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Kenya Trip One 2010

Trip Report

Day 1 – After a thorough orientation at our hotel, we departed at 9, and arrived at our lodge in Samburu, Elephant Bedroom, around 5:30PM. A beautiful camp, and as many of our participants are new to Africa, this small tented camp affords an unbelievably first class, exclusive, in-the-bush feel.
Day 2 – Samburu.
We loaded and departed camp by 6:30AM, with the first day’s beanbag shuffle and attaching going surprisingly smoothly. Elephant Bedroom is located on the flat, dusty plains, but in the heart of game so it was only a few minutes before we started shooting a large troop of Olive Baboons that were feeding upon a fallen Doum Palm tree. Several  young baboons  cavorted upon a snag, backlighted wonderfully, and several mothers with weeks-old babies foraged nearby, but not at an angle for my vehicle. A young bull Elephant joined the group, which the baboons generally ignored unless the elephant gave a threatening kick, but the baboons merely scampered a few feet and resumed feeding.
Two notables on this first game drive was a young Pigmy Falcon that was chipping and bobbing its wings continuously as it solicited food, which we shot with the female, and eight baby Somalia Ostriches that were surprisingly tame, milling about at their parents fed in water trapped in a kopji-like rock outcrop.
PM – We left at 4, and soon encountered the baby Ostriches again, which now seemed oblivious of vehicles and strained grass seeds just yards from our vehicle. The young, still smaller than a bantam chicken, resembled a fluffy bowling ball with legs, and a well-camouflaged striped neck. A radio call for a Leopard, treed by Lions, cut that shoot short.
We spotted the leopard on an unlikely snag, a picturesque gnarled tree that most cats would probably avoid. About a hundred yards off, beneath a bush, three lionesses lay watching, but the leopard, now safe in the tree, seemed completely unconcerned.  While we watched and waited the cat shifted position several times, but remained in the tree as evening settled and we headed back to camp.
After dinner, just feet from the steps of our elevated tent, an owl flew passed me and perched just feet from where we stood. We were treated to the best view I think we’d ever had of a Scop’s Owl, but before I could grab my point-n-shoot the bird flew off.
Day 3
We had a productive morning of baby elephants, standing Gerenuks, and an extremely close immature Pale-chanting Goshawk before we were called to another leopard in a tree.  The cat was high in a small tree, and from our view only the hind-end was showing. We did have a clear view of the tree, and we hoped it’d climb down, but while we waited a pair of Gunther’s Dik-diks wandered in, eventually feeding directly beneath the leopard! The cat didn’t spot the dik-diks until they were moving towards her tree, so she didn’t have time to slip down and lie in ambush. Instead, she maneuvered quietly about, at one point poised for a direct drop, but the leap never occurred. Eventually the dik-dik wandered off and the leopard settled into a seated position, affording some great shots from a different angle. When I discovered the new angle I radioed the other vehicles to join me, and Mary’s vehicle drove around a bush to pass us on the track. Rangers, lying in wait all morning, immediately pounced, and after a chewing-out forced Mary and her guide to drive off, banishing them from the leopard. It was a ridiculous  call on the ranger’s part, which could have spoiled the morning but fortunately the guide wasn’t ticketed, and soon after we too headed back to camp.
PM. Rain threatened, and in the east a looiing wall of darkness indicated a storm behind us. A strong wind had kicked up after lunch, and as we started our game drive a dust storm intermittently crossed the grasslands. Elephants had crossed the river and were feeding in the straw-yellow grasses, pulling them up by their roots, denuding the landscape and, in doing so, contributing to the dust. Swirls of dust masked legs, and sometimes bodies were obscured by the blowing clouds.
Three different pairs of Reticulated Giraffes fought with varying levels of intensity, including one pair of adults that seriously sparred for nearly 20gb of Debbie’s camera.  Along a dry wash we discovered the most open Martial Eagle nest we’ve ever seen, and some folks got shots as she returned to the nest with fresh sprigs. The light was poor by the time I arrived, but at ISO 1000 we managed some decent shots.
Day 4. Samburu
Shortly after starting our game drive we spotted lion tracks, and a short time later found three, backlighted nicely in the early light. They had killed a warthog and two of the three were full. The third played with the head for a few minutes before heading for a bush, where it joined the others in sleep. Later, while one of our other Rovers watched, another warthog passed by as the lions slept. They awoke in time to see it go by, and took chase, but the watchers lost them in the bush.
Herds of elephants gathered along the river throughout the late morning, and Mary’s group had a fantastic show as adults and young totally submerged themselves to bathe. Our Rover had to back up sixty yards and take a different route when a bull approached us, ears flapping and stepping deliberately, although in a non-threatening manner. It would have been interesting to see what it would have done had we stayed still, but since we were close to the steep, 15 foot high river bank, a bull-dozing elephant could have flipped us over the edge. Discretion won out.
Three  warthog  females chaperoned eight small piglets, but most of the shooting was in contrasty light. Yesterday, several shooters watched as the babies tugged and pulled at the mother’s teats, stretching her in and out, almost like milking an udder. It was fun to watch, they said, and today we saw the same show, probably with the same warthogs. Later, all eleven gathered in decent light at a small waterhole along the river’s mudflats, offering my best shots of the morning.
PM.  One of the most productive afternoons ever for Samburu.  The shooting was uneventful until we met some elephants along the river when the now-typical afternoon, eastern storms roared down upon us, kicking us a Sahara-like dust storm. The elephants were practically lost in the dust, and the entire herd vacated the banks and headed inland. A cloudburst followed, and for the next ten minutes or so we raced ahead of the herd to shoot them as they advanced towards us through the driving rain, their upper parts black with wetness. The rain stopped, and the elephants moved on.
Not far ahead we found a male Cheetah eating a Dik-dik. For the first half of the shoot there was just a small window between tree trunks, so Zan took the spot and got his first images of this preoccupied, but cautious cat. Periodically it would pause and look about, no doubt fearful of lions in the area. Mary, in the meantime, was photographing two male African Lions, perhaps the best maned lions we’ve seen here. Her vehicle arrived in time for some final shots with the cheetah, while we moved on, still looking for the Greater Kudu that had been reported.
Along one of the rocky slopes I spotted a young Leopard sitting beneath a bush, and although the distance was far the habitat shot was wonderful, a Robert Bateman-like composition of strong lines of shattered rock, colorful layers, and an intent young leopard. As our other vehicles arrived the leopard backed off from its position, but eventfully everyone saw the cat, although shots, then, were marginal. We headed out, racing towards a planned surprise ‘Sundowner’ Elephant Bedroom Camp was throwing for us, but Henry spotted another young leopard as it jumped into a tree. Again the distance was rather far, but everyone got a chance to see the cat as it climbed down the tree, or moved off over the rocks. We suspect the two were the cubs of the female Leopard we had seen on the previous two days.
We headed to the Sundowner, but we spotted the dark, broad ears of the Greater Kudu we were seeking, and diverted once again for more shooting. Within seconds, the three cows were joined by a great bull Kudu, with magnificent spiraling horns. All fed unconcernedly and approached us, and while, by now the light was low, the shots were great, and among the best, if not The Best, kudu shooting we’ve had.
The sun had passed the mountain and a rapid dusk was settling by the time we reached the river and the Sundowner, where a fire, chairs, and various treats where we toasted and celebrated the wonderful Karma of the group, the great lodge, and our Driver-Guides in the conclusion of a very successful first three days of our safari.
Day 5. We departed early for Lake Nakuru National Park, and despite the good road that now links Samburu with the nearest town, Isiolo, we didn’t arrive at our lodge any earlier than usual, probably a case where workload expands to fill the available time. The lodge, now renovated, hosted a great buffet lunch, as clouds began gathering into storm clouds for the afternoon game drive.
A brief rain ended minutes before our game drive began, and skies cleared sufficiently for golden, directional light to fall upon the African White Pelicans and Lesser Flamingos at the now-flooded Pelican Point. David, our guide, had said that the highlands around Nakuru had been experiencing rain for weeks, and that the lake was higher than he’d seen in years, and indeed, I’ve never seen it as high. The feeder stream that normally trickles into the lake at Cormorant Point was a good size creek or small river, and one could easily see where even faster water had eroded the banks into near-oxbow-like cuts.
Pelicans bathed at the end of the Point, and others swooped in, and all of our vehicles attempted flight shots at fast, and very slow, shutter speeds. Black-winged Stilts, Least Grebes, Gray-headed Gulls, and various shorebirds waded in the shallows, and Henry had several eagles – Long-crested and African Fish, as well as kingfishers and cormorants. A large troop of Olive Baboons climbed a power pylon, and against a stormy, gloomy sky their silhouettes as they scrambled like sailors upon a tall ship’s masts, made a powerful image of development encroaching upon wildlife habitat.
Day 6. Nakuru to the Masai Mara
Late start due to packing the vehicle for the commute, but a successful day. Spotted Hyena, both portraits and, for some, young at a den, both Flamingo species, and, the highlight, both Black and White Rhinoceroses in an open grassland. The two species, one black, and several whites, appeared at one point to be about to fight, but a ‘woof’ of the black discouraged the female white from advancing further.
Left the park by 11, repacked at the curio shop for the commute to the Mara, and with stops for lunch, gas, and ice cream, we didn’t arrive at our lodge until 5:30PM.
Day 7. Lower Mara
Five of our group did the Balloon Safari this morning, leaving the rest of us spread out with 2 to a vehicle. The Balloon trip went extraordinarily well, as north of here huge herds of Gnus or Wildebeest are still gathered, and the group shot migration lines as they converged upon a central point. On their return, their ‘land safari’ yielded three male African Lions and another Cheetah.
The traditional game drive for the rest of us went well, with many diverse highlights. These included a frame-filling Tawny Eagle, hovering Lilac-breasted Roller, running Masai Ostrich, Saddle-billed Stork, and African Leopard. The leopard lay, upright, in the grass within frame-filling distance of the game track, and I suspect every vehicle in the lower Mara visited it while we were there. Eventually the leopardess got up and moved off into the brush, and Mary wondered if a male leopard lay in that brush, hiding. We watched several pairs of Masai Ostriches as they went through a half-hearted courtship, and my vehicle followed one pair that, eventually, broke into a run. I was hoping that after that display of enthusiasm that the female might stop and the two would mate, but they didn’t, and instead simply continued on across the grasslands. The sky gathered as the morning progressed and by 1:50PM we had a light drizzle, although around us it is likely there will be storms.
PM  It rained in the afternoon, but stopped before the game drive, which remained cool  throughout the rest of the day. We headed towards ‘Hammerkop,’ where we filmed a good pair of Wattled Plovers before spotting a cluster of vehicles, all surrounding a lugga where a leopard had been spotted. Luckily, for me, I decided to put up my lens ‘just in case’ the showed, and Henry did the same. Seconds later, we saw a disturbance in the bush, followed by a high pitched squealing, and a moment later, a mongoose darted out, racing underneath some other vehicles. A Leopard was in fast pursuit but stopped, feet from a wheel, and looked about. We circled the cluster of cars, finding the leopard looking down into the lugga, and giving us a spectacular portrait. We stayed with her after she ducked back into the draw but the Leopard never reappeared well, and we headed out to fruitlessly search for a Serval cat.
Day 8. Lower Mara
We headed to our ‘kopji rocks,’ a conglomeration of granite outcrops that in the Serengeti, and more exposed, create their own island habitats in a sea of grass.  We hadn’t traveled far when we spotted a good male lion, standing, and facing southwest. As we approached the cat turned and started trotting northeast, pausing occasionally to look back.
We suspect that the lion was intimidated by a rival pride nearby, for as it ran deeper into its territory it eventually stopped, paused, and began circling parallel to a border, whereupon it roared frequently. We framed the cat for backlighting, and as its exhalations with each roar created a wonderful cloud of smoke against the golden light.
Another African Lion was with a young female in heat, and over the next hour they mated at least five times, giving us backlighted and front-lighting shots. After nearly two hours with the cats we moved on, and soon after found a female Cheetah beneath a bush.
For the next four hours we stayed with her as she moved to a low termite mound and surveyed the area, obviously looking for a young Thompson’s Gazelle to catch. Eventually, four of our vehicles left for lunch, but as it had started to cloud up and cool down, we stayed on. Twenty minutes later, just as we were deciding to leave, as no small antelope was in sight, a mother Thompson and baby trotted in behind us, and the cheetah immediately took chase. The young gazelle was about half-grown, and quite capable of speed, and with the distance separating cat from prey the gazelles had a great head-start. The chase was long, weaving across the plains, and as we gave chase ourselves we thought we’d seen a distant take-down. When we arrived, we found the cat, lying on her side, panting, exhausted from an unsuccessful hunt. We headed to lunch.
En route, shortly before reaching the lodge we encountered three Bushbuck males along the roadside, giving us a great shooting opportunity before they ran off, bouncing in an odd-humpy gait similar to a Red Lechwe in Botswana. We arrived at lunch, surprising everyone by our arrival, and everyone assumed we’d given up. They were surprised to learn, obviously, that the cheetah did finally try to make a kill. Highlights at lunch were diverse, with cheetahs and a surprising number of lion behaviors, including some great shots of a male drinking from a kopji water hole.

PM. The afternoon was fairly uneventful, to start, with the typical overcast skies and cool temperatures, and we concerned ourselves with Tanzanian-imports – Magpie Shrikes, and a variety of other birds. The Leopard from yesterday afternoon was back in its tree where it had stashed a Bushbuck, but there was no shooting window. Three young lions, two males and a female, trotted down the road along a lugga, attracted by the call of distant females, and all of our vehicles took turns getting ahead, shooting them as they passed. At the end of the day, as we headed home, Mary’s vehicle spotted a Lioness moving into the brush, and exiting with a 4 week old, just-opened eyed, Lion Cub in her jaws. The lioness approached Mary’s vehicle, practically walking into the window, but in Mary’s haste she was forced to shoot from the roof, whereas a window-view would have been truly eye-level. Mary was very annoyed at herself for that! We had planned to return to the lodge by 6, to facilitate packing, but the lions kept us out late, and, fortunately, the western horizon opened up sufficiently for an orange-red fireball sun, which we framed against an acacia – the best sunset tree we’ve discovered in the Lower Mara.

Day 9. Lower Mara to Mara Triangle. Packing for our transit Game-Drive went smoothly, and we were out the door by 6:30AM, heading towards the Sopa area. The morning offered varied shooting, with highlights including fighting Common Zebras, portraiture of Masai Giraffes, Crowned Cranes, drinking Common Zebras, stotting Hartebeest, Lions and Vultures at a kill, and more. In total, we had 31 different lions between the guides and shooters, and four Cheetahs at the end of the drive, huddled beneath a lone, dead tree. We arrived at our next lodge by 12:45, as cumulous clouds gathered to once again promise a cool, shady afternoon Game Drive.

PM. Nothing especially eventful for the afternoon, as the skies continued to darken. Although there were a few highlights, I didn’t shoot a frame, and my highlight was Yonni spotting a Serval as we were driving back into camp.

Day 10. Mara Triangle.

Flat out, one of the best days we’ve ever had in the Masai Mara, and had we left just 15 minutes earlier in the evening, for our return home, we’d have had a lioness making a gnu kill right next to the road. Well, we missed that, but ….

Although the skies were cloudy predawn, the eastern horizon was clear and we had a decent sunrise, with elephants silhouetted against the morning sky. Soon after, Henry’s vehicle spotted the Cheetah mother with four cubs near to the road, and all of our vehicles lined up for a cat within frame-filling distance of our lenses. The cubs, only about 6 weeks old and silver-haired backed, to resemble the ferocious Honey Badger, milled about, jumping about and upon mom. Eventually the cheetah mother moved off, and we thought she would lead the babies away from the road. Instead, she turned back, and to our surprise and delight, she picked up one of her cubs and carried it towards the road! Two of our vehicles were a bit far – mine being one of them, and I was a little disappointed with my shots, believing that I missed focus. Incredibly, however, the cheetah repeated the procedure again a few minutes later, and this second time all of us were close, with the cat more than filling the frame.

To place this spectacle in perspective, the three Driver-Guides we asked had seen this a total of twice before today, with one Guide seeing this for the first time. Incredible.

We headed south, and soon encountered three Crowned Cranes standing on a low ridge besides a pool. Within a few minutes two of the three walked off, and after traveling about 70 yards both birds took off, circled us, and returned to the same spot. They did this several times, ending one sequence by flying off to a more distant perch where two birds performed a dance within perfect frame-filling range. That, normally, may have been the highlight of the morning.

We continued south, and soon intersected a long running herd of Gnus and Common Zebras, where we shot close to 16 gb as the animals sped by. I tried a lot of slow shutter speed pans, and hopefully some will work.

We moved down river, passing several potential Gnu Crossing points where huge herds gathered on the opposite bank. Although there were plenty of animals, a gathering, signaling a crossing, didn’t look likely and we planned to head back to the lodge by 11:30 to get very needed down-loading accomplished. Mary’s vehicle was the last to check the crossing areas and, by then, herds were beginning to gather and she radioed everyone to say that we should return to the crossing area, as a crossing looked likely. My vehicle, and Josh’s, was nearly a half hour out, but we arrived just as the herds started massing near the river’s edge. And then, we waited.

About a half hour later Gnus started moving down the clay chutes to the river’s edge, teasing us as they drank, then ran back up to the flat plains. This happened repeated, until, finally, the first animals entered the river and started across, their entry noisy and triggering the entire herd. Within minutes one of the most spectacular crossings we’ve had in years, if ever, was in progress, with dust kicking up in clouds that often masked the herds, animals splashing, and, with time, spreading downstream so that gnus were climbing up the bank directly in front of our vehicles.

Suddenly, something seemed wrong. Mary started screaming, her voice cracking hoarse with the effort. She was screaming at three idiots on the opposite bank who had climbed out of their vehicle and ran through the croton bushes to shoot the gnus on their side, on the bank, as gnus milled about, panicked, around them. They didn’t care, moving down almost to the river’s edge at one point, and completely disrupting the herd and the river crossing, which suddenly stopped. We kept yelling, and eventually the two ‘photographers’ slunk back into their VW van and drove off.
Fortunately, the crossing resumed a short while later, and this time animals cascaded down the steep clay banks, jumping, sliding, or falling down the precipice before diving into the river. It was chaos, but it didn’t last long. The herd thinned, and stopped, and completely satisfied and almost over-whelmed, we headed back to the lodge for a late lunch.
PM. Several vehicles headed back to the Cheetah mother, while Mary and I paired up for this game-drive and headed towards the river. Gnus had gathered at one of the main crossing points and we raced down, hoping to catch another crossing. Indeed, another began, but viewing spots were limited with a number of screaming tourists, although we did find a spot. While we watched, an enormous male Nile Crocodile steamed into view, and headed towards a pair of gnus half across the river. The croc lunged at the calf just before the action disappeared beneath the river bank, but I caught the snatch. The rest, we missed, although we could hear the plaintive cries of the gnu calf held in the large crocs jaws.
That crossing stopped, but more gnus gathered, moving back and forth along the river bank from one crossing point to another, but none committed. At 5:45 we headed back to the lodge in the failing light, whereupon we encountered the lioness with her fresh gnu kill. She was scratching about at the entrails when we arrived, so we guessed the kill occurred about 15 or 20 minutes earlier, and what a shot it would have been – completely in the open.
As it was, some of our participants with plenty of Africa safari experience felt that today was the most exciting and productive day they’d ever had in Africa. For us, it sure ranked among the top 5 or 10!
Day 11. The skies were overcast and it began to drizzle, keeping a steady beat until we were quite wet, but with less threatening skies all around us we kept our hatches open. Three fully mature, black-maned African Lions lay along the roadside or in the grasses nearby, with one attending an older female that was deep in heat. They mated four times during our stay of less than an hour, although none were violent, with all ending with just a snarl and a growl. For one, we had a great front-on view with low grasses, making for great shots.
Felix’s vehicle called us away, for he had found the Cheetah mother with three full grown cubs. One of these hopped up on top of his rear spare tires, peering over the roof at Zan and Petra. That scared them silly, but the cat didn’t stay and was, of course, harmless. The mother tried hunting, keeping an alert posture throughout our stay, but no antelope, or antelope baby, came within range. The young cheetahs played a few times but were, I think, too hungry to expend a lot of energy running about. The reserve’s rangers, who can be unreasonable here, came by, noted we were at very respectful distance, and passed on without incident.
Leaving for our next destination, we passed a Common Zebra whose neck was deeply cut, lacerated severely by a wire snare. While we watched, the zebra ate and defecated, so it was getting along, but the rangers couldn’t help it and we were told it would be shot to put it out of its misery. Had they been able to catch it and remove the snare, I suspect   the zebra might live, for their recuperative powers are beyond our comprehension.
The rest of our drive was somewhat uneventful, and we arrived at our last lodge by 1PM, as skies built once again for a cloudy, dark afternoon game drive.
PM. Surprisingly, it didn’t rain, and the light, though reduced, stayed fairly good until around 6. We were looking for a mother Cheetah with six cubs, and, after milling around along the Talek river and surrounding plains, one of our vehicles found them. The mother lay beneath a bush while the cubs played with a length of plastic bag, chasing one another as one grabbed it and ran off. While it was fun to watch the cubs play, it was dispiriting to see them do so with a piece of litter.
While we watched, we noted the enormous number of Masai Cows that grazed in the area, almost two miles from the Reserve boundary from where we sat. In the distance, along Rhino Ridge which is actually closer to the Mara River and the Mara Serena Lodge than it is to the Eastern reserve boundary, thre different huge cattle herds grazed in what was once prime Black Rhino country, and was once the site of a great Leopard film by the BBC cinematographer Hugh Miles. It was truly sickening to see cows so far into the reserve, ostensibly illegal, but with absolutely no enforcement of park boundaries. Ironically, our guides are absolutely paranoid about being ticketing for being even slightly off-track, by the same Rangers that probably own these cows. The situation stinks.
At one point a large herd of cows moved passed us on a hill, and the mother cheetah, spotting a Masai driver, slunk close to our vehicles for protection. The cubs continued to play, but it was only a matter of time before they’d join the mother, close, and offer tremendous shots. We waited.
Another cow herd appeared from deeper inside the park, and this herd was driven straight to us, where at least ten tourist vehicles patiently waited for a cheetah performance. Seven kids droved the herd, and as soon as these Masai herders were spotted the mother cheetah bolted off, running towards the Talek river with her six babies racing along behind. The shoot was blown, and the Masai herders just walked on by, uncaring or oblivious to the impact they had had on the tourists, and the stress placed upon the cheetahs. Everyone was disqusted.
We headed to higher ground where we encountered ten African Lions lulling about, but as we waited some awoke and yawned, but none of the seven cubs began to play. As the light failed, we headed back to camp.
Day 12. Middle Mara.
We went in search of the Cheetahs again, as someone had spotted them on the other side of the Talek. Felix spotted a well-camouflaged, ten foot long python that rested its head and a portion of neck upon the game track. Later, I inspected the Rock Python more closely, and noted that parts of its lower back were raw, with the protective skin/scales missing, probably from an animal chewing on it when it was torpid with cold.
We continued our search, passing several RADIO-COLLARED Spotted Hyenas, with bulky collars that looked quite uncomfortable as the hyenas lay upon their sides. Mary’s vehicle spotted nine hyenas chasing through the brush and worrying a herd of Gnus and Common Zebras, before they eventually found a wounded, very thin zebra they singled out. We got the call and headed to the action, but by the time we arrived the duel was at a standstill, as the rest of the zebra herd had surrounded the injured zebra, and approached or chased off the hyenas when they grew close.
Over the next hour the herd moved off, temporarily abandoning the wounded zebra, which had the left foreleg’s skin ripped clean off the lower portion, but coming to its rescue whenever one of the two hyenas that remained came near. A couple of times the hyena almost made contact, but either a defending zebra or the injured one charged it and drove it off. Eventually, the sole hyena remaining ran off and the zebra continued following the herd. When we last saw it was standing forlornly near a group of grazing gnus. While zebras have an incredible recuperative power, this one was thin and obviously sick, and it wouldn’t be long before its limp, lack of speed, and poor health attracted the attention of a more determined predator.
The rest of the morning was fulfilling with great Yellow-breasted Longclaws, the African version of the North American meadowlard, very cooperative baby Topis, and a very rare Giant Kingfisher which we caught in flight as it launched from a perch. Clouds started building and we headed in early in the high light, anticipating an early afternoon game drive.
PM. We headed out, looking for the Leopard and nearly adult cubs that frequent the area, and within ten minutes found the male cub, stretched out on its back, paws up, off-track in a poor spot for shooting. We left it, heading for the Cheetah mother and six cubs.
We hadn’t gotten far when we were called back, as Mary spotted the mother Leopard along the track, and for the next half hour we maneuvered about, with everyone getting great shots. Later in the day, Zan, Seth, and Bill encountered this same leopard and had a spectacular shoot. We joined it late, but still managed some high ISO shots as she passed with fifty yards of the entrance to our lodge.
We found the Cheetah cubs soon after, all six, alone, and giving high bird-like chirps as they sought their mother. She had gone on a hunt earlier, and missed a kill, and now had disappeared. About a half hour later we found her, lying flat, in wait for a female Impala, but the hunt went wrong and the impala ran away. Whereupon, the mother cheetah sat up and chirped, and within minutes was joined by the six cubs. Later, she started a hunt on four Thompson’s Gazelles, but the antelope never came close and after an hour of intense watching – on both cheetah and human parts – everyone gave up the hunt and we headed out, hoping to encounter the leopard once more.
En route, we discovered ten African Lions, all lionesses and cubs, with a small Gnu calf that they had consumed earlier. The portraiture was good, despite the circle of vehicles, but eventually we headed out, and, as stated, all five vehicles saw the female Leopard as we headed back to camp.

OOPS! If you've read this far, I apologize but I lost the rest of this journal! Don't ask me how! The complete journal for Trip 2 is posted, should you wish to see more on the day-to-day activity of our safaris.