buffalo, lots of smaller animals on the opposite bank and hippo in the river during our lunches. Wilson our friendly waiter was very keen to try out our camera and phone and took a lot of photographs of us.

 

Walking to the lunch area.

IMG_4660.jpg.cafda6c9b8fcc1276d20a6a464211fe6.jpg

 

IMG_0558.jpg.e877ecf4a52aa521b3af4ec683237af1.jpg

 

Looking left and then right along the river from our table.

 

IMG_4666.jpg.ad989878e66f5ac5906fd64aec67d50b.jpgIMG_4667.jpg.5496064ac4b59c8727a07371a4a41896.jpg

Edited by penolva
Link to post
Share on other sites

I wasn't sure if you were going to do a TR this time so I was really happy to see you decided to post. Lovely pictures so far. Look forward to the rest of your trip.

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

@anocn4 thank you. I am a bit slow this time as I have been finalising our trip to India in February. I hope to post photographs of tigers in that trip report! Perhaps I should make an appointment with one of them :D

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

We had a nap after lunch although it was very hot. We met George at 16.00 as he said it was too hot to go out earlier. It was a lovely evening. Shortly after leaving camp we saw some beautiful eland. They were very close to our vehicle and made no attempt to run away giving me the opportunity to take some close-ups of the oxpeckers that accompany them everywhere.

1X1A3486.jpg.4845412f72e0e01aef5570d0b35aac81.jpg

 

 

_DSC9058.jpg.6bb4bd5ca033284be3a5711ac402a03a.jpg

Further on a lion was walking out of a dry river bed. She obviously had cubs as her teats were full and she started to call when she got near to us. A herd of zebra were all looking in the same direction and we watched as another female lion approached the first passing the zebra but ignoring them. After a greeting, they suddenly became cross with each other and were snarling and showing their teeth. Where were the cubs? We had to wait a few days to find out the answer.

1X1A3489.jpg.adff35eb8039870a03d58e23ab127ead.jpg1X1A3496.jpg.ad79f4adc72d3183dc0084e6fd03ca46.jpg1X1A3497.jpg.f75d1b89d0d91c650ac9c6332a3d5e78.jpg1X1A3498.jpg.1da520c0a217c1eea1e338014a6d92db.jpg1X1A3501.jpg.dd83d845cfb35d9fe6e12f3fa4356457.jpg

 

Driving through the Mara was the same as last year. Although the herds were largely absent it still teams with animals. You find something around every corner and track. A baboon just out of the water with its baby, a cheetah on its own preparing to hunt. How do these loan cheetahs survive? George told us the 5 Musketeers from last year are still together and promised to take us to see them when they come back into the reserve from the private concession.

 

1X1A3508.jpg.56d089fae46ef90285530107108c24e9.jpg1X1A3509.jpg.e67208dd791212d2870d7e2d123568b0.jpg1X1A3511.jpg.4c6df1587aea66cf1440c6cbf972de88.jpg

 

There are many breeding herds of elephants in the Mara and we saw some with a tiny baby. One of the little ones decided to give us a warning and flapped its ears and raised its trunk to sniff us. We were obviously accepted as they all walked slowly past us into the trees. 

 

1X1A3517.jpg.b4dd3964def987b0113289c851161445.jpg

 

1X1A3514.jpg.9c5f632952cb8dd4143e55ee61919246.jpg

 

We drove on towards Lookout Hill. We noticed huge clouds of smoke rising to the north. George said the park authorities were burning grass but the people in the lodges near there were very unhappy. We could imagine they would be with their beautiful camps and tents full of acrid smoke. We were lucky that Malika Camp was far away but we could smell the smoke in the air that evening.

 

IMG_4674.jpg.7acdb08528e64dd2e8cbee223b09c1e6.jpg

 

We headed back to camp and arrived in the dark at 19.30. A quick shower and then dinner. There was a beautiful sunset despite, or maybe because of the smoke. We had already seen so much and leaving Nairobi on the earliest flight possible really does pay dividends. 

 

_DSC9095.jpg.cc9c196b6bb03b06052313f9c365b366.jpg

 

 

Edited by penolva
Link to post
Share on other sites

We have seen twin giraffes, but never three youngsters. Great view of the kudu - they are usually so skittish. That is quite the view from the dining room - what a great spot to sit and relax. Looking forward to more! :-)

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

@Birdie Thanks those eland are beautiful animals. I can't imagine a giraffe would give birth to triplets! The river view dining area was the best thing about Malaika Camp apart from the staff. Pen

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

We were up and away before 06.00. We slept very well as the beds at Malaika Camp are very comfortable. We headed for the Talek river area, 'leopard central' as it is described by the guides. There were two large birds in a tree warming up in the sunrise. Not sure which birds they are! African eagles?

 

1X1A3530.jpg.ed266d5fc77fdd5e98a197abe530d2f9.jpg

 

Driving along I saw a big cat walking along a track to my left. 'Leopard' I shouted and George reversed. It was Bahati looking as beautiful as ever. She seems to have a very calm and confident expression to me. She walked towards us and all we had to do was stay where we were and wait. No other vehicles around, just us and the leopard in the morning light.

 

1X1A3532.jpg.15044b0baf5e6fa750289d0c19731973.jpg

 

1X1A3533.jpg.511b4dbbf0d3f295d95bf17d56fbe18b.jpg_DSC9102.jpg.9242b1a64559844695c19693eecbaa9f.jpg

 

She changed direction and to my horror, I saw she had a very nasty wound on her right flank. 

 

1X1A3537.jpg.4e947c70a57ffe31ff5cf46f90306980.jpg

 

George told us that the two cubs, one male and one female, we saw with her last year had both survived and left her. She has since had another cub but was spotted one day being chased by lions and attempting to carry the cub to safety across the river. No one has seen the cub since! He was not sure if the injury was from that incident but Bahati hadn't been around for a while. It was so lucky we left camp early and drove past that track at exactly the right time. When we met George I told him my number one wish was to see Bahati again and my second to see a serval or small cheetah cubs. Things were going to plan.

 

 It was reassuring to know that the cats have great healing powers and to be honest, she looked and was acting absolutely fine. It was just me who was panicking. I heard from George after we returned home that Bahati healed well. 

 

She came closer. I could hear her breathing and could have reached out and touched her. 

 

1X1A3556.jpg.5d67590a204a7d8dabe81724c3941965.jpg_DSC9114.jpg.ed184a5c51271823fa5c8ac1f186de36.jpg_DSC9109.jpg.c9b73ba96d6a26cb9760466858a6fe1c.jpg

_DSC9115.jpg.0b0f068c24459813f2fbb99ab7d8d9f5.jpg

 

We followed her as she went into some bushes sniffing the ground. We wondered if the cub was around but she had spotted a jackal

 

1X1A3558.jpg.07e01f9c86d5533b56cac22c5e1aa395.jpg.

She ran after it and disappeared into the bushes. We looked for her every day after that but didn't see her again. If anyone goes to the Masai Mara and sees Bahati please let me know.

 

1X1A3559.jpg.0acd7aca3bd5c2680bfcf497b2179a86.jpg1X1A3560.jpg.551cdcf6b58b8c2e7e05d64ff9b00554.jpg

Edited by penolva
Link to post
Share on other sites
amybatt

What a great sighting and reunion with Bahati. It just reinforces the point that so much on safari is pure serendipity!

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

@amybatt How is it I love that leopard? Doesn’t make sense! I hope I see her again in 2020 or at least one of her offspring. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello, wonderful picture and what amazing timing to see your favorite leopard again. I’m wondering how you can be so sure it’s actually Bahati. Do you recognize her whisker pattern?

Keep it coming!

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

@KaliCA thank you and it was amazing. George confirmed it was Bahati but I recognised her straight away! Sounds silly but we spent so much time with her last year I really got to know her face. When we got home I put photographs of her side by side from both trips and counted the spots on her head and they match perfectly. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

That is a nasty wound but we have seen worse. Happy to learn that she has healed. What a great way to start your day!

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

@Birdie I have also seen worse as well but she is very special so I hated to see her hurt. It's nature of course. It was sad to learn that Malaika the famous cheetah had drowned earlier in the year. Pen

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
penolva

Happy New Year everyone and so glad to be back online thanks @Game Warden .

 

 @KaliCA you mentioned how we recognised Bahati. Here is a photograph from 2017 and another from 2018. See if you agree she is the same leopard? A year older but still a beauty! Pen

 

2016

_DSC7619.jpg.154a0d9f03310f7b659b5447dd7c38c8.jpg

2017_DSC9116.jpg.7e1b2f044aa4d1bfcfc12e872a1a6176.jpg

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
penolva

We left Bahati and set off across the plains. ( I heard from Malaika Camp yesterday that Bahati was seen on Friday so she is doing well!) We stopped for some breakfast. Malaika Camp provides a very good breakfast including pancakes, sausages, eggs, bread, cereals, and toast. Much better than last year which was always sandwiches made from the previous night's leftovers and cake. The main meals at Brian Freeman's camp were much better so I would recommend either camp. Malaika cost considerably less than Brians camp. It must be one of the best-priced camps in the Masai Mara particularly as its right on the river. 

IMG_4680.jpg.2dcbaea27a369d622374d3c1a3eef107.jpg

 

After breakfast, we spotted three blonde lions making their way towards us. George said they were new to the area and were probably trying to take over the territory from the resident male coalition. As they approached we could see they were in perfect health. As we were quite high we had a fabulous view across the Mara. We love it so much because there are vast open areas where you can spot animals from a distance and areas of bush and trees along the rivers where leopards are regularly seen.

 

 

1X1A3585.jpg.2ba1f6a0b0372bad3209e3d7473d0590.jpg1X1A3591.jpg.e3c93798aef24b20e1f3e5b90c046802.jpg_DSC9135.jpg.41632fd64dfc8aaeb63b9f2fd061e69d.jpg1X1A3579.jpg.28f6ac3520475ffb2a1abf108e8433ea.jpg1X1A3582.jpg.042d019223bf19a851339388b525d37c.jpg

 

One of them came towards us and got so close he was able to look me right in the eye! Always a fantastic experience to look into the eyes of a lion.

 

1X1A3586.jpg.fc33236150defd5f336426bac0b00b3a.jpg1X1A3567.jpg.d36a8579c68d3ef30b801c7d2ab803ce.jpg_DSC9131.jpg.89bbbe1993c4f9220234100793d2dacf.jpg1X1A3589.jpg.d8d12ece2ff3eb6f0728f69d008a1b97.jpg

 

They took turns to examine an area of grass that obviously had a female sent as they each made the usual grimace.

 

1X1A3595.jpg.9424eef5b8a1f8a95ffdf6d5ce7822a4.jpg

 

Two of them took shelter from the sun and some serious bonding took place. 

 

1X1A3604.jpg.89663ffc5791f1b3f7680d4f255befd3.jpg1X1A3603.jpg.52e24aa4da138ab2628b5227461cd4d5.jpg

 

George heard on the radio that a leopard was in the area so we quickly set off in that direction. Before long we found one of the older lions under a bush. He was not far from the three interlopers so we wondered if there would be a fight! He was happy to look me in the eye and show off his profile. 

 

1X1A3607.jpg.b6b0ec1347ef004b881db05895bd9506.jpg1X1A3608.jpg.a0dcade1cff35e1e8a7d02c329441523.jpg

 

We left him in peace and arrived at the leopard sighting just as it broke cover. George said he was called Golden Boy and he was huge. I was pleased to capture his jump across the track. Not quite 4 feet off the ground but near enough!

 

1X1A3613.jpg.76fa0f04b3ed1d5a4f1b045efb51fdc8.jpg1X1A3614.jpg.4a88dcc671b70a3b1cb8875e8bd31c46.jpg

 

 

Edited by penolva
Link to post
Share on other sites
Neeners815

Wonderful pics - absolutely gorgeous!

Link to post
Share on other sites
KaliCA

I believe you about the leopard that she is the same.  It’s just not clear to me what you are comparing. Ears? Whisker spots? Good for you that you can tell. 

Love those lions! Like you, I also love the wide open spaces. Must show your pics to DH to convince him to go there. 

Glad you are continuing your TR. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy