Immortalized by countless wildlife films, Kenya needs little introduction. We've designed our Kenya Wildlife Photo Safari to take you to the heart of the region's best photographic locations, flying between Nairobi and some of the more distant parks to ensure spending ample time in the field. We visit three of the most exciting photo locations in the country: the famous Masai Mara Game Reserve, the picturesque Samburu Game Reserve, and the alkaline wetlands of Lake Nakuru National Park. At each location, we spend extensive time to get a real "sense of place" and to devote the time necessary to experience the wildlife and create numerous images.
The majestic yellow-barked acacias of Nakuru provide a photogenic backdrop for the common wildlife of the park, including accessible white rhinos and leopards. Samburu, located in the arid savannah of northern Kenya, features golden grasslands, acacia woodlands and an imposing escarpment. Well known for its mammals, Samburu is home to soil-stained "red" elephants, rare Grevy's zebras, reticulated giraffes, gerenuk, oryx and dik-diks. Birds are also abundant and include colorful bee-eaters, kingfishers, Somali ostrich and vulturine guinea fowl.
The Masai Mara Reserve is arguably the greatest wildlife location in all of Africa. The Mara is the northernmost corner of the Serengeti ecosystem—and is so remarkable that one cannot do justice to it in a brief description. This region is one of the continent's best locations for lions and cheetahs. We spend six days here focusing on the predators and their prey. Birds are always a big part of the Mara experience, as well, and everyone enjoys the brilliance of lilac-breasted rollers and saddle-billed storks, the regal demeanor of the hawks and eagles, and the excitement of a squabbling throng of vultures on a carcass. Our tour is planned for the traditional time of the great migration "crossings" of zebras and wildebeests over the Mara River and the amazing and dramatic interplay between them and the resident Nile crocodiles! Although the timing is extremely unpredictable, we stand a reasonable chance of intercepting this remarkable wildlife phenomenon during our stay.
This Photo Safari is an extraordinary opportunity to photograph three of East Africa's most unparalleled wildlife locations. With only three participants in each vehicle, a thoughtful leader well experienced in African safaris, fantastic accommodations, and outstanding local guides who fully understand the needs of photographers, our Kenya Wildlife tour is a productive and unforgettable photographic adventure!
• Read Jeff Vanuga's trip report from our 2013 Kenya Wildlife trip.
Day 2 (Aug 23)
Arrive in Nairobi, transfer to our comfortable hotel.
We fly midmorning, with our camera gear and laptops, to the Masai Mara Game Reserve. The remainder of our luggage is transported by road and arrives just after lunch. After checking into our luxurious tented lodge, lunch and orientation, we have our first late afternoon game drive. (BLD)
At our wonderfully situated luxury lodge we are in the heart of the entire Masai Mara Reserve's wildlife action. Our lodge is located in the reserve's low-density visitation area (we pay a higher daily entry fee to stay here) close to the famous zebra/wildebeest migration crossing points of the Mara River. We photograph elephants, Cape buffalo, Grant's and Thomson's gazelle, impala, topi, zebra, wildebeest and Coke's hartebeest. Giraffe, eland, bushbuck, serval and the big cats—lion, cheetah and leopard—all live permanently within the reserve and are usually easy to see in our area. We capture the range of light from sunrise to sunset and the Mara's many moods. (BLD)
We journey overland to Nakuru National Park. The park is a reserve for both black and white rhinos and we should have good opportunities for close-up photography of the whites. East Africa's most dense leopard population dwells here, plus Rothschild's giraffes, Defassa waterbucks, reedbucks, unwary warthogs and Cape buffalo. Sunset over a lakeshore swath of pink flamingos is a special photogenic experience not to be missed! (BLD)
We drive north to the Samburu and the Buffalo Springs Game Reserves where a sizable population of elephants, plus Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, Somali ostrich, impala, common waterbuck, dik-dik, vervet monkey, hyrax, baboon and oryx round out the photo subjects. The elephants exhibit a special red color at Samburu from rolling in the reddish mud of the Ewaso Ngiro River. Our impressive permanent tented camp at river's edge is a relaxing base for our morning and afternoon game drives to a wide variety of habitats—open plains with Mount Kenya in the distance, narrow lush valleys filled with birds, and towering cliffs where baboons seek refuge at night from prowling leopards. (BLD)
Day 15 (Sep 5)
We fly back to Nairobi this morning, have a dayroom at our airport hotel for relaxing and showering, and depart in late evening for home. (BL)
The best of Kenya's wildlife parks: Masai Mara and Samburu Game Reserves plus Lake Nakuru National Park
Only three photographers per nine-passenger Land Rover
Six high-season shooting days in the Masai Mara residing in a luxury lodge located in an area specially-designated for low-density tourism
Trip timed for prime zebra/wildebeest migration dates