Day One 8 September PM
We left camp at 3 pm and headed for a bush where a cheetah had killed an impala in the morning, just 500m from the camp. As we arrived, she was walking away having abandoned the half-eaten carcass. Two jackals dived in and began eating whilst being surrounded by approximately 80 vultures. They had been eating for about 3 minutes when a lioness appeared and carried off the carcass to a bush some 150m away. The vultures got nothing. We left the lion to photograph the cheetah, who was now walking away to put some distance between her and the lioness. We then noticed a male lion running at speed towards the lioness with the kill. We followed him taking some fantastic shots with wildebeest in the background. To our surprise his target was not the lioness with the kill but a second lioness who was also eating the carcass. Apparently, she was not a member of his pride. He chased her for some distance before bringing her down, biting and clawing her. A lone male buffalo charged in and attacked both the lion and the lioness while they were fighting on the ground. Amazingly, the male stood up vertically to defend the lioness from the buffalo. The buffalo then chased off the male lion before returning to attack the lioness who was still lying on the ground. A second male lion arrived. The buffalo then left the scene and both male lions resumed their attack on the female. The buffalo returned and chased the female away from the two males. This gave her a brief respite before the two males then again resumed the attack on the lioness. She ran off towards a herd of cattle and the males chose not to follow her. She completed her escape, battered and bruised but well enough to survive another day in the Mara.
We then found two different lionesses with four young cubs no more than a month old. We photographed these on top of a large rocky outcrop and also walking across the plains before we got news of a leopard walking along a riverbank. We enjoyed at least half an hour with this subject.
Day Two 9 September
We found a male lion at sunrise. We watched him go down to the river, drink and then cross to the other side. We then photographed a single cheetah walking across the plain, scent marking as she went. We also photographed several the more common subjects before finding a leopard up a tree. We photographed this from various angles.
In the afternoon we found an elephant with a tiny calf and photographed it suckling from its mother. We spent time with a cheetah walking across the plain and though a wooded area. We then photographed slender mongoose, zebra, and a Bateleur eagle in flight before spending a good period of time watching giraffes play fighting. They were bashing each other’s bodies by swinging their long necks and hitting their opponent with their stumpy horns. We photographed a grey go-away-bird before finally finding a second leopard in a tree.
Day Three 10 September
We began day three with a lioness sitting on top of a beautiful rocky outcrop. We then found the rest of her pride and photographed them as they walked towards her and played as they crossed the plain to meet her. Lots of action and wonderful greetings when they finally met her at the top of the rock. This episode lasted for well over an hour. We also found a Nubian woodpecker, topi, zebra, eland and dikdik.
In the afternoon we photographed an impala with a new-born fawn, and baby elephants playing together in the river before spending time photographing the more common subjects that we had previously ignored. We then found a pair of adult cheetah boys unsuccessfully hunting a topi before moving on to a cheetah mother with an eight-week-old cub. Wonderful photos of these playing together as they walked across the plain before returning to the two male cheetahs to bring our evening to a close.
Day Four 11 September
We returned to the mother and cheetah cub to photograph them in good daylight. Amazing photos of the cub as it posed in every conceivable position while on top of a termite mound. We found a hyena carrying the head of a wildebeest, before moving on to two male impalas fighting. A purple breasted roller (quite a rare find) both perched and in flight. A lilac breasted roller (both perched and in flight) before more general photography.
We returned to Bush Camp before transferring to Mara North camp. Our afternoon session began with Woodland kingfishers, striped kingfisher, baboons and giraffes. We then encountered our one and only wet afternoon and spent quite a long-time photographing a number of elephants and their babies playing in a mud hole in the rain. This situation produced some amazing photographs and was one of the highlights of the trip. After the rain stopped, we photographed several giraffes walking along the horizon at sunset, and finally lions walking across the plain just as the sun was disappearing behind the horizon.
Day Five 12 September
We began by photographing giraffes as they walked across the horizon in front of a vivid orange sky. We then found a cheetah with three half-grown cubs. We photographed these in wonderful early morning light as the sun rose above the horizon. The photos were absolutely magical, producing a gorgeous golden rim around our subjects. They moved to a termite mound and sat there for a while with the morning light shining on them before they disappeared into thick bush. We photographed a lioness, skylark, little green bee-eaters, red-necked spurfowl and a tawny eagle. We found elephants on the horizon and got some stunning photos of large family groups of all ages and sizes. We also photographed impala, lilac breasted roller in flight and more giraffes.
We spent the early part afternoon photographing the cheetah mother with three cubs on a termite mound and moving through a wooded areas and onto the plains. We spent the rest of the afternoon waiting for a herd of Thomson’s gazelles to walk within striking distance of them. The mother hunted successfully pulling down a tommy. We got wonderful photos of the whole episode. We finished off with photos of wildebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, giraffe and zebras. Well-deserved sundowners followed.
Day Six 13 September
We found lions on the horizon as the sun rose. Beautiful silhouettes with a pinky, mauve sky behind them. We then photographed the rest of the pride in perfect early morning light. We moved onto the cheetah family of four again. Unbelievably they had killed again. We took a few photos of them eating their feast before moving on. We photographed a violet backed starling, both perched and in flight, a superb starling, topi with a new-born baby, zebras, lions mating, ostriches displaying, lilac breasted rollers in flight, African wattled lapwing, rosy throated longclaw, jackal, secretary birds, guinea fowl, and more topi with new-born calves.
In the afternoon we began with two three-week old lion cubs playing with their dad and then playing together in a beautiful woodland setting. We followed the mother and cubs across an open plain for nearly half a mile to where the rest of the pride were sleeping. After greeting the group, she suckled her cubs in full view of us all. We found yet another topi with a new-born calf and watched it suckle for the first time before concluding a magnificent afternoon.
Day Seven 14 September
We began the morning drive with mating lions, wildebeest walking along the horizon, Thompson’s gazelles and the family of four cheetahs walking amongst a large herd of wildebeest. This proved very entertaining both for us and the cheetahs. For nearly half an hour they mock charged wildebeest and the wildebeest in turn chased the cheetahs. After a while the wildebeest got bored and turned away and the mother cheetah and her three cubs treated us to magnificent display of chasing each other and jumping in the air for nearly 45 minutes. I have never witnessed anything like this in my 15 years of visiting the Mara. We then photographed little green bee-eaters in flight, a secretary bird, a hyena with two cubs less than a week old – both of which suckled in front of us, a pair of ground hornbills, a new-born zebra foal and African grey woodpeckers.
We started the afternoon with yet another new-born zebra foal with its mother. We photographed the tiniest of baby elephants suckling from its mother, baboons – one with a tiny baby on its back, a Malibu stork, a pair of Bateleur eagles, pygmy kingfishers, ostriches displaying, violet backed starling, long tailed fiscal (shrike) hartebeest with babies and lions on the horizon before dashing off for another amazing session with a leopard.
Day Eight 15 September
The day began with elephants on the horizon with a beautiful orange sky behind -just before the sun rose. We were then treated to an amazing episode with backlit lions as they walked towards us with the sun behind. We took numerous photos as they approached us with a rim of gold light enhancing their shape. They disappeared into the bushes, and we spotted the lioness with the two tiny cubs following some distance behind. We photographed these as they came towards us. The grass was covered in a heavy dew and water droplets splashed from their tiny paws.
We then found a marshal eagle devouring a tiny baby Thomson’s gazelle in a tree before once again finding our family of four cheetahs on a termite mound. They walked across an open plain and spotted a herd of impala in a bushy area. We circled around to the far side of the bushes and waited for the cheetahs to approach. After about an hour’s wait the impalas charged towards us with the cheetah chasing behind. She had started too soon and failed in her attempt to bring one down. We then photographed striped kingfisher and langur monkeys before spotting our cheetahs once again walking across the plain. The cubs were play fighting with each other and even climbed a large tree in front of us.
We photographed a short-toed snake eagle and a vulture.
The afternoon began with a little green bee-eater and a purple roller in flight. We moved on to baby elephants with their families, Thomson gazelles, impala, a hyena with a pup, no more than two days old before finding the three to four-week-old lion cubs. We photographed these playing on branches and out in the open until the end of the day.
Day Nine 16 September AM
The final morning began with mating lions. We photographed a tawny eagle, both on a tree stump and in flight. It was devouring the remains of a tiny Thomson’s gazelle and we got amazing photos of it carrying the kill in flight.
We later photographed a white chested bustard, striped kingfisher, impala, tawny eagle (perched and in flight) before coming across a leopard in large nest at the top of a tree. We found out that this nest belonged to a Marshal eagle and the leopard was eagerly devouring the two helpless chicks. The poor mother was screeching helplessly from an adjacent tree. After consuming the chicks, we got stunning photos of the leopard descending the tree. She then went to a nearby water hole and drank her fill. A short distance away we came across the two Cheetah Brothers. they had full bellies and were in no mood to hunt so we went to the Mara River for our final breakfast. We photographed hippos there, and impalas on a nearby saltlick. As we made our way back to camp, we came across yet another leopard in a tree. Once again, we photographed it as it descended the tree and ran into nearby bushes. Our safari was over. What an amazing way to finish !!!!!!!!!!!