Well, we have now reached the end of the first season with Ol Seki Camp in its new incarnation; owned and managed by the Hemingways Collection. It has been an exciting and challenging season for us all; with lots of improvements at the camp itself and a huge increase in the wildlife on the conservancy.
The Naboisho Conservancy is now coming up for 2 years of age and the benefits of turning the group ranch into a conservancy is showing itself. With the traditional cattle use of the area now severely limited to the months when the camps are closed (generally April/May), the wildlife has increased hugely.
We have two prides of lion that are seen on average 3 or 4 times a week. One large pride of over 16 assorted males, females and cubs and another smaller pride consisting of several young males. There have been many sightings of a single huge big adult male as well.
We've seen three different cheetah mothers with cubs; the first with an amazing five cubs which she had managed to raise to adulthood; she left them to fend for themselves shortly after bringing them to the conservancy. The second mother had two very young cubs when first spotted and we've enjoyed watching them grow over the last few months. The three of them seem to have wandered off recently and we hope they will return after the rains have finished. The third set is a mother with two almost adult cubs. We've been lucky enough to have spotted these three on a regular basis and have found them on kills several occasions. On one we watched a hyena came along and stole the remains from them.
Leopard of course are always more elusive but we have found them several times with their kills up in a tree and we have one mother leopard raising her two cubs not far away from the camp. We hope to see more of her and the babies as they get used to having us around!
Elephant of course are all around almost every day; several large herds have taken up residence and it is a rare game drive when you don't see them eating their way through the shrubs and grasses. There are a number of calves with the herds and watching these lively youngsters playing is always a joy.
We have several hyena dens located just below the Ol Seki camp escarpment and we have had the pleasure of watching a kill just below the camp; what a noise as they giggled, laughed and woo wooed at each other! We spot the packs most days and they almost always provide the night time music for us when we are enjoying sundowners on the lower deck.
Giraffe, Topi, Impala, Thompsons Gazelles, Grants Gazelles, Hartebeest, Dik Dik and other antelope are in profusion; with the fat bellied black and white striped zebra mixed in between the brown and cream hides for contrast. We have a small herd of resident wildebeest who are always around; they have cleverly decided to forgo the dangerous river crossings their brethren make each year; and they are starting to have their calves in preparation for the new grass growth that will come up shortly with the advent of the rains.
The bird life is of course wonderful in the Mara area; we have a list of over 200 species spotted in the conservancy and camp area now. The vultures are always spectacular in flight and make finding a kill easy when you see them circling above. One of the pleasures of the birdlife in this area is the stunning range of colours found on the birds; no 'little brown jobs' here; you look for the flash of irridescent blue or the beautiful lilac and purples. Ground hornbill with their huge red wattles wander through the camp on a regular basis and it is a rare day that an eagle or hawk doesn't pay a visit; making lazy swoops above the camp on the thermals.
At the camp itself in the guest tents we have supplied new pillows, floor rugs, lampshades, tent ceilings, and towels. We have also redone all the inside wooden deck floors; sanding, polishing and varnishing them to show off the lovely warm, natural cedar wood. We are in the process of redoing the external decking of the main lounge/library tent and dining area as well. All the guest tents also now have fans to cool you down during the heat of the summer months. New sofa and chairs covers are in process and will be completed by the end of June; ready for the migration season.
In the back house of the camp we have installed bio gas digesters which now provide all the cooking and heating requirements for our staff kitchens and showers. We simply use the cow dung which we collect from the local village (providing the ladies with an income!), allow the strength of the sun to heat it up inside the specially made digester bags; and simply siphon off the methane produced to provide the heat.
The slurry produced by the digesters then gets placed on our new vegetable gardens and we are now successfully supplying our guests and our staff with the majority of our salads and vegetable requirements. The gardens are set up as a permaculture arrangement which is ensuring we have a constant supply.
We have also just completed a new airstrip which is only a 7 minute drive from camp and we aim to have this inspected and approved by the airport authority for the next season. This allows charter flights; and in the future we hope even the scheduled flights, to drop off our clients right on our doorstep.
It has been a very enjoyable season, making new friends with our clients and welcoming many back for a second or third visit. We hope to see you all again in the future!
With best wishes to everyone,
The Ol Seki Team