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Trip Report Masai Mara - Entim & Olonana

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I was in the Mara & in the Triangle last month. What a great 12 days it was:
the Mara so green, the elephants and the plains' game, so happy with that juicy green grass to taste. Almost exclusive use of the Mara, never more than 5 vehicles on a sighting, almost exclusive use of a camp, 8 days being the only guest and as a consequence exclusive use of a car during 10 days without paying for it, only 4 days with heavy showers at the end of the afternoon and only 1 while still on game drive. And last but not least, no dust and a great light. If you do not absolutely want to see the Migration and its train of kills, going there off-season and elsewhere besides, only has a lot of advantages (low prices, much less people, better light,....) and very few inconveniences (weather????)
it seems that going off road, at that time of the year, is tolerated in the Mara, because of the very low density of vehicles but also because the roads are so muddy and heavily damaged by the ballooning tractors. I did not see a single ranger during 7 days. In the Triangle it's very different, they are very strict with the rules. I saw patrols 2 to 3 times/day.

The first camp, Entim (forest in the masai language) is an old fashion camp without useless luxuriousness, completely hidden in a forest. The food is good and the staff is very nice. My guide, Henry, a Masai is good. I was very surprised by the improvement of the guiding level in Kenya. Being in the park is a great advantage, no waste of time, I was out a 6.30.

The second camp, Olonana is more like a boutique-hotel(camp??), a bit more expensive, located at 30 minutes from Ololo gate. The food is excellent and the staff very professional. My guide, Bonny is also good, perhaps a bit better than the previous one.

During the first 7 days at Entim, I saw :
- The "Rekero" pride (3 females, 4 subadults male and 4 cubs), almost everyday,
- The "Longaï" pride (6 females & 2 cubs), several times,
- The film star Notch (with the Longaï pride) or Kali,
- The 3 Notch boys, the first day with the Rekero pride, then I saw them on a buffalo kill with a female near Talek, where they had killed a another male some weeks ago,
- 2 nomadic young lions,
- An old male leopard,
- A very relax young female leopard, 3 times, at Rekero Camp level, but on the opposite side of the river,
- 2 female cheetahs, one near Talek and the other 2 times, one time on a female impale kill,
- A black rhino, some elephants and hippos, a lot of giraffes, some buffaloes, waterbucks, the usual plains' game (al lot of topis, some kongonis), dik diks, many banded mongooses, a lot of hyenas, olive baboons and ostriches.

There was 2 interesting situations, at least for me;
- One day, from a distance, in the afternoon, we saw all the animals, running away in all directions, cheetahs without any doubt. When we arrived on the sighting, a hyena had already taken the prey, a baby Thompson and was very busy devouring it. The cheetah was the one I saw on the impala kill. She was eager to make a kill, perhaps having some cubs somewhere. She jumped on a first car and then on a second one. Finally, she jumped on my car, it was almost like touching the wild. I made a lot of shots at 70 mm with my 70-300 zoom. I really regretted not to have my wide angle but do you really expect to be with the animals almost eye to eye???? She only moved away when we had to go. During all this time, she did not have a single look at me, so focused she was on the surrounding plains, what a great experience!!!!!
- The second interesting situation occurred one early morning when we were with the Rekero pride. One of the 2 cubs of the Longaï pride, lost by his pride approached the Rekero pride. He looked very frightened. When they noticed his presence, the 11 lions congregated around him, he was terrified. Fortunately, they accepted him and invited him to go with them when they moved. The next day, when I saw the Longaï pride, he was with them again but one of the female had a fresh cut on her back. Perhaps she went to fetch the cub and had some problems getting him back?

During the next 5 days in the Triangle I saw:
- The "Out of Africa" pride (1 male, 5 females & 9 cubs), a second male was seen alone further in the park,
- 1 female cheetah, on a kill and one early morning along the road to the gate not far from the masaï manyatta,
- 3 leopards together on the same tree (an unusual sighting), one of the 3 had been seen the day before,
- 1 single lioness eager to make a kill, perhaps having some cubs somewhere,
- A black rhino with a young one, same species as in the Mara but more elephants and buffaloes, more waterbucks, zebras this time and elands.
I did not see any wildebeest at all during those 12 days.
I saw on both sides many birds like the widow birds and the whyddahs with their breeding adorning and in the Triangle some birds of prey, amongst them, the unusual sighting of an African harrier-hawk or gymnogene, and more water birds.

The pictures are at the following address ;

http://www.africaddict.com/site/index.php?option=com_rsgallery2&Itemid=30&catid=41

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