Banner Left Side Complete List and Schedule Digital Photography Schedule Domestic Tours and Workshop Schedule Worldwide Safaris and Tours Flash Photography Instruction Personal Instruction in Photography or Photoshop Stock Photography and Sales Seminars, Assemblies, Fund Raisers frequently asked questions







Kenya 2011

Trip Report


See our Kenya Trip One 2011 Daily Journal
or our Kenya Trip Two 2011 Daily Journal

Read our 2012 Kenya Photo Safari Brochure

The Year of the Spotted Cats! That would be the easiest way to describe or to summarize this year's two 14 day photo safaris as we had tremendous luck with cheetahs on Trip One, and incredible luck with leopards on Trip Two. Additionally, we had caracals, an extremely elusve and difficult to find lynx-like feline, on both trips, and most of us had some great shooting opportunities on Trip Two.

October is usually the start of the short rainy season and by the end of Trip One the rains had begun. Samburu, a semi-arid desert was beginning to green up by Trip Two, and the bird life responded. This year, perhaps as a fluke or perhaps as an indication of climate change, the Nakuru area had rain almost constantly and Lake Nakuru, which normally has a broad mudflat, had expanded to the grasses and with this influx of fresh water the Lesser Flamingos were gone. In the Mara rain storms surrounded us almost every day on Trip Two, and we lost one afternoon to heavy rains. That loss was worth it, however, as the afternoons were cool, the light was soft, and the wildlife, especially the predators, were active.

Our 2012 Safari Brochure is now available.
14 day trip


The Migration

On Trip One we barely saw a wildebeest or gnu, although one section of the Mara had a few herds. However, as the short rains occured the gnus returned, and we witnessed an incredible transformation as, one day, the plains were empty and the next morning literally thousands, perhaps 100,000 or more, were packed across a small portion of the Masai Mara. Strings of gnus criss-crossed the grasses as they moved, sometimes in a slow plodding walk, sometimes in their rocking canter, while other herds simply spread out grazing. We had one small herd that worked down to the river but they never crossed, but instead galloped off back into the high country.

cheetahlion cub

The Predators

We had wonderful luck with babies, too, and we had the youngest cheetah cubs we've seen in the Masai Mara in years. In Samburu, one morning we had six cheetahs, and at one point two adult males harassed a female they were attempting to court while her two cubs huddled submissively and hissed whenever the males moved close. We've only seen a few caracals, ever, and we never had a female with cubs, but this year, one magic morning, we had a great shooting session as a mother caracal trotted across an open field. Some of our people missed that chance but those that did stayed around and had several great chances as the mother caracal repeatedly stepped into open shooting areas. Great cubs are always fun to shoot and the chance to photograph them each year is not a given. Which reminds me that our photo tours to India this March for tigers will hopefully coincide with new cubs, as the females of 2011 all had two year old cubs that were ready to go out on their own.


At a spotted hyena den we found a female that repeatedly carried her two cubs from one den opening to another. The cubs were the youngest we'd ever seen, so small that their hind legs barely supported them as they tottered about. Nonetheless, one of the cubs tailed behind the mother while she carried the other cub to a den site opening right in front of us! Some of our vehicles also had luck with a tiny Black-backed Jackal mother and pup, while others photographed an Aardwolf, in Samburu no less, a termite-eating predator that we've only seen a few times, anywhere!

The Birds


Kenya's bird life is diverse, and for those photographers who spent the time to shoot the less obvious species the safari was extremely productive. One photographer wandered the lodge grounds to shoot birds, and ended up with some great shots of species, like the puffback, that I've never seen through a lens. On our game drives we had some great luck with many species, including a Black-chested Snake Eagle that killed and swallowed a snake larger than itself, and several different Martial Eagles that allowed incredibly close approaches. Both Mary and I had eagles so close that the birds could not fit within our frames.


Other Highlights


Both groups were highlights in themselves, as everyone cooperated and worked well with each other and the guides loved working with everyone, too. Both safaris were extremely successful, and completely different, and for Mary and I the time went too quickly. We had no sense of repetition, as each day was unique. On one of our last days we had the most cooperative warthog with babies I've ever seen, as the three babies actually approached our vehicle for a closer look. We had a very large python, and whereas the few we ever see are usually seen crawling into a termite mound hole or buried, half-hidden, in brush or grasses, this snake was hunting, searching along a lugga and in full view for minutes.


Our only regret was that we only had two safaris, as we would be spending the month of November in the southern Atlantic co-leading a trip to the Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica. While we were looking forward to seeing the southern wildlife again, we still left Kenya with regrets as the year was so productive and there were so many subjects that we still hoped to work with. Our only solace was that we'd be in Kenya for three safaris next year, and we can't wait for next fall!

For even more details about our safaris, you can also read my daily journals for 2010 for
Safari Trip One or Safari Trip Two.
Interested in doing one of our safaris? Check out our brochure.

For some real insight into all aspects of a photo safari,
order our DVD Photographing on Safari
which covers and illustrates various camps,
how to shoot from the vehicles, what to pack,
and most importantly, what you'll photograph
and how you'll do so.