Annual Fruit Bat Migration in Kasanka National Park
Jul25

Annual Fruit Bat Migration in Kasanka National Park

Dramatic skies with clouds that argue endlessly provide the backdrop for a rather unique annual migration localised to an area deep within the Kasanka National Park. The relatively unknown annual migration we’re referring to is the flood of fruit bats that descend upon the evergreen swamp forests in this region of northern Zambia. The bat migration is actually rated as one of the most impressive migrations on earth, and clouds of bats literally drown out the natural backdrop as they knit and weave their way through the sky. This is a phenomenon not to be missed by budding chiropterologists. Fruit bats boast an impressive wingspan of over 1 metre and are often referred to as “flying foxes”.  There are roughly 8 million large bats that migrate to a small riverine forest in the national park over a period of 90 days from roughly October through to November. The bats migrate from the Congo Basin to feast on the abundant fruits available in the many orchards dotted across Kasanka. Imagine witnessing clouds of thousands of bats while staying in the Kasanka National Park. The park is home to contrasting scenes of mixed woodlands and vegetation. Expansive lakes, rivers and swamps cut through the forests and provide the ideal landscape for a safari. Kasanka is an endless waterlogged landscape and offers exquisite sightings of hippo, rare sitatungas and birdlife.  Accommodation for the Annual Fruit Bat Migration in Kasanka National Park We recommend staying at the Wasa Lodge or the Luwombwa Chalets. Wasa Lodge overlooks the Wasa Lake that is filled with bloats of hippo. A safari at Wasa includes game walks, visit to community projects, game drives and  is a great place for viewing the bat spectacle during the migration period. Luwombwa Lodge is ideally located on the banks of the Luwomba River, and visitors have a choice of staying in chalets surrounded by pristine riverine...

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Five Cheetah Brothers Kill a Wildebeest in Masai Mara
Sep26

Five Cheetah Brothers Kill a Wildebeest in Masai Mara

It is rare to see one cheetah, never mind five, but when our recent guest, Nik Simpson, travelled to the Masai Mara recently, he was that guy with the greatest safari stories! He bore witness to five cheetah brothers taking down an adult wildebeest/gnu, which is incredibly fortunate, especially when we consider that during this epic East Africa journey arranged by our consultant, Michelle, he also watched two big wildebeest crossings at the Talek River, saw 6 separate kills, including another cheetah kill, 2 leopard kills, and 2 lion kills. All this in a 10-night safari! We will feature some of Nik’s other fantastic sightings in future blogs, but for the mean time, enjoy these raw and magnificent captures of a 5-strong cheetah coalition in the Masai Mara thriving during the wildebeest migration… Nik’s itinerary included 3 nights at Ilkeliani Tented Camp, Masai Mara National Reserve; 3 nights at Porini Lion Camp, Olare Motorogi Conservancy; 4 nights at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater; and 1 night at Eka Hotel, Nairobi. He is now planning next year’s trip to Botswana! Five facts about cheetahs: 1. Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals. They use their incredible speed to hunt, bursting into sprints reaching 110km/h! 2. Female cheetahs live solitary lives after breaking away from their birth families after adolescence, while male cheetahs in a family stick together and form a coalition after they leave their mother. The five cheetahs in this sighting are brothers, which is the norm. Females give birth to a litter of cubs and rear their young on their own until they have matured and are ready to leave their mother’s side (at about 2 years old). 3. It is difficult to tell if a cheetah is pregnant because they have the ability to keep their growing bellies hidden using a muscle that tucks their womb up underneath the rib cage, ensuring they can be fast and agile in order to hunt and eat right up until the last days of pregnancy, which is about 90 days. 4. In the early 1900s, cheetahs used to roam all over Africa, numbering an estimated 100 000 individuals. Today, cheetahs are the most endangered big cat in the world, with only an estimated 9 000 – 12 000 wild individuals alive today. 5. Cheetahs hunt during the day, which means they don’t compete with lions and leopards, which are nocturnal hunters. This cat uses speed and not strength to kill, so would not stand a chance if they were in competition with bigger predators. They thrive in open savannah where they can use their speed to land prey, which is why the...

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Wildebeest Crossing in the Masai Mara
Sep24

Wildebeest Crossing in the Masai Mara

One of our regular repeat guests, Nik Simpson, has recently returned from an East Africa safari, which turned out some once in a lifetime sightings and unforgettable moments in this prestigious wildlife region. Perhaps most famous of the East African safari attractions is the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle, which sees the mass movement of millions of these animals through the Serengeti and Masai Mara. It is a constant migration, which can be followed in different areas of southern Serengeti and northern Mara, but the most sought after are the the river crossings. Nik kindly sent us his feedback on his epic trip and added some fantastic photographs documenting the chaotic stampede towards the Talek River, the faithful leaps off the steep banks and into the surging, muddy waters, and the frantic paddling across the current, before emerging… or not… on the other side. The anthem of the Mara Migration is the overlapping bellows of the gnus’ calls, and the repetitive laughter of the zebras, which rise to a crescendo to compete with the spashing water as the animals collide with the water. Of course, as nature would have it, a gathering of prey species would attract lurking predators. This is the opportunity for lions to feast of the slow and the weak members of the herd, or to target those which narrowly escaped the jaws of a crocodile as they make it to the other side, exhausted and injured from the fight in the water. It seems tragic that an individual who survived an attack by the most powerful jaws in Africa, would become an easy meal to the King of the Jungle, but nature does not consider our tender human emotions in her game of life and death. So be it. Nik stayed at Ilkeliani Camp and Porini Lion Camp during his time at the Migration, before he moved on to Tanzania’s magnificent Ngorongoro Crater, and finally, to Nairobi. We have more astonishing images of Nik’s East Africa safari, so watch this space to see what other endlessly exciting safari experiences he got to enjoy on his trip. Thank you for sharing your photos,...

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The Lowdown of the Serengeti Migration
Feb15

The Lowdown of the Serengeti Migration

The Serengeti migration is one of the world’s most spectacular mass movements of wildlife. The migration comprises thousands of wildebeest moving in a circular pattern on an annual basis. The wildebeest are accompanied by herds of zebra, Thompson’s gazelle, eland, impala and other smaller groups of plains game. Wide open plains are literally littered with wildebeest, and waiting in the wings during the breeding season, are a splattering of powerful predators. The timing of the migration is dependent on rainfall patterns, but annually, wildlife movements and timings are semi-predictable. So why do wildebeest and other game migrate? We speculate it is because plains game seek fresh grazing grounds and access to pristine water. The migration takes place over Tanzania’s Serengeti plains in the south and the Maasai Mara up north in Kenya. While there are hundreds of thousands of wildlife on the move, there are periods of time when they are sedentary, which means a variety of sightings in different regions. The most photographed and iconic images of the migration happen when the herds attempt to cross the Mara River, which sees huge beasts struggling on the banks and jostling to get across the flowing waters. There are times of the year when the herds give birth and times when the herds splinter. If you’re planning a safari to the Serengeti for the migration, you might want to make use of the below timeline and do plenty of other research before you travel to ensure you’re in the right place at the right time. Here is a rough timeline of the Serengeti Migration:  Nov – Dec: This is the beginning and end of the migration route. November sees the start of the rains and the herds are all in the northern part of the Serengeti region. December is when the herds become twitchy. There is still rain but less of it, so herds begin to migrate southwards towards the open plains. Jan – March : This is the time when the herds are sedentary and have settled somewhat in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and spill into the Serengeti National Park. This time of year, the grass and grazing conditions are ideal and there’s an abundance of water. It’s not only wildebeest dotted across the open plains, but also dazzles of zebra and other game. Because herds are sedentary and there’s a wealth of food resources, it’s the ideal time for the females to give birth. Birthing normally happens during February, which means there are plenty of predators about. As heartbreaking as it is, this is the perfect time to see predator action. Accommodation options in this area : Positioned on the lower slopes...

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Cheetahs in the Serengeti use safari vehicle to scout game
Jan05

Cheetahs in the Serengeti use safari vehicle to scout game

 Cheetahs in the Serengeti   The Serengeti in Tanzania is well known for it massive herds of wildebeest that migrate through the vast open plains from the north in the Masai Mara through to the south in the Serengeti and back. There are often upwards of a million buck in this migration, with thousands of zebra joining the trek. Big cats are known to be in abundance all year, as there is always game, even when the migration is not in their area. Cheetahs in the Serengeti can be found on the plains looking for a meal. Because there is very little height advantage these cheetah’s have used the safari vehicles to scout game. Boris von Schoenenbeck spent a few weeks in the Serengeti filming these beautiful cats. They would go out every day to look for them, and the cheetahs in turn, used their vehicle almost every day. Suddenly Boris was the centre of attention, with upwards of 20 vehicles filming him and the cheetahs! Here is his video:...

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Kenya 6 day migration special
Jun13

Kenya 6 day migration special

Here is another superb special offer available for Kenya. During the wildebeest migration (between July and October) this is an exception offer, combining the Masai Mara with Rhino and Chimpanzee  sanctuaries. Day 01 Pick up Nairobi Airport – Nanyuki Meet and greet at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon your arrival, after clearance with customs, board our minivan safari vehicle for transfer to Wilson Airport to board schedule flight departing at 10h20 to arrive Nanyuki Airstrip at 11h00. On arrival, met by the camp’s driver guide in a 4×4 safari vehicle and transferred to Porini Rhino Camp for check in and relaxation, later lunch. This afternoon you will have time to relax and enjoy the fascinating views surrounding. Dinner and overnight at the camp on all inclusive basis. Porini Rhino Camp is located in Ol Pejeta Conservancy a 90,000 acre wildlife conservancy situated between the foot hills of the Aberdares and the magnificent snowcapped Mount Kenya. Ol Pejeta Conservancy boasts an astounding variety of animals including all the “Big Five” (the endangered black rhino, leopard, elephant, buffalo and lion) as well a sanctuary for rescued chimpanzees and also incorporates the smaller Sweetwater’s Game Reserve. Overnight Porini Rhino Camp Day 02 Nanyuki This day after breakfast, you will board our 4×4 safari vehicle for game drive in Ol Pejeta Conservancy returning later for lunch. In the afternoon, you will have time to relax and enjoy the camp’s facilities. Dinner and overnight at the camp on all inclusive basis. The combination of amazing wildlife and stunning views across the open plains of Ol Pejeta Wildlife Sanctuary guarantees an unforgettable safari experience. Game drives are taken in the camp’s 4×4 safari vehicles with qualified safari guides including a visit to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Guided walks are taken on the open plains escorted by Maasai warriors. Night drives are also taken to see the nocturnal animals. All the “Big Five” (the endangered black rhino, white rhino, leopard, elephant, buffalo and lion) and others like grevy zebra, jackson’s hartebeest, cheetah and chimpanzee have been seen on game drives from the Porini Rhino Camp. Overnight Porini Rhino Camp Day 03 Nanyuki Another day in Ol Pejeta Conservancy with 4×4 game drive safaris. All inclusive meals and drinks then overnight at the camp. Overnight Porini Rhino Camp Day 04 Nanyuki – Masai Mara After breakfast, check out and transfer to Nanyuki Airstrip to board schedule flight departing at 10h00 to arrive Siana Airstrip at 11h00. On arrival, met by the camp’s driver guide in a 4×4 safari vehicle and transferred to Porini Mara Camp for check in and relaxation, later lunch. After a sumptuous meal, proceed for...

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Have I Got Gnus For You! By Lance Harcourt
Mar05

Have I Got Gnus For You! By Lance Harcourt

The annual wildebeest migration does not just happen once a year as the name might suggest. Like a summer festival, a lot of people believe the annual wildebeest migration sets up in the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara between July and October and then disbands for the rest of the year. But, where do all those Wildebeest and Zebra go for the rest of the year? A more accurate name for the migration may be the “continuous wildebeest migration”.  What really happens is that the majority of wildebeest and zebra keep moving around the Serengeti and Masai Mara eco-system in a huge clockwise direction. They can always be found somewhere in this vast migratory region. For example, from November to March they are normally in the southern Serengeti; and between April and June they are usually found heading north along the western corridor of the Serengeti and in the Grumeti Reserve. Predicting the exact location of the migration is not straight forward. It is all influenced by weather patterns. The rains will affect the supply of standing water and grass and the wildebeest and zebra will react accordingly.   Unusual weather patterns will cause the herds to move in unpredictable patterns, back-tracking or bypassing areas they may have visited in a previous year. The main body of the migration generally follows a roughly similar route on an annual basis, but the timing can vary. Also, there are lots of subsidiary movements of herds as the migration splits, rejoins, spreads out or congregates. It is a fluid motion that is not completely predictable. Global warming may play a part in future migration patterns. In 2007, heavy flooding of the entire Serengeti and Masai Mara resulted in a high number of wildebeest drowning and affected the movements of the migration. The best way to understand the migration is to look at the previous years movements. This will give you a fair idea of where the migration was at any point in time. Our migration blog tracks the movement as it goes through this vast eco-system. There are a few ways to ensure you see the migration: •    You can be fairly sure to see the migration in the Masai Mara from August to October. This is high season as this is when the wildebeest cross the Mara River. •    Ask your travel agent to book a mobile tented camp in the Serengeti. These mobile camps, as the name suggests, move with the migration throughout the year, giving the best chance of being close to the migration. •    Book two camps in different areas of the Serengeti. You would be really unlucky...

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