The 3rd day in the Mara promised to be a good day, after the success we had the day before, it was going to have to be pretty epic. And the morning started off absolutely perfectly, we found our Leopard friend up the tree, looking rather relaxed and pretty sedate. We did find some other subjects to photograph, including Grey Crowned Cranes and a Jackal but the Leopard stole the show somewhat!
After taking far too many photographs of our lovely Leopard we heard about a Cheetah only a few hundred yards away. As we hadn't yet seen a Cheetah we decided it was worth a chance and we left the Leopard to enjoy its rest. However when we got there we were rather disappointed, there were quite a few vehicles around the Cheetah and after only a few moments it moved off. Without getting a single decent shot we were a little frustrated.
We then heard about another Cheetah sighting further down the road, sat atop of a rock and we rushed off to see whether we could get some shots. What happened over the next 3 hours was truly phenomenal. It was probably one of my top photographic and top wildlife encounters at the same time. It was truly exhilerating!
After 15-20 minutes of excellent portrait photography the Cheetah decided it was time to move on. She jumped down off of the rock and headed straight towards a herd of Thompson's Gazelle. They spotted her very early on and she quickly gave up going to ground. We stayed with her for the next couple of hours, watching and waiting!
It was then, after the gazelle came too close, that the Cheetah made its move. Within only a matter of moments it was off, running at full speed after a young male Thompson's Gazelle. Unfortunately for us it was over the hill in a split second. We quickly made ready and we headed off to see whether or not it was successful. It was successful and its quarry was still alive. Seeing this side of nature is at times very hard, but at the same time you cannot help but be enthralled and I for one feel extraordinarily privileged to have been able to say I saw such an intense spectacle.
We decided to leave her to it so she could feed undisturbed and not draw attention to her. We would come back later and see how she was doing. We headed off across the Mara River and into the Maasai Mara NP for a spot of lunch and we explored some of the big open landscapes that this has to offer. We came across some Lion lazing in the shade, a rather grumpy bull Elephant and plenty of Topi. We then headed back to camp, checking up on the Cheetah which had eaten a whole leg and was starting on another.
What a wonderful day it was then, big cat sightings galore and some truly epic landscapes. Animal behaviour at its absolute best and a great day out with our guide Joseph as well as Wild Eye ambassador Andrew Aveley and Richard Sparks.
As many of you will know, on the 7th February I set off on a photographic trip to Kenya with Wild Eye. Gerry Van Der Walt and Andrew Aveley were our photographic mentors and they were absolutely fantastic. So first of all a massive thank you must go to these guys for making the trip such a massive success.
Now onto the action ...
So after a flight with Kenya Airways I was greeted by the group and before long we set off towards the Maasai Mara. We made a quick stop at the edge of the Great Rift Valley, before eventually arriving at the spectacular Wild Eye Mara camp.
After a spot of lunch and some time to get ourselves settled it was time for our first drive into the Mara proper. The great thing about the Wild Eye camp, is that it is based in the Mara Triangle which is across the Mara River from the main park. This means that you get all the wildlife, the great photographic opportunities and a lack of minibuses. As those of you that have been to the Mara before may know, these minibuses can be a little, well very annoying.
So off we went in our spacious Land Cruisers, our camera gear primed for action, ready to see what wonders awaited us. Our first drive showed us the beautiful landscapes and some of the more common species that the Mara Triangle has to offer, we had found a Leopard kill high up in an Acacia tree but no sign of the cat. We would have to come back tomorrow and see if we could find the elusive feline.
As you can see we had some great bird photography opportunities as well as coming across a Hyena den. The highlight had to be the sunset we had and the photographic opportunity that presented. There were no cat sightings at all on this outing but this is when you really learn a lot and you try and learn new skills. There are always amazing things to see in the Mara but the cats are always a highlight.