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Porini Lion and Mara Camps Revisited. A welcome return.


wilddog
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FIG In memoriam

 

PREAMBLE...... and there is plenty of it!:rolleyes:

 

Covid requirements were quite complex at that time and included a PCR test 72 hours before travel. This caused me the most anxiety, as I had had Covid 2 weeks before. Doing an extra PRC test one week before, and which proved to be negative, provided me with reassurance I needed. The PCR 48 hours before departure, was also clear. I understand that the pre flight PCR is no longer required for the fully vaccinated which is great.

Kenya MOH document requirements; I uploaded all the relevant documents with comparative ease. Interestingly this input seemed to have very little effect on speeding up the arrival process!

 

Visa. All achieved online with a quick turn around.

 

Heathrow stop over. I stayed at the Sofitel Heathrow Terminal 4, so that I could walk to check-in the next morning. This was a bit extravagant, but given I had not been away for 2.5 years it seemed justified. Lovely meal, a glass of red wine and a comfortable bed.  NB I understand that many Heathrow hotels no longer provide shuttle services

 

Flights. I flew BA. The queue at check in was horrendous. I was in the check in the queue for 2 hours! This seemed to be because they only had a few desks open and were checking in about 3 flights simultaneously. But we all got our flights OK. The flight was fine. BA were handing out immigrations forms on the flight. Given all the pre-travl stuff I had to do I was somewhat surprised but, better safe than sorry, I duly competed them all. They were NOT requested on arrival. Go figure!

 

At Nairobi airport

Our temperature and vaccination status were checked before entering the terminal building. This was slow but necessary. The passport and visa check were straight forward.

 

Masks required and worn through out the travel period, but gaily abandoned at Camp. Bliss

 

My trip, organised by Gamewatchers Safaris included:-

  • a night on arrival at the Eka Hotel

  • Safarilink flights to Ol Kenyei airstrip

  • Safarilink flight from Ol Motorogi on the last day,

  • a day room at the Eka Hotel on return to Nairobi

  • all transfers within Nairobi

  • 3 nights at Porini Mara camp

  • 3 nights at Porini Lion

A short trip but SO worth it

 

The weather Nairobi and much of Kenya had been subject to considerable early rains These continued the first few nights of my trip and would have some significant impacts later.

 

 

 

Edited by wilddog
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Porini/Gamewatchers are one of my favourite operators in Kenya, so looking forward to hearing more @wilddog

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@wilddogThanks for the kick off of your Trip Report, I was looking forward to it as I am keen to know all about your experiences and about the Porini camps. 

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Looking forward to this Linda - a well-deserved get-away for you! :)

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Looking forward to this trip report.

Your luxury was justified!

Edited by TonyQ
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Yay!! another wonderful trip report to look forward to, and to taunt me, tempt me, and all in all, make me envious of you. But I;m sure your report will make me feel I was riding there in the safari vehicle next to you as well. So I'm looking forward to more!

I'll Be Back, Soon, One Day. I hope. 

 

a gorgeous photo and remembrance of the gorgeous Fig. 

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Short trips are better than no trips, and probably your just reward for living through Covid.  I look forward to hearing more about it.

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Beautiful leopard and delighted to hear your trip went well @wilddog

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Posted (edited)

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Despite being tired on arrival at the Eka Hotel I managed a glass of wine before retiring to bed. The room was lovely and I slept well. Breakfast was included so I nipped down to the dining room early, then finalised my packing, paid my wine bill and checked out.

 

I was collected by the Gamewatchers driver and transported to Wilson Airport for my Safarlink flight. The driver helped me with the check-in side of things. My bag WAS weighed and it came through as 14kg, so all was well. The flight was absolutely fine and it was so good to see the different landscapes as we left Nairobi and headed for the wilderness. Familiar I know, for many of us but after such a long time there was added delight in all these things that we accept as routine I normal circumstances. .

 

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We were the first stop at Ol Seki Airstrip in Naibosha Conservancy… a short drive form Ol Kenyei conservancy. I was met by my Guide, Ben and his co-guide Dominic. Ben was also the Camp Manager and both have many years experience. We were expecting 4 more quests on the next flight in (Air Kenya), who would be my safari companions for the first few days. So after a quick trip to the air strip conveniences I just enjoyed the view. The wildebeest were watching as those awaiting for the incoming fight were watching the skies.

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Point of Interest. There is a new a new job created for one, or more, of the local people. I do not believe this was happening when I came her 3 years ago There is now a chap with a motorbike at the airstrip who, immediately prior to the flight landing, rides up and down the air strip to make sure the animals have not wandered onto the runway. Great to see further employment and of course it saves fuel as the pilot does not need to do a recce flypast.

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There are many previous Trip reports on the Porini camps and it is these that inspired me to go there for the first time in October 2018. My trip report from that time can be found HERE

Edited by wilddog
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Posted (edited)

Once all 5 of us had had comfort break and stowed our bags we set off for camp.

 

As you go into the conservancy you have to cross a stream, only this was not really stream anymore and now quite fast-flowing, as result of the early rains. The weather was very over cast and, with my new camera I did not have all the settings correct. A few sample pictures are below

 

It is not long before you enter Ol Kenyei conservancy and what we all noticed was how very green it was from the recent rains. We saw many lots of wildlife on the way to camp; Zebra Wildebeest, Vervet Monkeys, warthogs, Grants Gazelle, Topi, Impala Thomsons Gazelle, Giraffe, Eland and White backed Vulture.

 

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Mara Camp had not changed much since I was there. Change was not needed in anyway in my opinion as I really like this camp. There are only 6 tents I think, but there is one family tent for 4, but numbers of guests remain limited. It was just great to be back and it felt a bit like coming home.

 

This time I had tent 2, just down the slope from the dining tent. It was very spacious and comfortable, bucket showers provided to order with regular visitors close by: a family of bushbuck and the occasional baboon. There is a hippo who wonders around as well, but I did not see it.

 

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Not long after we arrived in camp it was time for lunch and it was nice to meet the others in camp, a family of 7 from the south of the UK. Many of these were new to safari, where my cruiser companions, Canadians from Quebec, had been before.

 

The Dining area/Bar etc

 

 

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Edited by wilddog
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Oh my gosh @wilddog how lovely and green.  I can't wait to see the rest of your report - I just love Mara Camp!  And I can't wait to get back there (February 2023).  I went back and read your 2018 trip report, thanks for providing the link.  That was pre-Safaritalk for me, so the TR was new to me.  I would have to say that your sightings were truly amazing, and I really appreciated the videos.  I would love to see a python, and it is on the list (like the fabled pangolin), and I don't care if the python is mid-kill (although that would be AMAZING).  I love snakes.  Anyway, just have to say, thanks for sharing!

Cheers

Heather

Edited by wilddog
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Posted (edited)

The routine at camp is cup of tea and cake(!) at 15.45 before setting out at 16.00.

 

So now to our first proper game drive. I continued to be impressed with the lush green grass, the numbers of game around, many with young, and all looking fat and healthy. So much so that we often saw groups of animals just prancing about for fun rather than any threat perception or mating ritual. I take a risk here in saying something anthropomorphic …...they looked ‘happy’.

 

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a promising sign...........................Would we find a leopard today?

 

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This gorgeous herd of elephants were so protective of their young, ensuring they were surrounded by adults and with the Matriarch and Auntie giving us a few 'watch it' attitudes before the ambled off to carry on with their daily lives.

 

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And here come the predators that the area is renowned for..............

 

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This lioness was apparently new to the area. She looked well fed, if a bit fly infested, and we did see the hyena just afterwards carrying around a leg. Perhaps from her kill?

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One of the great things about this area is the Cheetah. This female, with 3 cubs, is called Tito. She has done well to get then to this size but to be honest she looked very thin. Constantly checking the horizon for some prey. Hopefully she was successful that evening or the following day. Being a mum of 3 is tough. 

 

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A great end to our first drive but this was of course topped up by a NON - sun sundowner. Plenty of G&T and wine etc, but no sun.

A fantastic day

 

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POST SCRIPT. That night after dinner and we were all asleep in our tents, there was a massive thunderstorm in the middle of the night which woke me at about 1 am and seemed to go on for ages.

 

 

 

Edited by wilddog
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1 hour ago, MMMim said:

Oh my gosh @wilddog how lovely and green.  I can't wait to see the rest of your report - I just love Mara Camp!  And I can't wait to get back there (February 2023).  I went back and read your 2018 trip report, thanks for providing the link.  That was pre-Safaritalk for me, so the TR was new to me.  I would have to say that your sightings were truly amazing, and I really appreciated the videos.  I would love to see a python, and it is on the list (like the fabled pangolin), and I don't care if the python is mid-kill (although that would be AMAZING).  I love snakes.  Anyway, just have to say, thanks for sharing!

Cheers

Heather

Thank you so much @MMMim I am glad you have a return planned. There is no doubt that the Python sighting was pretty special and still remembered by the guides to this day in camp. The pangolin still evades me too, despite asking for one on every trip. Sigh!

 

There will be a bit of a lull in this Trip report now as I am off to visit Safaritalk's 'Great Leader' over the weekend. 

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Will await the continuation with great anticipation.  Say hello to Matt and safe travels!

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Great report! I am glad that you had such a good time and some good sightings. It's great that we're all able to start getting out there again. I was at Kichwa Tembo a few weeks ago and had the same predeparture qualms (covid tests etc.) but it was well worth it. As an aside, they had an askari at the end of the runway as well. Apparently, a Safarilink plane hit two wildebeest when landing a couple of years ago so now it is a requirement to have someone stationed to ensure the runway is clear.

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@PT123Thanks for letting me know about the new runway rules. Sad about the wildebeest. I wonder what state the plane was in after the collision?

 

..and thanks for your kind comments. It has been so good to get back despite the predeparture pressures.

.

 

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Very lush surroundings and one can tell it has rained a lot recently by noting all the little white Tissue Paper Flowers in several of your photos @wilddog

 

 

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4 hours ago, wilddog said:

@PT123Thanks for letting me know about the new runway rules. Sad about the wildebeest. I wonder what state the plane was in after the collision?

 

..and thanks for your kind comments. It has been so good to get back despite the predeparture pressures.

.

 

@wilddogThe plane was totaled and the empty shell still sits at the end of the Kichwa runway as the salvage company is slowly removing it piece by piece. I heard that the pilot was "dismissed" as he should have gone around and attempted another landing. 

 

My big predeparture stress was initially not knowing that Panabios and Global Haven were really a single website (thanks to @stokeygirlfor commenting on this on Trip Advisor). We had our documents checked by the Airlines at departure in Boston, when changing planes at Heathrow (BA as well) and upon arrival at NBO...but again, well worth it!

 

Cheers from Boston, we are already planning the next trip to Kenya (and London, of course!). 

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What a beautiful green landscape showing off the animals so well.

It must be great to be back in Kenya

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Looking forward to this report @wilddog.  It brings back memories of our 2019 trip to both these camps.  

 

Alan

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

The rain storm was pretty impressive over night and woke me a couple of times.

 

The morning routine at both Mara and Lion Camps is coffee and biscuits delivered to your tent. For me, as I live on my own, to have someone deliver coffee to my bedroom is bliss, even if it is a 5.45. Exact time is discussed the night before. I like to enjoy my coffee before lurching out of bed and getting ready for a prompt 6.30 departure, as dawn arrives

 

The sunrise was somewhat minimal......................

 

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We had seen several predators the previous day but would we get the hat trick today with a leopard sighting?

 

Yes. We found this female leopard, ‘Spot’, having her morning wash close to a bush. At a short distance away, she had stashed her kill at the top of a tree.

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She was very relaxed until a hyaena appeared, when she wisely got up and headed for the tree.

 

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After some time we left her in peace.

 

We saw a variety of animals as we moved on.

 

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Then another Cheetah (currently unnamed). She posed very nicely for us.

 

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Of course we had a bush breakfast which, as always, was delicious and enjoyable. Normally I would eat my foord sitting on the ground, but with the ground so wet, this was not possible this time

 

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A quick pass around the hippo pool which is well known in the area. In the dry season it tends to have a very pungent smell as the water is low and there are several hippos live there. Today was very different. Lots of fast moving water and a couple of crocs also in residence.

 

 

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We then started our journey back to camp with fantastic sightings of herds of zebra, eland and elephants and a quick hello again to the lone cheetah and Spot who was resting up her tree.

 

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Our first morning drive had proved very successful and enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

Edited by wilddog
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A couple of video clips.

 

Elephants crossing the Stream

 

 

and whilst we crossed the bridge in the cruiser...... the water is rising

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wow – that’s a lot of water! Great sightings Linda.:)

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yikes that river's boiling! very cool sightings. i'm curious - the first photos of spot on the ground suggest your vehicle was on the same level but later photos of spot in the tree with another vehicle below that tree suggest you were on higher ground. did your driver move to a higher ground? 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

yikes that river's boiling! very cool sightings. i'm curious - the first photos of spot on the ground suggest your vehicle was on the same level but later photos of spot in the tree with another vehicle below that tree suggest you were on higher ground. did your driver move to a higher ground? 

that stream/ river was impressive and getting worse..... more of that later.

 

We were at the top of the slope and the tree is half way down, so when we found Spot who was effectively on our level. The first carcass picture is taken at the top of the slope with a considerable zoom, and thus rather poor, but you take it when you can.

 

 We then spotted the hyena, and dropped down the slope and to the right and it was only then were were aware of the other vehicle and Spot moved down to the tree

Edited by wilddog
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