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First time Kenya - a Self-Drive Safari TR to 5 parks, August 26-September 16, 2021


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8 hours ago, KaliCA said:

@JayRonYes, many more big cats than any place in southern Africa. The sheer number of other animals is astounding. In the Kgalagadi, one has to work hard and drive a lot in comparison, just to spot a fraction of wildlife...but it has its charm for sure. Hope you can go and find those black-maned lions! Kruger in January will be toasty hot and green, but maybe you like that? Have a wonderful  trip.


You are right, Kgalagadi can be very quiet, but I like it a lot. And we have 10 days, so there should be a chance we will see a few blackmaned lions. And even though you can´t really compare Masai Mara with Kgalagadi we did see 57 lions and 27 cheetahs in 2019. But we also spent 19 days in the park ;) I wonder how many big cats you would see if you spend 19 days in Masai Mara or Serengeti? And you are right, Kruger and Kgalagadi is extremely hot (40+ celsius degrees from 11.00) in january, but lucklily I managed the heat without any big problems (even though I am from Denmark ;) ).

But back to your trip report, that was a magical sighting of leopards. And some great pictures too. I liked the picture with them playing, that must have been great to experience :) 


Looking forward to the next chapter

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What a wonderful leopard sighting!

Enjoying reading along with this.

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Wow Katrin, what a fantastic trip, so many predator sightings. I appreciate your trip was not necessarily 100% perfect from your perspective. But, you were blessed with many fantastic sightings. As far as predator sightings in Kgalagadi go it ranks very highly. We were there for 40 days/39 nights in October/November/December 2019 and saw large cats on 39 of the 40 days. Very many of those were solo sightings. We only saw leopard once though. We are planning to do the Mara Triangle as part of a 7 month East African overland journey in September 2023

Edited by John Marais
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@John Marais

You are right, looking back now, the positive sightings are slowly erasing the negative experiences. But I am trying to present our realistic experience and so the negatives are part of this. Wow, more than a month in KTP. Amazing, we had some good lion and cheetah sightings there, but never a leopard yet. Would you believe we saw 30 leopards over 5 weeks in Kruger? that was amazing as at one point we saw more leopards than lions. Some for a few seconds, others for a few minutes and even some for hours. 

If I were to spend that much time on a trip in the wild, I would invest in a porta potty...just saying after having seen their 'toilets."

I'm sure you will love the Mara Triangle and get to know every corner of it. Hope to hear back about your experience at some point.

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The next morning, we just have to see if the leopards are still there. Lucky again. The mother is in the deep grass, but the cub is up in the tree.

Snoozing in the golden light



sharpening claws


This repeat sighting is great, but with no more  action from the cub, we continue or search for animals.





And then a  great find: an original push-me-pull-you by Dr. Doolittle!!!



Edited by KaliCA
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Close to Governor's Camp we watch ellies having spa time. This never gets old. Great entertainment.







Flat lions... look how they are snoozing so close to the larder.





It's very hard to capture the amount of animals of the migration... a drone might be better, but not allowed



More flat lions and sadly, they would not move before gate time.





Isn't he sweet? The other two were too scared and hid in the den





Tomorrow will be our last morning in the Triangle. Amboseli is next. Hope to see you there!








Edited by KaliCA
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Dirisha Private Campsite


This is a campsite without facilities partially overlooking the Mara River and it incurs a special booking fee and it’s mandatory to pay two guards for the night. We visit the site for lunch, since it’s the favorite campsite of our Canadian friends. (Hi Birdie!) We can see why they like it there so much: it’s a grassy site with shade from many tall trees, the access road is almost 2 kilometers from the main road, so privacy is guaranteed, as are many animal sightings in and around the river from this spot. Looking back, maybe we should have stayed there after all, but I was not keen on having two guards there all night long. 






Very bad pic, but it shows the view from Dirisha




Our last morning in the triangle has arrived.

Good-bye Iseia campground. Loved camping there.



We made do without running water...



Not far from Dirisha, I spot a sleeping mister in the grass. He must have had a rough night.



Then at the junction, we find two pairs of lions walking away from a kill and the vultures are taking over. The males look oddly familiar. That's what happens, after a few days, you keep running into the same animals over again. Fine with me!





An then a friendly guide is telling us about a rhino sighting nearby. We are having trouble finding a suitable track to where other cars are parked and by the time we get there, it has disappeared into the bushes. However, on the other side of the track we spot the single male intruder we have just left at the junction and he is hightailing it away from a tower of about 10 giraffe. It was quite hilarious to watch: the king of the savannah is being chased by giraffe, some galloping after him, while he is running away from them!

We have a last breakfast at Oloololo campsite before we check out of the Mara Triangle.









Oloololo Gate to Nairobi 


After this great “good-bye” from various active Oloololo Lion pride members, we are sad to leave the Triangle. it has been an adventure, camping and game driving there. We follow the C13, a gravel road, towards Mara Rianta, then cross a big part of the Mara North Conservancy towards Narok. Sometimes the road is rocky, which can be tolerated, but stretches of it are fine dust that is like powder which seeps in through all the cracks in the doors and windows of the Land Cruiser. Thankfully, at the junction with the B3 towards Narok, we reach the paved road. What a relief. But now, my husband has to deal with the crazy truck traffic up the escarpment again. His best strategy is to just hang behind a truck that is going at an acceptable speed and take it easy in its cover. In any case, we reach the Wildebeest Eco Lodge safely around 5 pm and are happy to be back in our cocoon, clean up, and go to dinner. We have some lively conversations with fellow travelers on the deck of the restaurant. (Hi Christine and Judy!) And yes, after dinner we have stomachaches again….and yes, the darn rooster is waking us up past midnight.... Grrrr





Tar road! Halleluja!







Back home at Wildebeest Eco Lodge








Edited by KaliCA
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Nairobi to Kimana Community Campsite, next to Amboseli NP $20 pppn


After a night back in the comfy bed of the Wildebeest Eco Camp in Nairobi, we restock our supplies at the Carrefour supermarket, before heading south towards Amboseli. As described above, the drive out of the city is taking a long time and is very chaotic because of road construction. Eventually, we reach Emali town and turn right into the C 102 which thankfully has very light traffic. 
Our GPS then tells us to take a short-cut before reaching Kimana junction. We drive through the dusty backroads of a desperate-looking Masai village and are quite stressed to have to ask which powdery dirt road to take to connect to the main road. Lesson learned: don’t take short cuts on dirt roads, but stay on pavement. 
Our goal is to stay at Kimana Community campsite managed by Masai people, just outside Kimana Gate. We reason that for the same money, we would likely get better facilities there than on the KWS campsite inside the park, which lies along the same access road, but is behind a fence. 
We opt to get a very simple hut with a big bed, a shower and toilet en-suite rather than camp in our dome tent. The hut has a porch where we can do our cooking and Kilimanjaro is visible just a few steps away. The attendant, David, and others are very welcoming. (We pay $20pppn for the hut. At KWS we would have paid $30pppn for a campsite). 
The main problem with the Kimana Community campsite is its bumpy and powdery access road of about 2 km, other than that we like our quiet three night stay there. Each evening, we are welcomed back with, “How was your safari today?”










First look at Kili from our campsite



And second look 20 minutes later







We are allowed to set up our kitchen and dining area on the covered porch. Had to install our own light. Theirs was out.





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What a great trip and a very entertaining report, quite an adventure.

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Amboseli NP

Entrance fee: $35 pppd, car $3


A Highlight: After having seen a lot of brown savannah, it is a pleasure to see so much water in blue lakes and green swamps. Kilimanjaro is visible and we try for photos of animals with Kili as a backdrop. An unexpected bonus is seeing many flamingos in the lakes, especially when flocks of them are taking off and landing. We have two full days to explore this park and this amount of time is perfect for us. There are only two spots where we can leave the car, have a picnic, and use toilets: Observation Hill and the airstrip. 




The airstrip has facilities and we can have a picnic there



The little hill where the dust devils are is Observation Hill with facilities and a picnic area.



There is plenty of game around. We see lots of zebra, and wildebeest sloshing around in the shallow lakes. There are giraffe, ostriches, gazelles, even hyena, on the savannah areas. Buffalo, many hippos and elephants are feeding in the swamps. We spot a pride of active lions with two roaring males, but sadly, quite far away. A memorable sighting is a herd of elephants crossing the shallow lake and reflecting in it, while walking towards us.








Another breakfast in the hinterlands. No one around except grazing animals.



















The powdery access road to Kimana Community Camp



"We had a hut in Africa..." Home sweet home...













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Beautiful Amboseli park. Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories of our stay there. 

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12 hours ago, KaliCA said:

Kilimanjaro is visible and we try for photos of animals with Kili as a backdrop.

Something I singularly failed to achieve :(, your one of the wildebeest in the dust with Kili in the background is very evocative.

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Good to see your photos of Kili, this shy mountain is frequently covered in clouds which is a real disappointment to photographers. Lovely flamingo shots, such beautiful birds, and I like the grey crowned cranes too.

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@Africlan and @Treepol

many thanks for the praise and thank you for reading along! I guess we were lucky with Kili even though it was quite hazy.



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Another batch of pics from Amboseli

Evidently it is quite rare to spot a Black Serval. I find it as it was walking but after a few seconds, it is grooming itself in the long reeds. But happy to have seen this creature for the first time.



Green heron? No, it’s a Squacco Heron. Thanks, sister!







Some piper or other? Black-winged Stilt






White Pelis



Pied Kingfisher



Whistling Ducks? That and also White-faced.



no idea, but my sister knows that this is a Long-toed Lapwing  DSC_3269.jpg.5a60b2995096ec44967fdbd5503ebd8e.jpg


African Fish EagleDSC_3363.jpg.e84271f2d38f20de2ac12d24bcf55449.jpg




The stars of Amboseli clearly are the elephants and the flamingos







Peek-a-Boo, I see you!




So after two full days in this very pleasant park, we move on to explore Tsavo West.










Edited by KaliCA
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Amboseli NP to Chyulu campsite, Tsavo West


A Highlight: While driving on the C102, away from the park we notice ingenious fences around some crops that deter elephants. One was a fence with intermittent beehives, while the other had bouncy metal wires sticking out. 
We are low on gas and data on the phone, so we venture into the town of Oloitokitok, on the C 102 to get both chores done. Then we find the turn to the C103 and this turns into an easy and quite scenic drive, through some villages on good gravel. 
Lowlight: there is a check-in post long before the actual gate to Tsavo West and the attendant there wants “a token”, many souvenir vendors are crowding our car and some do not wear masks. People are understandably desperate for tourists and money, but this invasion of privacy is very unpleasant. 

Tsavo West NP 
Entrance fee: $30pppd
Camping $30 pppn 
car $3

At the new Chyulu Gate, we pay our fees and again, no map is given or sold, but I am allowed to take a picture of a laminated map. Speaking of maps: we have a paper map for the overview of Kenya, but navigate with maps.me which shows major and some minor game driving tracks in all of the parks, including points of interest. The GPS device with Tracks 4Africa loaded is left in a bag and is never in use!


Highlights: We hardly ever see another car, which is not good for cat spotting! I know from reports that the star of this park is the landscape and not to expect many animals, and so it is. I love the many hills and valleys, the euphorbia trees, and the red muram roads. Just past the gate, we drive up a steep road to the top of a mountain where the jungle starts. We see many shy giraffe and flowering trees, as well as a grand view into the valley, dotted with many volcanoes. We stop at the Shetani Lava flow and compare it to seeing similar areas in Idaho and Hawaii, minus the vervet monkey. 


Beehive elephant fence



Another elephant fence. It must be very difficult for famers to safeguard their crop.



reloading data on safaricom



Along the C103IMG_8655.JPG.9ae000be5b1e922825083d37ae7665f6.JPG


Cell Towers even in remote places



Crowding souvenir sellers









Shetani Lava Flow (from the Arabic word for Devil)











Edited by KaliCA
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Great report.

What's amazing is how both of you managed to keep your cool and enjoy the safari in spite of getting such a shoddy vehicle/ service from the operator. I don't think I could have managed to do that. I have never done self drive and I don't know if I can do it anyway.


Now enjoying your Amboseli instalment.



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Lovely encounter with the four cheetahs in the Mara Reserve, but the vehicles and the behaviour of the guides...appalling!

The views from the campsite at Oloololo are lovely, but I agree that the staff housing is just too close and noisy. Pity!

The lion family on the kill - amazing! The Wilderness Area is our favourite part of the Triangle. Great sightings and very few, if any, other vehicles.

We thought the same - the escarpment in the Triangle reminded us very much of Ngorongoro. 

Did you notice the painted buildings in Mararianta? There is a talented artist living there. 

LIT - mom and cub - wow! Great sighting and photos!

We rather enjoyed the guards on Dirisha. Both had worked as rangers for years and were a fountain of information, especially regarding poaching. We enjoyed our evening conversations around the fire with them. 

Good to see the Luci light is still working!

That photo of the wildebeests and dust with Kili in the background is wonderful. There are also some great flamingo photos. 

Such a pleasure to see your photos and follow your adventure!

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Thank you, my friend, for your kind comments! Now comes the part that you and your husband would most likely enjoy the most. Off the beaten track, great landscapes, having the place to yourselves... and no tsetses! 

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The Mzima Springs are a definite highlight of this park. Such beautiful greenery, tall fever and fig trees, and lakes in an otherwise dry park is a feast for our eyes. We visit twice and enjoy walking around the ponds. The sunken hide where you can see life underwater is a novelty and a bonus. We see lots of fat carp. Other than

we spot Blue or Diadem Monkeys eating figs, vervet monkeys and a red snake.  We have a picnic in the car park with vervet monkeys for company.  We can hear hippos snort and see a lot of elephant dung, and still we are allowed to freely walk around the springs. We are hoping for other animals coming down to drink, but that was not the case. I wish we could have spent the night at one of the viewpoints around the springs. 




Notice the sunken hide in the back
























Edited by KaliCA
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Chyulu Public Campsite $30pppn


Highlight: We are alone! They put small lava rocks on the ground under the canopy which keeps the dust at bay. We stay two nights. 
Lowlights: This KWS campsite is neglected and we hate to pay such high camping fees and get crap. Most of the reed-covered understands and fireplaces are falling apart; ours is the best-looking of the bunch, but when the wind picks up, there is loud clanging and banging all night long because of lose metal bars on the roof. The attendant, Peter, is not keeping the place clean or in good repair. He told us a “story” about how we need to make a fire because the smoke will keep the elephants away that would for surely come by our campsite. In other words, he wanted to sell us wood! Why not just ask if we want to buy wood?
The ablutions are in disrepair as well and when we want to use water in the sink or flush a toilet, my husband has to go behind the bushes, find the tap and then turn the water on and off. Peter says it’s because of the elephants and baboons. My husband also notices a garbage pit close by! Geez, and you wonder what attracts the baboons to the campsite? Anyway, we have very quiet evenings and nights with no elephants visiting, and no other animal visitors, except for a Civet Cat. 
Some of the game driving tracks are pure red powder that seeps into our car. As you can tell by now, we are getting tired of powdery dust and wash our hands as if we were obsessive-compulsive!


We were expecting ellie visits, see the branches in back of shelter, but no. There are a few more shelters like this, but all falling apart. And I forgot to count how many times I stumbled over these lava rocks.






Muti-tasking: having a footbath while drying dishes. Trying to have fun under trying circumstances.



Pretty ugly campsite!



bad pic of baboon opening water tap and then pooping in the trough. He has learned to open the tap, but not to close it!


Edited by KaliCA
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Here are some pictures of our sightings and the enchanting landscape of Tsavo West.


Sunrise driving east along the C103 that cuts across the park.





Our goal is Roaring Rocks, a viewpoint reached on foot up some steps. 





Looking into Rhino Valley



We spot a waterhole in the distance, in an area called Rhino Valley, where we find the most animals.  We make this our destination after breakfast.



Breakfast spot below Roaring Rocks



Edited by KaliCA
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Rhino Valley is a wonderful scenic area. We spot a big herd of buffalo, some ellies, many giraffe, zebra, eland, and hartebeest. And for the first time, we spot lesser Kudu and finge-eared Oryx, both very shy creatures. Some elephants get spooked easily, even when we are still far away. 















We see the most dik-diks ever, even along the busy Mombasa highway.



More fighting giraffe bulls



Lesser Kudu, are a lot smaller than its SA counterpart







I did not expect to see such high mountain ranges. 



Twenty minutes later we pass by this spot on our way back and it was enough time for a leopard to kill a porcupine and turn it inside out. Bad timing!



My favorite photo of Tsavo West



The C103 meets up at the Mombasa highway at the Tsavo River Gate.











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