Wildebeest Migration – Kenya Safari Overview

Your safari in Kenya is timed during the Southern Route of the Great Wildebeest Migration. This is the time when the Wildebeest are moving south from Kenya back to the Serengeti in Tanzania. This is the best time to witness the exhilarating Mara River Crossings that you have seen on TV for years. You will not believe what you  you see and hear as the hundreds and maybe thousands of animals cross the Mara River. I don’t care if you have the top of the top of the line TV, nothing is like seeing it live!

We start and end our safari in Nairobi. On arrival I’ve planned a couple of fun and relaxing days to help everyone acclimate to the time zone and we can pick any items that you may have left behind. I have arranged special private admission to the fabulous Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary for our group. You will be up close and might even get a hug from a baby elephant!

From Nairobi we depart Wilson Airport fro the famed Amboseli National Park. The park is home to the some of the largest elephants in the world and with the majestic Kilimanjaro in the background it’s an incredible photography experience.

We depart Amboseli and begin the  Masai Mara portion of the safari. It’s here where will find the migration. The portion of the vast Mara plains that we will visit is home to the densest populations of lions in Africa. On a recent safari, we saw 34 lions on the way from the landing strip to the lodge. Let’s try and beat that this time!

Just a reminder that as much as I try and control every aspect of the safari, I can’t do it all. We will be in the Masai Mara at a good time of year for the migration, but the memo might not have reached the Wildebeest. The Wildebeest do not publish their itinerary, and so we might not see an epic crossing, but we’ll put a lot of effort into making that happen.

Quick Look Kenya Photo Safari

  • 12 Nights and 13 Days
  • Small Group of 5 Clients
  • Local Guides/Drivers
  • Includes All Meals, All Lodging
  • Expert Photography Instruction
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Even though you will be arriving late at night, you will be met at the airport and whisked away for a well-deserved sleep. We will be staying at my favorite lodge in Nairobi, Macushla House. It’s very comfortable and a perfect place to relax and ease into our new time zone. You’ll for sure feel the “Out of Africa” vibe of Macushla House.

About Macushla House

Macushla’s spacious accommodations feature high open beamed ceilings, comfortable bedding, and showers with tremendous pressure and plentiful hot water. Feel free to indulge before your 10 days of bucket showers begins! 

The intimate bar and dining room are flanked by lounges with wood-burning fireplaces. The food at Macushla will leave you in no doubt that you are in a private home and not a hotel. The delicious menu is cooked to order and features fresh food cooked with local and international tastes. T

The terrace and swimming pool area are a great place to unwind, download your images, and share a conversation with your new friends. r

There are some great birds and Vervet Monkeys in the gardens, and you can get some practice in for our safari.

Activities

We don’t have any formal activities today, mostly because you probably will fall straight to sleep, and I will already be snoring! If you do have any issues and you need help, just give a knock at the door.

Includes
  • Pickup at Nairobi International Airport and transport to the hotel.
  • Lodging
Macushla Gallery

Sleep in as you please today, and have breakfast at your leisure at Macushla House. There will be time to shop for forgotten items, curios and continuing to adjusting to Africa’s rhythms.

Kiss A Giraffe

Kiss A Giraffe

Around 10 am our adventures begin with a trip to Giraffe Manor’s sanctuary. It’s a great place to get some unique images, and if you have a desire to be kissed by a giraffe, that can happen too!

This an excellent chance to ensure that your camera works as expected!

We will have an alfresco lunch (not included) at a beautiful coffee plantation.

Sheldrick Elephant Experience

Sheldrick Elephant Experience

The highlight of the day will no doubt be our trip to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Orphanage. The DSWT has been rescuing orphaned elephants for years, and to date, they have saved the lives of more than 150 African Elephants! I have made special arrangements with DWST to go on a private tour. We will walk out into the bush with the handlers as they bring the babies home for the night. Along the way, we will stop and watch the elephants drink and play in a waterhole. This is particularly special as it is for our group only.

We return to Macushla for dinner (not included) and get packed and ready to leave for the bush early tomorrow.

Activities
  • Giraffe Experience
  • Baby Elephant Adventure
Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Transportation
  • All Admission Fees

After a short charter flight from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, we will land on the Selenkay Conservancy. We stay on the conservancy for privacy, the ability to drive off the road, go for walks, and Masai interaction.

Our safari gets underway after breakfast. We’ll head to Nairobi Wilson Airport for our 50-minute flight to the spectacular Amboseli National Park. The park is home to the most amazing elephants in all of Africa. The elephants here have a very high percentage of big tuskers. Fingers crossed we will photograph one of these magnificent beasts.

Our home for the next two days will be Porrini Amboseli Camp (Trip Advisor – 5 Stars) in the private reserve, Selenkay Conservancy.

The camp includes nine spacious guest tents, comfortably furnished and with en suite bathrooms including shower, wash basin and flush toilet. Our tents have solar-powered electric lighting. The camp is small and is on the lines of the traditional luxury safari camp.

Once you settle into your tent, we will re-group for lunch and discuss the rest of the days’ activities. After we eat, we’ll take a short walk to visit the local Masai village for some insight into their way of life and culture. Photography is welcome.

After we return to camp, we will head out on our first game drive. You never know what to expect on a game drive, I’ve been on hundreds, and none of them have ever been the same. The one thing I will guarantee is that you’ll be very excited! We’ll photograph until the sunsets and stop to enjoy a sundowner in the bush before we enjoy a night drive back to the lodge and our evening meal.

We will be looking for some local rarities that we probably will not see anyplace on this safari. Unique antelope such as Oryx, Lesser Kudu, and Gerenuk are among the incredible animals we will look for.

Daily Itinerary

Our next 11 days in the bush will go something like this. Our daily routine will be very much the same every day, but our everyday experiences will NEVER be the same. We will wake up early for a hot breakfast or an early departure with a picnic breakfast in the bush. We will look for wildlife and will typically being back in camp for lunch and a nap. If we range too far, we will have lunch in the bush, so we don’t miss any photo ops. Back to the lodge for showers, dinner, beverages, and a campfire. Not a bad day!

After another excellent breakfast, we will finish packing our things and take one last game drive on the way to the airstrip. We say “Kwaheri” to Amboseli and “Jambo” to the Masai Mara!

By now, you will already know the guides will be waiting for us at the airstrip. We’ll pause for refreshment as the bags get transferred to our vehicles. Make sure to have your cameras ready to photograph something extraordinary as we game drive to the lodge. I have no idea what it might be, and that is one of the things that keeps a safari exciting!

While in the Mara, our schedule will typically be, eat, game drive, eat, nap, game drive, sundowner, download, charge batteries, shower, eat, sleep! Whew, exhausting!

We will have game drives morning and night as we explore the Ol Kinyei and the magnificent Mara. There is so much wildlife here; even the Camp is full of animals, with a Bush Buck living in the Camp and a tree full of birds by the mess tent!

About our Porini Mara Camp

The Eco-Tourism Kenya Gold Rated and Trip Advisor 5 star rated Porini Mara Camp will be home for three nights. The lodge is located in a unique and beautiful setting under yellow-barked Acacia trees along the Laetoli River banks. With only 5 tents, Mara Camp has an exclusive yet friendly feel. Each tent contains comfortable furnishings. Your ensuite facilities include a hot water bucket shower, running water basin, and a flush toilet.

There is no Wi-Fi at Mara Camp, but if you are near the office and sit on the chair with an arm in the air, you MIGHT get cellular service! As I write this, the charging is done in the office tent, but I know they plan a charging tent like we used at Rhino River Camp.

Mara Camp Gallery
About Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Maasai Mara

This 18,700 acre Kenyan wildlife conservancy is on a tract of land belonging to a Maasai community who leased it to Porini to be set aside for wildlife conservation purposes.

Ol Kinyei Conservancy is home to only two small sister camps, so we will never have vehicles with outsiders interfere with our game viewing. Ol Kinyei is renowned for its unspoiled and breathtaking scenery, with diverse terrain offering, on the one hand, open savannah plains and rolling hills on the other. With its abundance of water sources in the form of springs, streams, and rivers, coupled with spectacular views across the Mara plains, it is home to a wide variety of animal species.

The Conservancy is noted for its big cats and especially for their cheetah. There are about 300 species of birds to be found in Ol Kinyei as well.

About the Masai Mara

Maasai Mara, also sometimes spelled Masai Mara and locally known as The Mara, is a large national game reserve in Kenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named in honor of the Maasai people, the ancestral inhabitants of the area. They migrated to the region from the Nile Basin.

Maasai Mara is one of the most famous and essential wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa, world-renowned for its exceptional Lion, African Leopard, and Cheetah. Other cats that we MIGHT see, African Wildcat, Serval, Caracal, and Genet. We should have plenty of encounters with a veritable “Noah’s Ark” of wildlife. Did I mention that I love bird photography or that there are almost 500 bird species in the Mara?

Activities
  • Morning and Afternoon Game Drives
  • Optional Guided Walks – Ask me for details.
  • Optional Hot Air Balloon Excursion – Ask me for details.
Included
  • Games drives and walks
  • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
  • Sundowner Drinks

Today, we move Camp via a game drive to the Olare Moroogi Conservancy and the wondrous Porini Lion Camp (Trip Advisor – 5 Stars). Lion Camp would get 10 stars from me! It’s superb!

I have certainly seen a lot on the hundreds of game drives I have experienced, but I’ve been blown away by the game viewing at this Camp. Two safaris ago, we saw 24 lions in the first hour of the first game drive! This will no doubt be the highlight of this Kenya Safari!

The tastefully furnished tents feature solar-powered lighting, ensuite facilities (with hot shower and flush toilet), and a private verandah.

Our active safari life; sleep, eat, game drive, eat, rest, game drive, drink, eat, and sleep continues at Lion Camp!

About Porini Lion Camp

Porini Lion Camp is situated in a unique and stunning setting on the seasonal Ntiakatiak River banks within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. This vast area borders the Masai Mara National Reserve. It is home to an abundance of animals, including Mara’s great Big Cats. There is always excellent game viewing within the Conservancy due to its purely natural state. The Porini Lion Camp – with just ten tents – ensures guests have a genuine “away from it all” experience deep in the African bush.

This is the wildest Camp we will use on safari. We will go over specific safety briefs often. Still, just so you know now, there might be large animals, including elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos, and hippos IN CAMP. You will be perfectly safe in your tent, so no need to panic and enjoy the animals’ serenade as you drift off to sleep….with one eye open!

Lion Camp Gallery

About Olare Motorogi Conservancy

The Olare Motorogi Conservancy (comprised of the former Olare Orok Conservancy and Motorogi Conservancy) is 33000 acres of outstanding natural beauty and ecological importance.

The Conservancy ensures an authentic wilderness experience with one of the lowest tourist densities in the Mara region. The only safari vehicles on the land are the few 4x4s related to the handful of small camps within this vast area. There is a rich and diverse wildlife population with good numbers of predators and herbivores. The area boasts one of the highest concentrations of big cats in Africa and over 300 bird species, including 50 different raptor species.

Activities
  • Morning and Afternoon Game Drives
  • Optional Guided Walk
Included
  • Games drives and walks
  • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
  • Sundowner Drinks

While in the bush we will be sleeping in eco-friendly camps and awesome canvas tents, The camps have the charm and feel of the traditional mobile safari camps of days gone by.  The tents are tastefully furnished and have solar powered electric lighting with en suite bathrooms including shower, wash basin and flush toilet.

My favorite thing is the bucket shower, don’t worry they can make as hot as you need. There is plenty of water and plenty of force, you will love it especially after a hot day on safari.

Electricity in the camps is provided by solar power and there is no electricity in the tents for charging. The camps all have communal charging stations shared by the camp. There is plenty of space and it’s secure. I basically leave my chargers in the media tent for convenience.

Included on the Safari
  • Most food and beverages are included.
  • All pickups and transfers, as well as flights not excluded below.
  • A Private Vehicle at all Camps
  • Traveling with the JuJu Jacket and me too!
Not Included on the Safari
  • International Flights
  • Flights and Transport not Listed above
  • Gratuities
  • Activities not listed as included
  • Premium Liquor is not included.
  • Purchases of a personal nature

I will share the kind of wildlife photography that comes from years of practice and experience. With approximately 600 game drives in Africa under my belt, rest assured I can help you make images you’ll be proud of. You will learn about planning shots, reading the light and making the correct camera adjustments, and wildlife photography techniques. I will share my post processing work flow and help you create a workflow that is best suited to your needs.

My goal is to not merely setup your camera for you, but to give you the knowledge so that you can get the same results at home.

The tour size is limited to 6 photographers so you can count on minimal interruption from too many tripods and so you can get a ton of one on one attention and education.

What Should I Bring?
  • You’ll need at least one SLR or mirrorless camera, ideally two to give you the opportunity to shoot with multiple lenses simultaneously, and also as a backup
  • Lenses from wide-angle up to around 400mm for the mammals (or the 35mm equivalent). I highly recommend one of the variety of 150-600mm lenses. I have use the Sigma Contemporary version for years.
  • Tripods are not advised, we can use bean bags (provided) for support in the vehicles.
  • Lots’s of cards and or a way to download the cards.

It’s almost impossible to list everything that you’ll need, you will be sent some recommendations and then this will be covered again before your trip on a one on one phone discussion we will have with you.

I wrote this blog post about what to pack for safari.

At any point feel free to reach out and help you sort our the best kit for the safari.

US Citizens Traveling To Tanzania*

Passport

Valid for a full six months after your scheduled departure.

Blank Passport Pages
Six blank pages required

Visa Requirements

Yes and online service is available. Link to Tanzania Visa services.

Vaccination Recommendations

Yellow fever, if traveling from a yellow fever endemic country.

Arrival and Departure Airport

Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)

Trip Insurance

We always use trip insurance. It’s so much easier and with so many more benefits when you compare it with your insurance. I’ve found the costs to be reasonable given the benefits. I use Travel Guard when I travel and even though; I’ve not had a claim they were helpful and easy to deal with on the phone.

*Information for US citizens travel to Namibia was obtained from the US Department of State and was valid as of December 2020. If you are going to Namibia from another country, please check with your embassy to check the travel requirements for your country.

All of the bookings for the safari are being handled by my partner in Africa. When you are ready to register just message me with the button at the bottom of the page, and I will walk you through the process.

Payments

My safari partner Gamewatchers will handle all payment and as such Gamewatchers’s Terms and Conditions apply.

Cancellation Charges:   Our cancellation charges are determined by the fact that once we have booked with hotels and safari camps/lodges and with local airlines, they will charge us a cancellation fee if we cancel a booking. We try to keep such charges to a minimum and they are as follows, as a percentage of the total invoice charges:  (Gorilla trek permits are non-refundable)

  • Bookings cancelled or amended from time of booking up to 120 days before commencement of the safari incur a 25% cancellation charge.
  • Cancellation or amendment less than 120 days and up to 60 days prior to commencement of the safari: 35% cancellation charge.
  • Cancellation or amendment less than 60 days but up to 30 days prior to commencement of the safari 50% refund, 50% cancellation charge.
  • Cancellation or amendment less than 30 days but up to 15 days prior to commencement of the safari: 25% refund, 75% cancellation charge.
  • Cancellation or amendment less than 15 days or more than 3 days prior to commencement of the safari: 10% refund and 90% cancellation charge.
  • Cancellation or amendment 3 days or less before commencement of the safari – nil refund, 100% cancellation charge.
  • Please note that any refunds due to you in the event of cancellation can be credited only to the original card used for making the initial payment.

Please note that any refunds due to you in the event of cancellation can be credited only to the original card used for making the initial payment.

Credit card payments:  Please note that your payment will show as a charge from I&M Bank, LTD  (on behalf of Gamewatchers Safaris).  Gamewatchers does not charge credit card processing fees on the deposit even for international transactions however your credit card company may have fees for international transactions.  A 3% credit card fee will only be charged if a credit card is used for final payment, and only on the balance. This reimburses us for the fee we are charged by the credit card company. If you would prefer, we can also accept direct bank wire transactions instead in which case you can avoid any charges your own credit card company may impose.

I’ve been very passively advising my clients to purchase travel insurance for a while, but lately it seems like there have been multiple people having travel issues. Some have lost their deposits and sometimes even the cost of the entire trip!

Based on my client’s experience, I cannot stress more strongly how crucial it is to purchase travel insurance. Like I said before, and here it comes again, there is never a way to predict what is going to happen when you are booking trips months and years into the future.

You can read more about my thoughts about the importance of travel insurance in this blog post.

Or you can go get a free quote and book your vital travel insurance.

https://wildlifeworkshops.link/Travel_Insurance_Quote

Registration Information

Finances

This awe-inspiring Photo Safari costs $9062 – Double Occupancy or $11541 – Single Occupancy.

Deposit

The deposit for this workshop is 25% per person. The deposit can be paid by PayPal, Credit Card, or Wire Transfer.

The balance of the workshop tuition will be due June 15, 2022 

Ready to Go?

If you are a wildlife photographer or lover of animals and their majesty, you must witness the Great Migration at least once. I daresay that nobody will provide you a better experience than me, so do it and sign up today! Click the link to send me an email, and we will get your Kenya Photo Safari questions and reservations all sorted out.

By submitting you agree to Wildlife Workshops Terms and Conditions.

I’ve ALWAYS wanted to see the migration, sign me up!