Monday, October 3, 2016

A great photographic safari in the "Pearl Of Africa"

After a great migration safari in Masai Mara, I headed of west, in pursuit of the primates on a photographic safari with Nathab/WWF. Our first stop was at Kibale forest in Uganda where we had great opportunity to photograph the chimpanzees. On top of tracking the chimps in the forest, we did a walk at Bigodi swamp as a warm to the main tracking activity.
Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. 
The park is home to a total of 70 mammals species, most famously 13 species of primate including the chimanzee.
It also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180km-long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Sebitoli in the north of Kibale National Park. The Kibale-Fort Portal area is one of Uganda’s most rewarding destinations to explore. The park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and within half a day’s drive of the Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori mountains and Semliki National Parks, as well as the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve. We stayed at a beautiful lodge (Ndali) which sits on the rim of crater lake. The location gives you stunning views of the surrounding, whether looking west or east.
After Kibale and Queen Elizabeth National park, we proceeded to Bwindi.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda's oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back many years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 400 mountain gorillas– roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.
On our safari, we tracked Rushegura group which has 16 members, which includes one silverback and two black-backs. We also tracked Mubare or "M" Group which has 15 members. There is only one silverback in this group. Gorilla tracking is the park's main tourist attraction. Tourists wishing to track gorillas must first obtain a permit to do so. Gorilla tracking generate much revenue for Uganda Wildlife Authority and neighboring communities which is crucial for gorilla conservation. The gorillas seldom react to tourists and there is plenty of photographic opportunities over the one hour viewing time. There are strict rules for tourists to minimize the risk of diseases passing from them to the gorillas.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Migration update- Late July 2016

The concentration of the migrating herds is at two major areas, The Mara triangle (where most of the herds are at the moment and east towards Keekorok lodge. Th eother areas of eh reserve and conservancies have patchy herds. The Serengeti herds in the past week kept streaming into the Mara triangle, with heavy crossings by lookout hill. These kept crossing the River by look out hill over the week. Most of the Mara plains are still teeming with a sea of over grown red oat grass. To most herbivores this is quite tough and rough for them and this explains why the herds have just been rushing through the reserve when there is plenty of grass.

The have a heavy crossing activity at the paradise crossing point over the week as herds cross over to the west of the Mara River. These have been moving across Paradise plain to the River and crossing over west. Many have been dying from predation by crocodiles and others from trampling in the stampede in the river. It is a week full of excitement for the Mara visitors some of whom had to stay the whole day to witness this natural phenomenon. Northern Serengeti is now quiet with few wildebeests, but still active with its cats.

Crossing point
Crossing point 
Exit stampede

The herds on the move

Great photo opportunity with nice sunsets/rise

The clean-up squad are always there to do their job

Lions get an easy meal during the migration

Many of the wildebeests fall prey to predators

For Many Mara lions, the migration is a time for procreation

Common sight in the Mara now, Wildebeests and other herbivores all over

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Wildebeests Migration progress in Masai Mara

The movement of the migrating wildebeests in the Mara progressed fast over the past few days. It took the wildebeests only took 2 days from the central plains to get to the Mara river and are now across on the Mara triangle. There have been a lot of animals crossing over the last few days
The herds which had gathered south of the Talek on Burrungat plains have been crossing north of the river, and have proceeded all the way upto Double Crossing area and some of the herds are already heading to Topi plains. The crossings were quite slow but dramatic to see the wildebeests crossing the almost dry river in such a rush creating a cloud of dust in the process. The Olkiombo and Rekero prides of lions have suddenly waken up to a feast. They have been making kills almost daily at the river crossing on the Talek, when the animals come to cross.
The rest of the herds that proceeded towards the lower side of the Talek have been crossing near Rekero camp. I reckon these will head towards paradise crossing and then over to the triangle.

Down at Look out hill there were heavy crossings two days ago, which continued yesterday. Many animals are crossing over to the triangle. The crossings however have been somehow easy for the animals in many places as the water is lower. There have been a lot of crocodiles attach in the river.  There is still plenty of grass on the Mara plains. We expect a bit of rain this month and that will bring out even more grass.



Monday, July 4, 2016

Serengeti Migration Photographic safari (9 nights)

Safari profile;
(Dates: 11-19th February 2017 (9 nights)
Book yourself a safari to witness mass birth of hundreds of thousands wildebeest calf on the southern short grass plains of the Serengeti, when 80% (400,000) of the females gives birth within 2-3 weeks. Here the sight alone of thousands of wildebeests on the short grass plains, is breath taking, not to mention active predation on the newly born or just sitting and watch the just born calves learn to walk and run before you eyes!
This safari is dedicated to serious amateur and professional photographers. It involves long days on game drives, following and photographing calving wildebeests. At the end of each day, your host will take you through photographic tips as you critic each other work and learn on the go will take you. Inderjit Bilkhu, who is an accomplished photographer and guide who has led many such trips will lead this trip.
  • Day 1: Pick up from JRO or Namanga drive to Ngorongoro crater for overnight. Lemala Ngorongoro Camp FB
  • Day 2: Crater drive full day, Lemala Ngorongoro Camp FB
  • Day 3: Drive to southern Serengeti with stop at Olduvai proceed and check in at your camp in Ndutu. Nasikia Mobile Migration Camp
  • Day 4: Full day activities in Ndutu (NCAA), Nasikia Mobile Migration Camp FB
  • Day 5: Full day activities in Ndutu (NCAA), Nasikia Mobile Migration Camp FB
  • Day 6: Full day activities in Ndutu (NCAA) or Serengeti, Nasikia Mobile Migration Camp FB
  • Day 7: Full day activities in Ndutu (NCAA) or Serengeti, Nasikia Mobile Migration Camp FB
  • Day 8: Full day activities in Ndutu (NCAA) or Serengeti, Nasikia Mobile Migration Camp FB
  • Day 9: Full day activities in Ndutu (NCAA), Nasikia Mobile Migration Camp FB
  • Day 10: Early morning game drive then back to camp for breakfast. Transfer to airstrip for flight to Arusha and transfer to JRO (or direct flight to JRO)
Safari Costs:
  • 6 guests (3 Twin rooms 2 vehicles for private use)US $4,990 per person (twin share) SRS: US$580
  • FLIGHT – Ndutu/Arusha- US $270 per person [or Ndutu/direct to JRO, US$320pp]

Guide Profile
Inderjeet Kaur Bilkhu
KPSGA Gold Level. FGASA 1. Trails Guide and Professional Photographer.
Indi 1I grew up with no other purpose in mind other than being as close as possible to wildlife, and working with it. I was born in the small town of Kitale in Western Kenya. Currently living in Nairobi, I’m the first Female professional safari guide with Gold accreditation from KPSGA (Kenya Professional safari Guides Association)
I now travel widely all over East and Southern Africa, and India now, hosting guests on safari, with each adventure I’ve observed the delicate balance of nature and its strengthened my passion for its continued and enhanced protection. I’ve worked for various safari companies and now lead my own trips under the Safari Escapes brand. With outstanding knowledge of African Flora and Fauna, I lead safaris – Guiding and sharing my expertise on photography as well as the bush, working closely with the group, shooting alongside, guiding and sharing my expertise on photography as well as the wilderness and animals.
I am still most at home behind a camera somewhere in the remote wilderness that is Africa. I work closely with Nikon in East Africa, running wildlife photography workshops for them. Whether you are looking to capture landscapes such as the beautiful plains of the Maasai Mara, the wildebeest crossings, Northern Kenya, Highland Gorillas, remarkable birds, I will help you realize your photographic dream of the African bush. An enthusiastic photographer with great people skills and a very hands-on approach to all aspects of life. Complemented with a good knowledge of the African bush and a keen interest in safari life, wildlife, birds, culture and geography…gives you the perfect guide.
A safari with Indi is not just about being in the bush and sleeping under canvas….it is all about having fun and enjoying some of Africa’s most spectacular experiences and taking away life time memories.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Migration-2016 update from Masai Mara

Over the past week the migration in the Mara progression has been quite fast, with wildebeest covering quite some distance per day. The herds have already reached the central plains and still highly mobile. However, the herds have split up as usual with one herds heading due north and the other heading west from the central plains towards lookout hill. These are expected to cross the river in the coming few days or by next week, going by the pace by which they have been moving across the plains over the past few days since they arrived in the Mara. Looking across into northern Serengeti, one can see herds concentrated on the plains south of the Mara Bridge towards Naima Lumbwa hills. These are expected to join the main herds into the Mara one they have mowed down all the short grass in the area where they have settled.

What has been unusual about this years migration is that the main migration from the south arrived in the Mara early ahead of the Loita herds (This is the Kenyan resident herds of wildebeest) which usually migrate into the Mara from the east of the park. Normally when we start seeing them move into the park, it is a sign that the main migration from the south is on the way. The grass on the Mara plains is very tall and we thought this will slow the movement of the wildebeest as they will have to keep feeding as they move on, but they seem just to be on a mission to migrate than looking for greener pasture.
The Mara predators, which have been starving over the lean period that was the past few months, are now waking upto a season of plenty. The prides of lion in the areas where the wildebeest have been through have already gorged themselves.. A few lion pairs have been seen to be mating at this time. Normally the arrival of the wildebeests triggers mating among the lions as it is believed that the want to have their cubs when the wildebeests are still in the Mara. The wildebeests were also seen mating aggressively when they first arrived in the Mara, but the rutting is now slowing down. The stage is now set for hunting activities in the Mara, as the predators seize the opportunity.

I will keep you posted on the progress of this natural phenomenon.

Rutting among the wildebeests still seen though slowing down

"Earless" here seen mating last week not he central plains.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The wildebeests migration now enters Masai Mara

I am happy to report that the wildebeests have now entered the Mara! Though this is still in its’ initial stages, every indication shows that the stage is set for the world’s most fascinating wildlife spectacle.  Welcome and join us in the arena….

A herd of a few thousands wildebeest have crossed the border near sand river gate. They have been seen over the past one-week taking their traditional route towards Roan hill. Some have already moved all the way towards Hamerkop area. The plains now between Sand River, Roan Hill and Keekorok lodge is teeming with the first herds that have moved into the area. The first animals arrived about 6 days ago.

 Their movement however is slower because of the amount of grass in their way. Since May we have continued having intermittent rains which has made the plains covered in long green grass. This is expected to slow the migration movement north. Looking onto the Serengeti from the sand river, one can see isolated herds of zebra and wildebeest heading north though reluctantly. We anticipate this concentration to build as the herds push up north into the Mara.

A fellow guide in Grumeti area, has informed me that the migrating herds have taken two wings one wing heading north from Grumeti area to the west and the eastern wing is the one now moving into the Mara. A lot is now expected to happen in the following weeks and months as the wildebeests concentration intensify.