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Postcards from Kenya


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If I ever get to Kenya, Twaffle you are planning the logistics of my trip from start to finish...


Lets have a GTG at Alex's camp - ask for bulk rates.



Definitely up for that! :lol:

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Fabulous report and photos, Twaffle! I'm going to go through it again, I enjoyed it so much!




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A caracal, a serval, 8 cubs... man oh man...





I couldn't agree more!!!

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We leave the cheetahs and it is getting late now. Moving through the Musiara Gate we head towards the Mara North Conservancy.




The old road across the top of the plain has been blocked off and we have to drive through the village on a nicely graded road.


I point out the old, bleached elephant bones which mark the turn off to the small road to Serian to my sister and feel the first sense of coming home.

Everything feels the same, yet different.

Comfortable but exciting.

Home but away.


Flowers greet us.



As do the new managers, Adrian and Roisin. I find out that Adrian is related to old friends of ours from our Nairobi days and feel even more at home. Alex is in camp sporting a new beard, at least new since last year, and I am enveloped in a bear hug in welcome.


We send our bags off to our rooms, grab our cameras and jump into the camp Landcruiser to head off into the Conservancy for sundowners. Just in time.


We arrive to the sight of a handful of other guests, all the camp 4x4s lined up away from the roaring fire.




A makeshift bar sits in the open, glowing a warm gold from the flames. Bottles of all kinds of liquor are lined up, the glasses by them glint in the last rays of sunlight and ice tinkles each time someone grabs a mixer from the ice box. Conversation ebbs and flows between the small groups and I catch a word here and there of amazing sightings and wondrous happenings.




The clouds continue to build up and a few drops of rain splash and sizzle in the embers of the fire. They are ignored as another drink is poured. It is here, one year ago that I drank my first gin and tonic after vowing 3 days earlier never to drink again! ;) It is here that I shared photographic experiences and ideas with John Moller (Alex's friend and guide come hunter and great photographer), but he is in Tanzania this year. He won't realise what an influence he had on the direction my photography took that evening, and that all of the images in my successful winning landscape portfolio from last year were produced from that 6 day trip to the Mara.


Blithely ignoring the rain didn't, however, make it stop and eventually the rain became stronger than the will of all of us congregated around the fire. Camp staff raced around loading vehicles as guests ran to their 4x4. I still had a couple of photos to get ………………



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Serian main camp is different, of course, to the mobile camp. Large tents, verandahs overlooking the river, large open bathrooms without walls and the bush all around. The feeling around camp is the same, friendly staff, an open doors policy. Come and help yourself to a drink, sit in one of the deep, comfortable chairs reading one of the many safari books, take your breakfast and/or your lunch out with you on game drives. Leave before first light, or after breakfast.


The evening meal is around a communal dining table which I much prefer to private tables as you have a chance to meet and talk to lots of different people. Some you never want to set eyes on again, oh yes, even at Serian! :lol:;)


The room is lit by what appears to be a thousand lanterns and a fire burns in the fireplace.




The shukas worn by many of the Maasai staff looks ghostly, lit by the lamps.




Dinner, after dinner chat, visiting genet cats … such a change of pace that drooping eyelids are the signal to head off into the night. Our appointed nightwatchman, John escorts back to our tent and I spend a very, very short time getting camera gear ready for an early start next morning. Never has a bed felt more comfortable.

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Early the following morning we set off for a day trip to the Mara Triangle.






Perched on the edge of the escarpment leading down to the bridge over the Mara river this impala almost glowed in the early morning light.




Down on the plains far, far from the Kichwa Tembo landing strip we see a small commuter plane. We never find out why it is so far from the strip and it looks like it only stopped just before plunging into the river in its very own river crossing!








And then we make our biggest sighting of the day. Believed to be very common in the Masai Mara, and greatly derided as 'migration rats' we see coming towards us




a mini van!! ;)

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I don't remember where we had breakfast, but the triangle was, like last year, covered in grass and scarce of game compared to the Narok side. If we had come here from Meru, we would have been delighted with the sightings and we were content with what we saw, but we had been spoilt. So here is a smattering of what we saw.

Just below Serena Lodge.




In the river below the Lodge.




Kori bustard






Remains of the (migration) day. I took some time to get the butterfly right!




On the back road down towards the Serengeti.




A crested/crowned crane nesting on a small island.




And then I asked Kimathi to stop. On the left were two trees. Last year we saw a very shy leopard in the front tree and the sight of it, in the middle of the plains with no other trees, river or heavy vegetation nearby was so unexpected. These two trees were like old friends. I felt surprised to see them still there and surprised that I recognised them.



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Seeing the leopard trees, alone on the horizon brought a wave of melancholy over me. Compounded by the sight of our lunch spot from the previous year. What happy times.




A little further on we could see over the river towards the Lookout Hill where we had spent our first breakfast in the reserve last year after a long drive. I still remember sitting up there in the company of an agama lizard, looking down on the plains and seeing the breakfast set up by Fig Tree Camp for the ballooning guests.




Leaving all the memories behind we set off to find a new lunch spot to make new, fresh memories. Along the way we disturbed a hyaena having a cooling bath.




Found a Southern Ground Hornbill having its lunch.




Before finding the perfect tree to set up our picnic.




Which we shared with old friends Daniel and Kimathi.




Yes, you could say that we were happy! ;)

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We wound our way through some small tracks toward the Serena Lodge and came upon the wonderful sight of four cheetahs lying under a tree. We hadn't seen another vehicle since the mini van early in the morning, had no radio on to get sightings and yet here we were, sitting alone with these beautiful animals. I asked Daniel why he came here when there were no obvious signs of life. He said he had seen them before hanging out around this spot, it was quiet and hidden so he thought it a worth checking just in case. One cheetah had a distinctive kink in its tail. I wonder if anyone else has seen it recently.










We could see the clouds building up again and guessed that the rain would not be far away. We stopped for this old lion, all on his own but very close (as it turned out) to a small group of people we came across next who were having afternoon tea just over the hill. You just never know!




Back on the main road past the swamps and fire damaged areas we made only a few brief stops.










before the rain started down in earnest and Daniel and Kimathi cheerfully and with great speed covered us in canvas.



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I found your last moments at Lewa. The cheetah brothers were responsible for your lack of time in the airport lounge.


So many great photos of so many different species. You have me convinced January is a great time to travel to Kenya.

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You have me convinced January is a great time to travel to Kenya.


I remember your comments to someone on Fodors saying that January wasn't a good time to visit Meru and I sat there thinking, "damn, can't change the itinerary now. Well I'll just have to make the best of it". It worked out fine, but one or two predators would have impressed other people when I described the park. Perhaps it is just as well that I know that predators don't make a place worth visiting and I did love the place. January in the Mara is definitely worth it. No crowds if you avoid New Year.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another masterpiece of a report! Does your writing rival your photos or vice versa?


You had plenty of predators in your other locations, so it looks like Meru worked out fine in the end. I saw 2 cheetahs by luck in Meru, for about 15 minutes, which were the sole predators.

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Thanks Lynn, I would have loved bragging rights of cheetah in Meru, but perhaps next time.


I feel like I've hit a road block with finishing the report … more to do with selecting and preparing photos. I need to add some more logistical stuff at the end but motivation is hard. I love to write but sometimes it doesn't come out at all like I want, and of course isn't to everyone's taste.

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Well I certainly enjoyed every minute.

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Well I certainly enjoyed every minute.



Twaffle, I'm not complaining, either!




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Thanks, I'll get back and finish it soon … promise. Especially as Jochen is putting me to shame with all his retros and although I know that they were written, it's the collating and posting photos which is so time consuming.

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Especially as Jochen is putting me to shame with all his retros


Whaaaaaat?? :o:D


I'm just copying over posts that are completely identical (even the image links) from one forum to the other. So no need to feel intimidated! ;)


But I agree with the others; we want more!! :P

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Drama comes unexpectedly at the end


The morning gave us excellent game viewing as we dashed across the Aitong hills to visit a school in Lemek whose Head Master had visited me at home in Adelaide last year. One of the few mornings with some really nice light.












I don't even remember taking this photo! The quality of game viewing was so high in the Mara North that I have to rely on the photos to convince myself that somethings were seen.



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The afternoon ...

It began as any other game drive. Dikdik close to camp with tiny dwarf mongoose seeing us on our way. Two buffalo standing watch over the road. Impala dotted through the small trees around camp.






Moving onto the open plains we saw Thomson's gazelles leaping about, enjoying the late afternoon breeze. One gazelle appeared to be chasing another and without much else happening around us we wandered over to see what was going on.


To our surprise it was a female gazelle chasing a jackal, around and around she went angrily attacking the little canine.




We looked over to the other side to see the partner jackal with a small, almost newborn fawn in its mouth. As the thomie mum changed tack and went for this jackal, her baby was dropped and we watched it lying on the ground, not moving.




Then I noticed it's little sides heave, and it sat up and started to bleat. A miracle, we thought, as the mother bravely defended it from the two jackals.

Then one jackal heard the bleating and peeled off from the chase, heading towards the baby. It ran for its life, zigzag this way then that.




But the jackal was focussed and strong and despite the best efforts of mother and baby the fawn was grabbed again.






With both jackals now on the attack, death was inevitable and fast, the helpless female, bloodied and defeated walked away.



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As is the way, the fawn was eviscerated to make it lighter to carry. Pretty awful really.






The vultures circled, and a great tawny eagle attacked the jackals but they held onto their prize.




Then another jackal and its mate appeared and tried to steal the tiny carcass away. A great and exciting dog fight ensued.










With guinea fowl making a cacophony of anxious noise as jackals ran through them, eagles flying around and the growling of the jackals fighting, we were stunned. A lion hunt has nothing on this long running saga as they dominate everything.


Then, just when the jackal hunters were able to defeat the attackers, out of the bushes came the slinking form of a hyaena.




The end was inevitable really. But the hyaena only appeared with half the fawn, we never knew what happened to the other half.






It was an emotional roller coaster of a game drive. Apologies for the quality of the photos but we didn't want to go too close and it was very late on an overcast day.

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Game Warden

Amazing series of images there.

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Wow that makes my story of the jackals and the warthog piglets look quite tame! It is an upsetting sight though isnt it - nature can be so so cruel.

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All I can say is, WOW!!! Awesome series of photos! Great timing! Something to be said about being

in the right place at the right time!

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Whoow. That was a fantastic sighting!

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twaffle, going back in October to lodges whose names we cannot mention but sssssssooooo excited and an extention to Mombasa this time to a favorite location and maybe a farewell to Africa because age and arthiritis could mean not fit enough next year or after who knows, so go for it while you can. So its Samburu, Maasai and Beach with a return to Shimba Hills which I love for about 14 days of heaven :P:o;)

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