With South Africa moving from level 4 to level 3 on the 1st June, safari adventures are still not available yet, but Kapama Private Game Reserve decided to use this time as productively as possible, and commenced with the next phase of the Kapama River Lodge refurbishment project on 1st June.
To ensure our valued guests receive the best quality, service and value, Kapama has always maintained a regular refurbishment plan to keep up to date with global luxury trends and standards. This includes accommodation, facilities and features. This has been to maintain the incredibly high standard for which Kapama is renowned.
This next phase of refurbishment will include the lounge and pool deck which will be completed by July 2020. The upgrading of the 2 Royal suites as well as 33 of the standard suites into deluxe suites will be completed by 15th December. Guests can be assured there will be no interruption and no compromise on quality, luxury, value for money and more importantly the Kapama promise, during the refurbishment phase.
After the very successful addition of the 1st phase which included the new River Lodge reception area, game drive access bays, cocktail bar and pool, revealed on 1st November 2018, Kapama remains confident that this next phase for River Lodge will only heighten the luxurious feel of the 5-star establishment.
Each week, updates will be circulated with video and photos showing how the project is progressing.
The African bush, in the early morning, holds something beyond the crisp air and radiant sunrises. There is something else, and it is this ‘something else’ that captivates me the most. It is that feeling of mystery and surprise. You never know what the morning may bring and no matter how hard you and your tracker try to find something, if it doesn’t want to be found, it won’t.
For months my tracker and I had been searching for a female leopard and her newborn spotted fuzz ball. This elusive creature had evaded us by lying, walking, sleeping and eating in all the wrong places, at all the wrong times. I was desperate to have the privilege of meeting mother and daughter before the youngster stepped out of cub hood. Every morning and afternoon as I left for my game drive, I had a secret hope that perhaps today would be the day. Perhaps today we would find the tracks which would lead us to this secretive leopardess and her cub.
Little did we know that today would be the day. This morning the story was perfectly written and all we had to do was listen…
Not long after leaving the lodge, a call came over the radio that this female had been found in a large Marula tree with a warthog kill and her cub was nearby. I could barely contain my excitement and enthusiasm. With the biggest grin, I turned to my guests and told them that today was the day! As we made our way to the sighting our excitement was tangible. We were all on the edge of our seats, unable to voice our hopes, let alone really think them.
As we came around the corner, there silhouetted in a big Marula tree, was the leopardess with her kill slung across a branch.
Our eyes quickly noted her elegance but just as quickly we found ourselves scanning the area for her cub. I couldn’t see it anywhere. My eyes skimmed the base of the surrounding trees and there nestled at the base of a very flimsy Russet Bushwillow tree lounged a large hyena. It watched us as we drove a little closer. My heart was in my mouth. Where was this little spotted animal… and then the bush above the hyena juddered a little and, grabbing my binoculars, I spied a little spotted animal perched in the branches beautifully camouflaged, its eyes wide and wondering. This was the first leopard cub I had ever laid eyes on and I could barely contain my excitement. Every little detail was there, although somewhat hidden behind bits of scraggly bush, but perfect detail nonetheless.
We all sat there. The mother leopard seemed highly unperturbed by the hyena’s presence lying in ambush below her daughter. She appeared more concerned in finding the best position to be close to her kill and being as comfortable as possible. She kept having to rearrange her limbs in a new and intriguing manner. We sat there in awe, noting their velvet spotted coats, perfect whiskers, and the beautiful necklace of black pearls so attractively displayed around the mature neckline of the old female. As we sat there, the hyena lifted its head, raised its leering grin into the air, sniffed, and then hauled itself up off the ground somewhat unenthusiastically.
We anxiously watched with bated breath as the hyena gave us, the mother leopard, and then the little cub, who was precariously balanced at the top of her tree, a withering look before sauntering away into the bush obviously tired of waiting. We didn’t have to wait long for the elegantly spotted cat to gracefully disembark from the large Marula tree, calling out to her cub.
The cub looked at her mother as if to say, “You have got to be crazy.” Her mother reassuringly called her, encouraging her to become untangled from the little Bushwillow. Eventually, one leg at a time, the cub cautiously picked her way through the miss-match of branches, until at last, she was on firm ground.
She gave a little call and then bounded over to her mother. She rubbed herself against her mother’s warm coat, nestling under her chin, she wound her tail round her neck and begrudgingly allowed her mother to groom her.
After a few minutes, the two got up and set off through the bush. The female leopard walked on ahead while her little cub picked her way through the long grass, scooting round boulders and trotting to keep up. They paraded through the grass until they got to a smooth dust road winding through the bush. Mother and daughter walked down the road, side by side, their padded feet barely leaving a trace of their presence behind them. We followed them, always making sure to give them plenty of space. The cub’s mother was at ease and in her element. The little cub, however, would regularly turn and give us a quizzical look before dashing off into the grass on the side of the road only to reappear a few moments later back beside her mother as if nothing had happened.
We stopped a little way away from them and watched as the spotted mother sniffed the air and then turned decisively off into the thick bush. The little one hesitated briefly, giving us one last side long glance, before scurrying off after her mother. We sat there and watched as their rosettes disappeared into the brown grass, until, quite frankly, we had no idea where they had gone.
It was a morning that we would never forget. As we made our way back to the lodge, this fluffy little girl with wide inquisitive, cautious eyes, fresh little whiskers and a soft curious little nose would forever be etched in my mind. Every little detail of this little character who belonged to the little white tipped tail that dodged its way through the long grass would remain in my memory forever…
BLOG BY RUTH BERNING (BUSH LODGE RANGER)
Before leaving Africa’s famous Mara, the rain had left its mark across the Reserve, making game drives near impossible – at least not without risk of getting stuck in a muddy hole. Happily, the rains seem to be moving on and it has been fantastic to enjoy sunnier days out in the park.
Dawn in the Mara continues to amaze, even more so now that they are unencumbered by heavy clouds and, as always, the early morning sunrays paint everything in a soft golden hue.
My first drive since returning felt like a lap of honor – and it gave me the chance to catch up with some familiar favorites.
Hyenas and jackals continue to patrol the Triangle’s main roads, often darting off as we drive by, only to re-emerge shortly thereafter. Ground hornbills, thankfully, are far less skittish and impossibly photogenic.
It was a delight to reconnect with the new additions to elephant herds and to see how these tiny babies have grown into giants (relatively speaking) in what feels like no time at all.
Speaking of new additions – it’s been wonderful to discover lion prides that I haven’t seen before. Lions always make me laugh at how quickly they can go from fearsome beasts to sleepy house cats in the blink of an eye.
And of course, a week in the Mara Triangle wouldn’t be complete without a few bird sightings. This too has been a mix of the familiar, such as the Egyptian goose, with the new. I finally spotted both the black-bellied and the white-bellied bustard on the same drive.
Quite possibly the most exciting find for me was the presence of a few wildebeest. Soon we will be drowning in them.
The migration is still some distance away in Tanzania but these individuals herald the coming spectacle, the setting of which is the Mara River, and I can hardly wait.
The first one is Macadamia & Cranberry Nougat. Did you know that the word nougat comes from Romance language Occitan pan nogat – pronounced as [ˈpa nuˈɣat], seemingly from Latin pains nucatus meaning – NUT BREAD
Whip up a batch and enjoy!
Macadamia & Cranberry Nougat
70g egg whites
30g castor sugar
120g glucose syrup
1tsp vanilla paste
50g cocoa butter
300g macadamia nuts
2 rice papers
Keep the nuts and the cranberries on a warm area
Combine 380g sugar, glucose, water and vanilla paste and cook the to 155 degrees Celsius
While the sugar mixture is cooking melt the cocoa butter and start cooking the honey to 120 degrees Celsius
Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer and add the 30g castor sugar to form a soft meringue
When the honey reaches 120 degrees add to the meringue and whisking at high speed
When the sugar mixture reaches 155 degrees add to the meringue mixture whipping on high speed for 3 minutes
Add the cocoa butter, the mixture will separate and carry on mixing until the mixture comes together
Fold in the nuts and cranberries
Pour the mixture on the rice paper use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture, place the second rice paper on top
The second turndown treat is Macroons. Traditionally, macarons (French) is said to have been introduced in France by the Italian chef of queen Catherine De Medici during the Renaissance.
Why not give this delectable dessert a try.
240g egg whites
100g castor sugar
230g ground almonds
420g icing sugar
Mix the icing sugar and ground almonds
Blend with a stick blender until the mixture becomes fine
Whisk the egg whites using an electric mixer to soft peak
Add sugar and mix to medium peak
Fold in the almond mixture to the meringue mixture
Add your colouring and fold it
Transfer the mixture to piping with a number 9 straight nozzle
Pipe the mixture into a tray lined with a silicon paper
Allow to rest for 45 minutes
Bake @ 150 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes
No game reserve in the world can claim such a devoted and extensive community of photographers and filmmakers as the Maasai Mara, and since 2018, the Angama Foundation’s Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year initiative has connected them with conservation initiatives who actively work to protect it, raising important funds for conservation in the process.
To date, the Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year competition has seen thousands of entries from professional and amateur photographers alike, and it has been immensely rewarding enjoying these entries from photographers from all walks of life, who have managed to capture almost every wildlife scene imaginable.
Last year we hosted a series of exhibitions across the globe bringing a handful of these images into people’s living rooms, and so we are delighted to continue to connect the competition’s extraordinary gallery of photographs with the global community of wildlife photography enthusiasts through the launch of online auctions; offering anyone, anywhere, the opportunity to own a beautiful piece of the Maasai Mara.
With the proceeds being shared between the competition’s boots-on-the-ground conservation partners, and the photographers themselves, buyers can be assured that their funds will be used to protect the reserve. Given the downturn in tourism, there has never been a more important time for media to play a role in protecting the Mara, and all of the livelihoods that depend on it.
These auctions are an exciting step for the Angama Foundation, as they provide an alternative funding model to ensure continuity in its work and that of its conservation partners.
The first images on sale from the 8th of June are a selection of finalists from the competition, and include shots from Kenyans James Nampaso & Gurcharan Roopra, as well as well-known international photographers such as Anup Shah, Trai Anfield, Ketan Khambatta, Paolo Torchio & Harman Singh Heer.
Following these, there will be auctions of iconic Mara landscapes, river crossings, duels between predator and prey, black-and-white shots, portraits, you name it – perhaps even auctions from the hard-working judges, some of whom will be familiar to regular readers of this blog and who so generously give of their time to this endeavor. If you’ve ever longed for a beautiful print from the Maasai Mara in your home, at the office or as a gift, please don’t hesitate to support this wonderful initiative – now shipping worldwide!
For more information about The Greatest Maasai Mara, to enter the competition or buy a print from the auction, please visit: thegreatestmaasaimara.com. Entries for the competition are still open through 31st October, 2020, with US$10,000 in cash and a five-night safari for two at Angama Mara on offer for the winner. Photographs must have been taken in the Maasai Mara within the preceding 12 months.
Where do people who work in the Mara go for Safari holiday? Well, the other side of the Mara of course. The Mara ecosystem is so varied and huge, that to really stay connected with it in its entirety, you need to regularly visit all four corners of this Kenyan paradise. This week, I headed across the southern part of the Mara, and then north up into the Naboisho Conservancy. The Maasai Mara, as a whole, is truly remarkable. Enjoy This Week At Angama – and slightly further afield too.
At the base of the escarpment, below Angama Mara, things are becoming rather complicated in terms of lion dynamics. Long grass has resulted in a temporarily reduced prey base for the apex predators and so they are having to take more risks in their search for food. Here, the sole lioness from the relatively undocumented Swamp Lion Pride is seen together with her two grown-up cubs. They have strayed out of their normal territory.
Just out of frame to the left, sat this indomitable lioness, the lead figure of the Angama Pride. If looks could kill. The morning light hits her coat, illuminating her in gold, and intimidating the lioness with the youngsters. They turned and ran back towards their home along the Mara River.
The Bila Shaka (Six-Pack) males are spending more time in the Triangle. On this occasion, one of the members wouldn’t take no for an answer and followed this Mugoro lioness for hours.
It’s not just the lion dynamics that are agitated. Look closely and you will see that these two hyena are feeding on the remnants of another hyena, presumably a member of a rival clan.
Gentle, soft and ethereal – the Mara wakes up, revealing low lying mist. What hidden secrets will she reveal today?
I decided to take a few days holiday and went to go and visit some friends who are based in Naboisho Conservancy towards the north-east of the Mara. About 50km away, as the crow flies, the journey by road took about three-and-a-half hours. But along the way we had a few distractions; such as this gorgeous lioness near Black Rock.
Upon arriving into Naboisho we were met by a juvenile martial eagle in the midst of trying to attack a small herd of Thomson’s gazelle. She, or he, was too fast for me to capture any action shots, however, as it dived into the herd claws outstretched.
No matter where in the Mara you are, the sunsets are unforgettable.
Last week I wrote about the single wildebeest currently in the Mara Triangle. Naboisho forms part of a much less known, and smaller migration, known as the Loita Migration. The wildebeest are already here, although in significantly smaller numbers than what we are expecting with the Great Migration.
We were treated to some fantastic cheetah action – what amazing luck. On this drive, a pregnant female managed to successfully chase down a young impala. What a thrill to watch, and a treat to photograph.
Here she was moments before the kill, picking up her pace, eyes set on the target.
The next day we managed to see a different cheetah and also watch her make a kill; this time a Thomson’s gazelle.
She had three young cubs, in the region of three to four months old, and after a long wait we were rewarded with a precious sighting of the mother and cubs feeding, and then cleaning and playing.
In the last light of the day, a lioness contemplates turning on beast-mode. She hunted a lone topi, before opting against the chase, instead returning to her sister for some cuddles. [f 5.6, 1/200, ISO 800, -0.67]
Whilst I was away from Angama Mara, guides Douglas and Robert had ample opportunity to practise their photography. Together, we are working to enhance their photographic skills and so it brings me great pleasure to show you a small selection of the images they took while I was away.
This Week Two Years Ago
Two years ago, some Swedish friends came to stay with us at Angama Mara. We had some fantastic sightings, the most memorable, and unusual of which was a male lion perched right at the top of this Sausage Tree along the Tanzanian border.