I started my safari by seeing the Cheli Lion pride in the North Conservancy. I saw 6 females, adolescent females and two adolescent males which are so gorgeous and remind me of Angel. The dominant male whom I have named Tall boy is so stunning with a dark red mane and is 9 years, I found him sleeping under a bush then he got up and stretched, yawned, looked at me so I could photograph his beautiful mane with the sunset behind him. I so wanted to jump down and stroke his mane.
I saw two lone females in the morning being followed by a hyena. They kept giving him annoyed looks so he kept his distance! They then relaxed on a terminate mound, their beautiful golden hair backlit by the sunrise. Later to my surprise and delight the two females climbed a tree! This is very rare and beautiful! I must have taken a hundred photos!!!
Then in the late morning I also saw the rest of the pride including the adolescent males relaxing in the long grass. We followed the lions as they clearly wanted to hunt but the game did not come close enough. It is such a beautiful pride. After lunch by the river with the Hippos and Crocodiles, we drove to the Offbeat pride; unfortunately they were deep in the bush.
I have seen amazing herds of Elephants, Giraffes, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Topi and Gazelle.
TIA – This Is Africa, my heart, my soul, my peace, my spiritual home.
We started off the morning with a hike up the escarpment. It is a two hour climb (thank goodness for the PT!) but the views of the Mara and conservancy from the top are just breath taking. We saw an Elephant, Hare and Klip springer deer. We finished at the bottom with a walk along the river, fast flowing and beautiful. We then headed out of the North Conservancy to the reserve.
After lunch we decided to look for Cheetah but we came across two female Lions from the double cross pride, sleeping in a bush. They were beautiful, young and very healthy.
To my surprise within a short distance we came across the Cheetah Malika (Angel) with her two cubs. They were resting under a tree. Sadly she had lost one cub since last year; it got eaten by a crocodile whilst crossing the Mara River. The cubs are now 2 years old and are as big as their mother; she has one girl and boy. It was a joy seeing her again so healthy and having successfully raised 2 cubs to adulthood, not an easy task for a lone Cheetah with the permanent threat from Lions and Hyenas wanting to kill her cubs and steal her kills.
Then straight away less than a mile away we can across the Cheetah Imani (faith) with her three cubs, one year old, walking across the Mara, she has one male and two females and was teaching them how to hunt. However after an hour watching them a big hot rain storm came in. Always a thrill in the Mara, especially driving off road, slipping wildly and dangerously from side to side, fortunately I have an excellent driver in Jonathan!
We decided to focus on trying to find Leopard today, particularly Baharti (lucky) but we came across Blackie and Lipstick the two male Lions from the Reikero pride. It had been raining all night so they were wet with their manes plastered to their faces, they were clearly waiting for the sun. We also saw three females and four Cubs from the Reikero pride.
Just as we stopped for breakfast another guide drove over to us to let us know a leopard had been spotted. We drove at top speed and found Romi (7years) with two 18 month old Cubs, one male one female. She is a successful beautiful leopard (Swahili – Chui) she was washing her two cubs that were almost as big as her!
After a late breakfast we drove back to the Reikero Lions and watched the two males, four females and four Cubs interact as a family group. They had killed an Elan the night before and Hyenas were hanging around to get the carcass. It was beautiful watching them groom, play and drink from the pools. I even saw a female laying in the waterhole cooling herself, very unusual behaviour for a Lion! But what was so magnificent and unusual was the way the two males were so affectionate towards each other and slept so closely together, they are usually so competitive even though they work together in the pride. It was so beautiful to watch. The lions were so active once the sun came out.
In the afternoon we saw the Cheetah Malika again with her cubs which was beautiful.
We started the morning trying to find the Leopard Baharti but she must have been hiding again. We did come across the Reikero pride basking in the sun with big fat bellies still from yesterday’s kill. They are such an amazing pride, the way they care for each other is just so beautiful. We spent several hours watching them play, groom and be very affectionate towards each other.
Then after lunch I had my special moment. I completely fell in love. His name is Red and he is so gorgeous, red hair, brown eyes and a face that is so beautiful he looks like an angel. He is an adolescent male of 3 years from the famous Marsh pride. He was sadly orphaned this year when his mother Serena was poisoned by Masai. Fortunately he was adopted by his auntie. I found him with his auntie and cousin of the same age sleeping under a tree. What I adore about adolescent males is they do not have a full mane but a funky semi mane which is so cute. I have never seen two male adolescent males be so incredibly affectionate and loving towards each other. I must have spent well over an hour with them taking hundreds of photos. I was close to tears by the end, the affection between the boys was so overwhelmingly loving it really touched my heart. What was also so beautiful was the way I was only 6 feet away from Red and he kept looking directly at me almost knowing I would love to cuddle him. It is moments like these that live with you forever. I will come back next year just to see him; he will have a full mane and will be looking to have a pride of his own.
We finished the afternoon with the most amazing sunset whilst watching the Reikero pride. The young cubs were really playful, jumping on the females and even the dominant male, talk about a lion king moment! The two alpha males again are so incredibly affectionate towards each other, this is something that is unique to lions, hence my love of them. It was an amazing finish to my time on the Masai Mara.
Kenya and Tanzania
My last Mara morning, all the Reikero pride were out in my drive to the airstrip. It was so lovely seeing the whole pride, Blackie and Lipstick the males, four females and six cubs playing in the morning sun. They were being very affectionate with one another and really enjoying intimate family moments.
I was also sad to leave my driver and guide, Jonathan and Sylvester as they are such good friends and I have spent 12 hours a day out on safari with them for 5 days sharing magical moments.
I then flew to the Serengeti national reserve and was picked up by my guide Jeremiah, fortunately we became instant friends and he shares my passion for big cats. Within 20 minutes we saw Muoga (Swahili – Shy) Cheetah (4 years) with a baby wildebeest kill. It was such a thrill to see a big cat straight away. Then nature gave us straight away two young lions (3 years), both female, it was very unusual to see them alone outside of a pride. They are both very healthy.
What an amazing blessing I saw a 3 month old lion cub with the Kusini pride. The cub’s mother was killed so an aunty and the rest of the pride are bringing it up. It was so beautiful watching the rest of the pride take care of this young cub. The way it called to the rest of the pride was both heart breaking and beautiful. I just wanted to hold it.
In the bush we saw a mating pair a lions, rather unusually indeed there was a very shy male (6 years) called Nyekunedu (Red), he did not like us being close to him. The female is very relaxed though.
Again also in the morning we saw the Cheetah Muoga walking and playing.
Just before lunch to my absolute surprise and delight we came across five adolescent male Lions! Aged about 3-4 years old that will in the next couple of years will form a strong coalition. These Kusini males will form their own pride about 6 years old. They were sat together by the lake and were incredibly and overwhelmingly affectionate with each other. They were drinking water and sat on the edge of the lake with their paws hanging over the edge, so beautiful. Then an adult female walked through the plains over to them and greeted them individually, they were clearly happy to see her. She drank water and sat down with them. She then came over to the truck within a foot of us and looks at us and scent marked our tyres! She then went back over to them to sleep. These are the largest group of males I have seen, so beautiful, so unique.
After lunch I could not resist and go back to these Lions. I must have taken hundreds of photos; there affection for one another was just so beautiful and lovely.
Then we found two Cheetah (Swahili – Duma) brothers (10 years), successful hunters in the Kusini area. We watched them for a couple of hour’s scent marking, playing and grooming. They then stalked Wildebeest but did not make a kill.
An amazing first two days on the Serengeti! Who knows what nature will provide tomorrow!
We started off our morning with the Kusini pride. We were lucky enough to see the 3 month old Lion cub again; it is so young you can still see its spots like a Leopard. I took some amazing photos of its face. It is so cute and playful. After seeing them at sunrise, which was particularly stunning today as we have perfect cloudless skies, we decided to see “what nature gives us” as they beautifully say here.
We drove for over an hour through the forests which were full of hundreds of Wildebeest and Zebra waiting for the migration back to the Mara. We saw evidence of a Leopard but not him; he had pulled a zebra kill up a tree.
Whilst driving over the plains we came across two side-striped Jackals which are usually nocturnal, they are absolutely stunning like small Alsatians.
Breakfast was by one of the small lakes with Hyena and Bat eared foxes! They did not move when we pulled up nearby to have breakfast. I had Moses and Dennis from Kenya in the truck with me also today which was good fun as I know them from the Kenyan camps. At breakfast the journalist who is also staying in our camp found us and ask us to pose in our truck for photos for the tourist board which was fun, I got the guys to pose with me in many “catalogue styles”, lol.
After breakfast we drove across the plains to see the Kusini adolescent males, they were sitting out in the open with the adult female and also an adolescent female. We do not know the size of the pride.
After lunch we drove back to the Kusini males, they were still very sleepy but they have the most gorgeous faces. I particularly love it when they sleep on their backs their legs akimbo, it is so sweet and amusing. They really are just large domestic cats!
Driving over the plains we saw 2 golden Jackals then 2 black back Jackals. So we have seen in one days all species of jackals in Tanzania!
Whilst looking for the two Cheetah males who we thought may hunt we also saw 2 Bat eared foxes, these are in the Africa big 5 ugly animals, along with Marabou Stalk, Hyena, Wildebeest and Buffalo, all of which I have seen.
We continued the afternoon looking for the Cheetah but instead found a Servile cat!!! These cats are like tiny leopard and hide in long grass so almost impossible to see, but Jeremiah my guide spotted it. I took some amazing photos, it is the most gorgeous cat, it has a small head and body but really long legs. After a spectacular sunset, where we took many photos we saw at last the two male Cheetah! I took a few good photos before the light faded. It really was the most spectacular day.
This is my Africa
The Kusini pride was laid out resting at sunrise, they looked so peaceful. We saw them drink from pools of water, wash and greet each other. Whilst we sat there an adolescent male and female came and sat right next to our truck. It was so beautiful having nothing between me and them but six feet of fresh African air. It felt so peaceful sharing time with them.
Driving through the planes we saw a beautiful Golden jackal, his fur glistening in the sunlight.
Just after breakfast we saw 9 Bat eared foxes. They were sitting in the sun but of course as soon as they saw us they started running. We then drove to the Ndutu area which is next to the Serengeti reserve. We saw the Ndutu pride. One beautiful lone male (7 years) was sitting under a tree. He was absolutely gorgeous with his light mane and still semi-pink nose. We settled within 5 feet of him and I just looked into his eyes and shared the peace. We then saw another lone male probably his brother laying close by, he looked up at us and went back to sleep. Close by were three females and four Cubs between 6 months and a year. They were just relaxing under a tree. It was so beautiful seeing another pride.
In the afternoon within 15 mins of leaving camp we saw a Leopard kill up a tree. It was a baby wildebeest, probably fresh from the morning. The guides only see at most one leopard sighting a month but within minutes Jeremiah spotted the leopard up a nearby tree. She was a leopard of about 6 years, Amani (Swahili – peace), she was staring at us as Leopards are very solitary and shy. However she decided to settle in the tree in the classic leopard style of hanging her body over a large branch. This gave us a wonderful full view of her and my goodness she was stunning. I took hundreds of photos of her. After about half an hour I photographed her jumping down from the tree and sit in the long grass. We then shared a stunning sunset.
This is my Africa – Amani
This really is the safari that keeps on giving. At sunrise we came across the Kusini pride, we had always only seen 5 males which was amazing but this morning we came across the whole pride, 3 females and 9 adolescent males! The males are brothers and cousins of around 3-4 years old so even though they are already large they do not have full manes yet. Most coalitions between males are max 5 so these males in a year or so time will have to divide into at least two groups. It is so fascinating and very unusual to have so many males in a group and of course an absolute thrill for me! If that was not enough we came across them with two wildebeest kills, quite fresh. The lions had eaten most and were wandering around drinking water or resting and the carcasses were being eaten by Hyena, Jackal and scavenger birds. It was amazing watching them all interact with each other competing for the scraps. The Hyenas were particularly vocal, laughing as they do. I enjoyed watching the Hyenas grab ribs or bone and run off with them in their mouths. The other Hyena would chase them and squabble over it, very entertaining! Occasionally a male lion would chase a Hyena just for fun too! Then a baby wildebeest came running in amongst them all!!! Probably an orphaned calf of one of the kills. The Lions, Hyenas and Jackals surrounded it but rather bizarrely they did not kill it it was allowed to run off; I think the Lions were too full! I took the most incredible photos of the menagerie; it is so wonderful to see so many animals together.
Because the sun had by now come up and it started to get warm the Lions became a little playful and affectionate towards each other which is always beautiful to watch. One of the Lionesses was particularly cheeky she decided to come up to the land cruiser and rub herself against it and look up at us, she was about 2 feet from my face! To my amusement and Jeremiah’s horror she then went to the back of the vehicle and started chewing and marking the tyres! Then she decided the canvas at the back would make a good scratching post, as cats do! She stretched to full height and scratched her claws!!! At this point we were unsure if she would jump into the vehicle so we drove a short distance away but she followed us when we stopped and did it again! She was clearly having fun!
We left the Lions after a couple of hours enjoying the amazing natural show and drove to our last camp in Ubuntu where we were to stay for our last night.
In the marsh area of Ndutu we came across a female Cheetah! She was sitting on a termite mound in the beautiful long grass, the golden light bringing out her beautiful markings. She started to walk around which is always spectacular as Cheetahs have the most amazing muscle structure. So sleek and powerful for running. We thought she was going to hunt but it was getting hot so after a while she found shade under a tree.
Only 10 minutes’ drive away we then came across 2 adult male Lions sleeping under a tree. They were mature with the most amazing dark manes, I think they were about 8-9 years old as their noses were still a little pink and their manes not yet black. We sat within a few feet of them for about an hour watching them stretch, yawn, roll over and lay as cats do on their backs their legs akimbo! They were just so gorgeous.
We stopped for lunch under a beautiful craggy Acacia tree and eat with stunning views and Zebra, Wildebeest and Gazelle nearby.
The drive in the afternoon to our camp was beautifully scenic, large canyons, and plains full of migrating animals.
The last evening was so much fun, all the guides were there and we drank wine at sunset around the camp fire with the sound of the wild all around us. I have always loved Kenya but Tanzania has equal place in my heart.
My last day, I am heart broken, this trip has been so incredible, how can I leave!!!
We drove out just before sunrise which as always was stunning. Within half an hour we found a beautiful Cheetah walking in the glow of the sunrise, she was so beautiful. We stopped a while to watch her graceful walk.
The aim of our final morning was to find the African wild dogs; they are much protected as there are such few packs left. We found them laying out in the sun. It was a pack of ten dogs and we sat with them for a couple of hours watching them stretch, groom and interact. Being a cat person I cannot say I was enamoured by these dogs, they were scrawny with big ears and very skinny legs but it was great to see them.
We then enjoyed a chilled out breakfast on the edge of the cliff enjoying the breath taking views.
To my complete delight we came across two Cheetahs, a mother and cub about 8 months old, it was still fluffy at the back of its neck. It was so beautiful watching them sat together.
We then drove to the marsh area and saw a wonderful pride of Lions. The two male lions were lying next to each other touching, they are so incredibly affectionate. What was funny though one of the males had rolled over in his sleep and mouth was touching the other makes testicals!
We saw several Lionesses and some playful cubs. One cub was running around with a stick in his mouth, very cute and amusing. What an amazing finish to my time here.
I now fly home and I cannot wait to see my cats but I leave a part of me here again. One day those parts will join up.
TIA, my heart my home.