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Lesser Striped Swallows, which nested on our verandah, rested on the verandah furniture, and had a lovely call to waken us up in the morning (23k)
Lesser Striped Swallows on our veranda chair at Keekorok
We've stayed at several Mara accommodations:
Keekorok Lodge is the oldest lodge in the reserve, big and busy with tour groups. However, in July, it is by far the best-located lodge for the beginning of the Wildebeest migration coming up from the Serengeti.
The lodge has a small nature trail past a waterhole - it can be worth walking the trail regularly, especially if you are interested in birds - at sunrise one morning I got incredibly close to some Little Bee-eaters for close-up photos. Another morning we came back from breakfast and found that we could sit on one of our verandahs and watch a pride of lions which was sunning very near. We also had tame Lesser Striped Swallows nesting under the ledge of the verandah, so had their lovely calls to waken us up in the mornings.
In 1995,we stayed for five nights at Siana Springs Tented Camp. This camp was quite small then, but is now much bigger (re-visited in 2006). The Camp was lovely, with a lookout where we once saw Leopard (they came to tell us at dinner)(not mentioned in 2996), some little springs inside the camp grounds (overgrown in 2006), and a feeding station for Genets in the evenings. Unfortunately, it is about half-an hour's drive outside the reserve, in an area which isn't very good for game (at least, in early July '95, the migration was late, so it was very quiet indeed), entering through an entrance gate which can be very busy.
In July 2006, it was a treat to watch a troop of Guereza Colobus who had taken to the maturing trees in the camp grounds.
Siana Springs tent (33k)
We stayed at Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp on the north of the reserve in 1997 - large and obviously catering particularly to the American market. Very luxurious tents and manicured lawns. Expensive gift shop - many goods were not made in Africa.
Kichwa Tembo is sited just outside the reserve, but at the time we were there (July), there was more game interest between the Camp and the reserve than there was in the reserve. I understand that they now offer night drives. When we were at Siana Springs, it was Siana which did the night drives - we did one, but saw very little on our first visit, but it's just luck. On my 2006 visit, I saw much more on the night drives.

On the same trip as we stayed at Kichwa Tembo, we also stayed at Mara River Camp, very close to Kichwa Tembo. This camp isn't as obviously geared to the American market, and had a much more mixed clientele, and in a lot of ways I preferred it. This was more traditionally Kenyan food on the menu, as well as 'international' fare. Before dinner, there are drinks around a campfire. You may see a Bushbaby coming to be fed - be ready with a powerful off-camera flash and a long (at least 300mm) lens.
There is a resident ornithnologist who leads nature walks around the camp grounds. The camp is built on a bend in the Mara river, where hippos congregate.
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All text and images © Liz Leyden, 2008
Email: liz [at] v-liz [dot] com
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