Sunday, June 1, 2008


Top outfitters share safari planning tips to help you focus on the best opportunities for the trip of a lifetime

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Lion, Masai Mara National Reserve
Cut To The Chase
With good reason, early settlers and subsequent big-game hunters found present-day Kenya to be the best environment in East Africa. Straddling the equator with generally high elevations, this land enjoys pleasant temperatures and climate for most of the year. Vast grass plains and numerous rivers feed and water great populations of wildlife and birds. Travel magazines continually try to promote the new and undiscovered, but in the case of Kenya, the best is still the best.

To cut to the chase for choosing your ultimate trip, we asked three highly experienced tour operators with a specialty in photo safaris to share their top picks for locations, subjects and lodgings.

David Anderson is a safari specialist and photographer. He has planned and organized safaris professionally since 1985.

Joe McDonald is a full-time professional wildlife and nature photographer. He has written six books on wildlife photography and another on African wildlife.

Elly Gathungu is a photographer and expert guide for Wild Images Africa, a Kenyan company owned and operated by experienced travel professionals.

Crowned plover, Tsavo National Park

Top 5 Favorite Parks Or Locations
David Anderson
1. The Masai Mara: Wildlife is used to vehicles, so you can get very close. There still are parts where off-road driving is allowed. Outside the reserve, off-road driving is permitted. The Mara is not only the best in Kenya, but in Africa.
2. Laikipia: There are a number of private game reserves in northern Kenya with good wildlife and off-road driving. There are much fewer tourists than in the national parks and reserves.
3. Samburu Game Reserve: Though no off-road driving is allowed, there are plenty of roads, so it's not a problem. The evening “desert” light is great.
4. Lake Nakuru National Park: The variety of wildlife includes both white and black rhino. It's also good for birds.
5. Tsavo: Best place to get photos of elephants with the red dust on them.

Joe McDonald
1. Upper Masai Mara Game Reserve: This area has the greatest diversity and abundance of big cats. Off-road driving is prohibited, but there are plenty of tracks, so getting close to the cats and other wildlife isn't a problem.
2. Samburu Game Reserve: Most of the game is found at the Ewaso Nyiro River. Samburu can be crowded during summer. Off-roading is prohibited, but an abundance of tracks makes photography easy. Bird photography is especially productive, with shrubs no higher than vehicle level, so eye-level shots are easy.
3. Lake Nakuru National Park: It's famous for its flamingos, which congregate by the hundreds of thousands. Birdlife is varied and easily accessible. Nakuru has been productive for leopards in the past, but today is the best spot in Kenya for black and white rhinos outside of private sanctuaries.
4. The Mara Triangle: Although part of the Masai Mara, the triangle is administered separately. Off-road driving is permitted once game is spotted. Some of the best gnu/wildebeest crossings are within view of the Mara Serena Lodge.
5. Shimba Hills National Reserve: Near the coast, Shimba Hills offers several species of mammals and many bird species you won't find elsewhere, or as abundant, in Kenya. Off-road driving is prohibited.

Elly Gathungu
I love these parks and reserves because of the abundance of both wildlife and birdlife. As a photographer, I find virtually all of what I come to Africa for.
1. Masai Mara 2. Lake Nakuru National Park 3. Samburu Game Reserve 4. Mount Kenya National Park


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