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(Almost) last-minute trip to the Mara- June 2019


ELIL

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Mara North was really packed with different kind of herbivores. I can not remember that I did ever see so many different species in high numbers like during these 3 days in MNC.

 

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Giraffes were as majestic as always

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And Zebras were in every corner of the conservancy

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And another doomed prey

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Already waiting for it

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Love your photos!  We were in the Mara and surrounding conservancies in October (trip report being worked on currently in word doc) and it is so interesting to see the same area in your pictures when everything is green!  Amazing that the impala and zebra can survive such grievous injuries, although I know it won't be long before they are caught and finished.  The zebra's wounds are astounding, and he is just grazing!!   Looking forward to more!

Heather 

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@MMMim Thanks for your comments. My guide didnt expect the two to survive more than 2-3 hours. Be it from the wounds or some other predators.

 

Looking forward to your trip report.

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Zubbie15

Really enjoying this report, and the photos. I have vague plans for the Mara in 2022, and so these type of reports are helping me get some ideas. 

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We found 4 cheetahs - mother with three younger ones - during an afternoon drive. The 4 cheetahs were  resting and laying around. They were not very active, but still nice to watch for some time. 

 

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We did not spent a lot of time with the cheetahs. Our guide mentioned that lions with cubs had been spotted in the morning and we went on to find them. And it did not take long until we found a lioness with her two cubs.

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It was interesting and funny at the same time to watch the two cubs showed completely different behaviors and characters. One was very active and full of energy, only able to sit down for a few seconds. While the other was almost most of the time busy with an old branch, very calm and focused on his toy.

 

The "quiet" cub

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The "active" cub was looking for something more interesting

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To climb or not to climb?

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How does the branch taste?

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Mother is watching you

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Play with me!

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Finally the active joined his quiet brother

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Playing can be exhausting

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and makes you hungry

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We spent almost an hour watching the cubs with their mother. We enjoyed it very much following their steps and interactions. I am rarely using the video function of my camera, but this time I made some videos as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The next morning we returned to the place where we found the lion cubs and it did not take long until we found them again.

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We watched them for some minutes when we saw some movement in a bush behind us. There were another two cubs exploring their surroundings.

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But these two were a little bit shy and returned into the bush. We were a quite surprised and wondering where the two new cubs are coming from. Other lions were not visible and we thought some were hiding in the bushes around. So we went to the other side of the bush, but no other bigger lion around. Only the two new cubs were playing in the bush and occasionally looking curiously on us.

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After so much time with lion cubs, we went to some of the other game. As mentioned in one of the first posts I did not see many elephants during this trip, neither in the reserve nor in Mara North. The only encounter in Mara North was a lone elephant walking his way through the open grassland.

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A waterbuck close by was curious about us.

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But did not bother long, only watched by a vervet monkey in the background.

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A little bit later, we found a lion couple. We saw them already the day before close to the mother with the two cubs and my guide mentioned that all of them are from the same pride.

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Edited by ELIL
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We did see the cheetah with her three cubs from the day before again. This time the young ones were very active and playing and chasing each other.

 

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When the mother appeared, the three calmed down for a moment

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But continued soon with exploring some holes or small dens  in the ground

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Edited by ELIL
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During one game drive we went to the famous Leopard gorge. It received its fame from a BBC documentation and was home to some leopards in the past. Nowadays, leopards abandoned this place, but one of the caves formerly inhabitated by leopards is now the home of hyenas.

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None of the older family members was around, only one of the older siblings guarded the entrance to the cave.

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Almost next to the hyena cave, a Hamerkop was collecting material for his nest.

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My guide mentioned that Hamerkops are building the biggest nest of all birds. They are definitely impressive and huge.

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For the last afternoon drive, my guide suggested to visit an area further north looking for another lion pride.

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We encountered two lions which spotted a lone buffalo. Lions and buffalo were staring at each other...

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Then the lions started to approach the buffalo. It felt like the final stand-off between the good and bad guy in old black and white western movies.

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The lions looked determined to attack the buffalo and headed directly towards their goal..

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and the this happened

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A few meters away from the buffalo, the lions just layed down and rested. It was quite a comical scene. We were fascinated by the encounter, expecting the lions to attack the buffalo and then the two are falling asleep seconds before they reach their target. Unfortunately, I did not make a video of this scene, but it was  more slapstick than wildlife.

 

Anyway, the two lions did not show any interest in the buffalo and were scanning the area.

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And after a few minutes, they decided to forget the world around them and started cuddling each other. Nice to watch, but I would have loved to see more of their predator trait than of their pussycat behavior ;)

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Edited by ELIL
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And a final batch of birds

 

Lappet faced vulture

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Bare-faced Go-Away-bird

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Malachite Kingfisher

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Woodland Kingfisher

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Coqui Francolin

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Straw-tailed Whydah

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Von der Decken's Hornbill

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Sooty Chat

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Southern Fiscal

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Fork-tailed Drongo

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Yellow Bishop

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On my way back to the airstrip we saw the cheetah mother with her 3 boys again. We came a little bit late to a hunting attempt of one of the younger ones.

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The hunt was not successful and he returned to his mother who was watching her sons hunting efforts from a distance.

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This was a nice closure of my safari to the Mara. Overall summary is still very positive. I had some nice sightings in both the reserve and Mara North. Some not so nice experience with one guide but even these game drives were fine. I can fully recommend the Karen Blixen camp to those who don't mind about bigger camps. And I was positively surprised about the traveling to the Mara at the end of the rainy season in June. Prior to the trip, I had read about the long grass during this time that may have a negative impact on your sightings. I can not confirm this at all. Quite the contrary, the fresh green landscape turned this trip into a great experience and now I consider this as a great period for a safari for myself. 

 

And last but not least, putting this report together let me repeat this safari trip in some way and it did shorten the time until our next trip to Uganda in February. Thanks for reading and commenting.

 

 

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Thank you for a really well written report with excellent photos.

I enjoyed all of it, but took particular pleasure in seeing Mara North at a different time of year 

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Zubbie15

Thanks for sharing, really interesting to see the area, especially at a less popular time of year. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Really high quality photos and stories.

I am now thinking of a trip to the area 2020 and this was what I was looking for.

 

BTW, I don´t think the snake was a black mamba. Mamba har a very elongated "koffin"-shaped head and are - to my knowledge - never black but rather brown-olive. However, the lining of the mouth is black, better call it "Black-mouthed mamba", which you see it threatens to strike you (don´t experience that).

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Earthian

Great Photographs. Really very good capture.I felt that i was there alongside.

Thank you for sharing.

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@Sverker Thanks for your correction of the snake ID. I did a quick search on the web and now I am tempted to call it a Rinkhals snake. But I am not an expert here and open for other suggestions. And I hope you will have a great trip.

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Alexander33

@ELIL

 

Thank you so much for posting your report. I’ve seen vehicles from Karen Blixen while in Mara North, but didn’t really have any insight into the camp, so I’m glad to hear a positive report about them. 
 

I, too, am a fan of the green season, though I haven’t been there in June.  From your report, it looks like a nice time of year to visit. 

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