Cheetah Safari : Join me in Kenya

Adult male cheetah in the evening glow of the Mara North Conservancy, Kenya. ©marcymendelson

Have you ever envied the Big Cat Diary team? Have you ever thought to yourself If only I could spend days in the Mara searching for cheetah and witnessing the Great Migration?

The global cheetah population is rapidly dwindling and with less than 10,000 individuals left in the wild, cheetahs are vulnerable to extinction. At present, the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is one of the two remaining strongholds for the global cheetah population. Whilst in the Serengeti there has been a long-term cheetah project running for over 25 years, surprisingly little is known about the cheetahs in the Greater Mara Ecosystem. As a result the Kenya Wildlife Trust set-up the Mara Cheetah Project in June 2013.

The Mara Cheetah Project is dedicated to conserving cheetahs in the wild.  Femke will teach us about human-predator wildlife conflict and how humans and cheetah can co-exist.  She’ll give us the insider’s view that few tourists hear about the cheetah’s dynamic fight for survival in a changing world.

Join us June 17 – 23, 2015 as Conservation Photojournalist Marcy Mendelson, Wildlife Photographer & Safari Guide Teeku Patel & Cheetah Conservationist Dr. Femke Brookhuis take you on a rare journey into the wild to learn more about the ecology and behaviors of the enigmatic spotted cat of Kenya.

Please contact MarcyMendelson@gmail.com to reserve your spot.

Cheetah Watch Safari – June 17 -23, 2015

Detailed Itinerary 7 days (1 night in Nairobi, 5 nights in Masai Mara)

Cost Per Person Sharing $4000 Single Supplement $650

$100 donated to Mara Cheetah Project per client.

Detailed Itinerary 7 days ( 1 night in Nairobi, 5 nights in Masai Mara)

Day 1: Arrival in Nairobi – Masai Mara

On arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport participants (JKIA) are met by a representative from Sokomoto Images and are transferred to the Westhouse Hotel or equivalent. Here you can spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure or visiting out of your own accord any of Nairobi’s attractions.

Overnight at the Westhouse Hotel on Bed and Breakfast basis.

Day 2: Mara Ilkeliani Camp, Masai Mara

Shortly after early breakfast departure by road in 4×4 Land Cruisers through the scenic Great Rift Valley onto the Mara. Arrive for a heartfelt welcome, a brief introduction to camp, and a delicious light lunch.

After lunch, you will get a chance to get settled in your tent, and or relax in the main lounge area.

When the heat starts to die down you will set off on your first game drive in search of the famed Mara cats and herds giving you an abundance of game viewing and photographic opportunities.

Followed by sundowner photo session a breathtaking and unbeatable way to finish any day. On return to camp there will be hot showers and a wholesome dinner waiting at the mess tent.

Overnight at Ilkeliani on full board accommodation.

Day 3: Ilkeliani Camp, Masai Mara

After an early cup of fresh coffee/ tea (6 am) you will climb back onto your game-viewing vehicle and head for the magical plains of the Mara in search for cheetahs and other big cats.

A picnic breakfast will be packed into a basket and carried with you, ready to be served anytime during your morning game viewing safari. The morning is designed as unstructured as possible to allow for maximum flexibility to your photography and opportunities that may arise.

Teeku a professional photographer and guide will be reading the wildlife and sharing with you the range of potential sightings ahead. With Teeku at the wheel you will are guaranteed to get the best expert technique when it comes to positioning the vehicle, camera setup advice and target distant to sighting.

In the vehicle, everyone will have their own seat, the vehicles have full open windows, with 3 roof hatches whilst offering at all times ample room to scan your binoculars, view and photograph the Masai Mara and its wildlife.

The area is also renowned for its excellent cat sightings, and on previous tours Lion, Cheetah, Leopard and other exciting creatures such as Serval and Carcal have all been sighted on several occasions.

You will normally return to camp for lunch at 13h00 followed by an afternoon presentation by Femke Broekhuis of the Mara Cheetah Project. Femke will inform you of the projects missions and individual cheetahs that they have identified and are following on a day to day basis.

Tea at 15h30 will link up with the afternoon game drive.

Pre-supper cocktails and nibbles around the campfire to chat and discuss the days’ sightings, followed by a sumptuous dinner.

Overnight at Ilkeliani Camp on full board accommodation.

Day 4: Intrepids Camp, Masai Mara

Morning exploration around camp trying to locate the resident Leopard, and other Big Cats, before heading for the Mara River crossing stakeouts.

June is the beginning of the migration season with amazing options to see the first large herds come in.  Heading towards a suite of “classic” river crossing spots along the Mara River. Options to witness the massive herds gathering at the crossing points offer action packed photographic opportunities.

Breakfast and lunch will again be taken along and your guide will choose a suitable spot to serve you a well-deserved breakfast.

You will start heading back to camp between 17h00-18h00 for showers and a delicious meal in the camp dining tent.

Overnight at Intrepids Camp on full board accommodation.

Day 5-6: Intrepids Camp, Masai Mara

A fifth and sixth very similar, if not identically programmed days to the previously described will be spent in the Mara Reserve locating the big cats especially the cheetahs.

Your guides will discuss plans for game drives, sightings and photographic opportunities depending on what has been seen, and what is still required. Time is gold in the Mara, patience is key and River crossings don’t happen every day. Fortunately there is no such thing as getting bored in the Mara, and every day spent here is more than duly rewarded.

Overnight at Intrepids Camp on full board.

Day 7: Masai Mara – Nairobi

Leaving camp after a breakfast, transfer back to Nairobi by road approx. 5 hr drive. Transfer to JKIA for your flight back home.

End of services

The camps:

Ilkeliani Camp

Nestled in a river glade in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, the area is a favorite for elephants coming to drink from the Talek River. The camp has been designed to combine the old traditional safari style with a modern and fresh feel. Ilkeliani Camp offers only 17 tents and each commanding views of the plains and the wildlife action throughout the day. It is a permanent camp designed along ecofriendly principles. The ethos is to leave a minimum foot print on nature.

Each well-equipped tents are stylish with en suite bathroom. They are sited under its own cluster of shady indigenous trees and you do feel that you are out in the wilderness. The interiors are spacious and comfortable featuring a front verandah with a day bed and canvas safari chairs. Home cooked meals combined with personal service contribute to an unforgettable safari experience.

Intrepids Camp is hidden among riverine woodland along the banks of the Talek River about 4km from its meeting point with the larger Mara River, at the very heart of the Mara Game Reserve. Overlooking the Talek River Rivers, at the very confluence of the Mara’s four game-viewing areas, Mara Intrepids enjoys one of the most spectacular locations in the world’s best-known wilderness.  Mara Intrepids is a short drive from the Mara River, where more than a million wildebeest and zebra make their perilous migration crossing every July and August. For the remainder of the year, the camp offers some of the world’s finest game viewing, with large local populations of plains game, elephants, rhinos, buffalos, and all the Big Cats.

Each guest tent is sits on a shady raised platform facing the Talek river, each luxury tent cover approximately 26sqm and is fitted with a queen size bed or 2 twin beds. it is furnished in the classic style of the grand African safaris; with large poster beds and reproduction furniture, offset by modern en-suite bathroom with a hot shower; flush toilets and all the necessary amenities so that you have the ultimate in camping-luxury to come back to after  your exciting game drives.

A dedicated team of staff attends to your every need.

Additional Information

Climate: For the most part it will be warm (21-29C / 69-84F) but never really getting hot. Some rain is likely although if it happens it should only be in the form of a brief thunderstorm.

Difficulty: This safari is a vehicle based safari with very little walking or strenuous activities involved.

Price Includes: Meet and greet in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and transfer to Westhouse Hotel. Transfer to Masai Mara by road as well as return and transfers back to JKIA. Full board accommodation, all meals, bush meals, access to all parks and reserves.  All transportation in the reserve on 4WD, fuel, driver and the services of the camp staff, assistance & guiding of excellent local trackers and professional game viewing guide. 24/7 office support.

Price Excludes: International flights, visas, airport departure taxes, items of personal nature, telephone calls, guided walks, travel and medical Insurance, All beverages, laundry and tips and excess baggage charges, any activities not specified in the itinerary.


Flight Details: All safaris begin and end at Jomo Kenyatta Intl Airport. You should make your own international flight bookings to meet up with the beginning of this tour at the Westhouse Hotel, and depart on return from the Mara. Should you require assistance with extra accommodation or any other desired extension in Kenya, we will gladly assist.

Booking and payment details: Once you have decided to join one of our safaris, you will need to contact us for a booking form, which will include details relating to deposit and final payments etc. As our groups are small they fill up quickly.

Please contact MarcyMendelson@gmail.com to book.

The Mara Cheetah Project is dedicated to conserving cheetahs in the wild.  Femke will teach us about human-predator wildlife conflict and how humans and cheetah can co-exist.  She’ll give us the insider’s view that few tourists hear about the cheetah’s dynamic fight for survival in a changing world.

Marcy Mendelson has been chasing cheetah across Africa since 2011, traveling withNGOs, interviewing local communities and reporting on the beautiful diversity of African cultures for National Geographic, Africa Geographic and AFAR.  She is excited to provide guidance on wildlife photography and digital storytelling while sharing her knowledge and passion for the world’s fastest land animal.

Teeku Patel, one of Kenya’s home grown photographic talents, is a professional certified safari guide with deep roots in the business of tracking big cats.  His father, an Honorary Game Warden, taught him about wildlife and culture from an early age.  He’s been leading sought-after safaris for many years and an expert in the world of wildlife photography. www.teekupatel.com

Read more about the Cheetahs of the Masaai Mara from Mendelson’s article in National Geographic News Watch here: The Cheetah, The Masaai & The Tourist

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