KENYA: The Oloololo Escarpment and Mara Triangle

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Dec 12, 2009 | by Adrian Binns

Set on the Oloololo Escarpment the Mara West tented camp overlooks the Maasai Mara (above). Below us wildebeest dot the northwestern plains. The spectacle of migration is extraordinary, and there is a tremendous concentration in this part of the Mara Triangle. A herd of Elephants is spotted walking along a croton thicket on their way up the escarpment slope to a watering hole. It is a journey this herd, that numbers around 50, takes every day. Since the camp is not fenced wild animals are free to roam about which means that we must have a Maasai escort to and from our tents. On the way back from dinner we came face-to-face with a Maasai Giraffe that was quite happy strolling between our tents.

Tented camps are wonderful, as the nighttime sounds of the savanna ring loud and clear, with zebras barking, hyenas whoo-o-o-p, and a lion’s deep huh…huh….huh-huh one can easily be lulled to sleep.

The morning was spent on the Oloololo Escarpment beginning with a walk towards the Mara West pond (above). A Ross’s Turaco flew passed us and down the hill to alight in tree with another one. The pond only produced a Black Crake and Malachite Kingfisher while in the adjoining woods we had a pair of Narina Trogon’s (below), African Blue Flycatcher, Greater and Lesser Honeyguide, Cardinal Woodpecker and Chin-spot Batis.

Our walk was followed by a drive along the escarpment road that produced Bare-faced Go-Away Birds, Sooty Chat, Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting, Western Citril, Whistling Cisticola, Rufous-crowned Roller, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, and Familiar Chats working the slopes. A walk through the acacia woodland on the upper ridge gave us wonderful looks at Common Scimitarbill, Buff-bellied Warbler, Red-fronted Tits, Speckle-fronted Weaver and the bird we were after Long-tailed Cisticola.

Following an excellent lunch on the deck at Mara West we were eager to get into the Mara. It is a short drive to the Oloololo Gate to the Mara Reserve at the base of the escarpment. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in the upper portion of the Mara triangle.

The wildebeest had already crossed the Mara River and the concentration of ungulates was extraordinary. Zebras mixed in with Wildebeest (above); Eland and Buffalos; Grant’s Gazelles and Topi’s, many with young, and all grazing around us. As we weaved around these herds we were spellbound by the sheer numbers.

The common cisticola in the Mara grasslands is Stout’s, and there is no shortage of them. A few Red-necked Spurfowl (above) walked the berm ridges that allow for water drainage. Pallid Harriers cruised over the savanna and aggressive African Wattled Lapwings were walking along a track besides a narrow marsh. Tucked behind a tuft of aquatic vegetation on the edge of the water we found a sleeping male Painted-Snipe. The last bird of the day was an African Moustached Warbler before making it back to our tent porch for sundowners as we watched the sun’s glow dissipate over the Mara.

all photos © adrian binns

1 Comment

  1. […] 510 square kilometer Mara triangle is located near to the Oloololo Escarpment. The Mara River, where the annual wildebeest migrations take place, Mara North Conservancy, Olare […]

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