It has been dubbed the ‘8th natural wonder of the world’ and there is quite simply no place like it on earth. The Ngorongoro Crater is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is the undisputed Eden of Africa. So why has it taken me all these years to put together the ‘Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti Signature Safari’? Well, I have visited the crater extensively for the last six years, searching for a way to unlock its photographic potential and finally I have discovered the secret. I now share this secret with you so that you can get awesome and unique photographs.
The Ngorongoro Crater is Africa’s own version of Jurassic Park. Surrounded by 360 degree and 600m (1,968ft) high walls, the crater is the largest intact and unfilled caldera in the world. At the bottom you find Africa’s most incredible ecosystem where some of the largest elephant bulls roam plus big cats and black rhinoceroses, not to mention an absolute smorgasbord of plains game. It is an ancient, timeless place of wonder and is of unspeakable beauty. This is a bucket list item and something everyone who loves Africa just has to see at least once in their lifetime!
The ‘Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti Signature Safari’ is specifically designed with wildlife photographers in mind and very carefully timed so that there are moody skies, incredible backgrounds and dramatic light. At this time of year there is almost no one else in the Ngorongoro Crater, so you will have the place largely to yourself. If you are a photographer who enjoys playing with light and lines and if you enjoy composing your shot and capturing frames that show an animal in its environment then don’t miss this safari. It is also a great safari to see predators in action, as the crater is jam-packed with predators and prey alike. The chance of seeing predator action is therefore high due to the confined space that the predators and prey live in. Expansive views of forests and green plains await.
The 2nd leg of this African wildlife photographic safari dovetails beautifully with the crater in that we visit a very special part of the Serengeti where again there is hardly anyone else. Lions on granite outcrops, known as ‘koppies‘, and vast expansive views continue forever. The word ‘siringet‘ means ‘vast’ in the language of the Maasai and the Serengeti really needs no introduction. I have been photographing in the Serengeti for the last 10 years extensively and trust me when I tell you that I have found the ultimate corner of this world-renowned park. If you want to experience real, wild and expansive Africa then look no further.
The accommodation on this safari is simply incredible and luxurious. What could get better than a camp perched right on the very edge of the Ngorongoro Crater? Or what could be better than staying in a very remote camp on the great plains of the Serengeti, all set about with giant Umbrella Thorn trees?
This is an 7 night (8 day) Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti Photo Safari available on a private basis only.
Cost will include all accommodation in two perfectly positioned uber-luxurious camps; pre-tour overnight accommodation in Arusha in a small intimate luxury lodge outside of town, meals; laundry; house drinks; park and conservation fees; internal flights; meet and greet service with transfers; an additional luggage allowance; private safari drives with exclusive vehicle use; photographic tuition and the guiding services of professional African wildlife photographer Greg du Toit.
Not included in the cost are visas; purchases of a personal nature; staff gratuities; personal travel and medical insurance; your international flights and adhoc activities not included on the itinerary.
40% deposit confirms your booking.
After being met at Kilimanjaro International Airport you will be transferred by road (approximately 90 minutes) to a delightful coffee farm on the outskirts of the town. A small boutique lodge with friendly staff, a large luxurious room and excellent cuisine will see you settle into Africa as your Ngorongoro Crater And Serengeti Signature Safari begins. There is WiFi so that you can let your loved ones know that you have arrived safely.
*For those of you wanting to come in a day or two early to relax and recover from jet lag, this lodge is the perfect place to do it. We can arrange a day trip for you to visit Arusha National Park which is a most beautiful park and excellent for primates (including colobus monkey) and general game like giraffe and buffalo.
We meet at breakfast for our exciting drive up to the Ngorongoro Crater. With no internal flight to worry about you can bring all your equipment! A 500mm focal length, or there about, is perfect for the crater but also bring your wide-angles. This is no ordinary photo safari, you are going to get unique and inspirational shots that will make even seasoned professional wildlife photographers blush, so pack it all! It’s not just about location but also about timing. You will be visiting the crater at a time of year when few others do, and at a time of year when the weather is moody and the light spectacular. As a result this trip will yield photographs different to anything you have captured before. Imagine having the Ngorongoro Crater almost all to yourself? It is a photographer’s playground and this is the first photo safari designed around making the crater a destination in its own right.
We will road transfer through the Great Rift Valley and into the beautiful Ngorongoro Highlands. This incredibly scenic drive will take you to the very edge of the crater before circumnavigating the rim to your luxurious lodgings where you will enjoy what is quite possibly the finest ‘Out of Africa‘ view in all of Africa. The drive from Arusha to the crater will take about 3 hours.
Your lodge is one of the finest in Africa but more importantly it gives good and quick access into the crater. After a scrumptious dinner, you will turn in for a well-deserved night’s rest. Sleeping right on the edge of the crater you might have a buffalo walk under your room or you might hear lions roar. The selected lodges on this safari are luxurious, making this an ideal safari for non-photographing partners to join. The high altitude chill is kept at bay with a log fire in your room and a Victorian bath overlooking the crater.
Sweet dreams or ‘Lala Salama’ as we say in Swahili!
Your day begins in the best possible way as you are woken with a steaming cup of coffee or tea brought to you in bed. We depart camp each morning at 0600, in the dark. We will wind our way along the rim and then down the decent road and to the crater floor where we will capture sublimely moody and mysterious images. With our lodge having been carefully selected to allow us quick access into the crater, we will be down at the bottom for sunrise.
For successful wildlife photography one needs not only great subjects but also great angles and backgrounds. There is no off-road driving allowed in the crater which means that we are not, like on so many other safaris, parked on top of our subjects. This means that our angles are superior and that we can compose our subjects within our frames. But wait, there is more: Not only do we have better angles and room for composition but we have perfect backgrounds throughout the day. The steep crater walls offer magnificent green and blue hued backgrounds that eliminate the usual dynamic range issues and which allow you to create breathtakingly beautiful fine art imagery. But wait, there is even more: The word photography is Greek in origin, meaning to paint with light. It really is all about light and as the saying goes ‘amateurs worry about equipment, professionals worry about money and masters worry about light’. The high altitude combined with the time of year that you will be in the crater, means that there will be swirling mists, thundershowers and moody skies throughout the day. This means that photography on this Ngorongoro photo safari is not restricted to just the golden hours. As such we will stay out all day every day, photographing throughout the day and capturing mood filled images with gorgeous diffused light. The thundershowers bounce around the crater offering incredible vistas and rainbows, making this the ultimate outdoor studio for any wildlife photographer.
Only closed vehicles are allowed in the crater for safety reasons (yes, that is how close you will get to animals), but our vehicle is especially designed for photographers allowing us to shoot out the side and the top.
We will break for breakfast and lunch on the crater floor and the picnic site is also one of the best locations in the crater for photography. You will be able to photograph hippo at eye-level to your hearts content and you will be able to get inflight shots of the extremely elegant Grey Crowned Cranes. Zebras come down to drink in close proximity of our picnic spot too.
For 2 full days you will photograph the Ngorongoro Crater filled with all its incredible creatures and vistas. The crater offers forests, flower-dotted-plains and green rolling hills. It is ‘God’s own game reserve’ and it offers the best chance of photographing large elephant bulls, colloquially called ‘tuskers’, as well as free-ranging black rhino. For those of you who love all of Africa’s creatures, the general game on the crater floor is excellent with warthogs and large herds of zebra being the order of the day. There are resident lion prides (who often have cubs) and loads of smaller interesting creatures too, like golden jackals, mongooses and caracals. For those of you who enjoy birds, the crater offers incredible birdlife with water birds, eagles and a plethora of others. See a gallery of Ngorongoro Crater photographic possibilities further down the page.
With full memory cards, you will depart the crater each evening at 6pm, which is the latest that we can stay as there is a strict ‘gate closing time’ for all visitors. The scenic drive back up the wall and along the rim to your camp will leave you spellbound at Africa’s exceptional beauty and the incredible bounty of wildlife that you will have experienced each day.
Back in camp, a delicious gourmet dinner awaits, after which you turn in exhausted from the creative energy expelled during the 12 hours of photography. You will wake only to do it all again the following day! You will spend 2 full days in the crater, which is a total of 24 hours of safari driving and African safari photography. The crater is only 19km or 12 miles in diameter, so after 2 full days, you will have captured its bounty and driven every road a few times over but because of the light, angle, mood and subject material, in just 2 days you will build an incredible photographic portfolio that will really stand out.
This is the only and first photo safari to make the crater a real focus (as opposed to just blowing through on route to the Serengeti) and it’s the first specialised photo safari to visit the crater in the off-peak season. This means that it will yield photo results that are unique and different. Whether you are a seasoned photographer or just starting out, this safari will elevate your imagery and portfolio to a whole new level.
You take a breathtakingly beautiful and scenic drive down the crater highlands and onto the vast and endless plains of what is arguably Africa’s top safari park. The Serengeti really needs no introduction and for this one-of-a-kind safari we have selected one of the remotest safari camps in the park, and one that is located in the most scenic part of the Serengeti. Our camp is located right away from the usual photo tourist traps and in a part of the Serengeti that is so beautiful, that it defies description. Umbrella-shaped thorn trees, rocky outcrops, hidden valleys and 360 degree views of pure Africa, are the order of the day on this special safari.
You will enjoy 6 awesome safari drives in this very splendid corner of the Serengeti. With one of the highest concentrations of predators in all of Africa, the plains offer up exhilarating photography. With beautiful ‘koppies‘ dotted around this pocket of the Serengeti, the theme and mood of the photography that you did in the crater will continue. Your African safari photographs will capture a timeless and expansive Africa and nothing will say this more than a large male lion sitting on top of a rocky ‘koppie‘, with the wind blowing through his mane, surrounded by the ample grass plains. The Serengeti is one of Africa’s wildlife meccas and it is the ultimate home to both cheetah and lions. Your memory cards will fill up here fast, so bring extra!
Our camp in the Serengeti was initially chosen for its superb location but recently it was completely rebuilt and lucky for you, it is now the most luxurious camp located within the Serengeti National Park. Your room is large and spacious, with plenty of space to download and recharge your cameras. The friendly staff will simply blow you away!
On this day, a safari drive into the heart of the park will see you taking a short 40 minute flight back to Arusha for your onward travel home. A day room can be booked for you upon request. If there is time, we will enjoy one last meal together at a restaurant in a leafy suburb of Arusha and lunch is on me!
This is the end of the scheduled ‘Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti Signature Safari’, but booking an extension will ensure you capture even more on safari in Africa. Try the Ruaha National Park, known as the ‘connoisseurs park‘ to build an incredible African photographic experience, more details on this safari extension at the end of this page…
Weather: Due to the high altitude of this safari we will experience some cold and wet conditions so please bring warm clothes like trousers, fleeces, jacket and a beanie. Gloves are not needed unless you are sensitive to the cold. A good waterproof outer shell (gortex or equivalent) is recommended. Layered clothing is the way to go as of course we will have beautiful weather too. Please bring a raincoat for your camera so that you can stick it out and shoot like a pro. See here for a simple and effective raincoat that is light and easy to pack.
Camera support: I suggest that you bring a monopod with a good ball or gimbal head if you have a heavy lens. Tripods are optional but not needed.
– This safari has been timed to coincide with weather that offers sublime moody light. The crater walls offer great backgrounds and as a result of these two combined factors, you will spend a solid 12 hours each day in the crater photographing.
– This is a custom built safari to ensure you will receive expert tuition that larger group safaris cannot offer.
– You will receive help, guidance and advice on your camera settings whilst on safari drive.
– This safari has been timed so that the tourist masses are absent. There will only be a few other cars in the crater and in the Serengeti, which means you have two of Africa’s most famous icons largely to yourself.
– The crater has been dubbed the 8th natural wonder of the world and the Serengeti has been dubbed ‘Africa’s top park’. This is a safari that offers breathtaking views and vistas that will quite literally leave you speechless.
– If you are a photographer who enjoys playing with light and lines and giving your photographs mystery and mood, then this is the trip for you as the light is dramatic and so are the backgrounds.
– If you enjoy capturing your subject in its environment then this is definitely the safari for you (Relook at your photographic possibilities above…)
– There are also few better places to see predators in action than at the bottom of the crater. The steep crater walls keep both predators and prey in close proximity to each other.
– The crater floor is home to some of the biggest elephant ‘tuskers‘ left in Africa. These magnificent beasts roam the floor in peace and quiet as the crater walls guard them from poachers.
– The crater floor is the best place in all of Africa to get photographs of endangered free-ranging black rhinoceros.
– Professional African Wildlife Photographer Greg du Toit will host you every step of the way on this safari. Not only has he placed in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition with an image taken in the Serengeti but he has spent the last six years exploring and discovering a way to unlock the crater’s secrets. He is ready to share these secrets with you now on this one-of-a-kind safari.
– This one single safari offers you a complete and well-rounded portfolio of images that will make even the best professional photographers turn bright green.
– Because the Ngorongoro Crater is the proverbial Garden of Eden, filled with incredible wildlife, and because of the crater walls forming a pleasing 360 degree backdrop, this safari will see you building and growing your portfolio more than any other wildlife photo safari in Africa.
– The Serengeti is famous for its high cheetah and lion numbers and the tourist levels will also be at an all time low at this time of year.
– Photographers of all levels are welcome and you will receive expert tuition based on your level of experience.
– Potential predators on offer on this safari include cheetah, lion, leopard, golden jackals, bat-eared foxes, caracal, serval, hyena plus many smaller creatures like mongooses.
– When photographing predator action, one needs to really know and to be familiar with your camera. Greg has published a book titled ‘Getting It Right In Camera’ and he will customize your auto focus settings so that you can track a cheetah running at full speed on the plains.
– Not only are you visiting the Serengeti in the low tourist season but this leg of the safari plays out in the most beautiful part of the Serengeti with rocky ‘koppies‘ and vast plains, allowing you to capture unique photographs depicting one of Africa’s greatest parks.
– The amount of general plains game like zebra, gazelles, elephant, buffalo, hippo, warthog, eland, kongoni, baboons, monkey, birds (the list goes on and on) are in such abundance on this safari that you will experience and photograph one of the true wildlife meccas of Africa.
– For those of you who enjoy walking, landscapes, exploring true wilderness and taking galaxy and star trail shots with baobabs, there is an extension to this safari in Ruaha National Park.
– Both lodges chosen for this safari have been chosen for their excellent location and proximity to meet your photographic objectives. But, both are two of the finest safari establishments in Tanzania, making this a real no-brainer.
– The last point as to why this is the safari for you, is simply because it will not only elevate your photographic portfolio to new heights but it will make you fall in love with Africa all over again. If you are only going to ever do one photo safari to Africa, then do this one because it shows you Africa’s most beautiful wildlife filled vistas and far away from the tourist hordes.
For those of you wanting to lengthen your trip, we offer a very exciting extension to this Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti photo safari. This extension is booked on an adhoc bespoke basis and for exact details and a separate costing, please enquire when booking the main tour.
Ruaha National Park is known as the ‘connoisseurs park‘ and for good reason. Ruaha offers pure unadulterated wild bush country. You will enjoy a mobile safari that will see you experiencing and seeing parts of Ruaha that few people ever get to see. A walking safari and mobile camping experience is what this extension is all about. Ruaha is regarded as one of Africa’s wildest bush parks and it therefore makes sense to visit it in April/May which is also the low tourist season. Ruaha has exceptional baobab trees, perfect for star trails. For this extension we have special permission to walk in Ruaha during the green season. This is as wild and as real as Africa gets. This extension is aimed at those who enjoy walking, landscapes and a sense of wild adventure as opposed to a more conventional big game photographic experience. This Ruaha extension is booked on a private request basis only, so please enquire to receive a costing and bespoke itinerary. The great thing about Ruaha is that it receives its rain from Dec through to March so unlike the rest of East Africa, April/May are dry months. I was privileged enough to do a portfolio for Africa Geographic magazine titled ‘Beneath the Radar‘. It was a 22 month project and I was based in Ruaha.
*Because this extension runs at a time of year when all camps are closed for the season, we need to book our own exclusive mobile camp. Ruaha is also on the other end of the country, in super remote bush country. For these reasons, the cost of this very special extension is high. The cost will of course come down if you are a group as we have the whole camp to ourselves.