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Trip Report:

Masai Mara
Photo Safari


eElephant with 24mm wide angle lens

Our first safari, eight days earlier, was quite successful, with the Masai Mara being the highlight of the trip. For this trip we concentrated on the two best areas, the upper/middle Mara and the Mara Triangle -- both cattle free and healthy ecosystems. Although I've always loved the Mara, I wasn't sure how the Mara now measured up with other areas of Africa that I haven't visited for years. Any doubts I had were erased, however, when one of our participants said this was the best shooting he's had in Africa. He had photographed in Botswana (which has a stellar reputation) just a few years ago but he felt the thick brush and trees in Botswana made game-viewing and photography far more difficult than it is in the wide open grasslands of the Masai Mara. I told him I was surprised at his comment, and he told me he was surprised that I was surprised!

This photo safari followed our second of two trips to Rwanda for the Mountain Gorillas, where we completed our 100th trek. After a week in Rwanda we were anxious and eager to get back on safari. The following is the trip report.

Day 1. Nairobi to Mara Triangle

It rained during the night and it was raining steadily as we packed and headed out from Nairobi. It wasn’t until Narok, the gateway city to the Mara, that the weather began to break and we had the promise that the skies might be clear. Because we were headed directly to the Mara Triangle we took a different route than our normal – to Sarova in the southeast, an area we will NO LONGER visit because of the devastation there due to over-grazing and suspected poisoning. That section of the Mara, from Sarova, Mara Simba, Mara Sopa, and Keekorok, is essentially dead. This year was our last visit to that area.

We drove through the Aitong Hills, an area that was once the entrance to the area of the Masai Mara where, thirty years ago, we spent almost all of our time. Back then there was no need to enter the actual park, as game was abundant and restrictions nonexistent, and we had incredible game drives there. That is no longer the case, although much of the area north of the Musiara Gate, the northern entrance to the Masai Mara Game Reserve, is now ‘protected’ or managed by various conservancies, all with their own tourist lodge or three. We’ve been told, although I have no other verification, that the conservancies have made arrangements with the Maasai so that they do not graze in the conservancies and instead, they go right into the game reserve! Whether that is true or not, flying into that area, as I’ve done as we’ve headed back to Nairobi after a safari, picking up passengers along the way at various camps, I’ve looked down on a patchwork of farm fields, manyattas, houses, and herds of sheep and cattle. Today, as we entered the Mara from the Aitong Hills, at a location where we had cheetahs and lions and wild dogs, we saw vast flocks of sheep, scattered houses, and near desert landscapes. That area was ruined. We continued on towards the Mara River and did cross a five or ten minute wide (as we traveled) stretch of relatively healthy looking grassland, with small herds of gnus and zebras and a spattering of Thompson’s Gazelles. Then we were through that area (I presume it was a stretch of a conservancy) and back to close-cropped grasses and herds of sheep or goats.
The small town of Rianta, once a collection of a few wooden shacks with a large tree that acted as a meeting place and small trading center, is now sprawling, with several crude streets or alleys, and litter strewn everywhere. Thirty years ago within a hundred yards of this village we’d photograph cheetahs, and once entered the area just after the still nomadic Maasai had killed some lions, and had suffered fatalities of their own. Supposedly the conservancies still have lions, but we’re told they are only out at first light, then retreat into whatever cover remains to hide from the Maasai during the day.
After crossing the Mara River things didn’t get any better until we reached the actual boundary of the Reserve at the Olololoo Gate, where the area is, at part of the Mara Triangle Conservancy, very well protected and untouched by the cattle, goats, sheep, and press of humans. We drove on to our lodge, completing a nearly 7 hour drive through some very depressing country.

. Our first game drive wasn’t exceptional but was still quite satisfying. The odd weather, apparently a front and not the usual afternoon thunderstorm, had passed and a mild breeze and a sky of cumulous clouds that reminded me of Yellowstone made for a stunning afternoon. In total we had 12 Lions, including the smallest cubs seen this season (by one vehicle only), as well as great Elephants, Giraffes, Ostriches, Spotted Hyenas, and Topis. Herds of Gnus and Zebras are still about, and some herds were gathered near the Mara River, so a crossing may occur in the next day or so. One did occur this morning we’re told, with a Nile Crocodile capturing and dismembering a Zebra.
hOf special note, for me, was a Spotted Hyena we had along a roadside ditch. In contrast to the cats, which never give eye contact unless they are annoyed or otherwise vexed, this Hyena looked at us almost curiously, reminding me of a dog. If a Lion or other big cat did this, I’d worry – the cats avoid eye contact as it is a sign of aggression, but the Hyena had absolutely no aggression, just simple curiosity. I will be curious now to watch other hyenas more closely for eye contact. My only explanation is that hyenas are very social animals (as, of course, are lions), and that eye contact with hyenas performs more of a social function than a ‘beaded-in’ focus of attention that shows aggression or predatory intent.
cDay 2. Mara Triangle

Although the eastern sky was relatively clear, curtains of rain clouds dotted each end of the compass, and, almost inexplicably, shortly after leaving the lodge we had rain. The skies above looked reasonably clear yet as we drove, expecting the rain to stop at any time, we were soaked. A good friend of ours, whom we met on the drive, told us that he had seen the two adult Cheetah brothers minutes earlier near the Tanzania border and we drove there. The rain stopped, and we had some wonderful shooting of the Cheetahs as they walked to us, scent marked on various trees, and headed off into a trackless space where we were unable to follow.
Mary’s vehicle had the tail-end of a good Gnu river crossing, with several hundred gnus charging down a steep river bank, kicking up dust, but the rest of us arrived several minutes too late. It was a very quick crossing.


Other highlights included very nice Topi on mounds, or herd shots, and Giraffe silhouettes against a great sky of cumulous clouds.

We headed to the river, which is quite low, and surprisingly we saw only one Nile Crocodile, and some Hippos, a few of which yawned. Continuing on, we had a spectacular session with Elephants right next to the road, shooting wide-angle shots that incorporated a great, cumulous cloud sky. As we drove on, with our miserable and still mysterious radio system, I learned that the Bat-eared Fox den we had last trip were seen. Since they were not doing anything last time, and we were some distance away, I said we’d continue on. Meanwhile, pups popped out of the den, and we heard nothing more from my other guides until Mary called on a cell phone to inform me. I was pretty annoyed at the lack of professionalism on my other guides’ part in not recognizing and conveying a unique opportunity. Luckily, we headed back, and arrived when the most activity with the pups occurred, although when Mary gently coached the guides later on the importance of communication, my guide lied about the information relayed to me. The game drive ended with a truly spectacular sunset, with silhouettes of Common Zebras on the horizon, topping off a very good afternoon.
Day 3. Mara Triangle

Clear skies overnight with the Big Dipper hanging low in the sky outside our room’s window promised a morning with great light. Shortly after starting our game drive, 4.3 miles south of the lodge on my GPS, I thought I saw a tiny baby Topi with its mother. We backed up and indeed discovered that the Topi had just given birth, twith a stringy pink line of her placenta still protruding. Her baby wobbled to its feet and its mother groomed it for several minutes. Eventually the baby sunk back to the ground, as did the mother, where she proceeded to do more licking. The baby rose, the mother followed, and both the mother and another female came up to investigate the newborn. The baby at this point must have been sufficiently imprinted that it didn’t try to change mothers, and the second female fortunately stayed nearby for as a pair of Black-backed Jackals moved in to attack.
The attention of the two adults, and several Topi a bit further away, directed their attention over the hill where we couldn’t see the cause. Periodically, one or another of the Topis would snort in alarm, and we wondered whether a Leopard or Cheetah was passing by, or even a Serval that we couldn’t see. Ten minutes later the source appeared, a pair of Jackals that must have been attracted to the smell of the mother’s blood. They moved in close, and took turns trying to dart in on the lamb, grabbing at its hind legs, probably in an attempt to hamstring the baby. The mother ran about, head down, trying to butt or horn the attackers, and sometimes in chasing one she left her lamp vulnerable. Often, it was rescued by the second tfemale, and although the baby was bitten, or had suffered some contact, eventually it appeared as if the Jackals had stopped, as the three, baby and two adults, trotted towards the main herd where more adults were likely to offer help.
As we drove south, Mary spotted a large mass of Gnus gathering on the Mara River bank and we raced there in anticipation of a crossing. Doing so, we both missed a Cheetah lying near the road that Rick saw, and he spotted a Serval too. The crossing never happened, and eventually the herd moved back inland.
We checked on the young cubs spotted yesterday, and Doug spotted the cubs first, all underneath the same bush where they were yesterday. They scuttled by, deep in the bush, but we confirmed that all three survived the African Buffalo that were close by yesterday. Earlier in the day our friend David texted us that he had a pride of lions, but soon they disappeared onto a brush-topped butte where we’d often seen them go. After breakfast we headed in that direction where, yesterday, we had the two male Cheetahs hunting.
sAlong the way Mary spotted a Serval, ironically just off the game track we had been following until, minutes before her spot, we turned on to her track. It was incredibly tame, completely oblivious of the vehicles and walked straight to our vehicles. The herd flies were bad, for us, and also for the Serval, who often squinted his eyes shut in annoyance. After doing several passes as the cat walked by we left it in peace, still unfazed by our attention.
Lisa, in my vehicle, spotted something sticking out the back end of a Zebra as we drove by and we turned around to discover the remains of a placenta. Her baby was nowhere near, and we suspect was lost to hyenas or was still born. Later, Doug asked to stop for a baby Zebra but we soon debated whether or not it was even alive. It was not, and the mother circled around the baby several times, in mourning. We had driven close to zcheck and I got out of the vehicle to take a wide-angle of the carcass, and afterwards, as we drove off a short distance, the mother Zebra and two others approached again. The three mares were very worked up and chased each other at a gallop, with the mother occasionally kicking at the head of one of her followers. Eventually they slowed down and the mother returned a final time to her foal, then moved off a bit to graze.
Clouds were building as we drove in for lunch but I predicted that we’d miss the rain. Now, at 2:30PM an hour before we leave for our game drive, we’re enduring a storm!

. The storm passed and for the first part of the game drive we had sun. Later, however, rains returned, and all of our vehicles ended up with the roof hatches closed. My vehicle, with Rick and his son Jimmy, headed to the Bat-eared Foxes, hoping to get good play activity and nursing in nice light. When we arrived the two adults and one juvenile were sleeping, but about 45 minutes later the two pups appeared and we had a very brief time with some interaction. Unfortunately, Topis scared the babies back into their den and, minutes later, a rainstorm came in, and all three adults/subadults darted into the den for shelter and never reemerged.
Mary found a lioness with a warthog kill, and my vehicle found two nomadic young males, dead asleep. The other two vehicles also had 4 Black Rhinos, but they were some distance off and provided little good shooting.

bDay 4. Mara Triangle to Upper Mara

The morning game drive wasn’t particularly photo-productive but was exciting. We looked for the various lion prides without success, then doubled back to cover some territory when one of our guides spotted three fairly shy male Cheetahs hunting. They charged into a Gnu herd, scattering the Gnus as they apparently tried to isolate a young Gnu. They were not successful, and later, when our other vehicles arrived, they tried again. Once more, they had no luck. We were quite a ways off so that we would not jeopardize a hunt and from a distance watched as they trotted towards a grazing Topi. I was quite surprised that despite their rather obvious stance they were not spotted until a final rush. The Topi ran, with one Cheetah almost making a full contact by rearing up to grab at its rump, then fell back. We thought the Topi was now in the clear but another Cheetah charged in, far more seriously, and did make contact. Greg caught the very distant shot as the Cheetah had a paw on the rump, but the Topi reared and kicked out with his hind legs, dislodging the Cheetah who soon gave up the chase. We approached, but the cats got up from their lookout post on a termite mound and walked off, and not wishing to disturb them, we let them go.
We missed a huge Gnu river crossing, coming upon very wet Gnus that had just left the river in a long line that may have extended for nearly a mile. More Gnus were gathered on the opposite shoreline of the Mara River but they eventually dispersed.

vAt the Mara River Bridge hundreds of Vultures and Maribou Storks were feeding upon scores of Gnu carcasses that were not there 9 days ago. Despite the low water level, they had been a disastrous river crossing.
As we headed to our next lodge the storm clouds gathering to our north and west finally overtook us, and we drove the final section with our roof hatches closed. Near camp we found four young male Lions, possibly nomads, that were full and presented only a few shots when, for short times, they awoke and sat upright.


. For over an hour in the afternoon preceding our game drive the sky reverberated with rolling thunder, a nearly constant rumble that we first thought had to be a generator or motor – it was simply constant. It began to rain as we started our drive, and we did much of the game drive with our roof hatches closed.
Mary’s vehicle found the female Leopard, and had great shots as it walked inside the lugga of one of the double crossings. Later, at the end of my very productive shoot, we found that female Leopard, and another, presumably younger female Leopard – with the older one seriously driving the younger from her territory. The chase lasted over a mile, with both cats tame and oblivious to us, often running along one bank of the lugga right passed our vehicle, or crossing the rocks to do run along on the other. The one being pursued would pause occasionally and look back, and seeing her pursuer would continue running off. The other Leopard never went into a serious sprint, a real charge, but kept us a steady jogging run, her intent clear – get out of my territory! At one point, she stopped and did a flehmen grimace, then scent-marked, and afterwards, turned around and headed back into the heart of her territory. Greg and I had been following the two for twenty minutes or more, and Mary’s vehicle arrived while the older female was still visible.
Earlier, Mary’s group also watched as a lone Spotted Hyena literally ran down a Thompson’s Gazelle ewe, apparently tiring her out from a long chase. They Hyena caught the Gazelle in a lugga.


lThe start of my game drive began when I had a lucky glimpse of a Lioness along a ridge line. Moments later she dropped down, and literally disappeared in the tawny grasses. We drove closer, and Greg (and Mary later) mistook a magnificent black-maned Lion for a gnu carcass that other lions were feeding on. There wasn’t a kill, but instead this great Lion, who was later joined by another fully-maned male. Also present, two Lionesses, and four two month old cubs, who nursed, played, and investigated one of the males – who basically ignored them after the first encounter, when he snarled as he scent-marked a bush, with the cubs watching on. That shooting was spectacular.

lThe afternoon ended with 13 Lions, 2 Leopards, and a poor glimpse of the same Cheetah that we had just outside of camp earlier in the day. A lot of images were shot!

Day 5. Upper Mara

The eastern horizon was open, promising good weather for Terry, who did the balloon ride this morning. Yesterday, the skies were murky and drab, a terrible day for the unfortunate balloonists we saw in the sky, but today, after the sun cleared a low band of clouds the weather was ideal. He should have had a great ride.
lAs we headed out towards Rhino Ridge and the lion pride, my guide drove cross country and, somehow, steered into a large hole. I saw it coming seconds before, and said ‘Watch out,’ but it was too late, and we smashed into the hole. No one was hurt, although Jimmy hurt his wrists and I smashed my ribs soundly. We could back out of the hole and kept going, finding several of the young adult Lions from last night. After a brief shoot we continued towards the Mara River where at the Chinese Hill we found ‘Scarface,’ one of the four male Lions we had on the OPPOSITE side of the river last trip. These four own both sides, which we believe is composed of two prides, one on either side. Last night, we had two other big males, but they are the owners of an adjacent pride, the Rhino Ridge pride. Scarface belongs to the Paradise Plains pride.
lAt any rate, Scarface had a limp when we last saw him, and now he cannot put any weight on his swollen leg. The rip above his eye, which we originally thought had cost him an eye, was open and raw and actually looked worse than it had earlier. Perhaps we were seeing, then, the wounds soon after they happened, and in two weeks infection has proceeded and made things worse. Scarface is a magnificent male Lion, and seen from the side, lying down or sitting, he looks great, but if the pride moves and captures prey that can be consumed relatively quickly, Scarface will never reach a kill in time to get his share. We’re afraid we’re seeing his last days. We hope not.
We continued to the river where, while watching Hippos and later while eating breakfast, Ruppell’s Long-tailed Starlings, Bulbuls, and two species of Weaver came close by. The weavers actually landed on our vehicle’s antenna – so used to getting handouts that they are completely unafraid.
bAs we drove on, we stopped for a small group of Masai Giraffe that were drinking at a tiny pool, only a hundred yards from the river where, I suspect, they wouldn’t drink for fear of crocodiles. While we watched, another Giraffe appeared on the other side of the river. I suspected it wanted to cross to join the others, and we drove to the river’s edge where we waited as the Giraffe mulled over the idea. It would step to the very edge of the sand, turn around, feed on some leaves in a displacement activity, then return to the river. It did this twice, but after the second time, with a nice branch of leaves still in its mouth, it returned to the shoreline. First one front foot, just touching the water, then the other, then a tentative step forward and both hind feet were wet. The giraffe inched forward, and got about a third of the way across before losing courage and turning back. But it gstopped, and turned again, this time advancing deep enough that only inches cleared its belly from the water. Hippos flanked it on either side, and Hippos can sometimes be cantankerous, but they behaved. The Giraffe looked upstream and down, and must have been at a drop-off where the next step would sink it deeper or require it to swim. It wouldn’t do it, and after exploring a bit further downstream, the Giraffe left the water and lunged up the bank, where it began to graze and disappeared into the riverine woodland.
The sky was clear, it was now 11AM, and the directly overhead sun was hot. Game was, for the most part, huddled in the shade, and we headed in to camp to edit through last evening’s very busy shoot.

. Storms surrounded us, with a blue-black wall painted against the sky in the northeast. To the west the skies were clear, but as the afternoon progressed the eastern skies slid over and by late afternoon the light was gloomy and dull, and we ended the game drive at 6PM with the hatches closed and a slippery drive back to camp in the rain.
Photographically, it was a slow afternoon. Hoping for wonderful framing against the black storm sky I had our vehicle head towards Rhino Ridge and high country, hoping for a giraffe, elephant, or lion against the sky. I did spot a Lioness, and then 3 cubs, up on the ridge but they were high, in stony country, and eventually we headed down into the murk of the Double-Crossing area where Mary’s vehicle had seen lions. We found 15, but they were either sleeping or sitting/lying Sphinx-like. Mary did have a wonderful sequence with a Gray-headed Kingfisher, and Buffalo. We searched unsuccessfully for the leopards.

Day 6. Upper Mara

Our last field day in Africa for 2016 dawned clear, with a few low clouds stretched across the southeastern horizon catching a deep orange light from the still hidden sun. We shot some landscapes as we headed towards the Talek River, which we crossed on our way to searching for the Lions and Cheetahs we’d seen there nearly two weeks ago.
We had not traveled far when we found a pride of Lions, with one male, at a kill site, where the nine Lions, three lionesses, the male, and several juveniles, had completely consumed two Gnus. While we photographed the male, then alone or in small groups, the lionesses and cubs followed, walking down the game track towards a distant lugga and water. While the last lioness and cub fed three h
Spotted Hyenas appeared, but they hung back until the two cats left. We were closer than the Hyenas wished, and circled about before grabbing the straps of remaining carcass of the further Gnu. There, two tugged at either end, eventually separated the pieces and running off with each. Two Black-backed Jackals trotted in, darting around the Hyenas and, at one point, squabbling with each other, darting about yipping.

With little left to the carcasses we headed to the Lions, hoping to catch them at a watering spot but instead they stopped short, within two hundred yards of the lugga, where they rested beneath croton bushes. We continued, and soon found a male Cheetah lying on the road. It was staring at a Gnu herd, all clustered together and moving away, and as we watched the Cheetah focused, then stood, and started a low-to-the-ground walk towards croton bushes lining a gulley below the Gnus. I couldn’t see any baby Gnus but assumed there were some, so we drove a wide circle to overlook the herd and to have a front on view. We no sooner stopped than the Gnu herd exploded, and my guide said ‘he’s chasing!’ I couldn’t see where, but as the herd swept passed we saw the Cheetah had tackled a young Gnu – about half the size of an adult and now about nine months old (most are born in February). We started to drive there but the mother Gnu arrived first, charging at the Cheetah which immediately dropped the calf and retreated. The baby gained its feet and joined the mother and within seconds disappeared into the herd. Since Cheetahs kill by strangulation, clamping upon the windpipe of their prey, the baby was probably completely unharmed. The Cheetah retreated back into the thicket where we left it.
cWe drove on, hoping to find the Lioness that, two weeks ago, had five young cubs. We found her, less than 150 yards from the den/bush where she had the cubs. Now she was at the edge of a lugga, with four surviving cubs that were out in the open for a short time, then joined the mother in the shade where she lay and nursed. Lioness’s only have four teats, and one of the five cubs had a small wound on its head and a poor-looking eye, and was smaller than three of the other cubs. I didn’t see any cubs with a wound, and I assume that is the one that died.
We continued, looking for a reported black rhino but failed to find it. As we headed to breakfast, at the Poacher’s Lookout (aka Observation Hill) we stopped to photograph a Giraffe lying down. She was incredibly tame and when she finally stood she walked towards our vehicle, giving full-frame vertical shots at 24mm. gg
During breakfast we met up with a good friend, shared data, and then continued our game drive. Soon after, we found the another pride of Lions beneath a bush. As we continued we saw a lone Gnu baby – the same size as the one the other Cheetah tackled – lopping across the grasses, with no other Gnu in sight.We commented that the Cheetah should have found that one, so it was a bit ironic that when we found the mother Cheetah with two 6 month old cubs she had captured a similar-sized Gnu baby. Only the head and bottom halves of the legs were left, with all three Cheetahs now round as pumpkins.
It was now nearly 11 and hot, although clouds were building everywhere, some leaden gray and threatening, promising rain at some point this afternoon. We headed in to camp in anticipation of an early start on our afternoon game drive to take advantage of the light.
hThe two Hyena clans were never this close -- but swinging my lens left to right I'd see the two groups, with their tails upraised and bristly in their aggressive poses.

Shortly after lunch it began to rain, a true tropical torrent that reduced visibility to under 100 yards. A canvas awning over a wooden porch outside our tent sagged ominously with water. Over the last three days this had happened, but the water volume then wasn’t as great, and I was able to push up and create an oscillation that rocked the water back and forth, dumping it over the front in huge cascading torrents. This time, the bulges were bathtub size and virtually immobile. As we worked on our computers the tent poles holding the canvas finally gave way, snapping in several spots and, where the awning was secured to the perimeter electric fence, pulling those posts out and laying down the fence. Water hit our porch and blasted inside our tent, but fortunately nothing was near the entrance and aside from a wet floor, everything was okay.
By the time of our game drive the skies the rain had stopped although the skies were still overcast. As is tradition on our last game drive of the season, Mary rode with me, sitting upfront with our guide. Soon after leaving Mary spotted, with binocs, what appeared to be two different clans of Hyenas in a territorial war. We raced to the spot, and watched and filmed as the two clans, one with thirty-one, the other with twelve, flowing back and forth over an invisible boundary line. As I’ve seen with birds disputing property lines, one group of Hyenas would advance, going deeper into the other’s territory when, at that point the retreating group regained their confidence and advanced, pushing their rivals back and deeper into h
their own territory. That group would move forward until the owners of that land regained their confidence and pushed back. There was no physical contact but the ebb and flow, usually too far apart to fit into a frame, and the growls and occasional ‘whooops’, with tails upraised and spread out all bristly, it was exciting. One of the clan carried a Thompson’s Gazelle head, which we think may have triggered the confrontation when a female Cheetah, the daughter of Malaika, killed the gazelle and members of both clans saw it and tried to lay claim.
We found the Cheetah soon afterwards, and Rick, Jimmy, and Doug stayed with her the entire afternoon as she hunted. At one point she got within 50 yards of Thompson’s Gazelles, but they saw her, and instead of sprinting, she trotted forward and they ran away. Her stalk was a good one, and sometimes she was pressed so low to the ground that she became nearly invisible.
Both sets of images were shots seconds apart. The top set was shot with the 200-400 with a 1.4X III tele-converter attached, for a focal length of ...
The bottom set was shot with the same combination, but I flipped the built-in 1.4X tele-converter as well, bringing the focal length to 600mm with a possible 784mm if I had zoomed all the way. Either way the images are critically sharp at 100%, which I hope the cropped heads of the Cheetah illustrates. I'm using this combination (200-400mm with 1.4X attached, and the built-in 1.4X used when necessary for greater magnification) rather than using the straight 800mm - for the obvious compositional flexibility this gives me.

We continued towards the Double Crossing area, looking for the leopards. We didn’t, but we did find four young Lionesses that were hunting. At first, they showed interest in a lone bull Eland, but that size prey was out of their league. Two Warthogs appeared and trotted by, and first one, then the other Lionesses all headed in their direction. One did a serious hunt, and charged the Warthog when it was in the thickets, but Warthogs are fast and easily outran the Lioness in the thick brush.
We searched further for the leopard in the growing gloom, with another wall of rain slowly advancing across the horizon. Large flocks of European Storks flew overhead, many landing in the trees along the leopard luggas, and eventually the rain began, prompting us to put up our roof hatches and slip-slide our way back to camp.
That evening the camp gave us a private dinner barbeque, in lieu of the bush dinner they hoped to surprise us with but cancelled because of the rain. There, we reviewed trip highlights and favorite shots, and gave our guides their ‘thank you’ envelopes for jobs well done. With that, our field time in Africa ended for this year, and Mary and I were sad to see it finish.

lFor lenses, I used the Canon 200-400mm with 1.4X conveter and the new Canon 100-400 for most of my shooting. I kept a 1.4X III tele-converter on the 200-400, so my working range was 280-560, or up to 740 or so when I flipped the built-in converter as well. Mary used her 500mm on a 7D Mark II, but also found that she used her 100-400mm most often.

Both of us kept our long lenses in the Long Lens Bag by Vertex. I'm proud to say I helped design the bag, and to hear from our participants that it is the best investment they made for their safari. Everyone loves them and we are seeing more and more of our participants using them. I used 64 and 32gb Hoodman Cards, which are incredibly fast, somewhat essential when shooting fast action -- and we had plenty.

Refer to our BROCHURE to get an idea of next trip in 2018! The brochure may not be completely updated for 2018 as prices will change, but the itinerary will be similar except we'll be eliminating the lower Mara and spending more time in the Triangle and upper/middle Mara.