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@athene I am very much enjoying your report. Beautiful pictures, as always. And very useful to read about the lodge and the conservancy, I may consider a lodge close to the river instead of that beautiful lodge you stayed in, to be closer to where the wildlife is.

Looking forward to the rest of the report.

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Better late than never @AtheneI missed the start of this fantastic TR until now with amazing pictures ( the Gerenuk amongst others  ! ) that made me long for the bush instantly ;) 

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Thank you  @Biko Apart from Saruni vehicles, we saw mostly visitors from Elephant Bedroom camp. The dutch lady we met at our lodge had also stayed at Elephant Bedroom and preferred it due to the location at the river.


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Just a couple of pictures from yesterday afternoon in the conservancy:


warthog mum with piglets






and big-eyed Dik-Dik





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Second and last full day


We very much enjoyed our morning game drive with a Cheetah sighting which we were not expecting in Samburu


But first from our drive down towards the river


Grant's gazelle and Zebra in the beautiful morning light






Beisa Oryx




Be prepared for a cheetah cub overload :)








It was a mother cheetah with four cubs.








We couldn't tell them apart, but they showed their different characters in their play.










They were very active and very fast. Play time:










Mum affection time












On the move
















They disappeared into the bush and we drove around on the track to see if we could pick up on them again at the other side.


On the way we stopped for a Martial Eagle







We found them again close to the road under a bush after a nap




Mum always watchful




















Laying low








Looking rather frail




Fly versus Cheetah cub:














Quality time with mum














They left into the bushes again and we moved on






Our first sighting of the Somali ostrich












Red-billed hornbill




This was the end of our morning drive; the encounter with the cheetahs was so unexpected and beautiful


The afternoon game drive was quiet again - the two morning drives were more productive


Gerenuk very elegant








Reticulated Giraffe up close






Elephant bulls crossing the Ewaso Ng'iro river














Giraffes in the evening light








Driving back through the Kalama conservancy we saw this Ostrich family in the fading light




Summary of my thoughts about our visit to Samburu:


Our 3 nights stay was better than I had hoped. We didn't see any lions but had exceptional sightings with leopard and cheetah. The elephants seemed to be very relaxed even with lots of calves.  We saw all of the special 5. The landscape is spectacular and the light for photography in the morning and evening was very good. Our guide Lepayon was good, knowledgeable but perhaps a bit reserved. 

I would like to visit Samburu again, but maybe after the rains when the land is greener. Next time I would choose a lodge closer to the river and stay maybe 4 nights.


The next day we left after breakfast for the Kalama airstrip to fly to Mara North.


As my husband is very busy and hasn't finished editing all the Mara photos yet, I hope to continue in a couple of days time.

Two more cute cheetah photos :)







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You were very fortunate indeed to spend time with the cheetah family. Four cubs is a lot, am I wrong or are they a bit skinny? I have not seen any cheetah cubs in real life yet, but I hope that will change soon in the Mara.


The first series of photos of the ostriches with the light shining through their neck feathers is very inspiring, please tell your husband I learn a lot from looking at his pictures.

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@Biko  Thank you for your kind words.

Yes, I agree the cheetah cubs looked very thin to me as well. I noticed that two of them seemed to be more lively than the others. I was a bit worried about their survival chances, because I thought that there wasn't much small prey to be seen in the reserve. Lepayon told us that Dik-Diks prefer to stay in the conservancy due to the lack of predators.


I am pretty sure that you will see cheetahs in the Mara. May I ask you which camps you plan to visit?

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Samburu was very kind to you and the 5 Specials all showed!  You can see lions elsewhere.  I was thinking that Martial Eagle could be a threat to the cheetah cubs.  Were they close or far apart?  I thought the cheetah cubs also looked slight.  But in looking at the cubs and the mother, they all seem to have a more delicate structure and facial features.  I really thought I could see some family resemblance, if that is possible!

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@Athene- Thanks for writing up this report ........ Kalama conservancy is in my plans which is, Saruni?  Did you think 3 nights were enough, or would you have ideally preferred 4?  I would combine this with other places in Northern Kenya most likely Lewa and possibly one more area maybe even LWC.


Thanks in advance.  

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On 1/16/2022 at 11:17 AM, Athene said:


@Biko  Thank you for your kind words.

Yes, I agree the cheetah cubs looked very thin to me as well. I noticed that two of them seemed to be more lively than the others. I was a bit worried about their survival chances, because I thought that there wasn't much small prey to be seen in the reserve.


So the bad news is that one of the cubs has since died, however the remaining 3 are looking healthy and were feeding well when I was there at the end of December.  I'll add my TR soon and show some photos...

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It was quite close, the martial eagle was maybe 500 m away. I don't know for sure and we didn't ask but I can quite imagine an eagle of this size can kill a cub, as they were still small.

The mother is certainly a beauty.


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@AtheneI will be staying in Tangulia Mara Camp, located between Mara North Conservancy and the Mara Triangle. I decided to stay 11 nights in one camp, slow safari, as I want to take the time to explore this part of the Mara and to learn about the Masai culture.

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Yes, we stayed at Saruni Samburu in the Kalama conservancy. I thought 3 nights there were enough as there was not much to be seen in the conservancy, probably due to the drought.

Saruni Samburu is beautiful with stunning views. At the beginning of my trip report you can find some photos.


If I would go again, I would prefer a lodge closer to the Ewaso Ng‘iro river and probably stay one more night. You will find most of the wildlife close to the river. The area there is very scenic with lots of palm trees.


If you stay at Saruni, you will have to get up very early in the morning as it takes about an hour to reach the area around the river. We started our game drive 5.30 in the morning.

Our guide Lepayon suggested to come again after the rains in May. He said this is the best time, the animals look healthy and well fed.


I haven't been to the other areas you mentioned but our flight's first stop after we had left Wilson airport was Lewa conservancy.


Edited by Athene
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This is sad news. Do you how the cub died?

But it's good to hear that the remaining 3 cubs look healthy and well fed.


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Thanks a lot @Athene........ Great information.  

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Sounds good  @biko 

I hadn't heard of Tangulia Mara Camp before, but I just read about it and saw that it is Masai owned and focuses also on Masai culture. Have a good time and a great safari with lots of cheetahs:)


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  • 9 months later...

Sorry for the long break, but finally I can continue with the Mara North part of our safari to Kenya.

We flew from Kalama to Mara North airstrip where our guide Tinka (William) picked us up. The drive to the lodge was through Masai communities and then the open plains of Lemek as a game drive.




We stayed at Saruni Mara for two nights. The lodge is in a lovely position on a hill overlooking a valley.  From our balcony we were able to see the Mara. The cottages are beautiful but with walking difficulties you should ask for a room close to the communal area.  The italian-style food was excellent. Except us, there was only a big american family group.
From Saruni Mara you can go on game drives to the Mara North, Lemek conservancy and Ol Choro conservancy. But the downside is that the drive from the lodge to the plains is quite long. It took us about 25 minutes to get to the Mara and of course 25 minutes back through a Masai village. The road was rough and bumpy.




Our guide was Tinka was excellent. Most of our game drives were done in the Lemek conservancy -  I really loved it there. The landscape was just beautiful and surprisingly green in November. We had very good sightings of general game and the Lemek pride, consisting of five young pride males and females with cubs.


Eland family on the Lemek plains








Cape buffalo









Thomson gazelle family in the open






Warthog with an itch




Cute zebra foal










Elegant ostrich female




and a handsome male..




Female on the move




White bellied bustard (?)






Ground hornbill




Some crowned cranes










Giraffe hiding




We are watching you




Light is fading now




Waterbuck in the high grass




Members of the Lemek pride waking up






Giraffe silhouettes




Sunset over the Lemek plains




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Today was our only full day and we visited Lemek in the early morning and later on made a short diversion to Ol Choro.

During the night the lions had killed a wildebeest and the scavengers were already around fighting for the remains.



Black-backed jackal








Spotted hyaena escapes with the remains of the wildebeest








Afterwards we found one of the pride males on his early morning patrol












Two other pride males






We found the females and the cubs in the bushes. No photos here, except one of the cubs peering out




A lone female was watching the others from behind a mound




Wahlberg's Eagle ?... perhaps someone could confirm?




Giraffes and wildebeest






A cheerful young man jogging on the Lemek plains




On the way to Ol Choro a dik dik hiding in the bushes




We had breakfast at the Mara river in the company of a croc and some hippos




Pied kingfisher in the distance




We spent an hour around a lagoon. The light was very harsh.


A common moorhen feeding a chick




Some sort of lapwing (?) - any birders out there?






A malachite kingfisher showing off a grasshopper






White-fronted bee-eaters






Juvenile black-headed heron (?) taking off




Juvenile african jacana (?)






Yellow-billed stork




That was our morning game drive.



Edited by Athene
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Coming from the lodge we always passed a Masai village.




Afternoon game drive:


Secretary bird strutting around








Hyaena waking up






Giraffes in the distance




Our afternoon had been quiet so far until we found the Lemek pride. We spent the rest of the afternoon with them.


This cute little lion cub had been abandoned by his mother but the other lionesses took care of it.












A good view from here




Bonding time




Feeding time




Licking time








All in a row




In the golden light one of the males




As far as I remember this is another pride male. When he woke up he was joined by a female.














I liked the Lemek Conservancy. I thought it was very scenic with all the green grass and the wide open plains. We had good sightings of the Lemek pride and also lots of general game around. Our lion sightings we had to share only with two other cars.

The lodge was not at an ideal position and probably next time I would look for a camp closer to the action. It took almost half an hour to get to the sightings. Nevertheless staff was friendly, service and food good and Tinka a very good guide.


The next morning Tinka would take us on a game drive to Porini Lion Camp in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy.



Edited by Athene
swapped photos for resized versions
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Thanks for those splendid photos and as I am more and more into birds  I am glad to help you with the Lapwing : "Vanellus senegallus" or "African Wattled Lapwing " ; I think the heron is a Grey one  in my First Big Year I posted a photo number 44 from Bangweulu I thought to be a  black-headed but it could well have been a Hybrid , they do exist,  or a Grey Heron so I am cautious   ;)

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Thanks for the ID of the Lapwing @BRACQUENE I had a look at your Bangweulu picture of the heron; it looks exactly the same with the stripes on his neck and the black on his head.

Really nice photos on your First Big Year!

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Thanks for your very entertaining report. Lovely lion pictures. Looking forward to reading about your stay at Porini Lion Camp.

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Thanks for your kind words @Biko

I am afraid it might  take a while until my husband will have finished his editing before I get to Porini Lion Camp.

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Pictures from our game drive through Mara North to Porini Lion Camp.


European roller?










Twin-headed variant




Coqui francolin










Elephant's eye




Sub-adult black-chested snake eagle? @BRACQUENEWould you be so kind to look through my bird IDs?












Lion cubs


We found these lions cubs hidden in the bushes by their mums close to the border of Olare Motorogi.








We stopped for breakfast here:




African pied wagtail?






First I thought it is a drongo. But don't they have red eyes? 




We have crossed the border into Olare Motorogi now.


Young leopard in a tree




The two pride males of the Enkoyonai pride

left: Nyekundo

right: Osupat






Nyekundo watching the females who are trying to ambush a wildebeest in the midday heat




The next chapter is about Lion Camp in Olare Motorogi. My husband hasn't finished editing the pictures. So it may take a while before I continue....



Edited by Athene
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