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Better late than never - Porini Camps October 2018


wilddog

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Amboseli October 4th   The second day in Selenkay we were scheduled to drive down to Amboseli  National Park for a full day of game viewing and a picnic lunch. We had breakfast before we wen

The route to the view point was comparatively uneventful. Huge wide open spaces with animals scattered across the landscape. The day was now pretty hot and sunny, so many, may have gone to locate some

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Looking forward to your report.

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Awesome, I can't wait.  We head to the Porini camps next month so the timing on this is perfect.

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Game Warden

@Atdahl If you see @JakeGC or Mohanjeet Brar, send them both my regards, and make sure to chat conservation with them if you do meet up. Very knowledgeable indeed.

 

Matt.

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wilddog

As some of you will know my focus in the last few years has been mainly southern Africa,  notably Zimbabwe and Zambia. It is now 2 years since I was last on a safari  (Income reduced!!) and 16  years since I was last in the Mara region, so about time for a return

 

I felt that I needed a heavy duty, big cat fix after my absence from the African wilderness; one that was not too costly and meant I could use my BA miles and would provide a return to the Mara region.

In the last couple of years there have been a considerable number of excellent trip reports on the Porini Camps, which I have read with great interest, and these 2 things combined made me decide that this was the way to go.

 

My itinerary was 3 nights at Porini Amboseli in the Selenkay conservancy, and 3 nights each at Porini Mara and Porini Lion within the Mara conservancies.

 

The itinerary would not disappoint.

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wilddog

My BA flight meant that I would need a night at Heathrow on the way out and a night at EKA lodge before flying out to the Mara. Whether my cheap BA flight actually saved me any funds is questionable.

So leaving home in the UK on Monday and reaching the bush on Wednesday was a lengthy process but all want well with one self inflicted exception!

 

I stayed at Premier Inn at Terminal 4 on Monday night as BA had always flown from there. Very reasonable price including dinner and breakfast.

 Sadly my clever forward planning met with a hitch as the next morning I found to that BA was now flying from Terminal 3.

Message to self never assume, always check!

 

This did not prove to be a major problem as I had plenty of time so I used the underground to get myself to the right spot. Having said that, as there were no trolleys available outside Premier Inn, carrying the 10 kg soft bag and all my camera gear across the Premier Inn walk way and on the rail journey to T3 was exhausting. Getting old!

 

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wilddog

Arriving in Nairobi

Gamewatchers had arranged all my accommodation  and transfers in Kenya so the whole process was extremely easy and, as a single traveller,  reassuring.

 

As for the EKA hotel it is comfortable and convenient and serves the purpose well. Last time I flew in to Kenya  I used the Wilson Airport Flying Club accommodation, so quite a change of style for me there.

 

Our flight to Selankay was uneventful and very brief. Meeting as strangers I would get to know many of the passengers quite well over the next few days. Most notably Jenny and Margaret from the UK who were on the exact same itinerary as I. They both proved to be excellent company.

 

It was clear from discussion on the the flight and travelling into camp that most guests were first timers to the African bush  and this pattern would follow at the other camps I visited.

 

 

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@Game Warden.  Will do.  Jake was very helpful during my initial planning and it would be great to meet him.

 

@wilddog.  It looks like your itinerary is the same as ours except we have 4 nights at Mara and Lion.  We are even staying at the Eka Hotel in Nairobi too.  So, this report is really get my anticipation going!  Question about your bush flights.  How strict where they on the 15kg limit?  With camera gear, hitting that limit is going to be pretty tough.

 

Alan

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wilddog

@Atdahl Apologies I think I have misled you................ my total baggage was15 kg so I did not have a problem. I will need to edit my earlier post accordingly.

 

4 nights at each Mara conservancy............wonderful. Are 'doing' Selenkay as well?

 

I too was in touch with @JakeGC prior, and subsequent to, my trip. Very helpful.

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AfricIan

Terminal 3 would have got me as well @wilddog, I thought all BA long haul from LHR went from T5 - shows how much I know!

 

I can echo your comment about  @JakeGC, he gave us great advice prior to our trip back in 2010 and couldn't have been more helpful when a delay to our Kenya Airways flight into Nairobi meant we missed our connection.

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penolva
On 1/13/2019 at 12:55 PM, Atdahl said:

@Game Warden.  Will do.  Jake was very helpful during my initial planning and it would be great to meet him.

 

@wilddog.  It looks like your itinerary is the same as ours except we have 4 nights at Mara and Lion.  We are even staying at the Eka Hotel in Nairobi too.  So, this report is really get my anticipation going!  Question about your bush flights.  How strict where they on the 15kg limit?  With camera gear, hitting that limit is going to be pretty tough.

 

Alan

Hi, Alan if its any help our soft bags were just over 15kg each, one being 20kg!, and all our camera gear was carried separately in our backpacks and I dread to think how much they weighed. At the domestic airport, when we flew to the Mara, they weighed our soft bags but not the backpacks. The guy at the luggage scales told me my bag was 5kg over but did so with a smile and a wink. Our taxi driver knew him so maybe that helped. Pen

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That's a great teaser; I'm looking forward to seeing this trip develop.

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wilddog

On arrival in the conservancy there was the usual exchange of guests for the vehicles with several people leaving and, of course, us arriving. We were 'shared out' between the 2 vehicles at the air strip.  I and a couple from the UK  (Sue and Graham) joined a couple from Utah who were already at the camp and coming toward the end of their Safari.

 

Camp was much as I expected with large spacious tents with separate bathroom, flushing toilets and hot showers  as requested.

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Our guides were to be Daniel, who had recently returned from the Gamewatchers Adventure Camp in the north of the conservancy, and Amos, who was still completing his training.

It was interesting for me to find out that the Koiyaki guiding school (where some ST members sponsored a couple of female students year s ago) is regarded as the prime guide training centre in Kenya. Later in the trip we would come across a female guide driving a vehicle in the Mara conservancies

Edwin was the Camp Manger and John was in charge of overall hospitality.  An excellent team

 

On our first afternoon we were scheduled to visit a Maasai village outside the conservancy, before our the game drive. If I am honest I always found these visits uncomfortable. Are we intruding/ being patronising etc?.  But I do recognise that it brings in tourist dollars that benefits the community as  a whole. Having said that there is no doubt most of the guests found all this absilatuly fascinating. We had an interpreter to explain how life proceeded there and we are able to look inside the homes.  

 

What was interesting to for me was that I had done this some years ago.  (I cannot remember whether it was in the Mara or Samburu regions). There they had hole in the roof for the smoke to escape and an attached cow shed which I can only assume was to keep a calf safe.   These homes had neither, so there were certainly some differences in design.

 

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The picture of the moran who first greeted us on arrival is also interesting. The rather cool dude towards the centre in the picture above, with sticking out white ear/hair decorations,  and sun glasses on his head was quite the local entrepreneur. He apparently runs a motor bike based taxi service for the community.

 

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@penolva, thanks for the flight info.

 

@wilddog, great details so far.  I love the Gerenuk  "curtain" in the tent.

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wilddog

Sightings Day 1

 

After this we returned to the conservancy for our evening game drive.

 

I have to be honest here and say that due to my normal inefficiency I had not set the clock on my camera at this point so I have no idea exactly when we saw these but they are all part of day one so here we go.

 

The weather was notably over cast at this time which is unsurprising given we were approaching the short rains but for now the rains held off.

 

The other lot.........

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The first young impala we saw. Many more would arrive over the coming days

 

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These elephants caused a bit of excitement in the vehicles. For most guests this was a first close encounter with these huge animals. Fortunately these guys seemed pretty chilled.

 

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We then entered a section where there were variety of animals together . The food must have been good.

 

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Including this bull elephant who was in musth and not quite as pleased to see us as the previous elephants. Bit of ear flapping and posturing going on.

 

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Tom Kellie

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~ @wilddog

 

I like the perching hoopoe image above. Very nice.

 

Capturing it amidst the acacia spines makes for such an interesting photo.

 

Every hoopoe I ever encounter seems to be on the ground.

 

Having been a guest at Porini Lion in 2016, I know what a positive experience it is.

 

Thank you for this trip report, including the image within the aircraft. Seeing that summons happy memories.

 

Tom K.

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wilddog

Thanks @Tom Kellie your kind words are appreciated. Sadly it is a very poor image but at least it shows I saw it.

 

I have an even worse shot of a Long Crested Eagle, taken the same day; against a similar back ground,  withover cast sky and a bit of hand shake to add to the Quality. :lol:

 

I am certainly not skillful with bird photography but at least it a record of what I saw. All good fun

 

 

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@wilddog, knowing that you were going on your ST in October,  the wife and l have been waiting patiently for you to start your report, so we will be reading with great interest. Do like the elephants, the wife could stay all day just watching a herd.

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wilddog

Thanks for reading. I am making steady, if slow, progress @CDL111

 

More on Monday as I am away this weekend.?

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Gives us time to look we’re to go 2020

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wilddog

Amboseli October 4th

 

The second day in Selenkay we were scheduled to drive down to Amboseli  National Park for a full day of game viewing and a picnic lunch. We had breakfast before we went, This is something I am not accustomed to. Usually up and out at the crack of dawn etc. and was concerned that this might be normal practice at the camp. My anxieties proved unfounded it was simply that, with a long day ahead, a full breakfast was a good idea.

 

During the drives yesterday I had got to know the other UK travellers in our vehicle but the Utah couple who sat in  the front row seats had been rather quiet.

Evening meals were at too large tables with the new arrivals sitting at one, which gave the newbies a chance to meet properly. The other table was used by the earlier arrivals, which included the couple form Utah. So before the trip to Amboseli  I had not had a chance to talk to them much.

 

However, the next morning I sat in the row immediately behind this couple and got talking to them. They had previously been to Ol Pojeta, which they had enjoyed, and were now at Selenkay, on the their last full day in Africa, returning home to the States the following day........ and they had still not seen a Lion! I think we all know that feeling and even as a seasoned safari goer I would feel a bit cheated if I did not see a lion over at some point. So their reserve was perhaps understandable.

So we set off, hoping for lions at some point.

 

The journey down was uneventful, except that we came across 3 Rangers somewhere just outside the conservancy and before we reached Amboseli itself

4 lions had been reported just south of where we were, so both vehicles took a detour took a searching through the bush trying to locate them. After well over half an hour it was evident the lions were avoiding us, so we continued our journey south.

 

We finally entered the park to be greeted by our first Amboseli elephant.  A lovely sighting of this gentle giant.

 

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The plan was to do go and drive down one side of the lake, making a pit stop at a lodge before heading further south to the centre of the park for lunch at the viewpoint.

 

We turned off the main road to get to the lodge as there was something under a bush..... a lion!

 

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Sadly , this lion was not a serious contender for the title of 'King of the Jungle'. It had obviously taken a hell of a battering that morning or overnight and was lying down dejectedly and in pain, trying to recover. Our US friends had got a lion but not the most beautiful in the world. It was a pitiful sight.

 

We watched to for a while and moved on to a much needed pit stop and the  lake circuit.

 

We stopped at the Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge. This lodge seemed VERY upmarket and I felt I should be paying to go in! I would imagine operators may well have to pay an annual fee or something to use the facilities but I do not know if that is case. All feeling more comfortable, we then drove down the side of a lake. We had some lovely sightings in particular this large herd of elephants and some beautiful flamingos

 

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We then headed back the way we came coming across these baboons just near the lodge.

 

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As we approached the place where the lion had been earlier we found two large dagga boys grazing on the other side of the road.

 

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It came clear that they were planning to cross, so we re-positioned the vehicle  and waited to see what would happen. They would almost certainly find the injured lion.......

 

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..........which they did. They both trundled towards the spot where the poor lion was lying, and he then burst out of his resting place and ran. 

 

The video is at 50% speed

 

 

He then crossed the road further up and found another place to relax, for now. He was panting heavily.

 

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AfricIan

Wow that lion took on hell of a beating @wilddog, at least he was mobile enough to get away from the buffalo - I hope he wasn't the last sighting the couple from Utah got but it makes the point quite dramatically that Africa is not all "sweet & cuddly".

 

Your comments on the Serena lodge made me chuckle, I though the same back in 2010

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I have been hoarding this TR :)    Loving it so far though I feel soooooo bad for that lion. I too hope this is not the only lion this Utah couple see. And although I get that everything isn't peaches and cream,  it would be nice for them to also see the majesty of a lion, male or female- they are truly an iconic image of Africa. Well, except for elephants....oh elephants....Amboseli is where I fell in love with elephants many moons ago :)   Anyway- I am reeeallly looking forward to more of this TR.

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@wilddog, the lion certainly lost out and l am guessing his days are numbered. Pleasing to see a nice sized herd of elephants. Large quantity of flamingos, Would you know if this quantity is the norm at that time of year?

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wilddog

Sorry @CDL111 I did not think to ask. Guides did not make a big deal of their presence so my guess is not an unexpected sighting.

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