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hh253 Apr 25th, 2010 03:33 AM

Kenya Tanzania safari photographer
We are two photographers and want to make a wildlife safari second half of July beginning August. I had a look to the internet and it seems there are only agencies all offering the same tours, lodges etc at the same price. It makes me a little bit suspect, that they are not tour operators but only agencies.
I don't know, if it is better to book on the place and you can see the vehicle and the driver instead paying front up without knowing what kind of service you will get.
My only concern, that the lodges might be full in this period.
Somebody has an experience?
Thanks for all suggestions


sandi Apr 25th, 2010 05:16 AM

You won't know whether lodges or camps are full till you inquire. But you don't have to inquire direct. Tour operators, agents, planners, etc. usually get better prices than if going direct, which are then passed onto the client. These same companies can coordinate: vehicle/guide (if a driving safari), flights (if flying), meet/greet, hotels and sightseeing in/around Nairobi, all transfers.

While many of the itineraries you've seen may all seem to be the same, often they are as there are specific areas many like to visit, such as: Amboseli, Samburu, Mt. Kenya, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara. And, yes... they do appear to be offering the same accommodations.

But, if having gone thru a guidebook as Fodor's "Complete Safari Planning Guide" you'll get an idea/description of the various areas (those above and others) and design with the aid of a tour operator/agent/safari planner, a safari that meets your needs.

You can design a private (rather than group with set dates and accommodations) safari just for yourselves, on your dates, for your length of time, and choice of lodging... whether all driving, all flying or a combination flying/driving... all at the budget with which you have to work.

July is "peak" season, so you'll get prices to match, but you can figure anywhere from $450-$1,000/nt/person which would include: room/tent, meals, daily park fees, game drives, VAT/Taxes. Some include your alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and laundry. Not included: Visas ((USD$25/person for Kenya), personal items, inoculations/malaria meds, gratuities for guides/staff, trip insurance, Flying Doctor's service, international flights.

There are many companies that can put together the safari you wish, whether in your home country or use an in-country outfitter (some names of both of these can be found in the Fodor's Guide mentioned above).

As July is right around the corner, you should get working onn this as soon as possible.

atravelynn Apr 25th, 2010 07:18 AM

Bears repeating:

"There are many companies that can put together the safari you wish, whether in your home country or use an in-country outfitter (some names of both of these can be found in the Fodor's Guide mentioned above)."

No need to book a canned trip. You can easily design exactly the trip you want and lots of us do it. You likely detected a lot of overlap in various itineraries you checked out because the places listed are the popular ones with optimal wildlife activity for the time you'd be traveling.

I know of one company that has specially designed vehicles for photographers with bigger windows and such and they make sure you are in the right location for the time you are traveling: Kiliwarriors. The owner does filming, himself. I have not traveled with them yet but am working on a trip with them. Pics of their specially designed vehicles are on their website.

Even without a special vehicle, you'll get great photos with just the two of you. Most safaris cater to photography, it's just some photographers are better than others. The key component for excellent photography is a private vehicle so you can sit and wait for the right light or for the perfect shot.

If you are serious photographers, I would not suggest booking upon arrival. That leaves too much to chance.

Check this index for lots more companies that have been used.

Here's something that might interest you about a poster named Bill H who is really into photography. He went a couple of times, accompanied by a pro photographer and then used a photography outfitter. (If you Ctrl F and search for Bill on the index site above, you'll see his reports and more importantly his pictures.) Then on his last trip he booked with Roy's, a safari provider based in Tanzania.

If you are worried that the lodges typically mentioned might be full, you can try less frequented accommodations in the same park. Those are often not as expensive either, and have fewer amenities. I know of one company that does a great job of offering such options: Eastern & Southern Safaris. In fact my upcoming trip is with them and I am staying in some of the more modest bandas they offered or were willing to book. I used E&S Safaris once before for a short excursion.

So you can see, there are many options. But I would not delay too long.

hh253 Apr 25th, 2010 12:02 PM

Do you know these companies?

Many thanks in advance


sandi Apr 25th, 2010 02:06 PM

Further to atravelynn's comments, Roy Safaris also has vehicles specifically for photographers, but the regular vehicle are quite sufficient for most photo opportunities. Depends on your specific needs.

But private is the way to go so you can design the itinerary you want, when, where, now many days at each, game drive schedule, etc.

The names above are not familiar, but then there are so many outfitters, no one can know them all.

atravelynn Apr 25th, 2010 03:35 PM

Have not heard of them. You can also check TATO and KATO websites
Tanz/Kenya Assoc of Tourism Operators

hh253 Apr 28th, 2010 02:11 PM

many thanks for your informations and suggestions.
Samburuis interesting to see for photography?

Otis72 Apr 28th, 2010 02:20 PM

We were at Samburu in August 2008. Desert setting is very different from other East Africa locales. Gerenuk are very cool, skittish but worth seeing. Other unique animals include Grevys zebra and reticulated giraffes. Lots of elephants around river (we were at Serena). I thought scenery was spectacular. Look at our trip report for photo links. Jim.

atravelynn Apr 28th, 2010 03:15 PM


Samburu is great for photos. You have the unique species that Otis mentioned, plus the Somali Ostrich (which I think is more photogenic than the Masai Ostrich), Beisa Oryx with their beautiful face markings, and the gerenuk. Gerenuk are an antelope species with an unusual habit of reaching up into the brush with their front legs, standing on their hindlegs. This makes for interesting shots. I had a photographer inform me that the prized gerenuk shot is the bikini shot. That means you photograph them from the front and can see the lighter markings along their belly that resemble a bikini bottom.

The eles in the river can offer dramatic scenes. Plus there are predators in the area. It is actually quite good for leopard. Being a small park, if one vehicle spots a leopard, it is likely that other vehicles will have a chance to see it.

There were recent floods in Samburu that sadly resulted in lost lives as well as lost property. Not all of the accommodations are still available. For example Samburu Serena, where Otis stayed, will not be rebuilt until at least June of 2011. If you are considering Samburu, don't delay in booking Sopa or Simba, two of the lodges that were not affected.

I remember corresponding with a serious photographer who was considering an itinerary of nothing but Samburu (about 5 nts) and the Maasai Mara. If you were going to stay 5 nights in the Samburu area, you might consider nearby Shaba, which supposedly has scenery that is even more picturesque. The animals are more skittish and scarce there, though. I'm combining a return to Samburu and a first visit to Shaba on my next trip.

hh253 Apr 29th, 2010 12:07 PM

thanks for your informations. Where do you think it i very likely to see migration end July/beginning August.
I will visit also Mara and Serengeti-


sandi Apr 29th, 2010 12:35 PM

End-July/early-Aug the migration can be both in the very northern Serengeti and the Masai Mara. Not all of the game make it into the Mara.

If visiting both the Mara and Serengeti, you'll catch the migration somewhere.

PacoAhedo Apr 29th, 2010 12:52 PM

We visited Kenya in September 08 and spent 3 days in Samburu.In my opinion is a great place for photography with abundant and varied wildlife,very nice landscape and also great birding,i will recommend this place without doubt.

Here you can see some of the pictures we took during our stay in Samburu.

July is the month when the first herds of the migration start to arrive in the Mara but this is not always exact , depending on the rains in the area it can be sooner or later.

You can check here in the Governor´s Game reports by month what was the migration situation in July and August last years.

Good luck.


sundowner Apr 29th, 2010 05:11 PM

Paco, how do you get so low to the ground on some of your shots? Are you on the ground?

hh253 May 11th, 2010 11:17 PM

thanks for your informations and compliments for the photos.
Look really forward to my trip.

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