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This Week At Angama #170

Sometimes while out on safari, having a good sense of humour and adventure can be just as critical as having a camera. As Adam discovered, things have a habit of not going according to plan
Sunrise in the Maasai Mara

Regardless of how much planning goes into a game drive; it doesn’t always go the way it was meant to. Afterall, it is the wilderness and one of the major attractions of a safari is the unpredictability that comes with each day and every visit.

For example, I never plan to get stuck when I go out on game drive, but it does happen every so often. In fact, this week, I got stuck a total of four times. Three of those times I was behind the wheel, and the fourth time I was a passenger.

On this occasion I was able to dig myself out, only to immediately slide into an even bigger hole from which there was no escape f 9.0, 1/125, ISO 200, -0.33

As frustrating as getting stuck can be, it is also rather exciting. I never (well, almost never) feel embarrassed getting stuck in the grasslands of the Maasai Mara because it is inherently a wet landscape, with treacherous, sticky black cotton soil.

Getting creative whilst bogged down f 9.0, 1/500, ISO 200, +0.33
I promise I was just driving along this remote track when the car sunk f 9.0, 1/160, ISO 200, +0.33
Loving the new Angama vehicle’s paintwork f 11.0, 1/100, ISO 200, +0.33

It takes ingenuity and hard, physical, dirty work to get oneself out of these situations. Jacking up the car, digging away the soil, finding rocks and branches to plug holes, and a great understanding of the capabilities of the vehicle. And if all else fails, as a last resort, you call for help. And whilst help is on the way, it is the perfect opportunity to sit back, enjoy the sounds, and perhaps even close your eyes.

A fire smouldering away just to the south of the Mara, in the Serengeti f 9.0, 1/400, ISO 125, -0.67

This week, the Mara seemed unable to decide whether it was drying up or getting wetter. A few drier days allowed the Tanzanians, in the Serengeti, to start their yearly burns to our south. Depending on the wind direction, this can make for some dramatic late afternoon photography. 

Looking upstream from Hippo Pools f 10.0, 1/125, ISO 125
A very full Mara back in April 2019 f 10.0, 1/100, ISO 125

At the same time, we are seeing short electrical storms pass through with wonderful cloud build-ups during the day. Some areas receive huge amounts of rain, whilst others seem to continually miss out on the action. The Mara River, the life-blood of the ecosystem, continues to fluctuate with very little predictability. At the moment there is still a decent amount of water in the river, but next to nothing when compared to this time in years gone by. 

This Week A Year Ago

This week a year ago, the flooded Mara river f 5.6, 1/1000, ISO 500, -0.33

This week a year ago, we were in the midst of one of the wettest periods ever known in the Mara. The view from South Camp deck at the lodge showed the true extent of the flooding of the Mara River across the landscape. 

A family of elephant seek shade from the hot midday sun f 5.0, 1/2500, ISO 400, -0.33
One of my favourite views in the Mara Triangle f 9.0, 1/200, ISO 320, +0.33
Locally nicknamed the ‘Toilet Paper Flower’ these beautiful white flowers are springing up across the recently burnt area f 14.0, 1/40, ISO 200
This was the second week in a row I was captivated by the morning dew collecting on the spiderwebs f 4.0, 1/4000, ISO 200, +0.33

There is always so much to see on any drive here. Of course we all love to see the big cats, but often I find the landscapes to be the most compelling. Recently, I was sitting with guests at dinner, and we were talking about the differences in the safari experience in South Africa and East Africa. The one we all agreed on as being the greatest differentiating factor was the sweeping vistas and huge open landscapes of East Africa  - they make for the most gorgeous of photographs. 

A lioness from a pride I am completely unfamiliar with – one of the two females that I found whilst exploring the southern parts of the Mara River along the western bank f 7.1, 1/200, ISO 320, +0.67
A close up – in case there is anyone reading this who can help identify her... f 4.0, 1/2500, ISO 500, -0.67
A male cheetah pokes his head up above the grasses as he looks for his next meal  f 4.0, 1/6400, ISO 320, -1.0

As lovely as landscapes are, combining beautiful scenery together with a stunning cat, be it a leopard, lion or cheetah, makes it all the better.

A small flock of yellow-billed oxpeckers enjoying a ride on the back of this giraffe f 6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400
A lilac-breasted roller tosses up a grasshopper f 4.0, 1/4000, ISO 320, -0.67
Two male Thomson’s gazelles fight for dominance f 14.0, 1/160, ISO 320, -0.33
It’s a hard job being a lioness f 4.0, 1/640, ISO 800, -0.67
Delicate and intimate bonding time between sisters of the Angama Pride f 4.0, 1/500, ISO 800, -0.6
One of the elephants in the Mara born without tusks

And once you have a good selection of animal-scapes, then don’t be shy to take out a bigger lens and capture some of the incredible diversity and beauty that defines the Maasai Mara.

A young male cheetah, known as Mkali, found in the area around Talek Gate.
Now what could he have spotted....

This Week Two Years Ago

Male lion on buffalo f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 640

This time of the year is often marked by lion having to make dangerous hunts on buffalo. Two years ago, I will never forget arriving just minutes after the Sausage Tree Pride managed to overpower an old bull. I watched as the gorgeous Ol Donyo Paek male lion took possession of the kill, and fiercely guarded it from the rest of the pride. This pride have become somewhat of an enigma over the last year-and-a-half as sightings of them have massively decreased due to the area becoming nearly impenetrable, and their territory growing bigger and bigger. 

This Week Three Years Ago

Tomorrow, the 8th of May, is the Global Big Day: an opportunity for people across the world to record the birds they see and celebrate the world of birds around you. Every year, the Angama guiding team participates and tries to better the previous year’s number. Three years ago, one of the big ‘ticks’ was this double-toothed barbet, found feeding in a fig tree on the banks of the Mara River. 

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Maasai Mara , Mara Triangle , Photography , Safari , Wildlife

About: Adam Bannister

A South African-trained biologist, safari guide, author, filmmaker and photographer, Adam is, above all else, a gifted storyteller. After spending the past 10 years working in some of the world’s most beautiful wild places – the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, Rajasthan in India, Brazil’s Pantanal, and the rainforests of Manu National Park in Peru – he is delighted to share his stories of one of the loveliest game reserves of them all, the Maasai Mara.

Browse all articles by Adam Bannister Meet the angama team

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