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michael-ibk

Very enjoyable Kit. What a great Serval sighting you had, just wonderful!

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Kitsafari

Thank you @michael-ibk. we did had excellent serval sightings and that is now crossed off on my list. Next to-see on my list - caracal again, and pel's fishing owl would also be very nice too. sadly not on this trip, though. 

 

So I can't sleep, hence I'm back to finish off my stay at Porini. 

 

the previous night was filled with the roars from the two boys. Before we headed out on our last morning drive at Porini on Day 5, we asked Nelson if we could look for the boys. It would be a lovely end to our stay in OMC to see the boys before they headed off to sleep. 

Just a short way out of camp, we saw some 10-12 cattle running at high speed, with a few humans running behind them. one of them was yelling, presumably at us. Nelson gathered the cattle somehow broke away from the main herd and were running away, probably tired of being herded and commandeered back to the village when all they wanted was to be free and eat freely in the green green grasslands of the reserve. The problem was, the area where they were escaping in, was the territory of the large Enkuyanai lion pride and the lions were often found just down the hill by the river. 

Nelson drove into the path of the cattle but failed to stop their advances. He made a second attempt, which finally slowed down the cattle and allowed the other humans on foot to catch up. Since they seemed to have finally had the situation under control, we went off. 

It was to be a short game drive as we would return to Porini for a nice breakfast before we got a transfer to Serian in Mara North conservancy. 

 

A heavy large contiuous cloud looking like the altocumulus formation hung over the grey skies as the sun had yet to rise.

 

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 The land was just beginning to gain some light when we found the two boys, resting on an open road.  Just a brief background which i quickly jotted down but didn't check the spellings - the handsome boys Brown and Humble are sons to Maridadi and Kaka of the Marsh pride and had moved from the MNC into the OMC area, quickly taking over the Enkuyanai lion pride. At eight years old, the two males still looked strong and imposing. 

As we closed in on them, the boys rose up and started to walk. As they walked, they roared. I tried to film it but the light was low so the image kept blurring out. but the roars rang out mightily and clearly. 

 

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Nelson did  a marvellous job guessing the directions they were heading and positioning us to watch them walking headlong to us. As they walked, the sun rose behind the clouds, but though hidden by the clouds, the sun lit up the skies, and as the sun rose higher, the hues changed every few minutes, setting the skies on fire.

and the male lions walked beneath the blazing skies. And I thought, darn, what an amazing office these lions and our guides have and they have this every day 365 days a years. 

 

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Kitsafari
Posted (edited)

We spent over half an hour "walking" with the lions, initially just us four and the two boys and after 10-15mins, Nelson finally radioed another Porini vehicle to alert them of the sighting. They missed the roars but at least got to "walk with the lions" too. 

 

what a glorious start to the morning. This was exactly what we had in mind when we asked Nelson to find the boys, and he knew exactly what we wanted. Awesome. 

 

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Kitsafari

Once the two boys vanished into the treeline, we left in search of other sightings. and not long after, we found a mating lion pair. Seemed the conservancy was pumping with lions!

The female lioness was from the Dik Dik pride but Nelson and ALbert didn't recognise the young male. The lioness didn't seemed serious about mating and we were speculating that she was keeping him busy while her pride and probably cubs had a chance to move further away from this interloper. it was quite fun to watch the young male trying to make a good impression with the lady. 

 

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Kitsafari

We returned to Porini camp where a sumptious breakfast awaited us, making us wonder why we never did spend at least one  morning just to enjoy a leisurely and yummy hot breakfast at camp. 

we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Porini and the excellent staff was a big factor in making us feel welcomed and feel at home away from home. 

 

I should mention that Gamewatchers somehow learned about our experience with their consultant and their CEO contacted me directly and acknowledged a lapse in their service. I appreciated the personal gesture and the approach by the CEO himself, since it demonstrated the seriousness and commitment they attach to providing the best service that they can. So, somewhere in the future, we plan a trip to Amboseli and meru with Porini. If the wonderful staff at Porini Lion Camp is a standard of service at all their camps, I'm sure we will be in for the best times. 

 

As we left the camp to head to MNC, I wondered what experiences we would have there. other than the dramatic start to the OMC stay, the rest of the stay was relaxed and slow paced, almost sedate, albeit still getting a most wonderful experience. But i wondered - would we get more exciting sightings in MNC? after all, we watched Malaika the cheetah hunt an impala for her cubs to practise their hunting skills, and we watched a leopard cub trying to fraternise with a young elephant, both under the fantastic guiding of James Kipetu. 

well, we would just have to wait and see. 

 

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A great stay at Porini.

The photos of the sky are just superb. Really stunning 

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offshorebirder
5 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

So, somewhere in the future, we plan a trip to Amboseli and meru with Porini.

 

Very 'Jelly' and can't wait for the TR.

 

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Kitsafari

Thanks @TonyQ the photos were just that - I didn't touch up the images at all!

 

Thanks @offshorebirder 

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Kitsafari
Posted (edited)

The weather was beautiful - sunny, clear - when we finally said goodbye to Porini and started our transit to Serian.  My Google timeline said it was a distance of 27.6km over three hours. We had a bit of push and pull with the tour operator over the transfer. They had put in a full day PV for our transfer, but we disputed that since the transfer was really half a day, but they also argued for the return back to the camp. In the end, we opted for a short morning drive, breakfast in the camp and normal transfer to Serian and the charge was slightly lower. Still, Nelson and Albert were the guides who drove us in the same safari vehicle to Serian. The only difference was that we didn't stop for anything along the way. well, at least not everything. We stopped a second or two here and there for birds.

 

 Olare Orok, the river that Porini camp lies next to.

 

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Had to stop for the Goliath Heron - the only time we saw it. 

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Before we knew it, we were at the border of Mara North Conservancy with clear notice boards declaring it so. 

 

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and the familiar gentle rolling hills and vast wide spaces opened up to us. We saw quite a few Mara Plains/ Great Plains Conservation vehicles as we crossed over, some having breakfast while others were watching the hundreds of zebras filling up the hillsides and the horizons and ridges after ridges thereafter. Mara Plains is located in OMC but it turns out that GPC has paid for traversing rights into the neighbouring conservancy - quite a smart move as it immediately expands the areas that its guests can move into.

And this was where the zebras and other grazers had come into. During our last visit to MNC/OMC in 2018, we saw loads of zebras and wildebeests in OMC but not this trip. They seemed to have moved to MNC. Miles and miles of zebras were dotting the horizons, as far as the eye could see.

we rolled on.

Soon, a motorcycle with two MNC rangers came alongside our vehicle. Porini vehicles do not have traversing rights in this conservancy, and the rangers wanted to know if we were trespassing. They left immediately when they learned we were being transferred. This was the first time in all our three visits that we came across the MNC rangers. It looked as if MNC had stepped up their patrols. 

we came to the familiar "highway" that cuts across MNC that leads from the village settlement straight on to Nairobi. Crossing the arterial road, we moved closer to the Oloololo escarpment. I recognised the rocky terrain and hillsides that we had used bounced on in 2015 when we left and returned to the Serian camp. SInce then, a series of graded road network has improved travel to and from the camp. 

And finally we had arrived at Serian the Original Camp. 

 

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Kitsafari

It was great to see Rosh and Adrian again and the camp looked exactly the same as we had left it five years ago. we hugged Nelson and Albert farewell. we had the best time with them, and was sad to see them go. 

Then it was onto our favourite tent - tent no 7 i think - the last one next to the bridge that led to Ngare camp. somehow the walk to the tent seemed longer than I had remembered - have I aged that much? but the birds and the cheeky lizards were still at the balcony, which was shorter than I recalled! this time, however, the tent was fully zipped up. we learned why later - the vervet monkeys have invaded and would enter the tents to look for food and drinks, so we needed to zip up each time we left the room. but when we were in the tent during the downtime, we would hook up the main flaps to enjoy the views and the breeze, although the lizards kept turning up at the entrance and looked like they wanted to get into the tent as well. and of course, the galagoes were back with their antics during the nights - bouncing, running, jumping on the canvas roof. 

 

The view to Ngare Serian across the Mara River

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Putting up my feet to the view of the escarpment

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Baby ververt checking if we will leave the tent open...

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but Mom came and snatched him away, spoiling his fun DSC06628.jpg.4a1ece55b384d7892a80b0d670862941.jpg

 

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scarlet-chested sunbird - female

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scarlet-chested sunbird - male 

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Kitsafari

Time for a cold fruit tea before the evening drive, where we finally met James once again and he had an assistant  - a very articulate and very polite young man called Joseph. He has eyes as sharp as James, and no wonder - he's James's nephew. Later I asked Rosh why there were assistant guides as there weren't in the past. It seemed in the other Alex Walker camps, there were always 2 guides, so they decided to standardise the practice at Serian as well. 

 

We were disappointed to see that the safari vehicle was the same as the old one 5 years ago. Serian had talked about updating all the vehicles with doors so that we didn't need to climb over but not all the vehicles had been changed. I had a lingering back ache from the bumpy drive in the reserve, and climbing high up and clambering over the high sides of the vehicle aggravated the pain. we asked Rosh later that evening if she had spare vehicles with the side door, and thank goodness they had one. It really helped so much with my back. and the seat was firm and stable. The Porini vehicle had a door on both sides so it was easy to get in and out but the seat was a bit smooth and I would find myself slipping down and then having to haul myself back up in the seat, and that didn't really help with my back. 

 

So out just after 4pm, and the sun was still shining. Hoorah!

Little Bee-eaters, a coy Cocqui Francolin and a pair of Southern Ground Hornbill welcomed us on our first drive. 

 

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It wasn't that far off from camp when James saw the other Serian camp ahead of us. I couldn't see what they were looking at but we went forward to check it out. bumping over the rocky ground, we finally saw what the other vehicle was looking at. 

 

Cheetahs! at last!

 

A mum and three cubs had just finished up a meal. An impala fawn, said James. the four were resting after the meal, although one would break away to gnaw at a leg but soon they were all grooming each other. Fabulous to see the spotted slender elegant cat - my second fav cat in the world. I am always so pumped when a cheetah, against so many odds, can bring her cubs to almost adulthood.

 

we celebrated with her with lots of photos. :) Bear with me!

 

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Kitsafari

a clip of the cheetahs grooming each other. 

 

 

 

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michael-ibk

Lovely. 🙂

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madaboutcheetah

That's cheetah in classic Mara conservancies terrain, @Kitsafari- glad you had a great time

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A beautiful set of Cheetah photos from both of you

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BRACQUENE

Great pictures of the Cheetah ; can't wait to see them in August in the Mara North Conservancy !

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Kitsafari
Posted (edited)

Thanks @michael-ibk @madaboutcheetah @TonyQ @BRACQUENE!

 

This TR is just plodding along. Work is getting heavier and more stressful. i foresee less stress in the near future in the crystal ball, but we all know crystal balls can be pretty fuzzy often. :rolleyes:

 

I was reading @Tdgravesreport of her Sept 2022 trip to Mara North, and her sightings of two male cheetahs and a separate family of mom and 3 cubs, and I wondered if the family was the same we saw in January - four months later. It may well be so as the the three cubs were almost grown! If so, it's always satisfying to see how the mum has done incredibly well to keep all three cubs to near adulthood. BTW the mum is called Kweli. 

 

After leaving the cat family, we went in search of the rosette one. James said there had been a leopard in a thick grove of trees but searching high and low and around and in between, no cat was home. We preoccupied ourselves with some birds as the daylight got dimmer. 

 

Senegal Plovers were calling away while we were watching the cheetah family.

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Pied wheatear non-breeding Male

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Northern Wheatear female 

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Rattling Cisticola singing its heart out

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Three tawnies were huddled in a treetop 

 

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As the skies were getting greyer, we turned back towards camp and found the cheetah family again, with the cubs busily feeding on yet another impala fawn. just as we were closing in, the mum cheetah raced  off to chase away a hyena. a brave mum! the lone hyena seeing four of them move off to a distance but didn't threaten them thereafter. the cubs finished up the meal and it was just too dark to get good shots. But it was great to see them feeding well, albeit less two for the impala population. 

and it was the end of Day 

 

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We had a wonderful dinner, and met our fellow safari-goers. Somehow we clicked better with the Serian guests than we did at Porini. I'm unsure why but the chemistry was better in Serian, perhaps because it felt homely and cosy as dinners were always hosted by Rosh (lunches are with Rosh and Adrian), and everyone felt relaxed. during our three-night stay, we met a British couple (rather nice couple though the wife dominated the talk while the poor hubbie couldn't get a word in), a very lovely young American couple who were on their honeymoon and as a result got upgraded to Ngare, and the last night we met a very nice couple from South America. A German pair of gentlemen who we had met on our last stay in 2018 remain my good FB pal.

 

Since my first stay here in 2015 (then with fabulous @SafariChick and @graceland), Serian had always had a resident genet.  the current genet had not visited for a long while prior to our arrival, but on our first and subsequent nights, the genet returned and on one night, brought along a very skittish juvenile. 

it was so good to see her or Gen as Rosh named her. 

 

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Edited by Kitsafari
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Kitsafari
Posted (edited)

 The chill in the air made me reach out for the Masai cloth to wrap my legs in the next morning. Mara North is about 1,950m above sea level, higher than OMC's 1,700m+. One morning after heavy rains the night before, i had to put on Serian's fleece raincoat (Porini's raincoat was fluffier and warmer!) over my light down coat and gloves stayed on my hands. 

Still, another dawn of golden hues, another glorious morning. 

 

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we found out this morning that gone was Serian'slight reusable water bottle which I had brought along on this trip. Instead, Serian has started its own brand of still water in reusable glass bottles. Rosh said it was a major problem recycling aluminium bottles that were left behind by guests and that it was a waste to throw them away. Glass bottles can be recycled over again, and there is less wastage. the bottles are small so H and I went through them a fair bit. 

 

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it's a beautiful morning. the sun was out, and the birds and animals were enjoying a new day. 

 

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juvenile black-chested snake eagle (i think) 

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This morning, James and Joseph were taking us to see a male cheetah - one of two brothers. The brothers are famous for taking down topis - quite a feat for the slender cheetahs. the stocky topi would still be quite a challenge even for two cheetahs but they had perfected their hunt for the antelope. But one of the brothers had run off with a female and had not been seen for a few days. The other brother had been calling for days, but it seems the instinct to mate and breed overwhelmed any sense of family ties. when we saw the lonely cheetah, he looked lean - probably hasn't eaten for days while searching for his wayward brother.  The brothers have been named Mbili and Milele. Their names mean Together Forever. well, at least not for today. 

I can't recall which brother this is, but he sure looked forlorn and lonely today in the vast plains. 

 

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Edited by Kitsafari
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Tdgraves

Just catching up with your TR Kit. It seems that you has many different birds sightings than us, I guess due to the time of year…

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Kitsafari

@Tdgraves it could be that - perhaps more migratory birds in January? 

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Kitsafari

We headed off to find hyenas. A hippo carcass had been found the previous day and hyenas were still having a feast. We found a pile of hyenas on the hippo, much of it still intact despite the large number of hyenas. A hyena cub was comatose on top of the hippo - a good position to be in! we watched them a bit, and so did two black-backed jackals, one of which knew it was in a for a long wait and so laid down and closed its eyes and got a good rest. A juvenile Martial Eagle also kept an eye out for opportunities to steal scraps. 

 

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with the smells of the dead hippo wafting towards us, James decided to add some excitement to the scene. Doing his best imitations, James cackled and called just like a hyena, and the hyenas immediately turned around, surrounding the carcass, ready to face the opposing gang. It seemed the evening before, there was a huge battle between this group and a competing group of hyenas barging into enemy's territory and hoping to steal the food. Luckily for the hyenas this morning, James was no threat to them!

  

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Hyenas responding to the James Threat: 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

@Tdgraves it could be that - perhaps more migratory birds in January? 

 

Definitely...when we went to the Mara in February we had many more birds than when we went in June or September. Also February they are getting ready for breeding and are more active and singing.

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Just catching up with this after my return from India. Nice to see our same tent at Serian and of course James! No assistant guides when we were there in June, not sure how I feel about that, just more people in the vehicle, although I guess if they act as spotters it could be beneficial.

 

Great to see that Kweli and the three cubs are still doing well! We spent a lot of time with them in June but at that time they were in Olare Motorogi. (I never did manage to do a trip report for that trip as there were just so many trips this past year.)

 

It's interesting that you mention Ngare as an upgrade--we actually spent two nights there because of availability issues but really disliked it...hated crossing that bridge, and the camp felt much more isolated and with no views from the tent.  Much preferred the main camp, which we moved to as soon as our tent opened up.

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Kitsafari
Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, janzin said:

Just catching up with this after my return from India. Nice to see our same tent at Serian and of course James! No assistant guides when we were there in June, not sure how I feel about that, just more people in the vehicle, although I guess if they act as spotters it could be beneficial.

 

Interesting - so it must have been a new thing? we were surprised at the second guide, and even at Porini, we were unprepared for a second guide so we didn't have sufficiently Kenyan shillings for tips. Fortunately, we had some spare US dollars. 

 

It's interesting that you mention Ngare as an upgrade--we actually spent two nights there because of availability issues but really disliked it...hated crossing that bridge, and the camp felt much more isolated and with no views from the tent.  Much preferred the main camp, which we moved to as soon as our tent opened up. when we were planning the trip, we debated whether to stay at Ngare or the main camp, but Herman who had stayed at Ngare once did say the bridge wasn't so easy to cross, so we booked at the main camp instead. 

 

@janzin

Edited by Kitsafari
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Kitsafari

A pair of secretary birds were walking the grounds just beyond the hyenas so we moved to watch the tall birds. They were busy stomping the ground and feeding, and seemed to be working the area in sections. Always a pleasure to see these elegant beautiful birds. 

 

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A very chilled and very handsome male warthog came wandering along and we drove forward to meet it. it came closer and closer and even James was surprised at how chilled this wild pig was. The typical sighting of the warthog was of its bum and its upright tail but this fellow care not we were a big black machine. But such a handsome ugly dude with those impressive tusks. a good candidate for some ladies out there. 

 

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It was time for breakfast and we headed towards the Mara River for a view. Along the way, some of the plains game and birds we saw were " 

 

the iconic scene of the Topi on the Mound - we just had to stop and take a shot 

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Wildebeest baby - 

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The one and only Yellow-billed Oxpecker on the trip and it wasn't even on an animal! shocking, i know. 

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Western Yellow Wagtail

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The river proved to be a very popular spot for breakfast! a couple of spots were taken, including the best spot at the bend of the river. still where we were, the views were marvellous. great open spaces, listening to the hippos in the river, the gurgling river, while we tuck into our breakfast. bliss. 

 

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a very badly injured hippo. in fact it was very sluggish in the river and seemed to have difficulties climbing up the bank. it soon re-enterred the water which probably helped soothe its wounds. DSC07326.jpg.025f659773975f58adb860db4c88c761.jpg

 

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This baby hippo seemed to be following the injured hippo. 

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wire-tailed swallow

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