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A Return to Kenya: September 2019


TonyQ

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I have saved this sighting for last, although it happened in the middle of the day. It was one of the most thrilling of the trip! A Serval It walked on the road   We

Selenkay Consevancy/Amboseli National Park   A quick car journey to Wilson Airport (The Boma Hotel is handily placed) for a 07.30 flight to Selenkay Airstrip. The plane left a bit early for

Bohor Reedbuck baby feeding Hartebeest Bushbuck - a really beautiful antelope - but I suppose they all are! Long-tailed Fiscal Vervet Monkey

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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.

 

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The morning started brightly

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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.

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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…

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Cheetah start waking

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Reach the tree and have a sniff

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Begin to spray to mark the tree.


 

Edited by TonyQ
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Then something we had not seen before

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Up the tree - firstly holding on tightly

 

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Then having a look round

 

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On returning to ground, a bit of play

And then

 

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Can’t always get the positioning perfect

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Saruni then thought they would head to a nearby ridge with some shade to rest (who were we to disagree!) So we headed off and they walked towards us

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We were very impressed by the guiding skills of Saruni – his knowledge of the locality and the behaviour of the animals combined with a good understanding of positioning the vehicle for viewing and photography. (We joked that he appeared to “have read the script”). It was a wonderful time with the brothers.

 

 

 

Kenya TR MN cheetah day-12.jpg

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We left the brothers to find a spot for our breakfast.

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We really like the structure of the day at Kicheche camps. Cup of coffee delivered to the room before leaving and then picnic breakfast out (this was at 9.am. but timing varied depending on what you were seeing)

 

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Secretary Bird

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Coqui Francolin

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After a return for lunch and a bit of relaxation, a cup of coffee (and cake) and head out for the afternoon session

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White-browed Coucal

 

After driving for a while, it started to get dark, and the rain began. We (or more accurately) Saruni put the canvas roof and one of the canvas sides into position and we put on the provided ponchos.

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Our two brothers looked a bit miserable (a bit of anthropomorphic projection?)

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The tree needed some fresh spraying

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518911852_KenyaTRMNcheetahday-28.jpg.f4c9a461bb1b467d4d62ebbdd3c2b15e.jpgA bit of licking to get rid of some of the excess water

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And huddle together

 

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Today’s sundowner was a bit different to the previous one :)

This was the only rain during the trip and it actually gave us a different experience rather than being a nuisance (obviously the light wasn't great!)

So quite a lot of time spent with the cheetah and we really enjoyed seeing different aspects of the behaviour.

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mapumbo

Great experience with the cheetah.  I especially like the secretary bird photo. 

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offshorebirder

Re-catching back up with this superb trip report.   I especially liked the information about the animal behavior and pecking order at waterholes.  

 

Thanks for sharing the details and great photos with us @TonyQ.

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Atravelynn
3 hours ago, mapumbo said:

Great experience with the cheetah.  I especially like the secretary bird photo. 

Exactly my sentiments.  Very chic look for the bird.

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Really great trip report with a lot of brilliant pictures (and sightings) ;)... I really like the serval and those 2 cheetahs look like they are on steroids.. They look so much bigger than those I saw i Kgalagadi. And so many lions on kills... wow!

Looking forward to the next chapter :) 

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@mapumbo @offshorebirder @Atravelynn thank you

@JayRon thank you - interesting about the size of the cheetah, I didn't know that.

 

Mara North and Kicheche Mara

We really enjoyed Mara North. There was a good variety of landscapes and a good variety of wildlife. We didn't see any leopard, but we were very relaxed about what we would see so this didn't bother us. At many, if not most of our sightings there were no other vehicles. When there were other vehicles (e.g. cheetah on kill, cheetah in tree, lion pride on kill) the guides managed the situation well (three vehicle rule) and behaviour was good.

 

Kicheche Mara is an excellent camp

 

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Inside our tent, bathroom visible at back of picture

 

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View from the sitting area in front of our tent

 

It is very comfortable, but the focus is still on being out for good game viewing experiences. The guiding (Saruni) and the vehicles were excellent.

 

It was managed by Cerys and Tony (who was leaving the job to spend more time with his family in Nairobi, but he would do interim manager jobs for Kicheche). Cerys in particular had very good interpersonal skills and the camp ran very smoothly.

 

I have fairly complex dietary requirements, and I had sent a sheet with some suggestions to Expert Africa to forward to the camps. I also took a copy with me - just in case. When we arrived, Cerys said they had received it, and they had discussed it at their team meeting before our arrival. The camp catered for me really well, imaginative tasty food. During our stay I went to see the chef to thank him and to congratulate him on the food provided. Cerys also got the chef to phone the chef at our next Kicheche camp to talk to him about how he had managed and to offer suggestions. Very thoughtful and much appreciated.

 

On our last morning we would do a game drive/transfer ending up at our next camp – Kicheche Valley in the Naboisho Conservancy. We would follow the usual plan of having a bush breakfast. The first part of the morning was spent in Mara North . Then there was a section along a dusty road before we reached Mara Naboisho and then to Kicheche Valley.

 

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An early morning lion checking out the smells, and leaving some of his own

 

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Another Secretary Bird, but this time a fully grown adult

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African Grey Hornbill flies across

We visited an area where the Offbeat Pride hangs out

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We stopped to watch some Banded Mongoose searching through some herbivore droppings

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Keeping watch

 

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Pied Kingfisher

So a very enjoyable way to travel between two camps.

 

Edited by TonyQ
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Enjoying your report and excellent photos.  Did you have a private vehicle and if not was there any issues with sharing a vehicle?  

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@Raelond

Thank you

We had private vehicles. We like to be able to spend time doing what we want to do, stop for birds, stay for a long time at a hyena den, watch behaviour. We avoid the issues of sharing a vehicle 

 

In Nairobi we booked a private guide

At Porini we paid for it for the 2 full days and also got it (no charge) for the first day which was almost a full day. We asked for a Wilson as he is an experienced bird guide.

At each of the two Kicheche camp we stayed 4 nights and paid for private vehicle/guide for the 3 full days. As we hoped/expected we got private guides for the full stay. We didn’t ask for a particular guide at the two Kicheche camps as we believe their guiding is very good generally.

 

Kicheche only put 4 in a vehicle even if you don’t pay for a private guide, and you could get some of your drives as private anyway.

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Wonderful report with great pictures, especially the portrait of the Secretary bird. Looking forward to the Naboisho part of your report. We stayed there last year and enjoyed it very much at Kicheche.

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mapumbo

Looks like the Offbeat pride is doing well.  We will be in Naboisho in February.  Will be interested in your sightings.

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you know we love kicheche camps too. at kicheche mara, Raymond and tony were the managers. tony was so sweet-he played scrabble with my teens after lunches! sorry to hear he is leaving. who are the managers at valley now? it was andy and another woman whose name i forgot. 

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@plambers

Tony was very nice - he was leaving the full time job because it was so much time away from his family in Nairobi.

Andy is still managing Valley, and a woman whose name I have also forgotten!

In my defence, she was only there for the first lunch just after we arrived there:)

 

@ELIL thank you

@mapumbo I think you will enjoy it. I look forward to hearing about what it is like in February.

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michael-ibk

Excellent Pictures from the Mara Tony, and thanks for the detailed camp descriptions - Kicheche really Looks like my Cup of tea. Happy Christmas to both of you!

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Alexander33

Continuing to enjoy this report very much, @TonyQ .  We will be at Kicheche Mara a month from now, and you really have whetted my appetite.  I’m looking forward to your impressions of Naboisho and Kicheche Valley (which we will not visit) and how they compare to your experience in Mara North. 
 

Edited by Alexander33
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TonyQ

@Alexander33  I think you will enjoy Kicheche Mara - we certainly did!

 

I will continue - apologies for delay as CHristmas and New Year got in the way !

 

Naboisho Conservancy and Kicheche Valley Camp

 

We would spend 4 nights at Kicheche Valley. This is another well run Kicheche camp and we were very happy with it

 

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View from our tent

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Inside our tent

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A Dwarf Mongoose in front of our tent - checking out the new neighbours

 

 

Edited by TonyQ
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TonyQ

Our guide for the duration of our stay was Bernard. We were very happy with him and thought that he was an excellent guide with good understanding of the Conservancy and of the wildlife. The next posts will give a flavour of the sightings, but I will not do a game drive by game drive account.

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African Pygmy Kingfisher

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Bat-eared Fox – our only, brief sighting in daylight. When they saw us they hurried off into cover

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Dwarf Mongoose

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– picking up a baby so that they could hurry away from us - we were very excited to see this behaviour

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Eland - I think the only one we saw in Naboisho

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Giraffe –  stretching

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Relaxing - there were lots of Giraffe in Naboisho

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Hippo out in the open during the daytime.

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TonyQ

Spotted Hyena

The hyena were feasting on a kill

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A bit to take away

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Jackal were also interested and they were surprisingly bold, nipping in to grab a bit from under the noses of the hyena. I am guessing that because there was a lot of food around, the hyenas did not defend it as strongly as they might.

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We really enjoyed watching the interaction. Vultures waited in the background for any leftovers.

 

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A young lion relaxes with a fairly full looking belly, not far from the hyena,
 

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A breakfast stop with a great view

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Waterbuck – the only time we saw them in Naboisho. They were taking advantage of the greenest grass around

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TonyQ

1941068067_KV12cheetah-2.jpg.b95f67f9d29c09009f1a0ad1cbf1338c.jpg

Always enjoyable to see another Cheetah

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A bit of a yawn

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Having a look round

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And thenwalking away

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looking very purposeful

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TonyQ

We only saw one Leopard during this trip, and that was distant and up a tree.

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We waited quite a while for it to come down. The light was fading but something interesting did happen.

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A group of Baboons arrived, saw the leopard and Bernard thought they wanted to spend the night in this tree. So some of them climbed the tree and started shaking some of the branches near the leopard – but it did not work. They were very bold, but the Leopard stayed put!

 

We felt very relaxed about what we would or would not see on this trip. It wasn't a good view of a leopard (unlike our last visit to Kenya) but we certainly found the behaviour of the Baboons fascinating

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TonyQ

Hyena Den No.1

One of my favourite animals is the Hyena (Spotted in this case).

One afternoon, Bernard asked if we wanted to visit a Hyena den – certainly yes!

 

Hyena are very good parents, and it is a real pleasure to see them with their youngsters.

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The first one is with a very young baby, maybe 2 weeks old.

The youngster would disappear underground and then reappear seeking reassurance from mother

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but it does get a bit tiring!

 

The second one is with an older youngster, beginning to develop some spots but still pretty dark.

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Affection

 

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And feeding

As you can tell, it was getting pretty dark. However we had loved seeing the hyena and their interactions.

They get a very undeserved bad press, but we love seeing them!

Edited by TonyQ
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