Masai Mara January 2014

18th – 26th January 2014

GrantAtkinson-Nkorombo_G019465fbIn January 2014, I will join Andy Biggs in leading a private group of photographers to the Masai Mara in Kenya.  We will be locating ourselves in the Olare Motorogi conservancy, and staying in Mara Plains camp.  Operating from the conservancy means that we can enjoy much lower vehicle pressures, and the privilege of off-road driving.  Being able to go off-road vastly improves our ability to make the most of photographic opportunities.  We will have sole use of our luxury camp and will tailor our daily schedule to the needs of our group.  Mara Plains is well-known for providing great cheetah and lion viewing, and it is our expectation that this safari will provide lots of photo opportunities for seeing these exciting cats in action.

Safari Highlights

  • Game drives in the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy (where our camp is located), bordering the Masai Mara reserve.  The conservancy is private, unlike the Mara reserve, and we are not likely to experience such high volumes of vehicles.  We will still have the option of driving into the Mara each day if we decide to, although the game viewing is typically just as good in the conservancy.  We will also have the option of returning to camp after dark, as we are not restricted by the rules of the National Reserve.
  • We have modified vehicles, specifically setup for photography, with only 1 person per row of seating (the vehicles have either 2 or 3 rows behind the driver, plus a seat next to the driver if you want to be lower down to the ground.) The vehicles are open 4×4 vehicles with shooting platforms which facilitate unhindered movement for photography.  There are also storage areas as well as auxiliary power and refrigerators for refreshments.
  • Private and exclusive use of the safari camp.
  • Private air charters between Nairobi and our private luxury camp.
  • Mara Plains Camp is, by far, the nicest camp in all of the Masai Mara.
  • Extra luggage allowances to accommodate the special needs of our photographic equipment. The Nairobi-Mara charter flights will allow for an average of 30-35kg (66 to 77lbs) per person.
  • This itinerary focuses on intimate and raw wildlife experiences from the surroundings of premier accommodations.

Is this Safari for you?

1. We welcome photographers of ALL levels.  This safari will be conducive to learning from one another and will include instruction that will suit everyone’s photographic needs.  No question is off limits and no question too basic.

2. We are BIG on photographing in the field.  We will spend most of our time and effort on safari/photographic activities and making images.

3. Non-photographer or videographer spouses/travel companions will love these safaris.  The wildlife experiences on this trip will appeal to anyone with a love of animals and nature.  We have specialist guides leading all safari activities and there are also additional, optional activities (walking, balloon safaris, etc) on offer, subject to camp restrictions and local conditions.

Itinerary

18-19 January 2014 (1 night)

OLE SERENI HOTEL – Nairobi, Kenya

On your arrival in Nairobi, you will be met by our local representative, who will assist you across the terminal and to check in at the hotel.

Ole-Sereni Hotel is very close to both airports, is well appointed and very secure. The hotel offers guests 134 exquisitely furnished, air-conditioned rooms and suites spread over three floors. Guests will have the opportunity to relax and unwind at the roof-top heated swimming pool that overlooks the park, the Gymnasium and Aerobics Room or the Sports Lounge. One could also enjoy special therapies and treatments at the Massage Centre. The Sauna & Steam Facility and Unisex Salon are other places guests can visit to pamper themselves. WiFi internet is included during your stay at Ole-Sereni.

On the morning of the 19th, our group will be transferred to Wilson Airport, where we will board our private charter flight to the Masai Mara and Mara Plains Camp.

19-26 January 2014 (7 Nights)

MARA PLAINS CAMP – Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Greater Masai Mara, Kenya

Mara Plains is located on the northern border of the Masai Mara Game Reserve in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy.  The camp has earned itself a strong reputation for being a great base from which to view and photograph big cats like lion, cheetah and even leopard.  Spotted hyaena and jackals make up the rest of the carnivore guild.  Other wildlife that we are likely to see includes plains game like topi, wildebeest, zebra and gazelle.  Elephant and giraffe also occur here.  Birdlife is abundant, and raptors are well represented too.

The camp (newly rebuilt in late 2013) is small and luxurious, under canvas and on raised decks with sweeping views across Kenya’s iconic savannahs. It is among the smallest of the camps in the Mara region.  The Olare Motorogi conservancy boasts the region’s lowest vehicle density, no mini-buses and only one guest room per 700 acres. It is possible to avoid the high tourist density of the Masai Mara Game Reserve proper, if desired.

No other camp in the greater Masai Mara Game Reserve or Olare Motorogi Conservancy has the privilege of traversing opportunities of Mara Plains Camp. Guests are able to traverse three areas (Mara North Conservancy, Olare Motorogi Conservancy and Masai Mara Reserve) as part of their stay at Mara Plains.

We will have exclusive use of the camp, as well as all of their vehicles at our disposal day and night. Since we have the entire camp at our disposal, there are no set camp schedules or meal times. Plans are tailored around the whims of the day, and as the wildlife dictates.

Typically we rise just before dawn, have a quick bite, and head out at first light to see what has happened overnight. We look for tracks and signs of nocturnal activity, perhaps heading in the direction of the lion calls and hyena whoops we heard during the night. The big cats are usually quite active in the early hours. As the sun begins to rise in the sky, and the heat mounts, we head back to our mid-day resting post, Mara Plains Camp for a brunch and a bit of a siesta. Or, if guests prefer, it’s a lovely time sit to quietly and bird on the river. Our guides will introduce us to the abundant bird life and can help you identify trees and local plant species, or sharpen our wildlife tracking skills.  It can even happen that we wish to stay out and watch an event unfolding, and in such instances we may choose to have lunch brought to us in the field. This is the magic of Mara Plains; the ability to do what we want, to have many photographic opportunities close by and to enjoy the experience of taking photographs in one of Africa’s best locations.

In the late afternoon, as the sun wanes, we are off again in search of wildlife. It’s a time to savor the African sunset with refreshing sundowner drinks and snacks before continuing our drive as nocturnal animals become more active with dusk. A hearty dinner awaits us back at camp whenever its time to return. We share stories of the day around the campfire and under the stars.

We may also do full-day adventures to the Masai Mara Game Reserve. For full day expeditions, lavish picnic boxes with cold drinks are provided. We will also have the opportunity to visit a local Masai village (or “Enkang” in Maa) to learn more about the traditions and culture of the surrounding community and photograph the people and their village.

Hot air balloon safaris are also available. This is a very early morning activity, giving stunning views of the sunrise, the landscape and a sense of the sheer size of the Masai Mara region.

26 January 2014

Safari Ends

Today we will catch our private charter flight back to Wilson Airport in Nairobi. On arrival, we will be met by our representatives and will have some day rooms at our disposal to shower and get ready for our international flights back home. International flights may be scheduled to depart that evening to home destinations. See note below regarding travel extensions.

 

NOTE:  Air travel and Customized extensions to this safari, including other camps in Kenya and/or Tanzania, gorilla trekking in Rwanda, or other destinations may be arranged.  Ask us for further information.

Costs

The cost of this all-inclusive safari is $11,985 per person. This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation (single occupancy) and all meals (except as noted above and in exclusions below).

Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserve the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participant.

NOTES:

  • Combined gratuities for camp guides/drivers and staff are recommended at USD $25 to $30 per day.
  • Any additional gratuities for guides, staff and trip leader should be paid out in cash.
  • Note also that the safari camps will only accept cash for curio purchases.

Included

  • Accommodation on a shared basis (single rooms in Nairobi).
  • 2x trip leaders (Andy Biggs and Grant Atkinson).
  • Private safari vehicles at Mara Plains Camp.
  • Luggage allowance for Nairobi-Mara air charters (2 caravans): 75 pounds per person in total.
  • All safari activities and transfers to/from the airports and the hotels.
  • All meals and drinks at Mara Plains Camp.
  • Daily laundry at Mara Plains Camp.
  • Olare Motorogi / Mara North Conservancy fees and Masai Mara Game Reserve fees.
  • Meet & Assist service on arrival in Nairobi.
  • Round trip private air charter: Nairobi to Mara Plains Camp.
  • The current Tourism Levies and all relevant Value Added Tax or Government Sales Tax.
  • One row per guest on game drive vehicles at Mara Plains – (note that the front seat next to the driver is also counted as a row for this purpose).

Excluded

  • International airfare and/or other transportation between your home and Nairobi.
  • Dinner / drinks in Nairobi on Day 1, due to late arrivals (except at breakfast).
  • Gratuities for hotel staff in Nairobi.
  • Gratuities for vehicle drivers in Nairobi.
  • Gratuities for safari camp guides and staff (assume $25-$30 per day for 7 days)
  • Laundry or extras at Nairobi hotel.
  • Visas, travel insurance, personal purchases (including curios, spirit liquors, telephone calls etc.)
  • Gratuities for Trip Leader.
  • Optional pre-/post- safari tours and meals or accommodation before or after the safari.

How do I sign up?

The group size is a maximum of 14 participants and we expect that this trip will fill up. If this exciting safari sounds good and you’re excited by the thought of joining on this trip, then now is the time to register. Remember, there will be limited space available for this trip and when the spots are spoken for, that’s it. If you have any questions before registering, send me an e-mail.

Gallery

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