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Kenya Rift Valley and Great Migration Safari

This exciting new safari is simply a one of a kind. It has been designed from scratch to be able to offer you a truly authentic 'Out of Africa' experience as you venture far off the beaten track to a very special corner of Africa. No other safari itinerary can offer the unique mix and blend of experiences that this one does. In one sentence, this safari offers up soda lakes; forests; wetlands; great plains; birdlife; wild frontiers; mammals; predators; nocturnal wildlife; culture; research; education; photography across numerous genres; conservation; mountains; rivers; wildernesses; migration and possible river crossings; plains game; big 5; dramatic scenery - plus a spirit of adventure and freedom. If you want to avoid the tourist traps and you want to experience Africa like it once was, the 'real Africa', then keep reading for full itinerary details...

Tour Dates:
This is an 9 night (10 day) photo safari that is split into two legs (night 1 is spent on the edge of Nairobi National Park):  The first leg consists of 4 nights spent in Kenya's south rift valley, which is her best kept secret. The 2nd leg consists of 4 nights spent in a remote and secluded corner of the Masai Mara reserve, where we are superbly located for migration action, and to explore beautiful remote parts of the reserve. Full itinerary and camp details below.

2017 Tour Date:12-21 July
1 space left!
Email me here now to have your name placed on the 2018 waiting list.

Tour Price:
2017 tour price: US$14,950 per photographer. Non-photographing partners pay only US$8,050
(Photographing couples are not a regular occurrence so please email for a costing)

The above rates include all accommodation; meals; drinks (excluding premium brands); all transfers, all three internal flights including meet/greet and airport drop off; park fees; private safari drives and all excursions; conservation fees; community fees; speaking fees of resident scientists; photographic tuition and the guiding services of professional wildlife photographer Greg du Toit.

Not included in the cost are visas; purchases of a personal nature; staff gratuities; personal travel insurance; your international flights.

30% deposit confirms your booking. Only spaces available for a total of 6 people on this exclusive safari and only one departure per year. The above cost only applies if the tour is booked with a minimum of 4 participants.

Why this is the safari for you...

- Most safaris start in heavy traffic in Nairobi but this one starts in Nairobi National Park. Not only do we totally avoid going into Nairobi but you will take your first photograph before we even get to our overnight location on the outskirts of town.

- There is no doubt that Africa is a great, wild and enchanting continent but as with the rest of the planet, human population growth and explosion have seen the continent change drastically over the last few decades. As a professional wildlife photographer I dedicate my life to searching for pockets of Africa which remain unchanged. These secluded places offer a wild freedom and a rugged beauty that transport one back in time. If you want to experience the so called 'lost Africa' or as I prefer to put it, the 'real Africa', then this is the safari for you.

- The first leg of this safari plays out in the south rift valley of Kenya. If you look on a map it is between the Masai Mara and Amboseli (right on the border of Kenya and Tanzania), but this is not a destination on the regular safari circuit. Therefore, if you are looking for something different, special and unique, and if you wanting to get off the beaten track, then this is the safari for you.

- Most safaris offer you a mix of safari drives only, but this safari is very different in that there are a number of very special activities that have been specially prearranged. These include presentations from leading conservationists, day drives and night drives, authentic cultural activities, all genres of photography, tracking free ranging lion and much much more. Please see the detailed itinerary below for listed activities.

- One of Africa's major attractions lies in its diverse array of traditional cultures. The Maasai are one such famous culture and this safari plays out on their land. If you want to have a genuine cultural experience then this is the safari for you as you will be introduced to a traditional Maasai boma and family. You will join in with the daily boma activities such as herding cattle and milking goats. There are very few authentic cultural experiences left in Africa and this is one of them. You will get to experience and photograph the daily life and culture of one of the most traditional clans of the Maasai tribe left in East Africa.

- Africa has lost 40% of its lions over the last few decades and the south rift valley of Kenya is one of the last strongholds for free-ranging lion. It is also one of the only areas in Africa where lion numbers are on the increase, which is even more incredible considering that they are found on community land. Guy Western, currently busy with his PHD through Oxford University, heads the 'Rebuilding The Pride' project. Not only will you go out and do field research with his team but you will be given a fascinating talk explaining the incredible dynamics that have resulted in this being one of the last thriving free-range lion populations on the continent.

- The south rift valley of Kenya is possibly the most diverse geographic location on the African continent. From soda lakes, to freshwater wetlands, to rivers, to mountains, to grasslands, to savannahs, to forests - this area has it all and you will see it all.

- Africa is famous for its rift valley lakes but very few people get to visit Lake Natron, due to its remote and isolated location. It is the largest breeding ground in the world for Lesser Flamingos and they breed there because no one else goes there. On this safari you take in the incredible sight of Lake Natron and its associated spectacular rift valley scenery. For landscape photographers this is a dream come true.

- This safari is so diverse that is caters for everyone, not just photographers, so non photographers you are very welcome.

- For the photographers, this safari offers it all. On the first leg of the trip you will be able to photograph free-ranging lion and cheetah, carrying out a wild and free existence on community land. You will photograph incredible birds at the N'giro Swamps, which is an uncharted wetland. You will photograph a plethora of plains game too (the south rift has one one the highest concentrations of giraffe in Africa) and on this safari you will also do a night drive.

- The 2nd leg of this safari will play out in the Masai Mara. This reserve needs no introduction as it is famous for its abundant wildlife and of course the great migration. This safari has been planned for July, before the heavy tourist masses arrive in August/September and when the crocodiles are still hungry. We have secured a remote camp that will allow us to access both sides of the river so that we can photograph crossings coming towards us. The location of our camp also means we can explore the incredibly beautiful and far-flung corners of the reserve. With over 12 years experience in the Masai Mara, I now offer you the very best Masai Mara photo safari.

- This safari caters for every kind of photographer. Those interested in cultural photography will be given an authentic opportunity to photograph Maasai living their daily lives while landscape photographers will enjoy photographing incredibly expansive vistas, that have not yet been done justice with a camera. Wildlife photographers will enjoy photographing a range of incredible subjects, including predators and plains game, as well as 'animals in their environment' type shots with expansive rift valley scenery and great plains dotted with lone-trees.

- For those of you who enjoy being out on foot, this safari offers a wild freedom that is absent in more established parks and reserves. You will take in true rift valley sights, sounds and smells whilst outside the vehicle.

- This safari gives you the opportunity to help conserve Africa's wildlife and people. A portion of the fee for this safari is paid directly to the community in the form of conservancy fees. This special part of Africa is under threat from oil drilling and the only viable solution is ecotourism. By signing up and joining this safari, you are helping strengthen the community and supporting them in their belief that tourism is the only long term solution.

-A portion of the fee you pay for this safari goes to the researchers who are helping protect one of the last free ranging lion populations left on community land anywhere in Africa. You will hear more about these projects and you will get to see and experience them first hand on this safari.

- With a maximum of just 6 participants this offers an intimate and authentic safari experience.

- All levels of photographers are welcome.

Your Itinerary:

Please note that the below itinerary and the nature of the activities themselves might change, depending on the weather and the movements of the wildlife, the Maasai cattle and their villages.

Day 1 - Overnight edge of Nairobi National Park

After being met at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi you will enjoy your first safari drive as we do not head into or near town but we rather take a scenic drive to our out-of-town hotel though Nairobi National Park. This is the only national park in the world that borders a capital city and what better way to start a safari than by taking your first photographs before even getting to your hotel? Its a big five park so anything is possible! Our first night is spent at the delightful Emakoko (click here to see the hotel).

Day 2 - Arrive South Rift Valley

A short half an hour flight with an extra luggage seat booked, will see you landing on the floor of Africa's greatest geographical feature; the Great Rift Valley. Kenya's southern portion of the valley, known affectionately as the 'south rift', is where this leg of the safari plays out. It boasts spectacular scenery, with the western wall in this part being particularly high and clearly defined. Meandering its way along the dusty floor is the Ewaso Ngiro river which gives rise to the largest Sycamore Fig forests in East Africa. Our exclusive tented safari camp is situated on the banks of this river and in the shade of this sycamore forest. With only four tents, our camp is intimate and positioned perfectly for our list of very special and exciting activities. See the camp website here. Follow them on facebook here.

Once you are settled into your new home, under the fig trees on the banks of the river, you will then head out for an introductory exploration of the floor of one of Kenya's last true wildernesses. On this safari drive you will, possibly for the very first time in your life, see an abundance of wildlife existing in Africa as it always once did. In other words, this is not an official park or reserve but rather a community land where wild animals live alongside the Maasai tribesman. This is the 'real Africa', the way it once was and with no fences, restrictions or park rules. You will enjoy a sundowner on the grassy plains watching herds of plains game dwarfed by the spectacular 'Out of Africa' rift valley scenery. A scrumptious dinner and campfire will be followed by an introductory talk by Greg on the area, its people and its wildlife. Turning in for the night, you might here lions roar while sleeping in your tent and if you do, it will be the first time that you have heard 'Livingstone Lions' roar. This last sentence will make more sense once you have heard Greg's talk.

Day 3 - morning "Lake Natron, Western Shore Exploration"

Our day begins with an early 5am departure for Lake Natron. This is a soda lake in the truest sense of the word. Surrounded by extinct volcanoes, you might even glimpse Ol Doinyo Lengai to the south which is the last active volcano remaining in the eastern arm of the rift valley. Natron is like no place else and it has been heralded the most dynamic land-form on planet earth by NASA. It is a wild frontier, a harsh and inhospitable place that has a barren and rugged beauty that will leave a lasting impression on you. The vistas are large and this is true big sky country. The drive into and out of the Natron basin will offer you breathtaking rift valley scenery as we pass under the steep western escarpment of the rift valley. This is a frontier experience that will challenge even the widest of wide-angle lenses. We will take a packed breakfast and the morning will be spent busting out tripods and photographing, exploring and celebrating the wilderness of the south rift valley.

Day 3 - afternoon "Maasai Bomas"

After lunch and tea back in camp, we head out to meet a traditional Maasai boma (village). We will spend the afternoon and evening with the Maasai. You will be introduced to a real Maasai boma. In other words, this is not a village for tourists but a real working boma! The most exciting and important time of day for the Maasai is when the warriors return at sunset, bringing the cattle safely home. Once the cows are in, the Maasai woman begin the important task of milking. This will be an authentic cultural experience and the Maasai we visit will not put on a show or a 'sing and dance' for us. What they will do is allow us into their world, to experience their everyday life. Samantha du Toit from SORALO has been working with this community for the last nine years and she will be at hand to help interpret and explain the culture. It is through the trust that she has earned from the local Maasai, and her caring work, that we have been extended this special invite and are allowed to take our photographs. These bomas are some of the most traditional left in Kenya and in this part of Africa the Maasai are still semi-nomadic. You will not only glimpse this ancient and wonderful culture but you will gain in-depth knowledge, firsthand experience and incredible mood-filled cultural portraits. Yes, photography is allowed.

Day 3 - evening "Rebuilding the Pride"

Guy Western is currently busy with his PHD through Oxford University and he heads a fascinating and exciting project called 'Rebuilding the Pride'.  This unique project is studying both the Maasai and the free-ranging lion population of the south rift valley. As mentioned, the south rift of Kenya is one of the only places in Africa where the lion population is on the increase. This is especially remarkable when considering that Kenya only has 2000 lion left and even inside its national parks, lions are decreasing in number. The 'Rebuilding the Pride' project is trying to identify all the factors that come in to play in the south rift, which are making it such a conservation success story. Once these factors have been identified, 'Rebuilding the Pride' want to design a model that can hopefully be replicated elsewhere to help conserve both wildlife and people. This exciting lecture will open your eyes to the incredible conservation ethics of the Maasai. It will enlighten you regarding lion behaviour and you will gain unique insight into the dynamics of one of Africa's most diverse, dynamic and unique ecosystems. This exciting talk will broaden your horizons and it will challenge your thoughts on the concepts of both wilderness and conservation. 'Rebuilding the Pride' is a one of a kind project that will give you unique and in-depth insight and on this evening, you will hear from the researchers themselves.

The conversation continues around the campfire after which the sounds of owls, lions and gurgling river will lull you to sleep.

Continue reading the Kenya Rift Valley and Great Migration Safari by going to page 2...

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