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Adding to everyone else’s accolades, very nice report! Thanks for sharing your safari. 

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On 1/30/2023 at 12:56 AM, Atravelynn said:

Glad your vehicle remained upright and sorry for the unpleasant encounter.  Those young hyenas are adorable in a scruffy sort of way.


thanks @Atravelynn


On 1/31/2023 at 1:07 AM, Galago said:

Enjoying your report. Too bad you didn’t have a tranquilliser dart gun for Lady Muck B)


what a brilliant idea! i'll carry one from now on. @Galago


On 1/31/2023 at 1:34 AM, mvecht said:

@Kitsafaribrilliant trip report so far. I am sorry to hear about your less than par experience with Gamewatchers. I am leaving soon on a trip organized by Amanda from the UK office and have only good things to say about the experience. Very timely responses also during weekends and very good recommendations. Amanda also readily accepted that I could get a better hotel deal at the beach. 


On 1/31/2023 at 5:10 AM, michael-ibk said:

Great report Kit, you really deserved all those awesome sightings after too many years away from Africa. Love the sunsets, and that wet Hyena is so funny! Sorry to hear your booking process with Porini was not exactly stellar. The on the ground people were all excellent when I joined Sangeeta and friends in the Mara last year.


That was why I was surprised at the quality of our consultant as I had heard good things about Gamewatchers. But i think it was confined to our consultant, as I found out he was a part-time guy and he probably doesn't have much experience on safari trips as that experience wasm't reflected in his responses. He got a  little better but he didn't have many quick answers and needed the answers to come from someone else. That made me hesitant about recommending him to anyone else. in fact, when we asked our friend to reach out to someone else at Gamewatchers, he was referred back to our consultant. In the end, we told him to go with another TO company we trust a lot. 


On 1/31/2023 at 5:10 AM, michael-ibk said:

There´something about Wilson Airport toilets making people leave their stuff there. I left my trousers - true story! :D


What a relief you got your camera back!


 well we never did hear that story @michael-ibk!




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I'll be a little late with the next instalment as I have to redo my photos. I'm not  happy with the extreme saturations that are appearing on ST, so i'm just doing the tiniest processing with photo editor. Besides, work, which pays for my safaris, gets in the way. :P

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Enjoying your report. @Kitsafari.

What a nightmare forgetting your camera.  So glad that turned out ok.

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Finally found that Sony has an inhouse editing function which, though not as good as LR, is better than photo editor!


Since the leopard cub had fled and we couldn't see him, there was no point hanging around that area. So we told Nelson to move on. 


And very close by, Nelson found us a pair of Verreaux's Eagle Owl, one of which did a series of rock and roll shakes, and a cool call from the other. I was surprised not many people stopped for Africa's largest owl, but hey we were very pleased to have the pink-lidded raptors fairly low on the tree, all to ourselves and active in good daylight hours! 


First, its awesome call. I only managed to film the last bit of its call but it's the first time i've ever heard its call. 

















2nd owl







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Thereafter, it was a fairly quiet but pleasant drive, acquainting ourselves once again with the birds and beasts of OMC. I was still beaming from the fact that we were back in the African bush, among the wildlife, birdlife and fauna, and just the vast open silent spaces. 


Grey-headed kingfisher and its juvenile










Northern white-crowned shrike 



Black-chested snake eagle, immature



first and only time we saw the Red-cheeked cordon bleu



Black-shouldered Kite



we had a great time watching a pair of African Fish Eagles shouting to each other even though they were like five trees apart. I love it when the fish eagles call, how they throw their heads back in such a passionate and forceful show of calling. their calls are the epitome of african savannah safaris for me. 







We did see three mammal species in between the feathered animals, but we chatted a lot with Nelson and Albert about how important birds are, especially when you are on a game drive that is lean on iconic mammal sightings, in filling the down times. 


More photogenic dik diks posing in the mara



I don't remember where this lioness popped up!



But we did see the Coke's Hartebeests - oddly the one and only time we saw this species during the whole trip. I wondered where the hartebeests had moved to. 




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Then, it was back to the camp and to chef Shansu's delicious salads and light lunch. sorry, I was too eager to feast on the food, and didn't take photos .

The downtime at Porini Lion Camp was filled with chasing birds. There were so many! but one good location was  at our Tent No 2. all we needed to do, was sit quietly at the terrace, and the birds came to us!


purple grenadier




  red-necked spurfowlKYB23-11.jpg.9da2d20ef2021d8a9af245e4a7f374bd.jpg


brown-throated wattle-eye



Slate-coloured boubou



arrow-marked babbler

DSC03750 babbler-1.jpg


yellow bishop

DSC03781 yellow bishop-1.jpg

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Soon it was time for the 4pm evening drive. We had forgotten that tea time meant cakes and tea, but we often skipped the tea time, after which I would regret not partaking all those delicious cakes baked in those amazing kitchens and by amazing chefs with limited resources. I should have wrapped a couple of pieces to bring along, but didn't think of it at that time. 

Nelson brought us to a stream in a bid to seek birding targets for Herman, specifically malachite kingfisher and the African pygmy kingfisher, both of which were not making an appearance. Instead, we stopped to spy on some hipposin a bit of distance in a pool  and a fat croc beaching  






Since there was little to see along the stream, Nelson took us back to Porini's favourite lion pride - the same pride that had welcomed us the day before. The pride's favourite spot is not too far away from the camp, but I'd forgotten to ask which pride this was. 

The adult lionesses were on alert. 




Across the river gully, a small group of willdebeests were gathering on the banks. Would they cross? Well, Wildebeests being wildebeests, they dithered and dithered. You could almost hear them communicating as one would nudged another forward, then they moved slightly up the hill and then down again. Up on the ridge, the zebras started to move and eventually the wildebeests decided it was safer to follow the smarter zebras. 




So the lionesses and sub-adults returned to what they knew best to do. Sleep.







But they perked up. far far in the distance, they must have heard or seen something as they put up their heads towards one direction. An adult lioness got up, walked forward, stopped to listen, and then she moved quickly. we decided to follow her but while she can take a shortcut, we had to wind around trees and banks and we needed a loo break first before we followed that lioness. 






Nelson seemed to know where she was headed. as we crossed the bridge we saw some vehicles ahead, we followed them into thickets and in an opening within the bushes, a flock of vultures plus a marabou stork was on the ground, watching two lions - the lioness and one of the male sub-adult lions that made a swift decision to follow the lioness, or perhaps he smelt the dead buffalo that was lying between the birds and the cats. Nelson didn't think the buffalo was brought down by the cats, but couldn't hazard a guess as to the cause of the buffalo's demise. only the hind parts was opened probably by the vultures, which could explain why Nelson didn't think it was the cats that did it. The sub-adult lion sniffed the buffalo a few times, clearly very hungry and ready to tuck in, but seemingly reluctant to tear it open. 








the lioness soon left, in the direction of the rest of the pride. we figured she was going to fetch the rest, including the mum and her cubs. So the sub-adult was left to guard the carcass. We stayed on, hoping that the pride will turn up and feast on the carcass. The skies turned darker, then it opened up. We closed one side of the truck and sat on the other side where the rain wasn't coming in as much. And we waited with the sub-adult, which was getting impatient and started to call softly. 


Not sure if you can hear his call - it was so soft!



Meanwhile, the young boy wasn't doing his job well. The vultures descended and fought over the carcass before he realised he had a job to do. 

More white-backed vultures, with one hooded and no lappet-faced vultures at this spot. 








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Splendid report and great pictures and I hope the birds will also come to my tent when I'll be there in August ;): incredible eyes of the arrow-marked babbler by the way !

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On 2/4/2023 at 12:13 AM, BRACQUENE said:


Splendid report and great pictures and I hope the birds will also come to my tent when I'll be there in August ;): incredible eyes of the arrow-marked babbler by the way !


@BRACQUENE thank you for the kind comments. are you also staying at Porini Lion Camp? lots of birds, and more than just birds hopefully for you. :D


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It was a long wait for the hungry boy. but at last the calvary arrived but without the mum and cubs. 



The adult lionesses didn't stay on however, they moved through the hollow and vanished. A couple of vehicles followed the adults, but the young male came dashing back as vultures hopped closer to the dead buffalo. In the end, he was left alone again, guarding the buffalo he could not eat.  








After a few minutes, we left to see where the others went to. Up on the hillside, we saw a few lions which seemed to have dislodged a pair of Lappet-faced vultures from some scraps, probably the remains from an earlier prey/carcass. It was getting darker, and the sun had left the sky, leaving its pink and blue hues on the horizons. It was the end of our first full day of safari. 











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That night at camp, as we were walking back Tent No 2 (located between Tent No 1 and the Family Tent no 3) after another sumptious meal, the camp staff who accompanied us shone the light ahead and said Lion. A lioness was walking through the thickets, glancing at us. She was probably not alone. Where she was walking was just at the family tent, very close to us. H and I decided not to linger on the terrace but raced into the tent and zipped up. 

Every night, the hippos fed around our tents. I would get up before 5 for a leisurely getting-ready for the morning drive, and the hippos would be laughing at me just outside the tent. The hippos are in the river just below our tents and they would come up in front of the family tent. 


Then, it was the dawn of day 2. We had mentioned to Nelson and Albert what we wanted to see - essentially, everything that we can see, but for mammals, I really wanted to see servals in the daylight as I'd only seen the elegant cat during night drives while H had seen them in daylight in the Mara. We both wanted caracals, of course.  As always, when we talk about these targets, the guide would go all quiet or just laugh at us. We can always hope and day dream, right? 


Another beautiful dawn in the Mara. 






Instead of small cats, Nelson brought us to see fat cats. the entire pride had feasted on the buffalo overnight, and in the low dawn light, the fat cats were sprawled around in the hollow. The two male lions were asleep, while the four cubs were wide awake, chewing on everything, including the male lions. The male sub-adult finally had his fill, but went back for the ribs. 




juicy meat - only if I can get to it. 

















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And then Nelson sprung a surprise - noticing a white rare bird. It was an Egyptian Vulture! a rare sighting in the Mara, and a lifer for me! There had been some sightings of this beautiful bird in the Mara but few and far in between. At that time, Nelson said there were like two-three sightings of the species in the conservancy for the month. 

The bird, on the IUCN Endangered list, is also known as the White Scavenger Vulture or Pharaoh's Chicken. the old world vulture is the smallest of the African vultures. Initially, it hung out with a juvenile hooded vulture, but we had a stroke of good luck, it decided to fly onto a bare tree to bask in the golden morning light. So, while the other vehicles were spending time with the fat flat cats, we were at the foot of the Egyptian vulture with some idol-worshipping minutes. 

Just brace yourself for loads of photos of this beautiful vulture or skip this post. 


Spied through a small opening between branches



Looking like a spectre of death, the juvenile hooded vulture fraternises with the Egyptian.  

















The other vultures waited patiently in a tree. 


Headless vultures 



mainly white-backed vultures


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Just breaking the sequence of events as I'd forgotten about the zebra crossing we saw the previous day. there was a bridge used by vehicle to cross the stream but somehow the zebras preferred splashing their feet in the waters to cross over to the other side. It was a lot of zebras. 






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Today was the full day drive into the Masai Mara reserve. The last time we did that in 2018, it was a very sleepy affair with lots of tall grasses, very few mammals except for elephants and giraffes. and bustards. We didn't hold out much hope for the drive today too since it was the non-migratory season. 


From the lion sighting we moved around the southern parts of the reserve a little before making our way a little to the south, passing the back of our camp (I think) before stopping for breakfast. 

Some views to the beasts and birds along the way to the breakfast spot. 


A lone spotted hyena taking a rest. 





A tawny with a expansive view




Another tawny with a feather out of place but still looking fabulous. 







Red-billed oxpeckers hitching a ride on one of the tallest transportation structures. 











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Mr Sia the bear had a smile the entire time, because like us, he was having a fabulous time. Nelson was so taken by him that he wanted to kiss him, and then took selfies with Mr Sia. At the end of the trip, I gave Mr Sia to Nelson who mentioned he would give him to his daughter. I hope Mr Sia had a few more safari drives before then. 




The guys couldn't have picked a better place for breakfast. Up on a slope, we had an unending view of the reserve in front of us. The invisible border between the OMC and the reserve was just beyond the single tree. Looking down, we could see impalas, Thomson's gazelles, zebras and topis mingling around while buffaloes laid down to rest.

Vultures were thermalling above us, and a batelur flew high above us while a raptor flew low following the curve of the ridges close by. 

I could sit here all day, and just enjoy the views. 















Ovambo Sparrowhawk - a special raptor as it is a lifer species for us both 










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The day trip to the reserve is offered in the package by Porini Lion Camp if we stayed three nights or more, so we didn't have to pay additional charges. But we still needed the tickets/permits to be in the reserve and it didn't make sense to drive all the way to the Olare gate to get the tickets. Nelson said they would usually drive to the airstrip closest to the Governor's camp, to pay for the permits. That took a long drive across some communities and then across the a wide buffer zone between the communities and the reserve. 


It was so interesting to notice the brownness of the areas in the buffer zones and around the communities, and then the sudden green zones that marked the reserve. Masai Mara wasn't spared from the drought that had engulfed Kenya the past year, but before we arrived, some rains had fallen and rejuvenated the reserve and the surrounding parks and conservancies. But the buffer zones and the community areas have been grazed empty by the cattle, and the conservancies had opened up their areas to controlled cattle grazing. We saw many more cattle herds in Mara North than in OMC, but the presence of these cattle could also pose some issues as we saw on our last morning.


This has just reminded me how on the first afternoon when we saw the whole pride harassed by the buffaloes, we had seen a Mara Predator Conservation vehicle, and a lady and some guys were on the ground helping to turn the cattle around as the cattle had been heading to the directions of the lions. 


Not much to see on the way to the airstrip except for a couple of raptors. 


Black-chested Snake Eagle immature



Soon we reached the airstrip. Wow, there was a whole row of vehicles from Governor's Camp and Little Governor's at the airstrip. there must be a lot of rooms/tents at these camps. Not my idea of an ideal camp. 




So got the tickets and we were off into the depths of the reserve. We passed... not a single vehicle (oh except for one at a later sighting). It was as if we were the only ones in the reserve. Either everyone else knew there was nothing to offer in the reserve, or we were the smart ones here. Either way, it was nice to have the reserve all to ourselves. 


The birds kept us busy along the way. 

Some 5-6 tawny eagles were on the ground arguing about some scraps before a vulture flew in and ended the tussle. 








A herd of elephant with young ones were far in the background, a sight that would be repeated through the day but we couldn't go off-road so we couldn't get close shots of the pachyderms. 










A hamerkop - we found that hamerkops were terribly uncooperative during the trip. we concluded that Mara hamerkops are an unfriendly lot.  



but finally another mammal - a Bohor's Reedbuck in a distance. 



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More birds to fill the minutes void of mammals. 




Yellow-throated Longclaw - we saw quite a few of this longclaw species in the reserve and in the conservancies. 



We all missed it except for the sharp eyes of Albert who told Nelson to reverse the car. 

And this was what we saw when we finally located it in the long grass. 





A SERVAL! In broad daylight!! yahooooooo! my wish granted. 





The cool cat wasn't in a hurry to go off but it must have a good meal because eventually, it went into a clump of high grass and we figured it had gone to sleep in it. But we high-fived ALbert and Nelson, very gleeful we finally got the serval in the day and all to ourselves, and having some minutes with it. 

Yes it was the special sighting of the day for me. 

















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Good to catch up with this again, Kit. Just love the bird pics and the Serval is wonderful.  I just wonder though, don't you get fed up with having other vehicles around? Personally, I prefer to be in a place where this doesn't happen, but perhaps there's something that balances this out. I'd be so interested to know.

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Lovely photos @Kitsafari, I feel like you saw a lot more birds than we did, but maybe that's just because that's not a focus for us usually. And I'm quite jealous of the serval. :)

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Thanks a lot ! We are actually staying in two Kicheche Camps in the Naboisho and Mara North Conservancies: birding is not bad there either from what I read in a couple of TR’s

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10 hours ago, Galago said:

Good to catch up with this again, Kit. Just love the bird pics and the Serval is wonderful.  I just wonder though, don't you get fed up with having other vehicles around? Personally, I prefer to be in a place where this doesn't happen, but perhaps there's something that balances this out. I'd be so interested to know.


It was nothing like the Masai Mara in terms of the number of vehicles. in 2015, when we stayed in the reserve and watched Malaika (the famous and chilled cheetah), the number of cars was mind-boggling. when she did a hunt once, some vehicles would race up alongside with her - off road! we stayed where we were but imagine the pressure on her. In the conservancies, the rule is 5 vehicles per sighting when the cars go close up to the animal. The leopard and cub incident was an exception as all the vehicles were along the road and initially far from the leopard which in the end chose to walk towards and between the vehicles.   

Yes it can be a little annoying if there are five vehicles crowded in a small space and if one misbehaves, but really such incidents are an exception than the rule in the private conservancies. 90% of the vehicles are very well-behaved and give way to other cars coming in at sightings. Of our 5 days in Olare Motorogi, for eg, at least 75% of the sightings were either on our own, or shared with one or 2 Porini vehicles (I assume they share info/sightings). In MNC, i reckoned 80-90% we were all on our own. we watched a hunt all by ourselves, and another hunt with prob 2 more vehicles but all spread out giving a lot of space to the animals. In MNC, a good development was that we saw the rangers more often than we did in our last two trips. 



10 hours ago, Zubbie15 said:

Lovely photos @Kitsafari, I feel like you saw a lot more birds than we did, but maybe that's just because that's not a focus for us usually. And I'm quite jealous of the serval. :)


@Zubbie15 I'm so enjoying your report and fabulous photos. When I wrote about the serval, I did sympathise that you dipped on the serval in the reserve. But you know, the serval we saw was maybe about 10m from the road, so we were lucky as sharp eyes would catch its markings. But if the serval had been more than 20m further in among the tall grasses, we would have totally missed it.  re: birds - we were quite focused on them too! so i think you'd have gotten more if you were looking out for them. we have another one coming up tooo....:rolleyes:



41 minutes ago, BRACQUENE said:



Thanks a lot ! We are actually staying in two Kicheche Camps in the Naboisho and Mara North Conservancies: birding is not bad there either from what I read in a couple of TR’s


@BRACQUENE we had stayed in Kicheche Ol Pejeta in Dec 2018 also with a focus on birds - and there were plenty! (TR here: 




We stayed in MNC and had quite a good result on birds too. I haven't done a count but think we easily had at least over 100 species. 



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I didn't tell you that we will visit that camp in Laikipia as well for four nights  :)

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19 minutes ago, BRACQUENE said:

I didn't tell you that we will visit that camp in Laikipia as well for four nights  :)


@BRACQUENE I read back to the 2023 trip planning thread! 

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