Big Cats Photo Safari Kenya

28 February – 8 March 2018 (9 nights)

In February/March 2018, Grant and Helena Atkinson will lead a private group of photographers to the Masai Mara in Kenya.  With the wildebeest migration having moved south into Tanzania at this time of year, the Mara is relatively uncrowded with human visitors.  Most importantly, the resident big cats, elephants and large amounts of plains game like topi, impala, gazelle and zebra remain in the Mara, allowing for high-quality viewing with much lower numbers of tourist vehicles than at other times of year.  Olare Motorogi, where we will be based for the second part of this trip, is open to the Mara, and currently supports some of the highest lion densities in Africa, along with spotted hyaena, cheetah and more.  This safari represents a fantastic combination of incredibly good wildlife photography experiences, superb accommodation and expert guiding.  This photosafari will very likely provide some of the best opportunities to see lions, cheetahs and spotted hyaenas in action.  As always, we will spend lots of time out in the field, and you will be with like-minded photographers who are happy to put in the time to get the images.  

We will be staying in private luxury camps at both locations, and for part of the safari, we will be game driving in conservancy land, where it is possible for us to drive off-road in order to get the best photographic angles of our subjects.  There is also a 5 vehicle limit at sightings in the conservancy. All images in the gallery are from the 2017 safari to these destinations.  This safari is run by Eyes On Africa 

How do I signup?

Our group size is a minimum of 3 participants and a maximum of 6 participants and normally this trip fills up fast. If this exciting safari sounds good and you are thinking of joining this trip, please get in touch with any questions.   

Contact us

Please click on individual tabs below for more detailed information. 

Is this Safari for you?

  • We welcome photographers of ALL levels. This safari will be conducive to learning from one another and include instruction that will suit everyone’s photographic needs. No question is off limits, no inquiry too basic.
  • We are BIG on photographing in the field. We will spend most our time and effort on safari / photographic activities and making images.   When we are in camp, Grant Atkinson will spend time in the middays sharing photographic techniques, camera skills as well as image processing workflows (Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom) with interested photographers.
  • Non-photographer or videographer spouses / travel companions will love these safaris. The wildlife experiences on this trip will appeal to anyone with a love for animals and nature.  We have specialist guides leading all safari activities and optional activities (walking, balloon safaris, etc.) are also available subject to camp restrictions.
  • We have modified vehicles, specifically set up 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, storage areas, auxiliary power and refrigerators allowing for unhindered movement for photography.
  • We have private and exclusive use of our camp guides and game drive vehicles.
  • 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 up-close and real wildlife experiences from the surroundings of premier accommodations.
  • Our group size is a minimum of 3 participants with a maximum of 6 participants. 
  • Four days of game drives in the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy (where Mara Plains Camp is located), bordering the Masai Mara to the north. Unlike the Mara itself, this reserve is private to the very few camps located here, so we will be permitted to drive off-road to follow lions, leopards, cheetahs, etc.Three days of game drives in the Mara Reserve (where Mara Toto Camp is located), which allows us access to the Mara River and south to the Tanzania border.

Itinerary

The Emakoko – Nairobi, Kenya

28 February 2018 (1 night)

On your arrival in Nairobi, you will be met by our local representative, who will assist you across the terminal and to your Emakoko transfer vehicle.  The drive to your hotel will take you through Nairobi National Park, where the Emakoko is located.  The Emakoko allows guests to start their safari in the wildlife environment they have traveled so far to enjoy. Within 15 minutes of clearing customs they can be viewing game in Nairobi National park. The only “transfer” delays likely to be encountered en route to or from The Emakoko are the natural pauses to watch a pride of lions or waiting for a rhino or journey of giraffe to cross the road.  The beautifully appointed rooms look out over the game park so one can fall asleep to the sounds of Africa, a lion roaring or the cry of a lone hyena, an amazing contrast to the sounds of traffic, ambulances, fire engines and dogs barking, which are the normal sounds of any sleeping city. There are five rooms on the same level as the main areas and a further five rooms with the most spectacular views positioned on top of the cliff, overlooking the valley. The Emakoko is situated on the Nairobi park boundary and the park is famous for its very healthy black Rhino population.  Lions also occur in the park.

On the morning of the 1st March, our group will be transferred to Wilson Airport, where we will board our scheduled air charter to the Masai Mara and Mara Expedition Camp.

View Emakoko Lodge Website

 

Mara Expedition Camp – Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya

01 – 3 March 2018 (3 Nights)

Mara Expedition lies just downstream from its sister camp, Mara Plains. Lying just inside the north-central border of the Masai Mara Game Reserve, it is an oasis surrounded by wildlife-rich savannahs and dense riverine forest. The camp is subtly placed, intended to be invisible to any passersby.

Drawing on the safari of yesteryear, Mara Expedition incorporates contemporary functionality with authentic decor. The expansive main tent, consisting of draped light-colored canvas, is romantic and inviting, but also highly functional as a place to gather, offer photo workshops and dine. The adjacent library doubles as a place to learn, or a place to rest and relax. The spaces are adorned with handpicked pieces from African markets, adding to the rich environs. A main dining table graced with candelabras and chandeliers hosts breakfast and dinners on drizzly nights. It is a warm, yet refreshing space.  Just outside the tent, mere steps away, is our fire pit – place of many stories and lore.

The five custom-designed tents open on the horizontal for an indoor/outdoor living space, at ground level.  High ceilings, careful design and tasteful decor create a place that, while humble, befits royalty. The private veranda, dressing area and en-suite facilities provide ample space to unpack, unwind and soak in the magic of this special spot on the river’s edge.

Our first three days on safari will be spent inside the Mara Game Reserve, so we will take this opportunity to explore the various habitats here to search for lions, cheetahs and leopards, as well as the local clans of spotted hyenas that live here.  As mentioned above, the Reserve will be much less crowded during our visit, as the migration will have moved south into Tanzania and the Serengeti portion of the eco-system, allowing us to enjoy the Mara in relative exclusivity.

After our third night here, we will make the short transfer (10 minutes drive) north into the Olare Orok Private Concession and our next camp.

View Mara Expedition Website

 

Mara Plains Camp – Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Greater Masai Mara, Kenya

4 – 8 March 2018 (4 nights)

Mara Plains is located on the northern border of the Masai Mara Game Reserve in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. Rarely a night passes without lion roaring nearby, while leopard are regularly found to wander through the camp and cheetah have established territories on the savannah off the main area.

The camp (newly rebuilt in late 2013) is a small, luxurious camp under canvas and on raised decks with sweeping views across Kenya’s notable savannahs. It is among the smallest and most personal camps in the Mara region. As one of just three camps currently operating within the Conservancy, which boasts the region’s lowest vehicle density, no mini-buses and only one guest room per 700 acres. It is possible to avoid the higher 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.

Our plans are tailored around the whims of the day and as the wildlife dictates.

Typically we rise just before dawn, 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 laughs we heard from bed. 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 normally have breakfast in the field.   Lunch is normally in camp unless we have potential opportunities we want to stay with.  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, we are off again in search of wildlife.  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 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.

On our trips we are always available in the mid day for editing sessions and image reviewing.  

View Mara Plains Website

 

Safari Ends 

8 March 2018

Today we will catch our scheduled air charter flight back to Wilson Airport in Nairobi. On arrival, we will be met by our representatives and will have day rooms, depending on departure flight times, (at the Eka Hotel, Nairobi) 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 through Eyes on Africa as desired.  Ask us for further information.

Costs

The cost of this all-inclusive safari is $11,995 per person. This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation 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.

What is included

  • Accommodation on a shared basis however should you want single accommodation on the safari please get in touch and enquire if this is possible 
  • 2x Trip leader (Grant Atkinson and Helena Atkinson)
  • Private safari vehicles at both safari camps
  • Luggage allowance for Nairobi-Mara air charters (extra freight seats have been arranged): 70-75 pounds per person in total.
  • All safari activities and transfers to/from the airports and the hotels
  • Dinner at Emakoko (Nairobi) on Day 1 (28 February) and breakfast on Day 2 (morning of 1 March)
  • All meals and drinks at both safari camps (Mara Expedition and Mara Plains)
  • Daily laundry at both safari camps (except for underwear)
  • Olare Motorogi / Mara North Conservancy fees and Masai Mara Game Reserve fees
  • Meet & Assist service on arrival in Nairobi 
  • Round trip scheduled air charters between Nairobi and the Masai Mara camps
  • Day room at the Eka Hotel, Nairobi
  • The current Tourism Levies and all relevant Value Added Tax or Government Sales Tax

What is NOT included

  • International airfare and/or other transportation between your home and Nairobi
  • Drinks at Emakoko (Nairobi), except with dinner on day 1 (28 February) and breakfast the morning of our departure (1 March)
  • Discretionary gratuities for hotel staff in Nairobi
  • Discretionary gratuities for vehicle drivers in Nairobi
  • Discretionary gratuities for meet and assist staff in Nairobi 
  • Discretionary gratuities for safari camp guides and staff
  • Laundry or extras at Nairobi hotels
  • Visas, travel insurance, personal purchases (including curios, imported wines, special spirit liquors, telephone calls etc.)
  • Optional pre-/post- safari tours and meals or accommodation before or after the safari.

Special Notes

  • Please read our Safari Code of Ethics and Conduct.
  • During the safari we will share our workflow and processing techniques on the computer. To make the most of this opportunity you are advised to bring a laptop and card reader as well as enough external storage for these sessions as well as the editing software you are most comfortable with. Grant and Helena both use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC.
  • 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 through Eyes on Africa as desired.  Ask us for further information.
  • Discretionary gratuities for driver guides are recommended at USD $25 to $30 per person per day.
  • Discretionary gratuities for camp and hotel staff are recommended at USD $15 to $25 per person per day.
  • Any discretionary gratuities for guides, staff and trip leaders should be paid out in cash.
  • Our group size is a maximum of 6 participants.
  • Note also that some of the safari camps may only accept cash for curio purchases.
  • Although most safari lodges offer complimentary internet access, connections can be interrupted.  
  • Tropical rain showers can occur this time of year and you should bring rain gear both for yourself and your camera equipment.
  • Laundry services are offered but no underwear will be done, although you can do this in your room with laundry soap provided. 
  • Devices can be charged in the rooms and the main area. 
  • Special dietary requirements can be accommodated if sent through beforehand.  

Gallery

 

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