More Mara Adventures

I just returned home from Kenya and it was one of the most amazing photographic trips I have ever been on. The action and photo opportunities were off the chart. During my photo adventure my group and I visited the Maasai Mara National Reserve which is an area of preserved savannah wilderness in southwestern Kenya.

Our tented camps were located right on the Mara River in the heart of the Maasai Mara Reserve. Each morning we woke to the sound of birds chirping and hippos snoring all while the campfire gently crackled and popped in the background. Our nighttime symphonies were filled with Hyena cries, Lions roaring and bellowing, the cow like sounds of the Cape Buffalo, Hippo’s grunting, groaning, wheezing along with the sound of breaking twigs underfoot as they each roamed through the camp.

On the first night my tent was far from my group with no electric-in fact it was the farthest tent from the campsite (they accidentally gave away my tent). I felt as though I was alone in the wilderness, in the pitch dark, with wild animal roaming free, and to be honest those wild animals were ferocious… and I was a bit nervous sleeping in a tent all by myself on my first visit to the Mara. However, the Maasai warriors that patrolled the grounds were extremely nice and friendly. They dressed in typical Maasai garb with red plaid blankets across their shoulders, handmade spears and leather sheathed knives. Some had large piercings in their ears and most had bare feet or sandals. They kept near the fire – we were instructed to shine our flashlights outside of our tent if we needed assistance or wanted to leave it. The next night I got moved closer to the group in a tent with full electric-yippee!!

During one of our first photo shoots we watched as a Cheetah fondly known as Malaika (Malaika means Angel) along with her two male cubs stalked a herd of Wildebeest. All of a sudden one of the cubs started to chase the herd, then it caught a young Wildebeest. It had trouble bringing down the calf and the struggle continued for awhile. Soon the adult Wildebeests came to the calf’s rescue. The cub let the Wildebeest go and then was escorted away from the herd. I’m not quite sure why the other Cheetah cub and momma didn’t assist in the chase. Maybe it was just a training drill. Anyway it all happened so fast as many of the events in the Mara did. I captured the entire series but it was far away so the images are cropped heavily. I also didn’t do any post processing to them as they are just storytelling images.


Image © 2017/Denise Ippolito Photography ~ The chase begins


Image © 2017/Denise Ippolito Photography ~ The young Cheetah wrestles with the calf to get him down. Note the hackles blowing in the wind.


Image © 2017/Denise Ippolito Photography ~ The struggle continues and he could not get the calf all the way down.


Image © 2017/Denise Ippolito Photography ~ The unsuccessful Cheetah being chased out

The Leopard shot featured at the very top was my first sighting of a Leopard in the wild. The animal was majestic and beautiful. It captivated me. After the shoot someone in the group that had been to the Mara before said you will probably delete these images as the Leopard was just lying there. But for me it will remain one of my favorites 🙂 and it will always be my first.

The Leopard below was captured in backlight as it walked hrough the tall graases of the Mara. One of the best things about the trip was having Kenya born co-leader Paul McKenzie along. With Paul’s extensive knowledge of the Mara and the animals along with our Maasai guides, it was if they were able to predict the action before it happened; that knowledge led to many successful captures. So my heartfelt thanks to Paul and his guides for making this truly a memorable trip.


Image © 2017/Denise Ippolito Photography ~ Backlit Leopard

After my 16 day trip that included my extension to do some aerial photography followed by my long trek home I am exhausted and slightly overwhelmed with emails and catching up. If you written to me regarding an upcoming trip, please know that I am doing all emails on a first come basis and will get to yours as soon as possible-many thanks for your patience and understanding. I have many more images to go through including some of my favorites and will post more as soon as I get caught up.

* Many thanks to those of you that pointed out that I had inadvertently written Cheetah instead of Leopard in my last post.

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13 Responses

  1. Buddy Eleazer says:

    Greatest show on earth. Now you see why Africa calls me back every year. Landscapes and people of Namibia, wildlife of east Africa, Botswana and South Africa. So many sights it draws one back.

  2. Sylvia Rourke says:

    Dear Denise,

    Thank you for sharing your amazing captures of Africa’s wildlife along with your storytelling.
    I’ve been to Africa twice and was not lucky to have experienced what you’ve seen.
    Love to go back!
    Take care

  3. An amazing experience to be long remembered and cherished Denise! The stories behind your photos are equally important; they allow us visitors to your blog readily imagine that we too were experiencing the drama with all of our senses. I’m glad you did not delete that first shot; I love the lighting. I visited Africa (Zambia and Kenya) in the 1990s on a business trip and was able to experience some wildlife and the expansive African plains on our long drive from Lusaka to Victoria Falls. Observing these magnificent animals freely going about their lives in their own habitat (e.g., Zambezi River at sunset) was an unforgettable experience. Looking forward to more of your photos as you begin to review and post process them.

  4. Nancy Bell says:

    The wildlife experience in Africa is unsurpassed! And it sounds like you had a fabulous time, and of course, returned with fabulous images! I totally remember my first time walking in those tall African grasses and sleeping in a tent with natural “surround sound”!

  5. Glen Fox says:

    Your experience sounds like mine from 1976, although the Mara and Kenya have changed very much since then. I was there for nearly a month and we had good guides but we did not see or photograph a single Leopard. They seem to be more common today ..gorgeous creatures. I suspect that mother Cheetah knew that the calf was not a suitable prey item and left junior to learn for itself. Even a calf is a large item for a Cheetah. Looking forward to more of your images. Get some rest!

  6. Jim Fennessy says:

    Wowza images! Thanks Denise for the very best photographic experience of my life on this Kenya trip.

  7. Marilyn Barfield says:

    Wow wow wow, I am drooling with envy, fantastic shots, with plenty more to come I feel sure. So happy you had a great experience. Can’t wait to get to see the Mara, and all it offers.

  8. Linda Seal says:

    What spectacular images. I love looking at your photos and hearing the stories. Thanks for sharing them.

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