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Finally Back in The Mara

After a quick stop at Kichwa Tembo we flew over the Mara River and up to Ol Kiombo. Recent rains had prevented us flying into Ol Seki because roads were a muddy mess and creek crossings were still running high. This didn’t worry me because it would allow me a small game drive up through the reserve before heading into the Naboisho Conservancy which would be my home for the next 9 nights. This was my first visit to this side of the Mara Reserve and it was great to be able to see the location of some of the camps from above for future reference. Once down on the ground I collected my bag and I was off to look for my guide.

I was really lucky to be welcomed by Evelyn who was one of Asilia’s first female guides. This would be my second female guide to take me around the Mara area and I felt extremely priviledged. Evelyn was from Samburu and wore her traditional dress, which was colourful and complemented her lovely character. We put the bags in the back and I jumped into the first row along with my camera bag ready for my new adventure.

Evelyn like most guides when a guest first arrives was asking plenty of questions to understand what I was most interested in, where I had been before and what I had seen. I always love stirring the pot and letting my guide know that all I wanted to see is blood. This usually brings a questionable look to ascertain if I am serious or not. I laughed at Evelyn and said that cats, cubs, kills and blood would be the top things on my list, letting her know that I am happy to wait as long as necessary to see what we can find and I love hearing guide’s stories and fun facts. This seemed to please Evelyn and we set off towards camp.

Evelyn and I were enjoying the first of many great conversations that we would have over our time together when she pointed out there were cheetah up ahead. I had a look out the side of the car and sure enough there were 4 male cheetahs walking along very comfortably with only another two cars in the vicinity. I was completely blown away at the luck of such an awesome sighting as we pulled up alongside them. One of the males suddenly stopped just in front of our car and scanned the horizon and Evelyn announced that there were topi approximately 200m away. The remaining three cheetah didn’t seem interested and certainly lacked confidence in their sibling being able to complete a successful hunt and continued to walk up the track. I too thought there was no way anything was going to happen so I just continued to watch and wait.

Within the blink of an eye the cheetah was off and running with both Evelyn and I verbally encouraging him but thinking nothing would happen considering the distance. I was also swearing as I realized that I didn’t have a camera on hand and wasn’t prepared for anything to happen. As we continued to watch the cheetah quickly closed the gap with the topi I was frantically trying to get my camera out of my bag. The topi seemed to be winning, with the cheetah out of luck from where we were parked on the road but quickly the tables turned and we saw the cheetah close the gap and take down the topi as his siblings bounded up to take advantage of such an impromptu kill. I was completely lost for words as we drove closer to see the life die from the topi’s eyes and the boys start to enjoy their reward.

Of course this was when I finally managed to pull out my camera and fire off a couple of photos to remind myself of what I was witnessing. It was an unbelievable hunt and kill with exactly what I had asked for “blood”. It didn’t stop there, the brothers were enjoying the spoils of their brothers heroic kill when two of the cheetahs stopped and the hairs on the back of their necks rose as they started to hiss and growl. Out of nowhere two hyenas came bounding along with no regard to the four cheetahs. The two cheetahs who were on the kill literally turned around and walked away, leaving their siblings to look over their shoulders and with no family support they too turned to join them. None of the cheetah looked especially sad to be leaving such a fresh kill, whilst the hyena was laughing all the way as it ripped apart the topi leaving the second hyena watching enviously from a distance.

We stayed and enjoyed the opportunity of witnessing the hyena enjoying a fresh lunch on the reserve plains under a brilliant bright sunny sky. Evelyn was ecstatic as she turned around and told me that I was the luckiest guest she had ever had to get what they wanted within ten minutes of arriving. I completely agreed as we wrapped up the sighting to follow the cheetah boys for a while before they went cross county leaving us to continue towards the Naboisho Conservancy. Evelyn had another little something up her sleeve as we drove off the main reserve road towards Olare Olok Conservancy. She slowed down and as I turned my head I discovered a cheetah mum and her two young cubs. What an amazing sight to have seen 7 cheetahs within an hour. With the heat of the sun pounding down on them, none of these cats were in the mood to play and mum looked very content having hunted successfully the previous day. We stayed for about 30 minutes taking photos and hoping without luck that another hunt may occur but there was nothing in sight. With photos taken we drove onto camp with a great deal of anticipation considering the amazing sightings I had just witnessed. I was looking forward to seeing what else the Naboisho Conservancy would provide.

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