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Kenya after the rains, February 2020


mapumbo

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mapumbo

Mama Ndege and I are off on our eighth African safari.  We have again used The Wild Source to organize our trip.  Our main focus was to see the migration calving in Ndutu in Tanzania.  Due to the recommendation of our guide George Mwbambo, who we were with in 2018, he suggested we come back in February.  So along with going with George our second week of safari we added a week in Kenya.  First with Ping in the Enaidura Camp in the Mara and then 3 nights in the Naboisho Conservancy at the Asilia property of Encounter Mara.

 

We had been hearing about the historical amount of rain in East Africa and were concerned that it might hamper our trip.  It seems that we lucked out because the rains had mostly stopped a couple weeks before our arrival.  The roads were still wet in the Mara and the grass was 5 to 6 foot tall throughout the reserve.  We only experienced one short night time rain during the entire 2 weeks but had a note from George after we got home that it was raining again.

 

The sightings in the Mara were a little tough because of the tall grass.  There were lots of elephants in the reserve.  Most of the grazers were outside of the reserve in the community lands where the grass was short.

 

The Enaidura Camp is a well run camp with nice roomy tents and fantastic food.  It sits in a shaded area next to the river and we saw Dik Dik and warthogs cross our path on our walk from our tent to the main tent.

 

As always, most of the photos are from Mama Ndege.  You can get a good idea in the shots from the reserve at how tall the grass was.

 

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mapumbo

 

 

 

ZEBRA MISSING A TAIL

 

 

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ZEBRA, ONE EAR UP ONE DOWN

 

 

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TOPI PLAINS

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GOLDEN LIGHT ON YOUNG JACKALS

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mapumbo

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MARTIAL EAGLE

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VALENTINES DAY GIFT FROM THE CAMP

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TonyQ

Lovely photos, beautiful light.

I will enjoy this report!

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mapumbo

Thank you @TonyQ.  

I will primarily post photos with a short description of our camps and any major highlights.

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mapumbo

We left the Mara and the Enaidura Camp by being driven by camp staff to the Naboisho Conservancy and the Asilia Encounter Mara Camp.  It was about a 2 hour drive through a couple of small villages and livestock grazing lands.

 

I had read numerous positive things about the Asilia quality of camps.  This was the first time we had stayed at one.  We had gotten an off season price to make it work for our budget.  We were not disappointed with the selection.  The camp is practically hidden from view in a section of bush.  You do not even know it is there until you pull up to the gate.  The tents, as well, are isolated from each other for a nice sense of privacy.  This ended up being the only camp that had nearly a full occupancy, although the last night at our last camp in Tanzania was full.

 

There was a dramatic difference in the condition of the land compared to the Mara.  Ping had told us that this area can handle the rain much better and that it will be drier and easier to get around.  He was right.  It was amazing the difference.  Also, since it is a conservancy, the grass was not 6 foot tall, although there were areas where the cattle hadn't grazed yet where there was abundant grass.  There were grazers everywhere.  We saw the biggest herds of Eland that we have ever seen.

 

We had not paid for a private guide and vehicle so were paired up with a young man from New York City on his first safari.  He had taken a break from his career and was checking off his bucket list.  He had just finished a 9 day ascent of Kili with a few days of rest at Zanzibar.  He was off to see the gorillas and golden monkeys after his stay at Encounter Mara.  He was a joy to share our vehicle with.  It was great fun to see his astonishment at the many wonders of a great game drive.

 

We also were privileged to have a stellar guide.  His name is Francis and he was just the right mix of personality with interesting stories and information.

 

 

BREAKFAST WITH FRANCIS AND MAMA NDEGE

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DUNG BEETLE

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LOTS OF BABIES BEING BORN

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mapumbo

Francis asked us what we would like to see and we said what we always do "we like everything".  Our safari mate Jacob said he would like to see lions.  Frances said with about as much conviction as you ever hear from a guide "you will see lions".   He definitely was correct.  Until we looked back at our photos, we had not realized how many lions we had seen.  We kept count of the leopards and cheetah but had not kept a tally on the lions.

 

 

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A MATING PAIR

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Kitsafari

lovely to see mara again.

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7 hours ago, mapumbo said:

There was a dramatic difference in the condition of the land compared to the Mara.  Ping had told us that this area can handle the rain much better and that it will be drier and easier to get around. 

 

@mapumbo thanks for this piece of information. I am planning for a trip in February 2021 and would like to go to a conservancy and a camp that would be less affected by heavy rainfall. Naboisho it will be!

Looking forward to the rest of your trip report. Thanks for the dung beetle, small is beautiful.

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mapumbo

@biko

Thanks for following along.  

Yes, the dung beetles were interesting.  Later in our safari when we were in the heart of the migration, the wildebeests were laying on the road and the dung beetles were taking full advantage of it.  They were rolling huge balls down the road and we tried to avoid driving on them.  I wish I would have gotten a photo of this.

There was a stark difference on the condition of the roads between the Mara and the Conservancy.  The roads are better maintained in the Conservancy too, I think.

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mapumbo

After our bush breakfast we headed out to look for an area where there could be leopard.  We didn't find any but Francis got a call that there were 2 cheetah brothers out in the open.  We drove up where they were soaking up the morning sun.  They were massive healthy looking fellows.  I asked Francis if they had a name and he said they were known as Amani's boys and they were about 4 years old..  Mama Ndege and I exclaimed in excitement that these must be the cubs Amani was expecting when we were last in Kenya and Amani was in Mara North where she gave birth a few days after we saw her.

 

Francis explained that they will soon yawn, stretch and get up and walk over to the shade of a tree as they get warmed by the morning sun.  Sure enough after watching them for about 10 minutes they did exactly as he predicted.

 

 

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mapumbo

We then drove on for a game drive enjoying the beautiful day with sunshine and the lush green of the conservancy after the abundant rains.

Then we headed back to camp for lunch.

 

 

THOMPSON GAZELLE WITH BRAND NEW BABY

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mapumbo

in the conservancy we are able to do night drives, so we requested to do one that evening.  The plan was to take a siesta in the afternoon, eat early and leave around 7 PM.  The Encounter Camp has a really nice viewing deck near a natural salt lick.  It is visited by giraffes fairly frequently.  We enjoyed a cold Tusker and lounging on the deck watching giraffe come in to the area below the deck to lick on the salt that is in the bank of the drainage.

 

 

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mapumbo

We enjoyed the change of scenery with the night drive.  We had sightings of bat eared fox, hippo out of water, white-tailed mongoose, hyena, elephant, and gazelle.

 

The next morning we were back out at daylight.  Francis had a report there were lions out in the open and still active.  There are a family of six.  Two adult females and four sub adults.  The light is the golden Africa morning glow that you hope for.  The lions were also lit up reflecting the golden light.IMG_8026.jpg.d2c99e02ddf906cb77bb9a16f4699451.jpg

 

 

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LION WITH TWO NOSES AND THREE EARS

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mapumbo

Scenes from the rest of our morning drive.

 

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I can't wait to see your leopards! I'll ID any if necessary. :)

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mapumbo
23 hours ago, Lyss said:

I can't wait to see your leopards! I'll ID any if necessary. :)

 

Okay,  we did see a few but only one in the Mara.  It was a male on the other side of the Mara river and we didn't get a photo of him.  I will have a separate TR for the Tanzania portion coming soon.

Lions, lions and more lions in the conservancy. 

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mapumbo

Our evening drive did not lack for want of more lions.  

 

We drove down along the river in the bush hoping to find leopard.  On a bank on the edge of the river we saw a female lion flat on her side.  At first we thought she might be dead.  But with the same behavior as the two male cheetah we disturbed her enough that she was in wake up mode.  First the stretch, then a couple of big yawns.  Francis said that we should stay with her because she acts like she is thinking about hunting.  Sure enough.  Nearby were zebra, warthogs and impala.  We could tell she was in stalking mode.  Francis positioned the truck so we would be in good position to see a hunt.  Somehow the zebra smelled or spotted her and spooked toward us and then away.

 

 

 

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GRINNING LIONESS

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ON THE HUNT

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mapumbo

On our last day in Kenya at the Noboisho Conservancy we had time for a morning drive before our flight to the Kenya border and then across to Tanzania.  

 

We heard lion roaring in the morning and they sounded like they were close to camp.  Francis drove us around the back side of the camp looking for them. We could occasionally hear them calling and finally came across two young males laying near a stream out in the open.  When we approached them we stopped next to one of the fellows and he began roaring.  We were close enough that it seemed that the vehicle was vibrating and it sent chills up your body.  What a great send off for us and the other guest with us who was on his first safari.

 

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mapumbo

We were still not done with lion sightings.  

 

On the way back to camp for a breakfast in camp, we came across another pair of apparently mating lion.  On top of that we viewed a pride of females on the way to the air strip after breakfast.

 

Our stay at Encounter Mara reinforced our opinion of stays in the Kenya conservancies.  Of course the camp was top notch but the other plus is that our sightings were often just us or if there were more vehicles, the guides did not crowd the wildlife.  It appeared that 4 vehicles were all that would come in close to a sighting and then as one would leave then another would approach.

 

There definitely was an abundance of lion.  They all looked healthy and well fed.

 

 

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BREAKFAST SET UP FOR US ON THE VIEWING DECK

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kilopascal

Love this last lion picture

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kilopascal

Oops.  Replied too late.  Love the last lion pic in post 19.  Very nice.

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Atravelynn

Not only did you have an abundance of lion, but most were in nice light.  Your week in the Mara, week in Ndutu is something I hope to do some day.  Thanks for the Naboisho Conservancy hint on handling rain.  You didn't have too much rain by the looks of your photos, despite the title of the report.

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mapumbo
2 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

Not only did you have an abundance of lion, but most were in nice light.  Your week in the Mara, week in Ndutu is something I hope to do some day.  Thanks for the Naboisho Conservancy hint on handling rain.  You didn't have too much rain by the looks of your photos, despite the title of the report.

Yes, we had several mornings where we experienced the golden sunrise.

We were there about two weeks after historic rains and the ground was beginning to dry in the Mara and was essentially back to normal in Naboisho, although we did get stuck once in each area. 

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