Our first morning on this safari in the peak of the migration season started with a lovely mist at sunrise on the Olare Orok river, with a Goliath heron and a huge group of Hippos in the water.
We were in that area on a mission to find a Leopard. And we were quite lucky as right away we had a magnificent sighting of Bahati climbing a termite mountd and then a bare tree in the first light. Although she is already almost three years old, Bahati is still hanging around and killing regularly in her mother Olive’s territory. None of Olive’s previous cubs had stayed around up to three years of age. Olive is occupying most frequently the area around the Ol Kiombo airstrip, with her latest daughter Saba. On this safari we saw Olive in a relatively new area for her, on the Talek river, one late afternoon as she woke up from her rest. We also had a nice sighting of a young Leopard in the forest along the Mara river near Musiara marsh. Is the only remaining cub from the resident female of this forest, which I had seen for the first time in February.
The end of July was a busy period for Wildebeests crossing. However, the number of vehicles at the crossings was so high that we decided not to spend too much time there. Animals were mostly crossing heading south-west into the Mara triangle at the Cul de Sac. The huge crowd of vehicles also meant that I couldn’t photograph to leave space to the guests. I enjoyed a lot a nice crossing on the Talek river instead, where we could position in the best spot. Crocodiles were active at Cul de sac, both making kills of their own and taking advantage of the many carcasses that can be found on the river. The Mara is very dry, there’s a lot of dust and few waterholes. This could be one of the reasons pushing the Wildebeests to leave this area. When rains will come most likely they will be back.
On a morning at the Musiara marsh we left the main group of Lions as we found them already sleeping at first light in Bila Shaka, so we headed into the marsh to look for other situations. Impalas and Topis alarm calls gave us the hint that there was a predator around. We scanned the edge of the riverine forest and found a Lioness carrying a Zebra kill away from the forest. She initially dropped it half way to the marsh and walked away towards the marsh, but Vultures immediately landed nearby. So she decided to return. We realized it was an unusual behavior. Why would she want to take such a heavy kill all the way with her when she could simply eat it in the forest? We understood that she had a specific reason to go back to the marsh and she wanter her food with her. She picked up the Zebra again and carried on until the Marsh. There she could finally lay down and rest. When she called with a low roar we realized that she had small cubs nearby. Though she called twice they didn’t come out. The name of this Lioness is Jicho, with a visible scar on her left shoulder. In the next couple of days we returned to the Marsh regularly and we finally saw her three cubs one sunny morning.
There were two Cheetah families in our area in July, a mother called Amani with her three 15 months old cubs and Narasha with her two 14 months old cubs. We spent a full day with Narasha and her cubs, during which the played extensively, hunted a Gazelle fawn and posed nicely at sunset on the edge of the reserve.
One late afternoon at the Marsh I had the most unusual encounter with an Elephant. I saw a cow with her calf by the side of the track in a nice pose and we stopped for an image as so many times we do. However, the cow suddenly turned towards me and walked to the vehicle purposefully, but not charging. I watched her through the windshield lay her forehead on the front left side of the vehicle, above the tyre. Her head was touching the vehicle but I didn’t feel any pressure. I didn’t understand what she was up to until I heard a bang and air hissing out. She had punctured my tyre with her tusk! At that point she walked away and I remained there with a completely flat tyre. Very unusual behavior, The Marsh remains one of the most beautiful areas of the Mara, with its stunning sunsets on the Siria Escarpment, the forest along the river and the Lions and Elephants everywhere. We had a couple of beautiful sunsets through the clouds and we said goodbye to the Mara momentarily. as our safari would take us to Nakuru and Amboseli.