Masai Mara Big Cat Photographic Safari
17th – 25th February 2018 – Fully Booked
Group Size: 12
Tour Leaders: Tom Way and David Lloyd On Behalf Of Natures Images
Tom is a regular guide for the UK’s leading photographic tour company Natures Images. This trip that he is running with them to the magnificent Masai Mara is focussed exactly as it describes – on big cats. The Mara is famous for its big cats who have been featured on many television documentaries over the years, and they are amazingly accessible here too. This represents a wonderful opportunity to focus on lions, leopards and cheetahs at a time of year when the Mara is not at its busiest in terms of tourism but an excellent season as far as cats are concerned which makes working with individual animals or groups even easier. There will of course be much more to photograph too with elephant, antelope, buffalo and hippo among the main encounters we are likely to having with our base at the luxury Entim camp for the entire trip which is situated in the heart of the reserve placing us close to the action in the early and late light every day as well. This is a classic, focussed and certain to be very rewarding photographic safari with a row of seats per guest in our vehicles ensuring you maximum flexibility and comfort while building your portfolio of images over the course of a very busy week.
Day 1: We will look to arrive in Nairobi in early evening after our international flights and will transfer to the comfortable Serena Hotel for our short overnight stay.
Day 2: In the morning we will arrange the ground transportation for your luggage to ensure that the 15kg weight restriction on the next morning’s internal flight proves to be no issue given the heaviness of carrying photographic and other gear. Taking our photographic equipment with us, after breakfast we will head to Wilson Airport for our 45-minute flight to our camp in the Maasai Mara, in time to settle in, meet our local drivers and guides. Our camp is based inside the reserve, close to the action and near the main river. After lunch we will head off for our first afternoon drive at around 3.30pm. We will return to camp about 6.00pm where our luggage will be waiting for us before relaxing in front of the campfire and enjoying dinner at around 7.30-8.00pm.
Days 3-7: We will look to make the most out of each of these full days we have to photograph in the Mara. This is a setting that has the highest density of wildlife in Africa, and is justifiably famous for its big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah will be our main priorities for the week and this is a particularly good season to photograph them with less general visitors to the reserve and the fresh colours of the landscape too. There will of course be plenty of other subjects to work with as well including elephant, hippo antelope and buffalo and always the possibility of black rhino too. Each morning we will embark on our first drive at 6.00am and will continue until around midday or longer dependant on animal activity with a short break for a light breakfast and refreshment during this outing. Every photographer will have a whole row of seats on each drive, ensuring ample space and flexibility for photography. On returning to camp there is time for lunch, a short rest, downloading images and time for some advice on your images and also processing as you wish. We will return to our vehicles for an afternoon drive at 3.30pm and return at 6.00pm to again look to relax by the camp fire with dinner at 7.30-8.00pm and no doubt with images also to be discussed and compared as well!
Day 8: We will have time for a final 3 hour morning drive on this our last full day before a final breakfast at 9.00am and then catching our return flight to Nairobi at 11.00am. We will have the chance to refresh at the Serena Hotel where we will base ourselves in their lounge and swimming pool areas for the rest of the day while our luggage catches us up and before our evening international flights home.
Day 9: Arrive home in the morning after our overnight flights.
Our accommodation consists of the luxury tents typi- cal of African safari lodges and it is clean and very comfortable with all bedding and towels provided so you simply need to bring yourself. If you have any special dietary requirements we can sort that out when we get to camp but if there is anything very unusual in that respect do please let us know in advance. Bottled water is provided at all times in the camp. The daytime temperature is typically around 20 – 25 degrees Celsius so in terms of clothing you’ll obviously need light- weight and potentially shower-proof clothing with a fleece or warm outer layer for the early morning drives and evenings around the campfire. Footwear needs to be just of the sensible outdoor variety. Sun cream, a hat, lip moisturiser and sunglasses are also recom- mended, as we will be exposed to the sun for long peri- ods as the vehicles have an open hatch. Malaria tablets are recommended, and please liaise with your doctor as to which to take and bring. Insect repellent is useful as they can occasionally be a nuisance and other items like aspirin and the like are good for peace of mind. Laundry is provided free of charge daily at camp but they will not cater for women’s underwear.
Finally in terms of tips for our drivers and camp staff then the preferred denomination for this (and any expenditure generally) is US$ and as a rough guideline $10 – $15 per day for the driver is advised: there is also a camp tip box for the camp staff which you can op- tionally contribute to on the last day. Other than this there should be no need to pay anything in the camp as all food, water, soft drinks and local alcohol is included in the price; the only extra charge would be for non-local alcohol like foreign wines and spirits.
In terms of camera kit it very much depends on your style of photography. Lenses of up to 400mm (as- suming a full frame body) will suffice for 90% of your needs as the animals can get quite close: if you want to work on your bird photography while you are here a longer lens will be required though. Supplementary lenses for other opportunities such as a 24-70mm for wide-angle opportunities and definitely an intermedi- ate zoom (70-200 or 100-400) so that you don’t miss the chance for some images that put subjects in more of a setting are also recommended. Beanbags are pro- vided but they are not the best, but the camp is quite happy to fill a refillable one so you could look to bring an empty one of these with you. Tripods are not neces- sary really as they are not vehicle compatible so we will not be taking them, especially given their weight. If you want to use a tripod head then it is possible to attach it to the vehicles but you will need to have a clamp attachment to do so. If you have and wish to use a monopod then this is a further option. Bring plenty of compact flash cards with you as well because if you get a good drive you will take a lot of images! Flights out to the Mara have a strict weight policy of 15kg (hence why we arrange ground transportation for your luggage) so your camera kit that you will take and need for that first afternoon drive needs to meet that very strict maximum.
During the mid-day rests and evenings we will have a chance to critique and look at individuals work if you so wish so feel free to bring anything you’d like to share on either a laptop or memory pen/CD. If you have any questions or concerns during the trip please ask, we are here to help.
There is power in the camp (although the generators are turned off overnight), 3G phone reception and Wi- fi too in the communal areas (although of the speed you would expect of a remote satellite based system), so a laptop for storing/reviewing images is fine as a method of storing images as you go. Plugs are British conformation.
Cost includes: All transfers, park fees, game drives, meals and accommodation in Kenya.
Cost excludes: International flights, Kenya visa, sundry items, non- local alcoholic drinks (ie spirits) and tips/gratuities for camp staff and drivers.
If you have any questions at all about this trip please do not hesitate to get in contact with either Tom (07876 333787) or the team at Natures Images (01952 411436). You are able to book this trip directly through this link: http://www.natures-images.co.uk/holiday/masai-mara-big-cats-africa-2018/