Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page >

First Time in Masai Mara-Short Report and Some Photos

First Time in Masai Mara-Short Report and Some Photos

Old Oct 21st, 2010, 06:33 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 770
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
First Time in Masai Mara-Short Report and Some Photos

I recently returned from my first trip to the Masai Mara and wanted to provide a bit of a report and some photos. In a nutshell, though, what a wonderful, magical place it is!!

I had a long-standing reservation at the Fairview, which I was anxious to stay in because of all the good things I’d heard. When I came to check in (12:30 am, after 30 hrs of travel) I was told the hotel was overbooked and I was being sent to the Country Lodge, a sister hotel. The Country Lodge was fine: quiet, clean, if a bit sterile, and a good value for the price. Still, when you’ve made your reservation months in advance the expectation is that it would be kept. I left a note to that effect with the management, who later explained that the person in my room decided to stay longer. (?? on that)

I encountered a weight restriction problem for the first time in my Africa travels. SafariLink limits luggage to 15 kg, which my photo backpack alone weighed, and in this case they decided to weigh everything I had. After a bit of discussion, SafariLink charged me a nominal price (
sdb2 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 06:48 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,085
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Your photos are lovely - I am envious of your bird sightings. Robin
canadian_robin is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 07:00 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 267
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Nice report.

I like your pictures ,never saw a LBRoller on top of an animal before and Ross Turaco neither!!

Thanks for sharing.
PacoAhedo is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 07:03 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 20
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Your photos are spectacular. Thank you for sharing.
I love the one of the playful lion cub.
silleb is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 07:12 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,657
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Great slideshow! Thanks.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 11:01 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 49
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for sharing. You are really a talented photographer as the birds were stunning (believe me, I know how hard it is to take photos of birds). Could you let me know what your equipment consisted of?

Thanks again.
Deb
one2travel2 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 12:16 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 770
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks all for the comments so far!

Robin, you know how it is, I went five days not seeing too much and then, boom, lots of bird sightings during the last two days especially.

PacoAhedo, getting that semi-sharp pic of the Turaco was quite the challenge. It's like those birds are hyperactive, flitting from branch to branch mostly in the upper reaches of fairly tall trees---I can't tell you how many perfectly blurry photos I have of them.

one2travel2, thank you! I like Canon, so I used a 100-400 mm IS L lens with the 40D body for most shots. If not that lens, I used a 70-200 F4 IS L lens (I really love this particular lens for sharpness and color and can't say enough good things about it---probably my favorite).

Steve
sdb2 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 12:36 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 275
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
SDB, really enjoyed your pics - I never get tired of looking at anyone's photos of the Mara and you did an especially good job with the birds; one thing I rarely catch before they alight!
Loved the giraffes and cheetahs - well actually all of them!
Thanks!

MoneyB
moneyburns is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 04:02 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Loved the photos. I have a more specific photo question. Did you use a polarizer filter much for your shots? I also shoot with the Canon 100-400 IS lens too(love it). Found I used the filter a lot to help with contrast of the sky. Wondered if you did as I'm always anxious to learn more tips.
Laurie52 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 04:11 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 700
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Gorgeous photos! Thanks for sharing them.

Will be staying @ KT, June 2011, but in classic tents. Sounds lile I should ask for a lower tent#!
KathBC is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 04:49 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 770
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Laurie52 and moneyburns, Thanks!

Laurie52, I used to use polarizing filters quite a bit when I did more landscape shots, particularly to give the sky a deep, rich blue color or to reduce glare from objects. But polarizing filters reduce the amount of light entering the camera, forcing one to use longer exposures, which in turn increases the risk of camera-shake. I'm challenged enough with the 100-400 attached holding heady with just a skylight or uv filter (which don't change the exposure) on it. So, when I'm most interested in capturing wildlife, when something can happen at almost any time, I prefer not to use a polarizer.
sdb2 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 05:00 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 770
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
KathBC, thanks! and your comment made me laugh! A competitor of Fodor's says "The best-positioned tents are actually the "classic" tents arranged along the edge of the forest facing a wide lawn and the vast plains beyond (there are 14 of these and worth requesting)." BTW, my guide's name is Eric and he was outstanding. Steve
sdb2 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 05:26 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
sdb2

Thanks for your reply. I know what you mean about the challenge of holding that lens. My last trip, I took an inexpensive wrist brace and wore it on my left hand, which is typically the hand that supports the lens weight for me. I found it helped a lot. I normally use a skylight but between the bright sun and haze/dust, I was using the polarizer most of the time. Was contemplating taking a monopod the next time. Your comment about the luggage weight restrictions is why I have only traveled by vehicles between locations. My carry on bag runs about 32 pounds just with camera gear, 1 change of clothes and a couple of other necessities.
Laurie52 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 05:42 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 770
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Laurie52, I'm glad the brace worked for you. With that lens we need all the help we can get. I have a monopod but never brought it along. Some people have told me they thought it helped, but I'm a big fan of the bean bag and use one as much as possible. Still it doesn't help if you're in a car with fidgety people. On this last trip I was with several couples who all were on their first trips to Africa, either for anniversary or honeymoon, and they were so excited they hardly ever sat still. It really made the thought of a private car all the more inviting. Steve
sdb2 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 06:00 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
sdb2

Those fidgety people can be a challenge. I ran into a situation with someone in my vehicle (6 travelers total) who told the driver we didn't have to stop and take any more photos of elephants because he had 10 shots. I'm guessing by that point, I probably had 150. Luckily our tour director saw my frustration and spoke to the driver. It was for reasons like that I traveled solo the last time and had the entire vehicle to myself. I'm not sure I could ever go back to the group situation.
Laurie52 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 06:28 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 770
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
That sounds great, Laurie52. Budget-wise, did going solo add a significant amount to the cost that you would have incurred if you'd gone to camps and joined others in the camp vehicle?
sdb2 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 06:58 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The solo trip was almost double what the group tour was. However, that being said, the group tour was 17 days (4 of which were travel) and the solo trip was 21 days (and travel time was only 3 days total). The group trip was all overland too (same vehicles and drivers for the Kenya portion and then switching in Tanzania). It's hard to compare the cost vs going to the same places and joining others since I was with the same vehicle and driver the entire trip. Great way to get to know the person, culture, etc. The solo trip was also a little unusual because even though I knew the places I was staying, I was constantly getting upgraded due to the fact they were not totally full and the fact that my driver knew a lot of the managers. Even without the upgrades, it was really worth being able to go out whenever I wanted, stay in particular areas until I had taken enough photos (took 5700 on the trip) and really observe the behavior of the animals.
Laurie52 is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2010, 07:14 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 14,854
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Nice report and great pictures.

Me too !!... I am jealous of all your bird pictures.
Percy is offline  
Old Oct 22nd, 2010, 04:06 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 770
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks, Percy!

Thanks for the info, Laurie52. I've been lucky enough on several occasions to be the only one in a car and it's photographer's heaven. Your last thought about being able to stay with and observe the behavior of the animals is exactly what someone from Nat'l Geo recently told me. The photographer added that being able to observe the animals helps them in anticipating good shots.

Steve
sdb2 is offline  
Old Oct 22nd, 2010, 04:58 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I really enjoyed both your report and your fantastic pictures!

I've been putting off doing my report because I didn't make detailed notes of all the what's, where's and how many, and all those bits, but your trip report was short and to the point and your style is exactly what I needed to read.

You are really a wonderful photographer, and your lenses are fabulous! I loved looking at your shots. They would look great on your wall or printed into a nice book.

Thanks so much!
tinydancer is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO