"We are dedicated to providing exclusive , bespoke, upmarket,

tailor-made, luxury safaris and exotic holidays for the discerning client looking for the ultimate, authentic, classical Kenya safari, away from the mass tourism sector". 



Breaking News

"Notch" in the good old days tucking in to some zebra steaks! 

We have been getting a lot of requests for information on the pending Court Case regarding the charges against two Masai herdsmen accused of poisoning members of the Marsh Pride in early December 2015. Brian Heath of the Mara Conservancy who do such a fine job managing the Mara Triangle says:

"The two were released on a bond of Ksh 2 million each. There will be a mention next week and a hearing later in the month." 

Ksh 2 million is approximately US 20,000 or GBP 12,000 - as Bond per person in this case. (This does beg the question of how the Bond was funded) 

Latest on the Marsh Pride from ace cameraman John Aitchison 

Our good friend and ace cameraman John Aitchison who filmed with us on Big Cat Diary and is now filming the Marsh Pride for the BBC's Dynasties series to be aired in 2018 kindly provided us with an update on the Marsh Pride in the wake of the poisoning of 8 pride members early in December. Charm is the only surviving member of the Three Graces - Joy, Sienna and Charm. Bila Shake was traditionally the much favored breeding site for the Marsh Pride but due to cattle incursions has become a no-go-zone for much of the time in recent years. The Salanga is a branch of Bila Shaka that runs on a tangent towards Topi Plains/Rhino Ridge. The Five Young Lionesses - a breakaway group from the Marsh Pride are now of breeding age and have cubs. If cattle no longer encroach in to the old Marsh Pride territory (Bila Shaka - and seasonally Musiara Marsh of the dry season) it is likely that these young lionesses will be able to inherit their natal pride territory and that the area will once again be attractive lion habitat patrolled by a strong coalition of pride males. Right now there are no adult male lions staking a claim to this area - the 4 Musketeers abandoned it in mid-2013 after Scarface was shot and wounded. But at some point they will be males competing for territory here. And when that happens there is always a strong likelihood that they will kill any young cubs in the area so that they can mate with the lionesses. Lions do not do Step-Parenting. Here is John's overview: 

 "Dave Breed, Sammy Munene, Mark McEwen and I finished the latest filming and left the Mara on the 17th December. Sophie Darlington will be back there in about three weeks, staying at Governor's as we will throughout the production. 

When we left the members of the Marsh Pride on whom we'd been concentrating (Charm's group and the 'five ladies') were all on the slopes of Rhino Ridge (Charms group) or in the area where the Bila Shaka joins the Salanga (all or most of the five ladies). The males Red and Tatu move between them, with Tatu preferring to stay close to Charm. Several of the ladies (five young lionesses of approximately the same age) have new cubs. The one we have been calling Kabibi (Governor's call her Yaya) had her two a couple of months ago and Berry had two more in December. Tano probably also gave birth but apparently lost her cubs almost immediately. At least one other of these lionesses also seemed to be about to give birth. 

Charm's usual group now comprises herself, her big son Tatu, her younger daughter Alanis (poisoned Alan's sister), the young lioness we have been calling Yaya (Governor's call her Kabibi) who is Bibi's daughter, fostered by deceased Sienna, and Sienna's three sub adult offspring Topknot (male) and his sisters Spot and Little Red. 

Charm seems to move her group every month or so. Previously they favoured the area about Manager's Crossing and pushed some way into Paradise Plains.

The cubs are probably in the worst place in terms of the likelihood of human conflict, as they are so close to the cattle on the edge of the reserve that we heard cow bells all the time while filming them. There are few other options for the mothers though - Bila Shaka offers the best cover in the event of buffalo attack. 

So far we have seen none of them in the Marsh." 
We would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy and Prosperous 2016.

We have had a busy festive season across all our properties. In the Masai Mara guests were treated to a series of concerts some planned and some impromptu by the fabulously talented Moipei Sisters. In the Mara the seasons are changing, the rains have eased off, the grass is growing long and large herds of elephant move through our camps and the grasslands. 

At Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge our guests have been enjoying delicious home grown food, exciting gorilla treks and plenty of interesting cultural outings that are on offer in the region. Manager Thor and Alisa set off to sample a few. 

At Loldia house, the ranch is looking green and there is plenty of wildlife up on the airstrip. Guests have been enjoying some wonderful night game drives, boat trips and birding. December News Masai Mara 

December News Masai Mara

5 January, 2016 

Weather and grasslands

We have had some glorious days especially towards the end of the month. Most nights there have been a full clear skies, making way for cocktails under the stars. On the morning of the 25th the horizon was pastel with every color of orange and red you could imagine. Since the dry weather has been settling in, warmer conditions are creeping up with much of the waterlogged areas that are slowly drying up making way for longer game drives. The long grass across the plains sways like shifting sand with the early morning breeze. The Teclea nobilis trees are fruiting at the moment. The Marsh reed growth has improved tremendously with good volumes of water in the marsh. The Mara River level has progressively gone down in the latter days. Rainfall for the month 150mm and with average morning temperatures ranging from 14°C in the early morning and 28°C midday. 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

On the plains  

There are many Elephant in small breeding herds scattered across the open grassland plains, some of these breeding herds will have as many as 75 animals in each herd. Often these Elephant herds or even individual bulls like the well-known 'Blossom' will come through our camps at night.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

Topi and Cokes Hartebeest are scattered across Rhino Ridge and Paradise Plains, some of the Cokes Hartebeest are still giving birth and this is quite late since they normally give birth in October and November. Perhaps with the long dry period and coupled with the onset of the rains this may have induced a delayed birthing. Topi will be found in larger herds in the Masai conservation areas north east of the reserve. Impala and Olive baboons are habituated residents within the camp and woodland verges. 

Thompson gazelles will be seen across the shorter grass plains in the conservation areas, Thompson's prefer the short green shoots that come after the rains and also the short grass allows them better vision for predators. 

Cape Buffalo breeding herds are also well scattered in large herds across the plains. The good grass growth has influenced these large herd sizes with the southern grasslands of Bila Shaka, Silanga and Rhino Ridge being good places to see them. Resident male bachelor herds will be seen near or within the marsh culvert and also in the grasslands of the west marsh.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

The young Black Rhino male was seen quite often this month enjoying a good wallow in the mudholes. There are many biting flies at the moment and these are often affect Buffalo, Hippo and Lion, one male Buffalo out of a bachelor herd decided to spend all day in the marsh water and spent most of the day near the culvert the mud providing some relief from the biting flies.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

There are Spotted Hyenas over all areas of Musiara; in the early hours on the 20th the marsh lion killed a large bull buffalo in the western grasslands of the Marsh only to have the kill taken over by a large clan of hyena. There was no argument, the hyena numbered around 50 clan members and the lionesses unable to defend the kill gave up very quickly. Black Backed Jackals are seen throughout the grassland plains and in the conservation areas north east of the reserve. Defassa waterbuck reside in the North-West areas of the Marsh. Many warthog and young piglets who are three to four months are seen throughout the grasslands of Musiara and Bila Shaka. Bohors reedbucks are also being seen with females and calves together while males hold out on their own. Giraffe are also being seen over all areas where there are woodlands and acacia groves, males can be seen in aggregations with large numbers all necking at the same time.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

Two Aardwolves a mother and sub-adult cub were seen on Rhino ridge on the 10th, this is a rare sighting since aardwolves are around and can be noted by their nocturnal habits, scat and den holes but on the whole they are seldom seen.

Photo courtesy of Ian Francis

Crested Cranes are calling, Kori bustards are displaying on the grassland plains and wooly-necked storks are flocking into the marsh. Within the marsh mud flats there are large numbers of Wattled Plovers, Long Toed Lapwings, Spur Winged Plovers, and Spur Winged Geese, Grey Herons and Black Necked Herons. Black Necked Herons can often be seen feeding in the long grass while looking for snakes and frogs, on Christmas day guests had a good sighting of a black necked heron killing and eating whole an eastern garter snake, it took this Heron all of ten minutes.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

There has been some good crocodile activity on the river, on the 31st near the main crossing a large male crocodile snatched a young hippo calf and fed off it for two days, the strength of a large crocodile could be seen as it snatched this young hippo and flayed it high out of the water. 

Southern ground hornbills are also being seen and heard, most often in trios, feeding in the long grass for grasshoppers and dung beetles. 

Grey Kestrels and some large flocks of lesser kestrels are still abundant, the grey kestrels seem to be feeding off from the termite mounds that have recently been increased in size whereas the Lesser kestrel are feeding off grasshoppers and also includes small vertebrates (mice, grass rats, but also birds and lizards).

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


Sad news for the marsh pride on the 7th of this month. 

On the morning of the 7th at 8.00 am we received a message from the Governors camp work shop director who had had then just received a mobile phone call from a film crew member of staff who was filming the marsh lion who were two kilometres south of the Bila Shaka riverbed, saying that some of the lions from the Marsh pride were acting strangely by collapsing and suffering spasms. We immediately called the David Sheldrick Wildlife trust mobile clinic who quickly came out and were on the scene at 11.30 am. It was confirmed that up to five lion had suffered from ingesting a poison of some description, a 16 month old sub adult male called Alan whose mother is Charm seemed in worse condition, he was collapsing and could not stand for long, and his breathing was laboured and was suffering heavy diarrhoea. Another young marsh Lioness had also looked like she was breathing heavily and suffering diarrhoea but apparently not as severe as this young male, Tatu the three and a half year old also was suffering slight paralysis in the rear part of his abdomen. Dr.. Limo from the Kenya wildlife services injected via a dart gun at approximately 3.30 pm into the sub adult male Dexamethasone anti-inflammatory and Atropine antidote. By 7.00pm that evening this young male Alan was still incapacitated. The next day 8th at 7.00am the old Lioness Bibi of the Marsh pride was found south of the Bila Shaka, one kilometre further south again there were the remains of a lion that had been eaten completely by Hyena, thought to be lioness Sienna. Alan, Charms young male sadly died on the 9th at 12.20pm, he died from wounds inflicted when a herd of Cape buffalo attacked him in the early hours of that morning. 

Yaya and her two cubs that are two months old are in the Bila Shaka riverbed, Musiara's daughter called Chemi Chemi also has three cubs that are a month old. On Christmas day these two lionesses brought their cubs together. Earlier on in the month one of the other sisters to the five lionesses had cubs in the Bila Shaka riverbed and we suspected she lost them quickly for they were not recorded being seen. 

Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku 

Lioness Charm, males Red and Tatu with the four sub adult cubs and lioness Kabibi who has now befriended Charm all spend much time together and have resided in the Silanga and Bila Shaka areas most often. Latterly Red and Tatu were seen in the north marsh areas for a short time before being seen again south end of the Bila Shaka. They have all been feeding off Buffalo in the southern grasslands of Bila Shaka, Silanga and also in the southern marsh; warthog have been taken in the Silanga grasslands and also along the southern Bila Shaka. 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


On the 31st between Topi plains and the south side of Rhino Ridge a new cub has been sighted, it is approximately three weeks old with the 1st breakaway Madomo pride, the mother is the young Lioness who is Madomo's daughter; she is the same age group as the five lionesses of the marsh pride. The sire to this cub is either of the two black maned lion, guests and guides both said the male lion showing strong ties or an altruistic behaviour towards this cub is Blackie, this should indicate that this cub is his offspring. The other four cubs that are six months old were all together with the two males Blackie and Lipstick. Earlier on this pride had moved down from the southern Rhino ridge fan.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


Romi the female leopard who has two cubs that are five months old has been seen often within the riverine woodlands of the Mara River. 

Siri the female leopard with an 18 month old sub-male cub of the Serena pump house area has often been seen, her male sub-adult also hunts in the same home range, although he is quite capable of supporting himself he can be seen some quite distance away. 

'Bahati' the female leopard who has been seen on the Talek River area, she has two cubs that are approximately five months old. 

The female leopard Saba with a 12 month old male cub is being seen frequently on the Olare Orok River. This male cub is very adventuresome and is intrigued with many moving things, on the morning of the 19th he attempted to stalk a warthog and was very surprised that the warthog saw him and stood up to him quickly sending him off running up a fig tree.

Photo courtesy of Jo Plisnier


Malaika the female cheetah has two sub-adult male cubs who are 18 months old, she has been seen south of the Double crossing and into the short grass plains of the Masai conservation areas. These open plains are the favoured hunting areas for cheetah since the reserve has longer grasses and many other dominant predators such as lion and spotted hyena who pose a strong threat for cheetah survival. Malaika has been feeding off Thomson Gazelles and Impala.

There is another young male in the southern Masai conservation areas that the guides and researchers call 'Warren' he has also been feeding off Thompson Gazelles and female impala; he apparently hunts in the same home range as Malaika and is often seen following her. 

The female cheetah Nora who had the two six months old cubs last month; she unfortunately earlier on this month in the east Masai conservation areas lost one cub suspected to be that from hyena, later as the rains prevailed she then moved further south with her one cub and was heard being seen in south Masai land near the fig tree camp of the Talek river.

December News Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge 

4 January, 2016 

Lodge news 

December has brought some more rain to our little corner of Northern Rwanda, with showers every-other-day and rainstorms less frequently. The weather has changed to give us mostly hazy mornings that often continue on throughout the day. Average temperatures drop to around 10-12°C at night, then rise to hang around 18°C during the day, meaning pleasant mornings climes for hiking. Check out our short time-lapse of clouds rolling in over the Virunga volcanoes one morning as seen from the lodge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xEdSD_rf7A&feature=youtu.be

The chefs have been working their magic in the kitchen as usual. One of our vegetarian specialties, the wild mushroom and Parmesan risotto is made using oyster mushrooms that are lovingly grown by one of our head chefs- Fofo. She buys the spores at the local market and within about a week can pick the delicious fleshy fruiting body that adds a wonderful earthy flavor to the dish.  

Imbabazi Farm visit 

Earlier on in the month we drove down towards lake Kivu to visit Mugongo farm the home of the late Rosamund Halsey Carr (1912-2006). This is where Rosamund farmed pyrethrum and other flowers for 49 years. What makes her such an inspirational woman is that at the grand old age of 82, having never had children of her own, she turned her old pyrethrum drying plant into an orphanage for over 150 Rwandan children who had lost their parents and families during the 1994 genocide. Here they were fed, clothed, taught and given the love of a mother. They named this centre of hope Imbabazi. Since her passing, the Rwandan government has closed all such orphanages. So now Imbabazi is a small primary school for local children. The farm is still in operation, growing an assortment of vegetables, flowers and rearing livestock for meat and milk. We had the pleasure of tasting some of the artichokes, picked on our arrival, followed by a tour of the farm and school grounds. 

The old pyrethrum drying plant/ orphanage has since been converted into a small museum, illustrating the life of Madam Carr. The gardens have been kept as she had them, blooming with an assortment of colourful flowers. For those of you who are familiar with the movie ''Gorillas in the mist'', it is here that Dian Fossey stayed after fleeing from the Congo. Once again, Rosamund was there to show compassion for someone in need.  

A visit to the farm with a lunch included costs about $20 per person. There is also an option (for an extra $10 per person) to be entertained by traditional Rwandese dancers in the beautiful manicured garden as Rosamund used to arrange for her guests. Alternatively one can be given the guided tour of the home, farm and school for $15. It is roughly an hour's drive from Sabyinyo Silverback lodge and you take in views of Lake Kivu in the distance and the very active Nyiragongo volcano just across the border in the Congo. We are pleased to now be supporting this foundation through the weekly purchase of flowers, artichokes, rhubarb, parsnips and other herbs! 

Note- For those of you who would like to learn more about her fascinating story, you can read her memoir called ''Land of a thousand hills- my life in Rwanda''. http://imbabazi.org/ 

Gorilla trekking- Sabyinyo Family 

On the 10th of December we went to visit the Sabyinyo family, who live between the northern slope of Mt. Bisoke and the southwestern slope of Mt. Sabyinyo. We were assigned the ever-entertaining Francois as our main guide along with Placid as second guide. As mentioned in previous newsletters, Francois is the longest running park guide. His knowledge of the individual gorillas and their behaviour is second to none. Along the way we were treated to him mimicking gorilla calls and chest beating, and every now and then we were invited to vocalize these ourselves!  

We drove for about twenty-five minutes from the park headquarters, first along the tarmac road and then (almost too soon) along the bumpy rocky 'road' leading up the volcanic slopes. The benefit of this ''African massage'' (as the guides call it) meant that we parked almost at the park boundary wall. So after a brief stroll and some gorilla etiquette demonstrated by Francois we entered into the land of the mountain gorillas. This area was dominated by stands of tall and newly shooting bamboo. The paths, as usual for this time of year, were muddy but at least not too wet, as it had not rained the evening before. 

Francois advised that we were in for about an hour's hike to reach our group, Sabyinyo. However, within about fifteen minutes of walking we were suddenly all silenced from the guides up at the front. We were told that we were passing another gorilla family, Agashya, but since they were not 'our' gorillas we must not stop but continue on past them. It was the first glimpse of gorillas for the rest of our group, so I think they found it hard not to stop and snap a couple of pictures; but as instructed, on we marched. 

We went through a number of open marshy glades, where I kept hoping to spot a glimpse of a forest elephant, buffalo or bushbuck. Alas I had no luck with that. But after the one hour of walking, almost down to the exact minute we came upon our trackers. We could already hear the munching of bamboo shoots, the cracking of branches around us and make out the occasional shadow of a powerful being moving past us in the gloom.

Once we had all removed our cameras and left the rest of our belongings with the porters and trackers on we went with Francois and Placid. The area opened up around us and suddenly we were in gorilla heaven!

Silverbacks roamed past us, youngsters rolled in the grass, mothers snoozed in the sunshine and Big Ben (the only bald gorilla) reclined like a Buddha observing us!

This sighting was by far the best that I have witnessed out of the five so far that I have been privileged enough to go on. What made it for me were the little ones. There was a muddy puddle where five youngsters found endless joy. They were so like human children, splattering the surface of the water when seeing their reflection there, and deliberately splashing water into each other's faces. One of the older ones began to drink from the puddle and soon after the smaller two decided to followed suit! It is not often that you see wild gorilla's drinking water directly from a pool, most of the time they obtain all the water that they need from the pulpy vegetation that they consume.

After about forty minutes of this delightful performance. Guhonda, the number one silverback (he is the oldest and largest of all the silverbacks in Volcanoes National Park) rose from his slumber and decided to move off along the glade.

Shortly afterwards, his son, Gukunda led the rest of the family onwards too. We followed behind as they snacked on thistles.

A few mothers had babies on their backs, as did some of the older siblings.

Gukunda lay down beside a thicket of bamboo for an afternoon rest, only to be disturbed by two of the youngsters who tried to push their luck by catapulting from the bamboo onto his back, until eventually he grabbed one of them and held it in a head lock by his feet!

Why we love January in the Masai Mara 

8 January, 2015 

January is the peak of Summer in the Masai Mara and days start off cool and move to hot by midday. There is sporadic rain and the grasslands remain fairly short, lush and green. Up on Paradise Plain the grass grows long to almost half a metre. The short grass is perfect for the resident plains game as it is nutrient rich and predators are much more visible. 

Mocker and Green banded swallowtail Butterflies flit through the forests and there is a large presence of raucous black and white hornbills. The Warburgia trees are fruiting and this draws in Parrots who sit in the high branches eating only the seeds inside the fruit, they drop the flesh and skins below to baboons who happily feast on their leftovers.

The new generation of plains game is thriving on the new lush grass brought on by the rains. Elephants are regular visitors to the Governors family of camps, families of elephant move through the marsh feeding on the sedge grasses and into the forests around our camps, where they feed on the new growth of Teclea and Warburgia fruits. Elephant bulls often in musth follow the herds looking for females in oestrus and amongst the family groups there are often small calves. Bull elephants like to rock large Warburgia trees shaking them so that the fruit falls down, we have had comical sights of baboons peacefully feeding in the canopy of a Warburgia tree only to be followed by shrieks of panic as baboons hold tight as a determined bull elephant shakes the tree, on occasion baboons fall out and one January we watched as a hungry elephant shook 4 baboons right out of a Warburgia tree!

Photo courtesy of Will Fortescue 

Mara River levels drop and hippos get squeezed into the last remaining deep pools, all this close living results in tension and fights breakout amongst the males. Females whose young are around 4 - 8 weeks old tend to keep their distance from the larger pods for safety reasons. The Marsh Pride of lions spend more time apart as the game becomes more sparse and they need to cover more ground. They come together on occasion when there is a meal to be shared or they are in need of social bonding. With Mara River levels getting lower the Paradise Pride crosses the river regularly spending their time hunting hippos. Cheetah also have to move further in search of prey, they frequent the short grass plains regularly hunting antelope and feeding quickly before the resident hyena move in. Leopards have more frequent encounters with baboons and we hear the calls of both taunting one another in the forests around our camps. With the grass short Serval Cats seem to jump up at every turn their camouflage not so effective in the short grass.

Photo courtesy of Deborah Price 


We see some amazing migratory birds like the Steppes Eagle, which comes all the way from the Russian Steppes, Violet backed Starlings which migrate around Kenya following the fruiting trees. European Bee-eaters, Eurasian Rollers, Pallid Harriers, Common Kestrels and a few white storks. We also see huge flocks of Swallows, Swifts and Martins flying ahead of the rainstorms picking up insects that have been startled into flight.

Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2016 

From a closer look at tribal culture in Namibia and Ethiopia, to beautiful landscape photography in Lesotho and Kenya, this week's selection of photos from the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2016 competition will have you applying the sunscreen in preparation for your next adventure.

The beauty of Kenya ©Savan Malde

A flock of Cape gannets in Lambert's Bay, South Africa ©Derek Dunlop

Sunrise at the Sani Pass in Lesotho ©Jasmin Nagel

A female lioness backlit by the late afternoon sun in Etosha National Park ©Anja Denker

A beautiful view over Prince Albert, South Africa ©John Vosloo 

A small family of elephants enjoys a mud bath in a dwindling waterhole in Kruger National Park, South Africa ©Bert Fourie

The migration in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya ©Butch Mazzuca

A lion cub on the lookout for milk from its mom ©Greg McCall-Peat

It's playtime in the Nxai Pan National Park, Botswana ©Jaap Wildeboer 

An oxpecker on a zebra's back in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya ©Yaron Schmid  

Dawn breaks in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe ©David Fettes

Leopards fighting in MalaMala Game Reserve, South Africa ©Gerald Hinde

Quintessential Africa in Nxai Pan National Park, Botswana ©Olwen Evans