MAASAI MARA June 2017 Trip Report

July 11, 2017




Participants : 3

Duration : 7 days

Areas covered : Mara North Conservancy and Masai Mara National Reserve

Lions : 39

Cheetahs : 8

Wild Dogs : 2

Leopards : 1

Mara River Crossings : 5

Really Epic Sunset : 1



The Maasai Mara Photographic Safari is known for great cat sightings but when your airstrip transfer that is supposed to take 25 minutes goes on for over 2 hours you are either stuck, suffered a breakdown or . . . bumped into two male lions with the airplane still in sight and 10 minutes later you are pointing your camera to a good looking male leopard relaxing up in a tree. Should I say more ? The bar was set extremely high for the remaining 12 game drives and the pressure was on Francis our guide and me. Little did we know what was in store for my extremely lucky guests.



Day 1  -  The iconic pose in a tree in Maasai Mara of a male Leopard spotted on the airstrip transfer


Day 1  -  A baby Elephant  giving my guests moments of real ellie cuteness.




On Day 2 we are off to an early start . . . Wake up call at 05:30, a quick coffee at around 06:00 and off we go in search of a subject to place in front of what is promising to be a fantastic sunrise. After some early morning landscape photography we head down to the Njiamingi area to look for the Cheli lion pride that apparently has a mating couple among them. We did find them but not before running into the same male Leopard again. It seems we might beat day 1. Other Mara creatures we spotted and photographed were Hyenas, Buffalos, Topis and to end the day another session with the Cheli pride in great evening light. What a day !



Day 2  -  A memorable sunrise with an unmistakable acacia tree as the main subject on the plains of the Mara North Conservancy



Day 2  -  A great pose by a very cooperative Leopard



Day 2  -  Mating Lions from the resident Cheli pride




Today we decided to explore the famous Leopard Gorge before heading on to the Masai Mara National Reserve for a full day . . . As we get there we spot a Lioness stalking a small herd of wildebeest. She was on the opposite of the gorge in perfect light and in a perfect pose. This lioness was from the Marsh Pride and was accompanied by three other females and cubs. We are into Day 3 and Mara North is producing amazing opportunities. Later this morning we found a Cheetah and her 2 subadult cubs. It was nice to see that they are still hanging in this area. One amazing sighting was thanks to a Lilac Breasted Roller swallowing a whole snake. Really impressive to see  . . . On our way to the Mara River we heard that the Wildebeest are making their way across to the Mara from the Serengeti. It’s early June and this should not be happening. As we get to the Lookout Point a reasonable size herd of wildebeest start crossing. We thought the bar had been set high but with the “5 Crossings” we witnessed it had been raised to a complete new height. On our way back we were lucky to get some great moments with the recently formed coalition of 5 Cheetahs right after killing a fully grown wildebeest.



Day 3  -   Lioness in perfect light stalking wildebeest on the other side of Leopard Gorge



Day 3  -  A Lilac Breasted Roller swallowing a whole snake



Day 3  -  Wildebeest Mara Crossing in early June !



Day 3  -  Cheetahs of Mara





Day 4 was a bit slower than the previous three days but nevertheless we had a good Cheetah encounter under the rain, Elephants and an epic sunset after the showers ceased. These are the kind of weather conditions we usually have in June . . . dramatic skies making perfect backdrops.



Day 4  -  Elephant silhouetted against a dramatic sky


Day 4  -  Epic sunset on the Mara North plains




We are on our fifth day and so far we have had opportunities with almost every possible East African creature. We decided to go for the Marsh Pride with the cubs in Leopard Gorge again but they had moved and it took us quite a while to find them again. Francis, as usual, spotted them 200 miles away . . . How on earth does he do it ? We had our chances with the cubs and even got one of the females drinking which was really nice. As we were finishing breakfast we heard extremely exciting rumours . . . WILD DOGS !! the rumours turned out to be true and our very reliable Francis found them. This was the icing on the cake. I have been hosting photographic safaris in Mara North since 2011 and have never ever seen them so this was very special.



Day 5  -  A Lioness drinking in a stream near Leopard Gorge


Day 5  -  Wild Dogs in Mara North




Today was our last full day in the Mara North Conservancy. The sunrise was beautiful and was captured on camera. We had a good sighting of the Cheli Pride, an amazing bush breakfast on the banks of the Nara River, some good opportunities with giraffes and THE MOST SPECTACULAR sunset I have seen in years . . . As good as the image below may seem it does not make justice to what we witnessed. Sometimes the camera just can’t capture it all.



Day 6  -  Giraffes on the plains


Day 6  -  THE SUNSET



This Maasai Mara photographic safari is sadly coming to an end. Today we found another lioness with 2 cubs and followed the 3 Cheetahs in full on hunting mode before returning to camp for our last breakfast on this photo adventure.



Day 7  -  Cheetah and 2 cubs in the background planning an approach to a nearby herd of Impala




The Camp used on the Maasai Mara Photographic Safari is Elephant Pepper Camp. It is strategically situated in the center of the Mara North Conservancy making it the best for quick access to the main areas of this conservancy



All images by Mario Moreno Photography





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