Friday, April 7, 2023

A guests' perspective - The Black Leopard of Laikipia

Here is what our guest Chris Butterworth had to say about our recent safari in search of
the remarkable black leopard of Laikipia.

I decided to visit Laikipia as soon as I saw Albie was arranging a trip there.  I have traveled with Albie before in search of Leopards (my big love - leopards that is, not Albie!). I had heard of a melanistic leopard in the area and that is what I was hoping to see but not expecting. On our very first game drive, we found her and it’s hard to describe the excitement I felt. I almost forgot to pick up my camera!

This is one very special leopard and Albie and our guide managed to find her on most of our game drives.  This was no easy task as she usually only appeared very early morning or late evening and was on the move most of the time.  However, with Albie’s skillful driving, we managed to follow her and get some amazing photographic opportunities.  Of course, if she looked like she was about to hunt we would leave her.

My main focus was, of course, the leopard. But during the daylight hours, we went in hunt for various species to photograph.  It was a very difficult time as there was a drought and many animals had left the area (apart from Dik-Dik - leopard's favorite food!).  However, Albie found us some very unusual things to photograph.  Melanistic Goshawk was one and a Goshawk with her youngster on a Dik-Dik kill was another. Beautiful Vulturine Guinea Fowl were plentiful and very photogenic. The elephants didn’t disappoint either and went down to the local water source daily.

Laikipia Wilderness Camp itself was great - we stayed at the River Camp, which was right on the edge of the river.  The staff were very helpful and couldn’t do enough for us - including feeding us to the point of bursting! One evening we had a braai, under the stars, on the banks of the river with Albie cooking? for us (?sorry, Albie can’t remember the name of what you cooked). When it was time to leave we were told there was a large male leopard asleep by the side of our vehicle! Such exciting times!

Albie was brilliant to travel with and we had a great laugh.  His arrangement of the trip was impeccable, nothing missed and I would truly recommend anyone who is thinking about it to travel with him.

I think the best recommendation I can make is the fact that having traveled with him only very recently to Laikipia, I immediately booked again as soon as I heard he was planning a return trip there.

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