I have not been to Kenya for a dozen years and coming back always filled me with trepidation as I had great memories from the past, not just from wildlife but also the landscapes and not least because the desperate old romantic in me always yearned for the cinematography from Out of Africa.</p
From a UK naturalist’s perspective, Kenya has always been part and parcel of the must visit wildlife sites in the world. After 172 years of nagging, Paul finally managed to excavate a crevice in my diary which allowed me to visit for nine days. At this point let me state categorically that I am not being co-erced, bullied or indiscreetly manhandled for this endorsement.
Firstly, let’s start with the least important aspect from a hard-core zoologists point of view and I do not mean this disparagingly: the accommodation. Bush Camp is not posh, preposterous or pretentious, it is simple and smart but critically it is practical, I love the way that whilst the solar power is used judiciously, the charging facilities run for 24 hours so despite the five am starts your camera batteries never run flat even though your metabolic ones might.
Unlike so much over-pampered glamping, these tents actually work and the bush showers are the best I have ever had, this is coming from a man who has owned a houUnlike so much over-pampered glamping, these tents actually work and the bush showers are the best I have ever had, this is coming from a man who has owned a house for 12 years yet always ignored the shower favouring a zinc bath.se for 12 years yet always ignored the shower favouring a zinc bath.
The food is exemplary and let’s be clear I’m in the middle of Africa, posturing as a vegan, yet my every need has been catered for in terms of snacks (bitings) breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Obviously the vehicle are perfectly equipped and the guides are superb and brilliant at catering for the needs of serious photographers and wildlife lovers alike and that in itself is a rarity.
So, what have I seen: an enormous diversity and also an extraordinary density of wildlife. Compared with most other safari sites in Africa this Conservancy is packed with animals and the landscape and light make it a photographic utopia – not to say that I have taken any decent pictures of course, but this is the place to try.
Looking for highlights, well I do not need to go any further than the last fifteen hours when I spent a whole day with six frolicking cheetah cubs and talking of spots, I was ecstatic to find the Mara’s current top of the spots: ‘that’ zebra foal, although it was not me that found it, Nelson’s uncanny eyesight zeroed in on this unique chimera half an hour before anyone else.
Irrespective of my camera, it would be impossible to isolate a single animal in the way Nelson did, so bounteous have my sightings been: legions of lions, leaps of leopards or captivating cheetahs, not forgetting a brief glimpse of a pair of bat eared foxes, animals that always entranced me and although I have seen before I wonder how many times I will see again.
For me it is not about the ludicrously titled famous five, it is about the moment and those priceless moments will be found in a Mara Conservancy more often than they will be anywhere else on earth.