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An African safari is on every photographer’s bucket list. This trip to Africa is focused on Tanzania, famous for its unforgettable wildlife, exotic culture, and breathtaking landscapes. We’ll go to well-known places such as the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater and some lesser-known but equally amazing places such as Lake Manyara. We’ll visit a local Maasai village and there’s an optional hot-air balloon ride as well.
My trip is a custom-designed photographer’s safari:
- Lots of photography (of course!): time to immerse yourself in shooting wildlife, discussing it with other avid photographers, and learning/practicing your digital workflow.
- The right location and time of year to ensure your best chances of capturing lots of thrilling wildlife in great light.
- Comfortable vehicles driven by expert naturalist guides who can help you identify animals and understand their behavior.
- Lodging that is safe and comfortable.
Here are some highlights:
Lake Manyara National Park is a small jewel, tucked between the high escarpment of the Great Rift Valley and the lake which teems with flamingo. We’ll start our adventure with half a day here, have lunch in the park, and see plenty of bird life, baboons, and elephants and, if we’re very lucky, some rare tree-climbing lions.
The Crater is called both Africa’s Garden of Eden and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It is the world’s largest intact caldera and is home to up to 20,000 mammals. We’ll stay several nights on the crater rim and descend to the crater floor as early as possible each morning for the best light. The Crater contains an incredible variety of wildlife that makes it difficult to know where to point your lens! Luckily, the animals are accustomed to vehicles so sometimes they come quite close. The high predator population consists of lions, cheetah, hyena, and jackals and can make for exciting drama. The large herd animals like wildebeest, gazelles, and zebra can lend your images a sense of immense scale and the Crater walls make great backgrounds to photograph large mammals like buffalo, elephant and endangered black rhino. And if you prefer birds, there are large birds like the Kori Bustard and plentiful cranes, storks, and the flamingos along a soda lake at one side of the Crater floor.
The day we leave the Crater to travel to the Serengeti, we will stop at a Maasai village. The Maasai are gregarious and welcoming and eager to share their culture. This is a special opportunity to speak with them, learn more about their culture, and photograph the people.
The Serengeti is the most famous wildlife region in the world. The name derives from the local Maasai word “Serengit” which means “endless plains” and those plains contain almost 100 species of mammals, over 500 species of birds, and the one-million strong wildebeest migration. Along with the wildebeest, the plains contain large herds of zebra, antelope such as gazelles, and if we’re lucky, we’ll see big cats on the hunt. We’ll split our time in the Serengeti: half of our time will be in the short-grass plains of Ndutu, the southernmost region of the park and where the migration will be. We stay in a classic tented camp right in the middle of the action, leaving early in the morning for best light and following the game where we find it. We’ll then travel through the long-grass plains up to the central Serengeti which is the best area to track leopard. From our lodge in the central hills, we’ll see the varied landscape of the Serengeti: granite outcroppings called kopjes which frequently have lion photogenically perched and looking for prey, woodlands of acacia overflowing with bird life, and rivers with hippo pools.
Hot-Air Balloon Ride (optional)
On one morning in the Serengeti, there is an opportunity to take an optional hot-air balloon ride at sunrise. This is a fantastic chance to view the Serengeti from a unique perspective and experience the early morning sun illuminate the landscape with warm, golden light and long shadows. With luck, you’ll capture images of herds from above as well. After you land, you will have a full English breakfast in the bush including champagne. Although this option is highly recommended, it is not required and those who choose not to go will enjoy a morning game drive.
Arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport where you will be met and taken to the lodge for dinner with the group and an overnight stay.
After breakfast, our local guides will meet us at the lodge and we’ll depart on safari to Lake Manyara National Park, a lesser-known but spectacular park for its scenery and wildlife. We’ll have lunch in the park and spend most of our day viewing game within the northern part of the park and along the lake shore. In the early evening we’ll continue up the Great Rift Valley to a tented lodge for dinner and an overnight stay.
March 20 – 21
After breakfast, we will depart the Lake Manyara area and head to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where we’ll spend 3 nights. Ngorongoro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best locations in the world for viewing wildlife. Wildlife viewing at the crater is great year-round, but during the wet season when we will be visiting, there will be fewer crowds of tourists. Our safari lodge is perched on the eastern rim of the crater (great sunsets!) and ideally situated at the head of one of the two access roads into the crater. This means that each day, we can take breakfast with us and descend to the crater floor at first light. We’ll spend all day searching for game, breaking only for lunch in a photogenic spot. At the end of the day, we’ll return to the lodge for dinner and a well-earned rest in our rooms.
Today, after breakfast, we move on to the Serengeti National Park via a mix of activities: a short game drive in the morning followed by a visit to a Maasai village at Mt. Makarot. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about this amazing culture and make fascinating portraits. On our way to the Serengeti, we’ll eat lunch and visit Oldupai Gorge and its small but famous museum founded by Mary Leakey, dedicated to educating visitors about paleoanthropological research and artifacts from the surrounding area. We finish the day with dinner at our next destination: our mobile tented camp near the shores of Lake Ndutu.
March 23 – 24
Ndutu is a short grass plains area in the southernmost part of the Serengeti and our camp is right in the middle of it. This means we’ll spend more time viewing wildlife and less time driving to it. We’ll spend our time here leaving by dawn, eating breakfast and lunch on the road while we photograph the scenery. This time of year is calving season for the migratory antelope and wildebeest and our expert guides will bring us to various spots for prime game viewing. At night, we will have a campfire and dinner back at camp and an opportunity to share and discuss our photos with the group.
After breakfast, we’ll do a game drive as we transfer to our final Serengeti destination: our safari lodge that overlooks the plains of the southwest part of the Serengeti. Our lodge is right in the path of the world’s largest animal migration, and we’ll be there during peak season. We’ll have dinner at the lodge before we go back to our rooms to rest up for more exciting game viewing.
March 26 – 27
In this area of the Serengeti, we will have many opportunities to photograph wildlife. We also will offer an optional early morning balloon flight from nearby Seronera, to capture a different perspective of the animals and beautiful landscapes.
In the morning, we’ll get one last chance to catch the wildlife before heading to Seronera Airstrip in time to connect with our flight to Arusha. In Arusha, we’ll have lunch together, and head back to our lodge where a day room with WiFi will be available before evening transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport or other connections.
All park entry and conservation fees, all accommodation and meals as described in the detailed itinerary, airport transfers upon arrival and departure, private safari vehicles with an entire row per photographer, professionally trained, English-speaking drivers/guides, professional photographer leader to assist you in the field, internal flight from the Serengeti to Arusha, bottled water during game drives, local medical evacuation in case of emergency, safari planning booklet, U.S.-based trip coordinator to help with air reservations and trip preparation questions, and support from tour operator with offices in Arusha, Tanzania.
International airfare to Arusha, Tanzania (JRO) and any airline/airport fees and taxes, additions to this itinerary such as extra days before or after the trip, passport fees, visa fees, immunizations, and travel insurance, tips for guide and lodging staff, laundry, drinks (except bottled water in your safari vehicle), hospital bills and international evacuation in the event of an emergency, and camera and computer equipment.
Terms & Conditions
- I make best efforts to deliver the itinerary described on the Itinerary tab but sometimes circumstances beyond my control require changes. I reserve the right to alter this itinerary at any time if necessary. If I do make changes, I will notify you as soon as possible. Also, items such as park fees and in-country flight costs can sometimes change. If there are additional costs due to the changes, these will be passed on to you.
- In the event the listed accommodations are not available, I will use alternative accommodations.
- Refunds: Up to 90 days before the trip, you can cancel for 50% of your deposit. Between 90 days and 30 days before the trip, you can cancel and receive a refund of 75% of the total trip cost. Within 30 days of the trip, I cannot offer any refunds. I encourage you to purchase trip cancellation insurance in case you need to cancel.
Is this a photo workshop or a photo tour?
This is a photo tour. Instead of a workshop’s classroom environment with predetermined lessons and exercises, you’ll shoot in the field every day. Each day’s agenda can change dynamically according to weather or wildlife. Eager to ask questions and learn? You can take advantage of informal talks about composition or digital processing or ask for a private critique. Or just rest and relax in your room instead. The choice is up to you.
What are the vehicles like?
The vehicles are Land Rovers or Land Cruisers: reliable and rugged yet still very comfortable inside. There is cold, bottled water during our game drives and a pop-top roof for shade from the sun and 360-degree views of the wildlife. You’ll have your own complete row with plenty of room for you and your gear, and of course, the driver has a radio/phone for any emergencies, help locating game, etc.
What is the lodging like?
Over the course of the trip, we will stay in different types of lodging. In all of the lodging, there is great food, comfortable beds with all linens, private toilet/bathroom facilities, and power to charge your electronics. All of the facilities provide laundry services for a nominal fee. The lodging types are:
Classic, mobile tented camps. Think Out of Africa. These are very large canvas tents but don’t mistake this for camping. They each have bedroom furniture and an en-suite bathroom and plenty of room to stand-up and walk around. There’s a group dining tent as well as a bar tent to relax and share stories with your trip mates. These camps are mobile so they can relocate to stay close to the wildlife as it moves throughout the year. They’re a bit of luxury in the middle of a remote, wild place and you’ll drift off to sleep hearing distant calls of lion or baboon.
Permanent tented camps. These camps have more enduring structures than mobile tented camps. Your tent has canvas walls but is built on a permanent foundation. Each has comfortable bedroom furniture, an en-suite bathroom, and a patio area with a view. The camp’s facilities typically include a beautiful dining room and bar area with a thatched roof and stunning views.
Safari lodges. Here, you’ll have a room in a larger building instead of a tent. These properties have extensive facilities and amenities but I choose properties with a local feel rather than something like a Western hotel you can see anywhere.
Is there somewhere to charge batteries during the tour?
Yes. I have made arrangements so that each night you can charge batteries, laptops, and anything else you need.
What can I expect to see and photograph on the tour?
You’ll see lots of beautiful landscapes and local people but most of our time is spent photographing wildlife. You can expect to see abundant wildlife: the season, the locations, and the local guides I use ensure the best chances for getting close and with great light. It’s important to remember though that the animals are truly wild and I can’t make guarantees about what animals we see, or where and when.
How long do we shoot each day?
If the light is good and the wildlife cooperates, we might stay out all day. We can linger at one site for hours if the subject matter is worthwhile and everyone is excited. On a typical, non-travel day, you can expect to spend about 8 hours shooting.
I am a beginner photographer. Is this tour for me?
Expect to travel with other photographers who are serious about their pastime. Some might even be semi-pro or pro and there may be some big cameras and lenses. That said, I welcome all levels of photographers and I am there to help, answer questions, and provide friendly advice.
Will I be traveling with experienced guides?
Yes. Tusker Trail and Hoopoe Safaris are the partners I have chosen to help with everything from pre-trip logistics to local lodging, expert guides, and on-the-ground support. Both companies have over 30 years of experience running tours in Tanzania and are tightly knit into the local community. Tusker Trail and Hoopoe Safaris have thousands of happy clients around the world. Check out my Partner page for more information and links to their websites.
Will I get photography instruction?
Yes, if you want it. While there are no formal lectures or curriculum, you will receive input, review, and informal instruction from a professional photographer. And if you don’t want it, that’s fine too.
How many people are in the group?
The groups range from 6 – 12 people. Keeping the group small ensures the best experience for everyone.
Can non-photographer spouses come along?
Yes. Non-photographer spouses can have a great time on the tour, but they should be aware that the tour is 100% focused on photography. When we’re not tracking game in the vehicle, we’re typically talking about each others’ work, recharging our batteries (literally!), or planning our next outing. If you’re not sure your non-photographer spouse would be up for the adventure, call me to discuss expectations.
Space is limited. If this trip sounds thrilling to you, what are you waiting for?
Still have questions and want to learn more? Contact me to talk about it!