PHOTO TRIP REPORT | Big Cats of the Masai Mara | Feb 2019
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 1st Jan 2020
We had stunning weather and fantastic sightings on this February "Big Cats of the Mara" African Photographic Safari to Kenya's Maasai Mara.
Not only did we have some great photo opportunties with all three of the big cats, Lion, Leopard and Cheetah, but we were also very proud to roll out our second photographically modified safari Land Cruiser on its very first safari.
Splitting our 10 night stay in the Mara allowed us to explore two very different areas and to be in different places early in the morning and late in the afternoon, where we were able to take advantage of some great sightings in the good light.
We really had some great luck with Giraffe at Sunrise and Sunset. Near Lookout we spent some time with a Black Rhino, the Spotted Hyaena densite was great, we photographed some great birds, Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Black Backed Jackals, Hippos, Impala, Topi, Thompson's Gazelle and Eland.
However our main aim of the trip was to focus on the Big Cats and some of the highlights with these amazing animals were multiple sightings of 3 different female Leopards. One female in particular was very active around the Rekero Crossing area and we watched her take advantage of a short rain shower as a distraction to try and sneak up on a herd of Impala, unfortunately for the Leopard, two Spotted Hyaenas tried the same tactic and spooked the Impala in the opposite direction !
The Lions were present again in good numbers. We got to see the famous male Lion - Scar, feeding on a Hippo carcass at the Mara River. He was limping badly but actually looked in pretty good health for such an old Lion. We saw a number of other Male Lions as well as a Lioness with two small cubs in the area of Topi Plains.
We were very lucky and priveledged to see four Cheetah chases, three of them involved the 5 strong male coalition. Their first chase ended in an Impala kill, but this was stolen from them by some opportunistic Lions. Their second was rather ambitions as one male Cheetah tried to take on a full grown male Topi, which as a group of 5 they are capable of pulling down, but his 4 other team mates were a bit slow to start the game on this occasion !! It was very interesting to see how the Cheetah ran right up to the side of the Topi and physically tried to bump it off balance - a technique I had not ever witnessed before. Their third chase just sent hundreds of animals fleeing in all directions with no end result. The fourth chase was by a female Cheetah who ran right through a group of Warthogs to pursue an easier target, a baby Impala who she did end up catching.
The Mara certainly lives up to all expectations as far as good and numerous Big Cat sightings are concerned and the general wildlife is always great too !
A big thanks goes to the staff at Mara Entim Camp and Mara Intrepids for looking after us so well and a very special thanks goes to our amazing guides, Mamai and Eliud, thank you for your patience, your help and your incredibly hard work, it was a great pleasure working with you both.
Thanks so much to Linda, Ulhas, John & Jenny for joining us as much appreciated previous clients - thank you for joining another WILD4 African Photographic Safari to Kenya's Maasai Mara !!
Please enjoy a selection of photos from the trip.
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The Wild 4 team made my trip to South Africa a truly memorable experience. Photographing some of the orphaned captive animals at the private game reserve on the extension was a great way to start the holiday, and Stu's tuition on techniques, composition and familiarity with your gear was the foundation for the rest of the trip. In Kruger we had some wonderful sightings - including the 'Big 5' all in one day on two consecutive days! The highlights were spending 20 minutes with a leopard cub in a tree no more than 30 metres away, and on the last day watching a pride of 14 lions stalking a herd of zebra for more than an hour - just wonderful experiences! I'm sure the quality of the shots I took was infinitely better than if I'd gone on a regular safari, as the whole focus of the experience is expertly designed to maximise photographic opportunities - including only 3 photographers in the specially designed vehicle. Stu's knowledge, enthusiasm and patience were boundless, and Ann's spotting and catering skills were also priceless! I hope to visit Africa again soon, and without doubt Wild 4 will be my first option.
Greg Morgan, UK
On arrival we were treated as part of the family by Stu Porter, his wife Justyna, and parents John and Ann. The conditions for finding and photographing everything from small birds to large game was perfect – a 500mm lens on hire from Stu, a specially equipped vehicle, which was referred to as a hide on wheels ( with only 3 photographers) , a dedicated and professional approach to photography and plenty of time. We would set off at sunrise, find a group of lions as they were beginning to yawn and stir from sleep, or a pair of saddle-billed storks building a nest, and quietly move our cameras into position. The initial sighting was accompanied by the rapid firing of shutters, but then we would wait as long as necessary in the hope of getting further shots. Stu was very sensitive to our needs and would only make suggestions about the best camera settings if he thought we needed his advice. His awareness of how animals behave was very useful in planning our shots. Stu’s knowledge of African Wildlife and skill as a wildlife photographer is second to none, and I have learned a lot from his expertise. I am delighted with my photos !! This was the trip of a lifetime, good accommodation, delicious food and great company. It was altogether a wonderful, challenging and thrilling experience and, if you are looking for a photo safari in Africa, I too recommend you contact Stu Porter at Wild4.
David Austwick, UK