This stunning camp has recently won the ranking of best hotel in Kenya by Travel and Leisure Magazine’s Best Hotels in the World 2010. Here’s their recent safari update so you can find out why it’s such a winner!
WE ARE DELIGHTED TO ANNOUNCE
THAT GOVERNORS’ CAMP HAS BEEN RATED BEST HOTEL IN KENYA BY TRAVEL AND LEISURE MAGAZINE’S BEST HOTELS IN THE WORLD 2010.
Here’s an update on the safari action.
Weather and the plains
September saw a fair amount of unseasonal rainfall through the month, filling up the Musiara Marsh. The water came gushing under the bridge to the airstrip and on to the Mara River. The Mara River has been consistently high, mostly due to rain at its watershed in the Mau forest.
The temperatures have been very pleasant, rising to a maximum of 30 Celsius around mid day. After gorgeous mornings, it has mostly become overcast in the afternoons and raining on the odd day.
The grassland plains have been mowed down by the migration, leaving a bright green thick mat with the unpalatable dried stalks left standing, giving the impression of dry grass from a distance.
Storm over the Mara
Photo by Governors’ Camp guest John Knott
Migration on the plains
Photo by guest Justin Grammaticas
The Wildebeest Migration
We have had one of the best migrations seasons ever! Dense concentrations of wildebeest and zebra have covered the plains. The herds have tended to group together at night, spreading out as the day progresses to dot the grassland. Similarly to the end of August hundreds of thousands of animals were to be seen from Governors camps looking out onto Rhino Ridge and to the east. Mid month they started moving around and over the ridge but returned again to The Marsh. The river crossings have been plentiful in September, from a few zebras to a few thousand wildebeest. The fat, ancient crocodiles still take the odd animal as they cross the Mara River, but are mostly content to watch from the sand banks as they have had their full. The river is littered with carcasses from panicked animals drowning because of the large numbers, high water and difficult exits. This is in stark contrast to last year’s crossings where they mostly skipped across the river as it was so low, the crocodiles had to work hard for their meal then.
Elephant and giraffe have avoiding the masses of wildebeest and zebra, with the occasional elephant family coming to the forest every few days or so. They are to be mostly found up in the acacia woodland areas at this time, where they are feeding. The large buffalo herd with their young still frequent the marsh and return up onto the ridge, the bachelor males looking from a distance resigned to the fact they are not wanted. With the bursts of rain and the promise of more, and the charge of greenery in the Mara many of the antelope herds have been mating. The males were seen rutting and asserting their territories, once the lines have been drawn and lesser males placated, they then get on with the business at hand. Gestation periods range mostly according to the size of an antelope, the smaller gazelles and impala approximately 6 months whilst the larger waterbuck and topi 7 – 8 months. This instinctual timing coincides with the seasonal rains that commence toward the end of March, giving the young new lush grass to graze on and taller grasses to hide in.
Beautiful wild flowers have started springing up amongst the shorter grass, ’tissue paper’ flowers Cycnium tubulosum, fireball lilies Scadoxus multilorus bringing a contrast of red to the plains as well as the pyjama lily Crinum macowanii with its white and purple stripes.
Dung beetles of all colours and sizes are busying themselves attempting to clear up what the wildebeest have dropped. Termites take this mammoth job on too.
‘Flying ants’ termite reproductives have taken to the sky to pair up and start new colony’s. Timed with the rains so the earth is soft they dig down to start a new kingdom. They are a delicious meal to a lot of animals as they are packed proteins to sustain themselves whilst they create workers – birds, aardvark, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, mongoose and more all eat them.
The resident baboons are spending a lot of their time along the roads as the runoff from the rain has produced thick new nutritious shoots which they are feeding on. They will sit for hours near the roads providing great entertainment.
The core part of the Marsh Pride of lions have been happily lazing around the Musiara Marsh area this month. The pride is basically divided in two; the two males Romeo and Claude and four females, three of which are with young having three cubs each. The fourth female was sighted mating with both males at the start of the month, Romeo dominating as Claude the older lion is not in great condition. The sub-adult group are spending their time up near Mbila Shaka and on occasion come down to the marsh. There are five males and four females together with a lioness, Lispy. Lispy towards the end of the month came into season and ventured down to the marsh and picked out Romeo, a good choice, and commenced mating. The Marsh Pride have been hunting at night. The sub-adult males took down the old buffalo bull outside of Governors’ Camp which was a fair accomplishment even though he was in retirement and a little worse for wear. One of the more spectacular sightings seen below the marsh bridge was all of the sub-adults trapping a large male waterbuck in the water. The waterbuck held his own, facing off any attempts that were made toward it by the lions surrounding him. This started at dawn and went until well after lunch when the waterbuck bolted once the lions lost interest and lay watching.
The Ridge Pride is still doing well, staying up on the ridge where the wildebeest have been. They too had an interesting development; whilst on a walk the three lionesses and four cubs came across a mother cheetah and her two adult cubs which they promptly chased for a while. In their excitement they had not noticed the kill which the cheetahs had to leave in a hurry, but wandered on. They then spotted a hyena which had just killed a young wildebeest and chased him of his meal and settled into their easily won prize.
The Paradise Pride is in great shape. Dominating a territory that encompasses the main crossing areas means they have food coming to them instead of having to pursue their prey. However they choose to hunt at night and relax during the day, very rarely is this pride seen hunting during the day. The pride across the Mara river from them is very different. Often seen at the crossings hiding up in the croton bushes, they ambush the unsuspecting hoards of animals that have just tired themselves out swimming through the rapids. On one occasion a single lioness killed five wildebeest.
Notch has been seen on both sides of the river with his two prides, where his five sons have split and are seen east of the river up in the Croton bushes.
Photo by guest Daryl Black
Elephants visiting Camp
Photo by guest Jean Monfils
We have mostly seen the three cheetah boys this month who are not short of female admirers as other cheetahs have moved on.
There has been one female cheetah and her two nearly fully grown cubs near double crossing, she did come to Rhino ridge but was chased off by the Ridge Pride. This is probably why she spends her time further away.
One other female cheetah has been seen near the Talek River, once walking right by Olive the leopard.
Olive is still as relaxed as ever, giving guests amazing views of her near the Talek River in the Croton bushes. Her two cubs have moved on, leopards are not very tolerant of their cubs once they come of age, there are very rarely any free meals once they leave home. The two cubs are sticking together for the moment, they need to build up their confidence before they secure territories of their own.
The young male leopard from Olives’ previous litter is in a neighbouring territory, he has been spotted a few times, once dragging a fresh wildebeest kill across the ground into cover.
The Il Moran leopard near Governors’ has rarely been seen as the Marsh Pride is so incumbent and she has retreated to the forest. A male leopard was sighted along the forest near the Little Governors crossing. Whilst waiting for a crossing one of our vehicles saw a female leopard being chased out of the adjacent bushes by baboons creating mayhem amongst the mounting herds of wildebeest. Once everything had calmed down, what presumably was an older cub ran out in pursuit of its mother and stirred the wildebeest into another state.
There are a couple of jackal dens up on the plains in old termite mounds, the youngsters are nearly fully grown but still dependant on their parents. At one site hyenas tried to dig out the young whilst the adults were running in and nipping at their behinds, the hyena soon ran off.
We also had two sightings of caracal in September which was very lucky, one mother had cubs too.
With high season well underway the camps have been as busy as ever. We have also had wonderful sightings of game in camp with elephants putting in regular visits to all camps, much to the delight of guests. Elephant families have been making a habit of turning up at Little Governors’ Camp at lunchtime leaving camp staff to escort guests to a safe distance away to view these magnificent animals as they pass through camp!
The Governors’ Hot Air Balloon Safaris have also been enjoying spectacular game viewing this month. On the 24th clients and crew enjoyed a beautiful flight, with a glorious full moon followed by a spectacular sunrise, they had the pleasure of seeing four rhino, three lions, as well as plenty of plains game, zebra and wildebeest. Rhinos have become a fairly regular sighting on most balloon flights much to the delight of clients and balloon pilots and we have enjoyed some lovely sightings of leopard in the branches of trees.
See the magic of the Mara.