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.