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Athene
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Last year we were lucky enough to go on two safaris. The first one was in the Lower Zambezi in September and the second one to Kenya in November.  My husband hasn't started editing the photos from Zambia yet, so the trip report about the Lower Zambezi may take a little bit longer :).

 

There are two great reports from Kenya currently being written by @Atravelynn and  @Toxic and I feel a bit guilty posting this report now as well -  but then again if I don't start now I probably never will.

 

We had originally planned to go to Ruaha and then go to the Mara but due to Covid uncertainties, our travel agent thought it is better to stay in one country. He suggested Samburu as we have not been there before. We had booked Kwihala camp (Asilia) in Tanzania and he was able to change the booking to Saruni lodges in Kenya, as they work together with Asilia.

 

Our itinerary was at follows:

3 nights Saruni Samburu in the Kalama conservancy

2 nights Saruni Mara (Mara North)

9 nights Porini Lion camp in Olare Motorogi as part of a photographic safari

 

We made our booking with Stephan Tuengler https://afrika-reisen.com/. He was also our photographic guide at Porini Lion camp.

 

Before I get started properly - a couple of teasers from Samburu :)

 

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I visited Samburu on my first trip to Africa in 1986. Your photos already make me want to return.

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The more the merrier when it comes to Trip Reports!  The various reports show different aspects of Kenya travel. Great itinerary and great teaser shots.  Looking forward to the rest of your trip.

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Interested to hear what you thought of the two Saruni properties. I was just at Saruni Rhino over Xmas and was impressed enough to think about visiting their other lodges.

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That gangly cheetah cub is just so cute! Look forward to reading more about Samburu when you have time, I was there in 2005 and hope to get back sometime.

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What gorgeous photos! Looking forward to more!

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that elephant photo is just perfect! samburu is such a scenic reserve :)

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I also visited Samburu on my first trip to Africa in 1988! 

I remember it well.  The wonderfully kind people, the brilliantly

colored jewelry and accessories, the amazing gerenuks and a visit to a village where we were invited into one of the manyattas.

 

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Cute little cub, but poor baby looks to have had an accident :( 

 

Looking forward to more of your report!

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Lovely photos! I too have very fond memories of Samburu und am looking forward to seeing more. Good to see a few of us managed to get away to Kenya last year!

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Posted (edited)

Our flight with Lufthansa from Frankfurt was a direct daytime connection which took about 8 hours. We arrived in Nairobi in the late evening and after going through all the covid-related document checks we were taken to the EKA Hotel which is close to both airports.

Gamewatcher Safaris was responsible for the transfers. We were picked up in the morning and taken to Wilson Airport. It was very busy with mostly groups of American safari goers. We hardly found a seat and everything looked very normal, except all the people were wearing masks.

As my husband is a keen photographer his photographic gear is quite heavy and we were seriously above the weight limit. Due to the negotiation skills of our driver we had to pay for a surplus of 10 kgs which was 30 $.

Our flight to Samburu was one hour late as we had to wait for a group of people who were travelling to Lewa conservancy. Samburu was the last stop and we were the only ones getting out there.

 

View of Samburu from the plane

 

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The drive up to the lodge across a rock face is steep and very bumpy

 

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Saruni Samburu is a beautiful lodge on a hill with fantastic views. Our room was the furthest away with a fairly strenuous walk uphill especially in the afternoon heat (high 30° C).

 

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Our rooms were of generous size as you can see from the photos with a separate lounge and an additional outdoor shower.

 

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Balcony with outside shower and incredible views

 

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When we were there the lodge was maybe ¾ full. The guests were mostly from America and Canada and one lady from Holland. There were 3 long tables each with their own waiter. The food was high-end italian style and excellent throughout. The staff were attentive and friendly and all wore masks at all times. We had a very knowledgeable guide, Lepayon, a proud Samburu local. Our experience at Saruni Samburu was slightly spoiled by an issue with damaged luggage which the (acting?) manager was not able to resolve himself during our stay there.

 

1st game drive in the afternoon:

 

As beautiful as Saruni Samburu is, there were not many animals apart from Dik-Diks in the Kalama conservancy, probably because of the drought.

It takes ½ hour from the lodge to reach the gate of the reserve and another ½ hour from the gate to the area around the Ewaso Ng‘iro river, where you will find most of the animals.

 

1st sighting Dik-Dik

 

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Reticulated giraffe

 

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As I am not an expert in bird identification, please correct me if I am wrong :-)

 

Tawny Eagle

 

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Grevy's Zebra

 

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Red-billed oxpeckers taking a ride on a warthog

 

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Beisa Oryx

 

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because of the drought situation, hay had been laid out

 

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White browed sparrow weaver

 

 

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Red-billed hornbill

 

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Superb starling

 

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Yellow-necked spurfowl

 

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Elephants in different shapes and sizes

 

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My first gerenuk

 

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...and a leopard in a tree

 

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more leopard action to come later...

 

 

 

 

Edited by Athene
replaced two photos and removed empty space
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First full day:

We asked for an early start because of the long drive to gate. Our wake-up call was at 4:45 am together with a cup of coffee and some biscuits. We started the game drive at 5:30 am after having had another cup of coffee in the dining area. The early mornings were fresh but not cold. We aimed to be at the gate at 6 am and were waved through.

 

Our first sightings:

Elephant with very young baby

 

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Gerenuk in the golden morning light

 

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Grevy's zebra

 

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When we got closer to the river we heard Impala alarm calls and looked for the reason within a wooded area close to the river. There we found the female leopard we had seen on a tree yesterday evening. She had just brought down an Impala which was still struggling while the leopard gripped her neck to suffocate her. It was a very intense experience as we have never seen this before. It is not easy to watch an animal dying in front of you.

 

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As soon as the Impala was dead the leopard dragged her kill into the bushes.

 

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After 5 minutes she got her breath back and dragged the kill to hide it in some thicker bushes

 

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A few minutes later she came out again and lay down panting very heavily. At this point another Saruni vehicle joined us having been called by Lepayon.

We stayed with the leopard another 20 minutes and left when further cars arrived. During the whole time in the Samburu reserve there were never more than 3 or 4 vehicles at a sighting.

 

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Now a few little bee-eaters, my husbands favourite birds

 

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Close to the river we stopped for breakfast

 

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Vervet monkeys grooming

 

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Elephants coming down to the river

 

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Goliath heron in the Ewaso Ng'iro river

 

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Red-billed hornbill trying to steal my husband's toast

 

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not shy at all

 

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We started to drive back to the lodge around 9:30

On your way we saw a few more birds

 

could this bird be a Somali bee-eater?

 

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Golden-breasted starling

 

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Fiscal shrike?

 

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After this eventful morning we returned to the lodge.

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Wow, what an awesome Leopard sighting - excellent pictures. Agree about Somali Bee-eater. The Shrike could well be a Fiscal (hard to say from this angle) but I'd rather suggest Taita because of the tail length. Not sure though - a look at the back of the bird would allow a definite ID. 

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Outstanding photos of tremendous action!  Birds, eles and that leopard drama!  Beautiful accommodations too.

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Fantastic photos!  Can't wait to see more.

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Love the bee eaters and very special leopard sighting, was that the “Queen of Samburu”?

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Wow @Athene- your photos are incredible! The series of photos of the leopard sighting are brilliant - what an attractive leopard, she is absolutely beautiful :wub:

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Adding to the others accolades @Athene Excellent photography- Samburu shows really well. Thanks for sharing. 

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Thank you @michael-ibk I was hoping you would correct me:). I couldn't find the shrike in any of my books but now I googled the Taita and think you are right. We haven't got a picture of his back.

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Thank you @Atravelynn I am following your wonderful and heartfelt report very closely.

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@Atdahl and  @AKR1 Thank you very much, most of the photos are my husband's - he will be very pleased.

Edited by Athene
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Thanks @Toxic I am also following your very enjoyable report!

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Afternoon drive:

Lepayon asked us if we would like to stay in the conservancy for the afternoon game drive. He told us that there wouldn't be too many animals around because of the drought but maybe a few birds. We agreed as we also wanted to see the conservancy.

We started quite late around 4:30 pm. The drive was indeed very quiet but we had the chance to get to know Lepayon a bit better. We asked him a lot about his community and his family. He told us about the impact of the drought and how it affects all aspects of life in the area. We got the impression of how proud he was of the Samburu history and their way of life but he was obviously concerned about the future.

 

My husband climbed up a rock ridge with Lepayon to take some photos of the area.

 

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This was the only time we stopped for sundowners

 

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We really didn't see any notable wildlife but it was enjoyable.

 

 

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