Want good safari photos? Get a good guide.

(c) Jenny Carless

(c) Jenny Carless

Some of my favorite photos from Kenya are thanks to my amazing guides. Not only do good guides often know where to seek out the wildlife, but their experience gives them a seemingly uncanny sense of what an animal might do next. That can lead to a great photo.

Case in point: this shot of the leopard with the baby warthog.

During a stay at Kicheche Mara Camp, my guide David spotted (sorry, I couldn’t resist) this leopard in a bushy area among a circle of trees. I took the photo below when we initially found him.

We sat and watched for a while, and we could see that he had some sort of small snack with him, but we couldn’t quite make out what it was. We guessed that it was a young antelope of some sort, but the brush around them made it too difficult to see properly.

(c) Jenny Carless

(c) Jenny Carless

Although I hadn’t noticed a change in the leopard’s behavior or demeanor, David said that he thought the animal was about to move, and he suggested that we drive along the dry stream bed to our right, to try to get ahead of him. Whatever you suggest, I said. (This wasn’t the first time David had set me up for a great photo; I wasn’t going to argue.) So David clicked the engine over and off we went, racing and bumping through the bush.

He got it right—hence the photo above. David had seen a slight opening in the bush that led down into the stream bed, and he figured that the leopard would probably use that path. He stopped the Land Cruiser a short distance from the break in the bush, and we waited.

But not for long. Just moments later, the leopard ran past, with his snack in his mouth … and it turned out to be a baby warthog.

I love both of these photos—but if it hadn’t been for David’s foresight and speedy driving, I’d only have a photo of the leopard peering out from the bush.

Kicheche Mara Camp is in the Mara North Conservancy, just north of the Masai Mara National Reserve. If you’re looking for excellent guides, look no further than a Kicheche camp.

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