Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

The Great Migration Is On!

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

29 June 2016

Last two weeks: Chilly mornings and hot afternoons coupled with heavy rains - an average of 10mm per day.

Most of the crossing points are quite impassable. The Olare Orok River crossing is ok because there isn’t much rain on the northern side of the park.

The Mara River is higher than in previous years meaning there will be spectacular crossings of the wildebeest this year.
130c morning
260c at midday
150c after sunset

The migration is on.

The first batch of wildebeest and zebras arrived in their thousands, around Zacharia, Pololet hills, Murram ya Ashnil and Sand River.

With the migration we are also seeing lots of vultures– like the Ruppell’s, African white-backed and Lappet-faced vultures.
The Loita herds are spread out around Billa Shaka and Milima Tatu and another bigger herd around Kilomita Tisa east heading south to meet with the migratory herds from the Serengeti.

We are waiting for these herds to make the famous crossing across the Talek River into Possee Plains any time now. 

The last two weeks the impala have been breeding close to our football pitch and around the landing strip.  Occasionally a big bull elephant comes around Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer including a small family of several females and young ones. There’s a herd of fifty elands and their calves, giraffes and the Loita wildebeest and zebra.



Ridge Pride
The Ridge pride is still at the Topi plains and seems to have established a permanent home there. The pride is expanding its territory towards Billa Shaka because the four musketeers are not around. Lipstick and Blacky are taking advantage of their absence.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the musketeers get back to reclaim their territory.

Two females from the Ridge pride who had crossed the Mara River over to Mara Triangle are back with a cub aged about six months. They killed a wildebeest calf a week ago and seem to be doing fine.

Lipstick has been seen with two females from the Double Cross pride that had disappeared.
One of the males left after having a feast from the wildebeest kill that the females had made by Mara Explorer Camp. The following day during the morning drive he was at Billa Shaka with his mate Blacky – meaning that he travelled 15 kilometers that night.

Olkeju Ronkai Pride
This pride has been at Burrungat plains because of the huge herds of plains game -wildebeest, topis, zebras, warthogs and gazelles.

The five cubs are doing great and we have another female that has given birth to two cubs although they are still hidden.

The only male is still holding on to the pride but Earless and Boxer Nose - the other two big males around Kivuko ya Pussy are in that area as this is their territory.

With the onset of the migration, the pride is headed towards Maji Mbili in readiness of the wildebeest that are already headed towards Olmisigiyioi area.

Olkiombo Pride
The pride has been elusive but is seen around the Talek River.
Bahati has been spotted on several occasions by guests on the opposite side of the Talek River by the swimming pool at Mara Intrepids with her two cubs.

Siri the pump house leopard has been seen in Shamarta area. She had been missing for some time. There are reports that she has three cubs which we are yet to confirm.

Lorrian along Olkeju Rongai has been a common sighting. She was seen with a kill near Kivuko ya Pussy and on the following day with her cub near Maji ya Fisi. She seems to be expanding her territory.

Malaika has said goodbye to her two cubs. We are expecting a new litter from her any time before the end of June.

The two cubs have been named Malkia (female) and Mfalme (male). They are still together and are seen around Kananga and Murram ya Fig Tree.

Nora on the other hand has been around Maji ya Fisi and crossed Talek River with her sub adult cub. They are doing well.

We have two new males in the area though not together who go by the names Leomom and Martin. They have crossed over from the Mara Triangle and have of late been hanging around Double Crossing.

Report and pictures By Raphael Ole Koikai – Head Driver Guide, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps.


Samburu Safari Diary

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

29 June 2016

At Samburu National Reserve in northern Kenya, elephants are often seen giving themselves a dust shower. Using their trunks, they inhale the dust and blow it out forcefully. It’s quite an amazing thing to see. The dust serves as a sunscreen, keeps the animal cool and insects at bay.

Wild pigs also roll themselves in dust to protect themselves for the same purpose.

Klipspringers Spotted

Klipspringers spotted recently at Koitogo hill in Samburu National Reserve proved to be exciting for our guests who had never seen this antelope before.  My mission was to spot a leopard but the klipspringers proved to be equally interesting.

Klipspringers are small antelopes that live in rocky places. They are well-adapted to their environment. Their fur has hollow shafts that act as shock absorbers should they slip off the rocks and their hooves are pointed like a ballerina’s to hop on the rocks. They pair for life like the smaller dik dik.

This week we had a great sighting of Lguret, one of the oldest males in Samburu and Buffalo Springs national reserves with his cubs. Male lions will babysit the cubs while the lionesses are our hunting.

Young males will usually kill any cubs they find in a pride when they become the dominant male.  They want to pass their genes on and mark their territory.

Wild dogs
An endangered species, Africa wild dogs are seen in the reserve during the dry months of July and August when water is available inside. The picture was taken a few meters from the camp.

Ruppell's Griffon Vulture
When soaring, this magnificent bird can spot a carcass nearly 10 kilometers away! Known to be the world’s highest flying bird, in 1973 one collided with an airplane off the Ivory Coast. The plane was flying at a height of 37,000 feet, which is higher than Mount Kilimanjaro at 19,340 feet high!
Image Source Mother Nature Network
37,000feet asl is also the height at which a human would pass out from lack of oxygen. The vulture doesn't face this problem because it has developed a particular type of haemoglobin, making their use of oxygen more effective.

Long Crested Eagle

The long crested eagle is found in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s one of my favorite birds of prey among the 300-plus species found in the reserve.

Dairy of a Naturalist by Jelly Loloju, driver guide at Samburu Intrepids Camp


Masai Mara - Animal Sightings, May

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

29 June 2016

The weather has generally been very good with the mornings being a bit cold and the day time not as hot. Evening are generally cool and the rains seem to be subsiding now though we still are experiencing some occasional drizzles and light showers in the afternoons and in the night. As a result of the heavy downpours that we had in the past and the rivers flooding, we have had a lot of sand deposits in many of our crossing points eg  Muhindi crossing and Rekero crossing, both west of Mara Intrepids Camp, across the Talek river. The camp has stationed vehicles across the Talek river by the rope bridge in Mara Intrepids so we still are able to do our drives on the southern side of the park.

14ºc morning
25ºc at midday
20ºc after sunset

The past two weeks have witnessed lots of buffalos calving and we have had two big herds of buffalos on the northwestern side of the Mara Intrepids and Explorer camps at the Topi plains, and to the west of the Rhino ridge numbering about 500 individuals. On the southern side of Olkiombo, at Possee plains, is another herd of about 700 individuals roaming around. Towards Olkeju Ronkai which is south of the Intrepids and Explorer camps, there was a big grass fire that had consumed a large area of the red oat grass, but after the rains the area is lush and green at the moment with nutritious grass which has been attracting lots of plains game and the buffalo herds.

The Ridge pride is still stuck at the Topi plain, north of Olkiombo, and occasionally going up to the Rhino ridge hiding in the long grass, the main diet for the pride at the moment is still warthogs, the pride is still intact and should be looking forward to the festive season soon when the migration begins.

Nothing much has been seen of this pride as they seem to have gone into hiding for the past two weeks. Only one male from the Musketeers was seen mating with one female at the Paradise main crossing point west of the Mara Intrepids and Explorer camps.


Olkeju Ronkai pride led by the old female Napejo are still within there territory and still have the five cubs with them. They killed a buffalo calf and with them was one of the dominant males from the M7 who seemed to share the kill with the females and cubs without a problem. The other male seems to be missing in action for the past week.

This pride had crossed the Talek river east of our camps camps but due to high water levels, got stuck across the Talek river at Maji ya Fisi, slightly due south-east of the Intrepids and Explorer camps.

Lorien, the female leopard at Olkeju Ronkai, was seen resting on a tree near the Olkeju RonKai - Murero crossing south of Olkiombo for two days and appeared relaxed. She must have been well fed.

Bahati was seen with one male cub crossing from bush breakfast site west of Olkiombo Airstrip and went east to the Intrepids and Explorer bush lunch site with one of her male cubs. The female cub was missing and Bahati kept calling out for her. The male cub with her appeared to be getting shy as he grow bigger which is always the case with male leopards.

Malaika has found a haven at the Musiara marsh and she has been in the same area for the better part of the month. She has been alternating between Musiara and the Mara North conservancy with her two sub adult cubs.

Ranii on the other hand is at Kabboson area, north of Mara Intrepids  and the grass is relatively short in the area with a lot of  plains game like gazelles, impala, topis, etc .She has of late been mostly going for Thomson’s gazelles and taking good care of her three cubs.

Report and pictures By Raphael Ole Koikai – Head Driver Guide, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps.