For as long as I can remember, I have always been captivated with flipping through National Geographic magazine & watching stories of the animals of Africa on NatGeo Channel. I knew, someway, somehow, I was going to go travel to this magical country! Well, the day came in August of this year. Lifelong dream, check! Thanks to WanderingThru.
I was lucky to experience this trip with some amazing folks. I travel with WanderingThru guide Tristan Dicks, Diana (D1) and Dianna (D2). Our first stop was the Masa Maria where we stayed at Little Governors Camp. Located on the edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve, the camp is accessed by a short boat ride across the Mara River to tents placed on the bank of a marsh. Even when you are having a siesta at camp there is plenty of wildlife to see!
An elephant enjoys the marsh after an afternoon thunderstorm at Little Governors Camp. The elephants sometimes make their way up the banks of the marsh to visit camp and often tables set up for meals must be moved to make way for them.
As we would leave camp for our game drives, we drove past this beautiful herd of impala each day. Their glossy coats are stunning in the morning Mara light. And the males have incredible curved horns.
On our first morning game drive in the Masai Mara National Reserve we saw Half Tail a dominate male of the Marsh Pride’s territory. This lion pride is famous from the BBC Documentary chronicling their lives. He kindly walked up a termite mound and laid down for us to admire him. Then he proceeded to leave, and I had my first lion walk by. It was amazing!
Dreams do come! Our guide, Jackson from Little Governers Camp, got word of a leopard with a kill in a tree and we were off! After a bumpy bumble we located this BEAUTIFUL young female leopard with a kill in a tree. She is the cub of the Salt Marsh female.
We spent about 5 hours with her as she slept, played with here food, ate a bit, and posed for us. We could see her mom in the distance as she kept an eye on her. I am sure she was hoping that she did not drop that kill as she played. This was one of the best 5 hours of my life. Who would have ever imaged that I would have lunch in a Land Cruiser in the Mara Triangle while a leopard was in a tree nearby?!
This girl was such a character. I have officially fallen in love with leopards.
The Great Migration was late this year. Only small herds were seen in the Mara Triangle and crossing were slim during August. So, we drove to the Tanzania Kenya boarder to see the wildebeest and zebra herds. It is hard to explain the magnitude of how many animals are around you. It was unbelievable to see so many animals everywhere you look.
The little things were just as amazing as the grandiose things. This Lilac- breasted roller posed perfectly for us. Tristan was amazing in helping me throughout the trip with camera setting and composition tips.
We saw so MANY lions on our second stop, The Naboisho Conservancy. The Naboisho Conservancy is a private conservancy located adjacent to the Masai Mara National Reserve. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy, is the product of a partnership between over Maasi landowners working together to conserve their land. This dominate male was on a mission to find his collation mate and the pride he is denominate over.
The pride eventually met up. How magnificent is this male lion?? In this sighing we got to be serenaded by the pride as they roared during sunset.
This was the most amazing afternoon with two females and their subadults. They lay down in a lion puddle grooming and playing after we saw them unsuccessfully hunting a giraffe and antelope. As they were coming back together after one of the hunts, we had the most awesome rainstorm and a magical double rainbow. Many thanks to Tristian for letting me barrow his lens for this shot! I made a BIG rookie mistake to leave a lens back at camp.
I would have to say for me that the highlight of my time in at Encounter Mara was this mama cheetah, Kulete and her 3 cubs. I felt privileged to have seen a Cheetah in the wild because they are Africa’s most threatened big cat. According to panthera.org there are estimated to be only 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild. These 3 cubs were full of shenanigans while their mother tried to hunt. We witness just how hard it is for a mother in the wild to feed and raise cubs.
On the last drive of our trip, we found Kulete and her cubbies. The night before she caught a delicious meal so they had full bellies! One of my last photos of my trip was the cutest family portrait!
If you are looking for adventure with your camera or without, trust in Tristan and Ale of WanderingThru to take you on tailor-made trip of a life time. Most importantly I must give many thanks to Tristan’s without his guidance I wouldn’t have been able to create these images I will treasure for my life time!