18 July, 2016

Diani Beach Touch Rugby Tournament

Heritage Hotels co-sponsored the eighth Diani Beach Touch Rugby tournament, held at 40 Thieves Beach Bar in Diani, Kwale.

This international touch rugby event aims at raising money for two local teams in Ukunda and Kwale: the South Coast Pirates Club and the Junior Rugby Association of Kwale.

28 teams took part, including one from Mogadishu for the first time. Others were from Nanyuki, Naivasha, Nairobi, Mombasa and Tanzania.

It was an exciting weekend of rugby for everyone. South Coast Pirates 2 won the tournament. The previous champs were South Coast Pirates 1.

The other finals saw Les Gaulois 1 winning the Plate, Les Gaulois 2 the Shield and COMRAS the Bowl.

The junior’s tournament was won by the team Lady Jackals from Nanyuki playing a young Likoni Community One team, with the final score 3-1.

Speaking during the award presentation ceremony, Chairman George Barbour expressed his sincere gratitude to all the fans, players, officials, sponsors and donors who made the event a success.

The raffle and auction raised Ksh 418,000. It was boosted with the 10% bar sales from Forty Thieves which raised Ksh 664,000. The money will go towards The South Coast Pirates and the Junior Rugby Association of Kwale.

The Federation of International Touch’s Kenya’s representative (FIT Kenya) is targeting to have a national team in the 2019 Touch World Cup.

Heritage Hotels is keen to put this game on the international map by supporting local clubs at grass root level in Kenya and for the youth to learn and gain from this - and other - sporting events.  

Report and pictures by Ndeithi Kariuki, Marketing Manager-Heritage Hotels Ltd

14 July, 2016

Tsavo West Sightings

The week of 11th July 2016 was interesting and seeing a lot of wildlife coming closer to the camp.This is due to the drought season. Elephants started coming earlier than expected to the river and spend the whole night feeding on reeds. 

The Impalas arrives in the camp as early as 6 pm. Our guests enjoy watching them in between the tents. Impalas decrease their chances of attack when living in herds. They leap and scatter in all directions when being attacked to confuse the predator. The impala is rarely seen on its own. Females and young animals form herds of up to 100 individuals, while males live in a bachelor group of about 60 animals. They occupy a large range and make seasonal migrations from high to lower ground according to the availability of suitable food.

The number of warthog have also increased as per our observations. Mostly, Warthogs sleep and rest in holes, which at times they line with grass, perhaps to make them warmer. Although they can excavate, warthogs normally do not dig holes but use those dug by other animals, preferably aardvarks. They also protect themselves from predators by fleeing or sliding backwards into a hole, thus being in a position to use their formidable tusks in an attack.

Report and pictures by Stephen Lekatoo.

29 June, 2016

Migration Update

The 2016 annual migration of the wildebeest has begun a lot earlier than normal.

The first herds were seen at Sand River early June coming in from the Serengeti in Tanzania and moving north into the Maasai Mara.

Following the unusually long rains over the past few months, the tall grass was burned for new grass to regenerate. It’s now very fresh and nutritious and has slowed the movement of the wildebeest around Meta Plains, Pololet Hills, Murram ya Ashnil. Some herds are headed towards Olmisigiyioi.

From Lookout Hill, we can still see big herds in the Serengeti making their way towards Sand River. It seems that there will be major river crossings in a few days’ time. Herds are also seen heading west where they will cross the Mara River at the Mara Bridge and into the Mara Triangle.

A few herds of zebra and wildebeest are crossing Olkeju Rongai into Possee Plains. At Hammercop Crossing, some herds are heading towards Maji ya Fisi.

With the migration, we are seeing more vultures like the White-backed vulture and Rüppell's griffon vulture (recorded at 37,000 feet as the highest flying bird) looking for leftovers. Both species are listed endangered

The Loita herd is at Topi Plains heading east towards Double-Crossing. Some have crossed into the Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorers area and are heading towards the Talek River to meet the herds from the Serengeti while resident herds are moving in from the Olare/Motorogi conservancies.

It’s festive season for the predators with several kills seen.

Report and pictures By Raphael Ole Koikai – Head Driver Guide, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps.

The Great Migration Is On!

Last two weeks: Chilly mornings and hot afternoons coupled with heavy rains - an average of 10mm per day.

Most of the crossing points are quite impassable. The Olare Orok River crossing is ok because there isn’t much rain on the northern side of the park.

The Mara River is higher than in previous years meaning there will be spectacular crossings of the wildebeest this year.

130c morning
260c at midday
150c after sunset

The migration is on.

The first batch of wildebeest and zebras arrived in their thousands, around Zacharia, Pololet hills, Murram ya Ashnil and Sand River.

With the migration we are also seeing lots of vultures– like the Ruppell’s, African white-backed and Lappet-faced vultures.
The Loita herds are spread out around Billa Shaka and Milima Tatu and another bigger herd around Kilomita Tisa east heading south to meet with the migratory herds from the Serengeti.

We are waiting for these herds to make the famous crossing across the Talek River into Possee Plains any time now. 

The last two weeks the impala have been breeding close to our football pitch and around the landing strip.  Occasionally a big bull elephant comes around Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer including a small family of several females and young ones. There’s a herd of fifty elands and their calves, giraffes and the Loita wildebeest and zebra.



Ridge Pride
The Ridge pride is still at the Topi plains and seems to have established a permanent home there. The pride is expanding its territory towards Billa Shaka because the four musketeers are not around. Lipstick and Blacky are taking advantage of their absence.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the musketeers get back to reclaim their territory.

Two females from the Ridge pride who had crossed the Mara River over to Mara Triangle are back with a cub aged about six months. They killed a wildebeest calf a week ago and seem to be doing fine.

Lipstick has been seen with two females from the Double Cross pride that had disappeared.
One of the males left after having a feast from the wildebeest kill that the females had made by Mara Explorer Camp. The following day during the morning drive he was at Billa Shaka with his mate Blacky – meaning that he travelled 15 kilometers that night.

Olkeju Ronkai Pride
This pride has been at Burrungat plains because of the huge herds of plains game -wildebeest, topis, zebras, warthogs and gazelles.

The five cubs are doing great and we have another female that has given birth to two cubs although they are still hidden.

The only male is still holding on to the pride but Earless and Boxer Nose - the other two big males around Kivuko ya Pussy are in that area as this is their territory.

With the onset of the migration, the pride is headed towards Maji Mbili in readiness of the wildebeest that are already headed towards Olmisigiyioi area.

Olkiombo Pride
The pride has been elusive but is seen around the Talek River.

Bahati has been spotted on several occasions by guests on the opposite side of the Talek River by the swimming pool at Mara Intrepids with her two cubs.

Siri the pump house leopard has been seen in Shamarta area. She had been missing for some time. There are reports that she has three cubs which we are yet to confirm.

Lorrian along Olkeju Rongai has been a common sighting. She was seen with a kill near Kivuko ya Pussy and on the following day with her cub near Maji ya Fisi. She seems to be expanding her territory.

Malaika has said goodbye to her two cubs. We are expecting a new litter from her any time before the end of June.

The two cubs have been named Malkia (female) and Mfalme (male). They are still together and are seen around Kananga and Murram ya Fig Tree.

Nora on the other hand has been around Maji ya Fisi and crossed Talek River with her sub adult cub. They are doing well.

We have two new males in the area though not together who go by the names Leomom and Martin. They have crossed over from the Mara Triangle and have of late been hanging around Double Crossing.

Report and pictures by Joseph Kang'ethe, Driver Guide, Mara Intrepids & Raphael Ole Koikai – Head Driver Guide, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps.

Samburu Safari Diary

At Samburu National Reserve in northern Kenya, elephants are often seen giving themselves a dust shower. Using their trunks, they inhale the dust and blow it out forcefully. It’s quite an amazing thing to see. The dust serves as a sunscreen, keeps the animal cool and insects at bay.

Wild pigs also roll themselves in dust to protect themselves for the same purpose.

Klipspringers Spotted

Klipspringers spotted recently at Koitogo hill in Samburu National Reserve proved to be exciting for our guests who had never seen this antelope before.  My mission was to spot a leopard but the klipspringers proved to be equally interesting.

Klipspringers are small antelopes that live in rocky places. They are well-adapted to their environment. Their fur has hollow shafts that act as shock absorbers should they slip off the rocks and their hooves are pointed like a ballerina’s to hop on the rocks. They pair for life like the smaller dik dik.

This week we had a great sighting of Lguret, one of the oldest males in Samburu and Buffalo Springs national reserves with his cubs. Male lions will babysit the cubs while the lionesses are our hunting.

Young males will usually kill any cubs they find in a pride when they become the dominant male.  They want to pass their genes on and mark their territory.

Wild dogs
An endangered species, Africa wild dogs are seen in the reserve during the dry months of July and August when water is available inside. The picture was taken a few meters from the camp.

Ruppell's Griffon Vulture
When soaring, this magnificent bird can spot a carcass nearly 10 kilometers away! Known to be the world’s highest flying bird, in 1973 one collided with an airplane off the Ivory Coast. The plane was flying at a height of 37,000 feet, which is higher than Mount Kilimanjaro at 19,340 feet high!
Image Source Mother Nature Network
37,000feet asl is also the height at which a human would pass out from lack of oxygen. The vulture doesn't face this problem because it has developed a particular type of haemoglobin, making their use of oxygen more effective.

Long Crested Eagle
The long crested eagle is found in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s one of my favorite birds of prey among the 300-plus species found in the reserve.

Dairy of a Naturalist by Jelly Loloju, driver guide at Samburu Intrepids Camp