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Super LEEDS in Kenya 2012


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Loving your trip report! I don't know if you intend to be but you are very funny. :) Great pictures, too.

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Your socks are a hit! Very funny. A chui is a great anniversary present. Aren't those Sykes Monkeys cute fellows? Nice pics of them.

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June 24th continued: Lake Nakuru National Park


The journey to Lake Nakuru was for the most part without drama.




My wife had brought a bag of toys to give to children we happened to pass on the way since last year when we were going through the back roads from Tsavo West and Amboseli, we were a little short on gifts other than a quick wave an smile. The bag was a mix of quite a few small, stuffed toys I was desperate to get rid of (!) and some tennis balls. Just before the main gate of the national park, we were lucky to find 3 lads by the road who kindly posed for a quick snap :)




As Patrick paid the fees, a huge bus of school kids turned up which I thought was encouraging to see. My thinking is if you can get them while they are young, it could hold the wildlife in good stead for the future. Once through the gate, it doesn't take too long to get out into the open and have a first real view of the lake once you are past the small yellow fever acacia forest and troops of baboons and vervets. All over the entrance and curio shop just before the actual gate were banners advertising Lake Nakuru NP as a "birder's paradise". Despite being a self-proclaimed novice, I didn't think it was too bad!




Having read lots of reports over recent years, I was expecting the worst in terms of flamingo sightings but we didn't do too bad. Not exactly the million pink fellows, but around 20 in total of the lesser and greater kind :D





Despite the birds, its the big 'uns that will always win my attention and it wasn't long before we got our first sighting of a white rhino slowly munching at the side of the road.





We were a little early for lunch and to check-in, so Patrick took us up to Baboon Cliff view point which provided us with an amazing view of the lake. There were quite a few people here, being an obvious tourist hotspot, but unfortunately no baboons. There were 2 armed KWS rangers..... just in case.




After a few pics and listening to a group of school children sing a variety of songs, we made our way back down the hill towards Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge.




By the time we had reached the road up to the lodge, which was terrible, we were already under the impression that despite the park being relatively small, it offers plenty of varied landscapes and terrain. The bush around the base of the hill that gives the lodge its name was very dense, green and leafy as opposed to the almost grassy forest we saw on the way in, not forgetting the rocky landscape of the hilly areas.


The lodge itself was a bit of a concrete jungle but I think Nakuru is a bit thin on the ground on nice (affordable) places to stay and the Sarova seemed the best of them. We stayed at Salt Lick last year in the Taita Hills Game Reserve,enjoying the product Sarova delivered and we weren't disappointed here..... OK, yes, the food was great! The owner of the Sarova brand is a Sikh and the this seems to show in the food :D


Being the best place to stay here, the lodge was very busy and is perhaps this way all year round with "1 night at Lake Nakuru" being a staple of just about any Kenyan safari itinerary, but it never felt overcrowded for some reason - perhaps we just naturally moved away from the busy areas like the bar and swimming pool. I just found out they had a table tennis table setup too! Man, we missed out.




The rooms were what we would call semi-detached in England and were for us just the right size. With the bed and a writing desk, there wasn't room to swing a honey badger but that suited us down to the ground after the positive mansion we had at Kigio.




For the romatic: aww, aren't the kissing swans cute.

For me: woohoo, extra towels.


Lunch was buffet, as were all meals really, and it was pretty nice fayre :) the dining room was quite large, having to accommodate all guests but everything moved quite well.




We had some time to kill before our schedule game drive start at 2.45pm and explored a little.





We stumbled open a sapling and a plaque commemorating the planting, when I suddenly remembered that my cousin and her family were part of the group not only planted that tree but a whole group of others around the lodge grounds. She said they were thinking of coming back to Kenya for safari having not really seen anything on their visit to Nakuru - I must remind her of that.




The game drive started off with somewhat of a bang - well in my opinion anyway :) I spied what I thought was a plastic carrier bag stuck in a tree and after around 10 seconds of mulling it over, asked Patrick to stop. What came up in my binoculars was actually a colobus monkey! It was our only colobus in Lake Nakuru and our last of the trip so I was lucky to spot it.




A little further down the same road, Patrick said "that looks like a dead animal", to which I profoundly replied "what, that rock?!"... No, there was a carcass and after we switched the engine off, we began to hear a leopard calling in the bushes behind it




We spent around 30 minutes trying to will the cat to make an appearance but instead it continued to call every 3 minutes or so. Quite a few other vehicles stopped to ask what we were looking at and once the drivers were told it was a carcass, they didn't seem to tell their passengers and drove off! Try as we may, from different angles and different points along the road, we just couldn't see the leopard. Still, 2 leopards - 1 sighting, 2 calling - in the space of less than 24 hours can't be bad - well it wasn't for us anyway.


It began to rain so we closed the roof and decided to move along before coming back later. We saw many zebra and impala before stopping to watch a family of white rhino through the trees at a little distance on the grassy plains. It looked like there was going to be some drama when there was a stand-off with another larger group of white rhino at a waterhole but the tension was quickly defused and the second group sauntered off.




The plan was to follow the road that goes around the lake but there had been so much water coming into the lake that a portion of the road was actually submerged and vehicles were having to turn around. It was the same at Lake Naivasha: lots more water than normal. Patrick said these lakes and all the way down to the Mara River are fed by waters from the Mau forest and recently not only had there been huge amounts but the government had stopped the local communities from syphoning the water for themselves, all meaning more water coming south. I also added - following a conversation with pault, if I remember correctly (hopefully) - that the forest itself had been decimated from which I concluded: less trees, less water being soaked up. That's my 2p worth.


The rain at the point was coming down quite heavily and the wipers were on. I wonder if the wet weather was the reason for this guy in being so grumpy... something tells me he's always like that.




As we drove away from the lake, towards a more woody area Patrick said was sometimes good for leopard, a monther white rhino and her young one in camoflague gear were enjoying a drink





After watching a large family of giraffe trying to hide from the rain in the woods, we approached what looked like a landing strip - for some reason I thought there wasn't a landing strip in Nakuru. May have misread the article.


We decided to head back to the lodge and check on the leopard and/or its carcass. Upon arriving on the scene, I heard a group of impala on the other side of the road constantly alarming - sneezing? barking? - and looking in the direction of the kill so we believed the cat was still around but unfortunately we weren't to see it or hear it again. However, the carcass had been moved so we were left in a little hindsight quandry: should we have just sat there and waited?










We got back at the lodge at around 7pm and went back to our room to just freshen up before the "African dancing show". This involved several performers on a stage, dancing to the beat of a drum. I wasn't too impressed, maybe because in comparison to the number of guests, there were hardly any chairs but mostly since I wasn't convinced these were authentic African dances - it just looked like scantily clad people gyrating any which way. Or... it could have been I just wanted to get to dinner :D and sample more of the delights.


England were playing Italy that night at 10pm but with a 5.30am start I thought I'd give it a miss. Good job too, mostly because we were knocked out, but also since the match went to penalties, it would have ended at around 1am.



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Nice to see Lake Nakuru on a report. We were there in Sept.2010 and found it a delightful little park to visit. Luck was with us on the flamingo sightings as there were an estimated million +/- due to the recent rains. Well worth a visit in my estimation.

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Great read SL!!!


I was in Nakuru in July 2010 ......stayed at Sarova Lion Hill, your report brings back the memories:

busy lodge, Dirty Dancing to drumbeat, rain, numerous White Rhinos, the Masai guy that is in training to be the hotel bird guide (he asked me what the Scottish name for Speckled Mousebird was, I'm disappointed that "Wee Specky Moosebird" isn't listed on your ornithological menu!), England getting beat again (.............okay, I lied about that one, they had been knocked out a week beforehand!).


I had a major strop with the duty manager whilst there. We stayed two nights and had booked in advance with accommodation arranged for our driver. When we arrived to check in we were told that there was no room for our driver and he would have to stay in Nakuru town overnight. This made it impossible for us to do an early morning drive as Ben had first to get from the town to the lodge. Fortunately my wife came to the manager's rescue just before my shirt started to tear and my skin turned green. When we return to Nakuru in the future I'll be looking for other accommodation!

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Thanks, guys. Found it hard to write after such a huge break.


I liked Lake Nakuru, next time will book 2 nights.

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June 25th: Fig Tree Camp, Masai Mara


We left the lodge at around 6.45am and made our way out of the park after a lovely breakfast, of course. My notes say we saw buffalo, zebra and 1 Thomson's gazelle. The wife and I wore our Glorious Safaris polo shirts today, which Shadrack had generously given us as gifts. Patrick being a Mombasa boy, doesn't handle the cold very well so he was hiding his matching attire under a woolen top. Soft lad :D


I just want to say that I WOULD go back to Sarova Lion Hill, perhaps since I was luckier than rainbirder, but the lodge did what we expected of it really though I thought we paid a park that deserves a lot more attention only a fleeting visit. There are tree-climbing lions here - Patrick says a habit enforced due to the high number of buffalo - as well as leopard and black rhino. Definitely on my next-time wish-list! There's a lot more space to roam within the grounds then there first appears and even with a high number of guests, we still managed to escaped the crowds, as such. We saw some benches on some well kept lawns just inside the gate which we didn't even manage to check-out... just reading that again and I'm thinking why am I trying to sell you the idea of this lodge with some benches :unsure: my point is there's lots of space :lol:


I'd like to say the drive to the Mara was undramatic and uneventful too, but we did have somewhat of an 'adventure'. If you had asked me a few weeks ago, adventure would have been replaced with curse words for that road.


The typical route of Nakuru-Sekenani Gate of the Masai Mara is to come back towards Naivasha and drive down, if looking at a map, to put it simply. All was well until just after the turn off after Naivasha when a rather peculiar sound was being emitted from the front of the Toyota somewhere. I thought it sounded like a duck! We stopped for a few minutes while Patrick and I checked it out - when I say I, I jumped into the driving seat and revved the engine, as well as kicked a tyre. I did look under the bonnet but nothing was loose, leaking and there were no ducks.




We decided to give it another go, after Patrick made a call to Shadrack to enquire on protocol I guess - is there an African equivalent of the AA (AAA?) or RAC?! Shadrack called me a few minutes later saying if there were any issues, not to worry since they had a replacement vehicle in the Mara if required. We concurred that the vehicle seemed fine on the face of it to at least reach the Mara - we checked just about everything and couldn't find anything. Maybe the duck found out we were going to the Mara and it wouldn't be seen dead there during off-peak so it jumped off.


We soon moved on and were witness some not-so-great overtaking.




Its strange... these 2 pics were the next in my list and, being mundane, I wasn't going to add them to the report but as I write this I hear of an extremely tragic event in Wisconsin, USA where at a shooting within a Sikh temple, 6 people have lost there lives (plus the gunman himself who was killed at the scene by a police officer who himself is in a critical condition). Means nothing really, and perhaps will mean nothing to most, but I'd like to post the 2 photos for those who have lost their lives when they were just intending to attend another Sunday service...





The road up to Narok was very good on the most part and we stopped a few times at curio shops - at one of which I managed to haggle the price of a 3000KSH shuka down to 2000KSH but to include 12 bookmarks which were going for 300KSH each. I could do a lot better but was in a medium-haggling mood today since I just wanted to get on with getting this infamous journey out of the way.






Lovely, lovely road... had I known what was about to come, I'd have gotten out and kissed it




Just, about 10 miles (?) after Narok the tarmac just ends. There's not warning, no people waving their arms about screaming, nothing. It just stops. What takes its place is something between a gravel path, a boulder strewn track and a pot-hole ridden surface. So... the moon. Just like the moon, except less chance of keeping the vehicle on the ground. I don't have any worthy photos of the road since I was probably too startled at the Kenyan national disgrace before my eyes and then was perhaps a little too frustrated to remember to take any pics. Sorry.


I was foolilsh enough to say to Patrick "ooh, not too bad" at the start to which Patrick said "it gets worse later", though he probably wanted to say "just watch.... idiot".




The scenery helped though. We drove through great, flat plains which were sprinkled with settlements, thommies and zebra. As we approached the Loita Plains, the gnus began making an appearance too. So much so, we determined that this 'wing' of the migration had not yet started either. I kept my eye out for cheetah but saw giraffe instead. We passed through the Olare Orok conservancy, where, if we saw anything photogenic, Patrick said he couldn't stop par se, since there were rangers every where ready to fine us as we hadn't paid the fees! We also passed the sign for the Mara North Conservancy where we'd be heading in 4 days' times. The grass in these areas, up to the Mara main, was near none existent due to the prescence of all the wildebeest, zebra and other plains game, as well as heavy cattle grazing by the Maasai. Did I say the road was awful?


However, we survived and made it to the Sekenani gate where we were instantly mobbed by a group of Maasai ladies selling their wares. Patrick warned us not to take any pictures of the women otherwise they would kick up a fuss and demand payment. I thank Patrick to this day for the advice since one woman wanted a whole dollar for a pic.


Anyway, we were here, the much talked about, much BBC-made-famous promised land....... and, privately, my heart sank. The grass was extremely high; 3-4 foot, maybe higher. You couldn't see anything. There could be a whole party going on in front of you and you wouldn't know. Yeah, I knew what I was getting into by going during off-peak times and it was my own fault etc etc for trying to save a packet and I even lectured the missus on how high the grass would be and we may not see anything, but still.... reality hurts more. My diary actually says:


MM: grass too long :( v. long :( :(


Once I got over that, we had a great time. Our first 'major' sighting was a peaceful family of elephants slowly eating lunch whilst walking towards to the hills. Our first eles of the trip, and so quick into the Mara. Last year we had a little pachyderm overload at Tsavo and Amboseli but we still missed seeing the big guys.





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We were a little late getting to lunch, probably due to our request to stop at curios and for loo breaks, as well as the weird noise coming from the jeep, and we still had a fair distance to go before we reached Fig Tree. We deicded to make a bee-line for camp.




Lunch was served until 2.30pm and even though they had us down as not wanting lunch - WHAT?! Me and the wife not wanting food :angry: - they managed to accomodate us at 2.45pm, which was very nice of them. Doing the maths, the journey took us close to 8 hours. Would I do that again for the sake of around $300 each on a flight.... hmm.


Fig Tree Camp, from my research, is quite a big and popular place. When were shown to our room, it didn't seem that big for some reason. Perhaps because we didn't need to walk for ages to our tent from the main area, I'm not sure, but it did it very well. There are a mixture of accomadation types here: normal tents, with en-suite bathrooms (which we had); the Ngaboli tents which are more luxurious apprently and in a different part of camp; and also some cottages or more lodge style rooms, which we never saw. The website says 70 rooms in all, which is huge and may not be everyone's chaa da cup. I know our very own Atravelynn stayed here; there's even a trip report that mentions it :)


The camp is based in the Talek area/region of the Masai Mara and since it is on the 'other side' of the Talek River, it is technically outside the park with guests having to cross a rather cool bridge to get to it from the car park which must be inside the park.




The history of the camp is quite interesting, with it initially belonging to the renowned hunter, Miles Burton, before the father of the current owner and Chief Exec of Mada Hotels, Tinu Mhajan, purchased it once hunting being illegal in Kenya. Here's a link to the Mada newsletter, if you're interested. The info on the camp is on the first few pages:




I'm not really one for this kind of history so you may ask why am I even mentioning it?! Well, its owned by another Sikh which means the curries should be great :D


We were given room T12A which was right on the Talek River. I think most are, as well as having both a double bed and a single. This was perfect accomodation for us; both of us loving and preferring tents to other kinds of rooms. Our tent at Voyager Ziwani, Tsavo West, was our first taste but at Fig Tree the floor is also canvas. The bathroom however was a stone/block building attached to the back of the tent - worked for us fine.






Before the PM game drive, we enquired about the bush walks and night drives as advertised on the website - one of the reasons on me choosing this camp - but were told that the night drives had to be stopped since they were no longer allowed to carry these out. I wish I had asked more about this since they used to carry them out outsie the park. The bush walks however were still available and we just had to choose which one we wanted to go on: the one inside camp where you can see birds or the one outside of camp where you can see birds, hyaena and dik-diks...... erm...... :unsure: on saying I'd love to see a dik-dik, the lady said "OK, you can go on the outside, but please believe me it is not necessary to see the dik-dik". At the time I thought she was a little crazy, but over the next few days, I realised her wit was as dry as mine :lol:


The camp do not advertise the walk at all - we had to personally enquire about them, which I found really strange. They were $20 each.


We met up with Patrick again and despite my pre-apprehension, we had some good luck. There were lots of topi, impala and Thomson gazelle right outside camp where the grass was considerably lower, which I suppose meant they felt safer there.








Silver-backed jackals also liked this area and we got to see 6 in total.




Patrick took us to a local viewing spot on a bend of the Talek River where we were allowed to get out and take a closer look at the family of hippos. Wanting to escape the group of people, we didn't stay long and were off following the river again when a lioness made an appearence out of the bushes that lined the top of the very steep river banks.




We followed her gaze for 2 more heads to pop up in the more longer grass






We'd hardly been out and had seen 3 lions already. I was beginning to believe the hype of the Mara being swamped with lions :D


A mere 30 feet away from the resting lionesses, this brave fella came out to see what all the fuss was about. Probably the first ever dik-dik I've seen that hasn't run away on the approach of a vehicle.




We decided to head back a little early after than, pleased with the sighting.






The plan for tomorrow was an all day game drive so we had to request a packed lunch box from reception. The funny lady told us that whilst we were out, a baby hyaena came into camp and scared her the hell out of her! Luckily, a Maasai was at hand to scare it away. It would have had to cross the bridge!!


All meals were the usual buffet style and I'd have to say, other than the curries, the food wasn't 'all that'. The best thing to happen at dinner was my spotting a genet cat running away along the outside terrace. At which point I remembered - from Atravelynn's report - that the camp laid out food (bait?) for genet cats and bush babies! I quickly finished up and dragged the wife to the bar area, not telling her what was in store. We waited a little and then a gorgeous little, black bush baby appeared to take some fruit away. We almost missed it! It made no sound in the branches and with it being so dark in colour, melted away into the background. Unfortunately, my pic turned out blurred but the wife got some video footage. Unfortunate since we wouldn't see the bush baby again. We'd have to wait until next time for the genets.


The evening wasn't as cold as it was in Kigio, perhaps due the 1000 feet drop in altitude. The night time in the tent, however, was fantastic!


Aside from the usual crickets, cicadas and torrential rains, we had hippo grunting and baboons screaming all night which we put down to domestic affairs apart from one time when they went ape which I expertly guessed was due to a leopard being in the area. On top of this, we had lots of hyaena's laughing, as well as the odd lion roaring too :D fantastic. May be usual, run-of-the-mill to most on here but it was the first time we'd stayed anywhere like this that offered such cinematic sounds. I'll say it again: fantastic. Missus could still hear me snore though.... -_-

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SL, Great report! I love the picture of the white rhinos at the waterhole with the yellow fever acacia tree in the background. Also am looking forward to reading more about the Narok side of the Mara vs. Mara North.

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Catching up with this report.


Dude, those socks need to go.

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That wouldn't be very eco-friendly, man. Maybe we can find another use for them.

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Like use them as WMD in Afganistan?? :o

I'll have you know chemical weapons are forbidden! ;)

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  • 3 weeks later...
Lion Fanatic

Excellent report S.L. I thouroughly enjoyed it all. Witty as usual, and those socks :blink:


Also, a nice touch giving out toys to the little 'uns. That was great and an inspirartion for me to do the same next year.


I'm taking it that you didnt use the movie option on your camera. If you did, then lets be havin' it! ;)

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Cheers, mate. You know its not finished yet, right? Or were you having a dig?!


I really need to get cracking again... been away for work and away all next week too so will be tough :(


Aye, we used our HD quality video recording facilities :D but those will have to wait!

Edited by Super LEEDS
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Lion Fanatic

Good news then, and NO, I wasn't taking the Mick.


Looking forward to it :thumbsup:

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  • 2 weeks later...

No posts to distract us, and we'll start talking about suitcases again :D

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OK OK, alright alright!


I've been away with work for the past X weeks, plus I'm on a post strike - no not like a postman - because GW deleted one of my posts!


Seriously though, I'm touched by the support from you both. I may even take some time out to fully appreciate this.


Just kidding, I've already uploaded the next gallery and will try finish all my photos today. I don't have my journal so won't be adding any content as such today. Sorry.

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SL, if you've had a post deleted (haven't we all), wear it like a badge of honour because now you belong!! :D:rolleyes::lol:

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Thanks, twaffle. Always the calming influence - its something about the stripes. Hypnotic.

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June 26: Fig Tree Camp


Somehow I forgot to mention our neighbours were a lovely couple from Oklahoma in Kenya on safari with their family who had been a few places, including Samburu.


Up at 5.30am today, with breakfast at 6.30am, the plan being an all-day game drive.




There were lots of hot air balloons out and about, Fig Tree being one of the main take-off points in the area I believe.




Why I show you this next picture is because we may all spot the balloon but it was I who spotted the secretary bird in the tree at some distance B) oh yeah




After stopping for a small group of buffalo, things really began to pick-up, rapidly.




All within practically the same area we saw 2 cheetah (a mother and a large cub), a sleeping lioness and 2 spotted hyaena walking in the distance. This was still very close to camp and further reinforced Patrick's view on the area around Fig Tree being one of the best in the Mara. He was constantly telling us it is always good, all year round.


The cheetah were a little way off and kept changing seating positions on a slight mound in the tall grass, It looked like the mother was scouting for something to eat but there was nothing nearby.




Where as the lioness was completely knocked-out on the road so we took it in turns to drive past her with around 5 other vehicles. 1 with Japanese tourists using their iPads to take pictures. They should have known even lions don't like Apples..... :ph34r:




She look awfully hungry too :(


Anyway, the plan for the prolonged drive today was to visit the Mara River on the Tanzanian border which would lead to me technically having been to Tanzania on this trip too. Not bad, eh?


On our way, we made some time for a little bird-spotting. I've lost (forgotten) the name of the first one, unfortunately. I have the name "caccal" in my head for some reason but this doesn't come up in Google - closest thing is a coucal which is something completely different I think. The next 2 I believe a lilac breasted roller and a pale chanting goshawk.








The roads were quite difficult to navigate in some parts due to the nature of the soil (cotton?) and the heavy rains each night. It was certainly hot enough for the sun to help get rid of the moisture but I wonder with the grass being so long and dense, that the sunlight struggled to reach the pockets of water all over the land. Plausible theory??


Regardless, it all added to the fun :D




The slow progress gave us chance to take in what little game we passed on the way. Taking into account the very high grass, I was surprised at how little we saw after leaving the Talek/Fig Tree area.




We passed a small wooded area, scoping the area for leopard (as always) but were instead lucky to spot what appeared to be a nesting pair of vultures. The nest itself was in the next tree over.




We also made time to watch the marabou stork hone his footy skills. These fellas are so disturbing in the looks department, one instantly assumes they can only be blokes!




We were enjoying some really great weather with the blue skies allowing us to spy across the TZ border. Patrick saw a large black patch on the yonder horizon which looked like trees to me but they turned out to buffalo. For a second, he thought it could have been the wildebeest. Contrary to the cliché, no gnus was not good news, on this occasion........


Before getting the Mara river, we were able to get out at a point along the border that is highlighted with a concrete marker which allows for some fun photos as a few inches this way or that way, and you are in Tanzania! Patrick absolutely refused to stand on the 'other side' for a photo, which I found hilarious.


On arrival at the river, we had some lovely views, particularly on the meandering nature of the great brown snake that passes through this land. It was scorching today, easily in the high 20's.




You are able to get out here and stretch your legs a little. There are plenty of hippos and supposedly lots of large crocs - the very same ones who try to grab on the crossing gnus! Several KWS rangers are based here too to take tourists on a small walk along the river banks and through a small wooded area in search for said hippo and crocodile. Patrick knowing we loved bush walks, set us up with an armed ranger to talk a stroll along the river. He promised us lots of very big crocs but instead delivered 2 very small ones on the far bank :( that was before taking us on a trek through extremely wet mud with which we were soon caked up to our ankles! I wish I had just turned back on seeing the mud but the thing is, when you're as optimistic as I am - read 'stupid' - in these situations, you're always sure you're going to see chui or a honey badger just around the next corner, or even a black mamba :unsure:


We saw some vervets too.

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It was then time for lunch and we had been given 3 packed, boxes by the camp. Patrick decided it would be best to have our meal at the Mara Triangle gate which seemed a great idea since there was a toilet there and plenty of shade under trees.. its just everyone else thought the same :lol: but we found space all the same.




I have to say the grub wasn't bad. Cheese and tomato 'toastie', half a roast chicken, boiled egg, crisps, banana, apple, biscuit, pineapple juice :) and quite a few ants of the little variety :D


On the way back, the weather was very quick to turn and we had to be even quicker in closing the roof.




The rain made our journey back a very slow one and it seemed to drag on even more since was simply no animals to look at. Taking this into account, we were even more fortunate to have spent some time with a small family of elephants who had an awfully brave little one, who was demonstrating at our having stopped to stare and take pictures. This was the first time I hadn't seen the other family members not only stand in between the calf and us, but also stand any where near it. They remained calm and continued to graze whilst the little one played boss!




Sorry, this is appears to be the best picture I have and doesn't quite support what I said above, but by this time, the family were beginning to move on. Perhaps I have a video somewhere..... even my journal says "... family with a very angry, little baby. Cute!!"




The weather seemed to lighten up after this encounter and I'm sure it was also a metaphor for our moods on the game viewing we'd had for the most of the day since we soon came across several vehicles stopped looking at what appeared to be, at first glance, 2 buffalo in the distance. We looked around and upon not seeing anything else, we thought that they could actually be black rhino! You all know how excitable I am, so thought "yeah, why not". That was until I spotted 2 lionesses cruising through the tall grass not far from the buffalo!




They were visibly on the hunt, what was less visible was any potential prey - especially since the buffalo were 2 huge fellows, perhaps too much of a task for just 2 lionesses.


We stayed with them for a short while before they crossed the road in front of us and were gone. We could have tracked them further but at this point there were around 20 cars all vying for position and revving their engines so we just head off in the other opposite direction. And I'm so glad we did!


I spotted this beauty sat all alone in the high grass, on the side of a hill:




I only point out that I spotted her because I'm really big headed there were around 5 vehicles in front of us on the road that drove straight past.


She too was looking for supper but, again, there was nothing around. Even from her high vantage point. We sat at watched her scan the horizon, alone, for around 30 minutes before we agreed Patrick should radio it in. To begin with, only the odd car would come along to watch the big cat before driving along so we sat it out for a little longer. It was during this time that I noticed a novel behaviour: a small bird was constantly bombing the lioness. it would do so for around 5 minutes before having a rest and then returning to continue. I suppose it makes sense, the bird feels threatened and is trying to bother the predator so much, it leaves. I only bring this up since I saw it again the next day which I will discuss later :)




On our way back we spotted a fleet of vehicles going in the opposite direction, to which Patrick pointed-out, "they're going to see your lion" - for a few minutes I was world famous :P the area the lioness was in, was called Hammerkop for anyone who knows about these things and would find that relevant.


On arrival around the Fig Tree Camp area, we just parked up in the area we always saw lots of plains game such as topi, gazelle etc to see what was going on. 2 jackals were skulking around and appeared to be stalking some thommies but in a very sly, back-handed way. When the gazelle were not giving them any attention the jackals would move closer, but when the thommies looked up, they would then begin the groom each other and act as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths! They eventually moved in the long grass which thought was a final tactic before they rush their quarry. It didn't happen - perhaps that is where their den is.


We did however meet a supermodel of the Grant gazelle world who posed almost perfectly for us next to the jeep.




....and now get my other perfect side






We then heard on the radio that 2 cheetah were active not too far away so we decided to pay them a visit. Whilst Patrick was turning the vehicle around, I suddenly startled the wife by shouting "bat eared fox!!!!!!" having seen others' reports and images of these small creatures, the missus and I had made it our aim to see them on this trip, hence my excitement. Thing is, we had to get to the cheetah, so off we went. The missus wasn't all that pleased......


Especially since this was what we saw on arrival




This was by far the worst experience of this kind of the whole trip. I remember counting around 40 vehicles. It was more than a little disturbing since we'd been pretty close to being alone for the whole trip. We decided to head back and were lucky to glimpse the 2 cheetah which we believe to be the same as the ones from the morning - still looking for prey.




The plan was to continue where we left off with the bat eared foxes (BEFs)... but.... they had gone. My journal says "BEF gone :( wife = :( :@"


instead we saw a herd of eland and also a collared hyaena which I forgot to check-up about with the camp, though I'm sure I've read about hyaena research in the Mara before - possibly here on ST.






Still didn't make up for missing the BEFs in 'r lass' mind. If only she knew then that she wasn't going to get to see them all trip...... :ph34r: I would, so its all good :D




We were pretty tired on getting back into camp and decided to hang about the bar area to wait for dinner as I think had we gone back to our tents, we wouldn't have come back! The wife also decided not to join us on the morning drive in order to get some rest. We said good bye to Patrick who told us he was informed by another driver that the camp guards had seen a leopard walking through the car park at around 10am that morning. Now that would have been something....


During dinner, the lady from next door came to tell us that a hippo had just been out of the water right next to our tent. That was only the second time we had spoken; what a nice lady :)


No genet or bush baby tonight, but we decided to try wait up tomorrow for them


I made a memo of this in my notebook knowing you all wanted to hear this: I only shaved that night since there was no hot water.

Edited by Super LEEDS
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Nice shots of the Grants gazelle. I had a what I thought was a crowded cheetah sightng in the mara (over 15 vehicles) - holy cats there were a lot of cars at your sighting. No rangers around?

Edited by PT123
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Animals were a bit scarce but you still managed to show of your spotting skills - the Leeds Lion! Leaving the foxes for the cheetahs was a mistake - a bit busy.


I am sure we didn't need to know that you didn't bathe. I suppose if neither of you did no harm done, though!


What is the structure in the last picture?

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At least it looked like all the vehicles were on the road and not driving up to the cheetahs. I saw some of that. Really bad.

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