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Cats, cats, and more: Masai Mara, February 2022


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The last time my husband and I went on safari was in September 2019 to Tanzania (Selous/Nyerere NP and Ruaha NP). During one of the morning game drives in Ruaha NP I decided to return to Africa at least once a year.  Little did I know about a pandemic that was on its way. My husband encouraged me to go ahead  with my plans, and told me right away that in the first five years he is not going to join me, as he is not as addicted to safaris as I am. No problem, I am used to travelling alone and I like it. In my experience my contacts and conversations with local people are more frequent and more interesting when travelling solo.

In the midst of the pandemic, I decided to book a trip to the Masai Mara, assuming that this would be the chance in a lifetime to visit a quiet Masai Mara. Unfortunately, I had to defer my trip twice, so especially the Central area proved not to be that quiet anymore….


My trip was booked by ExpertAfrica, efficient and knowledgeable as usual. When EAs Richard Trillo told me about the Masaai owned and managed camp Tangulia Mara, this seemed to be a good choice as I knew next to nothing about Masaai culture, and staying there for 11 days would give me ample time to fill that gap.


My travel schedule:


2 Feb :  arrival in Nairobi by KLM


2 Feb : one night in the Aero Club of East Africa, a very convenient hotel at Wilson airport

from where I would fly to the Masai Mara the next morning


3 - 14 Feb : 11 nights in Tangulia Mara Camp, in the Northwestern corner of the Masai Mara Reserve


14 Feb : flight back to Nairobi, and then to Amsterdam

















Edited by Biko
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Technical question: how can I get some space between my pictures? 

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@BikoI “add files” as a group.

Ithen click on each one individually.

The photos are placed where the cursor is

So after a photo is placed, I press the enter/return button on the keyboard and the cursor moves down one line. I then click on the next photo and it is placed where the cursor is (leaving a gap between the photos)


PS a great start to your report

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The two weeks before going to Kenya I stayed in social isolation as much as possible. My main concern about the trip was getting a positive PCR test result. But everything went smooth. My test was negative. I had no problems downloading it on the Panabios website and I received my travel code/QR code within seconds. I took prints of the QR code and of my vaccination certificate, which were all checked at the international airport in Nairobi.





During all the flights and at the airports everyone was wearing face masks. Before boarding at the small aircraft to and from the Masai Mara, all passengers were offered hand gel, and their body temperature was checked.

In the safari camp I asked to have my meals at a separate table, as I did not want to sit too close to other guests or staff. In the camp we wore no masks; all the staff members have been vaccinated twice.


Marabou stork






At the time the Dutch government required me to do either a PCR test or a rapid antigene test before my return to The Netherlands. I chose to do the rapid test, as it is much cheaper and more practical. The driver who brought me to the international airport, parked his car in the garage next to Terminal 1, and walked me to the corner at the second floor inside the garage where the Port Health Authority has a simple facility to take the rapid test. They did not accept cash, and the Mpesa app did not work on my mobile phone. So the driver used his phone to pay for me and I gave him the required amount of $ 20. We waited for the result to come, which did not happen initially, but with the help of one of the staff members of the PHA my test result arrived by email, and I had to show it twice in the check-in process. No print needed.


Secretary bird





Long-crested eagle



Crowned crane









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Very nice start! Particularly like the Buffalo/Oxpecker picture.:)

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@michael-ibkThanks! This was the first time I had to take pictures myself, it made me quite nervous. I made a number of beginners’ mistakes. Next trip they will be better, I hope.

I have a Sony RX10 IV, so I cannot put the blame on the camera.

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Lovely start to your TR @Biko.I always travel solo, and have generally found fellow safari travellers very friendly and welcoming.

After all, we all have the desire to see wildlife in common, which brings us all together.

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Great to see you started your trip report @Biko

Glad to hear all the Covid related things worked out. The Mara looks very green and lush. I like the dramatic sky in the elephant/buffalo photo.

Looking forward to reading more.

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Thanks for detailing the COVID procedures. I've read so many reports of people having problems with Panbios, with getting the rapid test at the airport, etc etc so it's good to know it's really not as complicated as some make it out to be. (We are going to Kenya in June...hopefully some of these requirments will be eased by then!)


Anyway looking forward to the continuation of the report.


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~ @Biko: You've captured your safari with vivid images.


Thank you for the photography.


All that you've carefully explained is of great value.


Many, many warm thanks!


      Tom K.

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22 hours ago, Athene said:

Great to see you started your trip report @Biko

Glad to hear all the Covid related things worked out. The Mara looks very green and lush. I like the dramatic sky in the elephant/buffalo photo.

Looking forward to reading more.


This picture was taken on our way back to the camp after an evening drive. And to be honest, we had these dramatic skies every evening. I never saw a decent sunset. Every night I would lie in my comfortable bed in my comfortable tent listening to the torrential rain. And I would think about the mud that we would have to conquer the next day. The roads in the Mara were just horrible. It took all the driving skills of my two guides, Sophia and Dalton, to keep us on track. But the upside of all this was that indeed it was all green and lush. The Mara is preparing itself for this years big migration.


Thank you @Athene @Tom Kellie@janzin @wilddogfor your positive comments.



While the sunsets were not visible due to developing thunderstorms, the sunrises were beautiful and during the day the weather was splendid, sunny, 25 - 30 degrees C.






Edited by Biko
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Although I have seen many lions during my seven safaris, seeing 5 different prides in the Masai Mara was more than I had expected.

The Marsh Pride has its territory closest to Tangulia Mara camp, in the Northwestern part of the reserve. So we went to see them almost every day during our evening game drives. The nine females and their cubs, the two males (Short tale and the other whose name I forgot), were playing, mating, trying to set up a hunt on a buffalo (unsuccessful while we were around), or just lying asleep. And every time it was great to be able to observe their behaviour for as long as I wanted. Tangulia Mara Camp gives all guests a private car if possible. And having 11 days to spend meant I was not in a hurry. If you can wait for more than an hour near a pride of sleeping lions, most probably at some point something will move.

Slow safari, what a wonderful experience.

















Two females had separated themselves from the Marsh Pride, and lived on the Western edge of the territory close to our camp: Yaya and her daughter Pamoya, and the two 7 month old cubs of Pamoya. The two lionesses are said to be very strong hunters, as they showed when we found them with a buffalo kill on our first game drive.

One day we watched for an hour how Yaya and Pamoya planned and failed to hunt a male impala, while their cubs watched from a distance and followed carefully  in order  not to alert the impala about their mum and grandma. It was thrilling to see how close Yaya came to the impala before he saw her and ran away.








The other prides that we saw were the Topi pride, the Rekero pride, members of the Victory pride, and the Egyptian Goose pride (in the Mara Triangle). We tried hard to find the Paradise pride in the Southwestern corner of the Mara Reserve, but we failed.


Even though most of the time the lions were just being lazy, spending a lot of time at the sightings gave me the opportunity to see with my own eyes some of the behaviour I had read about only in books, like communal feeding of the cubs: one of the cubs in the Topi pride had to go from one lioness to the next one and then to the next one to finally find a nipple to suckle.

The Topi pride had three males, 8 females and 10 cubs. It was fascinating to see heaps of cubs playing with each other and climbing onto their resting mums. As the Topi pride lives in the Central area, we were not alone at the sighting, at one point I counted 15 cars. Luckily most of them went away to return to their camps and lodges in time for lunch, so we ended up being on our own as we had our picknick lunch packed.


A rather sad case was a female lion that lived separate from the Topi pride and whom we saw making several efforts to hunt a warthog or a lone wildebeest; she tried hard but each time she exposed herself too early in the vast open landscape. I wonder how long it took her to get some food living there on her own.












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You were very lucky with all the lion sightings @Biko

When we were in Olare Motorogi last November we also visited the Mara for a whole day. We saw one of the Marsh Pride males, "Logol" the partner of "Short Tale".

Even then the Mara was greener than the consevancy.

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During my stay I saw three leopards. Dalton spotted the first one from a long distance during our game drive in the Mara Triangle, thanks to three giraffes looking fixated into one direction. This leopard hid itself quickly in the bushes, so no picture.


The second sighting was more interesting. In the morning the guides heard that a leopard named Romi was seen in the bushes along the Mara river south of our camp. We went there and looked around for a while, but no success. Dalton said “Let’s come back later, she will show up at six”. I could not believe my eyes when we returned shortly before six for our “appointment” with Romi: here she comes in all her beauty and glory walking towards us. Now this is the magic of safari. Being eye to eye with one of the most beautiful creatures. We were able to spend half an hour watching the leopard walking around before she hid again in the bushes. Oh yes, she was keen to hunt one of the impalas that were not too far away; but she had also seen the three hyenas that were hanging around waiting for her to make a kill so they could steal it from her. Who was it that wounded her? After reading about the death of Fig I wonder if Romi also got into a fight with one of the lionesses that lived closeby.

It was the first time I had a chance to see a leopard for such a long time, seemingly at ease with our car. And although we would pass her territory every day and would glance in the bushes to find her again, Romi did not show up again during my stay.














The third sighting took quite some effort by Dalton and Sophia, but they were successful the third time we went to look for a leopard named Bahati (“lucky” in Swahili) in the Rekero area. One day late in the afternoon we found her moving between the shrubs along the Olare Orok River. A big beauty, moving graciously; after a while we lost her in the thickets.





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When Dalton and Sophia first picked me up from the airstrip, they asked the usual question: are you interested in any animals in particular? I had never seen a serval cat before and I knew they were around. And I had not seen cheetah recently, so that was another favourite for this trip.


Regarding cheetah sightings the Masai Mara did not disappoint.

One morning news came over the radio that four cheetah brothers were in the Double Crossings area. A fifth member of the coalition had been killed recently, apparently by a lion. I guess this was the same coalition of which another member has been killed in one of the conservancies after my visit.












I saw the first serval in the Mara Triangle. It suddenly jumped high above the long grass, otherwise we would never have seen it.  It was too far to take pictures. But in the Mara reserve we found several serval cats during our drives.








And we saw more cheetah. Some just laying on a termite mount, others trying to hunt.  I saw a cheetah accelerate in an effort to hunt an impala. It failed, but not because of a lack of speed but because of a car that was in its way.

On another occasion we were close to the camp and watched a cheetah prepare the hunt; that one failed due to the alarm call of a crowned plover. Had the hunt been succesfull, there is no doubt the hyenas that were hanging around would have stolen the kill from the cheetah.






Cheetah in the rain




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Loving this TR @biko. You did brilliantly with the shots of your 'must see' cat species.

I, too heard that another of the cheetah coalition boys had died. 

Edited by wilddog
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Thanks, @wilddog. I am anxiously looking forward to your TR, as the conservancies are on my list for trips to Kenya after 2022.

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Great photos of the big cats, especially the servals showing in the daylight. ive yet to see one during the day!


i'm curious why you decided to spend 11 days at one camp, as you're just confined to the landscape in maasai mara alone? would going to a conservancy next door to the park have offered a variety of landscapes perhaps? 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@KitsafariThanks for your question. I choose to be at one camp to have ample time to talk with the staff about the Masaai culture and the changes they experience in their day to day lives. And also I wanted to have a more slow safari and be able to take more time at sightings. 

I liked the different landscapes of the Mara: the vast plains, the hills, the rivers lined with bushes and trees.


Kenya is easy to travel to from where I live, a direct eight hours flight Amsterdam - Nairobi. So for me Mara North conservancy and Naiboisho  deserve separate trips; next time I would probably stay 8 nights in one camp and then return to Tangulia Mara camp for a couple of days.

















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@Biko thank you for your answer! 


I can totally understand your reason. staying a long time at one place really helps the relationships you build with the camp staff, and helps to strengthen your understanding of their cultures. 


Looking forward to more instalments!

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Last but not least: 



Tangulia means “come before” in Swahili, implying “the leaders” or “the avant garde”. This is an appropriate name since it is the first camp in the Mara that is owned, managed and run by people from the local Masaai community. One of the owners is Jackson Looseya, the charismatic guide and once TV presenter of the BBC series Big Cat Diary.
Tangulia Mara is located on a leafy hill along the Mara River in a small section of privately owned land between the Mara North conservancy and the Masai Mara National Reserve.

It has eight tents including a family tent; I had asked for tent nr 8 with a beautiful view on the salt lick and the river. From my shaded balcony I could see all kinds of wildlife throughout the day: elephant, buffalo, eland, impala, hippo, baboons, and many birds.

My tent was large, comfortable, rustic, just what I like. It had a great rainshower with a lot of water pressure. 













This was the first time I decided to stay in only one camp during a safari. That worked very well for me. It gave me ample time to socialise with the staff and managers (Damaris and Susan) during my 11 day stay. Half of my stay I was the only guest, which was pure luxury!

I felt very much at home in the informal, warm atmosphere in the camp. It was wonderful to be in a camp with local management, with male and female staff. I had asked for a female guide specifically, as I wanted to talk to her about women’s lives in the Masaai culture. As Tangulia Mara’s permanent female guide was on maternity leave, they hired a free lance female guide for me, an extra effort which I appreciate very much. Sophia had worked as a guide for eight years in a camp in the Talek area, and she was joined by Dalton, one of the younger guides in Tangulia Mara. Together they formed a great team, being good guides and good drivers.







Waterbuck (female)



One of the good things of Tangulia Mara is that each guest, couple or group gets their own private car for game drives. This is not a 100% guarantee, but most of the time it will happen, both in low and high seasons,  I was told. This was really great, as it meant I could stay at sightings for as long as I wanted. Being there for 11 days, I felt I had all the time in the world to explore the Masai Mara and its abundant wildlife; I realised that I had never felt this before when we travelled from one camp to the other, usually staying three, four or five nights in each camp. Even during our self-drive safaris in South Africa and Namibia, there would often be that feeling that we had to be back or arrive in camp in time.

My stay in Tangulia Mara felt like an endless opportunity to go with the flow. During game drives we changed plans according to what came across our path. The only nuisance factor that would sometimes interfere was the mud; every night thunderstorms developed and torrential rains fell on the roof of my tent. I like the noise of rain when sleeping in a tent, but the downside is that the black cotton soil becomes very muddy and hard to pass. It’s a miracle that we only got stuck in the mud twice in twenty game drives.

The Masaai people were very happy with the rains: it had been dry since the wildebeest left in October, the grass was very short, and the cattle had been suffering in those long dry months.






On our way back to camp we were always greeted by Dikdik






Banded mongoose
























And the last one, not to be forgotten, LBR


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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you so much for posting and telling us about your experiences in the Mara. I really enjoyed your many lion pics as well as the other animal pics. They all look so pretty surrounded by greenery, rather than by dry grass. 
I’m also glad to hear that your planned trip turned out just like you wanted with many Masai encounters and getting educated about their life. What a novel idea to be spending 11 days in one single place! And it worked for you. 
Greetings to the Netherlands form KaliCA in Florida

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/8/2022 at 3:33 AM, Biko said:

This was the first time I had to take pictures myself, it made me quite nervous. I made a number of beginners’ mistakes.  All look outstanding to me so far.  That herd of impala in the valley with the clouds above is epic.  You got the action of the lions playing.  Next trip they will be better, I hope.  That's always the hope and how nice there will be a next trip.

I have a Sony RX10 IV, so I cannot put the blame on the camera.  Isn't that a great camera!?

Your plan of the entire trip in one place really paid off and I'm sure it felt more like a relaxing holiday to you too.

I found it ironic your report is Cats,cats and more and the first photo is...hyena!  But a stunning one at that.


Great report!

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@AtravelynnThanks for your kind words. Yes, the Sony RX10 IV is a great camera for my purpose. I want to make pictures without too much luggage, no changing of lenses, no dust on the sensor. Next trip is four weeks from now to South Luangwa. 

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