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Jewels Of Kenya Safari Experience

8th to 22nd September 2019

 
The sign at the main gate to Tsavo East National Park, at Voi in Kenya, proclaims the "Theatre Of The Wild". Not only is this not an exaggeration, it is an understatement! In twelve years of visiting Tsavo, it has never failed to completely overwhelm us with the variety and quality of wildlife viewing and photography opportunities this incredible place provides.

Many people on organised safaris have been rushed through Tsavo East in a day and been bored with its vastness and disappointed by seeing little of the wildlife that lives there but spend more than a day or two in this breathtakingly wild place and you soon realise that this is not a safari theme park, is is a true wilderness the size of Wales and if you let her share at her own pace, Tsavo will reward you handsomely.
 

Red Elephant

Tsavo's Elephants are famously red, stained by the red dust that gets into everything
 
We begin our safari in Tsavo East National Park, the largest and most arid part of the Tsavo Ecosystem, which includes the Taru Desert. We will spend four days in this amazing place, visiting stunning locations and photographing the incredible variety of life here, which includes several desert-adapted species not found in most other parts of Kenya.
 

Somali Ostrich

Somali Ostrich males are easily distinguished from the more common Masai Ostrich by having blue legs and neck instead of pink

Gerenuk Feeding

The Gerenuk or "Giraffe Antelope" gets all the moisture it needs from succulent leaves high in the bush
 
Most people are unaware that Tsavo is home to one of the most important populations of Cheetah remaining in the wild. Namibia is home to the largest population of Cheetah but Tsavo has the largest East African population, so the whole Tsavo ecosystem is a vital Cheetah research area.
 

Cheetah

Male Cheetah using a tree as a lookout post in Tsavo East National Park
 

Lion Cubs Under a Bush

Lions hide young cubs in the bushes from other predators and Cape Buffalo, who will kill Lion cubs if they can
 

In Tsavo East National Park, we will stay in Ndololo Safari Camp, a rustic lodge with fixed tents. Each tent has its own shower and flush toilet plus a double bed with mosquito net. The lodge is not fenced, so the wildlife is free to come and go. It is not unusual to find wildlife travelling right through the camp, especially at night, so night-time wanderings are not recommended! (although infra red camera traps placed outside your tent can sometimes provide fascinating viewing over breakfast)
 

Ndololo Safari Camp Bar

At the Bar in Ndololo, you can sit with a cold Tusker and listen to the sounds of the bush at night
 
After four nights in Tsavo East National Park, we will head out but we will not be leaving Tsavo. Our next destination is Ngutuni, a 45 square kilometre private game sanctuary that shares a border on three sides with Tsavo East National Park. The border is unfenced and wildlife is free to move between the National Park and the sanctuary. Nugutuni has a beautiful lodge with spacious and comfortable rooms that each have a balcony overlooking a waterhole. The lodge bar also has a terrace that reaches out towards the waterhole. At night, over dinner, you may well be serenaded by the rumblings of Elephants in the waterhole, or Lions calling out their territorial challenge: "WHO rules this land? I do, I do, me, me, me".

Ngutuni

The bar terrace at Ngutuni makes a great place to watch and photograph the wildlife visiting the waterhole
 

Ngutuni Balcony

Every room at Ngutuni has a balcony overlooking the waterhole
 
The waterhole at Ngutuni attracts wildlife from far beyond the borders of the sanctuary and often huge herds of Cape Buffalo, Elephant and Zebra will visit. The diversity of wildlife here is quite astounding and takes most westerners by surprise, accustomed as we are to the decimated wildlife levels of our own countries. In 2016 we spent a "lazy person's safari" sitting on the terrace all day at Ngutuni and counted 84 different species of animal and bird in just one day!
 

Zebra at Ngutuni Waterhole

Burchell's Zebra kicking up dust in the early morning light as something spooks them at the waterhole
 

Superb Starlings

Superb Starlings on the bar terrace at Ngutuni
 

Busy waterhole

Sometimes the waterhole gets very busy. The poor Warthogs were chased by Elephants and Buffalo
 
We will take morning and afternoon game drives in the sanctuary, which can throw up some surprising sightings. Watch out particularly for Lions, Jackals and even rare day-time sightings of Aardwolf! In between game drives, enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the bar terrace with a cup of tea, coffee or a cold Tusker beer, whilst keeping your camera handy for anything coming into the waterhole.

Tsavo is home to the descendents of the infamous "Maneaters of Tsavo". These were two huge male Lions who devoured dozens of workers building the Tsavo River Bridge for the railway line between Mombasa and Uganda in the late 1800s. When the maneaters were eventually killed, they were found to be very large males without any mane (the stuffed corpses are currently on display in the Chicago Field Musem but Kenya has requested their return). Tsavo is the only place in the World where maneless male Lions are as common as maned Lions. Unlike Lion prides elsewhere, in Tsavo the male Lions hunt and do not leave that to the females. One pride we tracked in Ngutuni to their Buffalo calf kill consisted of three full adult maneless males, four sub-adult males and two females.
 

Maneless Lions

The male Lions in this pride, guarding their Cape Buffalo Calf kill, are maneless

 
From Ngutuni we will head to Tsavo West National Park, where we will spend the next three nights in the wonderful Rhino Valley Bandas. Perched on the side of the Ngulia Hills, these delightful bandas almost feel like the home of the Flintstones. There are two waterholes near this lodge which regularly attract wildlife. 

View from Ngulia Bandas

Panoramic view of Rhino Valley from the balcony of one of the bandas
 

Rhino Valley Bandas & Ngulia Hills

The Bandas are nestled on the lower slopes of the Ngulia Hills
 
Tsavo West National Park is quite different to the more arid east, with steep hills, lava flows and the striking oasis of Mzima Springs. Within the park is a large area enclosed as a Rhino sanctuary, where Black Rhino are allowed to breed in increased security before reintroduction to the park and other reserves in Kenya. As we drive over the Chaimu Lava Flow towards Mzima Springs, you may see the towering majesty of Mount Kilimanjaro, 50km away in Tanzania on a clear day.

During our three days in Tsavo West, we will visit Mzima Springs, the Rhino Sanctuary, Kuldip's Ponds and circle the Rhino Valley in search of wildlife. The lodge itself is situated within the territory of a female Leopard, so we may find her if we are lucky. Leopards are notoriously difficult to spot but here we will have as good a chance as anywhere. You will also have the chance to take a walking safari and even learn some traditional skills with the lodge Askari.
 

Hippo

Hippo at Mzima Springs
 

Female Leopard

Female Leopard in a tree in Tsavo West. Her Impala kill is stashed out of shot above her
 

Gian Kingfisher

Giant Kingfisher at Mzima Springs
 

Walking in Tsavo West

Walking safari in Tsavo West
 

Man make fire

Learning to make fire the traditional way, with sticks and Elephant dung
 

Masai Giraffe Bulls fighting

Masai Giraffe Bulls fighting in Tsavo West National Park

 
From Tsavo West National Park, we will head north towards Nairobi, with an overnight stop at Hunter's Lodge, near Kiboko. This lodge has a unique and bloody part in Kenya's colonial history. The area was a stronghold of the Black Rhino but the colonial government wanted to move the Kamba people off their land and resettle them here. Scottish big game hunter J.A. Hunter was tasked with eradicating the Black Rhino from the area and he did so with such gusto that he slaughtered 996 in just over a year. Hunter's Lodge was built by his son in the area as a family hunting lodge and later became an hotel. It sits on the banks of the Kiboko River, with numerous bird species and a resident troop of Vervet Monkeys. In 2015 Hunter's Lodge was completely refurbished.
 

African Darter

African Darter drying its wings at Hunter's Lodge
 

Maribou Stork

Maribou Stork gathering nesting material at Hunter's Lodge
 
After a relaxing night at Hunter's Lodge, we will continue north to Nairobi and the hotel where we will spend the remaining evenings of our safari. In Nairobi, we will spend two days exploring Nairobi National Park, the only place in the World where you can photograph wild Lions and Rhinos with the backdrop of a modern metropolis.

Our final day will include a visit to the Sheldrick Trust Orphanage and the National Museum of Kenya. The orphanage was set up by Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who was the first person ever to devise a milk formula suitable for baby Elephants and then the same for baby Rhinos. Here the Keepers will tell you all about the babies and how they came to be orphaned. You will also get very close to the babies and be able to photograph them during their daily mud-bath.

The National Museum of Kenya is an essential stop for everyone visiting this amazingly diverse country. Specimens of every species of mammal and bird (1084 species of bird!) feature in the collections, making it a great place to identify those many species you have photographed on your safari. Other exhibits include the earliest hominids found in Oldovai and Turkana by the Leakeys.

After one final night in the hotel, we head for the airport and our flights home.
 

Nairobi Rhinos

Rhinos in Nairobi National Park
 

Lion

Lion in Nairobi National Park

 

Elephant Orphanage

Keeper feeding one of the Elephant orphans at the Sheldrick Trust Orphanage

The price for this amazing photographic safari experience is £3,995. A deposit of £1,000 will secure your place, with the balance of £2,995 due by Friday 12th July 2019.
Included in the price are the following:
  • All accommodation and meals (excluding drinks)
  • All travel between locations
  • Photography tuition as required
  • All National Park Conservation Fees (most safari companies do not include these in the price they quote because in the case of this safari it would add around £600 on top of the price. We prefer our guests not to have that unpleasant surprise)
  • Entry to the National Museum of Kenya
  • Entry to the Sheldrick Trust Orphanage
 
What is not included in the price?
  • Flights to and from Kenya ~ you should fly out on the 7th September on an overnight flight, aiming to land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi in the early morning of the 8th.
  • Holiday Insurance ~ You should ensure that you have sufficient holiday cover for the duration of your entire trip.
  • Equipment Insurance ~ Please make sure that you have adequate insurance to cover all of your photographic equipment.
  • Flying Doctor Insurance ~ Whilst not essential, we do recommend you take out Flying Doctor Insurance as standard ambulances can take several hours to reach some remote areas and several more to get you to a hospital. Flying Doctor Insurance will fly into remote areas to airlift you to a modern hospital, should you suffer an injury or severe illness during your safari.
  • Most drinks ~ Soft and alcoholic beverages are available in all of the accommodations at an extra cost. At Ngutuni, tea and coffee is included with your accommodation. We will provide clean drinking water during game drives.
  • Tips ~ it is customary to tip waiters, porters etc. Your guide notes will contain suggested amounts for tipping.
  • Items of a personal nature (toiletries etc)
 
Why take a Safari Experience with us?
  • We are photographers. On most organised safaris, you have a guide who is fairly low paid and needs good tips to make a living. Guides know that to get good tips they either have to be lucky with the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino) or show as much as possible. They tend to move on quickly from one animal to the next. As photographers, we want to be able to capture something different with an animal, so we wait for behaviours or gestures that will add to the story we want to tell with the images. We will take whatever time is needed with each animal because we do not have to work to a strict timetable, or cater for guests who just want to tick off a big list of animals.
  • Our Researcher, Karen, is a zoologist. She has a Bsc in Zoology and an Mres in Ecology and Environmental Sustainability through the University of Aberdeen, one of Scotland's oldest and most respected universities.
  • Our Senior Photographer, Howard, is as passionate about wildlife as he is about photography and this shows in the way he interprets nature for our guests, from identifying hundreds of bird species to tracking Lions to a kill. Feedback from previous guests has often referenced this.
  • We have run photographic experiences since 2004 and have taken safaris in Kenya since 2006. Our aim with every Photographic Experience is to have our guests/participants go home with images to be proud of, new knowledge to add to their skill-set and happy memories of a great photographic experience.
 
To book your place on our Jewels Of Kenya Photographic Experience, please select from the PayPal options below.

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