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Kenyan Photographic Trip Report


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Hey everyone! My wife and just recently returned from a wonderful safari to Kenya. This was our second safari, the first being a tour of the Northern Tanzania Circuit in 2008.


On this tour we flew into Nairobi and were met by a representative from our tour operator (Albatross) as well as our guide, Francis. We immediately departed for our one night stay at Sweetwaters Tented Camp. This was to be followed by a night at the Serena Mountain Lodge on Mt. Kenya, two nights at Lake Nakuru Lodge, 2 nights at Keekorok in the Mara and finally 2 nights at Mara Serena Lodge in the Easters side of the Park.


Now, the priority for me on this trip was photography. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that my camera bag weighed more than the rest of my luggage! So, I'm going to keep the notes brief and let the photos do the talking.


Sweetwaters is famous for its Chimpanzee Sanctuary, the only of its kind in Kenya.






Sweetwaters also has three Czech rhinos they are keeping in isolation until they've adapted to their new African home. They don't seem to have much trouble passing the time; tag seems to be a favourite game of theirs.




Spent the second night in the foothills of Mt. Kenya at the Mountain Lodge. It's really neat up there as you have this great feeling of remoteness and seclusion, right in the middle of a forest.






We left the Mountain Lodge and headed towards Lake Nakuru. Along the way we stopped to check out Thompson Falls followed by a lookout point over the Great Rift Valley.





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Lake Nakuru is known as a birders' paradise. Famous for its flamingos, I went in without much hope of seeing much else. Was I wrong...






We spotted her from a good distance and spent 15 minutes watching and taking photos, totally unaware of what was rolling around on the ground beneath her!










Another pleasant surprise was the amount of great rhino sightings we had at Lake Nakuru. To be honest, I was really uneducated about this place going in. It was the most pleasant surprise of the trip.




I loved the yellow acacias in the Park. As with most of our trip, it was mostly cloudy and the sun only managed to

squeak through a few times during the day. But when it did...





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Can't go to Lake Nakuru and not pay your respects to the lesser flamingo!






We also found baboons to be more prominent here than anywhere else we visited. Came across this energetic youngster and watched him learn an important lesson about the strength of small branches.






This brave Maasai warrior was tasked with protecting us all from marauding baboons during breakfast, lunch and dinner.




It was on our way out of park that we had our biggest surprise. 10 minutes from the gate, my camera bag packed up and the roof latched and secured, we came across this:










There was no way you could remove the grin from my face. On to the Mara.

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Spent two nights at Keekorok Lodge. Probably my favourite lodge of the trip. Really enjoyed the main building and spent a lot of time there in the evenings with my book and my favourite African indulgence, Fanta Orange! The staff mixed things up nicely, with a BBQ dinner one night and then the whole dining room moved outside the next. Candlelight dinner outside in Masaai Mara is my idea of a good time. We also devoted a little time to checking out some of the residents:






Topi at sunset.




The road is long!




The next day was devoted to Duma (Cheetah)! I told Francis that's what I wanted, and he delivered. When we visited Tanzania, the closest I got to a cheetah was a blurry spec through my binoculars. We wasted no time finding this girl:




A stretch, a yawn, and then time to go look for breakfast.






We stayed with her for more than 3 hours. She made her way to this field and sat for hours watching two seperate herds of wildebeast. Didn't seem to be many young ones suitable for her to take on.




All of a sudden she turned and hopped away; something had certainly caught her eye. We followed her for a few hundred metres as she slowed to a crawl and perched herself behind a bush. I was watching intently when she just up and vanished. We were totally confused. Where did she disappear to? Did she lay down? Then Francis spotted her. She was a hundred metres or so away in an instant. No exaggeration, it was an instant.



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Our cheetah took her kill to a bush and hid before any other predators turned up to take a piece. Francis, our guide, was confident she would stay and feed for some time before she returned to the cubs she must have hidden somewhere nearby.






On our 4pm game drive we headed up into the hills and found a well hidden leopard in a tree with an impala kill. Awesome to see but no good photos to be had. We continued and came across a few other groups looking intently into a small field. We were told two male lions were somewhere out there. We set up shop and looked intently for 20 minutes with no success. Then, surprise surprise, it was our friend from the morning!




And she wasn't alone!




There were three cubs, and we suspected that they weren't more than 3 or 4 weeks old. Just a beautiful sight and I felt truly privileged to see this little ones.


We left them to settle in for the night and not far away found the brothers we were looking for:







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Left Keekorok the next morning for the Mara Serena in the Eastern side of the park, across the Mara River. On our way we interrupted this girl mid-sneeze.




Meandered our way across the park and arrived for a late lunch. Spent the evening game drive just getting an idea of the place. Scouted the Mara River (a wildebeast crossing was on my wishlist!). Checked out some simply enormous nile crocodile as well as the carnage from an earlier crossing. Lots of carcasses littered the river as well as the accompanying vultures and cranes. Really a gruesome sight. On our way home we came across an early dinner:




The next morning we were told there wouldn't be a crossing before 9:30 or 10am so we spent some time with a few local boys.








Ever feel like everyone in the room is staring at you?




As I hinted at earlier, a river crossing was my not so secret hope during our time in this part of the Park. We spent the rest of the day chasing dust clouds (too late!) and trying to anticipate other massing of beasts. Didn't matter what we tried, no luck. It really is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. The animals are nervous and not exactly excited about the task. I had all but given up hope, sitting dejected and solemn in the back of the vehicle when Francis spotted our opportunity. The chaos that ensued is probably the highlight of my trip.







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Elated from witnessing the madness of a river crossing, it took me hours to come down from the excitement. This was our last full day on safari and it couldn't have ended any better. It was also the only day we had a clear morning. This was from the Mara Serena lodge, which is perched just wonderfully overlooking the plains. The view is surreal.




We went back to the same spot we left the lions at 8am that morning. It was 6pm now and no, they hadn't moved an inch.




After a week or two on safari you start gain a sense of security around lions. They don't seem to even notice you there. Nothing intimidates these guys! But don't kid yourself, they recognize everything that looks tasty...




And finally, on that last day in the Mara, the sun set on both our safari and these vultures.




Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with this trip. Logistically, everything went off without a hitch. I couldn't say the same for my Tanzania trip as my luggage didn't arrive until hours before we boarded our flight home. In terms of wildlife, Kenya hands down was the big winner for me. Everything I could have hoped for and more, really. This trip was really inspired by my feeling that I deserved a safari that wasn't hampered by silly things like not having my luggage. I truly feel that I got the trip I desperately wanted.


Where next? I'll have to kick this jet lag before I even entertain the thought. Thanks for looking everyone!

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Some wonderful sightings and photos here, thanks for sharing them with us. That lion in the tree at Lake Nakuru was really special as was the leopard. Seems that even with the overcast conditions you had some pretty stunning skyscapes.

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Game Warden

Oh there's some tremendous photos in this report, thankyou!

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Some fine pictures, thank you very much for sharing! The shots of the wildebeest crossing are awesome ... and of cause like the lion pics very much.

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Thanks for sharing.

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Great photos! Seems like an awesome trip.

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What great photos, and amazing sightings! Your safari echoes the one I took with my husband and children


in the late 70's, same route and lodges. We had good viewings, but my camera in those days left a lot to be


desired, no long lens, for a start. But my memories are still there, and I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.





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Really enjoyed your trip report, as well as those fine photos!

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I'm jealous as we hung around the Mara River for a while waiting for a crossing. But we were in a group and the others were less keen to wait, possibly in vain, so we left to watch a bunch of flat cats without ever seeing a crossing.


Thanks for sharing the really excellent images.

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Wow, what a great report Bointa. My wife and I also did our first safari in Tanzania in 2008 and just returned from Kenya in June, so I think we are on the same schedule! Thanks also for the photos of Lake Nakuru – the leopards and rhino shots were great (not to mention the tree lions!).

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Fantastic photos, thanks very much for sharing. It looks like a wonderful time.

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Very nice indeed, Mr Applebum! You had great fortune with your sightings in Lake Nakuru and must be very happy with the trip overall. The pictures of Mountain Lodge bring back memories (really nice shot of the treescape by the way) and I am sure I saw a leopard on that very same tree in Nakuru in 2005, but it did not stay there. Of course I am probably imagining that, but it brings back nice memories so let me daydream.


Do you have an idea of what direction you went when you talk about going "into the hills" from Keekorok? Any idea where those cheetahs were (and I am not planning a swoop for my wife's 40th birthday present - please do not be alarmed)? Not that you should know or anything - just in case you are the maps and GPS type!


Finally, so did you rent a 70-400 and is the leopard an example?

Edited by pault
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Ditto, great trip report and it looks like the camps you chose really delivered! There are many great photos, but I particularly love the first one of the wildebeest crossing. Thanks for sharing!

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I just love your style of photography. So glad you enjoyed your trip, you have been to all my favorite places ( I sent you a photo of Mountain Lodge if you remember). Love your black and whites, I must try that myself in September. The tree lion was quite amazing. Great stuff.

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Tree climbing lions in....Nakuru!? Aren't you fortunate. The setting was partcularly attractive as well. Nice black and whites too. Adorable baby baboon. Exciting cheetah activity. You saw the cats and lots more. Thanks for the report.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Well, I'll be expecting nothing less than tree climbing lions and two leopards in a tree in daylight when I'm in Nakuru next year. :o

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I need help I think with composition and would like you to send some critique about these pics taken in Nakuru and the Mara with my "bog" standard Canon ! Maybe Game Warden will move this to the photography section but any help would be much appreciated

Also, do I need to paste links from e.g. photobucket or similar to make them appear on the post as full images?

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