Exclusive 8-Day Photo Tour to Kenya’s Masai Mara
February 3-10 2024 (FULL) and February 11-18 2024
Would you like to (learn to) photograph wildlife in a phenomenal place and learn more about it? Together with photographer Simone Janssen I am organising a guided photo trip to the Masaai Mara in collaboration with WOW Safaris from Kenya. Our goal? Photographing wildlife in one of the most fantastic places on earth!
The Masai Mara
The landscape of the Masai Mara is how many people imagine Africa to be: vast savannah plains with an occasional tree on the horizon, usually an acacia. Of course, Africa as a continent is immensly diverse, but for the Masai Mara, this picture might indeed be correct. This iconic reserve, located in the south west of the country, is set at an altitude of 1500 to 2100 meters. It is intersected by two major rivers, the Talek and the Mara. It is part of the Serengeti eco-system which, being 30,000 square kilometers in size, is one of the largest nature reserves in Africa.
The three big cats (lion, leopard and cheetah) are present in the Mara but of course many other animals can be found: elephants, giraffes, many bird species, other predators such as hyenas and jackals, various types of antelopes and gazelles and even black rhino.
November to February is less busy than the high season and therefore ideal for photography. The typical, sloping landscape (with more dense vegetation near the rivers) in the Mara offers great opportunities to take sunset and silhouette shots.
On this trip two very experienced guides will take us on the journey of a lifetime: a safari! The focus is the game drives in our semi-open Landcruisers but optional guided bush walks, a visit to a local Masai village or even a hot air balloon ride can also be part of your experience. This is the perfect opportunity for exciting encounters and great photography!
the map of Kenya, with the Masai Mara in the southwest
Nairobi National Park
But before we go to the Masai Mara, we’ll first visit Nairobi National Park for half a day. Nairobi is the only city in the world that actually has a national park with such a variety of wildlife adjacent to it. Can you imagine open grasslands with the Nairobi skyline in the background? Very special! The park is best known for the black rhinoceros and its lions, but there are also cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes and many giraffes. A very nice way to acclimatize in Africa and a good venue make your first game drive!
Who is this trip for?
This trip is for anyone who loves nature, enjoys taking pictures and has the patience to observe quietly and wait for that one great moment! Although it is a photo tour, you really don’t have to be a professional photographer or a very experienced safari traveller.
We simply want you to fully enjoy all that Africa has to offer. And we want to give you plenty of opportunities – and teach you how – to take great photos, at any level. Photographing wildlife sometimes requires some different skills than what you may be used to, but we can definitely help you with that.
Do realize though that Kenya is not a European country. There are not always toilets nearby, there might be a power outage and the food might sometimes be different than what you are used to (with a lot of Indian influences!)
There is only room for 6 people per trip, so don’t wait too long – this is really a great offer for a super cool and exclusive safari!
a reel with some of my favourite Mara images
The first two nights you’ll sleep in the Progressive Park Hotel in the capital Nairobi. On the first full day, early morning we’ll meet our guides and make a game drive in Nairobi National Park. The next day we’ll start early with the 4 to 5 hour drive to the Masaai Mara where we should arrive around lunchtime.
We stay in a nice riverside camp on the outskirts of the Mara: Mara Simba Lodge. The accommodation consists of luxury tents on a platform, each with their own ensuite bathroom. You have your own shower, toilet and sink. The tents have electricity and are equipped with comfortable beds.
Sleeping in a tent may sound a bit adventurous, but the animals absolutely respect it. And it’s great to listen in your bed at night to the sound of the cicadas and a hyena in the distance!
The camp also has lounge areas, a swimming pool, a bar and there is wifi. It is run by local Masai and the food is delicious. Of course, not everything is possible in terms of dietery requirements so far away from an urban environment, but vegetarian or lactose-free food is no problem. And the beer is always cold!
Our safari vehicles
We go out on a drive twice a day in the reserve: early morning and in the afternoon. We use semi-open 4×4 safari Landcruisers: the perfect way to see animals and take pictures!
Six people normally fit in such a vehicle, but because we want to give you the best opportunity to take beautiful pictures, we will never be in the car with more than four people (including us, who will sit in the front seat next to our guide – in the back there’s three rows of seats, so a full row available to every guest). This way, everyone has enough space for their camera equipment and you can easily shoot from both sides of the car. In addition, the roof can also be opened, so you can also photograph from a higher vantage point (ideal when the grass is a bit higher).
Your guides and tour hosts
Two experienced guides from WOW Safaris will accompany us. They will drive the cars, manage the communication via radio and telephone (which also allows us to be in contact with other guides in the area) and who have the final responsibility. Our guides have a phenomenal knowledge of the animals (and how to find them) and are used to working with (professional) photographers or film crews, which means that they know how to ideally position our vehicle at sightings and how you can play with the light as a photographer or videographer.
In addition, we will accompany you as a photographer. That means we can teach you a lot about wildlife photography. Think of the right camera settings (which are very different for wildlife than, for example, portrait photography or weddings), how you can make optimal use of the light, and how you can create creative wildlife images with special techniques. We do this during the drives, but also in camp where we can help you with tips for selecting or post-processing your photos in Lightroom.
I myself (Evert) did an overland trip of seven months from the UK to Cape Stap almost twenty years ago with my wife Dieuwke. After that we returned many times to Africa. I learned a lot from various, very experienced wildlife photographers. I have photographed in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, India and especially Kenya. The big cats are definitely my favorite, but I also find the small animals and landscapes interesting. In the Netherlands I have been a professional photographer for weddings and business assignments for many years. I am also a photography teacher at the Gooische Fotoschool. You can find my current wildlife work on Instagram ( @thewildsite)
Simone has worked as a (camping) tour guide in Southern Africa from 2004 to 2007. During that period she did a full-time one month course at Eco Training to learn more about the bush: its animals, trees, tracks and everything else that is part of the great African circle of life. In addition, Simone has worked as a trainer and coach. In the Netherlands, Simone is a very experienced professional photographer, especially for weddings, but as soon as she has the opportunity, she will travel to Africa again! Her work can be found on Instagram: @simone_afrika
It is recommended that you bring a camera that you are familiar with. If you have a second camera, be sure to take it with you as a backup or to quickly change swap to another lens. We recommend a wide-angle lens to take beautiful landscape photos and a telephoto (zoom) lens to bring animals closer. Think of a lens that can go up to 400, 500 or even 600 mm. Bean bags to support your lens are provided in the cars. An extender is certainly useful, although you will probably want to remove it in the evening to make your lens a bit brighter. Renting equipment is also an option! If you are not sure about your gear, please contact us.
Remember to bring enough storage with you, also to make a backup if necessary. A laptop or many memory cards are definitely not a luxury.
We offer this photo tour with two overnight stays in Nairobi (most flights from abroad arrive late at night), transfer from the airport to the hotel and transfer forth and back to the Masai Mara. If you want to extend your holiday with a visit to one of the other reserves in Kenya, a stay on the coast, or if you want to fly on to Southern Africa, that is of course possible. We have contacts in both Kenya and Southern Africa who can help you with this, but of course you can also make further arrangements yourself.
What does a typical safari day look like?
We almost always set off early, just before sunrise. This way we ensure that we can shoot in the best light! The days will not always be the same. Sometimes we’ll leave early, pack breakfast and stay out until lunchtime. And then we go back into the park in the afternoon. But it is also possible to do a full day in the park, with breakfast and lunch on the way. We will then be back in camp just after sunset. We’ll decide about this on the spot, depending on where the game is at that moment and everyone’s wishes.
And do you want to relax for a day, read a book by the pool or work on your photos? Then naturally you can take some me-time if you wish!
Why is this specifically a photo tour?
- we have plenty of space in the cars, nobody has to sit in the middle
- the local guides also photograph or film hemselves and can therefore help us find the right angle or the best light – and of course they are very knowledgeable about the animals and their behavior
- as wildlife photographers we can help you take the best photo (and also tell you something about most animals)
- there is no rush to find the next animal and check off a list; we take pictures as long as we want and no one asks ‘are you ready yet?’ – you’re with like-minded people!
- back at camp there is plenty of time to view and edit photos, learn from each other and talk about photography for hours!
The practical stuff
Travel dates: February 3-10, 2024 (update: fully booked) and February 11-18, 2024
Cost: USD 2650 per person
The total costs are based on a double tent, with a 30% deposit at the time of booking. Would you rather not share a tent? That is of course also possible. A single supplement for your private tent will cost USD 400 extra. The payment and price is in US dollars because you book directly with WOW safaris which is located in Kenya.
Day 1: arrival in Nairobi at the Progressive Park Hotel, first meeting
Day 2: meet and greet with our guides and half day game drive in Nairobi National Park, afternoon off
Day 3: early transfer from Nairobi to Mara Simba Lodge; lunch and afternoon game drive
Day 4: overnight Mara Simba Lodge, photography
Day 5: overnight Mara Simba Lodge, photography
Day 6: overnight Mara Simba Lodge, photography
Day 7: overnight Mara Simba Lodge, photography
Day 8: morning game drive, then transfer to Nairobi, arrival late afternoon
What is included?
- transfer on day 1 from the airport to the hotel
- 2 nights in Nairobi Progressive Park Hotel (bed & breakfast)
- transfer to and from the Masai Mara (about 275 km one way) with our own cars
- 5 nights accommodation at Mara Simba Lodge (full board)
- all game drives with our own private cars (max 3 clients per car) and each with a qualified guide and photographer
- entrance fee Nairobi National Park and Masai Mara (conservation levy)
- all meals (except lunch and dinner on day 1 (air travel) and 2 (Nairobi) and lunch and dinner on day 8)
- coffee, tea and water
What’s not included?
- your flight to and from Kenya
- visa costs (currently $51, available online from the official website of the Kenyan government)
- any travel vaccinations and personal travel insurance
- soft drinks and alcoholic drinks
- tip and souvenirs
A safari is a special trip and we offer you the opportunity to go on an exclusive photo trip in Kenya. You certainly won’t be disappointed. Don’t hesitate too long, places are filling up quickly.
You book directly with WOW Safaris. The first deposit must be received within six weeks of booking to secure your seat. The remaining part must be paid 90 days before the start. You are expected to arrange your own travel and cancellation insurance. The trip will take place with a minimum of five participants.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via the general form, DM/PM on Insta/Facebook or Whatsapp me on +31 (6) 24528768
“In January 2019 we went on a photo trip to the Masai Mara with Evert and it was great. Everything was very well arranged, we stayed in a safari camp where you really feel like you are Out of Africa. It was the perfect base to see different parts of the Mara. We were able to photograph a lot of wildlife, the highlight being the leopard mother with cub. Evert is not only a photographer and photography teacher, so he can always give many tips, he is also a very experienced traveler. So if something doesn’t go quite according to plan, he knows how to solve it without us really noticing. It was a great trip and comes highly recommended!” Ellen & Marco