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Great Rift Valley - Helicopter Safari

by private charter

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 rift valley lakes; forests; great plains; birdlife; wild frontiers; mammals; predators; nocturnal wildlife; culture; research; education; photography across numerous genres; conservation; mountains; rivers; wildernesses; plains game; big game; dramatic scenery - plus a spirit of adventure and freedom. If you want to avoid the tourist traps and if you want to experience Africa like it once was, the 'real Africa', then keep reading for full itinerary details...



Tour Dates:
This is a 5 night (6 day) photo safari with night 1 spent on the edge of Nairobi National Park. The next 4 nights are spent in Africa's Great Rift Valley and more specifically in a portion of the valley known affectionately as 'The South Rift', which is also Kenya's best kept secret. Full itinerary and camp details below.


2018 Tour Date:
7-16 July FULLY BOOKED.

2019 Tour Date:
14-19 July Only 2 spaces left out of 4

2020 Tour Date: 11-16 July Only 4 spaces available

Email me here now to place your name on the cancellation list.

Tour Price:
2019 tour price: US$10,278 per person.

2020 tour price: US$11,420 per person.

There is no single supplement charge. The above rates include all accommodation; meals; drinks (excluding premium brands); all transfers, all internal flights by private charter 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 and two chartered helicopter flights for photography totaling 3 hours of helicopter flying per person.

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 4 people on this exclusive safari and only one departure per year. The above cost only applies if the tour is booked with 4 participants. This tour can also be booked privately in which case the cost will be revised accordingly.

 
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. For those of you wanting to recover from jet-lag and fly in a day or two early, you can enjoy being on safari and photographing instead of staying in a hotel in 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.

- 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 definitely 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, flying over rift valley lakes by helicopter, authentic cultural activities, differing genres of photography, tracking free ranging lion, and 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 can even 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 having submitted his PHD at 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. The lake is the most dynamic land-form on the planet and you will photograph it from a helicopter!



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

- 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 as well as 'animals in their environment' type shots with expansive rift valley scenery as a backdrop.

- 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. 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 sustainable solution.

- With a maximum of just 4 participants this tour offers an intimate and authentic safari experience with our very own tented safari camp for a base.

- All levels of photographers are welcome.

- We charter our own plane and helicopters for this safari, there are therefore no luggage restrictions or airport lines.

- There are no fewer than 7 different ways of extending your safari to make this the ultimate African safari of a lifetime. Read all about the extensions at the end of the itinerary on page 2. Any one or number of these extensions can be booked.



Your Itinerary:

Night 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 rather, we have you take a scenic drive to your out-of-town lodge on the edge of 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? It's a big five park so anything is possible. Your first night is spent at the delightful Emakoko (click here to see the hotel) where there is WiFi to let your loved ones know you have arrived safe and sound. Foe those of you wanting to recover from jet-lag you can book in a couple days early and enjoy a full safari experience at you own pace before the tour starts.

Day 1 - Arrive South Rift Valley

A short half an hour charter flight with unlimited luggage allowance, 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 safari plays out. It boasts spectacular scenery, with the western wall in this part of the valley 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 forest in East Africa. Our exclusive tented safari camp is situated on the banks of this river where cool shade and the gurgling river, offers a refreshing oasis in the wilderness. With only four tents, our mobile camp is intimate and booked exclusively for this tour and is also positioned perfectly for our list of bespoke and exciting activities. See the camp here.

Once you are settled into your new home, a tent under the fig trees on the banks of the river, you will receive a master class on light from Greg before heading out for an introductory exploration 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, it is community land, where wild animals live alongside the Maasai tribesman. This is the 'real Africa', the way it once was with no fences, restrictions or park rules. You will practice working with back-lighting and with the wall of the Great Rift Valley as a backdrop, the herds of plains game are dwarfed by the spectacular 'Out of Africa' rift valley scenery. A scrumptious dinner and campfire is accompanied by an introductory talk by Greg on the area, its people and its wildlife. Both Greg and Claire lived in this part of Africa many moons back and you will hear more about how their lives alongside the Maasai and lions played out. 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 2 - morning "Maasai boma visit"

We head out to meet a traditional Maasai boma (village). We will spend the morning with the Maasai and you will be introduced to a real Maasai family or boma. In other words, this is not a village for tourists but a real living and working traditional Maasai family homestead. The most exciting and important time of day for the Maasai is early morning when the calves are fed and the cows are milked, before the warriors take the cattle to pasture. 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 or sell any curios. 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 11 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. We have limited the number of participants on this tour to only 4 and only 1 tour per year allows us this discrete and special access to an ancient and authentic cultural experience. 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, with special permission having been granted just for this tour.






Day 2 - tea "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 in-depth insight into world leading community-based conservation.

Day 2 - afternoon "River Exploration"

After Guy's talk there will be plenty of time for questions and thereafter we will head out with our Maasai guide, Nixon, and explore the river upstream of camp. This can take the form of a drive upstream or a river walk. A great way to explore the river is on a kayak whereby you float silently beneath the giant fig trees, whose large buttress roots sip water from the gently flowing river. We will keep a look out for wildlife, who all use the river as a waterhole and if you are really lucky, you will glide beneath a troop of Colobus Monkey. The river is home to the largest Sycamore Fig Forest in Kenya and taking an afternoon to explore the river and its surrounding environment is a refreshing break from the safari truck and one which will allow you to connect with the environment. The birdlife is exceptional along the river with kingfishers and fish eagles using the river plus many other delightful species. Nixon is not only a local Maasai but also a bird specialist!  A campfire next to the river and a scrumptious dinner with our hosts, Sam and Johann, who own and run the camp and raise their two little children (Seyia and Taru) in the bush, will bring to an end another perfect African day of adventure.




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




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