Focus on: The Mara North Conservancy

A rolling savanna of more than 28,000 hectares; the Mara North Conservancy is home to a spectacular array of plants, reptiles, birds and mammals, including elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard and massed concentrations of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and other migratory wildlife. It is home to some of the finest camps in the Masai Mara region and their strict game-viewing policy ensures that the experience you get is authentic and exciting. The partnership of Masai villagers and the camps is a great example of how tourism can help the Masai people as well as the animals themselves, the villagers help the camps and the animals and the animals benefit from a safe and protected habitat.

In their own words:

Year round, the Mara is always outstanding.

December to January 

The savannah is green and lots of new born gazelles make an easy prey for the big cats.

Credit: Mara North Conservancy

February to April 

The savannah is drying up and thousands of wildebeests are born daily in the month of February. This is a favoured period of the big cats.

April to June: Loita wildebeest migration

The rain brings life to the savannah with an abundance of game seeking areas for grazing. The Loita Hills migration especially makes gamedriving fantastic since thousands and thousands of wildebeests and zebras come to the area. Hefty rains with thunder usually occur in the late afternoon or late at night. The grass is growing longer and longer as if the plain prepares itself for the wildebeest migration. This is a period of stunning scenery with amazing game viewing.

June to November: The Great Migration! 

‘The best time to see the migration is from end September until early November’

For countless years Africa’s big migratory herds of wildlife have roamed across the open savannas with the seasons.

Many people ask, when is the best time to see the Great Migration and witness one of the famous and dramatic wildebeest crossings? The general rule of seasons is as follows:

Over 25% of the wildebeest and zebra population are resident year out in the Masai Mara. From June their numbers are augmented by over 1 million wildebeests and zebras following the lush grazing to the Masai Mara in search of greener pastures and to reproduce. In their thousands the wildebeest cows and bulls meet on the plains of Mara to mate. Later, in mid October to December when the grass is short many start to head south.  If you wish to see the famous and drama-filled river crossings, then NOW is the season to visit the Masai Mara ecosystem.

Avoiding the busy holiday season of July and August, means the Conservancies and Reserve are quieter and more private.

Video: Leopard sighting in Samburu

Everyone who goes on safari wants to see the Big Five; lions, leopards, rhino, elephants and cape buffalo. The most elusive of these is undoubtedly the leopard. Rhino’s may be rare but there are parks and reserves you can visit which offer a good chance of a sighting. Leopards however keep themselves to themselves, most active at night and staying in the shadows during the day. Most people lucky enough to see one will see it asleep in a tree.

Sara was in Samburu recently, staying at the wonderful Saruni Samburu Camp. She was treated to this amazing sighting.

Fine dining in Africa

Food on a safari holiday should be a real highlight. You can enjoy private breakfasts in the heart of the African wilderness, dine out under the stars and eat from the brai around camp fires. Many of our camps and lodges offer delicious ‘a la carte’ menus, others ask for your preferences before arrival so they can ensure you enjoy everything they prepare. Most have terraces that overlook rivers or water holes, or private verandas where you can have an intimate, romantic meal.

Real Africa has always understood the importance of good food. This is one reason why we’ve donated to the only cookery school in Kenya dedicated to training local Masai as chefs capable of running the kitchens of lodges and camps in the reserve.

We also like our clients to try some of the local specialties and delicacies, as much a part of Africa as the animals and birds. Some things however we don’t serve as standard. They are a little to exotic for the menu but are available for the intrepid (and very hungry).

Mopane worms. Botswana. These grubs are a popular delicacy in Southern Africa and get their name because they  feed on the leaves of the wild mopani or mopane trees. They are the caterpillars of the Emperor moth. They are hand-picked in the wild before their innards removed they are dried. These can be eaten raw as a quick snack or soaked and boiled to rehydrate, before frying until crunchy or cooking with onion, tomatoes and spices and serving with sadza. Delicious.

Termites. A bit crunchy. Have a toothpick handy.

Ostrich egg omelette. Plenty to go around…

Biltong – sun-dried meat from various animals that can be very chewy if you get a bad bit.

Cattle blood.  Kenya. An artery is nicked, blood spurts into a gourd and it is drunk hot before it congeals. An important food source for the young herdsmen in the wastes of Norhtern Kenya that gives they sustinence without hurting their cattle.

Tera Sega. Raw meat. Ethiopia. The ethiopians used to like their meat fresh and would slice it from a still living animal.

Giant bullfrog. Namibia. Move over the French, these have decent sized legs.

Nsenene (Grasshoppers) Uganda

Supu,  Tanzania. A soup made with the lungs, heart and liver of a goat, as well as the stomach, intestines and tongue of a cow.

Mice. Zambia

Kapenta. Malawi. These are tiny sardine-like fish; originally from Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania, which have been introduced into other African lakes, including Lake Kariba. They are usually sun-dried. The dry fish must be fried gently, otherwise it becomes bitter and smells burnt. In fact the best way to prepare them is probably to make an onion and tomato sauce and then add the fish.

Flying ants. Zimbabwe

VIDEO: Saba at the RGS

For those of you who couldn’t make it to our 15th Anniversary talk, or for those of you who did and enjoyed it so much they want to hear it all again, here is the video of it. It was given by Saba Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants, famous for her presenting roles in ‘This Wild Life’ and ‘Big Cat Diaries.”

It was held at the wonderful Ondaatje Lecture theatre at the Royal Geographical Society in London with a capacity audience of over 700 guests. The talk was entitled ‘My Wild Life’.

Many thanks to everyone who attended, a sum of £10,000 was raised for  Save the Elephants. many thanks to Jack O’Shea and Izzi Ferguson for making the video and audio track.