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Cheetah, Cheetah and Honey Badgers Too February 2020


mapumbo
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This TR follows the week we spent in Kenya.  That TR is titled Kenya, After the Rains.  

 

We left the Mara Naboisho Conservancy late morning to do the transfers of two bush flights with a border crossing in between to cross into Tanzania.  We were a little concerned about how this would work out for us since we had no idea what the process would be like.  Our guide, Francis, from the Encounter Mara Camp drove us to the Ol Seki Airstrip.  We flew from there to the Migori Airstrip on Safarilink.  We were met by a driver who gave us paperwork to fill out to use for leaving Kenya and also what we would need to enter Tanzania.  There were 4 others with us who were going to different camps in Tanzania.  The driver was very patient and helpful with supplying us with the details we would need to make the transfer.  I'm sorry I did not get his name or company but they had the process perfected.

 

The drive from the Migori Airstrip was a little less than an hour to the border.  We drove mostly through commercial and residential areas.  On arrival at the Kenya border we went through customs and handed in our paperwork.  Then it was back in the van, through a gate to another building a short way into Tanzania where we again got out, took our luggage in to have it scanned, had our temperature taken, washed our hands in disinfectant bleach, and went through the border entrance procedure.  4 of us had evisa's and the 2 that got their visa at the border actually got through quicker.  It still was a quick process for all of us but there were just a few other people passing through at that time.

 

Back in the van and it seemed like a short drive to the Tarime Airfield where the pilots were waiting at a table under the shade of a tree and we loaded our baggage up and were off to the Seronera Airstrip with one stop along the way to let off two passengers at Kokatende.

 

We were back in the Serengeti where we had been just a short time before in August of 2018.

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Here are a few of the photos Mama Ndege took through the van window and plane during our transfer from Kenya to Tanzania

 

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YES, THAT IS A FULL SIZED SOFA ON THE BACK OF THAT MOTORCYCLE

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Thanks for sharing--looking forward to seeing more photos!

 

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One of your shots in post #2 also appears to be "after the rains."  I see the cheetah.  Unless the honey badger was hiding roadside, I assume it will appear later!

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13 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

One of your shots in post #2 also appears to be "after the rains."  I see the cheetah.  Unless the honey badger was hiding roadside, I assume it will appear later!

Lynn, I assume you mean the truck/car wash photo.  As many of you probably know, Tanzania also experienced historic rains this year and same as the situation was in Kenya, we were visiting two weeks after the rains had stopped and we were not hindered by flooded roads.  In fact it was very dusty, especially in Ndutu.

 

Note...honey badgers is plural.

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So the honey badgerssss are not part of the truck wash and will pop up later.  ^_^ Plural honey badgers is very exciting.  Interesting you mention Ndutu was dusty.  My 2017 Feb visit was also dusty with no rain until about the 17th of Feb.  Looking forward to the dust and the badgers, plural,  and of course some more cheetahs.

Edited by Atravelynn
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On arrival at the Seronera Airstrip we walk into the terminal and there was our friend and guide George Mbwambo waiting for us with his radiant smile.  We had been with George in August of 2018 along with 4 of our friends in a classic Northern Serengeti tour and a finish at the river crossings at Kogatende.  George visited the central United States  a short time later and came to our house for a tour of our ranch and a steak dinner at our friends house, with our group that traveled with him.

 

With just the two of us with George this time, we anticipated a leisurely safari, off the main busy track, with lots of time sitting and observing animal behavior.

 

We loaded our things in his trusty vehicle with the top already up and were immediately off on safari.  It did not take long until we observed a first for us.  A pair of elephants mating.  This was our 8th safari to Africa starting in 2002 and we had seen 4 of the big five mating but had not seen elephants. This consummated (pun intended) the last of the quest for all the big five mating. This would be the start of several other firsts for us on this safari.

 

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I am never happier than driving in the open plains of the Serengeti when there are Kopjes around to view.  On top of that George spotted lion on top of one of them.  How he saw them we could not believe.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Atravelynn said:

So the honey badgerssss are not part of the truck wash and will pop up later.  ^_^ Plural honey badgers is very exciting.  Interesting you mention Ndutu was dusty.  My 2017 Feb visit was also dusty with no rain until about the 17th of Feb.  Looking forward to the dust and the badgers, plural,  and of course some more cheetahs.

 

It will be a bit before the honey badgers but more is the operative word combined with cheetah.

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wow, mating elephants, that's something new! I don't think I've seen that in any other trip report on here! Very cool.

 

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A few bird photos taken that afternoon going to the Nyumbani Collection Camp and the next morning.

George is an avid birder and will stop for most birds much to the enjoyment of Mama Ndege.  A reminder that all of the photos in the TR are taken by Ndege.

 

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ABYSSINIAN SCIMITARBILL

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BLACK-WINGED STILT

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5 minutes ago, janzin said:

wow, mating elephants, that's something new! I don't think I've seen that in any other trip report on here! Very cool.

 

 

Really!!!   Thank you.   I wasn't sure it was terribly unusual but it certainly was a sought after first for us.

Edited by mapumbo
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Our drive to the Nyumbani Collection Camp took us through the more populated area of Seronera and away to a secluded area.  The camp is the only one in sight and is backed up against a Kopje.  There are 8 tents.  We were the only guests until  the last night when one more guest arrived.  The staff was delightful.  We have never been around a more fun loving group.  At night there are no other lights from camps in sight, unlike when we stayed more in the central Seronera area in 2018.  It felt like you were in a village with camp lights in all directions.

 

The next morning we ate breakfast before daylight and were on the road by 6:30 with a lunch box for an all day safari.  Similar to the tall grass we experienced in the Mara in Kenya the week before, the grass around the camp was nearly as tall and thus not the amount of game.  George said that we were headed for the Barafu Plains and Kopjes where there were more grazers and the grass was shorter.  It was nearly a two hour drive from camp to get where the grass became shorter and we started seeing herds of grazers.

 

Once we arrived in the Barafu Plains the cheetah extravaganza began.  Be prepared for cheetah overload in this first morning safari in the Serengeti.  As we were entering the plains Mama Ndege thought she saw something, perhaps a bat eared fox bounding through the grass.  George stopped as we looked for movement.  We could not see it again but as George was looking around he looked back where we had come from and said "there are two cheetah."  We turned around and drove up to two male cheetah resting in the grass.  We viewed them for a bit and got photos when more folks started to arrive.

 

 

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We drove a little further and came across these two young male lion resting near the road.  They look to become a couple of boys to reckon with in the future.

 

 

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As I said the grass was grazed shorter and the grazers were in more abundance.

 

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There are the Big 5, the Little 5, the Ugly 5, and more, but it never occurred to me to try to see the Mating Big 5.   Now you are 5 for 5 in that category.  I think I am only 3 for 5.  Nyumbani Collection Camp is also a new one for me and it seems the eles were on the way.

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Up ahead we could see a group of vehicles in the road so we headed that way.  They were probably less than a mile away but while we were traveling in that direction George goes "another cheetah down there".   Sure enough, but again, how did he see him.  He was a good distance from the road in a marshy area with lots of cover.  We drove down to get closer.  George thought the cheetah was trying to hide in the grass and wait for a gazelle to come down to drink and ambush him.  There were no grazers around so we proceeded to where the vehicles were still grouped up in the road.

 

On arrival there was a mother and half grown cub among the vehicles.  At times they were playing by chasing each other around.  The mother jumped up on a vehicle a couple of times which was not a good thing to be teaching her youngster.  They eventually ambled off toward the horizon where there were a group of vultures.  At this point most of the vehicles left but we stayed to see what they were going to do.  About this time several hyena started running toward where the vultures were from a couple different directions.  The mother and cub then came back toward us but there was nothing around at this time for them to hunt.

 

THE SINGLE CHEETAH NEAR THE MARSH

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MOTHER CHEETAH

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CHEETAH CUB

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10 minutes ago, Atravelynn said:

There are the Big 5, the Little 5, the Ugly 5, and more, but it never occurred to me to try to see the Mating Big 5.   Now you are 5 for 5 in that category.  I think I am only 3 for 5.  Nyumbani Collection Camp is also a new one for me and it seems the eles were on the way.

 

Our very first African safari in Kenya in 2002 was when we got almost all of the big five mating. We first saw rhino mating at Sweetwater at the lighted water hole  the second night in country.  We saw leopard mating in Samburu, also lion mating there.  If memory serves, I believe we saw Buffalo mating on that trip as well, but may have been on another.

 

Nyumbani Camp has only been there a couple of years.  They wanted to make sure we would give them a good review since they are trying to establish their reputation.  I would certainly stay there again.

Edited by mapumbo
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The whole time we were with the mother and cub we could see another even larger group of vehicles on the horizon.  I think George had a pretty good idea what was going on over there.  He had been with another group on safari a week before we came in the same part of the Serengeti, so knew there was a mother with five cubs in the area.  Sure enough, when we pulled up there was Super Mom with five 4 or 5 month old cubs feeding on a zebra.  She has been doing a wonderful job raising this huge litter of young.  They all appeared to be growing well and were healthy.  What a sight.  That made a total of 11 different cheetah before lunch.  Wow.

 

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Love the breeze in the neck hairs on those youngsters.

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Great start and some great sightings already,  and who don´t like cheetahs^_^^_^...And  I very excited about the honey badger.. I been to Africa 6 times but never really seen one (only a few glimpses)  ... 

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After the 11 cheetah extravaganza we headed off to find a place for lunch.  After lunch we continued driving around the Barafu Kopjes area.  Not any more cheetah sightings but plenty of interest anyway.

 

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The next morning we followed the same schedule.  Breakfast before dawn, on the road by 6:30.  As I mentioned earlier, the Nyumbani Camp was in an area where the grass was very tall from all of the recent rain.  There were not many grazers in the nearby area.  Who knows how many predators were around as it would be difficult to see them.

 

We had not been more than 10 minutes from camp when very near the road we spotted a lioness and her two cubs with a full grown zebra kill.  The cubs were intent on eating and had there heads inside the carcass most of the time.  When we got a look at them they looked like they had not been eating well lately although they had a good feast at the present.  I'm sure their mother had been having a tough time finding enough prey in the tall grass area.  George thought they were probably old enough to be able to survive though now.

 

 

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MOTHER DRAGGING THE CARCASS DEEPER INTO THE TALL GRASS.  YOU COULD SEE THE BACKBONE AND HIP BONES OF THE CUBS STICKING OUT

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PYGMY FALCON

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TRAFFIC JAM ON EARLY MORNING COMMUTE 

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ForWildlife

Elephants mating! I've never seen that, I've seen one practically being born, taking its first steps, but never seen elephants mating. Wonderful!

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@ForWildlife Thank you, it was special.

We are cattle ranchers and had seen hundreds of matings, the body language of the pair as we drove up was very similar.

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This morning our goal was to get to the Gol Kopjes.  We had to travel the same route as the day before through the tall grass area, then the Barafu Plains.  From there we passed through what George aptly called the Zebra Plains.

 

 

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Driving through the tall grassy area, out of the corner of our eye we saw a lion bounding through the grass.  We had George stop and we could tell she was pursuing something.  Out in the road popped a wart hog.  When the lioness came to the road she could see the wart hog kicking up dust down the way and she gave up.  These photos will show you how tall the grass was.

 

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We arrived at the Gol Kopjes and it was truly breath taking.  Beautiful open vistas with the occasional kopje scattered throughout.  It didn't take long to spot our first cheetah.  She was sitting on top of a rock in the distance.  Of course, George spotted her.

 

Not much further we came on cheetah two and three.  A mother and cub looking to hunt. We watched them for a spell but they were not having any luck.

 

There were practically no other vehicles in sight.  There actually was an extra permit needed for permission to visit this area which George had gotten the day we arrived in the Serengeti.

 

 

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