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Kenya Rift Valley and Great Migration Safari

by private charter and helicopter

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; wetlands; great plains; birdlife; wild frontiers; mammals; predators; nocturnal wildlife; culture; research; education; photography across numerous genres; conservation; mountains; rivers; wildernesses; the great migration; plains game; big 5 territory; 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 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 the heart of the famed Masai Mara Game Reserve. The 2nd leg consists of 4 nights spent in Kenya's south rift valley, which is her best kept secret. Full itinerary and camp details below.

2017 Tour Date:12-21 July FULLY BOOKED.

2018 Tour Date:
7-16 July 2 out of 4 spaces left.

Tour Price:
2018 tour price: US$21 840 per single photographer. US$18 200 per sharing photographer.

The above rates include all accommodation; meals; drinks (excluding premium brands); all transfers, all three 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.

Not included in the cost are visas; purchases of a personal nature; staff gratuities; personal travel insurance; your international flights, any adhoc activities not listed on the itinerary like hot air balloon rides.

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 a minimum of 3 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 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.

- The 2nd 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, flying over rift valley lakes by helicopter, authentic cultural activities, differing genres of photography, tracking free ranging lion, photographing the great migration 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 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 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 and bird 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.

- The 1st 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 for housing the great migration. This safari has been planned for July, before the heavy tourist masses arrive in August and when the crocodiles are still hungry. We have secured the best camp that will allow access to all crossing points. The location of our camp also means that you will explore the incredibly beautiful and far-flung corners of the reserve. With 15 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. 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.

- With a maximum of just 4 participants this tour offers an intimate and authentic safari experience.

- All levels of photographers are welcome.

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

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 and the Maasai.

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 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.

Day 1 - Arrive Masai Mara for the Great Migration

Our chartered flight offers unlimited luggage restrictions and takes you to your first destination, which is also arguably the greatest wildlife destination on the planet, the famed Masai Mara Game Reserve. We have chosen a very special location for this leg of the safari as your camp is hidden inside a secret forest on the banks of the Talek River. You will be situated in the very heart of the reserve where you can enjoy the most spectacular wildlife show on earth. Very strategically, your camp has been chosen to allow access to both sides of the Talek River and for photographers this is especially important as it means that you stand a much better chance of seeing a crossing as we are close to crossings in the south and north of the reserve.

Once you are settled into camp, the afternoon safari drive will continue in safari trucks with plenty of space. Our group size is only 4 but we will have two safari trucks to ourselves as we explore seldom visited parts of the reserve. You will experience the Masai Mara like few people do and exceptional wildlife viewing is the order of the day. We return to the campfire and Rekero Camp offers the finest traditional Kenyan safari experience, with each dinner being a celebration of the day's sightings. Turning in, you will be lulled asleep to the sounds of Africa and to the promise of some of the best wildlife viewing on offer anywhere in the world, to follow over the next few days.

Day 3, 4, 5, "The Great Migration"

Your day will begin just as the first birds stir but the sun is not yet up. Tea or coffee will be delivered to your tent and as you wake up, so does the beautiful riverine bush adjacent to your tent. Leaving camp still in the dark you will head onto the great plains of East Africa too see the sunrise. Rekero Camp has been specially selected to offer you an absolute smorgasbord of wildlife sightings. The Masai Mara is famous for its cheetah and the central plains just to the north of camp offer some of the finest cheetah viewing in Africa. The cheetah hunt daily on these plains.

With breakfast packed, you will explore to your heart's content. The annual wildebeest migration has been dubbed 'the greatest wildlife show on earth' and the time of year for your safari has been carefully selected to coincide with the time that the wildebeest are arriving at the Mara River and when the crocodiles are hungry. Being able to access all the crossing points increases the chances of seeing wildebeest crossings and it also means that you will get to see and experience the best of the Masai Mara. From the large central plains all the way to the south and north, you will see it all. You will journey to the far south where the Masai Mara meets the Serengeti and you will see not just the incredible migration and associated predator action, but you will enjoy all of Africa's wonderful and bizarre creatures. Zebra, giraffe, gazelles, warthog, elephants, mongooses, hippotamus and many more are simply the order of the day.

After a full morning drive, once the light has burnt off and the heat is building, you will return to camp for a yummy light lunch on the banks of the river. Of course, if the wildebeest are crossing then we forget about lunch. Rekero Camp is situated in a beautiful cool forest and the birdlife in camp is wonderful. After your safari siesta, the afternoon safari drive commences. Rekero is one of the original safari camps and being one of the first in the Masai Mara, it commands the best location for wildlife photography. The afternoon safari drived are a good time to look for leopard, serval and caracal.

Meandering back to camp just as it gets dark, the campfire will beckon you in. A sundowner and candlelit dinner will be the perfect end to your incredible safari day. After dinner you can retire to the fire and enjoy the starry night or your Maasai watchman can escort you back to your tent, where the sounds of Africa send you to dreamland with the promise of another safari day to follow. The bush surrounding Rekero us very wild and it is not uncommon to have a hippo or buffalo grazing outside your tent all night long.

Day 6 - 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 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 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.

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 7 - 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 10 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 7 - 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 7 - 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 neath 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.

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