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Kenya - February 2024


HeatherY

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HeatherY

We’ve been home for over two months now so this trip report is a bit late. This was our first safari, originally booked for Feb 2023 but postponed to Feb 2024 due to life-interrupting events. I received a lot of very helpful information from site, so THANK-YOU to all who contribute!  I’ve also learned very quickly why so many of you have numerous safaris under your belt. We came home and are already planning for our next one, and although it won’t be for a couple of years, I’ll continue to follow along as we decide where we go next (I do have some initial thoughts!). 

 

Travelling from Canada makes for long flights, and February travel in the heart of winter can add delays so we try to minimize our connections. We were fortunate to have direct flights from Edmonton to Amsterdam, and then direct to Nairobi. Just over 18 hours … in theory. In reality, when your first flight is delayed and you miss your connection and get re-routed through Dubai (with a 6-hour layover), the travel time ends up being over 30 hours. It’s a good thing I always plan buffer days for long trips!

 

Despite the delay, we still had a couple of days in Nairobi and managed to take in Shedrick’s, the Giraffe Centre, Karen Blixen Museum, and a coffee farm. All very worthwhile seeing, especially as first time visitors, although next time we’ll likely just stay in Nairobi National Park. 

 

Everything was booked with Gamewatchers relatively easily and I was very happy with all the choices (but not the exchange from CAD$ to US$, although we have no control over that). We hired a driver through Gamewatchers (yes - we could have done it cheaper on our own, but as first-time visitors to Nairobi, we didn’t know what to expect, and it was just simpler to have that looked after). There was a little confusion (on my part) with Shedrick’s Elephant Orphanage and it wasn’t made clear we needed to pre-book, but the local Gamewatchers crew pulled out all the stops and managed to get us in, just a day later than I had initially planned we would go. With the flight delays it actually worked out better, and our driver was easily able to modify our plans and shuffle some things around. 

 

Our itinerary after leaving Nairobi was Porini Selenkay (Amboseli area), Porini Rhino (Ol Pejeta), Porini Mara (Ol Kinyei Conservancy) and Porini Lion (Olare Motorogi Conservancy), 3 nights in each camp. 
 

I’ll provide additional details on our experience in each camp in the coming days (and I hope it doesn’t end up being too long!). 

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soleson

Looking forward to your report.  We just booked the same camps for Oct 2025 for a group of us.  Three nights in Porini Selenkay (Amboseli), two nights at Porini Rhino (Ol Pejeta), three nights at Porini Mara and then finishing with 3 nights at Porini Lion.  Curious if you thought the three nights per camp was too long, too short or about right.  

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Thornburyswan
1 hour ago, HeatherY said:

 

We’ve been home for over two months now so this trip report is a bit late. This was our first safari, originally booked for Feb 2023 but postponed to Feb 2024 due to life-interrupting events. I received a lot of very helpful information from site, so THANK-YOU to all who contribute!  I’ve also learned very quickly why so many of you have numerous safaris under your belt. We came home and are already planning for our next one, and although it won’t be for a couple of years, I’ll continue to follow along as we decide where we go next (I do have some initial thoughts!). 

 

Travelling from Canada makes for long flights, and February travel in the heart of winter can add delays so we try to minimize our connections. We were fortunate to have direct flights from Edmonton to Amsterdam, and then direct to Nairobi. Just over 18 hours … in theory. In reality, when your first flight is delayed and you miss your connection and get re-routed through Dubai (with a 6-hour layover), the travel time ends up being over 30 hours. It’s a good thing I always plan buffer days for long trips!

 

Despite the delay, we still had a couple of days in Nairobi and managed to take in Shedrick’s, the Giraffe Centre, Karen Blixen Museum, and a coffee farm. All very worthwhile seeing, especially as first time visitors, although next time we’ll likely just stay in Nairobi National Park. 

 

Everything was booked with Gamewatchers relatively easily and I was very happy with all the choices (but not the exchange from CAD$ to US$, although we have no control over that). We hired a driver through Gamewatchers (yes - we could have done it cheaper on our own, but as first-time visitors to Nairobi, we didn’t know what to expect, and it was just simpler to have that looked after). There was a little confusion (on my part) with Shedrick’s Elephant Orphanage and it wasn’t made clear we needed to pre-book, but the local Gamewatchers crew pulled out all the stops and managed to get us in, just a day later than I had initially planned we would go. With the flight delays it actually worked out better, and our driver was easily able to modify our plans and shuffle some things around. 

 

Our itinerary after leaving Nairobi was Porini Selenkay (Amboseli area), Porini Rhino (Ol Pejeta), Porini Mara (Ol Kinyei Conservancy) and Porini Lion (Olare Motorogi Conservancy), 3 nights in each camp. 
 

I’ll provide additional details on our experience in each camp in the coming days (and I hope it doesn’t end up being too long!). 

 
Sounds like a great trip, we have done 3 with Gamewatchers now over the last 6 years & been to all those Porini camps plus Porini Cheetah so will be very interested in your future updates/experiences - we are considering trip 4 for Nov 2025!

 

Slightly easier from the UK with direct flights on BA or Air Kenya to Nairobi so can easily see the need for buffer days for your trip - we did likewise on our Botswana trip last year & built into our one to Zambia in August.

 

Looking forward to your next update.

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Thornburyswan
40 minutes ago, soleson said:

Looking forward to your report.  We just booked the same camps for Oct 2025 for a group of us.  Three nights in Porini Selenkay (Amboseli), two nights at Porini Rhino (Ol Pejeta), three nights at Porini Mara and then finishing with 3 nights at Porini Lion.  Curious if you thought the three nights per camp was too long, too short or about right.  


Great choice of camps & in a good order too - we found 3 nights the best plan as it allows you to both properly unpack/relax in each camp & also get a good feel for each conservancy. If you do a repeat trip & return to any of those camps maybe 2 nights works ok plus saves you a few $$.

 

Worth asking your TO to request either of the tents overlooking the water hole & salt lick at Porini Rhino (think they are numbers 5 & 6 but no sure on the numbers). Plus if you are thinking of a full day in the Masai Mara NP I’d suggest do that from Porini Lion camp as it’s a shorter transfer than from Porini Mara camp.

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wilddog

So pleased you went  with Gamewatchers and I am really looking forward to hearing al about it.

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HeatherY
8 hours ago, soleson said:

Looking forward to your report.  We just booked the same camps for Oct 2025 for a group of us.  Three nights in Porini Selenkay (Amboseli), two nights at Porini Rhino (Ol Pejeta), three nights at Porini Mara and then finishing with 3 nights at Porini Lion.  Curious if you thought the three nights per camp was too long, too short or about right.  


We found that three nights was great. It gave us time to settle in for a while add not feel like we were rushing from one camp to the next. It also gave us time to see different parts of the conservancies so we didn’t feel we missed much. I would have been happy adding nights in some camps primarily because we just really enjoyed our time there!

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HeatherY
8 hours ago, Thornburyswan said:

 

Worth asking your TO to request either of the tents overlooking the water hole & salt lick at Porini Rhino (think they are numbers 5 & 6 but no sure on the numbers). Plus if you are thinking of a full day in the Masai Mara NP I’d suggest do that from Porini Lion camp as it’s a shorter transfer than from Porini Mara camp.


The water hole is a great feature in Rhino!  We weren’t right across from it, but our tent still had a good view of it.  We also had a great experience one afternoon while we were resting (or initially trying to rest!) when a family of elephants decided to saunter our way after finishing at the water hole. They ended up coming by within about 10-15 feet of our tent as we quietly sat out watching them (pictures and video to follow). 

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HeatherY

First stop Porini Selenkay …

 

Our flight from Nairobi left at 7:00am .  I was a bit worried about luggage since I knew we were over the 15kg maximum, primarily due to camera equipment. Not a lot over and we were prepared to pay extra if necessary, but they only weighed our duffle bags and not our carry-on, which was our camera bags.  We were also the only two on the flight which I suspect was likely why.  We landed at the Selenkay airstrip at about 7:45am, and after introductions with our guides, we had our first game drive on the way to camp (taking the long way), and arriving in camp just before noon.  We had our camp briefing with the manager, lunch, and then had a chance to settle into our tent before the late afternoon/evening game drive. 

 

For each camp, I’ll provide a brief overview of our experience. Many of you are probably familiar with the camp routines and schedules, but I’ll include some of this for those like me who are new to safari and may find it helpful. 

 

Guides  - Dan (Muli) and Thomson (Latina) were wonderful.  We felt their guiding was excellent, but we also had a lot of fun and laughs during our game drives and really enjoyed getting to know them. Fantastic people and a great introduction to the safari experience.  About half our game drives were just my husband and I; the others were with one other couple and we never had more than 4 guests on any of our drives here.  I suspect it was likely our timing and the fact the camp wasn’t full. 

 

Game Drives - We spent our second full day in Amboseli National Reserve. It’s a bit of a drive, and on the way the intention was just to get there, so unless there was something really special on the way, we weren’t going to stop. I honestly can’t remember how long it took … maybe an hour?  I really didn’t notice the time since it was so enjoyable and interesting to see the country-side and drive through the local community.  The rest of our drives were in Selenkay Conservancy, which I really enjoyed. I wasn’t expecting to see so many different birds in the reserve and conservancy, all of them so beautiful. And I admit I fell in love with elephants … such amazing animals with so much character!  We didn’t see any lions here, although we had great fun trying with Muli and Latina following some tracks.  I honestly don’t think it would have mattered what we saw - it was our first safari experience and we loved every minute of it! 

We also had a night drive, one of the benefits of staying in the conservancy. We didn’t see a lot during the night drive, but it was a beautiful clear night so we stopped at the airstrip and star-gazed and listened to the night sounds. It was fabulous!

 

The Camp - Our tents were very comfortable. For us, it was a perfect level of “glamping”, where we had the amenities we needed without losing the feel of what we had envisioned a traditional safari would be like. We had no issues with the bucket showers, and felt it was a great part of the overall experience.  Conserving water also wasn’t new to us having spent some time in the Galapagos on a fairly small boat. The water was hot and we had more than enough for our needs. We had been worried about running out, but because of that, whoever showered second usually got a really long shower to use what was left!  Wake up was before 6:00am, with delivery of our choice of morning beverage, biscuits, and a jug of hot water so we could freshen up. Out on safari between 6:00am and 6:30am, usually with a bush breakfast somewhere around 9:00am. Back to camp just before noon, lunch at 1:00pm, then some down time before going out again at 4:00pm. Somewhere along the way we stopped for sundowners, then back to camp between 7:00pm and 7:30pm and supper at 8:00pm. Showers were either before or after dinner. 

The food was excellent. The soups and sauces were especially delicious and if Porini ever decided to put out a recipe book I’d definitely get one!  In addition to our plated meal, they usually had an African dish served “family style” if anyone wanted to try it.  

Daniel was always available to make sure we had anything we needed in the lounge/dining area at any time of the day. I’m not sure what his “title” is? - I can’t say “server” because he was so much more than that!  More like a host. And he never stopped smiling!  

 

Weather - Really quite hot during the days.  The evenings were cooler and comfortable but we never needed any extra layers, and during the night we generally only needed the sheet for cover (but we’re also used to -20 to -30 degrees celsius at this time of year!).  There was no rain while we were at this camp.

 

On our way to the airstrip the morning we were leaving, we came across some birds acting quite strangely. It was clear they were bothered by something and were almost dive-bombing something in the grasses.  We eventually realized what the fuss was about - a puff adder had one of the birds in its jaw, injecting it with venom. It was amazing how well camouflaged it was in the grass!  He freed it briefly, and for a while we thought the bird might get away (at least my husband and I did … our guides knew better and gave us a bit of a lesson on puff adders).  The bird died within about a minute and then we watched as the puff adder swallowed it.  Despite what was happening, we couldn’t stop from watching - it was fascinating, and though sad, a necessary part of nature. We knew it was a lucky sighting since our guides had their cameras out too - it was a first for both of them to see a puff adder with kill.  

 

Next stop … Porini Rhino in Ol Pejeta.  

 

Rather than trying to pick and choose some photos, I’ve included a link to my Smugmug pages for this part of our trip if anyone wants to browse (I’ll do the same for the other locations as well). Apologies in advance for some of the videos being a bit shaky - until this trip I hadn’t done a lot of video with my camera, especially with a fairly long lens attached, and next time I’ll have something to help stabilize it. Video with the phone was much easier to manage and if there’s good video, that’s probably the source.

 

I think I have most things labelled right. For the birds, what I didn’t remember I tried to identify with Merlin, but if anyone sees something identified wrong, feel free to let me know. 
https://hwyates.smugmug.com/Travel/Kenya2024/n-LhNf8W/Selenkay-Amboseli

 

The puff adder experience is separate. Although family and friends were equally fascinated to hear about it, not everyone wanted to see it. 

https://hwyates.smugmug.com/Travel/Kenya2024/n-LhNf8W/Puff-Adder-vs-Bird

 

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HeatherY

Porini Rhino, Ol Pejeta

We flew from Selenkay to Nairobi and from there to Nanyuki Airport. Fortunately, no issues with the weight of our luggage and they didn’t weigh our carry-on, but again, the flight was nowhere near full. Unfortunately, the air strip in Ol Pejeta had been damaged from rains and no flights were landing or taking off from there. We were met by our guides in Nanyuki and it was just over an hour drive to the conservancy gates. Although not ideal, it gave us a great opportunity to see a bit more of the countryside and life in Kenya so we had no complaints. 

 

We signed in at the conservancy office before making our way to Porini Rhino camp. The camp is quite a distance from the main entrance (I believe one of the furthest), but the location is great, and of course has the water hole, which is a wonderful benefit to this camp. There’s also a blind overlooking the water hole, which gives a great opportunity for a more up-close-and-personal view. We were met in camp by Edwin, the camp manager, who was always available and spent time with the guests in the evening around the campfire. 

The routine in camp is very similar to Selenkay - early wake-up with coffee, biscuits and warm water to freshen-up, out on a game drive between 6:00am and 6:30am, bush breakfast around 9:00am, back in camp around noon, lunch at 1:00pm, free time after lunch to rest or perhaps spend time in the blind, then out on a game drive again at 4:00pm until anywhere from 7:00pm and 7:30pm, with sundowners at some time between. Dinner was at 8:00pm but there was always time visiting around the campfire, either before or after dinner. 

 

Guides - David (I’m 90% sure I have his name right but can’t find my notes and feel really bad about that!) was our driver.  David has been guiding for a long time but only more recently with Porini.  He’s extremely knowledgeable, with a laid back and calm nature. Paul is a student so still learning, and though quiet, we could tell he enjoyed what he was doing.  He was also able to share his knowledge and spot some good sightings. 

 

Game Drives - David really seemed to enjoy driving off the beaten track, so we had some fantastic game drives.  We saw both black and white rhinos within the first 30-45 minutes of arrival and many afterwards. There were three oryx in the area and we were also fortunate to have seen them, since I understand they’re not common to the conservancy. We also saw a striped hyena thanks to the great off-roading by our guide!  He (or she) was in the tall grasses and I was on the wrong side of the jeep to get a decent picture but it’s possible my husband did (I still haven’t had the chance to go through all his pictures yet!). The reticulated giraffes are beautiful and were plentiful.  While we didn’t see any kills, we did see a bit of a chase when a lone buffalo wondered close to the lions. It was amazing to watch the entire pride perk up as it neared - all on alert and ready to pounce!  We were trumpeted at by an elephant (if that doesn’t wake you nothing will). She had been in a gully with her baby so I think we startled her, but David’s knowledge of their behaviour and his calm nature was really beneficial during this encounter and we had no issues. For us, and probably momma elephant, it was more of a surprise than anything else.  

We spent time with and had the chance to feed Baraka, the blind black rhino living in protection in the conservancy. We also visited the chimpanzee sanctuary, and although interesting, we don’t feel the need to do either again if we return to Ol Pejeta in the future. 

We saw the last two living Northern White rhinos - Najin and Fatu - from a distance. We learned of the efforts to impregnate a southern white rhino - science is truly amazing and we hope for success, though understand a recent attempt failed. 

We didn’t do a night drive, but were quite late returning to camp one evening and stopped along the way to see some lions in the dark. 

 

The Camp - Our tent (#3) had a similar layout and amenities to what we had in Selenkay. I believe it’s one of the farthest tents from the dining/lounge tent, but still had a front row view of the water hole, though not as close to it as the neighbouring tent was. We really liked the location, very quiet and private.  We were quite thrilled when a family of elephants decided to pass through within about 10-15 feet of our tent … an amazing and unforgettable experience!  

The meals were comparable to Selenkay.  Lunches were usually buffet style and outside at a table overlooking the water hole.  For dinner, we gathered at two or three tables, depending on how many guests were in camp.  We typically had soup as a starter, the main course and a lovely dessert (it was here we had peach and date pie - not a combination I would ever have thought of but was one of my favourites of the entire trip!). Overall, the food was very good, but again, their soups and sauces were outstanding. 

The staff were all fantastic and very attentive. I felt the atmosphere to be a bit more formal than what we experienced in Selenkay, with less interaction between staff and guests. It’s not a criticism, since the staff were still very kind and helpful, but it was a noticeable difference.  However, there was also less interaction amongst the guests than what we experienced in Selenkay, and I suspect that may influence the staff’s approach.    

 

Weather - The evenings and mornings were much cooler than we expected, and first thing in the morning and after sundown on most drives we took advantage of the ponchos. We also appreciated the hot water bottles to warm up our beds at night. Although the first night my husband was a bit worried about what may have crawled into our tent and bed when he saw the hot water bottle lumps!  

We had a very light rain one afternoon while we were resting in camp, and despite the storm clouds we saw, that was the only rain during our time here. But we did have a rainbow every day!  And although there wasn’t a pot of gold at the end of the it, we usually saw some form of wildlife, which on safari, is just as good!  

 

Since we had the long drive to Nanyuki Airport for our flight to the Mara area, it meant there wasn’t time for the usual morning game drive on our departure day.  We had a leisurely breakfast in camp, with lions to be seen off in the distance (they were at the water hole earlier but we weren’t quick enough to see them there).  We did a bit of a game drive through the conservancy on our way out, though didn’t have the chance for frequent or long stops, otherwise we may have missed our flight!  

 

Pictures from this camp are at this link. 

https://hwyates.smugmug.com/Travel/Kenya2024/n-LhNf8W/Ol-Pejeta

 

Thanks for following along so far!  Next stop … Porini Mara. 

 

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Zubbie15

Thanks for sharing @HeatherY, I have to laugh that you consider this report a bit late. We were in Kenya in February also, I think I'm only halfway through the photos!

 

We were also at Porini Lion in February, I had wondered if we overlapped but looking at your photos I don't think we had any of the same sightings. We were there 3 nights starting on the 16th.

 

In any case, lots of useful info here and some very nice photos. 

 

We're actually going to be in Ol Pejeta next year, and we were leaving toward not seeing the chimps. It's good to hear your perspective! 

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HeatherY

@Zubbie15- We left the morning of Feb 16th so we just missed you!!

Thanks for your comments on the pics. I haven’t even looked at my husband’s so I guess I’m technically only halfway through as well. LOL

And I’m glad to hear some of the info is useful. 

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SharonD

Enjoying your report. As a future safari first-timer, I am enjoying all,the details.

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Julian

Lots of nice photos and information in your report.

You  are certainly not late doing your report, I like to do detailed reports and I rarely complete mine until a year has passed since my trip, and for various reasons the delay has increased.

I still have trip reports from September 2022 and June 2023 to produce - which will still get done - eventually!

 

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HeatherY

Porini Mara, Oliver Kinyei Conservancy

Our flight from Nanyuki left late morning and landed at Ol Seki Airstrip in Naibosho Conservancy (our stop was the third on this flight). Our guides, Stanley and Dalton, met us at the airstrip and transferred us directly to camp.  The other guests were just finishing lunch, but they had a table and lunch ready for us when we arrived. Joseph was the camp manager and very welcoming and helpful. We had the usual camp briefing after lunch and then had time to familiarize ourselves with the surroundings before our evening game drive.  The schedule was similar to the other camps, and easy to settle into the rhythm. 

 

Guides - Stanley and Dalton were very good and on par with what we were beginning to expect from the Porini guides.  Extremely knowledgeable,  with the ability to spot and identify the animals we saw, sharing as much detail as we wanted to take in.  

 

Game Drives - You generally can’t do game drives in a conservancy unless you’re staying there, however Porini guests staying in Ol Kinyei are also able to do game drives in the neighbouring Naibosho Conservancy (I’m not sure if it’s just Porini or other camps in Ol Kinyei). We had great sightings in both areas. Lions were plentiful and sightings included cubs, lion with a kill, and even a “quickie” mating session. We saw a cheetah with four cubs, but sadly, from what I’ve read since coming home, it sounds like only two of the four survived.  We were lucky to have seen a dik dik that didn’t dart off to the bushes the second we came upon it! We also saw our first Topi here (they are striking!). And of course lots of giraffes, zebras, warthogs, jackals, hyenas, wildebeest and birds as well. We didn’t see as many elephants as the previous two camps … I believe there’s a lower number in this area, but they were still seen. 

When it came time for sundowners, if we happened to be enjoying a sighting, we had the option to stay with them and have our sundowners and snacks in the jeep, which of course we did! 

We did a night drive and saw a fair amount, but what I found really interesting was turning off the engine, sitting quietly and just listening to the movement and animal sounds around us. 
All drives, with the exception of maybe one or two, were with another couple, but we never had more than 4 guests in the jeep at any one time. 

 

The Camp -   We absolutely loved this camp and plan to stay here again when we return to Kenya. With just 6 tents, it has a much more intimate feel. And the location is fantastic! The added benefit is you’re able to recharge your devices directly in your tent.  In the other camps, we charged in the office or media tents - not an issue but the convenience of having it in your own tent is nice.  The food was once again excellent, and consistent to what we had at the other camps. Lunch was generally buffet style, and dinner was served. Seating was in groups of two tables, fairly well separated from each other. For the days we were there, one large group took up almost half the camp, and they kept to themselves during meals and when socializing, so I’m not sure if the tables were set up to accommodate them or if this was the usual set up.  The camp staff were wonderful, and always accommodating and available whenever we wanted or needed something.  Despite having one group separate and quite independent, it was very much a family atmosphere for the rest of us, and guests and staff all interacted very well.  Everything about this camp was wonderful!

 

Weather - We had no rain and the temperatures were ideal (for us). A little cooler in the morning and evenings where you would probably want a sweater, and daytime temperatures I’d estimate to be in the mid to high 20’s. 

 

Balloon Ride - We had booked a hot air balloon ride and this was planned for our first full day at Porini Mara.  The balloon rides are done in the Masai Mara Reserve, and despite this camp being further than Porini Lion, the person we worked with at Gamewatchers suggested we book to go from this location. In the event our scheduled balloon flight had to be cancelled for any reason, this would likely leave room for us to rebook for when we were at Lion Camp.  We started out at 4:00am and it was just the two of us from our camp. Transport to and from was coordinated by the balloon company, so wasn’t with our Porini guides.  The vehicle was also a more closed-in type of safari vehicle. For the drive to the reserve, it was fine since there wasn’t much to see at that time of morning.  However, following the balloon ride, you have a game drive in the reserve, and this type of vehicle really makes you appreciate Porini’s vehicles!  For us, the sightings in the reserve paled by comparison to what we saw in the conservancies, and we were quite happy to return to camp.  Others said they saw quite a bit, so it may have just been where our driver had taken us. 

The balloon ride itself was an amazing experience, even though it was very foggy to start (our pilot said this doesn’t happen too often but was due to the rains in that area the night before).  As a result, our pilot kept us very low so we could stay below the fog and see more, while most of the other balloons very quickly gained altitude.  It was only as the fog was burning off that we gained altitude, and I think we were quite lucky with the pilot we had.  There’s nothing to compare the feeling you get as you float above this area - it gives a completely different perspective. The basket on the balloon is quite cozy though, so you really want to limit the size of any bag you take with you. It’s also a fairly expensive add-on, but we thought it was worthwhile and really glad to have done it.  Would we do it again?  Probably not, but not because we didn’t enjoy it, but next time we’ll try something new to experience (or just use that investment to stay an extra night somewhere!). 

 

Pictures from our time in Porini Mara are at the links below (there’s a separate link for the balloon ride pictures). 

https://hwyates.smugmug.com/Travel/Kenya2024/n-LhNf8W/Masai-Mara-Porini-Mara-Camp

https://hwyates.smugmug.com/Travel/Kenya2024/n-LhNf8W/Hot-Air-Ballooning-Masai-Mara-Reserve

 

 

Up next will be our last camp … Porini Lion.  

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HeatherY
10 hours ago, Julian said:

Lots of nice photos and information in your report.

You  are certainly not late doing your report, I like to do detailed reports and I rarely complete mine until a year has passed since my trip, and for various reasons the delay has increased.

I still have trip reports from September 2022 and June 2023 to produce - which will still get done - eventually!

 

Thanks!  I feel much better now and will look forward to your trip reports once you eventually get to them.  Llife, including other trips, certainly gets in the way though so I completely understand!

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The videos of the puff adder dining on the bird were amazing.  We share the same opinion of the balloon ride.  Gamewatchers came through for you!  Smugmug worked well to view your photos.  What luck to have Kili reflected in the pond!  Was that impressive sight due to the rain?  Cheetah cubs, what a prize!  Along with rain and some fog, you had plenty of sun as your photo show.  So glad it was a successful first safari, worth the wait.  Your experience and many photos shows the abundance even when it is not high season!  Thanks for the report.

Edited by Atravelynn
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On 5/10/2024 at 2:30 AM, HeatherY said:

I hope it doesn’t end up being too long!

 

No such thing!     Thanks for this trip report @HeatherY    The Puff Adder kill was an amazing sighting - congrats.    The bird that the Puff Adder was eating was eating looks like a White-browed Sparrow-Weaver to me.

 

I am going to wait to read the second half of your posts - don't want to burn through it all at one sitting.

 

Edited by offshorebirder
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Porini Lion, Olare Motorogi Conservancy

Our transfer from Mara Camp to Lion Camp was by a game drive with our Mara guides. It was a fairly direct route but we still managed to get in a few sightings, with the bat-eared fox a highlight!  We had our camp briefing, but this being our fourth camp, it was primarily a repeat of what we had before.  

 

Guides - Our guides were Julius and Wilfred. As with the guides at all the camps we stayed in, both were excellent. We were extra impressed at Wilfred’s ability to spot a leopard from about 500 yards!  Unfortunately, Wilfred had to leave for a family emergency after our second day, however Anderson stepped in for our last day and also met the high standards we came to expect from Porini camps.  

 

Game Drives - A few of the game drives were just my husband and I, but others were shared.  Of the shared drives, we had one day where we had 5 of us, which was the most for our entire trip. The other shared drives were with two fellow Canadians we met in Amboseli who had the same itinerary we did, but started two days earlier. Our first night in camp was their last, and it was fun to meet up with them every few days.  We had crossover with other guests as well, though not to the same extent, and it seems this is quite common.   

The game drives in this area were very good, however visibility was limited in some areas due to the long grasses. From what we learned, this is common for this time of year, with the grazers mainly in the Ol Kinyei area versus OMC (apparently this is reversed in September/October with more grazers in OMC and less in OKC).  Nonetheless, we had some wonderful sightings. One of the most special was Wilfred’s spotting mentioned earlier, which was as we were returning back to camp. It turned out to be Faulu, relaxing in a tree.  We ended up having her all to ourselves for at least half an hour before she decided it was time to move on and disappeared into the grasses. Julius had called the other guides to alert them to the sighting but they were already back at camp, so it was just us, and this was one of the drives with just my husband and I so we felt very privileged.  We saw Faulu again the next day, this time in a different tree and using a vacated nest as her bed.  She was very lazy and had no desire to leave her comfortable perch.  In fact, we returned later that day and she hadn’t moved, other than for some yawns and stretches and to reposition herself in her comfy spot. Lion sightings were also abundant and most of our sundowners were in the jeep with lions by our side. Although we didn’t see the kill, we did see a greedy male having his fill of a wildebeest, and he certainly didn’t want to share. Eventually, all the pride except one female left in search of their own meal, and it was only then that he allowed the female to join in on the feast.  At that sighting we counted over 50 hyenas hanging back for an opportunity to get some scraps!  We couldn’t believe how many were waiting in the wings!

We had some added excitement by getting good and stuck trying to cross a stream the day after some heavy rains.  We all piled out so one of the other camp jeeps could pull us free.  Back in the jeep and back in the direction we started and there were the lions on the other side of the trees, just lyin’ around as lions do so well, and really quite close to where we got stuck!  Throughout the trip, we were always reassured the lions don’t bother us in the jeeps.  As my husband continually said, they haven’t figured out the jeeps with tourists would be “crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside!”  That safety net of the jeep wouldn’t have been there had they realized we were standing around waiting for the jeep to be freed, so we were fortunate they didn’t feel the need to come and see what all the excitement was about!  

 

The Camp - Lion Camp is the largest of the camps we visited, but it doesn’t feel large, especially our first two nights since the camp wasn’t full. It was full on our last night, and even then the only time we really noticed much difference was at meals.  The food was comparable to other camps, and we appreciated the consistent high quality throughout our stay.  There was only meal I didn’t care for, but that’s related to my taste versus the quality.  One of the guests was celebrating a special anniversary and the staff arranged for cake and a celebratory song - Masai style - which was great fun to see!  The staff were all wonderful and attentive, with a standout being Skinny James, who not only made sure we were always looked after, but he was so much fun, always giving us something to smile or laugh about!  A genuinely fun-loving person and one of the highlights of our time in camp. 

We were in tent #4 and we thought it was a good location, as did the baboons, who loved to use it as their playground. We also had hippos grazing beside our tent at night. Not a bother to us, other than their loud chomping!

 

Weather - We had one day where it rained. Or should I say poured!   To the extent we had to wait it out amongst some trees to get some shelter; and for the first time during our trip they had to bring down one of the sides of the jeep (luckily not both since we were protected from the wind, and not for too long).  The rain passed over fairly quickly and within about half an hour we were back on our way, but it was this rain that was the cause for us getting stuck!  Other than this rain shower, the weather was lovely - warm sunny days, around mid-20’s Celsius, cooler in the mornings and evenings but not as cool as it had been in Ol Pejeta. 

 

Overall, it was a lovely camp and we would stay here again, but not necessarily again at this time of year. If our next trip is around the same time, we would spend more time at Mara Camp instead, or possibly split some time between Mara and their newest camp, Giraffe. If our next trip is in September or October, we would likely stay at Lion Camp but not Mara. Although it would be a tough decision not to stay at Mara since we loved it so much!  

 

Pictures from our time at this camp are at the following: 

https://hwyates.smugmug.com/Travel/Kenya2024/n-LhNf8W/Masai-Mara-Porini-Lion-Camp

 

Thanks for following along!  

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Great trip report Heather sounds like you had a fantastic time - we love P Mara too but if you do a further Ganewatchers trip have a look at P Cheetah, not too far from P Mara or P Giraffe but has a lovely setting and is run very similarly to the other Porini camps with one subtle difference in that it is managed in camp by an Indian couple who join the guests for lunch & dinner.

 

If you like Indian food they will do an indian feast for lunch on one of your days - they only do this if asked so no worries if you don’t.

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On 5/14/2024 at 7:25 PM, Atravelynn said:

 What luck to have Kili reflected in the pond!  Was that impressive sight due to the rain? 

I don’t think so.  We had no rain in Selenkay or Amboseli and it was just the reflection from the lake (although I’m not sure if it’s a permanent lake?).  There was a lot of water though, so I suspect it had been fairly wet before we arrived. 

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On 5/16/2024 at 2:33 AM, Thornburyswan said:

Great trip report Heather sounds like you had a fantastic time - we love P Mara too but if you do a further Ganewatchers trip have a look at P Cheetah, not too far from P Mara or P Giraffe but has a lovely setting and is run very similarly to the other Porini camps with one subtle difference in that it is managed in camp by an Indian couple who join the guests for lunch & dinner.

 

If you like Indian food they will do an indian feast for lunch on one of your days - they only do this if asked so no worries if you don’t.

Definitely another option worth considering and I’m sure we’ll have some difficult decisions for the next trip. And yes, we do enjoy Indian food so I’ll factor that into the mix!  Thanks for your input!

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On 5/15/2024 at 4:04 PM, offshorebirder said:

 

The bird that the Puff Adder was eating was eating looks like a White-browed Sparrow-Weaver to me.

 

I think you might be right on that!  I’m sure our guide mentioned what type of bird it was but I didn’t get a chance to write it down! But that sounds familiar. 

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