Kenya Safari Dreaming
With current state the world finds itself in, “me time” has extended way past its expiration date.
You see, I’m an extrovert, meaning I thrive on interactions with people. The words “social distancing” has never even been a part of my vocabulary but unfortunately it has become my reality and will sadly stay that way for a little while longer.
One of the ways I am still keeping myself entertained is to watch movies that I have not seen in years. Nothing is left untouched (well, except the horror genre) but the range has been expansive, from true life dramas to old school Disney flicks. I watched “The Lion King” for the first time in who knows how many years and began to reminisce about the mid-90s when it was released…
Back then I was in primary (elementary) school and living the life of a diplomatic kid in a foreign country. I remember being super proud that Disney’s latest movie took place in Africa, where I was from! Even now as an adult, the film still harbours a sense of pride (no pun intended.)
Intrigued about the origins of the movie and with ample time on my hands, I read up on the development of the movie and came to find that the 1994 release sparked an interest in African safaris, which is when luxury safaris really began to boom.
Which brings me to the crux of this blog – Are you dreaming of a Kenya safari?
Aperture: f5.6 | Shutter speed: 1/400s | ISO: 2500 | Focal Length: 454mm
I know am! The closest I have come to a Kenya safari was journeying from one boarding gate to another and souvenir spotting in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s duty free area when I travelled to Tanzania in 2018. Alas, the dreaming continues…
Aperture: f5.6 | Shutter speed: 1/8000s | ISO: 320 | Focal Length: 366mm
Aperture: f22 | Shutter speed: 1/200s | ISO: 400 | Focal Length: 50mm
However, living the dream was ORYX Photo Tours guide and co-founder Marius Coetzee, who spent 45 days travelling around Kenya to some of the various reserves. The months from October to December are deemed the off-peak season as most first time travellers to Kenya visit mid-year to witness the Great Mara Migration. But given that the tourism industry is fighting to stay alive during the Covid pandemic, the grasslands of Kenya during the off-peak season were even more tranquil and vacant than normal. Ironically, the lack of human presence made the wildlife sightings in Kenya all that more delightful and special.
Aperture: f5.6 | Shutter speed: 1/320s | ISO: 1600 | Focal Length: 490mm
Aperture: f5.6 | Shutter speed: 1/400s | ISO: 1600 | Focal Length: 480mm
His first stop was to the most famous locale in Kenya, the Masai Mara National Reserve. Known for its endless plains, open grasslands, acacia woodlands, rolling hills and bountiful wildlife, it’s a photographer and naturalist’s paradise. The Masai Mara is home to the Big 5; buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and with some luck, rhino. Other wildlife who also call this reserve home are cheetah, serval, hyena, bat-eared fox, black-backed and side-striped jackal, hippo, crocodile, giraffe, baboon, warthog, topi, eland, Thompson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, impala, waterbuck, oribi, reedbuck, and of course wildebeest and zebra.
Aperture: f5.6 | Shutter speed: 1/400s | ISO: 320 | Focal Length: 560mm
Aperture: f7.1 | Shutter speed: 1/160s | ISO: 1000 | Focal Length: 540mm
The next leg of his journey was Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. It may not be as famous as the Masai Mara National Reserve but this conservancy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be very rewarding for safari goers looking for something a little off the beaten track that still offers plentiful wildlife safari moments.
Aperture: f6.3 | Shutter speed: 1/640s | ISO: 200 | Focal Length: 560mm
Aperture: f5.6 | Shutter speed: 1/800s | ISO: 1250 | Focal Length: 560mm
Aperture: f5.6 | Shutter speed: 1/200s | ISO: 1250 | Focal Length: 560mm
Aperture: f5.6 | Shutter speed: 1/320s | ISO:800 | Focal Length: 560mm
Once a sprawling cattle ranch, Lewa was transformed into a conservation area by landowners working closely with the region’s communities. It was founded in 1995 to protect Kenya’s critically endangered black rhino and is regarded as a safe haven for rhino, as well as other African species, such as the endangered Grevy’s zebra and migratory elephant herds, which are regularly monitored. Other wildlife that call the Lewa Conservancy home are lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, giraffe and wild dog.
Visiting Lewa aids in a direct contribution to wildlife conservation and community development, and serves as catalyst for conservation in Kenya and beyond.
The final visit on Marius’s Kenya photo safari was Amboseli National Park, located in southern part of the country.
Aperture: f5.6 | Shutter speed: 1/80s | ISO: 2500 | Focal Length: 250mm
Aperture: f8 | Shutter speed: 1/2000s | ISO: 1000 | Focal Length: 200mm
Aperture: f10 | Shutter speed: 1/3200s | ISO: 3200 | Focal Length: 560mm
Dubbed “the Land of Giants”, it is most famous for being the best place in Africa to get close to free-ranging elephants, especially tuskers, and it also offers panoramic views of Mount Kilimanjaro in neighbouring Tanzania.
Africa’s highest peak broods over the southern boundary of the park, and while cloud cover can render the mountain’s massive peaks invisible for much of the day, you will be rewarded with stunning vistas when the weather clears, usually at dawn and/or dusk. Apart from practically guaranteed elephant sightings, you will also see wildebeest and zebra, possibly lion, cheetah and hyena and various bird species.
Aperture: f5.6 | Shutter speed: 1/2000s | ISO: 1000 | Focal Length: 560mm
During Marius’s time in Kenya, the months of October to December are during the short rainy season, which painted the reserves gloriously green with emerald hues, dramatic clouds and golden hour lighting that wonderfully highlighted the topography and wildlife on display. His images are a testament to the beauty that awaits in Kenya.
You will never again experience Kenya without the masses. Take advantage of the opportunity, turn that safari dreaming into a reality and book your Kenya photo safari today.
“The Lion King” visuals await!
Aperture: f7.1 | Shutter speed: 1/200s | ISO: 640 | Focal Length: 560mm
Written by Nicolette Louw
Images by Marius Coetzee