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A Return to Kenya: September 2019


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Am loving this report bc we have never been to Amboseli. Different animals and birds. Loved the waterhole priority and behavioral studies. 

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Thanks for the great report and beautiful pictures. Hard choices to make when planning a trip to Kenya in the future.

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Continuing to enjoy this very much.  The stark difference in Amboseli between the swamp and the surrounding arid areas is really apparent in your photos. I haven’t been there (yet), but it seems like all the photos one sees are of the arid parts, or occasional shot of Kilimanjaro, but I was never able to piece all the parts together until now. Thanks for this. 

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@philw @Hads @Alexander33 @Biko @plambers thank you

@Atravelynn I am glad you liked the drapery!



Travel to our next camp

After breakfast we drove towards Selenkay airstrip. We spent time looking for birds and only headed to the strip as we saw the plane heading in. It was then a 30 minute flight to Wilson Airport in Nairobi, a short wait and onto our second flight. Wilson airport is very well set up to make sure that you (and your luggage) get onto the correct flight. After about 45 minutes or so we landed at Mara North airstrip.


We were staying at Kicheche Mara in the Mara North Conservancy. On our previous (first) visit to Kenya about 3 years ago we had stayed at two other Kicheche camps (Laikipia and Bush) and had really liked the style of operation, the design of the vehicles, the focus on being out game viewing and the high quality guiding. We were not disappointed this time!


Our guide (Saruni) met us at the airstrip and we had a relatively short game drive to the camp. Kicheche Mara is in a beautiful setting with a small river running alongside it. You walk over a small bridge to get to the camp from the place where the vehicles stop.


our tent - the (six) tents are well spaced out with three on each side of the central dining area



View while walking from out tent to the dining area


We were greeted warmly, shown our tent, briefed about how the camp operated and after a brief rest we went for lunch. This was taken at an outside table (group dining) in a beautiful spot in the shade. (I will talk more about the camp and the guide later).

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I won’t do a blow by blow account of all the game drives, but will show some highlights.


The first couple of posts were from the first afternoon


Love and Death part 1


A lovely sighting of a mother suckling her two cubs















We were delighted to see such a scene on our first afternoon. Lovely to watch the mother with cubs and to listen to the noises they made. We may be guilty of projecting emotions but there appeared to be real tenderness and affection.  It was also really enjoyable to watch the cubs play when they had finished suckling.

Edited by TonyQ
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Love and Death part 1 (continued)

 This sighting was on the same afternoon (warning, not quite so cute)



Two cheetah brothers with recent kill













A bit gruesome, but two beautiful cats, very well fed.


Two contrasting sightings but a very good introduction to Mara North Conservancy


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Somehow in my mind, i had always thought Amboseli as an entirely flat, dry and dusty place so it was a good thing that was proved wrong with your photos of the swamp. Was it a very long drive to the swamp/hill viewpoint from the Porini camp? 


Love the mother-cubs scenes, and those two cheetahs were very well fed (very round bellies).

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Just catching up, great pictures as usual, those lion cubs are really cute and the cheetahs feeding are amazing.

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"We may be guilty of projecting emotions but there appeared to be real tenderness and affection."

I think that bond and tenderness is very real.  Adorable lion cubs and well-fed cheetah.

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@Kitsafari  difficult to give a straight driving time as we did quite a bit of birding on the way to Amboseli.

I would think it probably takes about 2 hours or so, but most of it is like an extended game drive

@Atravelynn @pedro maia  thank you

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19 minutes ago, TonyQ said:

I would think it probably takes about 2 hours or so, but most of it is like an extended game drive


I think you're about right there Tony, the Selenkay Conservency is, if I remember correctly, about 1hr North of the NP and the viewpoint is on the Southern side of the park so you have another hour or so "game drive" once in the park.

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Thanks for all the lovely images @TonyQ - From Serval to Cheetah to Lesser kudu!!!! to everything else ....... Awesome!

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Thank you @AfricIan

@madaboutcheetah thank you. There will be more cheetah a bit later on!

Kicheche Mara has many opportunities for birding around the camp. I could have posted many more taken around the camp but I do not want to overload non-birders!


The area around our tent was very good


White-browed robin-chat


African Fish Eagle – the Vervet crept down the branch and chased the Eagle away!


The area around the dining area was excellent. In particular the large trees providing shade for the lunch table were visited by many different species (take your camera to lunch!)


Speckled Mousebird


Common Wattle-eye


Spectacled Weaver


And there was a small river with a footbridge that led from the point where vehicles dropped you off and the short walk to the central area. The two flycatchers were both taken from the bridge.


African Blue Flycatcher


African Paradise Flycatcher (in very deep shade)


Long-crested Eagle (this was about 50m from the bridge, taken from our vehicle)



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Love and Death part 2


One morning we came across the two cubs and adult female walking purposefully. There were two other vehicles trying to follow the lions, getting views of their rear ends.. Saruni said we will look at where the lions are heading, get in front of them and wait for them to approach us.





Saruni then said that they were heading to somewhere important to them so we headed off to find out what this was. Again he positioned the vehicle really well.






The female in the front was not a core part of the pride, and sat a respectful distance for a while before edging forward and joining in

Edited by TonyQ
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I have left out some of the most gory photos, but these are still pretty bloody







For youngsters, everywhere is a plyground







Edited by TonyQ
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And a few more. It was fascinating to watch the interactions between different cats and to see how tolerant the adults are of the behaviour of cubs


Do the youngster still look quite so cute?













After all that food and excitment a sleep was called for (not for us!)


So lots of lions around in Mara North and lots of food. We really enjoyed this sighting. There is a rule in the conservancy that only three vehicles are allowed at a sighting and this was observed very well. After quite a long time (I just checked the timings on my photos - around an hour from first lion until last), Saruni asked us if we were happy to move as another vehicle was waiting some distance away. We were happy to leave, but could have stayed longer if we wished.


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@TonyQ I’ve caught up with your TR just now. Your bird photos are a delight as are those of the Swamp else.


I think there is real tenderness shown between the lioness and her cubs, especially as she is holding one of them so close with that massive paw. What a contrast between the suckling cubs and the blood-stained meat eaters at the zebra kill. 

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Thank you @Treepol


We really enjoyed our time in Mara North. We thought there was a good variety of wildlife and a good variety of landscapes.



Some Herds of Wildebeest were around


Grey Crowned Crane portrait


Black-winged Plover


Young lion with kill




Jackal - I always enjoy seeing Jackal


Buffalo with attendant




Reedbuck (Bohor?) - with lots of flies


White-tailed Mongoose - as it was getting dark


Topi and Sunset - we are not really into sundowners, but this one was worth watching!

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On one of our days at Kicheche Mara we visited the Mara reserve. We had hope that we would see large herds of herbivores, in particular wildebeest, but this was not to be. There were very few in the reserve on the day we visited. We enjoyed the visit and had some good sightings, but we thought the wildlife viewing was better in the Conservancy.


Bushbuck – a very attractive antelope


Common Ostrich - very pink, in the mood for breeding


Batleur flying over. They are fascinating to watch when they are flying – very little wing movement and the adults have a tiny tail


Common Fiscal


We did see some lions


Lion with kill




A family grouping, relaxing and playing




Kori Bustard – a magnificent bird


Vultures at kill




Including a young one out of the water


Tawny-flanked Prinia


Black-Chested Snake Eagle - which allowed us to get very close

So an enjoyable day out - but we did miss the big herds!

Edited by TonyQ
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Beautiful shots @TonyQ!  That sunset certainly WAS worth it...gorgeous.

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@TonyQ wonderful photos.  Especially enjoyed seeing all the lion cubs.  Looked to be a plethora of them.  What fun to watch them play. 

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Enjoying your report and photos so far, especially that sunset with topi

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Just catching up with this @TonyQ and really enjoying it.  Excellent sightings of the Suni and Serval on day one.

Love the Topi and sunset!

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@Atdahl @shazdwn @mapumbo @Zim Girl @Zubbie15

thank you

the next post may appeal to @madaboutcheetah !


Saruni and The Two Brothers


The Two Brothers are the two cheetah we saw earlier, on a kill. Saruni was our guide.



The morning started brightly


Yellow-throated Longclaw soaking up the early morning sun


After driving for a short while we saw our two cheetah, then one of them went chasing off really quickly, getting very close to a wandering Jackal.




It got close enough to touch it, and then stopped. Perhaps he had made his point, and the Jackal wandered off.


The cheetah returned to his brother and sat down next to him. There were two other vehicles who moved fairly close to the cheetah. (even with our limited expertise we could see that one of them was really badly positioned, looking straight into the sun)


We expected Saruni to go to the cheetah. However he said – I think they will walk to the top of that hill and spray against that tree (about 400m away) – let’s go and get ready for them. So he drove up the hill and positioned us near the tree (with the sun behind us).


And guess what happened…


Cheetah start waking


Reach the tree and have a sniff


Begin to spray to mark the tree.


Edited by TonyQ
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