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This is the most incredible signature African photography safari experience offered! Not only does this safari take you to some of the top wildlife reserves in Africa but you will also have intimate tribal experiences, an up-close elephant encounter, luxury accommodations, charter flights, and off-road driving for the ultimate photographic freedom. Only Kenya can offer this life-enriching, over-the-top, authentic African safari experience that will go far beyond the photographs captured.
During the safari, you will be staying at the following accommodations:
During the stay in Ithumba Camp, you can upgrade your accommodation to Ithumba Hill Camp with the additional cost of 500 USD per person.
Upon your arrival at the international airport in Nairobi, Piper Mackay Photography team will meet and transfer you by a private vehicle to the Ole Sereni Hotel. This is the perfect place to unwind after your long journey. You may enjoy a sundowner on the beautiful deck overlooking Nairobi National Park filled with wildlife, take a swim, or relax in the spa. After a good night’s sleep and a scrumptious breakfast, you will be ready to depart on an extraordinary safari.
Today, you will awake in a magical new world with the aroma of Kenyan coffee brewing. You will meet other participants at breakfast time for a briefing before hopping in the private land cruisers and head to Samburu National Reserve. You will stop for coffee / tea at the famous Trout Tree Restaurant, where troops of white colobus monkeys will probably swing right over your heads. You will arrive at the luxurious tented camp, a unique blend of rustic elegance, situated along the Ewaso Nyiro River and shaded by the exotic doum palms, in time for a late lunch.
The friendly, traditional Samburu Tribe representative will greet you and give you a full briefing about the camp and area. As the name implies, the elephants stroll through the camp and in between the luxury tents. During midday, relax in the private plunge pool, which is on the deck of your tent, with a cold drink and let the wildlife come to you. In the early afternoon, you will head out to explore the spectacular reserve.
You will spend the next two days on safari, driving through the stunning African landscape and seeking out the leopards, Grevy’s zebras, reticulated giraffes, gerenuk, oryx, common waterbucks, kudus, the unique mane-less lions, and the red elephants. The elephants exhibit a special red color from rolling in the mud of the river and dusting themselves with the rich, red soil, making for extraordinary images in golden light.
You will also spend an incredible evening on the top of the hills with the warriors of the Samburu Tribe. This will be a very special evening, and you will not only get the opportunity to create extraordinary images but also have a unique experience that few others will have. During one of the noon breaks, when the day is warm and the light harsh, you will have a visit from the Ewaso Lions Project.
This morning, you will have one last early-morning game drive before you board your flight to the Mara. Excitement builds quickly as you fly over the Mara and begin seeing the wildlife below as well as the plethora of photographic opportunities. You will land on a private airstrip, which is in the heart of the crown jewel of Kenya and only five minutes from your camp. From the moment you touch down Mara, you will see its exotic warriors throughout the landscape; even serious wildlife photographers are instinctively tempted to quickly reach for their camera.
The Maasia warriors, an icon of Kenya, once dominated the plains of East Africa. This part of the safari takes place at their homeland. During your stay in this area, you will visit a Maasai Boma at sunrise. You will have quality time in the village to join in with the morning activities, such as milking cattle and goats, fire-starting, herding, making coffee, and socializing amongst them in order to learn about their ancient ways. Slowing down, getting into the rhythm of a place, and experiencing what you are photographing are what create emotionally stunning images.
Over the next four days, the safari will focus on all the big cats, including the Marsh Pride, made famous by the BBC’s series Big Cat Diary, and the Rekero Pride, which is quickly becoming as powerful as the Marsh Pride. It is highly probable that you will also see elephants, hippos, Maasai giraffes, common zebra, gnus, impalas, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, topis, hartebeest, black-backed jackals, spotted hyenas, and more, as the Mara is one of the best wildlife reserves in all of Africa.
During mid-day heat, when the light is hash and the animals are quiet, you will gather in a special photographers’ tent for presentations and to share information. Participants always comment on how much they love the camaraderie among other talented photographers. Learning from each other as well as the leader is a huge added value, as everyone brings different perspectives, knowledge, and skills. You will also have a special visit from Elaine, the head researcher from the Mara-Meru Cheetah Project.
In the evening, you will sit around the campfire under the starry African sky and look back on your amazing day in awe. After dinner, you will be safely escorted back to your tent with a Maasai warrior. There is no better way to experience Africa than by spending a few nights under canvas, camping in the heart of the wild, and listening to the sounds of lions roaring, zebras barking, and hyenas calling as you gently fall asleep.
This morning, you will fly by private charter to Ithumba, which is located in East Tsavo. Over the next two days, you will have one of the most intimate elephant experiences in the world. You will be able to interact with the young orphans and stand next to the wild elephants. You will visit the stockade several times, where the young elephants are fed and kept safe through the night. You will also join the keepers in the field each day, where the young elephants begin to intermix with the wild elephants. Each day, a water truck fills the drinking pool and mud bath area. The wild elephants come in first, and soon, the young orphans join them. On foot, right amongst them, you will witness and photograph how they begin to interact, drinking, mud-bathing, dusting, and communicating with one another. More than the incredible photographic opportunities, it is an amazing and intimate experience with these gentle giants that is rarely offered on a safari. At the end of the stay, you will be able to personally choose the elephant you wish to foster.
After your early-morning visit with the elephants and a scrumptious breakfast, you will head to Amboseli National Park and the private Kitirua Conservancy on the western part of the Amboseli ecosystem. You will have almost exclusive use of the 300,000 acres area, where you can drive off-road for the ultimate photographic freedom yet also have complete access to the main park. Your aim over these two days is to photograph beautiful herds of elephants and giraffes with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, but you will take advantage of the photographic opportunities of predators, antelopes, and exotic birds in this picturesque landscape. During your stay at Tortillas Camp, Cynthia Moss or one of her team members will give a private talk about the elephant research that has been conducted in Amboseli for the past three decades.
Your luxury tented camp has the majestic backdrop of Africa’s highest mountain, and sipping your beverage of choice in the open lounge, you will enjoy the finest view of Mount Kilimanjaro. The luxurious, African-styled camp has an organic garden on the lodge grounds, and the cuisine is delicious, offering the finest traditional safari experience.
You will have one last morning game drive, followed by a breakfast, before boarding your flight back to Nairobi. The ground team will transport you to the Ole Sereni Hotel, which sits along Nairobi National Park, and you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon around the pool and have lunch / dinner overlooking the park. Dayrooms have been made available, so you may take a rest and clean up before your flight back home later in the evening.
Piper Mackay is an African wildlife and tribal photographer. Piper’s photographs are licensed by Getty Images top collections. Featured articles of her work have been printed in national publications such as; Outdoor Photographer, National Geographic Traveller, Nature Photographer, Ranger Finder, and Selamata, as well as local travel and online magazines.
Your safari will be held in Kenya. These are the places that you will visit during your safari:
Filled with large, iconic umbrella acacia trees in a stunning, arid environment, the Samburu National Reserve evokes the traditional vision of, “I Dream of Africa”. Roaming through this primal land and unique reserve, you will see the mane-less lions, rare and exotic Grevy’s zebras, soil-stained red elephants, reticulated giraffes, oryx, and Somali ostrich. In the stillness of what seems like an empty land, one might hear the rustle of brush as a cheetah or leopard makes themselves known.
Maasai Mara, an arguably greatest wildlife reserve on the planet is home to large prides of lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, black rhinos, hippos, Maasai giraffes, common zebras, gnus, impalas, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, topis, hartebeest, black-backed jackals, spotted hyenas, and more. It is the best reserve for the big cats, where BBC filmed Big Cat Diaries The safari takes place during the very end of the great migration, and you may catch some of the last herds crossing the Mara River as they make their way back to Tanzania.
From the moment you touch down in the Mara, you will see the exotic Maasai warriors throughout the landscape; even serious wildlife photographers are instinctively tempted to quickly reach for their camera. You will have more than a glimpse into this ancient and fascinating world, but the opportunity to capture compelling images is equally as powerful as your wildlife images. The Maasai tribe is a huge part of the experience of Africa and one you don’t want to miss out on.
Situated in the remote hills of West Tsavo lies Ithumba, the very special place where the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) brings young orphaned elephants to be reintroduced to the wild. You will have exclusive access in Ithumba, where you will have the rare opportunity to interact with the young elephants on multiple occasions, including during their feedings in the morning and afternoon, and out in the wild where the young elephants begin to intermix with the wild elephants, mud bath, and dust. You will be able to lay down right in front of them and capture incredible images from a perspective that few photographers have. Not only is this an exceptional experience filled with unique photographic opportunities but funds from our visit go back to the DSWT and Kenya Wildlife Service for their conservation efforts.
Imagine photographing stunning images of the large herds of elephants, zebras, and giraffes as they roam through the dusty plains of Amboseli with Mount Kilimanjaro as a backdrop. You will have full access to the national park, but more importantly, you will have access to the private conservancy, where you will enjoy exclusivity and the freedom of off-road driving. You will be able to drive across the vast, dusty plains next to the herds of elephants for exceptional and rare photographic opportunities. Of course, you will also track down predators, visit the swamps with a wide variety of African birds, and take advantage of the spectacular fine art landscape known for the dust devils that dance across the savannah.
"I have been struggling to master my camera and equipment. My photos are technically good, but nothing dramatic. This workshop helped me understand how to use the light to create dramatic photos. Also, I learned the techniques to take photos using all the tools to capture action shots, sunrise and sunset shots, and also people shots under difficult conditions. "
Piper Mackay Photography website, edited
"My experience in Kenya with Piper was excellent and exceeded my expectations. She knows wildlife and is a skilled photographer and tour leader. In addition, her personal connection with the local tribes is evident in her sincere interactions with the tribe members. She is deeply connected to the people and wildlife of Africa."
Piper Mackay Photography website, edited
"I just completed the spring Spirit n Light workshop with Piper Mackay. What an amazing experience! Piper encourages you to use light in such a way as to create images with drama and impact. In conjunction with the ranch staff she creates unique opportunities to capture images in wonderful morning and evening light. She teaches you to consider how you are capturing light and environment while composing your images. In addition to this, you also practice techniques such as panning and silhouettes that add to your photographers toolbox. Piper has incredible enthusiasm and knowledge. I learned, practiced, and was inspired by this workshop. Definitely a wonderful, worthwhile experience."
Piper Mackay Photography website, edited