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As we emerged from the grove, a handful of young male elephants were milling around in front of us. Suddenly, there was a huge trumpeting and as we looked up, a large adult male further in the distance ran fast up a slope, away from us, charging a group of people riding horses. Some of the people were trying to secure control of the horses spooked  by the spectre of the jumbo hurtling towards them. One horse-rider kept his horse still, and the angry elephant stopped in its tracks, but it was still very upset as it shook its head and flapped its head and made trumpeting noises. the other younger male elephants had fled into the grove once the belligerent male roared. 


we were just too stunned to take any photos or videos of the charge, although i managed a short clip of the aftermath. 


we sat there watching, and discussed the pros and cons of having a horse safari. It seems a new mobile camp was set up further down the Mara River, and they provide the horses for anyone who wanted to partake the spot. I've never thought much of this horse safaris, but after witnessing the elephant's reaction, we wondered if horses are a natural addition to the park. Horses are not native to Africa. Elephants in the Mara have never seen horses, and there must have been a bad prior meetings and experiences for this angry pachyderm.  I felt the horses had come too close to the elephants and probably surprised them. I wonder how the lions would react to horses? 




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An interesting interaction. Horses with riders must present a new, quite large, strange shape to animals, even elephants. 

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@wilddogyou're back! 


I think so too. well, animals in new parks take a bit of time to habituate themselves to vehicles, so if horse safaris are gradually and slowly introduced, easing gently into the landscape, the animals will probably begin to treat horses as another species. 

This is the first time we'd seen the horse safaris in MNC - it seems fairly popular as even a couple from our camp took part one day. 

from the little chats we had, it appears that this horse safari camp does night drives (with the safari vehicle) but uses spotlights instead of the recommended red filters. Some complaints were made to the conservancy rangers but little has been done about so far. 



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We moved on to try and catch hyena babies at one of the dens before the sun set. 

On the way, we saw a few birds of note


A striped kingfisher - the one and only of the trip



a more accommodating Coqui Francolin



An Augur Buzzard




Hildebrant's Starling



The Hyena clan was home, babies and all. As always, the young ones were full of curiousity at us. Some adults were returning to the den, and we watched the usual rituals of these unusual handsome creatures - the returnee moving from one hyena to another to sniff at their genitals.

and as the sun set, the light was lovely on them. 














this must the tiniest tot - look at those little paws up the airDSC08637.jpg.525b6ed660177aeecfe4618f184be7c7.jpg


and the sunset was lovely around us. Another day at the safari was wrapped up.





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On 3/26/2023 at 2:31 AM, Kitsafari said:



I wonder how the lions would react to horses? 


My money is on the lions early dinner.


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@KitsafariI was at a camp in Kenya many years ago where rhey were considering the horse riding option. 

The organiser and her horse were chased by a lioness. The horse did what it does well, ran fast and borh were OK. I remember her saying she did not dare look back..

Whether they continued with this idea, I know not



Edited by wilddog
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I just read through your report. Just amazing! Sightings of cheetahs, leopards, lions and serval twice. Interactions between lions and buffaloes and even a cheetah hunt. And then I haven't mentioned all the beautiful birds yet. Great photos and videos. It's been a long time since I visited Kenya, but your report certainly brings back the desire to go again. Thanks for sharing all this.

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Wow, MNC is this year’s OMC! What a wonderful few days of sightings. 


Seem to be more and more beds being added there though - that is three new places you mentioned I think - although one may not be in Mara North. Also, that may not be an accurate impression.


Thanks for the tip about the tree branch - although I am determined to return to the Serian treehouse at some point and not spend most of my stay there concussed. That new camp looks fabulous.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’m way behind having just finished page 2 but as always I’m enjoying your report. 
Glad you got your serval I was feeling guilty I’ve probably seen at least 10 in the past.

I’m not overly fussy where I stay but yes Governors is pretty big. I believe 38 tents. I do have very fond memories of staying there though since I got married there is 2006🥳 Will continue this lovely report.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A thread in trip planning from a first-time safari-goer asking for advice on where to go for his family's first safari set me thinking of why I returned to Kenya for the fourth time. For me and my OH, it's always been the ease of travelling to the country's parks, the well-established infrastructure and the long history of experienced staff at the lodges, but much more than that - for me at least, having time constraints of just 7-8 days of safari makes guaranteed game sightings a key consideration. and the Mara conservancies is one sure place to guarantee the breadth and depth of wildlife and birdlife in a quiet and uncrowded environment. 


So it is with this thought that the last full day of our safari dawned - that we had to make the most of it, burned all the experiences into our brains, and enjoy and soak into them as much as we could. 


The early morning fog was heavy on the land as we rolled out early in the morning. the rufous naped larks were thronging the air with a one-note call.




The zebras were already out, walking slowly to the rolling plains.




This day, James was bringing us a long way to the east, close to the border with the OMC for a sighting of a leopard.  

A clan of hyenas were clustered around remnants of a carcass of a zebra. we counted 35 of them some of them already scattered with the bulk of the carcass already consumed. We later saw a zebra foal wandering on its own, and eventually trying to join a herd of topi for safety. I hope it made it. 




More zebras and topis streamed into the plains. James said that the grass had been very high and long so they opened up sections by sections to allow the Masai community to bring their cattle to graze at these sections. Once the grass was low, the zebras and other grazers could enjoy the young shoots. 


zebras and topis in the foreground and buffalo in the background



elephants walking among the buffalos



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It was a morning of big birds. A family of five southern ground hornbills was gathered near a tree, pecking on a rocky terrain. The large bird is categorised as a "vulnerable" species in the IUCN redlist, four steps away from being extinct in the wild. 

One adult started walking towards the tree where we had stopped and he put on a show. we've never seen a hornbill so close, and certainly haven't seen such a show before. we thought it wanted to fly up the tree as there was another hornbill on the other side of the tree. but it hopped up and down the branch, as if it wanted to have a bit of fun. it certainly entertained us! A sequence of photos would explain it better. 


An immature hornbill







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Posted (edited)

Some of the other birds we saw along the way to the leopard. 


flocks of little egrets coasting to seek their regular posting stations on the large grazers










Edited by Kitsafari
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two small herds of zebras were staring at a rock. James used the bino as we were some distance away and saw a cheetah just minding its own business and sprawling next to the rock. the zebras were still suspicious of it. We decided to forego going closer as we had another cat to find. 





we cleared the rocky hills and came to large opening. Hyenas were roaming around, sniffing at some wildebeests and eyeing their young. James stopped the vehicle. There was another stationary vehicle as well. 

suddenly two to three hyenas started romping. They had identified one wildebeest foal and zoomed in. while OH took shots, i took a video clip. pse ignore the chattering. The wildebeest mom and the foal were brave, trying to escape the hyenas even though the foal was injured at one point. But there is no conclustion as I decided we should move on as I didn't want to see the inevitable end-story. as we left, the foal and mum kept running off a short distance but stopped, as if reluctant to leave the herd. each time they stopped, the hyenas would catch up.  But once again, the hunt clearly shows that hyenas are not just scavengers but active hunters as well. 






the video is pretty long - over 2mins. 



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Finally we reached the leopard's location, and there were already some four vehicles there - the most crowded i think we've seen in our stay at MNC. I was surprised to see a MNC ranger truck parked a little way away, but James said there were two cubs around - which perhaps explained the ranger's presence. The leopard was hidden in the bushes but the two-three-month old cubs had moved to thick shrubs across the hill.


we could just make her out. This was Tito, mother of Natito which we saw in OMC. She was totally relaxed, clearly used to all the attention from vehicles and people. after a short wait, she emerged from the thick bush and did what everyone was waiting for  - climb the tree growing on a termite mound. She moved so fast, we couldn't capture the climb well. A kill was stashed up in the tree. from our angle, we couldn't get shots of her feeding. but the way the kill was placed, it was tough to get any clear window from anywhere a vehicle could move into. 












As she sat feeding on the branch, one of the vehicles drove into a space between the tree and the bushes from where she had emerged from. that placed the vehicle directly below the leopard. James was very disapproving of the behaviour as the truck blocked the leopard's access to the same bush if she were to come down. sure enough, Tito decided to climb down and had to divert into another section. That started a scamble among the other cars as they drove around the wooded area to search for her. Instead of joining the scramble, James drove to the front of the bush where we had first seen her, and indeed, there she was! she had to take a detour to return to that bush, no thanks to the that truck. James said it was a Nairobi-licensed vehicle , which meant either the two guests in the truck had hired the guide in NBO and were staying in MNC, or paid the conservancy visiting fees. 

As we watched the leopard, we heard the slamming of a door from the truck. we couldn't see the truck as the thick bushes hid it, but from the demeanour of the leopard, we knew someone had left the vehicle and was probably shooting (camera) from the ground. THe leopard was watching the direction of the truck, looking very alert and was not relaxed. 



 She finally decided to move and that started another scramble! James decided we should have breakfast as she was unlikely to go far. So off we went to fill our tummies, and err checked the tyres as well. 


A lone eland walked by as we tucked into breakfast. A herd of wildebeests glanced at us, while a black-chested snake eagle flew above us. 



We returned to the leopard and found that most of the vehicles were gone, leaving only the Nairobi truck stalking the leopard, and the MNC ranger vehicle watching the Nairobi truck. 


Tito was lying in a small clearing and we could hear her softly chuffing, calling her cubs. we stayed a while, observing the MNC ranger vehicle stopping by the Nairobi truck and having a few words and then driving away. A few birds flew in while we sat with Tito, including the violet-backed starling still proving elusive. 






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Posted (edited)

after a long wait, we had to leave as it was a long way back to the camp for lunch. Tito was still lying in that clearing and we could see her dropping off to sleep. She 's a beautiful leopard, and have had several litter with cubs grown up and having their own litters as well. She's proven to be an excellent mother. 



Edited by Kitsafari
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on the way back to camp, we saw another eland and a pack of mongoose, and added a few more birds in camp. 
















Before we knew it, it was time to leave to have our iced tea and cake before the 4pm drive. Our last afternoon drive. 

James and Joseph try to find interesting sightings for us. 




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we must have driven around for an hour with no out-of-the-ordinary sightings i can't quite recall until I think James or Joseph must have been alerted by another serian vehicle on the radio.

we had to go through a rather big ditch to catch up with some stationary vehicles - i think there were four which were flanking a group of mammals.


Lions. A big pride of them too. I counted 13. but even more than the lions were the hyenas, spread out around the field - we counted some 35 and those were the ones visible. and 2 jackals hoping to steal some scraps. 


while the jackal moved in to check if the lions were really deep in sleep...




the hyena tested the grounds as it hid behind the tiny bush



Most of the lions were comatose - a handful of adult females and a couple of male sub adults and the others sub lionesses. there was one male sub-adult behind the hedges busily chewing the last bits of a kill before a lioness joined it. all of them were spotting big round bellies. the hyenas were clearly not keen to engage such a big lion group and wisely stayed at the edges, waiting for the lions to have their fill. it was a matter of who blinked first and take the spoils. at the moment the lions had the upper hand.




the vehicle n front of us began to move out as a male sub=adult got up, stretched, walked by our vehicle to have a drink at some small puddle hidden in the tall grasses. soon, a few more lions joined it. One lioness came so close I could have stretched out and with my hand I could almost touch it. Not that I was really tempted to do so!!


from my mobile: 






As more lions moved away from the carcass to have a drink, the area around the kill cleared, leaving only a lioness still sleeping and another still gnawing at the bones. 

The jackal moved in to look for scraps. He went so close the lioness on the bone that I thought he would bite her tail. Instead, he managed to salvage a large bone and quickly carried it off. But a hyena was on his tail and gave chase, forcing the poor jackal to drop the bone. 




Apologies for the shakes - I was hand-holding the camera. 


The jackal returned to the lioness for a second try but this time another hyena followed closely, and buoyed by this hyena, the other hyenas suddenly converged and moved towards the lioness on the bone. As the hyenas grouped together, the lioness decided it was one too many hyenas and stood up. in an instant, the alpha female snatched the backbone of the carcass and ran off into the bushes with it. You will see in the video that one adult lioness was walking towards the hyenas but amid the cacophony of the hyenas' cackling and calls you might just hear a soft roar from the lead lioness. I interpreted it as a call to the pride not to engage the hyenas, since all the lions moved back. 




The alpha lioness








Much of the carcass had already been eaten so there wasn't anything left for most of the hyenas. and the poor jackal which proved to be the bravest of the scavenger lot, left with nothing.


We had hoped for an engagement between the cats and hyenas, so we were slightly disappointed that it was not to be. Still, it was so interesting to watch the interaction and the dynamics in each of the species group - the lead lioness deciding they had fed enough and there was no need to battle the hyenas and possibly get injured just for scraps, the move by the jackal to move in to get scraps, and the hyenas not taking the lions on earlier.




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Of course, we just had to stop for our last sunset in the Mara with the buffaloes against the setting sun and then the zebras walking by. Have I mentioned how glorious sunsets are in the Mara? 





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The last full morning drive - we changed our flights from morning to afternoon so we could have the full AM drive. Although there wasn't much of note, it was still a wonderful enjoyable drive. 

The zebras were once again out earlier than us and were streaming to their favourite grazing grounds as the first light hit the skies. A red-capped lark was also out on the roads, all fluffed out. we disturbed a Thompson gazelle fawn lying quietly next to a bush, and she nervously glanced toward her mother who was grazing about 50m away totally ignoring our presence. There were plenty of babies this time round from the antelopes and zebras - good feeding for the big cats. 







The sun was up in the skies as we stopped to watch more zebras surrounded us. A fiesty stallion was fighting off unwanted attention from another when a third joined in to hassle him. The two were viciously biting him but he retaliated, kicking at them numerous times until they got the message and ceased hassling him. The zebra standing on the right watching us refused to take part in the melee. 









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Posted (edited)

The cheetah brothers Mbili and Milele were resting under a tree and they didn't look like they wanted any action soon.





Other more peaceful zebras dotted the open plains. 



James brought us to the bush where the lioness and four cubs were supposed to be. They weren't home, but their father or fathers were. Four male lions were flat out in the bush and pretty hidden in the bush and getting to them in a rocky but small clearing proved to be rather nerve wrecking. These were the four lions that killed Logol, Half-Tail's brother and partner male that presided over the Marsh pride. 



More birds came out to say goodbye, including the Black Stork - the first time we have both seen this species. 






Grey-crowned cranes



Little Bee-eater



a Pied Kingfisher that waited until our last day to appear



another striped kingfisher



White bellied cisticola 



a rattling cisticola



A juvenile fish eagle enjoyed the thermals while we were having breakfast






Saddle-billed Stork




An African Pied Wagtail loved the truck so much that he just sat on the roof and sang his heart out. 




Edited by Kitsafari
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Then it was time to the airstrip. we said our goodbyes to Rosh and Adrian, and as we made our way to the strip, the very elegant and stunning Gymnogene or African harrier hawk finally appeared to us. Always wonderful to see this beautiful raptor. 




The lilac-breasted roller took control of the airport tower and oversaw our departure as the plane arrived. 





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And our long-awaited trip back to Africa was done. It was fabulous to return to the home of our hearts. Even when there were no extraordinary sightings, even when there were just quiet hours on the roads or in the camps, it has been refreshing to our spirits.

just being out in the open space where breathing is easy, where the air is so fresh and clean, where no tall concrete monsters close me in, where no four walls confine my thoughts. now all i have to do is plan the next trip, and count the hours.


a heartfelt and big thank you to all those who have been following my TR and continued to follow despite me being tardy in finishing up the TR. that really encouraged me to complete the report. 






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So pleased your enjoyed your trip.

Some great sightings and wonderful photographs. Thanks for sharing it all with us.



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Great report. MNC certainly delivered for you along with your other destinations. Thanks for sharing this detailed report. 

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Thanks for sharing @Kitsafari, 10 months until my return to Kenya so this was really appreciated. It seems so long away, and yet the time will fly as it seems to do these days.


I'm surprised a driver would let a tourist out near a leopard, and that the Rangers wouldn't go anything about it. It seems like a recipe for a disaster for everyone! 

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