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When Sam Came to Stay

15-year-old Sam Bailyn had always dreamed of coming to Kenya. When he finally arrived, he spent much of his time in the Photographic Studio developing his passion for photography
Above: An "amazing up-close experience" with these sleepy lions

Having grown up in New York City, it had always been my dream to go on safari. People like Jonathon Scott and Steve Irwin grew my love for one place in particular: the great plains of East Africa. I had to wait a long time to get there, but once I did, I had the experience I always dreamed of thanks to Angama Mara. I was welcomed with open arms and immediately immersed in a beautiful landscape of friends and amazing experiences.

I had brought my own Canon Rebel Xs camera body, but my lens was not great. I rented an amazing Canon lens from the Angama Photographic Studio. I met Robert and Adam, who were both incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. Although I had trouble in the beginning, Robert soon made sure I knew what to do and I was able to start taking proper photographs. Not long after my first drive with our amazing guide and friend Ken, I was able to learn to edit using Lightroom. I spent a good amount of time in the Studio learning everything I needed to know.
The only way to describe my experience was that it exceeded all expectations. It was something that truly changed my life and I’m so happy to be coming back next summer. Until then, here are some of the images I managed to capture during my time at Angama Mara...

You know you’ve made it into the wild when you get to share your meal with the neighborhood baboons. As much as I thought I loved food, these big guys loved it a whole lot more. As this big male sat with me about one metre away down on the rocky escarpment, I was able to get some amazing one-on-one time with the primate before pulling out my camera and snapping the shot.

Some of the frequent non-paying guests at Angama Mara

It’s not only primates that stay near Angama Mara, but also a close relative of the elephant, the rock hyrax, a constant sighting around the lodge. This little guy came up and smiled for the camera. As much as I love the amazing signature animals of the African grasslands, the simple creatures are just as fascinating.

This little one is working on her table manners
The tusks on this female are shaping up to be interesting

As we searched for the elusive black rhino, we got a surprise that made our wait go by much quicker. A beautiful herd of elephants came past us. These two young females came right up to us and posed for our cameras as they munched away on the delicious grass.

It's hard to win the affections of a female after disposing of her young

An early morning offered beautiful morning light as we came across this new pride of lions. But the beauty came with much pain. The young male had recently killed the cubs of these amazing females. Ken had shown us a photo of the male with a deceased cub in his mouth. Of course, this is a natural process, but the females were still distraught. As they walked away from the males’ advances with their heads held high, we got a close-up visit from the male and females. Eventually, the male was able to lie down next to the females, but still they would not give way.

A proper headshot for this star in the making

As we drove, we came across a group of young sleepy male lions. Just us and them; it was an amazing up-close experience that we were able to share. The midday light combined with the shade of the tree made for a very nice setting for an afternoon nap.

These ‘trees of death’ were all around

The most menacing sign of death. Seven vultures perched over the endless herds of wildebeest and zebra. Waiting, hoping for one to finally drop dead from any of the elements: predators, exhaustion, starvation, age, anything. The moment something died the vultures were on it.

When male lions can't take a hint

During our final game drive, we found a group of vehicles on the right side of an intersection of roads. They were watching the male we had seen yesterday. Ken knew where they were headed, so he went to the other side, where we saw the four females from the other day walking down the road. They stopped for a drink, and then made sure to pose as three of them walked in a line while the other remained thirsty. Not long after, the male came hot on their tails. He made sure to pass right by us and then continued on towards the ladies. As he got closer, the lionesses avoided him by climbing up a tree one at a time. Ken got us practically under the lion infested foliage to get the photograph. It was a perfect way to end our time in the Mara.

The lodge backlight by a final sunset

At the end of our final game drive at Angama Mara, we got to see one last picture-perfect image. A true Mara sunset setting right over our Maasai home. We got one last look at the beautiful, magical place that gave us the experience of a lifetime.

Our final ‘see-you-later’ with Ken

It was an emotional day as we boarded the plane with clear skies ahead. Leaving was definitely difficult but knowing we’d be back soon was comforting.

Filed under: Inside Angama

Tagged with:

Angama Guest Experience , Family Safari , Photographic Safari

About: Sam Bailyn

Browse all articles by Sam Bailyn Meet the angama team

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Join the Conversation (8 comments)

Comments (8):

Sam Bailyn

15 March 2023

2 years later and I'm embarrassed to say I have only discovered these comments now. I'd be surprised if any of you come along across this old post again but if you do I hope you read this comment. Reading these comments has made my week, I had no idea how received this was and now two years later looking back I am proud of how far my relationship with my family at Angama, The Masai Mara, and Kenya as a whole has come. I continue to count down the days until I am back home again at Angama this summer for my internship.

    Charlotte Ross Stewart

    20 March 2023

    Hello Sam, welcome to the comments section of the blogs. We'll see you soon!

      Sam Bailyn

      20 April 2023

      Thanks Charlotte, I am so excited

Azei Lago

24 October 2021

Lovely piece Sam...and great photos!! We so look forward to welcoming you all back home !

Charlotte Smith

20 October 2021

What a lucky young man, he will hold these memories forever in his heart & have the photographs to re-live every moment back in his home in New York. Angama truly is a special place.

    Charlotte Ross Stewart

    20 October 2021

    Hi Charlotte, thank you for your comment. We think that we were the lucky ones, the team loved meeting Sam and seeing the Mara through his eyes. We're so glad to have been part of his special holiday to East Africa.

Oramat Morintat

20 October 2021

Beautiful and knowing that it was written by a young boy, I have given my kids (9 and 7 years olds) to read it. Hopefully they get an insight not just of how beautiful and animal rich the Maasai Mara and Kenya is, but also picture what their dad did as Safari Guide in The Mara Triangle. I was a resident guide there for 5 incredible years. We hope to say at Angama at least once next time we travel to Kenya.

    Charlotte Ross Stewart

    20 October 2021

    Hello, what a lovely idea. I'm sure they'll love reading Sam's story and will undoubtably see the Mara in all its glory through the photographs. We would be thrilled to have you and your family come to stay with us sometime soon. Until then, the Angama Family wishes you all the very best.

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