Photographic Safaris & Filming Production

Tropical Vacations’ photo tours offer the opportunity to visit some of the finest and wonderful locations in East and Southern Africa regions of Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia along with like-minded photographers whilst being accompanied by one of our seasoned professional photographers and naturalist guides. They are not only experts at getting you to the very best places for wildlife at the best season and the best time of day for the best shots, but also expert organizers able to competently help with the day to day running of the tour, and happy to offer photographic advice when desired.

Our photographic safaris’ themes are centered on Africa wildlife, lifestyles, nature and captivating landscapes. These are small group tours limited to 12 participants with 4 participants/ photographers per each 8 seater extended/ long chaise “stretch” Land Cruisers, providing ample space and reducing our carbon footprint. We also do arrange private photo tours and safaris and destinations on request. Our Kenya photo safaris provide quality nature experience, visiting the rich wildlife areas during the height of the migration season, and ending up snorkeling and whale watching on the coast.

Along the way we create opportunities for the traveler to engage and become informed by local community conservation project leaders and artists. These safaris are designed to create a life-changing experience allowing the traveler to come away with not just pretty pictures, but also firsthand exposure to how local community needs and ingenuity play a role in modern day conservation of our wildlife and environment in Africa.

Join us on a unique photographic adventure – you take the photos and allow us to take care of the rest!

What to Expect

Custom designed itinerary

We leave the camps before sunrise to photograph during the sweet light of early mornings and we use late afternoon light for the same reason because the light is best and the wildlife activity is superb during these hours. Expect long days in the field shooting thousands of excellent images. Our superb driver-guides are sensitive to the needs of photographic groups as we have used the same hand-picked guides for dozens of safaris. There will be time out of the vehicles, and fabulous photographic opportunities await you.

Transportation

We will utilize both road and Air- Air to maximize time spent in the field, and road to transport the equipment and also to navigate the varied terrain as we get as much closer to our subject. Our 4×4 extended Toyota Land Cruisers and Land Rovers are equipped with roof hatches for game viewing. On our photo safari, we put a maximum of only four persons in a vehicle.  This guarantees you plenty of space for your equipment and in the roof hatch, something essential for photographers.

Accommodation and food

You will stay in deluxe-tented camps, game lodges and hotels. We much prefer tented camps wherever possible, as they offer the convenience of a lodge, but give you the feel of camping. Your tent is canvas, but has a thatched roof, a concrete floor with rugs and has electricity. The beds are very comfortable. Each tent has private facilities en-suite with cold and hot running water and flush toilets.  Meals whilst on safari are on full board basis. The tented camps are far better than you expect!

Your guides and staff

On your safari, you will expect to be accompanied by our director, Mathew Adams who will rotate in the vehicles providing the insights and guidelines of your safari. In addition, you will be accompanied by professional and seasoned driver-guides, who know the best locations for wildlife and have experience with serious photographers. Tented camps and lodges have their own permanent staffs.

Fitness and health

These photo safaris are not strenuous, and anyone who is reasonably fit and in good health should be able to participate. You will, however, have long international flights and will be spending many hours in a vehicle on game drives. Land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. The maximum altitude you will reach on this safari is about 5,000 feet above sea level. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in this trip, please contact Tropical Vacations, Inc. for more information.

Pre-departure information

Extensive background readings and travel information will be sent to you upon your enrollment in this program. On your arrival, we will assemble for a welcome dinner and pre safari briefing with an opportunity to clear the air on any concerns and to prepare your psychologically.

Sample set departure Kenya Photographic safaris 2015

The land of contrasts! Immortalized by countless wildlife films, Kenya needs little introduction. We’ve designed our Kenya Photo Safaris to take you to the heart of the region’s best photographic locations, flying between Nairobi and some of the more distant parks to ensure spending ample time in the field. We visit some of the most exciting photo locations in the country: the famous Masai Mara Game Reserve, wild, rugged and beautiful Samburu Game Reserve, the alkaline Rift Valley Lake of Nakuru National Park and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy—the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. We spend extensive time in the Mara and Samburu to get a real “sense of place” and to devote the time necessary to experience the wildlife and create numerous images.

Our Wildlife photographic safaris operate in the months of August through December. August to September, being the timing for annual wildlife migration in the Masai Mara- the Northern extension of Tanzania’s Serengeti. November in Kenya brings with it a different experience for the photographer compared with the peak migration period of Aug, Sept & Oct. It is the start of the short rains where mornings are generally bright and sunny followed by a build up of dark thunder clouds in the afternoon. This offers dramatic backdrops with animals bathed in warm sunlight in the foreground. The reserves are also a lot quieter at this time of year with fewer tourists and vehicles.

December to March, being the Migration period in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.

Photo Safari Highlights
  • The best of Kenya’s wildlife sanctuaries: Masai Mara National Reserve, Samburu Game Reserves plus Rift Valley Lakes -Lake Nakuru National Park, Naivasha , Elementaita and the private Ol Pejeta Conservancy
  • Maximum space and guaranteed window seat with only four photographers per nine-passenger Land Cruiser
  • Unlimited game drives and shooting days in the Masai Mara residing in a Luxury Lodge / Camps located in prime wildlife areas
  • Trip timed for prime zebra/wildebeest migration dates
  • Tried and Tested routes, accompanied by seasoned guides and wildlife enthusiasts, naturalists backed by our 15 years of hands on experience operating these highly productive Kenya photo safaris!
The Mara:

The Masai Mara Reserve is arguably the greatest wildlife location in all of Africa. The Mara is the northernmost corner of the Serengeti ecosystem—and is so remarkable that one cannot do justice to it in a brief description. This region is one of the continent’s best locations for lions and cheetahs. We spend six days here focusing on the predators and their prey. Birds are always a big part of the Mara experience, as well, and everyone enjoys the brilliance of lilac-breasted rollers and saddle-billed storks, the regal demeanor of the hawks and eagles, and the excitement of a squabbling throng of vultures on a carcass. Our tour is planned for the traditional time of the great migration “crossings” of zebras and wildebeests over the Mara River and the amazing and dramatic interplay between them and the resident Nile crocodiles! Although the timing is extremely unpredictable, we stand a reasonable chance of intercepting this remarkable wildlife phenomenon during our stay.

Samburu & Shaba Game Reserve:

Samburu and Shaba National Reserves are hot and dry, a classic example of arid habitat – a semi desert region of scattered scrub vegetation traversed by rivers, which are often little more than a wide sand bed. Only the Ewaso Nyiro River provides a year round source of water and it is here that the game eventually gathers into concentrations that make good game viewing. Elephants are the main attraction and there are buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah as well as reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, Oryx and other species of arid habitats

The majestic yellow-barked acacias of Nakuru provide a photogenic backdrop for the common wildlife of the park, including accessible white rhinos and leopards. The open thorn bush, plains and perennial rivers of the Laikipia Plateau are home to the Sweetwaters Game Reserve and the encompassing Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a private reserve with a higher wildlife-to-area ratio than any national park in Kenya.

Sweetwaters

A sheltered oasis, clustered around a waterhole and set in the pristine calm of its own private reserve, Sweetwaters Tented Camp is in a class of its own. Abounding with wildlife, unfettered by the more rigorous strictures of the Kenyan National Parks and designed to offer a charming blend of under canvas ambiance and uncompromising luxury, it has long been the preferred retreat of wilderness and safari lovers alike. One of only four private game reserves in Kenya, Sweetwaters excels in the provision of privileged seclusion and private game viewing. Thanks to its private status it also allows such unforgettable pleasures as night game drives, guided bush walks and both horse or camel riding across its game-teaming plains.

This Photo Safari is an extraordinary opportunity to photograph East Africa’s most unparalleled wildlife locations. With only three participants in each vehicle, a thoughtful leader well experienced in African safaris, fantastic accommodations, and outstanding local guides who fully understand the needs of photographers, our Kenya Wildlife tour is a productive and unforgettable photographic adventure!

TVPHS 01

Day 1:

Arrive in Nairobi, transfer to our comfortable hotel.

Day 2

We fly midmorning, with our camera gear and laptops, to the Masai Mara Game Reserve. The remainder of our luggage is transported by road and arrives just after lunch. After checking into our luxurious tented lodge, lunch and orientation, we have our first late afternoon game drive. (BLD)

Days 3–7

At our wonderfully situated luxury lodge we are in the heart of the entire Masai Mara Reserve’s wildlife action. Our lodge is located in the reserve’s low-density visitation area (we pay a higher daily entry fee to stay here) close to the famous zebra/wildebeest migration crossing points of the Mara River. We photograph elephants, Cape buffalo, Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelle, impala, topi, zebra, wildebeest and Coke’s hartebeest. Giraffe, eland, bushbuck, serval and the big cats—lion, cheetah and leopard—all live permanently within the reserve and are usually easy to see in our area. We capture the range of light from sunrise to sunset and the Mara’s many moods. (BLD)

Day 8

We journey overland to Nakuru National Park. The park is a reserve for both black and white rhinos and we should have good opportunities for close-up photography of the whites. East Africa’s most dense leopard population dwells here, plus Rothschild’s giraffes, Defassa waterbucks, reedbucks, unwary warthogs and Cape buffalo. (BLD)

Days 9-10

Continuing our drive north and east, we reach the Ol Pejeta Conservancy lying between the foothills of the Aberdares Range and snowcapped Mount Kenya. Established in 1988 primarily as a sanctuary for endangered black rhino, it is now home to the “big five”—lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant. (BLD)

Days 11–13

Our next destinations are the Samburu and Buffalo Springs Game Reserves. A sizable population of elephants, plus Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, Somali ostrich, impala, common waterbuck, dik-dik, vervet monkey, hyrax, baboon and oryx are our photo subjects. The elephants exhibit a special red color at Samburu from rolling in the reddish mud of the Ewaso Ngiro River. Our impressive permanent tented camp at river’s edge is a relaxing base for our morning and afternoon game drives to a wide variety of habitats—open plains with Mount Kenya in the distance, narrow lush valleys filled with birds, and towering cliffs where baboons seek refuge at night from prowling leopards. (BLD)

Day 14

We fly back to Nairobi this morning, have a dayroom at our airport hotel for relaxing and showering, and depart in late evening for home. (BL)

Tour Details
Dates: Aug –Sep 2015
Fee: $10,500pp from Nairobi, Kenya
Deposit: $850
Limit: 14

TVPHS 02:

After a 1 night stopover in Nairobi we will head north via road towards SAMBURU RESERVE, crossing the equator along the way. SAMBURU RESERVE lies 325 kilometers north of Nairobi in the arid northern region of Kenya. The reserve is home to a number of animal species rarely seen in other Kenyan parks. These include the Grevy Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe, Beisa Oryx and the long necked Gerenuk. Elephant, Lion, Cheetah, Waterbuck and Buffalo are also commonly seen. The only form of relief from the hot sun comes from the wide Ewaso Nyiro River which rises in the foothills of the Aberdares, a few hundred kms. to the west.

We spend 4 nights in Samburu and depart after an early breakfast for our next destination, LAKE NAKURU. We arrive at Lake Nakuru in time for a late lunch and once settled in to our en-suite accommodation, we then venture out into the reserve on our first afternoon game drive.

Established in 1961, Lake Nakuru Reserve offers a wide variety of both mammal and waterbird species, notably White & Black Rhino and the millions of Flamingos which feed on the lake’s abundant algae. Buffalo, Waterbuck, the rare Rothschild’s Giraffe, Hyaena, Jackal, Lion and Leopard are also resident in the reserve. Other common waterbirds include Pelicans, Cormorants, Grebes, Ducks, Stilts and Herons. Our 2 night stay at Lake Nakuru will offer a variety of different photo opportunities and is a location not to be missed.

We depart Lake Nakuru after breakfast and head towards our final destination, the Masai Mara, arriving in time for lunch and settle in to our en-suite accommodation. We then head out into the reserve for our first afternoon game drive.

We stay at 2 different locations in the Mara – All rooms are en-suite. Staying at 2 different locations allows us to explore various areas of the Mara and to be in different locations with the best morning light. All meals are included and catered for by the lodges we stay at. We always take a packed breakfast with us to maximize time in the field. Sightings always come first on a photo safari and photo opportunities may require us to return to the lodge for a late lunch. We may even stay out all day.
Lions are abundant in the Mara and we will get to see a lot of these powerful cats. Cheetah are also seen regularly. Leopard can be found in the Mara but it is considered a special privilege to see one of these cats.

Thousands of other resident animals find their home in the Mara all year round. A visit in November may also provide an opportunity to photograph the last herds of Wildebeest & Zebra on their way back to Tanzania as part of the great migration. Our main focus however will be on the resident animals and birds that find their home in the Mara.

Gentle rolling hills, open savanna grassland, thickets and the impressive Mara River along with smaller tributaries, summarizes the scenery you will encounter in the Masai Mara Reserve. 1500sq km or 560sq miles in size, it is a fantastic destination to experience real Africa and the species that have been resident there for thousands of years.

Along with the big cats, the Mara offers excellent photo opportunities for many other mammals & birds including Elephant, Buffalo, Thompson’s Gazelle, Topi, Coke’s Hartebeest, Zebra, Giraffe, Impala, Grant’s Gazelle, Bat Eared Fox and of course Wildebeest !

At the end of this safari you will certainly feel that you have explored and photographed the best of Kenya’s wildlife. We fly from the Mara back to Nairobi where you will have a day room or an overnight stay depending on when your international flight leaves.

2015 TOUR PRICE (16 nights)

US$ 12 480 p/p sharing
US$ 14 580 p/p single
US$ 3000 p/p DEPOSIT

Itinerary in brief

Day 1:  Arrive JKIA (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport). You will be collected and transferred to a Nairobi city hotel for the night. Stu Porter will meet you at the hotel.
Day 2:  Morning briefing, breakfast and depart in our 4×4 vehicles for Samburu Reserve arriving mid afternoon – overnight SAMBURU LODGE
Day 3:  Full day of photography in Samburu – overnight SAMBURU LODGE
Day 4:  Full day of photography in Samburu – overnight SAMBURU LODGE
Day 5:  Full day of photography in Samburu – overnight SAMBURU LODGE
Day 6:  Depart Samburu after breakfast drive to Lake Nakuru – arrive in time for lunch – afternoon game drive in Nakuru – overnight SAROVA LION HILL
Day 7:  Full day of photography in Lake Nakuru – overnight SAROVA LION HILL
Day 8:  Depart from Lake Nakuru and road transfer to Maasai Mara Reserve arriving in time for late lunch – afternoon game drive- overnight Mara Bush Camp
Day 9:  Full day of photography in Maasai Mara – overnight Mara Bush Camp
Day 10: Full day of photography in Maasai Mara – overnight Mara Bush Camp
Day 11: Full day of photography in Maasai Mara – overnight Mara Bush Camp
Day 12: Full day of photography in Maasai Mara – overnight Mara Bush Camp
Day 13: Travel from the northern side of the Maasai Mara, across the Mara River into the Mara Triangle area. Full day of photography – overnight MARA SERENA LODGE
Day 14: Full day of photography in Masai Mara – overnight MARA SERENA LODGE
Day 15: Full day of photography in Masai Mara – overnight MARA SERENA LODGE
Day 16:  Full day of photography in Masai Mara – overnight MARA SERENA LODGE
Day 17:  After a final morning game drive and breakfast – fly from Mara back to Nairobi where you will have a day room or an overnight stay at a city hotel (depending on when your international flight departs) road transfer to JKIA for your international flight home