Tanzania’s Big Cats Safari
21st October – 3rd November 2019 – Places Available
Group Size: 6
Tour Leader: Tom Way on behalf of Natures Images
Tanzania is home to some of the most impressive predators on the planet. This trip has been designed to concentrate on the three big cats of the Serengeti plains – Lion, Leopard and Cheetah – although the array of prey species and rich birdlife of the region will add to the array of photographic opportunities. During the course of the trip we will be visiting the Seranora valley, Ndutu plains as well as the impressive Tarangire National Park. In our opinion Ndutu in particular is probably the very best place in east Africa to encounter cheetah. The timing of this trip is deliberately in the off season too so that we will have much more intimate encounters throughout giving us maximum flexibility and photographic opportunity as well as the end of the dry season which gives a unique feel as far as the environment for image taking too. Once again we will be using the best local guides and can be sure that we will make this a photographic safari to remember on which we will work with a whole row of seats per photographer in each vehicle to ensure you the best of the many encounters we will have.
Day 1: We look to arrive at Kilimanjaro airport this evening after catching the morning flight from Amsterdam (full recommendations will be provided) and where we will be met by our drivers and guides who will be looking after us throughout the trip.
On arrival at Kilimanjaro we have approximately a one-hour transfer to Arusha where we will spend the first night at a small hotel and acclimatise accordingly.
Day 2: After an acclimatising breakfast we will spend the morning travelling west to the Tarangire National Park where we will be based for the next two nights and we will begin our photography during that afternoon’s game drive as we head for our base there, Tarangire tented lodge.
Day 3: We will head out with a packed breakfast at dawn each day to make the most of the sunrise and early morning light. Tarangire offers a full array of safari photography opportunities with its resident lion pride and its elephant population and so our full morning drive (we’ll head back to our lodge for lunch) and afternoon/evening drive through to sunset will give us a great start to our trip. Throughout the trip every photographer will have a full row of seats in the safari trucks as this allows for ample kit space and flexibility for photography either out of the side windows or the open roof. This is great for flight photography and more distant subjects but it does mean that you need a large brimmed hat and plenty of sun cream. Our days here will follow the typical safari profile of early morning game drives and after a break in the middle of the day, then an afternoon one through until sunset by which time we have to be back in camp.
Day 4: We will enjoy a final short morning game drive in Tarangire and after lunch at our lodge we will then head out of the park and make our way north through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and along the rim of the famous crater, en route to the Serengeti itself, looking to arrive at our tented camp base for the next 3 nights that afternoon, photographing as we approach. The area around the camp is teaming with bird and animal life including lion and giraffe, but the Seronera area where we are essentially based is most well known for its population of leopard. We will have every chance to photograph this fabulous big cat as they are often seen on the tracks and in the trees close by. Our comfortable tented camp here offers a true bush experience – it is a great place to see and hear the sounds of the bush in the evenings and through the night at times too.
Days 5 – 6: The pattern of photography remains the same for our two full days here – we have an early breakfast in camp before heading out pre-dawn for a morning game drive, with leopard, lion and their potential prey on our priority list. We will have lunch back at the camp to escape the mid-day sun before heading back out at around 3.30 for our late afternoon game drive, returning in time for dinner.
Day 7: We leave our camp base after breakfast (and a short early game drive before that too) for the drive to Ndutu. Our planned route if it hasn’t been excessively rainy takes us out past the famous Moru Kopjes and on across the Serengeti Plain to the Ndutu Safari Lodge. We will have our packed lunch at the kopjes and with any luck we will have the Moru lion pride for company. On the drive into Ndutu we enter cheetah territory and we will be keeping a sharp look out for this fantastic cat. Tonight will be the first of five nights at the Ndutu Safari Lodge where our comfortable cottages all have verandas overlooking the bush where you can listen to the lions roaring.ring.
Days 8 – 11: Our days at Ndutu will follow a similar pattern: out early with a picnic breakfast before heading back to the lodge for lunch and some much needed rest. For those with surplus energy there is plenty of wildlife around the lodge to photograph including lovebirds, woodpeckers and sunbirds. We head back out at around 3.30 getting back to the lodge around sunset. At Ndutu you are allowed to leave the tracks with your truck and head to where the action is which is amazing for big cat photography. Our guides are old hands at finding cheetah and the trucks are fitted with radios allowing the guides to keep in touch and report sightings to each other. Ndutu also has two lion prides one of which featured in the BBC programme ‘Natures Great Events’. Leopards are also found here living in the wooded areas close to the lodge. Ndutu also has a rich variety of birdlife, in particular its high concentration of raptors. Several different eagles are to be found including tawny, martial, crested and snake eagles. All in all this will be a fitting place to spend a very full four days of photography. As it is low season here in particular we will also look to have almost all our encounters to ourselves.
Day 12: Our morning routine will again consist of a game drive and breakfast basket, but we will return to Ndutu for an early lunch after which we will then drive out of the Conservation Area and back to the town of Karatu where we stay at the Bougainvillea Lodge for our final night in Tanzania. The Bougainvillea has a deserved reputation for its food and we will enjoy a fabulous last supper while we remember the many highlights of what is sure to have been a fantastic trip.
Day 13: We will have a lie in this morning before a leisurely breakfast. There is plenty of time to pack ready for our flight home as we have the rooms until 11.30. We can relax around the pool or take a walk into Karatu and shop for souvenirs before lunch. After lunch we will leave for the airport and our evening flight to Amsterdam (KL 0571) usually routed via Dar es Salam.
Day 14: Our flight arrives at Amsterdam early in the morning 3rd November with plenty of time to connect for our onward flights to our home airports.
Our accommodation throughout is clean and comfortable with all bedding and towels provided so you simply need to bring yourself. There is a mixture of cottages, hotel style rooms and tented accommodation as we move between locations on the trip, but they are all of a good standard given their respective locations. At the tented camps facilities are more simplistic in their nature but private bush showers, WC and washbasins are of course the norm. If you have any special dietary requirements – please let us know in advance and we will do our best to pass this on. In terms of clothing you’ll obviously need lightweight and potentially shower-proof clothing with a fleece or warm outer layer for the early morning drives and evenings around the camp fire. Footwear needs to be just of the sensible outdoor variety. Malaria tablets are recommended, and please liaise with your doctor as to which to take and bring. As our bags will be travelling with us in our vehicles throughout the trip soft sided bags are much easier to pack in the limited space and so are essential too: rigid suitcases are to be avoided please.
We will be able to get laundry done throughout our stay (there may be an additional charge for this though so please bear that in mind) so minimising on clothing and planning to do this can help significantly in terms of overall weight. Because they are open topped, the vehicles offer little or no protection from the sun, so strong sun cream, hat and sunglasses are very much needed. Bottled water will be provided in the trucks at all times and is also recommended when in the lodges too.
You will have to have a visa to visit Tanzania. these can be bought on arrival at a cost of $50 but queues can be long there so if you wish to avoid this and you can manage to get it through the Tanzania High Commission in your country beforehand it can save time. You’ll find full details on immigration.go.tz
US Dollars are very much the currency of choice (it’s best to try to avoid using cards for any purchases) so having these for some tips as we go, any alcoholic or soft drink purchases you may want throughout (water is provided throughout though) and also tips for the drivers at the end will be sensible to be planned ahead for.
In terms of camera kit it very much depends on your style of photography. Lenses up to or around 400mm (assuming 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 intermediate 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. You will need to bring a couple of large beanbags with you (to allow for the option of working with 2 lenses/bodies) – bring these empty to avoid the weight on the plane and filling will be provided early in the trip and before our first game drives. Tripods are not necessary as they are not vehicle friendly. Bring plenty of compact flash cards with you as well because if you get a good drive you will take a lot of images!
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.
Cost includes: All transfers, park fees, game drives and accommodation in Tanzania, all meals, water in the trucks, flying doctor cover and park fees.
Cost excludes: International flights, Tanzania visa, sundry items, alcoholic drinks and tips/gratuities for camp staff and drivers, and overnight accommodation in Amsterdam if required prior to the trip.
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/tanzanias-big-cats-2019/