Apr 18 2008
On our return from India on the 28 March I packed up the Toyota and headed down to the Masai Mara to join Paul Goldstein (Exodus Travel and Kicheche Mara Camp) and his group of visitors from the UK. The 5 day safari was excellent – bit tiring mind you and pretty wet for the first day-and-a-half, but then the sun shone and everywhere looked green and beautiful. Kicheche is near Aitong – one of my old haunts from the 70s when wild dogs used to den here in the dry season – and though it is outside the Reserve at this time of the year it is the place to be. The Masai cattle keep the grass nice and short so the plains game love this area. Icing on the cake was definitely Supu the mother leopard with her two 6 month old cubs who gave us an hour and a half of sheer joy – just wandered about in the open between patches of forest playing the fool, leaping all over mum, and though the light could have been better if it had Supu probably wouldnt have done what she did and would have made her move when it was cooler. Also had a
beautiful lioness with small cubs and two big males on a topi kill early one morning – the mum brought the cubs to the kill later; and we had good cheetahs – two big males who killed a full grown topi (didnt get there in time for that though) and a mother cheetah with two cubs (the same ones we watched in October 2007 with Brian Hall and Experience Seminars always visit Kicheche at the end of the dry season). The trip was full which was pleasing considering the trouble Kenya has been through,and we had the Mara virtually to ourselves. Safari operators and lodges have seen buisness fall by as much as 90% in some instances – 200,000 people laid off work in the tourism sector which means upwards of a million people affected as for each person in employment another four or five family members are provided for. I didnt see one tour vehicle on my drive back to Nairobi from the Mara – that is how bad is has been for tourism. But we all have confidence that things will improve again come the high season from July onwards – and if ever there was a time to book a holiday to Kenya this is it, with a sense of calm and optimism now prevailing in the country. I am off again tomorrow to Siana Springs for a couple of days – a Masai friend of mine is becoming a Senior Elder – and his brother is getting married – so I want to be there to celebrate with James and take a few pictures too! We have been asked to help with a big familiarisation visit for 200 international journalists, hosted by the Kenya Tourist Board, Virgin Airlines and other stake holders, so some of the journalists will be joining us in the Mara.
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