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Africa Photography Experience

An African Safari is a large investment and on this Safari we will have excellent opportunities to photograph the famous big cats of the Masai Mara, amongst the excitement and thrill of hopefully witnessing the great Wildebeest migration, which is without a doubt one of the most exhilarating and emotive wildlife photography experiences for any photographer!  It is said that more than 1.5 million Wildebeest make the crossing from and to the Serengeti during the months of July to October, risking their lives in the process as they cross the crocodile infested waters.

There are many wonderful game reserves existing within Kenya but by far my favourites are the Olare Motorogi located within the Mara Conservancy and the Naboisho Conservancy, located adjacent to the Masai Mara National Reserve. The Olare Motorogi is actually the first private Conservancy within the Masai Mara eco-system and with its strict limit on bed numbers offers a unique Safari experience.

Wildlife is plentiful in the 35,000 acres of rolling grasslands, hills, escarpments and Motorogi plains. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is 50,000 acres. Both conservancies offer generous personal space and freedom. Combine this with a high concentration of wildlife, we are able to obtain exceptional wildlife encounters. Both conservancies strictly monitor the number of tourists in the area and therefore reduce the number of vehicles and human impact on the environment and wildlife.

The Kicheche Camps in both conservancies are second to none. They are hosted by wonderful people who take a great deal of pride in running a friendly, relaxed yet luxurious camp in amongst the wilderness. The camps themselves have 6 amazing tents complete with ensuite and good solar electricity. There is Wi-Fi access in the main tent, and charging outlets are also available in the main common tent as well as in the vehicles and private tents. At the end of a great day out on the plains it is wonderful to return to camp to enjoy a lovely hot ‘bucket’ shower, before being escorted back to the main camp where you can sit by an open fire with a pre-dinner drink. We then move on to enjoy a 3-course gourmet dinner and in the morning, your early morning wake up call comes complete with your order of hot tea or coffee and a biscuit served to you in your private tent.

One of the benefits of being located within the conservancy is having the ability to go off-road for important subjects – like the abundance of big cats.  Among the big cats that you more than likely will have an up-close encounter with are Lion, Cheetah,  and possibly Leopard along the banks of the river. We will also be on the lookout for the smaller Servals and Caracals. There are of course many other wildlife to witness and enjoy … Giraffe, Zebra, Topi, Wildebeest, Thompson’s and Grant’s Gazelle, Impala, Spotted Hyena, Black-backed Jackal, Elephant, Hippopotamus, a great variety of bird life and much more!

Another benefit of being in the conservancy is the low number of game viewing vehicles. We also have the complete flexibility to stay out all day should we wish giving us the opportunity to enjoy breakfast and picnic lunches out under the shade of a beautiful tree on the plains without having to drive back to camp. Of course, the option to return for a delicious lunch is always there – totally up to the group to decide.

Being only a short drive from the border of the main Mara Reserve allows us to choose which day is potentially the best to witness one of the great crossings.  Our guides have a large network throughout the Mara and will be receiving information on any mass groupings of Wildebeest allowing them to make a judgement call on the best opportunities to head to the river. Patience will be required on this day as the Wildebeest can often group up ready to cross only to get spooked and disperse – but staying and having the patience to then be rewarded with witnessing such an emotional moment is worth every minute spent sitting by the river bank.

At the end of each of our days exploring and viewing the abundance of beautiful scenery and amazing wildlife in the Conservancy our excellent Silver rated guide will host a sun-downer out on the wide-open plains … there is nothing quite like enjoying that icy cold beer or glass of wine watching an incredible African sunset!

The camps provide excellent Land Cruiser vehicles specifically with photographers in mind. The sides are open with ledges to support bean bags (supplied) offering maximum viewing area and space. The roof is fitted with a roll back top which has no bars to obstruct your view and bean bags can also be placed on top offering support for your lenses.

This safari is designed with getting quality images in mind, versus quantity and photographers of all skill levels are welcome. Our aim will be to spend as much time as possible out in the field and we will endeavour to witness as much wildlife as possible, but at times it is important to sit and wait for those special moments to unfold and therefore patience is the key. This safari is not designed to simply run around and check off a list – but rather to capture the best images possible in the best light, and at times that will mean waiting and watching an animals behaviour. By doing this you will be rewarded with amazing story-telling images! Most of our time is spent out in the field so there are no formal lectures or slideshows, but I will be available both out in the field and back at camp offering tips, advice, critique and guidance throughout the Safari.

INCLUDED IN THE PRICE :

  • transfers from Nairobi airport to Hotel
  • 2 nights accommodation at Ole Sereni Nairobi, Nairobi
  • welcome and farewell dinners (alcoholic beverages at participants own cost)
  • wi-fi
  • 6 nights accommodation in 5 star luxury tents with private ensuite and flushing toilet – only 6 tents in camp
  • all meals (gourmet)
  • all alcoholic beverages at both camps (other than premium spirits & champagne)
  • all tea / coffee / bottled water and soft drinks
  • all game drives
  • park fees for our day to view the migration
  • return flights from Nairobi to Bush Camp
  • extra luggage allowance for camera equipment
  • laundry
  • wi-fi in main tent
  • photo tuition and critique

NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE :

    • international flights to Nairobi
    • gratuities (more explained further on)
    • visa if required (around USD$50)
    • personal items
    • vaccinations (yellow fever required and malaria tablets strongly recommended)

DAY 1

We begin with an overnight stay at Ole Sereni Hotel, Nairobi. Meeting in the lobby at 6:30pm to enjoy a welcome dinner, we will get to know each other and discuss the week ahead.  Our flight is early the next morning and therefore the overnight stay is a necessary and welcome relief after your long-haul journey. (Dinner included – alcoholic beverages at participants cost)

DAY 2

Our adventure begins as we head to Wilson Airport early this morning to board our Bush Plane for our short 1 hour flight to our home for the next four nights – Kicheche Bush Camp. We have purchased extra seats to allow for our camera equipment, but keep a camera handy as you never know what we will encounter enroute to camp!

After a short orientation and safety talk we settle into our tents before joining our hosts for the first of many gourmet meals.  After lunch we depart to enjoy our first game drive and see what the Mara has to offer us. We finish our magical Safari by relaxing with a sun-downer on the open Mara Plains before heading back to camp.  Once back in camp and after a refreshing hot ‘bucket’ shower, we will meet around the camp fire with pre-dinner cocktails before adjourning to the restaurant tent for a wonderful 3 course dinner.

DAY 3, DAY 4 and DAY 5

We will enjoy a further 3 full days at this outstanding camp. A typical day will begin at around 6am. Our Guide/Driver will be constantly in touch with other drivers in the different reserves and will update us on possibilities of the best sightings available.  Together we will make our decisions and each day will offer endless enjoyment and create ever lasting memories. We will be out scouting for wildlife to capture them in the best possible light before breakfast, and after our early morning game drive will enjoy our breakfast out on the plains, complete with table and chairs.  Each day we will be able to decide whether to stay out for the entire day – with picnic lunch and refreshments – or we can return to camp for a cooked lunch, some down time or photo critique and Photoshop sessions.  After afternoon tea we will head back out to once again find the wildlife and capture them in the best possible light.  Our game drive would never be complete without the traditional sundowner out on the plains where we can reminisce on what we have seen during the day.

On one of these days we will head into the main Masai Mara Game Reserve to sit by the river to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration – also known as the World Cup of Wildlife!.  The Masai Mara And the Serengeti National Park together form what no other reserve or park in Africa can.  It is an exhilarating and quite often emotional experience and one that must be experienced at least once in a lifetime.  Our silver guide will be monitoring the movements of the Wildebeest and advise us to which would be the optimum day to head to the river in hopes of witnessing the migration.  It is a day of patience.  Quite often the Wildebeest will group and head to the Mara river only to become spooked and disperse.  A good book, hat, sunscreen and patience may be required on this day …. And then again, a crossing could occur within our first half hour on the river bank.

During the evenings, if the skies co-operate, we may even attempt some astro-photography.

DAY 6

After an early morning game drive and breakfast, we will leave the beautiful Bush Camp and make our way via a short road trip to our new home for the next 2 nights – Kicheche Valley Camp. Both camps are very similar and you will feel right at home immediately. There will be plenty of game viewing again today! The Valley camp is located on the Eastern side of the 50,000 hectare Mara Naboisho conservancy. The camp itself is in a beautifully secluded valley dotted with the symbolic Acacia tree.

DAY 7

Today is another full day of game view driving, dining and soaking up the atmosphere of being in a truly spectacular part of the world!

DAY 8

We will enjoy one last early morning game viewing drive this morning and savour our last ‘Mara plains’ breakfast Safari style before making our way back to camp.  Sadly, it is time to pack.  We will have time to relax over lunch before boarding our mid-afternoon flight back to Nairobi.  Tonight, we will share a farewell dinner together at the Ole Sereni hotel before saying our farewells.  I am sure that we will have many memories to talk about and share and we look forward to seeing all your amazing images upon returning to our respective homes.  Overnight at the Ole Sereni hotel.

DAY 9

Due to many different flights by participants it is up to you to make your own arrangements back to Nairobi aiport.  Either we or the hotel will be able to assist you with this.  If there are several of you flying at around the same time we can co-ordinate these arrangements as well.

Tour Dates

2020 dates just announced !!

4th August, 2020 to 12th August, 2020 $10,870 USD per person
Based on Twin Share Basis
$1,550 USD single supplement

SOLD OUT

12th August, 2020 to 20th August, 2020 $10,870 USD per person
Based on Twin Share Basis
$1,550 USD single supplement

SOLD OUT

21st August, 2020 to 29th August, 2020 $10,870 USD per person
Based on Twin Share Basis
$1,550 USD single supplement

2 spots remaining (twin share tent) 

but enjoying Single row per person in vehicle

Due to deposits required by Camps a 25% non-refundable deposit is required to secure your position on this tour accompanied by a completed registration form

Non-photographer rates available upon request

Get the Tour Registration Form

Tips for Travelers to Kenya

Visas – Kenya

It is now possible for passport holders to obtain visas prior to travelling to Kenya.  These can be obtained online via the Visa application form at  http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html  The cost is approximately USD$50 per person

It is YOUR responsibility to ensure that passports are valid for a minimum of 6 months after travel.  Please ensure that several pages in your passport are clear pages for visas to be stamped into.  Your application should be approved within a few days but it is recommended that you check regularly on your status and print Visa when approved.

Health Requirements

Please note that this is simply a general guide and you should consult with your doctor or travel doctor for professional advice.

Yellow Fever is required in Kenya and a Vaccination certificate will be required to be presented upon entry into Kenya.

Diphtheria, Typhoid, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, and Polio are also generally recommended.  Other vaccinations to consider are Hepatitis B, Cholera and Meningococcal Meningitis.  It is at your discretion and your doctors advise as to which you chose to receive.

Malaria prophylaxes is also HIGHLY recommended.

Diarrhea / Giardia etc. can be avoided by good hygiene and control over the quality of the drinking water.  Bottle water is readily available at camp and in the vehicle.  Please remember to brush your teeth ONLY using bottle water.

 Departure Tax

If you are flying out from Kenya your departure tax is likely included in your airline ticket so please check for this.  If not it is usually between US$20-$50 per person and can be paid locally.  Please have small bills as change is generally not given.

Tipping Advice

Tipping is not compulsory but it is considered customary.  It is always greatly appreciated and very much the standard practice for excellent service both in camp and with your driver.

We generally leave one envelope to be shared amongst all the staff other than the driver.  On our last evening together in camp I will collect any gratuities that you feel appropriate for our driver and we will present this to him at the time of our departure.

A rough indication of what is recommended is below :-

Driver …. USD $15 per person per day

Camp …. USD $10-$15 per person per day

Road Conditions

While in Kenya you will experience many different road conditions.  Many of the roads within the conservancy and main national park can vary from dry and dusty to very wet and quite often bumpy with many potholes.

Luggage

There is a maximum weight allowance of 15kg (including your hand luggage) for internal flights.  Additional luggage has been purchased for the group totaling an extra 75kg for the group.  All bags must be soft duffel style bags.

Drivers/Guides

Our drivers/guides are all Silver rated guides and understand photography.  This is a HUGE plus as they not only are amazing trackers but also understand where to position the vehicles for the best light for us.

IMPORTANT!! Travel Insurance

For this trip, it is compulsory for you to purchase emergency medical treatment and medical evacuation insurance, and provide us with a copy of the policy.  These policies are relative inexpensive and can help protect you and prevent major medical expenses in the unlikely event that you need help while on the trip.

Camera Equipment:-

Here is a recommended list of gear to bring.  You do not need everything on the list but please use this as a guide.

  • Camera body with lenses covering wide-angle to telephoto range
  • A backup camera body is always a good idea.
  • Sufficient memory cards. You will have numerous photo opportunities on this trip so 100 gigs or more is recommended. An external hard drive is also a good idea for backing up your images to a second location.
  • Lens blower and lens cleaning cloths.  Also, perhaps an old pillow case or two to protect your camera and lenses as we drive along – it can get very dusty!  It’s also advisable to keep your camera equipment clean.  With a slightly damp cloth gently wipe your camera and lens down at the end of each day.  Getting sand, dust or grit caught in your equipment can cause failure.
  • Camera battery charger / with at least 2 charged batteries.
  • As silly as it sounds – rain gear – if you don’t have any a good old plastic garbage bag will still do the trick.
  • Laptop and Charger
  • Card Reader and cables
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Electric adapter(s). I generally only have 1 adaptor and the use a small power board with 4 outlets and perhaps a USB port or two
  • Passport
  • Copy of Passport
  • Visa documents
  • Airline Itinerary and boarding passes
  • Copy of Insurance documents
  • Prescription medication
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sun screen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • A good book (incase the Wildebeest take their time )

Weather:- September is the Dry Season

The dry season offers up the coldest months.  Temperatures can change significantly in a day, so layered clothing is advised.  For the early mornings, it will be quite cool and as you are in an open-air vehicle a beanie, warm fleece, long pants and even gloves can come in handy.  Usually by the time we stop for breakfast you are down to jeans and a t-shirt.  I tend to wear shorts with just a tracksuit pant over the top. Makes it easy to strip down.

TOUR POLICIES :

RESPONSIBILITY:
A Registration Form including the Acknowledgement of Risk, Waiver and Release of Liability Agreement must be signed by each member at registration, prior to the trip. See the Registration Form for additional details on policy and limitation of liability not included here. Renee Doyle Photography and its Agents act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip. They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses must be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner’s risk entirely.

Terms and Conditions:-
Registration and Deposits and Payments:-

All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars and must be paid in U.S. dollars. For all tours (the word “tour” in this document refers to both workshops and tours)

 As the tour prices have gone up in Africa (due to very high government taxes as well as supply and demand) the demands of the Kicheche Camps is that they require a 20% non-refundable deposit.  Therefore, we will require a 20% deposit per person for this photo tour when you sign up for it which is non-refundable.  To protect your deposit money as well as the balance of the tour cost when you make that payment, you should definitely plan on buying trip insurance.

The attached Registration Form must be signed, completed and returned to confirm your spot on the tour.

The balance is due 90 days prior to the departure date. Deposits can be paid via personal or business check or bank transfer. The balance can be paid via personal or business check or bank transfer. If you fail to pay the balance of a trip by the due date, we reserve the right to treat your trip as cancelled.

Cancellations and Refunds:-

Losing money is not fun. For that reason, we strongly recommend travel insurance to cover for this unfortunate situation.

if you have to cancel for any reason, listed below is the cancellation policy :-

Now to 90 days  –        Loss of deposit

89-31 days          –        50% cancellation fee

30 days or less   –        100% cancellation fee

Additionally, if you find someone else (a friend or family member, for example) not yet registered who would like to take your spot, you can transfer your deposit and payments to that person’s registration, provided they qualify for the trip and sign the registration form. Because we incur costs up-front, such as deposits (many non-refundable) for blocks of hotel rooms and local tour operators and transportation, if you have to cancel for any reason (medical or other… any reason) you will receive refunds based on the above sliding scale (all cancellations must be in writing): •

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason.

Ken Koskela Photography LLC can cancel a trip for any reason, including too few participants. If this happens, you will receive a 100% refund of your deposit and payments. However, we are not responsible for any costs incurred by you, such as airline tickets and other costs.