Mark Nolting in Kenya – Update #1
Ol Jogi Private Wildlife Conservancy, located in the Laikipia District, is an exclusive 58,000 acre reserve offering the ultimate exclusive retreat. With spectacular scenery, the thrill of Big Five game viewing (including Grevy zebra, reticulated giraffe and more than 50 black rhinos) and a variety of activities, Ol Jogi is perfect for private families or groups of 4 to 22 guests.
A very eclectic lodge with just about anything a private group could want including a swimming pool, tennis courts, spa and wine cellar. The hide was excellent. A hippo and black rhino came very close , and were very close together. The highlight was darting a black rhino that needed medical attention. The food was superb as well as the service.
The pool area, breakfast spread and Ol Jogi lounge area
We spent time with an habituated elephant, and hiked the gorge.
Mark Nolting in Kenya – Update #2 – Mara Reserve and Mara Triangle
Mark has been based at Little Governors Camp for two days. With his guide Oliver, they have found numerous elephant herds, some wildebeest still keeping on the Kenya side of the Mara river, a lovely black rhino, a mom cheetah and her four cubs, plus some super lion sightings. Little Governors in the northwest area of the park, overlooks a marsh waterhole, and this is where elephants come to feed all day long.
The service at Governor’s Camp was outstanding. I was surprised by Justin Grimaticus, one of the directors flying in to meet me. It was great seeing him again.
Little Governor’s had a huge clearing out front which is a major attraction- there were about 50 elephants out front when I arrived. The camp has a new dining and lounge which is a huge upgrade from the previous one. The food was good. The tents are relatively small with queen size beds. The camp is a very good value for what it offers. It is in one of the best locations on the Mara Game Reserve.
Most of our game drives were in Mara Triangle which is generally less crowded than the central Mara.
Balloon safari was fabulous, as the balloon path follows the Mara River more than any of the other balloon companies. I think it is the best one!
Dr. Elena Chelysbeva gave an amazing talk in camp on cheetahs as she has been an expert for the Mara ecosystem for over a decade. She would love to give presentations to our clients for $300 and will join them on the vehicle on a day of game drives. After the morning balloon safari Oliver searched for and found a cheetah with 4 cubs that Dr. Elena was searching for. We met her on the road and lead her to the turnoff for the site.
11/18/22: Message from Dr. Elena
Hello Mark, it was a pleasure meeting you in the Mara. Hope you had a great time in the camps and on safaris. Thanks to you and Oliver, I spent very fruitful time with Risasi’s family and went back in 4 days with 5 genetic samples. I look forward to our cooperation for the best of wildlife conservation and promoting conservation tourism through the special experience of the respected guests.
On my last morning my guide Oliver treated me to a great male black rhino sighting and a very close lion sighting with no other vehicles in sight.
Mark Nolting in Kenya – Update #3 – Mara Nyika in exclusive Naibosho Conservancy
It took just under 2 hours for the road transfer from Little Governor’s Camp to Mara Nyika. We passed a number of herds of cattle being driven to water.
The camp is amazing – the nicest I have ever stayed in! About 10 minutes into the afternoon game drive we were hit with torrential rains which was fabulous as they were the first of the season. My guide Steve put down the flaps and said we should wait as after the rains it would be a great time to find lions hunting. 45 minutes later the rains subsided and shortly thereafter we found 20 members of a pride of 36 which we followed hunting and killing a zebra.
The following morning Steve found a cheetah mother and 5 month old baby which we followed to its kill of a Thompson’s gazelle. We spent the afternoon with a leopard. His guiding was excellent.
Mark Nolting in Tanzania – Update #4 – Serengeti “endless plains”
The road transfer from Migori (Kenya border) to Tarimi (Tanzania border) took less than 1.5 hours including immigration. On arrival at Seronera airstrip was driven to central Serengeti to Siringit Serengeti Camp. Enroute we have seen lion, leopard, hippo, giraffe, impala and gazelle. Light showers so nice and cool. The following day we got a rare sighting of white headed vulture, also saw cheetah trying to hunt and lots of lions sleeping.
Mark Nolting in Tanzania – Update #5 – Grumeti Reserve
The scheduled charter with Coastal direct would be 20 minutes however we went via Grumeti airstrip and it still only took about 50 minutes to arrive on the Sasakwa airstrip on the Singita Grumeti Reserve. The camps have had good occupancies for November primarily due to COVID postponements.
In Kenya and at Siringit and at Grumeti I encountered hardly any insects at all – a very nice surprise!
On the less than hour transfer to Sabora we drove past a buffalo kill with two lions on it. Later we came back to the kill and there were 4 lionesses and six cubs on the kill. There are approximately 200 lion on the reserve, making cheetah and leopard sightings more challenging. Lots of banded mongoose to keep you entertained!
The Singita Sabora Tented camp is absolutely gorgeous. I was met by Fabio and Barb, the couple that is managing the camp. Beforehand they managed Greystoke for 5 years. The 10 tents are air-conditioned and heated, and some of the most luxurious that I have ever seen – they have thought of everything!
I also visited the refreshed Faru Faru that has 7 standard suites, one family suite suitable only for parents and small children. The rooms are modern in style and have views of the Grumeti River. There is a waterhole in front of the swimming pool, an open kitchen and second floor lounging deck.
During the dry season a lot of wildlife moves south into the Serengeti for water and from Singita you visit via the gate at Nyasiroro. Night drives are not conducted at Sabora as it is located on the GMA – Game Management Reserve; they are conducted from Faru Faru and Sasakwa into the Wildlife Management Area and Irorongo Game Reserve to the east that is also under Singita.
It was especially exciting to meet up with Luke Bailes during my visit and briefed me on their future plans in the afternoon and later I joined him as well as his operations manager and Human Resources manager for dinner.
Mark Nolting in Tanzania – Update #6 – Tarangire and Arusha
My private guide Wilson met me at the airstrip and we drove for an hour to Mpingo Ridge. The view from the lodge is outstanding! The afternoon game drive produced a leopard in a tree and some good birding.
We took a game drive from 6:30 – 12:30 to the Siawa Swamps and saw one sleeping male lion and two jackels along with some elephant, reedbuck, eland and other plains game. In the dry season there are generally large herds of elephant and buffalo and other species in the swamps but since it had rained there were none to be seen. In spite of this, it is a beautiful park to visit with a variety of landscapes. The birding along the swamps was excellent and we enjoyed our picnic lunch alone!
The 2 days staying in Arusha at Kahawa Cottage was a real highlight of the safari as it was my base to meet up with our teams of private guides. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them and passing on my personal thanks for a great season in Tanzania!
My final stop is Nairobi to fly home for Thanksgiving.