Jump to content

Lion in the rain - Kenya, November 2022


Recommended Posts

6 hours ago, Wild Dogger said:

This seems to me the key when shooting at high ISOs. Expose as much to the right as you can without burning whites in important parts.

I agree, it's just hard sometimes to accept that to deal with high noise you might have to increase your ISO even more (or lower shutter speed, if that's an option).  


Ping wanted us to stop taking these silhouette shots because not far away we could hear lions roaring.  Now, we aren't safari newbies, and we could hear the roaring too - we really should have realized that lion roars at 8AM might be worth checking out...  We headed over the ridge the animals were walking along, and pretty much right on the other side were two male lions, clearly unhappy that another lion had passed through their territory.  I have subsequently learned that these are apparently the Black Rock boys, Oloshipa and Olobor.  



Walking around, roaring




Where did that interloper go?



It's hard work protecting your territory



Such a big, powerful male



The clouds had started to thicken at this point, but the light was still fairly interesting



Big guy



All other animals seemed to have decided that this area wasn't one worth being in, except for this lone Tommy.  The lions ignored him completely, but he was very much on-guard



Eventually they settled down and relaxed a bit



And started to clean up...


A couple of iPhone videos, I have to admit at the end of the first I was wondering if he was going to come into the truck!  (Sound up)




In the end we spent more than an hour with these guys, and apart from a few cars that would show up and leave after less than 5 minutes, we were entirely alone.  Given the horror stories you hear about the Mara, I thought that was great (we would see the other side of the Mara later on, unfortunately).  But once they settled down, we decided to head off in search of something else. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just superb lion pictures not to mention the silhouettes. Keep it coming!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wowowow on the black panther! just gorgeous and what awesome sightings they must have been. 

I've always loved "walking with the male lions" and hearing them roar. 

 Beautiful photos @Zubbie15

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you @AKR1 and @Kitsafari!


With the lions settled down, it was time to move on.  We had a quick breakfast, but Ping heard there was a lone cheetah near some impala, so we cut it short and headed that way.   We arrived, and there were only a handful of vehicles at the location.  The cheetah was only ~75 meters away from a small group of impala, but there was also a giraffe in the area. Ping was worried the giraffe would see the cheetah and alert the impala; it actually didn't but in the end the impala wandered off and the cheetah moved into the shade of a bush.  We went a bit closer, and noticed that this cheetah had a very full belly and wasn't going to be hunting any time soon.



Lazy cheetah watching impala


So off we went - the largest pride of lions in the Mara at the moment is the Topi Plains pride, with 27 lions identified when we were visiting.  Ping had heard through the grapevine that they hadn't eaten in at least 24 hours (it might even have been 2 days), and obviously that many lions need to eat quite regularly.  So we went to their favorite pile of rocks, to see if we could find them.



Lions, lions, everywhere


One young guy was a little off by himself, we managed to spend a bit of time with him when he woke up briefly.



Is it time to wake up?



I'm hungry (at least, that's what we hoped he was thinking)


The pride was up on a ridge (I think they are sometimes called the Ridge Pride, although I could be wrong), and down in the valley below was a 200-strong herd of buffalo. Knowing the lions were hungry, we decided to head down to the herd, hoping/expecting the lions would decide at some point to come get lunch.  


We spent most of the afternoon with the buffalo, even having our hot lunch delivered from camp and served between the two vehicles.  During this time, I took advantage to take some buffalo pictures.



Who are these interlopers in our midst?



At first, in particular, they really kept an eye on us



I tried a lot of oxpecker on buffalo photos...



Another attempt






This buffalo must have spent 10 minutes just standing there staring at us, not chewing the food in its mouth or anything, before deciding we were ok.



Friends together


Ping kept watching the lions, and they just never really showed any indication of waking up, so we eventually decided to move along.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

some fabulous morning light you had there! We had a similar issue with no good sunrises for our Mara trip in June. Love the shots of the jackal pups and the male lions.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/27/2023 at 10:06 AM, janzin said:

some fabulous morning light you had there! We had a similar issue with no good sunrises for our Mara trip in June. Love the shots of the jackal pups and the male lions.



I guess it's a bit of a trade-off, obviously if you get a great sunrise it really helps the photos, but pretty quickly you're starting to get pretty harsh shadows.  At least with overcast and/or rain, you can shoot all day (and the animals are more active since it isn't as hot). 


We left the lions for a small herd of elephants that were visible in the distance.  I mentioned that I only used my 14-35 once, it was at this sighting.  Unfortunately, I guess ultrawide lenses and eye detection of an elephant don't go well together; I was trying to get as low as possible so bending down over the side of the truck and using the back screen, and while the photos looked ok on the small camera screen they weren't in perfect focus when seen larger.  Oh well!



Distant elephant - by now the clouds were really rolling in


Neither of us took a lot of pictures, it was just nice being in amongst the herd.  They didn't pay us much notice at all, and got really close at times.



Elephant close-up


It was getting late and dark, and so Ping scanned around to see what was visible.  There was a lone hippo wandering around and heading in the general direction of the sleeping lions, so Ping thought we might see the lions come down to hunt it.  But no such luck, the lions were really lazy on this day.


So we headed back toward camp.  Earlier in the day, shortly after leaving the two big male lions, Ping had received a phone call from one of his former trainees, saying that he thought he had found a dead male lion.  Ping told him to get a stick and poke the lion to see if it really was dead; he even showed us a stick he claimed he used for that purpose that was on the floor behind his seat.  We thought maybe the two lions we saw had fought with this male, since it was in the same general area, and that could have been what got them worked up.  It turned out the lone male was in no way dead, the guide eventually called Ping to tell him so. Ping was laughing about how someone can be a guide in the Mara and not be able to tell if a lion is alive or dead; apparently the guide was accusing Ping of trying to get him killed (half-jokingly).  Anyway, we rolled up on the lone male lion, and got clear confirmation that he was still alive.



A very much alive male lion


In fact, it seemed like life was pretty good for this guy.



Happy kitty


Back to camp after this, arriving in the dark - a fun day, although it would have been even better if the big pride wasn't so lazy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Zubbie15thanks for this amazing trip report.

Seeing a black leopard on multiple occasions, how lucky are you :) .

Love the warthog at sunset photo as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks @Hads for following along, and the nice comments.


Our next morning got off to a bit of a late start, I mentioned that I will always have issues syncing my camera clocks.  Well, my wife is always guaranteed to have one day where she wakes up with a migraine, and that was this day.  However, it wasn't a bad one, and we only left about 90 minutes later than planned.  I took advantage of that time to sit in front of the tent and watch the happenings along the river.  


We left, and came across our friends in the Rekero pride.  They really weren't doing much, so we didn't stick around for too long.  The lions were sound asleep and deep in the bushes, so no pictures.  



Hammerkop in a tree, over the lions


The goal today was to try to find some leopard(s), so we headed off to the territory of the leopard Bahati.  Ping knew a bunch of spots she liked to hang out at, but no luck.  So we continued along, and near a dense area of bushes found a giraffe mother and her very young (Ping's guess was ~6 days old) baby.



Tender moment


Ping was worried for the youngster, he said that if Bahati was around (and this was right in the middle of her territory) that she would easily kill the baby.  I was surprised, I can't say I've ever seen a leopard with a baby giraffe kill, but I don't doubt him.  Luckily for the little one, soon mom led it away from us, and away from leopard central.



Off to safer areas


So we continued along.  I had seen tons of photos of servals, and some with kittens, on the internet in recent times (more 2021 than 2022, I guess) and had told Ping we would really like to see one.  We were driving through one of the best areas, but no luck this time (or, to be honest, any time - we completely dipped on serval this trip).  But eventually we ended up in the leopard Luluka's territory, and she was clearly around as there were a lot of vehicles in the area!  She did make an appearance, briefly, though.



Looking hungry


She was pretty far - we were jealous that one jeep had an off-road permit and was able to get much closer to her.  Ping told us that one of his goals for 2023 was to have all of his vehicles have off-road permits by default for all guests, which would be a nice bonus for his guests. And then she came out and walked through all the safari trucks.  Ping did a great job of guessing where she would go, so we got a decent angle on her at one point. 



Cat walk


Unfortunately a lot of guides didn't predict as well, and they got angry that we were "in the way" so we had to back off.    She eventually crossed the road and wandered through the tall grass, under the watchful eyes of some giraffes.



If you look closely you can see her in the grass on the very left of the photo.


We decided this was a bit too much of a zoo for us, so we headed off, stopping for breakfast near a bush.  In the middle of eating, a small herd of wildebeest came over the ridge and walked quite close to us, I couldn't resist a shot.  



Who's there?


They continued down to a small stream, where a pride of lions is known to hang out, so PIng had us eat quickly in case there was any action, but alas the lions weren't home.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ping had heard through the grapevine (which was of course his phone; he claimed the radio in the truck didn't work, and he basically never even turned it on, but he did occasionally use his phone for updates) that the Topi Plains pride still hadn't hunted since we'd seen them the day before, so he was pretty convinced they were going to do so today.  He suggested we slowly make our way over to them, and see what would happen.  On our way, we made our first stop for a smaller herd of elephants - I've shared one of these photos, but I really thought this sighting worked well photographically (and it's always good to see elephants).



Three amigos





Mom and baby





Last of the herd


Once they had left us behind, we continued along, and soon came to a mixed herd of zebra and topi.  I have to say, I have never seen so many topi before, they were everywhere.  And, of course, I didn't really take many photos of them.  I have 1 or 2 coming up, but I regret not putting a little more effort into trying to photograph them, since they are quite special looking.



Friends, and lookout buddies


By this time we were quite close to camp - Ping thought about having us stop in quickly for lunch, but then decided to have lunch brought to us.  



lunch under ominous skies


I think this is a tree that they use quite often for bush lunches, it really wasn't far from camp but let us have a wilder feel.  Note the storm clouds behind us - we had to wrap up eating quite quickly and get back into the truck as the rain approached.  We were off to try to find the lions - would they do something for us today? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Nice commentary to match your magnificent photography! Very interested to learn that Ping is trying to get off road permits for all his vehicles. That will really add to the camp’s appeal. Many moons ago I recall Ping finding a leopard ( Fig) that had not been seen for several days. He did it entirely by sound- the calls of the bush in the middle of the Mara- I would not have believed it if I did not witness it first hand in the vehicle. He’s an exceptional guide. 
PS: With multiple excellent photographers producing simultaneously reports- Janet , Hari, Michael + 1 and Wild Dog- these last few weeks have been a real treat. 😃


Edited by AKR1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/27/2023 at 9:06 AM, janzin said:

some fabulous morning light you had there!


My comment as well.  The male lion approaching your truck is the exact same behavior of one of my cat buddies approaching the coach before he jumps up to sit with me.  I really did look like he was coming into the vehicle. 


The mother and baby giraffe are a sculpture and photo in one!


Edited by Atravelynn
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks @AKR1 - Ping really does have a special ability, no doubt.  And @Atravelynn, I have to say I really like the mom and baby giraffe photo, one of my favorites of the trip.


Adding this before posting - sorry, this post ended up quite long! Also, some blood coming up for anyone who prefers to avoid that type of stuff.


We left the lunch spot with the storm looming, and started to head off toward the lions. Unfortunately we weren't able to outrun the rain, and had to close up the car and stop moving for a bit.   I took advantage to play around with the slow-motion abilities of my phone.



As you watch the video, do you notice anything slightly odd?  I'll get to this later this post.


Gradually the rain let up enough to drive, but it was pretty tough driving.  Ping started driving, but wasn't sure where the lions were so we headed to where they'd been the day before.  Getting there and scanning, there were no animals at all in sight.  So Ping called up his friend - it turned out in the rain we had driven right past several vehicles, and the lions, only 50 meters to our side. I'm not sure why they just let us drive by when they knew we were looking for the lions, but oh well.


Sorry we turned back, and finally found the lions. It was actually decent timing, as they had just started to move.



A lion in the rain, shaking off prior to starting to walk


 We were able to get some nice photos of the group. 



Hmmm, where to?



Walking, and playing.  Life is good


Ping scanned the pride, and said that there were several (5-6) lionesses that were missing; this group was the juveniles and a few babysitters.  HIs best guess was that the "missing" lions had gone to hunt and killed something, and now this group could hear them calling (even if we couldn't) and were headed off to eat. 



Definitely looking hungry!



A couple of videos, since I think they give a better idea of what a large group they were.





So he suggested we hang back a little, watch where they went, and try to follow.  It seemed like a good plan, but...


Anyway, not assuming much would happen, Ping looked down at something on his phone.  I was still watching the lions, which were about 100 meters of to our left by then, when a few started to run.  I have never seen a successful lion hunt up to this point, but have seen a few failed ones, and it really seemed to me that they were on a mission.  So I said to Ping "the lions are running," right at the same time that 3 warthogs broke cover right in front of the lions.  Well, what ensued was a real crazy scene - each warthog, trailed by at least 5 lions, went in a different direction, so there seemed to be animals running all over the place.  Ping was probably a little disoriented from looking up so suddenly, so he immediately started driving off to the left where the lions had been - but by this time one of the warthogs, and several lions, went running by our car only 20 meters to the right.  Ping didn't see it, but I excitedly said to him to stop going to the left and to turn right.  He quickly looked right, saw the chase, and did a quick U-turn.  Of course we have no photos of this!


And here's where things went (slightly) wrong.  I should mention, if anyone here hangs out on the TripAdvisor Kenya forum, you will read regularly how off-roading is definitely not allowed in the reserve.  Well, we found that when no rangers/wardens were around, that was definitely not true, and there weren't any officials at this sighting.  So Ping (and all the other drivers) were not sticking to the road.  Well, just as the lions caught the warthog, we ran over something that was invisible in the grass (probably a large rock).  I just managed to stay in my seat - being in the first row allowed me to grab onto the storage in front of me - but my wife wasn't able to, and she went tumbling from the second row into the back of Ping's seat.  She got a pretty good knock on her knee, and I think she was also quite freaked out about possibly having fallen out of the car.  


We pulled up by the lions and spent a while making sure my wife was ok (generally yes, thankfully) before turning to the lions.  It was actually a hard sighting for us as well, 3 warthogs don't go far with a group of 20+ lions, so one lion started eating the rear of the warthog before it had died. In fact, the lions near the warthog's head didn't even bother suffocating the warthog.  I have to say the screams every time it was bitten were rather tough to take.  



The one on the left has started eating, the one on the left halfheartedly trying to suffocate the warthog







Competition was intense for not a lot of food





Ribs for dinner





Isn't there more?



Messing around with a high key version of these portraits


Once the lions were done, we decided to head back to camp - it was getting late, and it seemed like a warm shower and a G&T would do everyone good!  


During the evening, however, Ping ran into some issues.  Did anyone figure out what was odd in the video?  We had been contacted by the Wild Source a few months before our trip, and they had offered us the use of Enaidura's photography vehicle free of charge for our stay.  We had booked the corresponding vehicle for our time in Naboisho, so I guess they knew we enjoyed photography.  Well, when we got to the Mara Ping arrived in what seemed a nice, but normal-style, vehicle.  I didn't say anything, as I'm not going to make a big deal about something we were potentially getting for free anyway, but it turned out Ping's sister had taken the photography vehicle to Amboseli with a friend.  So we had to use the normal truck, but somehow (;)) the door on the truck was broken, allowing us to get, in a relatively narrow field of view, a lower than normal perspective.  Well, this is technically not allowed in the Reserve, and one of the other drivers at the warthog sighting complained to the warden.  And, to make matters worse, there had just been elections in the local area, and Ping and the Warden supported opposite candidates, so I think there was a bit of friction at that time.  So, Ping didn't specifically say much to us, but I gathered the Warden was not very happy with him about the lack of the door, and in fact the next day we had to switch to a different vehicle for a while to get the door replaced.  I think that also didn't help Ping's mood!  


So all-in-all a very eventful end of the day, and one where a whole bunch of random coincidences seemed to snowball a bit unfortunately.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh dear, sorry about what happened and thankfully your wife was not seriously hurt.


I honestly would have told Ping to leave that sighting as I would not have been able to stomach the screaming warthog :(  being eaten alive. Or at least drive away and return when it was good and dead!


Interesting about the photo vehicle. I think I mentioned to you that we also were promised the photo vehicle at Enaidura for our trip back in June, but when we got there, Ping said he didn't like to use it, he didn't like the way it was configured, and "it wasn't really ready" which is not at all what Wild Source had told us.  So I really wonder what the story is there and whether Ping's sister really had it! In the end, like you, we didn't really care as we had never asked for the photo vehicle and the normal one was fine by us.


Oh, and fabulous lion portraits!


Edited by janzin
Link to comment
Share on other sites


an adventure indeed @Zubbie15 and again wonderful photos- we have never seen a major kill-where life is brought to an end so audibly and it must have been a very difficult watch indeed 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That was a brutal lion kill.  But the lions must eat to survive. What a scene you witnessed!  Glad the hectic drive to get there left no lasting injuries.  I see what you mean about the door in the rain video.  From your description, the drama was not all out on the plains.  Interesting background on the photography vehicle when matched up with other accounts.


Great lion stuff!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, janzin said:

I honestly would have told Ping to leave that sighting as I would not have been able to stomach the screaming warthog :(  being eaten alive. Or at least drive away and return when it was good and dead!

It was tough, but we managed by focusing on taking photos and trying not to process what was happening.  Ping also had an obstructed view from the driver's seat, and had climbed into the back to make sure my wife was ok, so he wasn't ready to drive anyway.  



13 hours ago, janzin said:

I really wonder what the story is there and whether Ping's sister really had it! In the end

If my memory is correct (and it might not be, which is why I didn't include this previously, I think Ping is working now to redesign all camp vehicles to be more friendly for photographers (not sure it would be a true photography vehicle or not), and that was going to be rolled out in conjunction with the off-road permit idea.  But don't hold me to this!


1 hour ago, Towlersonsafari said:

have never seen a major kill-where life is brought to an end so audibly and it must have been a very difficult watch indeed 

Definitely - I know wild dogs start eating their kill before they are dead, but hadn't heard of lions doing it.  I guess there was just so much competition for food they had to.  Certainly a sighting we won't forget anytime soon.


32 minutes ago, Atravelynn said:

But the lions must eat to survive.

For sure, although it's definitely easier when they start eating an already deceased animal.  


The next day actually started in the middle of the night, with something a little odd.  We were woken up by the clear sound of barking - it really sounded to us like domestic dogs barking, and not like any of the sounds we've heard during the night on previous safaris.  I asked Ping in the morning if he had heard it, and of course he had.  He said he originally thought it was wild dogs, but then changed his mind to thinking it was probably striped hyena.  Not that I doubt Ping in the least, but I haven't found any internet sounds from striped hyenas that sound that way.  Definitely a bit of a mystery!


We headed off that morning, with Ping suggesting we try for cheetah since we hadn't had a good view of one up to that point.  He thought to go to an area where there had been a lot of controlled burning, because with the rain of the previous days new shoots would have started to grow and have attracted a variety of herbivores.  He did warn us that a lot of the cheetah in the reserve had lately moved into the conservancies, so he wasn't sure what we'd find (funnily enough, when we asked to look for cheetah in Naboisho our guide told us that all the cheetah were in the reserve!).  


It was quite a drive to get to where Ping wanted to go, and we didn't stop for much.  There were a few buffalo, doing buffalo things.



I don't know what a happy buffalo would look like, but I can certainly give many examples of an unhappy buffalo!


We got to the burnt area, and there were definitely a lot of animals around.  Ping found a young baby Tommy that had been hidden by its mother as she went off to eat.





Quite close, but just over a hill, we found a couple of vehicles sitting and watching something, but was it what we wanted?  Why, yes it was!



Hello there


I have to say the background, with the burnt vegetation, wasn't really the most compelling.  



Not moving, but not sleeping either


At one point, it moved a bit, and Ping was very unhappy to see that this was a lone, male cheetah.  He said in his experience lone males are very indecisive, and we might be in for a long wait.  Which... we were!  So I spent the time trying to get a photo of the various topi that were nearby.



I've never taken a topi photo I like, can't say that this one is particularly awesome either!


The only other thing of note was that while we were waiting, the camp brought out a different vehicle for us, and took back the one missing the door to see if they might be able to fix it.  


The topi above were basically the only nearby herbivores; I asked Ping if they might be a target for the cheetah, but he said not for a lone one, only a baby if the mother got careless.  


Anyway, at least 3 hours later, we were the only ones still there with the cheetah when he finally decided to move.  But where was he going?  Well, contrary to Ping's assertion, those topi looked quite yummy, and so he did give it a try.



Chase number 1


He got quite close, with even a paw on its back (unfortunately my focus was off on that shot), but ultimately failed. This was where the switched car wasn't great for us - the temporary car had an enclosed front cab for the driver, and of course the cheetah and topi started on our left running away from us before turning somewhat back our way, but in front of the car where we couldn't really photograph.  So we had to put down the cameras and just enjoy the chase.  This was actually our first time seeing a full-speed cheetah sprint, so that was pretty cool.  After a short recovery, the cheetah got up and started to go on the prowl.  We followed him for a while, he was clearly hungry, and were excited to see him try to scatter a warthog family.



Chase number 2, no luck either


Unfortunately for him he ended up chasing one of the parents, and after a short while the warthog got tired of running and just turned around to face the cheetah.  Well, that was clearly a sign for him to stop!  He had zero interest in messing with the stationary warthog.


He was still hungry, but there wasn't much game around, so we watched him do a lot of scanning.



I'm hungry, where's some food?


Ping also predicted he would scent mark a specific tree, so we went there and let him come to us, getting pretty close.



Territory marking


Not long after this he did try for a Tommy, but the antelope saw him from a long way away and he never even really gave a proper chase.  So with three failed chases,  he went to some bushes and lay down. By this time it was after 3PM, and we hadn't had lunch (not that we really needed it), so the camp truck came out and gave us some hot lunch.  We spent maybe an hour, or 90 minutes, hoping he'd move, but eventually gave up to give us time to slowly return to camp.


Almost forgot, I do have a video, although he isn't really doing much... I really need to start taking proper videos, our mirrorless cameras can do much better than this if I only remembered to try!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just awesome sightings and photos! Softie I am, I also particularly love the Giraffe with calf shot - beautiful! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your focus was excellent on everything else.  Paw on topi might just be asking too darn much.  That baby Tommy is just precious.  One post shows the range of the bush from vicious to endearing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks @michael-ibk and @Atravelynnfor the kind words, and for following along!


Alright,  we're leaving for Tanzania in a little over a week, let's see if I can wrap this up before that or I'm going to start getting confused!  Leaving the cheetah, we had a ways to go to camp, but Ping heard that the Topi Plains pride was actually up and about, with some buffalo nearby, so we headed there.  



Waking up and starting to move



All of the females were there, they made an imposing group



Scanning for the buffalo


The buffalo knew the lions were there, and the lionesses clearly seemed resigned to no kills in the short-term. But a lot of the adolescent lions kept trying to antagonize the buffalo, by charging the herd and causing them to all start running. 



The youngsters challenging the buffalo


Of course, two can play this game, and after the buffalo got tired of running they would turn around and the chaser would now become the chased.



Maybe I don't like this game so much after all!


A short video of the encounter:



It was a little far, and the light was really going, but quite cool to see this game (I guess not of cat and mouse, but cat and buffalo) playing out.  It felt a bit like something you'd see in a wildlife documentary, and in fact the BBC videography team was right beside us the whole time.   We had a different target for the next day, but we heard the next morning from other guides that the pride didn't make a kill at all during the night. 


Edited by Zubbie15
extra pic snuck in
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So the next day, Ping said he really wanted to try to see Luluka well, and hopefully we'd get to see her 6 week old cubs.  That sounded good to us!  Of course, leaving camp we couldn't help but look for lions that had been roaring nearby during the night, and we found a few that were heading off into the bushes to rest for the day.  



A well-known lioness with only one eye.  Ping said she has a reputation for being cranky, and tried not to get too close to her



One of her sisters



If looks could kill...


Once they had disappeared, we made our way to Luluka's position.  We again scanned closely all the open grasslands on our way, looking for serval, and we stopped by Bahati's hangouts, but no luck with either.  The only really notable sighting was a secretary bird.




We stopped for breakfast on the banks of the Mara at one of the main crossing points, there was a large group of banded mongoose around but they refused to let us get anywhere near enough to take their photo.  Our presence also clearly disturbed the hippos down in the river, our breakfast was serenaded by lots of grunts and splashes.  



Impala watching us, while we watched it. Probably wondering if we stopped for something that might eat it.


It did clear up for a while this day, while we saw this giraffe walking through the plains.



Blue sky! Sunshine! What is this?


So we got to Luluka's position around midday - she was down in a ravine right beside the road, nursing her two cubs.  We could, and did, drive pretty close, and were able to get ok if obstructed views of the two littles ones.  So we retreated back ~50 meters, and decided to wait for her/them to come out.  There were about 4 other vehicles doing the same as us; all keeping a respectful distance.  Throughout the afternoon, other trucks would come up, go take a brief look at the family, and then head off to other points.  I thought, considering the bad reputation the Mara can have, that this was all really well done by the guides, and very respectful of the animals.


So we waited... and waited... and waited some more.  Gradually it got cloudier and cloudier, and soon a storm appeared.



Not a nice storm, luckily it didn't pass directly over us


Ping actually thought this might be good, as the cubs weren't in a great location if it was to start raining, and he thought Luluka would have to move them.  And around this time, she did pop up and groom somewhat in the open.



Teasing us


But then she went back down into their hollow, and the storm passed, and there was no movement.  One of the other vehicles went over to look, and said the entire family was completely asleep.  So after 5 hours and 14 minutes (Ping timed it - I guess he knew we were in for a wait), we gave up.  I have to admit to some disappointment, I had visions of leopard cubs being carried by mom dancing in my head!


All the rain had definitely increased the river levels since we arrived, and we had to cross a river to get back to camp.  It wasn't too deep, but Ping said another big storm or two and our route would have been blocked.  When we crossed, we stopped to photograph this yellow-billed stork fishing for frogs.





Really getting in there


Clearly a slow day if I have photos of two different bird species to share!  (I swear I plan to photograph more birds - definitely when we go to the Pantanal in August, at a minimum!).


So back to camp for our last night, and now with other guests which was a bit of a shock!  Our quiet, "private" camp was no more, and indeed the wife was very loud and outgoing (in a nice way, not complaining).  Tomorrow off to Naboisho, but maybe a last parting gift in the morning?



Link to comment
Share on other sites



So busy the last few weeks with my walks and birding that I don't seem to have any time left to continue reading this great trip report but early morning is the ideal moment !

Fabulous stuff by the way :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Treepol, I have to admit I feel a return myself!  Thanks for the comment, as well to @BRACQUENE


Alright, the last morning at Enaidura had arrived - it's always amazing how quickly time flies.  I really don't remember what our goal was for this morning, but we really didn't see anything at first as I don't have a single photo until 90 minutes into the game drive.  I want to say we were looking for leopards again, maybe starting with Bahati, but she didn't show for us.  We ended up in the area Luluka had been the day before, and clearly she was around as there were a lot of cars around.  She had actually made a kill, and was trying to find a place to stash it.



Luluka and her kill


Did I mention there were a lot of cars?  This was really one of the few times we experienced the downsides of the main reserve, and they were all when we were around Luluka.  At one point I took a video of how crazy it was.



I think the video shows pretty clearly that she was essentially surrounded by cars, at lot of which were clearly off the roar.  It might not be most obvious, but she's in the video around the midpoint, and you can see the mini tree in the middle that she was dragging the carcass toward.  One of the most egregious issues was as soon as she took a few steps toward an opening in the vehicles, several vehicles would move to try to get the head-on shot, but in doing so she would lose her opening to escape. It really felt like she wasted a lot of energy dragging that heavy carcass around.


In any case, Ping looked around and said that she was going to end up going in one of two directions, and figured one was much more likely.  So we moved in that direction to relieve some of the pressure on her, and to hope we might get lucky with our own positioning (allowing her to come to us, rather than chasing her).  We ended up pretty much in a good spot, but there were so many vehicles around there wasn't much option to try to get reasonable photos - and of course as she moved there were jeeps all over the place. Ugh...



I've found an opening, finally!



On a mission


Once she got through the vehicles, she made it to a very thick bush to hide the carcass.  It was clear she was going to stay and eat for a while, and anyway we needed to keep going, so we left.  But Ping had heard there was a male leopard in the area too, so we went to see if he was up to anything.  We took a look, but he was clearly passed out, so we didn't stay for more than a couple of minutes.



Sleepy leopard


At that point we really needed to leave, so we started to head toward Naboisho.  Because of where the leopards were, we left the Mara via (I think) the Talek gate, and headed through the town.  Normally Ping would do this transfer through the Mara, but since we'd flown everywhere it was actually kind of nice to see some everyday life in the area. And it was funny because Ping comes from a very large family, and at points it seemed every house was owned by a cousin of his.  We also saw the only Marabou's of the trip around the town dump; there were none in the reserve (or in Naboisho) at all.  And essentially no vultures anywhere, I think we saw 3 total all trip.   Maybe they are mostly following the easy pickings that come with the migration, but it was definitely noticeable how rare it was to see them.


We entered Naboisho through a back gate, the guard there was surprised to see any tourists entering that way. But it was a shortcut that Ping knew, and it worked well for us.  Being midday there wasn't a lot going on, but we did get to see a really nice herd of elephants heading toward a water hole.



On the move...



Shortly after we arrived at Encounter Mara, and were greeted with a "traditional" local song...



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Encounter Mara isn't a novelty on this site, but I'll give a bit of an overview.  It's a really nice camp, that's quite spread out.  I believe there are 10 tents in total for guests, we had the second furthest from the mess tent with number 9.



Exterior of our tent. 



Main living area inside



Bucket shower


The mess tent area was a decent walk (5ish minutes) from our tent, which was ok but I guess wouldn't be convenient for all.  This was the only location with WiFi (there was a WiFi tent closer, but it didn't seem to have any signal while we were there).  



The sitting area


I say mess tent, but there was a large tent with couches and seating (shown above) and a separate dining room.  


They also have a hide with seating where they sometimes provide meals - we had a private lunch upon our arrival there.



Lunch in the hide


That first day there were a variety of herbivores in the salt lick area that the hide overlooks, but I went back a couple of other times during our stay and it was pretty quiet.


We reserved the photography vehicle that the camp has for our use while we were there, it was a very different experience.



With the sides down, to get extra low


Our guide was Jackson Korio, he was a really great guy and excellent companion.  Prior to going into guiding he had been a teacher, and you could see how good he was at sharing information.  I don't have any photos of him, but here's a video of him playing some music for us (on our last morning):



Definitely we really enjoyed our time with him, and would request him if (when!) we return.


Overall, Encounter was really good, with one major and one minor improvement that I'd suggest, and one oddity that we experienced.


For the major issue we had, we really hoped to take a night game drive in Naboisho. Ping does have permission to guide in this conservancy, and if we hadn't gotten the photographic vehicle we probably would have kept him.  But we were told that night game drives were only available from 6-10PM, and to take one you had to forego your afternoon drive. I do wish they'd had more flexibility, in Tanzania for example we have generally been able to go out for an afternoon drive, come back a little early so that we can eat dinner at 6:30, and then head out for an 8-10 night drive.  That would be an interesting option I think - we just really didn't want to lose out on a "regular" drive.


The minor issue we had was there were a few areas where it seemed like things just hadn't been kept up completely.  As mentioned, the WiFi tent didn't have signal.  It was more challenging for us that the photographic vehicle did not have a working spotlight (we would typically drive back from the afternoon drive in the dark, so while not a full night drive you could have 15-20 minutes of driving in the dark).  We also couldn't get the power in the vehicle to work, so we had challenges charging batteries.  Minor things, but details that could be fixed.  


Then, for the odd experience.  Right after we arrived, another jeep pulled up with a new guest - I noted she had a pretty good camera setup as well.  Because we arrived at the same time, they brought all of us to the main tent where the manager, Anthony, gave us the typical welcome briefing, etc.  There was another small group already in the tent, and they went up to the other guest and started to introduce themselves, saying things like "I remember you from the Zoom meeting," and so on.  It took a while but I eventually realized that they were all on a photo workshop. I hadn't come across the workshop leaders before, but one of them had recently gotten highly commended in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.  In any case, we didn't think much of this at the time, but when we arrived for dinner that night we had been seated with the photo workshop group. It otherwise was individual seating for the other various groups.  They were nice people and all, but it just felt like we were intruding on their group a bit, and obviously as time went on they got closer (since they were together for the entire day) which just made it a little more awkward.  We ended up having two lunches and two dinners with them.  Again, they were nice and we did have some nice conversations, and I imagine the staff thought it was a good idea to put the photo workshop and the photo vehicles together, but just a little awkward for all of us (but of course everyone was too nice to say anything to change it!).  

Edited by Zubbie15
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When 4PM rolled around, we met at the central area for tea and a snack (I seem to recall it was usually some type of cake - I don't think I ever ate any because I was always full, but it looked good!).  After placing our drink orders, we were off.  Jackson asked us what we hoped to see, and I think he was a little disappointed when we said big cats would be good, although anything would be nice.  I also told him what I often say to that question, which is "Find something that makes you excited."


We started out from camp, and our first stop was a female Grant's Gazelle that was trying to give birth but the baby was stuck in the birth canal.  There was a pair of jackals harassing her as well.  It wasn't very photogenic as they were deep into a rocky area and it was raining quite heavily, and we didn't really take any photos, but still a good start in terms of interesting activities.


From there, we headed off to find the main pride of the conservancy.  This pride is currently over 40 animals strong, so even larger and more impressive than the Topi Plains pride in the Mara.  Jackson seemed pretty confident about where they were, I imagine they'd been seen in the morning, and so we headed off and found them pretty quickly.



Lazy lion in the rain



Repost from the start of the report



Not super happy in the rain



A bit happier


I actually haven't processed many photos from this sighting, I need to go back to them and do so.  But I will add those at the end of the report, to keep the narrative going.  There were some wildebeest not too far from the lions, and some of the adolescents seemed to be interested in them, but the adult females were clearly not interested in doing anything, so they all went back to sleep.


We spent the rest of the afternoon with these lions, until it started to ger dark and we needed to head back to camp.  On our way back however, we could hear roaring, and came across the 3 pride males that dominate this area.  It was dark, and our spotlight wasn't working, but we stopped a while to listen to them roaring (two near our car, one about 100 meters away).  Best with sound up...



Their roars would be fairly constant companions every night we were in Naboisho.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy