Join Gustav W. Verderber, a professional nature photographer and environmental
interpreter, and Eco-resorts, an East African eco-adventure tour operator, on
the photographic wildlife safari of a lifetime. Learn the field techniques of
professional wildlife photography and produce gallery-quality photographs of African
wildlife as you travel to one of the most remarkable places on Earth.
This photo safari is designed for the serious photographer interested in producing
top quality images of African wildlife. Minimally, you must be familiar with basic
35mm photography. If you are a professional photographer but have little or no
experience photographing wildlife, you will want to use this opportunity to put
yourself in the right place at the right time to capture those African images
you've seen in leading magazines.
Focusing on the abundant wildlife in Kenya's Masai Mara, this ten-day safari
will take you through the undulating plains of the Mara savanna, up to the hilltops
of the Loita Hills and into the riverbank forest depths. In each location, you'll
seek out the hidden leopard or feeding elephant as you practice your wildlife
photography techniques with Gustav. The safari is also schedule to coincide with
the Masai Mara's magnificent spectacle of the annual Wildebeest Migration.
Gustav is a professional free-lance nature photojournalist with credits that
include the cover of Natural History, The Audubon Society Calendar, scientific
journals, and whose exhibits have won him international recognition. He is also
a zoologist who teaches photography, biology, and environmental science at various
New England colleges. He brings with him a wealth of information about the animals
you'll find in the Masai Mara. Aided by your local, expert guides, you will receive
a true introduction into the wonders of the African wilderness while honing your
photography techniques for the future.
Your African photo safari actually begins well before you board your plane
to Africa. Gustav will outline a course of instruction that starts with photo
projects you will be asked to complete before your departure. This will enable
Gustav to gauge your expertise and to focus his instruction on your personal strengths
and abilities without wasting time on skills you already posses so that you receive
the best possible instruction while on the safari itself.
With photography game drives and game walks in the cooler mornings and evenings,
your afternoons will be spent with photography technique lectures and training,
as well as catching up on the odd bit of sleep! Don't forget to spend time with
your camp crew, learning about Kenya's tribal cultures as well as the animals,
birds and plants!
Day 1 Arrive at the Nairobi International Airport where you are met
and transferred to your Nairobi Hotel. Meet Gustav, your instructor and the other
participants before enjoying dinner and overnight in Nairobi.
Day 2 Your camping crew collects you this morning and you start your
drive towards the Masai Mara, heading down into the Great Rift Valley, past volcanoes
and alkaline lakes as you go. Ascend the Mau escarpment and arrive at the Loita
Hills on the outskirts of the Mara in time for lunch. As your camp staff set up
your tents, you'll get started with your first lecture and preparations for the
evening's game drive. All meals and overnight at the campsite.
Mara means "contrast" in the Maa tongue, referring to the contrast of fair,
savannah land and dark trees in the area. Located to the south of Nairobi, and
bordering Tanzania, the Maasai Mara forms part of the huge Serengeti eco-system.
The Mara spreads over 1510 square kilometres of rolling plains, sudden rocky outcrops,
and green winding rivers.
Not only is the Mara blessed with this stunning landscape, but its animal diversity
is one of the greatest in Africa. Surrounded by the grazing lands of the Maasai
people, the Mara is a sanctuary for all of the "Big Five" animals: lion, elephant,
buffalo, rhino and leopard. The sweet grasses and abundant water ensure a full
compliment of plains game such as the Impala and Thompsons gazelle, which are
of course, closely followed by lion, leopard and cheetah. The deep river pools
provide homes for hippo and crocodiles.
Each year, generally in July/August/September, the Mara is host to the spectacular
Wildebeest Migration, one of the natural wonders of the world! Literally millions
of these awkwardly shaped ungulates move across the open plains in an endless
stream stretching from horizon to horizon. The movement of this vast herd is fascinating
in itself, but it is seldom that a day goes by without the added bonus of watching
the predators that follow the herd. Lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dogs rely
on the herd for food. Spotting one of these magnificent predators is more or less
guaranteed at this time.
Day 3 An early morning coffee or tea before heading off for the morning
game drive in search of the wildebeest. The Wildebeest Migration is one of the
few remaining mass migrations in the world. With a population estimated at around
1.5 million animals, the Migration is one of the wonders of the animal world.
The long rains of Tanzania and Kenya start in late March and early April. At
this time the wildebeest are to be found in the eastern part of the Serengeti
in Tanzania, with some still in the Masai Mara, Kenya. Lush, abundant grasses
caused by the rains provide plenty of fodder and this is the wildebeest calving
Virtually all the calves are born within a two-week period. Whilst this helps
the herd in the future, with the majority of the young at the same stage of development
during the long walk, it also provides safety to the calves during birth. The
numerous predators simply cannot keep up with the 'easy' pickings and for every
birthing mother and calf eaten, another survives.
The rains peter out by the end of May, and the sheer number of animals causes
the pasture to rapidly disappear. By June the wildebeest are on the move. Concentrating
on the remaining green patches of savannah, huge herds are formed.
The mating season commences now, with males defending territory and attempting
to attract females into their area for mating. The noise of bellowing wildebeest
is quite deafening!
Once mating is more or less completed, the herds merge together again and the
push to the northwest begins. Some animals head west first, often going well outside
of Serengeti park boundaries before the swinging northeast. The other half go
directly north. The two groups will meet again in the Masai Mara in late July
When crossing the Serengeti, into the Mara, the wildebeest must cross many
large rivers; the spectacular river crossings are a highlight of many safaris.
It's not a sight for the squeamish though!
Many of the weaker animals are unable to cope with the strong river currents
and the buffeting from the other wildebeest as they swim. Hundreds of animals
die while making the crossings and the rivers are inundated with corpses. Crocodiles,
hyena, lion and other predators feed on the bodies. For days to come, no predator
needs to hunt for dinner.
With the advent of the short rains in November and December, the wildebeest
swing southeast and slowly head back to the Serengeti's eastern plains. By February
the migration is back to its starting point and the entire cycle will start again.
Lunch back at the campsite, lectures in the afternoon and then a game walk
in the evening to search out photo opportunities on the ground. Dinner and overnight
at the campsite.
Day 4 A full day in the Loita Hills practicing your techniques. All
meals and overnight at the campsite.
Day 5 Your camp crew will pack up camp today as you game drive enroute
to the Mara Simba Lodge inside the Masai Mara Reserve itself. Check in to the
lodge and enjoy a hot shower and lunch before continuing on with your studies.
Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
The Mara Simba Lodge is a large, comfortable lodge with lovely views of the
river, friendly, helpful staff, good food and comfortable rooms. With access to
power and telephones, this is your chance to recharge batteries, contact the outside
world and hopefully get some night photography in as the animals come to the river
in the evening.
Day 6 It's back out to the camping crew today at your new campsite inside
the Mara Reserve. All meals and overnight at the campsite.
Day 7 Exploring the rivers of the Mara and the wildebeest crossings
if possible. All meals and overnight at the campsite.
Day 8 Game driving through the Mara, you head up to the black cotton
soil area of the northern triangle and your final night here at Governor's Camp.
This superb permanent tented camp is one of the original camps in the Mara and
its professional staff, large, comfortable tents and excellent food will provide
a highlight to this trip. Dinner and overnight at Governor's Camp.
Day 9 Spend the morning on your final game drive before heading back
to Nairobi in the afternoon. Arriving at your Nairobi hotel, you'll spend the
evening going over all that you have learned during your safari. Dinner and overnight
at your Nairobi Hotel.
Day 10 Depending upon your flight departure time, spend the day exploring
Nairobi or head straight out to the International Airport for your departure.
Includes: Photography instruction, all meals, water, park and camping
fees. Self-camping style safaris provide clients with their own vehicle, a driver/guide,
a camp cook and helper and igloo style, two man tents with 3-inch mattresses for
sleeping. Public campsites are used, which provide long drop style safari toilets.
The camp staff will heat water for traditional bucket style safari showers. Chairs,
tables and all camping equipment are provided.
Excludes: Sleeping bags, towels, personal purchases, tips, alcoholic
drinks when camping and all drinks at the lodges, visas, international flights
and your personal photography equipment and film.
Contact Melinda Rees for
more information on this safari.
Why travel with us? Because Eco-resorts is changing the world-one journey
at a time.
Animals and people both need land. Ecotourism provides an alternative income
for the people, leaving space for the migratory animals. Eco-resorts actively
supports the villages and projects that are protecting East Africa's environment
We develop self-help eco-projects, which promote wildlife conservation.
We also educate both our consumers and our partner camps with two free ezines.
We use renewable energy products, reduce paper and plastic consumption in our
office and have left the natural vegetation unscathed, resulting in duiker and
monitor lizards visiting the office!
We donate 10% of all post-tax profits to fund community and/or conservation
projects. Community projects are operated with the local villagers as the operators
and managers; Eco-resorts provides advice and guidance when requested, but abides
by local beliefs and traditions.
Our current projects include:
- The Children of the Rising Sun Orphanage, which provides accommodation,
meals, medicine and schooling for 28 street-children. Our goal is to have a vocational
job-training center operational at the home, for the kids and local villagers.
- The Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve, the last remaining tract of coastal
lowland forest in Kenya, which provides the only refuge for several endemic birds
and mammals, such as the golden-rumped elephant shrew and the Sokoke Pippet. Designated
as one of Conservation International's 26 global bio-diversity hotspots (www.conservation.org)
and surrounded on all sides by an ever increasing human population, the Forest
is in danger of disappearing as trees are cut for carvings, land cleared for subsistence
farming and animals trapped for food.
Eco-resorts hopes to ensure that the local villagers become the greatest supporters
of the Forest. One of the many projects in the Forest trains the local villagers
to breed forest butterfly species for export to the live butterfly market.
With two local butterfly farms already in operation, over 400 people in the
area bordering the Forest now have an income that relies upon the continued health
of the Forest. Our goal is to employ another 100 people.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more detailed information on our
ezines and the Eco-resorts community and wildlife conservation projects
that your eco-adventure safari will support. Help us make a difference!