When You’re On Safari, It’s All About the Animals: Part I

In September 2015, I took a six day trip to Kenya. While there I stayed at the beautiful safari camp, Mahali Mzuri, where we took two game drives each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. That trip was the first time I had ever traveled to another country and though it was brief, every single moment was filled with wonder and enchantment.

It’s All About the Animals

I’ve blogged and shared videos about that trip to Africa several times, including a video tour of the safari camp where I stayed and our candlelight dinner in the bush followed by a performance of the Maasai Warriors.

I’ve also shared a tour of the room I stayed in at Giraffe Manor and the wonderful giraffe that call it home. But the one thing I haven’t had a chance to share are all the photos I took during our safaris out into the Kenyan bush. When you go to Africa, it’s all about the animals!

During my stay at Mahali Mzuri, we ventured out into the bush twice a day. Most of our safari adventures took place on the Olare Motorogi Conservancy where Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri is located, but one day we spent the entire day in the world-renowned Masai Mara National Park and Reserve where we were fortunate to catch the migration of Wildebeest and Zebra across the Mara River. The animal spotting was excellent in both places and I can recommend both if you ever decide to take a trip to Kenya. I still need to upload and share the photos and video I made of the river crossing-migration. It’s a sight to behold, for sure!

I’ve spent the last few days going through the thousands and thousands of animal photos I took while in Kenya. I took an unusually large amount because when you’re out on a safari, it can be difficult to get a clear picture. As you would expect the animals are often moving, and though the guide brings the safari vehicle to a complete stop and turns off the engine, because the vehicles have such bouncy shocks, any movement or shifting in the seat by another person in the vehicle will cause your camera to move as well. All a person has to do is turn in their seat and your shot is ruined–not intentionally, of course.

Since I was using a telephoto lens to get as close as possible to the animals, movement added up to a lot of blurry pictures, well that and not having the time or space to use a tripod. If you travel to Africa for a safari, try to take a collapsible monopod with you. I think that would definitely help.

I’m not sure how it normally works since this was my first safari, but I took a gazillion photos to compensate for all the obstacles I encountered. Unfortunately, that meant I had a gazillion photos to sort through once back home, thus the reason I’m so late in finally sharing these with you. I took way too many to share them all in one post, so I’ve culled it down to around 50-55, half of which I’ll share in this post and the other half in a follow-up post very soon.

I hope you enjoy going on safari with me. I’ll link to some of the previous posts I’ve written about this adventure at the end of this post, in case you’re interested in reading/seeing more. Thanks for allowing me to share the most wonderful adventure I’ve taken to date with you, dear Friends!


On Safari in Kenya

We came across a lot of lions during those three days on safari. This pride had just finished dining on Wildebeest and they were relaxing and snoozing in the shade.


I probably don’t have to tell you what that pink stuff is on the fur. Glad I’m not a Wildebeest in Africa!


Apparently, this is how you brush your teeth after lunch.


They are gorgeous animals, I love their teddy-bear ears!


Too many lion pics to share them all, but here are a few more of some of the other lions we saw during our trips out into the bush.



One day we came across a rather large pride and they began roaring like crazy. If you follow BNOTP on Instagram, you may remember seeing that video when I shared it there. A few minutes later we heard more roaring around the corner and drove over to investigate. We found this beautiful guy. I took a lot of photos of him. He was walking with a slight limp and at one point he laid down to rest. While lying down, he began to roar and it was amazing!


Whenever I visit my grandson, Court, he always asks me to play that video. He watches it, then runs away like he’s scared. Thirty seconds later he’s back asking me to play it again. Ha!


Here’s a video I uploaded to YouTube during my stay at Mahali Mzuri where we had super fast wifi. I think Richard Branson must have his own satellite hovering above his safari camp out in the Kenyan bush because the wifi there is as fast (if not faster), than my wifi here at home! And we were in the middle of nowhere! It was wonderful and I’ve yet to stay during my travels at another place with comparable or even decent wifi that can handle the uploading of several photos, much less video.


During the day we spent in the Masai Mara National Reserve, I saw tons of hippos.


Amazingly, the hippos and crocodiles hang out in the Mara river together! Do you see the tiny baby hippo just inches from the croc’s mouth?! I guess crocs don’t eat hippos and apparently, the hippo’s mom knows that.


I saw several hippos with little birds sitting on them. What? lol When I got home I Googled and read THIS article that has some rather humorous photos of a baby hippo trying to get away from the birds that were trying to land on him. It turns out, the Oxpecker bird has a symbiotic relationship with hippos. They help to keep the hippos free of ticks and other annoying parasites. Fascinating!


This cute guy is a Black-backed Jackal.


He was a hard one to photograph, very shy, and always on the move.


You see so many different kinds of gazelles in Kenya. Unfortunately, they are a food source for the big cats, so I guess that’s why nature has created so many. I think this is a Grant’s Gazelle.


Don’t you love the horns! I wouldn’t want to get speared by those!


This is what it looks like as you’re riding on safari, beautiful vast plains dotted with Acacia trees and other native plants. The animals that aren’t predators to each other, often feed together. Below we see a Grant’s Gazelle feeding near smaller Thomson Gazelle. That looks like Wildebeest in the background, although it’s hard to tell for sure.


I think this is an Impala, if I’m remembering correctly. Such a sweet face, kind of reminds me of our deer.


We saw more Thomson’s Gazelles than any other type of gazelle.


Do you see the funny little creature just beyond this Impala?


These guys are Banded Mongooses. I love the look on the face of the one who has spotted us!


Here’s a zoomed in picture. lol Is that not the funniest face? 🙂


You can see why they are called “banded” mongooses in this view from the back.


We saw a lot of monkeys while out on safari but they will not let you get close enough for a great picture.


This is a Vervet Monkey. They were never still for longer than a second, so I could never get a clear photo.


We also saw a lot of Hyenas. This is the Spotted Hyena.


On one safari out into the bush, we came across this hyena lying in a big mud puddle right in the middle of the road. She got up to move but when she saw us stop, she laid back down. I was wondering if it might be a female who was expecting because her belly was very big.


Doesn’t the face kind of remind you of a bat’s face? The ears, the nose, and the eyes remind me so much of a bat’s face.


Looking forward to sharing pictures of Giraffes, Elephants, Waterbuck, Eland, Dik-dik, Zebra, Topi, and a beautiful leopard in an upcoming post. One of these days I’ll have to finish going through all the bird photos I took and do a short post of those. They have some truly exotic-looking birds in Kenya! Update: You’ll find Part II sharing photos of all the animals above and a few more here: When You’re On Safari, It’s All About the Animals: Part II.

You’ll find additional posts about this African adventure here: Africa

I answer your most frequently asked questions about this trip here: FAQ About Traveling to Africa

See some of the videos I filmed while in Kenya here: Video. You’ll find links to 10 “Africa” videos I’ve upload down the right side of the page at that link.

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  1. What an amazing experience Susan! I remember your post about giraffe manor and am inspired to visit! Gorgeous photos! My favourite is the lion! I just want to give him a hug!

  2. Maggie Amis says

    WOW! Just wow… Thank you for sharing… those are amazing photographs. It appears as thought that was a wonderful enriching trip. It must be nice to see those beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, so far, I have only ever seen lions at a zoo… sad…

    • I’ve always felt bad for animals at the zoo, but now after this trip, I don’t think I could visit a zoo again. Unless an animal is hurt in some way where it could never survive in the wild, I can’t bare the thought of it being stuck in a zoo its whole life.

  3. Beautiful pictures! What camera and lens were you using? I’m in the market for a new one.

    • I have a Nikon D7000 and just before I left for that trip, I purchased a refurbished telephoto lens from Adorama. The lens I purchased was a Nikon 55-300 mm lens. It was very inexpensive as lens go, only $199. Some of the folks on the safari with me had HUGE lenses…like the kind you often see birders use. But those can cost thousands of dollars and the guides get us so close, you really don’t need that big of a lens. Most of the animals are used to seeing the safari vehicles and stay close enough that you can get a pretty good shot with a good telephoto lens. A monopod would be really helpful, though!

  4. LOVE these photos !! Amazing shots – great job, Susan !

  5. I just loved seeing your photos! The animals are magnificent. There was such a variety, too. I would love to take a trip like this someday. The animals looked so peaceful in their own habitat, not like the sad ones in a zoo. Thanks you for a beautiful article.

  6. Great photography! The fourth one down, of the lion, is amazing; she isn’t just looking towards you, she is looking right into your eyes. And how cute is that story of Court–so torn between fear and curiosity?!

    • Thanks, Mia! They do look right at you with this slightly amused, curious look. They are probably thinking, “C’mon, get down off that truck for just a minute.” 😉

  7. Vicki Entze says

    Thank you for reposting your safari trip details and sharing your photos. I didn’t see the original post because I hadn’t found you yet. In our 30’s and 40’s we traveled all over the U.S.. I told my husband I wanted to see our country before traveling overseas. Unfortunately I developed health problems in my 50’s that to this day make it too difficult to travel any more than short distances. So, I live vicariously through others when they travel places I would have loved. I enjoyed everything about your trip. Can’t wait for your trip to Italy.

    • I’m sorry to hear that Vicki. I kinda panicked when I realized I was approaching 60 and had never been out of the country, so I booked a good many trips all at once. Then I caught the travel bug and that was that.
      I need to do what you did and see more of this wonderful land. I’d especially love to see the New England area and of course, out west.
      Thanks so much, Vicki! Actually, that post you saw was an older one, so I did make the Italy trip the month after I went to Africa. I still haven’t gotten through most of those pics, but you’ll find links to all the posts I’ve written about that trip here: https://betweennapsontheporch.net/category/wanderlust/italy/

  8. These photos are amazing. That was a trip of a lifetime. The animals are beautiful and they all look so healthy. Looking forward to more of your Safari trip.

  9. Beautiful pictures!

  10. Your photos are wonderful. I want to pick the ticks off that one lions face – such detail and close up photography.
    Thank you for sharing with us followers!

  11. I think the mystery gazelles are Thomson’s Gazelles. Did you get to visit Thomson’s Falls, near Nyahururu? Named after the same Scottish explorer.
    Hippos are herbivores, but they are pretty mean and can snap a crocodile (or man) in two with a chomp of their jaws.
    One of the times I climbed Mount Kenya, we had a break at the “Met Station.” My friend and I sat on the grass by our cabin and she peeled a banana. In no time, some monkeys turned up, and in the blink of an eye, one ran over and snatched the banana out of my friend’s hand. They can be daring!
    As for lions, in Meru Park, we had to sit and wait for over an hour for a pride to decide to move off the road. There is no honking or bothering the animals. We just watched and waited. In Masai Mara, I heard lions cracking the bones of the wildebeest they were devouring. And at Logo-logo, on the road to Marsabit, we were told that a lion had attacked a child fetching water. The followup question by my fellow travelers: “Wole?” “The whole thing?” Kind of tells you how often such things occur.

    • No, I didn’t get to visit that area…would be great to go back and see more! Wow, that’s pretty scary about the Hippos. That’s awful about the child. If I were a parent, I’d be terrified to let my child out of my sight with so many wild animals roaming around. We weren’t allowed to leave our tents at night without waving a flashlight and being accompanied by one of the Maasai warriors that guard the tents at night. They would come around and let down all the panels/covers and zip them up at night to secure them. I never felt unsafe, but the noises you heard at night were bizarre! lol I was really glad there was someone standing guard at night.

  12. Marlene Stephenson says

    Some great shots of animals, i know it is a lot different to see them in their own habitat than in the zoo. Thanks for sharing your pics.

  13. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

  14. Rose Mary Lee says

    Beautiful photo’s thanks for sharing your worldly travels

  15. Wow Susan, you got some amazing pictures on your Safari. When we went I had a setting wrong on my camera and all my photos came out with a bluish tint. I was so disappointed. So I pinned some of yours to remind me what mine SHOULD have looked like though yours were much better. Great job.

    • Toni, it’s funny you should mention that because I sabotaged myself. I watched a video about polarizing filters and thought that I needed one since I’d be photographing in the hot Africa sun. Well, it was making all my photos come out dark, they looked terrible. I didn’t realize it until I had taken a bunch. I finally got smart and took that thing off. I had a big issue when I was in Holland too with a dirty camera lens so many of those pics were blurry. I’m my own worst enemy! lol

  16. With your video and watching Tarzan makes me want to go visit even a month long visit to see some of the countries on the coasts

  17. Thanks for fab photos. To paraphrase Will Rogers, “I never met an animal I didn’t like” love them all, although snakes give me the heebie jeebies.

  18. great photographs! The nearest I come is to go to Wildlife Safari here in Oregon. I will never be able to go overseas, but enjoyed the tri through these and your other photos.

  19. Heart shaped nose on the second photo of the black backed jackel, so cute.

  20. Your photographs are truly amazing, Susan!
    P.S.: Though larger, the Mongooses remind me of our North American Gophers and Prairie Dogs.

  21. Wow! Amazing photos Susan and such a wonderful surprise to start my Monday morning. Thank you so much for sharing!

  22. Love your safari photos! Thanks Susan for sharing them with us! I would love to go on a safari in Africa, but my husband is not interested in going, but maybe some day! I love seeing the wild animals free to roam around, it breaks my heart to see them in cages. Looking forward to may great photos!

  23. bobbi duncan says

    Thanks so much for the update on these beautiful animals. I can only imagine the exhilaration of actually seeing these amazing creatures in the wild! I love the markings on the Thomson’s gazelles. Know you’ll always hold this trip close to your heart–animals have a way of uplifting our spirit in such a powerful way. Hugs!

  24. So you are finally culling your Africa pics to send to me??????? These shots are great. You are a really good photographer. Went to Cirque du Soliel in Dallas yesterday so just now reading your post.

  25. Charlotte says

    Loved the safari animals. You took great pictures! Thank you for sharing them. Always enjoy your posts.

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