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The Endless Plains of The Maasai Mara to the Enchanting Green Amboseli with Daniel Bailey

Embarking on a safari journey through Kenya is a dream for many, and our recent adventure was nothing short of spectacular. Join us as we recount our unforgettable experience, which took us through the vast wilderness of the Maasai Mara and the enchanting landscapes of Amboseli.

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Day 1-3: Kicheche Olare Bush Camp

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Our adventure began at the Mara Olare Orok airstrip, where we were warmly welcomed by our local Maasai guide, Patrick. A short transfer later, we found ourselves immersed in the Acacia woodlands of the Maasai Mara at Kicheche Olare Bush Camp. Tucked away in the pristine wilderness, this photographic centric camp, offered a perfect blend of luxury and the true bush experience.

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Our three days were filled with exhilarating game drives, where we photographed all the iconic species and countless other wildlife in this exclusive concession. Our friendly, knowledgeable guide Patrick,  at Kicheche Olare Bush Camp shared fascinating insights into the intricate ecosystems, positioned the safari vehicle perfectly, and predicted animal behaviours of the diverse wildlife that call the Mara home ensuring wonderful photographic opportunities.

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The lion sightings at Kicheche were incredible and most early mornings were spent with the four different territorial prides. We spent the first afternoon with the Enkuyonia Pride, which consisted of a 2 lionesses, their 13 cubs and the Fig Tree male lion coalition. This was a stunning sighting with the lionesses, scanning the plains as zebra, eland and giraffe walked past. The 13 cubs posed alongside the one Fig Tree male Ouspaat on a rock. It was a stunning photographic moment with dark brewing cloudscapes behind them.

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The Diki Diki Pride, of 5 lionesses and 11 cubs. We spent the morning with this pride as they played in the early morning. They were in a playful mood. Lionesses played with their cubs, and the sighting was special with the presence of 4 three month old cubs. We listened to their calls, and watched them practice their stalking, pouncing and tackling each other over a small termite mound. The cubs also took interest, in a small acacia tree and stretched, scent marked, clawed and climbed this tree trunk. It behand a central point of the morning with all the young lions playing, climbing and pulling on another out of the tree. We enjoyed our breakfast in the game viewer, and from a distance watched as the lionesses looked to hunt a large herd of zebra that made their way down to the riverbed. It was a failed hunt but so exciting to watch and photograph.

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We spent the later part of the morning with a beautiful young leopardess, known as Akira. Akari means “star” in Maa – the local Maasai language. She was resting in  a tree, and she in-between bouts of sleep posed regally for our cameras.

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The Hammerkop pride, of 3 lionesses and 7 cubs and the ruling coalition of 4 big males known as the Lemek boys. We watched two males patrol their territory in the early morning, as mist covered the plains. They eventually met with the pride. We watched as the lionesses and cubs played, groomed and socialised with each other. The younger cubs also enjoyed the opportunity to explore and climb trees in the area as the rest of pride fell into a slumber.

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After the early morning with the Hamerkop Pride we encountered the two Fig Tree males. Known as Nyekunde and Osupaat. They were on a Buffalo carcass that they had killed the evening before. It was a impressive sight. As Nyekunde resting at the carcass, fending it off from the surrounding scavengers, spotted hyena, vultures and black-backed jackals lurked in the background. We watched the scene un fold as we enjoyed our breakfast in the game vehicle, tasty fresh fruits, muesli and yoghurt in the company of lions and the endless plains of the Mara. Nyekunde eventually left the carcass, so full, and went in search of water. This is when the sighing really kicked into gear, his brother Osupaat, rushed in to retrieve the carcass before the scavengers.

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We watched him drag the buffalo carcass, to safety. He displayed an incredible tenacity and display of strength,  dragged the carcass towards the nearby ravine. This took place for almost three hours. It was incredible to see, such raw power and dedication from this male lion not to relinquish his kill to the scavengers. It was nearly midday when he decided to stop, take a rest, this he decided to in the nearest shade which was our safari game vehicle.

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He walked up and took a rest in the shade of our car! This was unbelievable and moment my ORYX guest and I will never forget. Being so close to this lion, listening to his heavy breaths and admiring his size, stature, and energy at such close quarters. What made it even more special was that he made this decision to rest, alongside us and it wasn’t coxed or forced. Simply mutual respect and understanding as he made to decision to find shade of our vehicle and highlighting the mutual coexistence if guiding practices are adhered in the wild.

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We encountered our first cheetah at Kicheche on our final morning, it was a lone male, known as Milele.  There had been so many lion sightings, that during our time at Kicheche the cheetah had been slim on the ground. So it was nice to finally see this male. He was resting in a thicket as a large herd of Buffalo passed by, it wasn’t the best sighting photographically but we took some portraits as he rested in the early morning sunshine.

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We spent time with a male leopard, resting and hidden in a riverbed, surrounded by thick foliage of the red leafed croton bushes. It was a challenge to find a gap through the vegetation, but we succeeded and managed to create some beautiful imagery of this leopard in its green lair. Focusing through the vegetation to create beautiful bokeh and creating low key imagery as the sun, shone through narrow gaps on the leopard within the thicket.

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On our last evening we spent time with the Moniko pride, a group of 12 sub-adult lions a mixture of both young males and female that were looking to establish their own territory. They tried to stalk impala but failed, but it was no the less exciting to observe.

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Our evenings were spent under the starlit African sky, watching thunderstorms roll in over the endless plains, enjoying drinks and delicious dinners with my ORYX guest and other Kicheche guests, recounting the all of the day’s adventures around a crackling campfire.

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Day 4-6: Asilia Naboisho Camp

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Our journey continued to Asilia Naboisho Camp, a haven of luxury nestled in the exclusive Naboisho Conservancy. The camp’s commitment to conservation and community was evident in every detail, the newly refurbished camp was exquisite, from the eco-friendly design and very comfortable guests tents and communal spaces in the main lodge.

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Exploring the Naboisho Conservancy, we marvelled at the pristine landscapes and the abundance of wildlife. From intimate encounters with a leopard and her cub, a cheetah mother and her 5 cubs, lions on the prowl, large herds of buffalo, variety of antelope species, and large herds of zebra and wildebeest. Here, every moment was a testament to the raw beauty of the Mara’s untamed wilderness with very little impact from other safari operators game drive vehicles.

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A big part of time at Naiboisho was spent with Namunyak, the cheetah mother and her 5 cubs. It was so special to watch this young family, we spent many of hours in their presence.

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Day 7-11: Mara to Tortilis Camp, Amboseli

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As our time in the Maasai Mara came to an end, we bid farewell to the vast plains and boarded a Mombasa Air flight to Amboseli. The aerial views of the changing landscapes below were a mesmerizing preview of the adventures awaiting us in the next chapter of our safari.

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Touching down at Amboseli airstrip, we were greeted with breath taking views of the National park which had received early rains. It was a lush landscape, there was a lot more water than expected, and as a result  the landscape was dressed in its summer greenery. There were pink, yellow and white wild flowers, popping up everywhere. This created a much different setting to what is often envisioned when photographing the elephants in Amboseli. Often people visit to photographic the larger herds crossing the dry lake beds from the woodland foothills to the swamps. Over the next four nights, we immersed ourselves in the magic of Amboseli, exploring the national park’s diverse ecosystems and wildlife and creating a stunning photographic portfolio.

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Dream start to our first morning in Amboseli spending time with Pascal, one of the last remaining tuskers on the African continent. After spotting him from several kilometres away we waited for him to approach our position. We were the only car with him. A childhood dream was fulfilled on this day.

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Game drives revealed large herds of elephants, in the Amboseli swamps, sometimes with over 300 individuals surrounding our game drive vehicle. Other notable sights were small herds of elephants against the backdrop of Kilimanjaro, a sight that will forever be etched in our memories. As well a sightings of large herds in the most beautiful fields of wild flowers, that had recently appeared after the first rains. Not a sight or image one usually expects from Amboseli but a truly stunning addition to my guests portfolio of imagery. We also got creative a practiced multiple exposures and new techniques in order to make most of the conditions on the ground and create unique images, visions and learn the capabilities of the camera systems in hand.

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The resident lion prides were a treat to see, we spent time with the Nkindu -Pump Pride  consisting of 2 large males, 3 lioness and their cubs resting in stunning greenery and pink wild flowers.   On the final evening we encountereed the Tank Pride, 2 males,  3 lioness, and their 11 cubs some of which were newly born. A firm highlight was seeing a new born cub, only days old amongst the pride. The slightly older cubs were grooming it, as it cried out to its mother, still blind, yet to open its eyes. Until its mother came and collected it, carrying it in her mouth to a more secluded location within the surrounding vegetation.

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Our safari from the Maasai Mara to Amboseli for my ORYX Guests and myself was a journey of discovery, filled with awe-inspiring moments and intimate encounters with the predators that call this paradise home. From the untamed beauty of the Mara to the green summer landscapes of Amboseli.

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As we boarded our flight back home, the echoes of roaring lions and trumpeting elephants lingered, leaving us with a profound appreciation for the incredible diversity and beauty of Kenya’s natural wonders.

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Daniel Bailey, ORYX Photo Tour Leader

 

To join Daniel on a privately led and guided photo tour, email [email protected].

To join Daniel on one of his group scheduled photo tours, email [email protected] or click here 

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