LOCATION, LOCATION, AND LOCATION
3 amazing locations in the Mara
August 25-September 4, 2017
Not only is the Great Migration the most exciting, heart-pounding safari in Africa, it is arguably the greatest wildlife photography experience in the natural world. Each year, between July and October, approximately 1.5 million wildebeest, 400,000 zebras, and 200,000 gazelles migrate through the Mara, chasing the rain and eating the tall grasses as they come from and return to the Serengeti in Tanzania. This is a giant moving feast for the predators, creating one of nature’s most astonishing dramas
This itinerary takes the traditional migration photo safari to the next level by offering multiple locations throughout the Mara, including both sides of the Mara River and a location right on the banks of the Mara River almost walking distance to the main crossing points. Each location has been carefully selected for its known predator territories, dramatic Mara River crossing points, and the unique beauty of the landscape.
This Signature Great Migration Safari is designed to make the most of your long journey to this spectacular event and world-renowned reserve, beyond being quickly dropped into one location with a focus on the crossing areas.
This will mark my 15th great migration season in the Mara, with thousands of hours of experience, including many spent driving my own Land Rover.
In constant motion, the migration moves throughout many regions of the Mara, from the boarder of Tanzania, through the rich predator areas, near the swamps, and through the thick of the Balanites trees at the bottom of the dramatic Oldoinyio escarpment. From these wide-open game-filled vistas to the remote corners of the reserve, coving 1,510 square kilometers, you will seek vast photographic opportunities against a variety of backgrounds. They say the grass is not always greener, but sometimes it is! The rains may come to one side of the Mara and the migration could hold back on the other for a few days. Inevitably, when siting on one side, you also want to experience a crossing from the other, so we stay on both sides! You will leave knowing you did not miss experiencing all the Mara has to offer.
There may be a cheetah with six cubs in the Talek/Chumvi area, while there is a large pride of lions with new cubs south of the Talek River, a leopard with a cub near Snake River, or a black rhino with a calf in the Mara Triangle across the Mara River. The advantage of staying in multiple locations is you do not need to compromise and drive for an hour to get to a sighting, then leave early to race back to camp and miss the best light, pay extra fees to cross into another area of the Mara, or worse – miss the opportunity due to logistics. This is the ultimate way to photograph in the renowned Maasai Mara during the migration.
This safari was designed not only to capture a solid, diverse portfolio of images during your 10 days in the Mara, but also produce life-long memories from an experience of a lifetime. This safari is limited to 8 photographers in three vehicles. This allows for greater freedom, flexibility, better group dynamics, more one on one time with the leader, and the feeling of a more personal, private safari.
Piper Mackay prides herself on creating artistic wildlife images, using natural dramatic lighting, combined with manipulating camera settings. She will work passionately with you to capture images that stand above the point, click, and shoot the action photographs.
Deluxe Photographic Safari Vehicles
Our vehicles are fully extended Land Cruisers specially designed to give photographers the most flexibility and maximum space. The sides are open, no sliding windows, with full ledges to support proper molar bags, which we supply. The roof has a special leather roll back top, so there are no bars holding up a pop-top, which create obstructions of your lens placement. They ensure plenty of space and options for using clamps, molar beanbags, panning plates, and other gear to aid your ability to capture the best images.
Experienced Driver Guides
Our driver guides are all silver rated and have thousands of hours of experience throughout the entire Mara. They understand the needs of photographers and the importance of quickly positioning the vehicle for the best light, composition, and exceptional photographs. During the migration, we will have a fleet of vehicles throughout the Mara sharing information over our private channel. Our main guides also have vast personal networks, through which they receive information over their personal phones. Having a large solid network in the Mara is critically important for the best photographic opportunities.
Extra Weight Allowance
We have arranged extra weight allowance on your flights to and from the Mara, so your gear and luggage can remain with you. This is a big trip, and anything could happen when transferring gear and luggage by ground transfer.
Mid-day image review
This safari is designed to spend most of our time in the field, behind the lens, capturing award-winning images. During the mid-day, back in camp when the light becomes harsh and the Mara becomes a little quiet, we will review images and discuss image techniques.
Professional Photography Guide
You will be guided by professional African wildlife and Tribal photographer, Piper Mackay. Many of her images from these locations have been used in articles for major publications, which you can view on this site. Originally from the US, she is now a resident of Kenya and spends much of her time driving her own Land Rover through this exotic land. Her passion, eagerness to teach, and outgoing personality ensures her guests an exciting experience.
Day 1. August 25, 2018
We will greet you upon your arrival at the international airport in Nairobi, Kenya. You will be met with a smile from a member of our ground team and transferred to your hotel by private vehicle. Encompassed with beautiful gardens, traditional African décor, a swimming pool, and spa, the Serena is the perfect atmosphere to relax after your long journey and prepare for the most exciting safari in Africa. As this is a travel day and most flights arrive in the evening, we have not included any meals. There are several restaurants at the Serena, so you many dine at your leisure.
Accommodation: Serena Nairobi
Day 2-4 August 26-28, 2018
Today, you will awake in a magical new world, with the aroma of Kenyan coffee brewing. We will meet at breakfast for a safari briefing before driving to the local airport for our flight to the Maasai Mara. Excitement builds quickly as you fly over the Mara and see the wildlife below. Take out your gear, as you never know what we may see driving to camp! We start at the best location in the Mara for the Migration. Our luxury bush camp is nestled unobtrusively on the bank of the Mara river and only five minutes to the main crossing points! We will have enough time to eat lunch and settle in before heading out on our first game drive.
The adrenaline starts pumping when you see the herds line up and march towards the river, gathering along the banks in mass. The suspense begins as you watch the first wildebeest, zebra, topi, or gazel put in a hoof to test the waters. The drama unfolds as they are spooked and the mass herd runs back, leaving a thick cloud of dust, or they plunge into the croc infested waters in a mass stampede, risking injury or death, to reach the other side. During these three days, we will be in the thick of it, so our focus will be on the mass herds, the river crossings, and all the action created. There is never a guarantee of a crossing, but with 10 days in the Mara, our chances are high. While at this location, we are so close to the crossing points, we will be the first vehicles to check the crossing points and the last vehicles to leave.
In the late evening, we will sit around the campfire, hearing the roar of the Mara River, as we excitedly share the events of that day. After a scrumptious diner, you will be escorted to your luxury canvas tents. There is no better way to experience Africa than by spending a few nights under canvas, listening to zebras barking, hyenas crying, and possibly hearing the roar of a lion in the distance.
Accommodation: Mara Crossing Camp
Day 5-6 August 29-30, 2018
After our early morning game drive and breakfast, we will game drive across the savanna, crossing over the Mara River, on the way to our next accommodation in the Mara Triangle. Our lodge sits high on the hill, overlooking the vast plains and the Mara River. You can sit in a lounge chair in front of the pool with a cold drink and watch the great herds of wildebeest and zebra gathering as they approach the river. At a moment’s notice, we can hop in the Land Cruisers and race down to the river!
We will keep an eye on the herds building up, but we will also take advantage of the dramatic landscape and uniqueness of the Mara Triangle managed by the Mara Conservancy. The highest concentration of Balanites trees lies at the bottom of the dramatic Oldoinyio escarpment that marks the east side of the rift valley. Imagine photographing a herd of wildebeest or Zebra scattered among them in first or last light with the escarpment as the backdrop. The herds of elephants are also known to graze through the trees on their way to the swamps. The illusive endangered black Rhino is spotted more often in the triangle. Fewer vehicles are on this side of the river, and in the designated low zones, we can respectfully drive off the roads when sighting a “big cat.”
Accommodation: Mara Serena
Day 7-10 August 31-September 3, 2018
After our early morning game drive and breakfast, we will drive to our last camp that lies between multiple overlapping predator territories, one of the best big cat locations in the Mara. The next 4 days, we will focus on the big cats, including the Marsh pride, made famous by the BBC’s series, “Big Cat Diary”, the double cross pride, and the Rekero pride, multiple leopard territories, and all the known cheetahs. In these vast plains, we will probably also see hippos, Maasai giraffes, common zebras, gnu, impala, Thompson’s and grant’s gazelles, topi, hartebeest, black-backed jackals, Eland, spotted hyenas, and more. Since we are centrally located with a vast network, if we get word of a build-up, we can still easily get to the crossing points.
This part of our safari also takes place in the heart of Maasai land. Icons of Kenya, the Maasia warriors once dominated the plains of East Africa. During our stay in this area, you will have the option to visit the Maasai Bomo at sunrise, where Piper has a special relationship. Soft hues of light will gradually filter over the traditional huts, as the village comes to life with morning activities, a surreal experience and one that will be much more special than a regular village visit.
Our camp is positioned to blend unobtrusively into the surrounding vegetation and has an authentic safari feel of bygone days. There is also a special photographers’ lounge. During mid-day, when the light is hash and the animals are quiet, we will gather in a special photographers’ tent for image review, presentations, and to share information. Participants always comment on how much they love the camaraderie among other talented photographers. Learning from each other and the leader is a huge added value, as everyone brings different perspectives, knowledge, and skills. We can discuss everything from camera gear, creative techniques, and post-production to fine art prints, websites, and how to present your images to the market you are targeting.
In the evening, we will sit around the campfire under the starry African sky and look back on our amazing day in awe.
Accommodation: Mara bush camp
Day 11 September 4, 2018
We will rise early for one last amazing game drive. We will depart from the private airstrip, only 5 minutes from our camp, and fly into Wilson private airport in Nairobi. You will be transported to the Ole Sereni, which sits along Nairobi National Park, where you will have dayrooms. This will give you a chance to rest, properly clean up, or repack before your long flight home. You can also enjoy a leisurely afternoon around the pool, have lunch/dinner with a view of the park, or just meet up with your new friends for a last drink. In the evening, you will be transported by private safari vehicles to the airport.
Day room: Ole Sereni
Is this safari for you?
Photographers of ALL levels, who are passionate about wildlife and nature photography, are welcome. This safari is timed during the great migration and focuses on producing quality images. During this safari, we will see a vast variety of exotic wildlife; however, some special subjects may require watching their behavior and waiting for those special moments. This is when patience pays off, rewarding you with extraordinary photographs. If your objective is to have the most images you can shoot by rushing to every subject as fast as you can, then racing off to the next, and checking off a list, then this is probably not the right safari for you.
We will spend most of our time and effort in the field, unless it is quiet and the light is too harsh; we return to our camp/lodge for the midday break. If the herds are lining up and it looks like there could be a large crossing, we may sit by the river for several hours and be in the field most of the day. We will waken before sunrise each day to be in position for the best early morning light. Most mornings, we will bring a picnic breakfast with us, so we need not miss any opportunities by having to go back to camp for breakfast. There may be days we take a box lunch with us if we anticipate being at the river waiting for a large crossing. We will be back at camp every evening for a scrumptious dinner and drinks around the fire.
Since this itinerary is built to spend most of our time in the field, this is not a formal workshop. As we need to be flexible around the action in the field, there will not be any “planned” lectures, slide shows, or formal instruction, but Piper will give photographic advice throughout the safari. She is there to assist you and is available for questions on all photographic topics, including business questions on marketing, branding, and creating a niche. When there is an afternoon break, she will be happy to review your images, portfolios, or give an impromptu slide show or talk. This is largely why the group sizes are kept small, so she can assist you when you need help and spend quality time with you in an amazing location.
If you have any concerns, please email Piper at any time.
The cost of this photo safari is $9,895.00 per person. The price is based on double occupancy; single room supplement is $1,395, if available.
If a solo guest is unwilling to share and requests single accommodations upon registration, then a single supplement will be charged. If you are a solo guest, who will share accommodations, we will do our best to match you with another guest of the same gender. If we cannot match you with another solo guest of the same gender, then the single supplement will be charged, up to, but not exceeding the fee of the single supplement. In this case, whenever possible, we will try to discount the single supplement up to 50%.
A USD $1,895 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of registration to secure your spot. You may purchase travel insurance that will refund your deposit if cancel your trip.
- USD $1,895.00 non-refundable deposit to confirm your place on this safari
- 2nd payment of USD $3,500.00 is due January 25, 2018
- Final payment/balance is due June 1, 2018
- We highly recommend trip and cancellation insurance.
- In-country flights to and from the Maasai Mara with extra weight allowance
- Airport transfers on the day of arrival and departure
- Accommodations on shared basis
- Guaranteed row and window seat in private 4×4 Land cruisers
- All National Parks fees, Game Reserves entrance fees, and taxes
- All meals, starting with breakfast on August 26th up to breakfast on September 4th
- Evacuation insurance to a Nairobi hospital (transport only – Cost of hospitalization NOT included)
- Experienced safari agent to help you with pre- or post-safari extended travel in Kenya, Tanzania, or Rwanda
What’s Not Included:
- Travel Insurance
- Personal purchases (such as curios, spirit liquors, telephone calls, internet, laundry…)
- Gratuities for the guides, staff at accommodations, and airport transfers ($25 -$30 per day)
- Optional extra activities (balloon rides, walking safaris, etc.)
- Pre- and post-safari tours
- Meals and accommodations before or after the safari
- International flights to and from the African continent
If you are excited to come on this Signature Great Migration Safari, now is the time to grab one of only 8 spots. We must receive both your esign registration form and your deposit/s to confirm your spot. Each participant must fill out registration form, but you may change the quantity on the deposit and make multiple deposit with one transaction.
1. Click this link to access the e-registration form. At the end of the form you will be asked to confirm your email address, which will complete the registration. A copy of your registration will be emailed to you and to Piper Mackay Photo Safaris.
2. Use the button to make your deposit. You do not need to have a Paypal account to use this payment service.