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Masai Mara & Serengeti Migration Safari - Jan/Feb 2019

31 January - 13 February 2019

Safari Leaders: Jack and Rikki Swenson


Return to Photo Safaris and Photographic Workshops

In February 2019 Jack and Rikki Swenson will lead a private group of photographers into the world-famous Masai Mara / Serengeti Ecosystem, exploring four of the best locations this region has to offer. This safari offers an unparalleled view of East Africa’s greatest wildlife region.

This safari has been designed for anyone who enjoys wildlife (including non-photographers), and especially for photographers of any skill level, including beginners. This is definitely not the standard safari circuit itinerary, but rather a customized program where we have personally selected each locale for its outstanding wildlife and varied habitats, with days paced for your interests and enjoyment.

• This itinerary utilizes private air charters where possible, to maximize your time in wildlife parks and reserves (all internal flights are included).

• Game drives have no more than four guests per safari vehicle, so you'll have plenty of room for gear and elbows. You don't have to be a photographer to appreciate this extra detail.

• Daily opportunities in the field or at camp for one-on-one tutelage from Jack & Rikki at your level of proficiency. They customize the content to match your interests and experience.

Cheetah family - Copyright © Rikki Swenson

Kenya and Tanzania in February are phenomenal places for those who love watching wildlife and especially for photographers. The scenic beauty and tremendous amount of wildlife to be seen with ease, makes East Africa the classic safari experience. We've chosen February for this annual Photo Safari for numerous reasons, and these are the top three:

This is a fantastic time of year for observing predators - lion, cheetah, and leopard! Big cats are found throughout this safari. These locations are all well known by top wildlife and nature photographers and filmmakers. BBC’s “Big Cat Diary” and Disney "African Cats: Kingdom of Courage" have been filmed in the same area of the Masai Mara that we visit. They chose this location for its abundance of big cats.

In February the southern Serengeti Plains are the epicenter of the Great Migration, and it's an exceptionally exciting time to be there. The yearly migration cycle begins here when over a million wildebeest, hundreds of thousands of zebras, as well as Thomson's and Grant's gazelles move into the region. It is here, in the relative safety of the short grass plains, where vast numbers of wildebeest give birth during the month of February. There is nothing like being there amid these herds, grazing for 360° and as far as the eye can see, the plains dotted with wildebeest, zebra, and gazelles. It is something spectacular, like being in the midst of a top-notch wildlife special.

Baby animals. A multitude of young animals can be seen in both Kenya and Tanzania at this time of year - giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs, zebras, wildebeests, hippos, gazelles, baboons, and monkeys. It is an special pleasure to see and photograph so many youngsters actively exploring their new world, and to observe the parental and bonding behaviors between powerful adult animals and their growing young. It is touching to watch a baby elephant learning to use its trunk or to see a newborn wildebeest calf struggle to its feet for the first time, knowing that it will soon be keeping up with the herd (less than 9 minutes from birth to trotting with mom back to the herd!). There is always great variety to what will be seen.

Male lion - Copyright © Rikki Swenson


31 January - 01 February 2019; (1 night)
HEMINGWAY'S HOTEL - Nairobi, Kenya            Jump to Hemingways Hotel

Hemingways Hotel - Nairobi, KenyaOn arrival in Kenya, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for an overnight at the luxury Hemingway’s Hotel.

Note: For those not participating in the pre-trip extension, and who wish to enjoy the private Elephant Experience at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust today at 3pm, please be advised that you will need to arrive a day earlier to ensure this happens. (See details in the Pre-Safari Extension below).

01-05 February 2019; (4 Nights)
LITTLE GOVERNORS' CAMP - Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya
            Jump to Little Governors' Camp

Little Governors' Camp, Masai Mara, KenyaThis morning we fly by private charter to the renowned Masai Mara Reserve. The Mara is a large game reserve, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named in honor of the Maasai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar: "Mara," which in Maa (the Maasai language) translates to "spotted," an apt description for the trees, scrub, savanna grasslands, and cloud shadows that mark the area. It is globally famous for its exceptional population of lions, leopards and cheetahs.

We will enjoy 4 nights here at Little Governors' Camp. The camp is intimate in character, with just 17 luxury en-suite tents tucked around a large watering hole that is regularly visited by both birds and wildlife. The camp is located along the bank of the Mara River. At Little Governors’ there is a resident family of warthogs that wander freely through the camp and guests may need to make way for elephants which sometimes visit the camp at various times throughout the day and night.

05-08 February 2019; (3 Nights)
LEMALA NDUTU TENTED CAMP - Southern Serengeti, Tanzania
            Jump to Lemala Ndutu Camp

Lemala Ndutu dining tent - Southern Serengeti, TanzaniaToday fly by private charter from the Mara, via Migori and Tarime airstrips (with a cross border road transfer), to the Lake Ndutu region of the Serengeti Plains. The camp we will be using is situated inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), in the heart of the Southern Serengeti Plains, in an excellent game-viewing region.

Perched on the edge of a permanent marsh, Lemala Ndutu Tented Camp is the ultimate amphitheater for the wildebeest migration between December and March. The camp's 12 tents are sited to capture the boundless drama that accompanies the migration. The migration arrives to the highly nutritious short-grass plains of the southern Serengeti in December and the wildebeests typically begin calving in February.

We will spend 3 nights here enjoying many opportunities to encounter and capture the endless herds of wildebeest and zebra which call this region home at this time of year. While here, you may arrange for an optional morning balloon safari.

08-10 February 2019; (2 Nights)
SERENGETI PIONEER CAMP - Central Serengeti, Tanzania
            Jump to Serengeti Pioneer Camp

Serengeti Pioneer Camp, TanzaniaToday we will enjoy a full-day game drive transfer to the central portion of the Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti hosts the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world, which helps secure it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and as one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world. The Serengeti is also renowned for its large lion population and is one of the best places to observe prides in their natural environment. Approximately 70 large mammal and 500 bird species are found here. This high diversity is a function of diverse habitats, including riverine forests, swamps, kopjes, grasslands, and woodlands.

We will spend 2 nights in this region. Serengeti Pioneer Camp is ideally situated to offer superlative access to the annual migration when it is in this region, plus the the ‘Big 5’ (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino). The camp has sweeping views overlooking Moru Kopjes, Lake Magadi and the endless flowing grassland plains. Paying homage to the mobile camps of the 1930’s, a time when an African safari was truly a journey into the unknown, Serengeti Pioneer Camp’s ‘zero footprint’ and close proximity to nature combines to make an unmistakably distinctive and truly individual offering. Comprising of ten luxury tented guest rooms, all of which have en-suite facilities, the tent interiors are designed to evoke the very best of an era long-gone but certainly not forgotten.

10-13 February 2019; (3 Nights)
SANCTUARY KUSINI CAMP - Southern Serengeti, Tanzania
            Jump to Sanctuary Kusini Camp

Sanctuary Kusini Camp, Serengeti, TanzaniaToday we enjoy a game drive transfer to a remote section of the southern Serengeti, to the only permanent camp in this unspoiled and remote part of the Serengeti, where each year wildebeests congregate on the camp's "doorstep". We will spend 3 nights at the fantastic Sanctuary Kusini Camp.

Built around a spectacular rocky outcrop, or 'kopje', the camp's communal areas include a dining area, lounge and library, as well as a campfire. The views from the kopje are simply sensational - the perfect spot for sundowners and stargazing. The camp is also ideal for seeing cheetah and wildebeest that congregate on the grassy plains in the calving season from mid-December to March.

Nestled in amongst the woodland, each tent has carefully thought-out views of the bush making it the perfect hideaway for casual game viewing. Each tent has its own personal attendant to look after guests during their stay. A large private wooden veranda with comfortable furnishings extends in front of each tent, with many having views of the plains below where zebra, buffalo and lion are a common sight year-round, an ideal spot to relax after a hot restorative shower.

13 February 2019

On this final morning, following a final game drive, we will transfer to the nearby airstrip before boarding our private charter to Arusha Airport. On arrival you will be transferred to the Lake Duluti Serena Hotel where day-rooms have been reserved. There will be a stop en route at the Cultural Heritage Centre for some last-minute shopping. High quality art as well as local curios and even jewelry, books, and spices, etc. are available. Later this evening you will be transferred to Kilimanjaro International Airport for your flight home.

International flights may be scheduled to depart that evening to home destinations. See optional travel extensions below.

NOTE:  Air travel and customized extensions to this safari, including other camps in Kenya and/or Tanzania, gorilla trekking in Rwanda, or other destinations may be arranged through Eyes on Africa as desired.  Ask us for further information.



27-28 January 2019; (1 night)
HEMINGWAY'S HOTEL - Nairobi, Kenya            Jump to Hemingways Hotel

Hemingways Hotel - Nairobi, KenyaOn arrival in Kenya, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for an overnight at the luxury Hemingway’s Hotel.

28-30 January 2019; (3 Nights)
ELEPHANT BEDROOM CAMP - Samburu Region, Kenya
            Jump to Elephant Bedroom Camp

Elephant Bedroom Camp, Samburu, KenyaThis morning, we will fly by private charter to Samburu National Reserve. Samburu derives its name from the native Samburu people of Kenya who live here. The Ewaso Nyiro River cuts through this reserve, drawing a diverse population of African animals to the park. The reserve's topography is mainly open savanna (grassland) with clusters of acacia trees, forest, thorn trees and grassland vegetation along with an unusual backdrop of doum palm trees, and geology reminiscent of the American southwest. Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness. Their story was made famous by the bestselling book and award-winning movie "Born Free".

The game reserve is renowned for its rare species of animals unique on this itinerary, namely: the long-necked gerenuk antelope, Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich and Beisa oryx. The elusive leopard is often found in the park, along with lion and cheetah. The region also has a good diversity of birds. Other African wildlife present in the park include the longest studied family groups of African elephants, herds of African buffalo, as well as hippo and crocodile.

Here we will have the opportunity to watch and photograph a Samburu traditional dance performance where the long-limbed morans, or young men, dance by jumping high in the air from a standing position. In addition, we have arranged a private visit with the researchers of Ewaso Lions, a highly respected and inspirational wildlife research and conservation organization based in Samburu.

Our home for the next 3 nights will be Elephant Bedroom Camp, built in an area rich with wildlife and along a route frequented by elephants on their daily path down to the Ewaso Nyiro River. The 12 spacious tents have rustic and colorful African touches, offering all the comforts, including a private plunge pool on the deck.

30 January 2019
            Jump to David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

David Sheldrick Wildlife TrustAfter a morning activity we will return to the airstrip for our private charter back to Nairobi. On arrival we will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, followed by a very special private visit to the incredible David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT).

Born from one family’s passion for Kenya and its wilderness, the DSWT is today the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organizations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. Founded in 1977 by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, in honor of the memory of her late husband, David Leslie William Sheldrick MBE, the DSWT claims a rich and deeply rooted family history in wildlife and conservation.

At the heart of the DSWT’s conservation activities is the Orphans’ Project, which exists to offer hope for the future of Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn, and the loss of habitat due to human population pressures and conflict, deforestation and drought.

The orphans raised by the Trust are gradually rehabilitated back into the wild elephant community of Tsavo National Park when grown, a transition that is made at their own pace and in their own time, but usually taking approximately eight to ten years. A number of the ex-Nursery orphans have now had wild-born young, which they have brought back (to the Tsavo Rehabilitation Center) to show their erstwhile human family, and others are now pregnant and living free, yet keeping in touch with those who are still keeper-dependent.

After the visit to Sheldrick, you will be taken to Hemingway’s Hotel to check in for our overnight prior to the Main Safari.

The Great Migration - Copyright © Jack Swenson

Main Safari (13 nights / 14 days): The cost of the Main Safari is $18,785 per person. This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals (except as noted above and in exclusions below). A limited number of single rooms are available; the single supplement cost is $2,460. The cost for the optional Hot Air Balloon Safari is $550 per person.

Pre-Safari Extension (4 nights / 5 days): The cost of the Extension is $4,895 per person. This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals (except as noted above and in exclusions below). A limited number of single rooms are available; the single supplement cost is $570.

Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserves the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participant.

• The expertise and leadership of Jack and Rikki Swenson, your dedicated photo trip leaders
• Knowledgeable driver/guide in each vehicle
• Accommodation in deluxe hotels and tented camps per the outline
• Day rooms in Arusha on the last day of the trip
• All meals from Breakfast on February 1, 2019 through lunch on February 13, 2019 (for the Main safari)
• All meals from Breakfast on January 28, 2019 through lunch on January 31, 2019 ( for the Samburu pre-trip extension)
• All local drinks at all safari camps (city hotels excluded)
• Private Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage visit for just our group on 31 January, 2019
• Private charter flights (with 66lb weight limit): Wilson (Nairobi) to Samburu and back, Wilson (Nairobi) to the Mara, Mara to Ndutu (with road border crossing) and Serengeti South to Arusha
• All necessary airport transportation, with meet and greet service on arrival in country
• Flying Doctors insurance, an emergency airborne medical unit
• All applicable park/concession fees
• Current Government taxes and VAT
• Porterage

• Air transportation to and from East Africa
• Visas
• All gratuities (trip leaders, guides, camp staff, etc)
• Items of a personal nature
• Trip insurance
• Optional Balloon Safari in the Ndutu region

• Air travel and customized extensions to this safari, including any additional nights on safari or in Nairobi and other destinations may be arranged. Ask for further information.
• Discretionary gratuities for driver guides are recommended at USD $25 to $30 per person per day.
• Discretionary gratuities for camp and hotel staff are recommended at USD $15 to $25 per person per day.
• Discretionary gratuities for guides and staff are recommended to be paid in cash.
• Our group size is a maximum of 14 participants.
• Although some safari lodges offer complimentary internet access, connections are unreliable and extremely slow. In-country cell service is available but not always reliable.
• Temperatures in the morning and evening can be cool, so bring a fleece, windbreaker or anorak with you.
• Please bring protection from the sun.
• Special dietary requirements can usually be accommodated if sent through beforehand.

Please read our Safari Code of Ethics and Conduct.

Our group size is a maximum of 14 participants and we expect that this trip will fill up. If this exciting safari sounds good and you're excited by the thought of joining on this trip, then now is the time to register. Remember, there will be limited space available for this trip and when the spots are spoken for, that's it. If you have any questions before registering, send an e-mail with any inquiries to nicky@eyesonafrica.net or simply call us (800-457-9575) and ask to speak to Nicky.


Wildebeests - Copyright © Rikki Swenson

Zebras and wildebeests - Copyright © Rikki Swenson

Elephants - Copyright © Jack Swenson

Giraffes - Copyright © Rikki Swenson

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