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Kenya 2013: Day 5 & 6 – Can it get any better?

Wednesday morning started bright and early – we left the camp before sunrise and immediate came across lions with their freshly killed zebra. To add to the photography opportunity they were surrounded by a pack of hungry hyenas with the addition of one very cheeky jackal.

Lion eating zebra for breakfast

Lion eating zebra for breakfast

We stayed and watched the interactions for an hour or so before heading off to see what else we could find. It wasn’t long before we had a very rare (in every way) treat – a rhino, which we stayed with and got some great shots of with a stunning background and beautiful soft dawn light. It was so good to see one if these animals in the wild – there’s only 40 left in the Mara now with poaching an every day threat. It was reassuring to see the rangers not too far away.

Black Rhino

Black Rhino

We drove on further heading northwards and came across a large herd of buffalo – very majestic creatures which make great portrait subjects.

We stopped, overlooking the Mara river and got out for our picnic breakfast watched by a pod of hippo and several crocodiles.

After breakfast we carried on and came across a large herd of wildebeest and zebra gathering ready to cross the river. More and more arrived from the back which pushed the front ones nearer the edge- quite a drop down to the water with crocs gathering below. Henry our driver put his foot down to get us to the rivers edge up on the cliff – talk about rallying… we hit a boulder really hard & I thought the Land Cruiser would be a goner but thankfully we all survived (!)

We waited for a while but something had spooked the animals – we headed back to the herd but they’d moved back from the cliff edge. Henry spotted dust rising from further along the river where the herd had retreated to so we headed over to see what was happening – arriving just in time to see a stunningly beautiful male leopard throttling it’s catch of a young wildebeest. It eventually let go of its dead dinner and looked straight into my camera lens. Fab! It then picked it up and carried it off into the bushes.

Leopard with wildebeest catch

Leopard with wildebeest catch

We continued back in the direction of camp and came across a family of elephants on our way, having a mud bath – spraying muddy water all over themselves as a cooling relief from the sun.

Our evening drive was amazing, we set out looking for cheetahs and Henry aka sharp eyes found us not one but three cheetahs out starting their hunt. The light was stunning evening glowing light and against a dark stormy sky it was perfect. After a failed attempt to catch a jackal the cheetahs turned their attention to a distant herd of zebra. We followed then for 40 min or so, the hunt culminating in a kill – the cheetahs emerging with a small gazelle which they set about to devour… whilst constantly looking around checking for hyenas, their faces soon blood soaked.

Cheetah Masai Mara

We headed back to camp in the dark, having had an amazing day – lions and their zebra kill, leopard and it’s wildebeest kill and cheetahs and their gazelle kill. We’d certainly had some anatomy lessons!!!

Guess what we were served for dinner?

Steak. Hmmm!

( P.S. There was a close encounter with a puff adder near our tent too that evening, highly venomous snake. Our Masai guide made sure it had gone in the opposite direction)

Day 6: Thursday

We set out before sunrise again and travelled an hour or so to visit the Marsh pride (made famous by the BBC’s Big Cat Diaries). We arrived in time to see a lioness devouring the intestines of her freshly killed buffalo – just like spaghetti going down!

Lion from the Marsh Pride feeding

Lion from the Marsh Pride feeding

We photographed the other lions, including Scar one of the males who was sleeping happily, followed by a family of elephants with two babies. There were also baboons to photograph – all busy grooming (and eating what they picked off!) and posing for their portraits.

Lion from the Marsh Pride

Lion from the Marsh Pride

Back at camp during lunch the clouds were building further and the rains arrived just before we headed out for our evening drive. The first rains since April. The light was very poor and it was raining hard. We found some soggy lions and an elephant and other than that it was our quietest drive of the week so far.