Our next safari began at the end of August with four nights at Amboseli NP, in southern Kenya. This time of the year is very dry in Amboseli, but it’s a very good time to visit because wildlife is highly concentrated around the marshes at the heart of the park. As usual, Amboseli for me primarily means Elephants. From the very first morning, with a beautiful family feeding at sunrise on the few remaining grass, we spent a long time with them. We saw some nice play fight between two big bulls, and many tiny calves walking with their families. Unfortunately, the number of cattle coming daily into the reserve to feed and drink this time was extremely high. Large herds walked across the dry lake daily back and forth, leaving deep and ugly tracks on the soil. Sometimes the elephants were walking alongside them, giving us the possibility to take some interesting images of coexistence between wildlife and livestock. However, the balance is extremely delicate.
Another highlight of our time in Amboseli was a Spotted Hyena den with four tiny pups. The overcast weather helped us a lot as it kept them out and active much longer than it would have been had it been hot and sunny. We had some beautiful moments and interactions between mother and pups, in a nice clean setting, something which is typical of the Amboseli plains.
The sky and atmosphere in Amboseli is often fascinating and dramatic. There are big clouds, rays of light through them, dust storms and wind, which provide great settings for images. These three giraffes were returning to the woodlands around the park at sunset, after drinking at the marshes.
We then flew to the Mara, where we found the great migration in full swing, with animals moving frequently across the river, back and forth from the Mara Triangle. We had many wildebeest crossings in different crossing spots and in different directions, providing my guests with a variety of photographic opportunities.
One of the highlights of this week was the sighting of the Double Crossing Leopard’s two tiny cubs. After leaving them timidly pop out of their hole at the end of August, I was happy to see them coming out of the den much more frequently, nursing from their mother and playing on the exposed roots and in the bushes behind. Photography was not easy as the area where the mother used to lie to nurse them was above the banks of the river and hardly visible. But we still had some very nice moments and my guests could often take good photograph from the only available vantage point.
Both Cheetah families, Rani with her three adolescent cubs and Malaika with her two small cubs, had moved to the east of the reserve, quite far from our camp. But we still managed to spend some time with both families. Malaika was heavily guarded by the rangers to limit disturbance, so we could spend a very short time with her. But Rani gave us a beautiful afternoon of repeated unsuccessful hunting attempts.
It was particularly nice on the first afternoon to find the Cheetah Imani’s three sub-adult cubs on their own, after just separating from their mother, in the middle of a downpour.
On the last two days of the safari we were based in the Musiara Marsh, in the north of the reserve. It’s a wonderful area both scenically and in terms of wildlife. Lions dominate here. The famous Marsh pride was just starting to get back together and shape up again after the devastating poisoning of three members the previous December by Maasai livestock owners. The previous dominant males, the four Musketeers have by now completely abandoned the area and two new young and beautiful males settled in.
The Marsh is also a heaven for other big game, such as Elephants and buffalos. On this trip I saw the biggest herd of Buffalo I have ever seen in the Mara, I reckon there must have been over a thousand buffaloes one afternoon, so many that it was impossible to photograph them properly.
Other interesting sightings in the Marsh were two Impala rams fighting just at sunrise and a baby Waterbuck with some premature sexual instincts.