BEST of KENYA photo safari TRIP REPORT Nov 2015
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 27th Nov 2015
This photo safari took place in three of Kenya's top wildlife parks, Samburu, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara. There was also an extension to Rwanda to photograph the Mountain Gorillas.
Some of the highlights included a swimming Oryx, an Aardwolf, incredible Samburu Birds, a Crowned Eagle, 17 different Cheetahs, Bahati the Leopard with her two cubs, Zebras swimming across the flooding Mara River, 4 Black Rhinos together as well as Cheetah and Lion hunts, tremendous rain storms, dramatic skies, superb sunsets, mud, flooding rivers and river crossings, this safari proved again that November in Kenya is one of the best times to visit and take photographs. It is also out of the peak tourist season so there are fewer vehicles around.
Our first stop was Samburu Reserve which is noted for its very different terrain and habitat and the unique species that live there. Gerenuk, Reticulated Guraffe, Vulturine Guineafowl, Somali Ostrich, Grevy's Zebra and Elephants crossing the Ewaso Nyiro River are the sought after shots and all were achieved, along with an unusual sighting of a swimming Beisa Oryx and a very rare sighting of the shy termite eating Aardwolf ! A male Cheetah, a Lioness with tiny cubs and an amazing diversity of birdlife rounded off another great stay in Samburu Reserve.
Next up was our 2 night stay at Lake Nakuru which still does not have the traditional number of flamingos due to high water levels in the Lake. However Lake Nakuru always provides a number of different photo opportunities and we enjoyed an interesting sighting of a large Lion pride interacting with a White Rhino, great bird photo opportunities of a variety of smaller birds as well as with the Pelicans and a group of Flamingos, Olive Baboons and Defassa Waterbuck, Cape Buffalo and the Rothschild Giraffes kept our memory cards full.
Final destination on the scheduled safari was the Masai Mara which was split into two different locations. We were very fortunate to find out that two Cheetah mums were close to our camp and we spent a lot of time following them. Malaika and her three sub adult cubs as well as Nora and her two young cubs of around 3 months were seen every day. Both of these Cheetahs had also been seen on our August Migration Photo Safari so it was nice to catch up with them again. Over the next 4 days we photographed the Cheetahs hunting, resting, swimming and playing. A special interaction between Malaika and an injured Wildebeest played out in front of us, if her three cubs had backed her up instead of sleeping through the entire interaction they would have been able to overpower the Wildebeest, instead Mailaka was left on her own and ended up being chased away by the Wildebeest which managed to get away and live another day. Lions were also in abundance as they usually are in the Mara and we watched an interesting interaction between a group of young Lions and a herd of Masai Cows and their Moran protectors.. We also photographed a young male Leopard near the main crossing point area, Giraffe, Topi, Spotted Hyaena, Hippo, Coke's Hartebeest, Eland, Black Backed Jackals, and a variety of birds. On our final morning we were very fortunate to find the female Leopard known as "Bahati" with her two young cubs. It is always a special treat to see a Leopard, but extra special when they have small cubs. This was the perfect way to end our stay on the northern side of the Mara River.
Due to heavy rains all the main rivers in the Mara were flooded, the Olare Orok, and the Talek rivers were impassable so we took the main road to the Mara bridge and the Mara River itself was an impressive sight to see. Our guides had never seen it so high.
We crossed over onto the southern side of the Mara river to the area known as the Mara Triangle and this is where we spent our final days on the scheduled safari. Sunrises, sunsets, Giraffe, Lions, Black Rhino, a Lion hunt and Zebra crossing the raging Mara River were some of the highlights we experieinced and before we knew it the safari was at an end.
Huge thanks to our expert driver guides, James, Julius and Mamai, not ony did they put up with all our crazy photographic requests, they drove us safely to all our destinations and found us fantastic photo opportunities, it is always a great pleasure to work with all of you and I am looking forward to the next safari already.
Thank you also to all the staff at the camps and lodges we stayed at, Elephant Bedroom, Lion Hill, Little Mara Bush and Mara Serena and to Sunworld Safaris for another great photographic experience in Kenya.
Finally a huge thanks to Rita, Aggie, Michael, Toni and Larry - thank you for joining us on a Wild4 "Best of Kenya" photo safari. It was a great pleasure to have had you all on safari with us.
The optional extension to see the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda was my first visit to Rwanda and a very exciting one it was. To see the Gorillas up close and observe them going about their daily routine is really a once in a lifetime opportunity and highly recommended. Rwanda as a country is very impressive, clean, safe and the people very welcoming and friendly.
I joined Aggie on a Gorilla trek to see the "Agashya" family group, we were lucky to not have rain and it took just over an hour to reach the Gorillas. The hour you get to spend with the Gorillas flies past so quickly but at the end of it you really feel you have been fortunate to have observed such amazing creatures in their natural habitat. With only a total of around 900 Mountain Gorillas remaining in the world, it is an opportunitiy well worth taking.
Here are a few photos from the safari - enjoy !
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I recently did a trip with Wild4 which far outweighed any expectations that I had! Wow what a trip. There was a great variety of animals, Stu has extensive knowledge of the animals and their habitat and was always mindful of us getting the best shots possible. My friend and I had our own bench seats in all the vehicles, which was great as we both had 2 DSLRs with numerous lenses, each vehicle is equipped with beanbags to steady your camera / lens, pockets and enough room to take a camera bag. We had fantastic opportunities to watch the cats for a good period of time and learn a little bit about their life, rather than taking a photo and moving on. I loved that we could sit and watch the lions at Mala Mala play in the Sand River, it was a fantastic opportunity. Stu provided us with some great tuition, I certainly learnt a lot of new photo techniques which I look forward to using back home. I hired a Canon 500mm lens from Stu which was great, I think I used that about 85% of the time and used a 70-200mm for the rest. We had many opportunities for night photography, silhouettes, time lapse, low light etc At the end of our trip we did the reptile extension at Khamai Reptile Centre. We went behind the scenes at the centre and had one of Africa's leading reptile specialist spend the day talking about the reptiles, spiders, scorpions we were about to take pictures of. Donald and his team certainly made for a very safe photo shoot, they were extremely patient positioning some of the reptiles for better light or different background. I learnt a lot from Donald, living in Australia we do have some venomous snakes, the day certainly gave me a renewed appreciation for the reptiles. I would highly recommend the Wild4 team for your next photographic safari you will not be disappointed.
Linda Cappello, AUSTRALIA
Stu ... Cannot say enough great things about Wild4. The entire Porter family is #1 in my book. I shall recommend you to friends as often as possible. You made my trip the very best and one that I'll always remember. Thanks again
Dan Dimaggio, USA