TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green - Page 2





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  1. #21
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    Our rating of the Aberdares:
    A gem of a park with very few visitors. The thick jungle-like vegetation is breath-taking and viewing elephant and and buffalo in these surroundings is very different from savannah-like environment, they are suddenly so small. 2 nights are minimum to appreciate both the Salient and the moorlands. Reedbuck public campsite is rustic but fine, Ruhuruine pcs could be improved...
    Would opt for one of the private campsites in the Salient next time.

    4-6 Jan: Mara Triangle, Oloololo public campsite

    This day we would finally head to the Mara, a destination that we were most excited to explore for a whole week.

    We stocked up on food, fruit and veggies in Kericho and found a Tuskys close to the main road. After cruising around the supermarket for more than 20 minutes I finally got out of the car and started shopping while Matthias continued in his search for parking space. The selection of food was limited and I wonder whether there is a bigger market in another part of the town. Anyway, after some digging around we had most of what we wanted and were ready for our final approach to the Mara (or so we thought...). We passed Sotik, still on tar road and it was in Görgor, a small place on C15/C14 that we discovered with a certain horror that the tar road ended there and it would be murram from then on. At first we could not believe it and tried a different road which sadly led us away from our next destination (Kilgoris) but no, we were right (at least we think), just the road was much worse than we had expected. I do not want to imagine that this road is always like this, it was a great combination of corrugation, deep ditches of solidified mud, protruding rocks and speed-bumps and we hardly met any cars, just motorcyles. With great relief, some kilometers before Kilgoris we were back on tar again, alas for 10 km only and then it was back to horrible murram roads. They must have suffered a lot during the last months of rain but boy, suffer did we as well, it was simply incredible. After around 70 km which took us an indecent amount of time we arrived thoroughly exhausted at Oloololo Gate but the view from the escarpment down to the Mara plains made us soon forget the whole ordeal - we were finally there!

    Check-in into the Triangle was pretty straightfoward, we acquired 'The Official Guidebook to the Mara Triangle', headed down to the campsite and made ourselves at home.

    Over the next two days we would get up with the birds, enjoy the wonderful views of hot-air balloons in front of the rising sun, have a lazy breakfast and then head out for a gamedrive. We would see plenty of elephant, topi, buffalo, waterbuck, Thommies, giraffe and the occasional zebra and on two occasions we encountered lions in the distance, thanks to gamedrive vehicles already standing there. The grass was incredibly high and made wildlife spotting really challenging, though every once in a while a hyena would emerge from the long grass when we thought that the plains were empty.



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  2. #22
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    We soon discovered that we had to stick to the main roads as most of the minor tracks were inaccessible due to the abundant rain of the past months and the same went for Eluai campsite, where we would have loved to have a picknick - it was not to be.

    Each afternoon we had most impressive thunderstorms and rain, from around mid-day we could see clouds buidling up over the escarpment, sometimes they seemed to drift over to the other side of the Mara but sooner or later they would hit the Triangle, sometimes with full, sometimes with less force - it was really spectacular!
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  3. #23
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    ...
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  4. #24
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    Thank you so much for your report. Great stuff, and I particularly love the panoramic photo of Karuru Falls. I am with others, inspired to get back to Kenya sooner rather than later.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    Quote Originally Posted by Anne_W View Post


    We passed Sotik, still on tar road and it was in Görgor, a small place on C15/C14 that we discovered with a certain horror that the tar road ended there and it would be murram from then on. At first we could not believe it and tried a different road which sadly led us away from our next destination (Kilgoris) but no, we were right (at least we think), just the road was much worse than we had expected. I do not want to imagine that this road is always like this, it was a great combination of corrugation, deep ditches of solidified mud, protruding rocks and speed-bumps and we hardly met any cars, just motorcyles. With great relief, some kilometers before Kilgoris we were back on tar again, alas for 10 km only and then it was back to horrible murram roads. They must have suffered a lot during the last months of rain but boy, suffer did we as well, it was simply incredible. After around 70 km which took us an indecent amount of time we arrived thoroughly exhausted at Oloololo Gate but the view from the escarpment down to the Mara plains made us soon forget the whole ordeal - we were finally there!
    Great reporting, Anne. I think you were too far East if you ended up near Gorgor. There is definitely a tarmac road from the B3 Kericho-Sotik-Kisii road to Kilgoris. I think it might be called the C16. We have done this route quite a few times and our friends coming from western Kenya drove it to the Mara in August. I think you might have been on what we used to call the “turn right at the bougainvillea” track!

    Pole sana!

  6. #26
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    Enjoying every minute Anne.

    Great skies over Mara and that filtered light !!! Just beautiful. Oloololo just for yourselves! What a treat!

    Thank you.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    And old Kiboko got to meet some kibokos in the Mara!

    Lovely, lovely photos, Anne.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    Quote Originally Posted by CalDriver View Post
    Thank you so much for your report. Great stuff, and I particularly love the panoramic photo of Karuru Falls. I am with others, inspired to get back to Kenya sooner rather than later.
    Karibuni Kenya, caldriver!

  9. #29
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    On our 2nd day at Oloololo we headed to Olare Saltlick as I had read this was an area attracting a lot of game. The gamedrive was very quiet, both in terms of wildlife and other vehicles, we only met one at Figtree picknick site.

    It was on the Olare road that seemed so innocent that Matthias suddenly remarked that we were in trouble! We were going at around 25kmh, the road was freshly graded, going down gently and the surface was not even but sloping towards the outer banks. Our heavy kiboko's backside started to swing, it was like driving on pure ice and we swiftly glided into a drainage channel on the left side of the road.

    Inspection of our situation revealed that we were seriously stuck in the mud so out came the two heavy sand trax which were suck up by the mud in no time. Being close to a wooded stream we managed to collect a considerable amount of wood which we put under the wheels and we advanced a few cm before we had to painfully dig out sandtrax and sticks to start the process anew. Meanwhile we had checked our phones but found out that there was no reception at this point. It was around 10h30am, we were really out of breath by all the digging and mud was clinging at our shoes and garments, when we heard a vehicle approaching. It was the gamedrive vehicle we had met at Figtree, the friendly tourguide jumped out with a sympathetic grin and offered to pull us out. He did not have to ask twice, out came tow-rope and shackles and we were out in no time.

    In the unlikely event that this tourguide ever reads our trip report: Thanks again, you are our HERO
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  10. #30
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    7-10 Jan Mara Triangle, Dirisha campsite

    Today we would move to our private campsite and we did so with much expectation - Oloololo has fantastic views but feels not so isolated and you do hear the gamedrive vehicles speeding by in the morning and the occasional barking dog at night.

    We have been extremely lucky with our choice of Dirisha - originally I was torn between Kiboko in the south and Dirisha but for some reason made the reservation for Dirisha - this was most fortunate as Ndovu and Maji Ya Ndege were not accessible and with hindsight Kiboko would have been too far in the south.

    When we turned into Dirisha access road we first got to a spot where you have a beautiful view of the Mara, complete with a large pod of Hippos taking a sunbath and fish eagles crying in the sky. Further approach to the campsite itself was past a large oxbow lagoon that had formed at the right of the entry and which gave us a headache every time we needed to pass as we were in constant danger of slipping into the lagoon. Dirisha itself is really large and there is plenty of much appreciated shade - it has a certain forrest feeling. Birdsong is varied and beautiful and you have a wide view of the river itself and the plains on the other side, though sadly we hardly ever saw any game there (except for the hippos): there was simply no need for animals to come to drink.

    Once the campsite inspected we headed towards Mara Serena which is surrounded by lovely shortgrass areas that attracted good amounts of game at this time of the year. Great was our joy when we found the den of 3 bat-eared foxes right next to the road and as it was coolish this afternoon they were active, digging here and there and not shy at all. We spent quite some time with them and later discovered a large fat hyena who behaved very strangely: She was constantly rolling on her back, looking at us as if she wanted us to adopt her, she looked so cute that we felt the urge to caress her enormous tummy and we wondered whether she was about to give birth.
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  11. #31
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    Very much pleased with this day's encounters we turned into Dirisha access road when Matthias shouted "Lions!" and indeed, 2 young male lions were lying right in the middle of the road and studying us with barely-hidden interest.

    Very soon studying us got boring and one started to chase the other around in a mad race, they had so much fun, one was hidden behind an earth mound, lying in ambush, wagging its bum in excitement for his brother to come around which would ensue a hearty attack, both would stand on their rear paws, ready to pat the other on his head.
    When one of the two brothers had enough the other soon found a new attraction: he started to chase pieces of dry dung, threw them into the air, then again ambushed the helpless prey and gave it a powerful blow.

    After a short break the two brothers started their mad chase again which was suddenly interrupted by a bird flying low over the two playful cats and one brother launched himself high into the air but never caught the daredevil bird - these beautiful lions really reminded us of our two beloved cats at home!
    The whole experience lasted for 15 to 20 minutes with not another soul in sight but it was getting dark so it was with a heavy heart that we left the lions and went to our campsite.

    Shortly after 7pm our two askari Jackson and Edwin presented themselves at the campsite and we had tea and biscuits with them. They were quiet and pleasant company as mentioned by others, not at all obtrusive and once we had wished them a good night we never felt their presence.
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  12. #32
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

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  13. #33
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    Next morning our lion brothers were still there and their mother was with them! The three looked lean and healthy although I guess it is not an easy time for them with all the wildebeest gone, the grass so long and water all around.

    Once we were fortunate to witness one of the young brothers chasing warthog piglets: he was enjoying a good morning sun bath but suddenly the whole body tensed, his ears shot forward and he glided into the long grass, very alert and full of purpose but the piglets were too fast and he soon gave up, only to tense again, crouching down with maximum concentration when two impala ambled into his direction. He shot forward just a few seconds too early, but had he had help from his brother, maybe he would have won a good meal on this occasion.

    We enjoyed the brothers' company on 3 different occasions. When we last saw them it was raining, they were restless and I think they were hungry and were heading south, away from Dirisha (sigh).
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  14. #34
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

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  15. #35
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    One day we ventured as far as south as Olare and Kiboko special campsite. We especially liked Kiboko which is not as open as Dirisha but right on top of the steep riverbank, you are much closer to the other side of the river (and have a good view of any wildlife that might emerge from there).

    The grasslands south of Serena lodge are immense, grass as far as the eye can see, seemingly empty except for the occasional topi.

    This afternoon back from a gamedrive we had a rather funny but painful experience with (safari?) ants in Dirisha. We were watching Dirisha's resident heard of hippos and ready to get out our chairs and table when we both felt the (sometimes not so) tiny attackers on the inside of our trousers. At first we did not know what was going on and tried to get rid of them by applying light blows to the affected areas but that did not impress the ants at all, on the contrary the bites were getting more painful and soon we were hopping around and dancing as if overcome by a sudden Saturday-night-fever. The soldiers had really impressive mandibula and we were careful not to stand in their vicinity again.

    Before and after each gamedrive out of Dirisha we stopped at a swampy area very close-by. Being both passionate kingfisher lovers (we are privileged to regularly see one at our little pond in the garden) we study all bodies of water with great interest and we were lucky to find the flying jewel there, right next to the main road. We would often patiently wait until the little guy sat down closer to our car and we were overjoyed when we could twice get a good shot of him catching a dragonfly nymph and a tadpole.
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  16. #36
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    Apr 2014
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    Loving your trip report and your fantastic photos.

    At least fifty shades of green!

  17. #37
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    On our second-last day we went to the Serena Lodge for a sundowner. It has a truely lovely location on the very top to of a hill with impressive views onto the plains. We saw tiny elephants and giraffes from there and it must be an awesome sight to see thousands of and wildebeest marching over the plains below.

    As we were heading back to our camp the daily thunderstorm was approaching fast, again it was a most impressive accumulation of dark clouds and we could positively see the rain approaching, blurring the contours of hills around us.

    On our last afternoon at Dirisha we heard a big commotion in one of the higher trees. A really large bird that looked like out of Jurassic Park had landed in one of the fruit-bearing trees and was relentlessly harassed by smaller birds. It had the most impressive beak and looked like some archaic creature out of never-never land.

    Our last evening in Dirisha was special, the Triangle decided to say good-bye with yet another mighty thunderstorm. We managed to have a sundowner by the river, 10 giraffes were graciously passing on the other side of the river, but we hurriedly packed everything together when we saw that things were starting to get serious. We managed to put table and chairs away, closed all tent zippers and had just jumped into the car when it started to pour. Our romantic last night dinner was cold noodles with cold tomato sauce accompanied by impressive lightening every 3 seconds for almost 2 hours. During a short break we went over to our 2 askari and asked them to wait for us the next morning before they go. With all the additional water we were really worried about the access road to Dirisha, the one stretch where we were in constant danger of gliding into the lagoon.

    Next morning the rain had stopped but all was wet and soggy, we quickly dismounted the tent and followed the 2 askari who this time had more difficulties to get behind the lagoon than we did. I would have loved to have a last breakfast on the access road to Dirisha but dear husband was not amused about the soggy grounds so we had fierce conjugal thunder and lightening after which it was decided to go to hippo pool and have breakfast there. Being not an official picknick site our breakfast was furtive and full of guilty glances and every time a vehicle approached we hurriedly jumped out of our chairs and tried to hide our breakfast things - what a strange last breakfast in the Mara.

    Then it was time to head towards Purungat, we sailed through the seemingly endless grasslands to the south. Not far from Purungat we saw our last Triangle lions, it was a mother with her subadult, they were enjoying the sunshine after this rainy coolish night.

    Shortly after Purungat we saw another three lions who were passing the road a few metres in front of us. They did not deign to look at us, they looked hungry and soon disappeared into the high grass beside the road.

    Our rating of the Mara Triangle:

    The Triangle is a really well-managed reserve, they are doing a great job of maintaining the extensive road network and reading about how the situation was only 20 years ago it is also a tremendous success conservation-wise. Olooololo campsite has rustic but clean ablutions and fantastic views onto the plains, while Iseiya is set in the middle of a gloomy forest-like environment with no view at all. Eluai was not accessible due to all the rain.

    Dirisha private campsite has a wonderful view onto the Mara river with plenty of shade and has a much different feeling than Oloololo. What I really do not understand is why they charge such a hefty booking fee, this would even be charged again if you decided to spend time on a different private campsite. I do appreciate the concept of having 2 askari at your private campsite - not that we thought they were necessary but it provides them with an income and their presence did not interfere with our privacy.

    Wildlife-wise we were not as lucky as we had hoped to be - the grass was so high that it was difficult to spot game and it was maybe due to the abundant rains and tense food situation that prides of lions had split up - we never saw more than 3 lions together and the same went for hyenas. On the other hand scenery is truly amazing and varied so we cannot complain about our experience in the Mara, it is a world-class conservation area.
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  18. #38
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Braunschweig
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

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  19. #39
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

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  20. #40
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Ljubljana, Slovenia
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    Default Re: TR Kenya Dec/Jan 20: of roaring rivers, a muddy Mara and 50 shades of green

    Lovely! That strange looking bird is black and white casqued hornbill, I believe.
    24 hours in a day.... 24 beer in a case.... Coincidence?
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    My blog: Our African Ramblings (https://safaribug.wordpress.com/)

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