Masai Mara 2011 #1
16:08 , October 6, 2011

Masai Mara 2011 #1

This is the first trip report from this autumn’s two photo safaris to Masai Mara in Kenya. The first safari was from 1–7 September 2011.

 

Day 1 – 02.09.2011 The first group of eight Norwegian photographers and I arrived at Masai Mara via a small aircraft at 09:00. We met our local Masai guides and drivers, and headed towards the camp. However, after only 5 minutes driving we had to grab our telephoto lenses. A Cheetah mum with a playful cub gave a really nice start to our safari.

After the Cheetah we drove past the camp and out to some bush areas where one of our guides had found a leopard earlier that morning. The leopard was fortunately still in the same spot and very relaxed. We got some nice shots of this big male leopard named «Yellow».

On the afternoon game drive we wanted to go back to see Yellow. The Leopard had moved a few hundred meters, and was now lying in a more open area in the shade of some trees. We got some really nice portraits of this leopard, and this time with a great background.

Just before sunset two of our safari vehicles decided to photograph a pride of lions. My vehicle stayed with the leopard, and 30 minutes before sunset he began his hunt. The next 30+ minutes turned out to be my best time with a leopard ever. We got some great sunset shots, and I also tested my «Oleinator» – a rig with Nikon D3S, 14–24/2.8 and two flashes on a mono-pod close to ground level, with a trigger system. This was my first pole camera system and it will be modified for my next photo tours.

 

Mother and cub Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#1 Cheetah mother with cub. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/1000 sec, f/7,1 and ISO 640.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Leopard (Panthera pardus) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#2 Relaxed Lepard. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 + 1,4X tele converter, 1/1250 sec, f/5,6 and ISO 800.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#3 Banded Mungoose. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 + 1,4X tele extender, 1/1000 sec, f/6,3 and ISO 1600.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Leopard (Panthera pardus) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#4 The big male “Yellow”. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 VR, 1/320 sec, f/6,3 and ISO 1250.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Leopard (Panthera pardus) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#5 “Yellow”. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 +1,4X tele converter, 1/1600 sec, f/7,1 and ISO 1250.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Leopard (Panthera pardus) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#6 Leopard photographed with wide angle lens. Nikon D3X with 14–24/2.8 (at 18mm), 1/800 sec, f/8,0 and ISO 800.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Leopard (Panthera pardus) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#7 Close encounter with the Leopard. Nikon D3X with 14–24/2.8 (at 18mm), 1/400 sec, f/8,0 and ISO 500.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Leopard (Panthera pardus) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#8 Leopard at sunset. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/160 sec, f/5,6 and ISO 1600.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Day 2 – 03.09.2011 After yesterday’s great start, we were all excited about what today’s opportunities would be. At sunrise we photographed hyenas, a lioness and some giraffes. We crossed the Talek River and drove down to the Mara River. Here, the Wildebeests were starting to gather in great numbers. It was crowded with thousands of animals, but we only managed to get two smaller crossings. Sooner or later they had to cross, so we decided to try more seriously the next morning.

Later in the afternoon we stayed on the north side of the Talek River. First, we photographed some hippos from ground level before we met one of Masai Mara’s biggest celebrities – the male lion «Notch». This male lion is one of the chief lions in the Masai Mara and is well photographed and filmed by companies like BBC and National Geographic. Just before sunset we drove up a hill to photograph animals against the superb sunset from ground level. This was a great success, especially with the topis who were less shy than other antelopes. It is always good for photographers to have great sunsets on such safaris.

 

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#9 Panned Hyena. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/13 sec, f/5,6 and ISO 100.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#10 Giraffe at sunrise. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 VR, 1/1600 sec, f/6,3 and ISO 1000.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Blue Wilbebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#11 Wildebeests near Masai River. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 + 1,4X tele converter, 1/20 sec, f/14 and ISO 100.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Blue Wilbebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#12 Crossing. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 + 1,4X tele converter, 1/1250 sec, f/6,3 and ISO 1250.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Lion (Panthera leo) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#13 The male Lion “Notch”. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 + 1,4X tele converter, 1/640 sek, f/5,0 and ISO 2000.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

 

Topi (Damaliscus korrigum) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#14 Topi at sunset. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/800 sec, f/5,6 and ISO 1250.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Topi (Damaliscus korrigum) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#15 Topi in silhuette. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 + 1,4X tele converter, 1/200 sec, f/5,6 and ISO 1250.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Topi (Damaliscus korrigum) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#16 Panned Topi. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 + 1,4X tele converter, 1/60 sec, f/5,6 and ISO 1250.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Day 3 – 04.09.2011 Two of our vehicles photographed lions at sunrise. In the twilight I photographed a lioness with 600mm and 1.4X tele extension and ISO 16000. It was very dark, but the AF-system worked surprisingly well, and the image turned out quite good.

The rest of the morning we photographed lions mating, hippos, African buffaloes and various birds and animals.

In the afternoon we found a new leopard – the son of the famous female Leopard named “Olive” who is often spotted in the areas near Talek River. We managed to get some great shots of the leopard, but there were also many other safari vehicles competing for the best positions.

The other two safari vehicles spent the full day down at the Mara River, and captured a few nice Wildebeest crossings. This was good news.

 

Lion (Panthera leo) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#17 Lioness before sunrise. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 + 1,4X tele converter, 1/13 sec, f/5,6 and ISO 16 000.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Lion (Panthera leo) cubs in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#18 Lion cubs. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/500 sec, f/6,3 and ISO 5000.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#19 African buffalo. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 + 1,4X tele converter, 1/500 sec, f/7,1 and ISO 2000.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) Hippopotakus (Hippopotakus amphibius) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#20 Common Sandpiper on a Hippo. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/1000 sec, f/11 and ISO 1250.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Hippopotakus (Hippopotakus amphibius) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#21 Hippo. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/1000 sec, f/8,0 and ISO 1250.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#22 Kori bustard – the heaviest flying bird. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 + 2X tele converter, 1/500 sec, f/11 and ISO 2000. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

 (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#23 Panned Leopard. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/25 sec, f/10 and ISO 125.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Lion (Panthera leo) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#24 Mating lions. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/640 sec, f/5,0 and ISO 2000.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

 (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#25 Wildebeest in Sunset. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/8000 sec, f/5,0 and ISO 4000.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

 (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#26 Wildebeest in silhuette. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/3200 sec, f/5,0 and ISO 4000. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Day 4 – 05.09.2011 Two of our three safari vehicles departed before sunrise and drove south to the Masai Mara river. Tens of thousands of Wildebeests were now close to the river, and it looked promising for some larger crossings. We decided to drive around to the western side of the river, since the animals and most of the tourists were on the east side. This was a good decision because after a 2 hour wait the animals started to cross the river straight toward us. For at least 65 minutes it was like crazy with more than 30 000 Wildebeest and zebras crossing the big river. Very exciting!

Unfortunately, there were many other safari vehicles around us, but we did have a great view and angle of the crossing. Throughout the day there were also several other crossings along the river, so we had many more opportunities for photos of the crossings.

Just after we had crossed the Talek River it started to rain heavily. Instead of hurrying back to the camp like the other tourist vehicles, we spent the time with some of the zebras. We got some really nice shots of these great animals in the pouring rain.

 

Wilderbeest (Connochaetes taurinus) (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#27 Wildebeest crossing. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/1600 sec, f/7,1 and ISO 1000.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Wilderbeest (Connochaetes taurinus) (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#28 Wildebeests in Masai River. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/500 sec, f/6,3 and ISO 1000.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Wilderbeest (Connochaetes taurinus) (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#29 Panned Wildebeest. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/20 sec, f/22 and ISO 100.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Wilderbeest (Connochaetes taurinus) (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#30 Panned Wildebeest. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/20 sec, f/18 and ISO 100.  Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Wilderbeest (Connochaetes taurinus) (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#31 Jump, jump, jump! Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/3200 sec, f/5,0 and ISO 4000. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Wilderbeest (Connochaetes taurinus) (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#32 Wildebeests just crossing Masai River. Nikon D3X with 14–24/2.8, 1/640 sec, f/10 and ISO 400. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Plains Zebra (Equus quagga) in hevy rain in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#33 Zebras in heavy rain. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/80 sec, f/5,0 and ISO 3200. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Plains Zebra (Equus quagga) in hevy rain in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#34 Wet Zebra. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/80 sec, f/5,0 and ISO 3200. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Plains Zebra (Equus quagga) in hevy rain in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#35 Zebra stips. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/100 sec, f/4,5 and ISO 3200. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#36 Panned White-backed Vulture. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/30 sec, f/22 and ISO 100. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Day 5 – 06.09.2011 After yesterday’s great crossings we drove once again before sunrise south to the Mara River. This time the Wildebeests were moving away from the river, which was not good for us. The heavy rain had changed the migration routes, at least for a few days.

We decided instead to follow a hunting Cheetah, and almost got the optimal hunting situation before another safari vehicle ruined everything. We also had plenty of opportunities for panning the wildebeests.

 

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#37 Vulture. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/400 sec, f/8,0 and ISO 2000. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Wilderbeest (Connochaetes taurinus) (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#38 Panned Wildebeests. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/10 sec, f/22 and ISO 100. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Wilderbeest (Connochaetes taurinus) (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#39 Before the storm. Nikon D3X with 14–24/2.8, 1/320 sec, f/6,3 and ISO 500. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Picnic lunch in Masai Mara. Photo: Per Trovik

 

Close encounter with the most dangerous predator in Masai Mara. Photo: Kjell Germeten

 

Day 6 – 07.09.2011 For our last morning in the Masai Mara we stayed with the lion cubs near the camp. The lion pride had killed a Wildebeest during the night, and lots of vultures were now circling the area to clean up the mess. It was interesting to observe and photograph, although vultures are perhaps not the most beautiful birds in the world. One of the safari vehicles visited a Masai village and got some nice shots of the cultural part of Masai Mara.

We ended our safari at the airport. Thanks to all for great days in the Masai Mara!

 

Lion (Panthera leo) in Masai Mara (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#40 Panned Lion cub. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/15 sec, f/10 and ISO 1250. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#41 Fresh meat for the Hyena. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/1000 sec, f/6,3 and ISO 2500. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#42 Vulture landing. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/30 sec, f/11 and ISO 400. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) in Masai Mara, Kenya (Ole Jørgen Liodden)
#43 Vultures. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0, 1/10 sec, f/18 and ISO 400. Copyright © Ole Jørgen Liodden / Naturfokus. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION, BUY A PRINT OR DOWNLOAD THE IMAGE.

 

All photographers and guides on the Masai Mara safari 1-7 September 2011

 

NB: Let us know if you want to go with us on a similar photo safari to Masai Mara in 2012!

This post is also available in: Norwegian Bokmål

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  1. Great photographs! I’m always particularly drawn to your panned images with slow shutter speeds, just gorgeous.

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