Moving to the Mara
After the trials and tribulations of getting to the airstrip in Amboseli, and the slight delay in the arrival of our plane, it was relief to get back to Nairobi. We were in plenty of time to catch our connecting flight to the Mara and our next phase of the trip.
Rather than game driving to the camp, this time we headed straight there to meet up with the other members of the group we were hosting. Introductions complete, we settled down to a leisurely three-course lunch and discussed our individual wishes for the coming days. After time to settle in to our tents, it was time for high tea and the first game drive.
Our first encounter was a herd of rather laid-back Buffalo enjoying the late afternoon sun. A few shots of the Oxpeckers cleaning them off and we were moving on. Within minutes, we were on the first Lion pride of the trip and some nice shots of the sub-adults. Next encounter was a Black-backed Jackal den, where the adults seemed to be away hunting, leaving 4 endearing pups posing for us.
Rose was keen to see her favourite male Lion Lolpapit and we struck lucky, ending the day with him and his brother Olbarnoti.
Our first full day started with Lions at first light, but word soon reached us of a female Leopard named Lorian, in the open. That was a very fulfilling session that lasted a full 40 minutes. That duration was short in relation to our next sighting where we spent three full hours in the company of male Lions, concentrating on head shots to document their magnificent manes.
Moving on, we spotted a Marsh Terrapin, Southern Ground Hornbill and a herd of Waterbuck. Our guide Joseph noticed some of the Water Buck were somewhat preoccupied and looking in one direction. He decided to take a look at what they were concentrating on and what was to follow really took us aback.
In a small, but densely packed tree, was a Serval, not something you see very often. However, what was remarkable about this sighting was the fact we were able to stay with her for three and a half hours. Sightings of Serval are rare and normally quite fleeting, but this cat was perfectly relaxed in our company and gave us a great deal of pleasure. That was virtually our day done with just a brief Topi Mum and calf sighting on our way back to camp.
Day two started with Lions again, but on this occasion was a mum and delightful cub. The early morning light on them made for some superb images and accounted for 90 images in just 12 minutes.
Like the previous day, news came through of a Cheetah sighting, but not just any Cheetah sighting. It was the Fast Five, a male coalition that I’ve blogged about previously. We saw them on our first visit to the Mara and have been fortunate to see them on every trip since then.
On this occasion they weren’t particularly active so we moved on and quite close by we spotted a Male Lion that turned out to be the well-known Notch 2. On our trip earlier in the year we had seen him being chased by Lolpapit and Olbarnoti after trying to infiltrate their territory, but this time he was more relaxed. We followed him for a while until he disappeared into thick undergrowth, but after moving away to where we had originally seen him, there was another male.
This one was Spear Boy, so called due to his scarring from spear injuries inflicted by farmers. He followed the route Notch 2 had taken and soon they met up and then wandered back past where we had originally spotted them.
Deciding not to follow them, we headed back to where the Fast Five were located, grabbing a couple of bird shots of an Ostrich and Hammerkop on the way. By now we were getting to the middle of the day and unsurprisingly the boys were snoozing in the shade. We stayed with them for a while and then decided to find a suitable spot for lunch.
It was around 2:30pm when we got back to them and the sky had clouded over. Joseph was convinced they were going to hunt and sure enough, about thirty minutes later they started walking. They covered a good distance and went into some bushes, scent-marking as they went, and then appeared the other side of the bushes. At that point they showed a passing interest in a Buffalo herd nearby, but at no time did they hunt.
By now, time was getting on and we were a long way from the camp, so we set off back to base. Fortunately we had some time in hand as we had some bird encounters on the way, starting with a magnificent Martial Eagle. Next up was a Marabou Stork, not the most attractive of birds, but followed by an African Fish Eagle and finally a Grey-headed Kingfisher.
Already, the Mara portion of the trip was a quarter done, but the days to come were going to be equally as good. More next time….