SERENGETI July 2017 Trip Report
Participants : 6
Duration : 8 Days
Areas Covered : Serengeti National Park - Northern Section
Lions : 46
Cheetahs : 3
Leopards : 3
Mara River Crossings : 6
One of the main goals of the Serengeti Photographic Safari is to witness and capture the Mara River crossings and this we did . . . After landing in Kogatende airstrip located in the most northern part of the Serengeti National Park, right by the famous Mara River, we headed straight to one of the main crossing areas hoping for some river action. As we got to Crossing Point nr. 4 a huge herd of wildebeest jumped into the crocodile infested waters of the Mara. The biggest spectacle that nature has to offer was on . . . Godwin ( my reliable guide ) placed our 2 vehicles in the middle of the action so our photographic opportunities were really really good. Believe it or not , 1 hour and 30 minutes later we were still looking in awe at this amazing natural event. Once again, having a first game drive of this magnitude sets everyone's expectations really high for the rest of the trip. Would Godwin and I be able to deliver the goods ?? Continue reading to see what the mythical Serengeti had prepared for us . . .
Day 1 - The Great Migration is on
Day 1 - Large herd of White Bearded Wildebeest crossing the Mara River
The usual 05:30 wake up call was the sign for the start of Day 2. After a quick coffee we were off and since the sunrise seemed like it could present a good opportunity we headed to an area close to camp dotted with iconic acacia trees. The highlights of the day were going to be a pride of Lions in good morning light and a Leopard with 2 young cubs. Today we did not pursue any river crossing and preferred to stay on the open plains near our camp. Other general game encountered were Topis, Gazelles, giraffes and and interesting variety of birds.
Day 2 - An iconic Serengeti sunrise
Day 2 - A Lioness in fantastic early morning light
Day 2 - The " Catch of The Day " Two gorgeous Leopard cubs posing beautifully for the cameras
Day 3 was another full day for our group. The goal was to get some more river crossings in the bag. As we drove towards the Mara River , still in early morning light, a good looking Serval Cat was spotted which allowed for some good photography even though it was constantly on the move. This would be one of the highlights of the day. As far as crossings go we decided to try our luck on the opposite side of the river to try and get a crossing coming at us as this would definitely help capture better images. Said and done . . . we heard on the radio that a big herd was moving close to the river banks at crossing point nr. 3 so we raced as if there was no tomorrow to try and get there on time. Luck was on our side so we did not have to wait too long for the action to begin. It was unbelievable to see these animals pouring down into the river. On our way back to camp we ran into a breeding herd of Elephants. They were in great light so some really nice images were captured.
Day 3 - A Serval Cat in hunting mode
Day 3 - A huge herd of Wildebeest crossing the Mara River
Day 3 - An Elephant and it's calf in fabulous evening light
On our 4th Day we again decided to stay on the plains and explore the kopjes hoping to see some cats on them. Early in the morning just after sunrise we had a fantastic moment with one of the dominant male Lions of the resident pride. The day was going slow and besides the lion sighting and some opportunities with birds nothing was happening . . . UNTIL . . . we got to the kopjes and found the Leopard again. The cubs were nowhere to be seen but she put on a real show for our group while moving from one rock to another. Stayed until late and got a breathtaking sunset opportunity with her. After this we were ready for drinks by the fire at the camp. It's never over until the fat lady sings they say . . .
Day 4 - A great looking male Lion looks at the camera
Day 4 - A Hammerkop takes off as we get close
Day 4 - An epic moment with a Leopard on the Kopjes at sunset
We are on our 5th Day and most of the animals on my guests wishlist have been concurred. Lions, Leopards, Crossings, Elephants, Rosie Longclaw, Painted Snipe and Black Rhino among others have been spotted and photographed. Cheetahs however have not made an appearance yet so today we will be looking for them. One was spotted a mile away which does not really count so we keep searching. In the process we find a pride of lions on a mound and our good old Leopardess up in a tree which we have been able to find almost every day which is quite special. Today would not be the day for the sought after Cheetah.
Day 5 - A pride of Lions on a Mound
Day 5 - A Leopard resting on a tree
Day 5 - An Agama Lizard basking on a rock
Day 6 would be C Day. After a nice sighting of lions in early morning light we finally spotted 2 cheetahs near the kopjes. They seemed really nervous in the presence of our vehicle so they took off immediately. This was going to be the start of a treacherous pursuit through very rough terrain trying to keep up with these two spotted cats. Finally . . . they climbed on a large rock to scan the area. This would be one of the few opportunities we got with them as they were moving constantly trying to get away from us. The day ended with an amazing sunset session before heading back to camp for a well deserved gourmet dinner.
Day 6 - A Lioness in early morning light
Day 6 - A Cheetah scans the plains from atop a large boulder
Day 6 - Sunset on the Serengeti plains
Today is Day nr. 7. Today would be another full day and our target were the river crossings which unfortunately did not happen for us even though we waited at 2 of the main crossing pints for over 4 hours. The resident Lion pride on the other hand was always around in the early hours which gave us endless opportunities. This time we got some nice headshots of one of the males. The highlight was definitely our extremely cooperative Leopard posing beautifully on a rock. What did help to spot her almost every day was the fact that she had 2 young cubs and that she would not move too far from where we first found her. Still . . . we must consider ourselves very lucky to have seen her and photographed her so many times.
Day 7 - A portrait of a male Lion
Day 7 - Great Leopard pose on the Serengeti kopjes
Day 7 - Elephant and her calf close to the Mara River.
Our final day was a short one as we only had time for a morning session. We had been trying to get a glimpse of two 2 week old Lion cubs that were near our camp and finally today, as if they had to say goodbye, they showed themselves. Nothing beats seeing these tiny felines.
Day 8 - Two lion cubs posing for the cameras
Day 8 - A Lion cub looking at his mother.
All Images by Mario Moreno