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A flexible Tented camp, Cheetahs in the triangle, Rhinos at Rhino ridge and random bits and pieces .....


madaboutcheetah
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I had a brilliant trip! Serian camp is easily amongst my favourite places. Their accent on flexibility and emphasis on creating an atmosphere that is so relaxed is very refreshing and different.

 

Mara is still very quiet as the crowds are yet to return. However, things are expected to return to near normal soon as we head into the high season. Had most sightings all to myslef. One other vehicle at a few sightings ...... one exception was a 4 car sighting.

 

Gameviewing Highlights:

 

The northern Wildebeest herds are all over the Serian plains right now. Quite a sizable wing of the migration. I don't know why it doesn't get enough attention. Perhaps because of the lack of major crossings and the dramatic Nat Geo moments?

 

Saw three different prides of Lion around that Koiyaki area. A pride of 3 lionesses and a big Male (they are most commonly observed close to Serian). Another pride of 7 - called Kicheche pride on the hunt. A few members of a different pride with cubs. Difficult to see them in the middle of the day, as they retreat to thick bush as they are probably afraid to run into Maasai and people.

 

Inside the park, several other lions ......... but, I gave up the opportunity of most sightings as the reason for my trips to the park was to find cheetah. Several mating pairs all over the place. The famous Marsh pride was found right at Musiara gate one morning with many cubs. Didn't spend time there, as I was on a mission.

 

Rhino Ridge was a very productive zone for the week. One trip, the moment we got there spotted a female cheetah on a termite mound. Spent the morning with her as she had many attempts at finding a meal. In between all this, our spotter while scanning found another cheetah in the horizon ....... but, I gave up that opportunity and it was inappropriate that Christmas strikes twice during the same hour! Why not an hour later?

 

Another trip to Rhino Ridge to find cheetah - bumped into a pride of 5 on the hunt. An hour later, again scanning the horizon the spotter finds three cars and discovers a pair of Black Rhino ........ apparently, a very rare sighting. There is mostly a single female seen in the Greater Mara region and this was very evident as they were pretty skittish. Also, the cars maintained a respectful distance and were all very well behaved.

 

Another day, when I spent a full day out inside the triangle. Was invited by someone who was very generous to show me around the Triangle area ........ we went out to all of the plains around the Serena/Conservancy office area and found 4 different cheetah. A pair of female cheetah (approx 20 months old) having just split from their mother. They really were struggling to hunt. Another male cheetah. Another skittish male (I have witnessed this behavior before in Kwara, where cheetah have not seen vehicles before). This one perhaps crossed over from the Serengeti? I can't imagine any regular Mara cheetah being skittish? On our way home that evening, saw another HUGE MALE CHEETAH patrolling his territory. Some good photo ops there .........

 

Question for you readers, is that Serena area the best cheetah zone in Africa? Yet perhaps during the migration they move away due to those pesky lions???

 

Saw some cattle herds outside the park - but knowledgeable drivers will know how to avoid those zones. In general, gameviewing inside the park far superior.

 

Aitong plains, had lots of cattle and bomas this time of the year. Yet, there are some relatively quiet areas and we bumped into a Leopard cub. There was a Japanese photographer who had apparently spent the previous day photographing the mother trying to find a meal. She was probably out hunting, as we didn't see her.

 

Some small pockets of Zebra have already crossed over from Tanzania. They are around the triangle right now.

 

Weather very good. Crisp mornings and good light. Crowds not back .........

 

Quick note on Serian - they have mobile stations that can be set up to stay in the super-productive Talek and Triangle areas. That combined with the Serian main camp is a good combination IMO.

 

At Serian, what you won't find is, Raised wooden walkways/High Teas/Schedules dictated to you/Brunch/dos and donts/Indemnity forms to sign or any other standardized service that provides you that "pawed" sterilization.

 

Cheers

Hari

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Hari, congratulations on the cheetah sightings and thanks for reporting with speed! I hope I’ll see your rhinos very soon as I’ve never seen rhino in the Mara, except the guarded white ones. I don’t know if the Serena area is the best cheetah zone in Africa, but I hope to find out.

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Guest John Milbank

Welcome back Hari. I've been wondering about you, and Googled Earth the other day to look at Serian and see if I could spot you but the res wasn't good enough :P

 

Good straightfoward report...sounds like you had a great time and achieved just what you wanted to.

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excellent report Hari.

 

What a bonus getting most sightings to yourself.

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How wonderful you had such luck with the cheetah. Black rhino mom and calf!! Great spot for you and I'm hoping good for the species, if there are enough of them. I have a feeling you'll be back to Serian.

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Thanks, all ......

 

Lynn - Not mom and calf - but, a mating pair of black Rhino. They say, the usually seen one is a female Rhino that the guides named "Mary". But, this is a new pair to them. They were very skittish and all 4 cars kept a fair distance from them. How we spotted them was, that we were with a pride of 5 lions ...... as you will know, at the Mara you get a full 360 degree view of the open plains, our spotted found the Rhino amidst three other vehicles.

 

Nyamera, John and Geoff - I found the Mara every bit as wild and adventerous as the supposed wild spaces I have been to. Just that this one is losing some press. However, I am unlikely to go during Migration months. Maybe out of Prime season combined with the election problems had something to do with privacy in the Mara?

 

Yet, there are still some areas that regular guides don't always travel to for spotting the animals.

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Anyone hear from Sniktawk (Ken)? He came to mind several times during my safari and I think he will like this a hell of a lot!

 

Where are you, Ken???

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Apologies - I take that back! One exception - cell phones buzzing! The guides use this instead of radios. Have it on a ringer off mode. But, if you ask them politely to shut it off and chat with their guiding buddies during picnic stops ..... it is much better.

 

I know the Kenya guiding model is different from other countries, so I won't make a judgement of it. I enjoyed the trip a hell of a lot and I suppose that's what's most important.

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If they were mating, then eventually there will be mom and calf with any luck. If this male rhino was one that was unknown, that is a good sign. There may be rhinos around that are very reclusive.

 

Now you'll just have to arrange more business trips in Dubai so you can hop down to Kenya and return to Serian.

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Guest nyama

A new camp and area -- and it seems like it was a huge success. Isn't that a motivation to try something new in Botswana too, Hari?

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No, Nyama - in Botswana in terms of camps and lodges. There is one and only one! ;)

 

But, they are opening new camps in the CKGR? :D

 

I'd rather try new camps in new locations. Tell me a few that are flexible, accent on the bush, relaxed and importantly good game viewing.

 

Hari

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Welcome back Hari,

I am glad you enjoyed Serian. I couldnt make up my mind which tent had the best setting, and wished I could have stayed in adifferent one each night. Did you see the tents on the other side of the river?

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Hi! Thanks ...... Yep, loved Serian.

 

I stayed in tent 3 at Main camp. That is the one right next to the lounge (to the left side). There wasn't anyone else in that camp.

 

Other side? At Ngare across the bridge? Yes, I took a look at it. It is en-suite where the tent opens out into the bathroom. But, right on the Mara river ........ I went there for dinner a couple of nights to eat with guests who were there. They have a nice bon fire area also right in front of the river.

 

Cheers

Hari

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Hi! Thanks ...... Yep, loved Serian.

 

I stayed in tent 3 at Main camp. That is the one right next to the lounge (to the left side). There wasn't anyone else in that camp.

 

Other side? At Ngare across the bridge? Yes, I took a look at it. It is en-suite where the tent opens out into the bathroom. But, right on the Mara river ........ I went there for dinner a couple of nights to eat with guests who were there. They have a nice bon fire area also right in front of the river.

 

Cheers

Hari

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some nice images Hari. Great light and the open plains makes for some excellent backgrounds.

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Glad you had a good time, Hari...nice to see positive reports about Kenya too!

 

:P

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Thanks, Ken - I will give that a try!

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More good photos....making that Dubai-Nairobi connection more alluring

 

BTW, welcome to pbase too.

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Thanks Russell and John - Will try to add more photos over the weekend. I notice I haven't gotten any of the migration yet! just cheetah so far! :D

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Guest nyama
Btw, I am more and more thinking about Serena Mara for a long stay for next year during the quiet season without Mara traffic.
You want to sing "Jambo Bwana" in the evening...?

I would first make a short stay and look if you like this kind of accommodation. It's a little bit different than Kwando or Serian.

Hari PM'd me for an explanation of my post, and I make it here in public because this kind of information can also be interesting for other travelers.

 

Mara Serena has a great and unique location in the Triangle. The view is just fantastic, and the lodge is strategically well located with quick access to either the Escarpment and Oloololo Gate area or Mara South Bridge. Game sightings are great as well, and of course it's good cheetah land (I made some great cheetah shots there). IMO it's the best place you can get in the Mara.

 

BUT...

 

I have a special relationship with Serena - I started my safari "career" at their lodges in the early nineties. Then, in February 2004, I visited all the Serena Lodges in Kenya again, call it some kind of "revival tour", with some interesting (and sometimes disturbing) experiences.

 

It appeared to me that at most Serena places emphasis is no longer on nature or game viewing during the evening. At Amboseli Serena and Mara Serena the waterholes were no longer maintained. And at three lodges (Amboseli, Mara, Samburu) they had guitar combos to entertain the guests at the campfire or during dinner. This resembled more the atmosphere of a beach resort at Diani than that of a safari lodge. (Notably exceptions from this were Kilaguni and Mountain Lodge.)

 

So when I made my statement about "Jambo Bwana" that wasn't meant as a joke. I saw people singing "Jambo Bwana", "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and all those other beach tourist classics at the campfire of Mara Serena. Along with dozens of people walking up and down the main terrace, mobiles at their ears and telling all their people at home about the great atmosphere. All that every evening. Listening to the sounds of the African night? Nada. And one can imagine that game isn't much attracted by this kind of party noise. Sightings during the evening were... nil. That didn't change before 11pm when most of the clients had gone to bed.

 

So I tried to ignore all this beach resort atmosphere by drinking more Tuskers than planned and usually began to look for a nice place around 11pm, to enjoy the "true" African night for at least some minutes before going to sleep (one evening I had a nice encounter with a hyaena around midnight). At Amboseli Serena I booked a bush dinner WITHOUT Maasai dancers just for escaping from all this noise (which caused some real disturbances at senior management).

 

In short, Hari, if you can stand such kind of atmosphere then it's the perfect place for you. But be forewarned.

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Thanks, Nyama ...... the beach thing is a no no!!! and I would hate all the people singing with guitars and things. When you said, singing - I thought you meant one song or two to entertain guests in the evening like they do in some other places ........ not singing and dancing like a night club on the beach. Thanks for the info!

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close enough - maybe, the dancing is not far away!

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