Five weeks in Masai Mara National Reserve – Week 3

At the end of the second week we bid goodbye to Kahini, Shivang and all their friends and crossed the Mara River to go towards Talek River. This week we had a group of close friends and family who were booked in Sunworld Safari’s amazing camp (Mara Bush Camp). This place is located in the best photography location inside Mara. You are literally living in “Cat Central.” This area is particularly great for Leopards, Caracals and Servals – all three are Mara’s least seen cats. The river is a short drive away so it works very well. In the early mornings and late evening you look for cats and when the sun is high you head to the river to try to catch a river crossing. We started the week with a brilliant sighting of a leopard family and mating lions in great light.


"leopard in masai mara"

The “Mara Bush Camp leopard” – one of Olive’s offspring’s. She had two cubs from two different litters – one a few months old and the other one was almost full-grown

"Mating lions"

A mating pair of lions. Masai Mara has nearly 750 lions and finding a mating pair is not too tough

By the time the week ended we had seen seven different prides of lions and some solitary males including the one below, nine different cheetahs, six different leopards, a family of three caracals, lots of cat action and only one river crossing (a stunning one). Another good week in Mara but then Mara never lets your cameras down. Photographically speaking Masai Mara makes it too easy. In no other place can you collect so many good pictures so fast.


"Male lion"

One morning we followed this “roaring” solitary male lion for a few hours as he walked a long way across the grasslands that had been recently over grazed by the wildebeests

"charging of the lion"

Charging lioness in Masai Mara. “She missed” that was my story with lion kills in the 5 weeks that I was there. The cheetahs got them while the lions missed all the time for me

We saw a massive build up of wildebeests in the Paradise plains for three days in a row though they never crossed. We could see large buildups across the Mara River on the Mara Triangle side too. However there were no river crossing till the fifth day. Wildebeests often do this. They will gather in the plains close to the river, walk up to the river to drink, stare across the river and then walk back. Its great to see such a massive gathering of big ungulates that run around and lot and give you zillions of photo opportunities.


"Wildebeests running"

Wildebeests are designed for running over long distances at an amazing pace and panning them can be great fun

"River crossing by wildebeests"

You can easily burn your camera out when wildebeests on the migration cross the rivers

I had three highlights in the week. The first one was finding a family of three caracals. This sighting was courtesy Federico Veronesi – a great photographer and fun guy who has spent a lot of time in the Mara. He has been following this caracal (the mother) for a few years and finds her more often than anyone else. He called us when he found the caracals. We reached the spot very close to the camp late in the evening when the light was very low and it was drizzling (the first “over saturated” picture below). The rain stopped when it was time to head back to the camp but by then the light was really low (the second picture below). The second highlight were the frequent sightings of “three brothers” or Honey’s boys – three adult male cheetahs that live and hunt together. They did not disappoint us and we saw them make two kills in three days. A few weeks later, we heard that a lioness had killed one of these three brothers.


"Caracal in the rain"

Caracal in the rain

"Caracal family"

Caracal family

"cheetahs three"

Two of the famous three brothers. Unfortunately a few weeks after I took this picture a lioness killed one of these three cheetahs

"Cheetahs scent marking"

Cheetahs prefer smaller prey than wildebeests but a group of adult cheetahs can and will take down adult wildebeests. These three brothers were really good at taking down wildebeests

The third highlight of the week was being back in the Mara Bush Camp, being driven by Ken Naikuni (the best safari driver/guide for photographers) and driving in one of Sunworld Safari’s vehicle. If I could afford it I would happily spend the rest of my life doing this. This week, like every week in Mara, went by like a blur. Soon it was time to leave the camp and head back to our rough camp in the Mara Triangle. We found a great Bataleur Eagle on our way back to the triangle.


"Bataleur eagle in flight"

Bataleur eagle in flight