African Wildlife Photography Safari – Masai Mara, Kenya
£250.00 – £6,498.00
Come on a photo holiday to Africa with us! 2018 will be our 5th year of wonderful Kenyan safaris:
- 20 – 29 Aug 2018 Sorry, sold out only £3,499 (deposit £500)
- 28 Aug – 6 Sep 2018 2-3 places left only £3,499 (deposit £500)
- Why not save £500 and do 20 Aug – 6 Sep 2018 back to back?! only £6,498 (deposit £500)
- Single supplements only £250 for a guaranteed room to yourself
This video sums up what it’s like to be on one of our safaris (best seen full screen with the sound up)
“Wow…. what can I say!!
Thank you both so much for another unforgettable experience. I didn’t think it could get any better than last year…..yes it did!!
The accommodation at House in the Wild was even better and Purty’s cooking, which I didn’t think could get any better, has definitely gone up a notch….wonderful food.
To see the different behaviour of the wildlife compared to last year, again had me having many more profound moments…’Sue Moments’…and the dynamics of the group although different, further enhanced my enjoyment of the whole safari. I learned new photographic techniques from both of you as well as much more knowledge regarding the habitat / wildlife / conservation of the Conservancies and the Mara from our wonderful guides Moses and Boston.
To see ‘the crossing’ this time was an experience in itself.
I would have no hesitation in recommending this Safari to any wildlife photographer and those who also combine it with wildlife conservation. To all those thinking about this kind of safari I would say ‘go for it’. You will not regret making that decision.
Many thanks again to both of you.”
~ Sue Veal, 2015, 2016 and returning on 2017’s safari with us. We’re very proud that several people have enjoyed themselves so much, that they return with us
For more reviews, see Reviews tab below
At a glance:
THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH!
Ah, the wonderful Masai Mara… it almost needs no introduction.
Made famous by multiple BBC and National Geographic TV natural history series for its incredible abundance of exotic wildlife, this is where lions roam free and wildebeest and zebra perform the epic Great Migration. Majestic elephants and stealthy leopards call the Mara their home and hundreds of species of colourful birds abound, such as the beautiful lilac-breasted roller.
All the Big Five – lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhino – are in evidence, as is a cast of innumerable other species such as cheetahs, giraffes, gazelles, crocodiles, wildebeest and zebra.
Unlike almost anywhere else on Earth, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the breath-taking abundance of wildlife to photograph. The Mara is truly a spectacle of nature’s finest animals and they’re just waiting for your camera.
For the fifth year, I’ve teamed up again with good friend and fellow professional wildlife photographer Alan Hewitt as well as our usual superb and highly qualified Maasai guides: Moses and Boston. Our accommodation is in a beautiful location on the banks of the River Mara. There’s no compromise on quality at any point – House in the Wild is a fantastic place to stay and has access to the Masai Mara National Park and several private conservancies. And the food is fantastic. We haven’t made enough of this fact in the past, but people keep telling us how excellent the food is. We agree!
All you need to add are flights and a Kenya visa. We’ll walk you through every aspect of this to make it painless. Flights from the UK to Nairobi are around £600 – 700 and from Nairobi to the Masai Mara approx. £295 at the time of writing. A visa is about £30. If you’d like someone to take the hassle out of booking the international flight for you, Antonia at Travel Bureau has all the trip’s details. She can even arrange insurance if you need it. See below in the Frequently Asked Questions section for details.
We’ll be staying in the wonderful House in the Wild in true Kenyan wilderness on the banks of the Mara River – an ideal base with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere in beautiful surroundings and with access to all the private conservancies and the National Reserve. The food is superb and the staff certainly know how to make us feel at home and welcome. We’ll have two days in the National Reserve looking for Great Migration river crossings and the famous Marsh Pride of lions. In my opinion, the conservancies are the best places to see the wildlife because it is quiet and it often feels like we have vast areas to ourselves. As well as the National Reserve, we’ll visit Mara North, Lemek, Enonkishu and Ol Choro conservancies for the full experience.
We’ve timed the trip to coincide with the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra between the Mara and Serengeti. You can never tell exactly when this natural phenomenon will happen, but this is a perfect time to try and we’ve so far seen it every time we’ve been. Check out the croc attack on the video!
For a sense of what it’s like to be on safari with us, have a read of 2015’s blog and watch the video above.
We ensure that there’s always plenty of room in each vehicle for you and your photography gear. There’s nothing worse than a vehicle packed to the gills when you’re trying to get that special shot.
Some of the accommodation is set up with twin beds and other doubles, so the maximum number of people we take on the safaris with us depends on the mix of couples, and the balance of male / female individuals. You may end up sharing with a like-minded photographer of the same sex.
On the other hand, if you’d prefer a guaranteed room all to yourself, that’s not a problem. The single-supplement charge is only £250.
You can either pay the deposit straight away to reserve your space, or email me or ring me on +44 7866 435 084 for anything you’d like to ask.
- 10 day round trip wildlife photo safari holiday.
- 7 nights’ accommodation at House in the Wild at full board.
- 7 days in the Masai Mara (6 full days and two half days).
- All food full board, snacks, alcoholic and soft drinks, coffees & teas.
- All road transfers in Kenya.
- Included in the headline price, we’ll book extra baggage allowance on the internal flights so you can bring your full luggage with you. Many other photo safaris add this on as an extra cost, or simply require you to fly with a total of 15Kg of luggage – that’s hold plus hand baggage together! We think it’s essential to include this in the price, because otherwise you’ll be stuck with 15Kg, which is definitely not enough for a photographer.
- As much or as little tuition as you’d like – that’s camera settings, creative techniques, post-processing – whatever you need.
- English-speaking highly qualified, nationally accredited Maasai guides who are wonderfully knowledgeable and are well versed in photographers’ needs. They know we don’t just want the Big 5 ticks and understand the patience and dedication necessary for photography.
- All game drives, Conservancy fees, National Park fees, vehicle fees, local taxes.
- Sun-downers: drinks in the wild while watching the fantastic African sunset.
- Unlimited access to the surrounding wildlife Conservancies (Lemek, Ol Chorro, Enonkishu), plus two visits to the National Reserve and one visit to Mara North Conservancy.
- Visit to a local village to experience Maasai culture.
- If we have time, a visit to a Maasai market.
- Walking safari if you fancy it.
- Electricity, hot water and wifi at the house. NB Don’t rely on the wifi: it can be a bit patchy!
- Normal flushing toilets
- Hot showers – some en-suite, some shared between other rooms.
- Central safe for passports and other valuables, although security is never an issue.
- Flights. For legal reasons we’re not allowed to offer you flights without an ATOL license and that would increase prices by more than £1000 per head. We didn’t feel that was anywhere near good value for money, or necessary. The flights are in two legs: firstly from wherever you are to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital; then we fly from Nairobi to Ngerende in the Masai Mara. International flights at the time of writing from various UK airports to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta airport are between £600 and £700. Safarilink flights from Nariobi to the Mara are $366 (about £295) return. Don’t worry, we’ll help you with every step of this booking process and tell you exactly what you need to do. It’s just we’re not allowed to do it ourselves. See Frequently Asked Questions for flight recommendations.
- Tips to your Maasai guides and the staff at House in the Wild. We’ll help let you know what’s appropriate.
- Any items of a personal nature.
- Travel insurance. You can either buy insurance for the period we’re away, or there are very competitive yearly policies available. Travel Bureau can arrange this for you – see below.
- Anti-malarials are recommended. We find Malarone to be the best tablets and ASDA, Boots and other pharmacies offer a cost effective treatment course. Current prices from these outlets are approx. £1.25 per tablet.
- Any travel vaccinations you may need. The easiest thing to do is visit your doctor or a pharmacist that offers a travel clinic and they’ll advise on what you will need.
- Kenya visa, which is US$ 51 (about £30) payable in advance online. We’ll advise on how to do this well in advance.
- Meals and drinks at airports and on planes.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
You may also find this article useful: How to pack and prepare for a photography Safari to Africa
How do I book the flights?
Please click the Additional Information tab for full information.
What cameras, lenses and other equipment should I take?
Ideally, the kitchen sink! But that’s not usually practical. You’ll probably find that most of your shots are taken between 200-400mm. If you have an APS-C sensor camera (i.e. not full frame), the crop-factor gives you extra reach by a factor of 50-60%. Don’t rule out wide lenses though for landscape shots. I tend to take a flash with me wherever I go, just in case. If you have two camera bodies, you can leave a different lens on each. This luxury means you’re ready for any eventuality and there’s less opportunity for dust to get onto the sensor if you don’t have to change lenses so often. Generally speaking, if you have a zoom lens that will go up to 300mm you’ll be absolutely fine. Bridge cameras are also very effective.
Should I take a tripod, or other support?
If you can fit it in your luggage, I’d definitely recommend some kind of support. Most of the photography we’ll be doing will be from vehicles, so a bean-bag of some sort is very useful to rest on the rail / platform. You can bring this empty to be filled in Kenya. We usually fill ours with small polystyrene balls, which are virtually weightless – the type that fill the sort of bean bag you sit on. A double bean-bag is best if you have one. Tripods are perhaps a bit less useful, buy you may well still want to bring one for sunset and landscape shots. If in doubt, bring one. A monopod is a good compromise on weight and portability, but obviously isn’t free-standing.
Do I need travel / holiday / medical insurance?
Yes, just as you would when travelling anywhere in the world on holiday. We have public liability insurance in case of our own negligence (e.g. if you trip over my tripod!) but you’ll need to cover yourself against any problem that may happen, such as if you become ill, the flights are delayed, someone nicks your camera, or your luggage is delayed. That’s not an exhaustive list and travel policies vary quite a bit. Travel insurance tends to come in two flavours: one that is for your holiday only and the other is an annual policy. The latter can be surprisingly cost effective if you travel abroad more than once and this is how I cover our entire family. If you’re not sure what you need, talk to Travel Bureau (see the bit about flights in the Additional Information tab) and they’ll sort you out.
Do I need camera equipment insurance?
That’s entirely up to you, but I’d definitely recommend it. If you don’t have specific photographic insurance, chances are your household contents policy will cover you at least in part. It’s essential though to check with them that your camera equipment is actually covered away from home and specifically on the trip you’re about to embark on.
What’s the passport / visa situation?
You’ll need a valid passport to travel to Kenya and it must have at least 6 months to run after the end of your trip, as is standard in most countries. If you need to update your passport, it’s best to do this in non-peak holiday periods to avoid the rush. If you are running a bit late, you can pay extra to expedite a passport renewal, but you’ll have to visit a specific passport office in person and this can involve a bit of a trek.
Visas for Kenya are not a problem and are simply bought for $US 51 online in advance. We’ll advise on how to go about this.
How should I pack for air travel?
For aircraft travel, I tend to make sure all my important and expensive stuff is with me in my hand luggage. I don’t think I’d ever trust it in the hold. Hand luggage can actually be quite large and heavy and I use a camera roller case that has specially padded sections inside it. You don’t need to do this if you don’t have so much gear, but I find that solution very convenient. The key thing is to take cameras and lenses in hand luggage so you know where they are at all times. Again, this is covered in How to pack and prepare for a photography Safari to Africa
What are the airline weight allowances and are there any costs for excess baggage?
Regarding excess baggage, there shouldn’t be any unless you really are bringing a kitchen sink. Depending on the international flight you take, you should get 20-23Kg of hold baggage on the main international flights plus hand luggage that’s not usually weighed. Hand luggage is usually only a concern if it doesn’t fit in the over-head lockers, which is why it’s essential to use standard airline regulation hand luggage, whether it’s a specific camera case or not. They may weigh your hand luggage at the airport, but it’s usually more important to make sure the dimensions of your bag are in line with the airline’s guidelines, otherwise you may find your hand luggage put in the hold. Some airports and airlines have started weighing hand luggage, though, so be aware of this before you leave home.
Normally you only get 15Kg allowance on the small internal flights in Kenya – and that’s including hand luggage! That’s why we always include the extra freight allowance for the group. This means your internal flights will have at least the same allowance as your international allowance, if not more. You’ll have a minimum of 40Kg of total luggage allowance on the Nairobi to Mara plane.
What currencies should I take
The most useful currencies are US dollars and Kenya Shillings (KES). I would take the bulk of your money in dollars and a smaller amount in shillings. The shilling exchange rate can be found here.
What electricity will be available?
It’s the same as the UK at 240v and 50Hz, with the same three-pin plug sockets. If you’re traveling from a country other than the UK, a UK adaptor can be used. Electricity is available in each of the rooms and central area for charging batteries, phones and powering laptops and so on. I find it useful to take a multi-way block so that you can run several things from the socket at once. Even better is a short, lightweight 3 or 4 way extension lead so you can move the power to where you need it. All rooms have electrical sockets. Electric power and light is available from the generator for about 5 hours a day, but we can request it to be on longer if you need it. For late nighttime, House in the Wild can provide lanterns and torches, but we’d still recommend to bring a torch, too. Head torches are the most useful as they allow you to still use both hands. A torch with a red setting is particularly useful if we’re out on a late evening game drive; it means you can still use your torch without blinding the wildlife.
What time of year is best?
August and September! Actually, any time of year is good but August / September is in the dry season when the grass isn’t too long to hide the animals and they are more likely to come to water to drink. All good for visibility and great photos. The Great Migration should be happening at this time, although being a natural phenomenon, it’s impossible to predict. The wildebeest and zebra will follow the rains around the Mara / Serengeti ecosystem and hopefully we’ll see the spectacle of tens of thousands of animals on the move and possibly even witness a river-crossing.
What’s the weather and temperature like?
In summary, very pleasant indeed! Kenya is pretty dry in August / September and very pleasantly warm, with comfortable, low humidity. Even though Kenya lies on the equator, the Masai Mara is on a raised plain at an altitude of about 1,500m, so you can expect mid to high 20s celsius during the day and about 10 at night. Early mornings can be quite chilly, so it’s worth bringing a warm top for early starts / late evenings. Whilst you will need suncream and a sunhat, because of the altitude, the conditions are not at all like equatorial jungles and are like what I think we all in the UK would like our summers to be like – but rarely are!
Am I allowed to use the photos I take for commercial use and photo competitions?
Of course you are! You can do whatever you like with them – they’re yours. We’ve heard of at least one safari operator that specifically excludes this. That’s just not the way we do business.
28 Aug -6 Sep 2017, 20-29 Aug 2018, 28 Aug – 6 Sep 2018, 20 Aug – 6 Sep back to back (save £500)
Masai Mara, Kenya
You are of course welcome to use any travel agent or book flights directly, but we use a trusted travel agent that is reliable for group bookings. Travel Bureau in Newcastle already have the itinerary for this safari and can take the hassle out of the booking process. They charge a small transaction fee of about £30. If you’d like to book your flights through Travel Bureau, give Antonia a call on +44 191 285 0346 or email her at email@example.com. She’s very helpful and can also arrange travel insurance if you need it.
Alternatively, if you’re happy negotiating the bewildering plethora of internet flight search engines and the multitude of options they present, here are some of the ones I’ve used in the past: ebookers, kayak, cheapflights, expedia. Or just type ‘flight searches’ into a search engine.
Having said that, it mainly seems to be KLM / Air France / Kenya Airways who operate on the route and times we need, so here's the flight details I've booked for myself for 2017. 2018 flight information will be available closer to the time:
Transfer time: 5h05
Flight number: KL 4141
Transfer time: 2h25
Flight number: AF 1058
If you're doing your own booking, you’ll need to make sure you arrive in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport (NBO) in the early morning (typically about 6:45am local time) of 29 Aug 2017 so that we can transfer to Nairobi Wilson airport for the internal flight to Mara Ngerende at 10am. Alternatively, you might want to arrive the day before and stay in a hotel, meeting up the next morning with us for the transfer. If so, let us know and we'll recommend some hotels.
Similarly on the way back, we have the 4pm return flight on Fri 5 Sep from the Mara, which arrives in Nairobi about 5:30pm. Allow plenty of time to transit from Wilson to Jomo Kenyatta airports ready for your flight home. If in any doubt about any of this, contact Antonia at Travel Bureau, or me or Alan.
|Flights to and from the Mara||
Safari Link handle the Nairobi to Mara Ngerende flights. Here's how to book:
Go to http://www.flysafarilink.com and in the Book Flight box on the front page, choose the following round-trip flight. Again, these are for the 2017 safari and will be updated for 2018 when flights become available.
Continue on through the booking process and let us know when you've completed.
Don't worry about the extra baggage allowance; we'll handle that and book enough extra for everyone.
Based on same-sex twin rooms or couples sharing a double room. Single supplement is only £250 for lone travellers who would prefer a double / twin room all to themselves.
Day 1 (28 Aug 2017): Depart UK (or wherever you’re joining us from) for an overnight flight to arrive in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) early on 29 Aug. If you’d like to arrive the night before and stay overnight, we can recommend really nice hotels in Nairobi.
Day 2: Pre-arranged road transfer to board our 10am internal flight from Nariobi Wilson Airport to the Ngerende air strip in the Masai Mara. After a chill out at House in the Wild, we’ll have an afternoon and evening safari drive in the nearby conservancies and return for drinks round the camp fire and excellent food.
Days 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8: Morning and afternoon / evening safari drives with a rest for lunch and chilling out back at base. Sometimes we’ll do full day safari drives when visiting the National Reserve or Mara North. Depending on what time we go out, packed breakfasts and/or lunches will be provided. For afternoon / evening drives, sun-downer drinks will be served with a backdrop of the incredible African sunset. Return to House in the Wild for a drink around the camp fire and a delicious home-cooked evening meal. At some point during these many photography safari days we’ll be taking a trip to a traditional Masai Boma (village) and, if we have time, a colourful market, which is quite an eye-opener.
Day 9: Half day safari drive or walking safari, followed by 4pm flight back to Nairobi Wilson and transfer to Jomo Kenyatta for evening flight home.
Day 10: (6 Sep 2017) Arrive home. Full of beans with a load of amazing photographs and memories you will never forget!
As above but starting on 20 Aug 2018 and returning home 29 Aug 2018, or 28 Aug 2018 and returning home 6 Sep 2018 respectively. If you're booking a back to back trip, your trip will run from 20 Aug – 6 Sep 2018.
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