Sunday, December 15

Olare Orok in Winter’s Heat

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‘The conservancies that surround the Mara National Park are an extension of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem and along with the Maasai people whose land it is, the conservancies represent buffer zones to protect wildlife from encroaching development.’
It gets hot out on the plains; even at the start of Equatorial Africa’s winter. It was a leisurely lunch but now we are churning up the dust, dashing towards the airstrip in the Olare Orok Conservancy. Our plane is waiting for us and the Airkenya team are animated. Despite the eagerness of the moment in which we could have zoomed past her, the leopard is spotted. Or her spots have attracted the attention of our driver/guide – She’s languid amongst the high branches of the old Acacia. Her belly hung low full of food or is she pregnant; fast asleep, not opening her eyes even as we rumbled close by. The best sightings of leopard are at dawn and dusk as they are largely nocturnal. We are so close and she is giving us rare time to snap our cameras and camera phones from all angles. It is a treat rivalled only by the journey here in which we had soared over the country from Nairobi to the Mara in the glass bowl of a helicopter. A family of elephants, a baby still suckling then sticking close to the inside of it’s mother’s leg as they cross before us, delays us further. The zebras tousle each other and the Askari Topi atop a small mound close to the herd, pricks his ears as we chatter at it. Our driver explaining their blue legs and other ways of telling antelope apart. On crossing the river, some hearts lurched as a wheel hits a stone in the soft bed and the four wheel drive has to be reversed then manoeuvred forward, through the muddy water. Which, is being churned by hippos nearby. We stop to observe the motionless basking of a crocodile and wait for a monitor lizard to scurry over the surfaced rocks. This is the Olare Motorogi Conservancy and we see the Motorogi or Egyptian Geese in a pair on the far bank. The Olare River and the Ntiakitiak, with their tributaries, run through this landscape. Airkenya team had stopped mid morning at Olare Kempinksi Mara, where the light lunch of fish and salad sat perfectly amongst our conversation and drinks on the terrace overlooking the bend in the Ntiakitiak River’s tributary, which weaves its way through the tented accommodation. If you’re looking for something plush amidst the wilderness, say a romantic getaway, then the honeymoon suite makes sense. A large, footed and free standing bath overlooks the deck with its plunge pool; the river bend visible just beyond with the possibility of game watching you from the surrounding bush, some which can only be heard amidst the rustling of leaves. The conservancies that surround the Mara National Park are an extension of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem and along with the Maasai people whose land it is, the conservancies represent buffer zones to protect wildlife from encroaching development. Whilst still part of the Mara plains, dotted with trees, they are all strikingly different in terrain. The Olare Motorogi has Acacia forests, gorges and escarpments which makes an exciting and diverse terrain to explore for animal habitats. It has some of the best camps which include Olare Kempinsky, Mahali Mzuri, Porini Lion Camp, Mara Plains & Kicheche Bush Camp. And includes smaller accommodation such as Amani Mara, Loyk Mara, Mara Expedition Camp and Mara Topi Bush House. Olare Motorogi Conservancy is situated along the northern edge of the National Reserve. Two conservancies, the Olare Orok and Motorogi merged to form it. 277 Maasai landowners collectively set aside 35,000 acres of their land for conservation. With its salty, mineral rich water and controlled grazing, animal populations have steadily increased, and this year it was reported that the conservancy had the largest lion population.

The Olare Motorogi has Acacia forests, gorges and escarpments which makes an exciting and diverse terrain to explore for animal habitats.’

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