Recently, the ever funny and Africa-loving fellow photographer Evert Doorn told me that he came across an amazing opportunity. He wanted to go on a last-minute photography safari in Kenya, and he was looking for someone to take the plunge and go with him. I thought I couldn’t go because of my medical work, so I kindly declined. That night I told my boyfriend about Evert’s plan, and he asked me why I thought I couldn’t to go. I started coming up with all the reasons why -no free days in sight, big test in that week etc- but he insisted: I could always try! Long story short: I tried, everything worked out amazingly quick and easy, so a few hours later I didn’t have an excuse to go anymore. And two weeks later, I was sitting in the airplane to the Masai Mara.
I didn’t really have a lot of expectations since this was my first safari ever, but it was so much more than I could have ever imagined. What I especially loved was the fun company of Evert, being in nature and the fact that I got to photograph just for myself; a luxury that I didn’t have in a veeeeeery long time. It felt so good to just experiment, to take the time for a photograph, and to take ‘risks’ for a hopefully good shot! (Actually, the roaring lion you see above is my favorite experiment! Loved how it turned out :)).
But I’m going a bit too fast now! Our trip started with a direct flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi, we arrived around midnight and go tot rest in the Lotos Inn Suites in Nairobi. Not for long though; around 10AM we were supposed to be in the airport, where this tiny airplane would await us to bring us to the Masai Mara. Gosh, I was so excited to climb into that airplane! It was the cutest thing really.
I had heard that the landing could get delayed, if the airstrip at our destination would be occupied by elephants or other big animals (such a fun thought!), but this time we could land just fine :) Welcome to the Masai Mara! From up above, we had already seen the breathtaking colors of the land, and I couldn’t wait to soak it all in.
We were picked up from the airstrip by one of the super friendly Masai guides who would show us around this week. The drive towards our accomodation, the Mara Eden Safari Camp, was so cool! We saw lions and giraffes and many other animals, which was super impressive and exciting for me. At Mara Eden, we got the chance to settle in our tents and relax before the afternoon safari would start.
Jay and Munir run the camp as a husband-and-wife team. They met us with so many smiles every day and such great hospitality, I couldn’t resist doing a mini shoot with them…
Aaannd… off we went!! From the first evening until the very last morning of our safari, there was not much more for us to do than…
- spending around 7-8 hours in our Land Rover every day for the game drives, taking photographs of (and sometimes just looking at) all those wild animals doing their thing – eating, chilling, cuddling, hunting, singing, flying, sleeping, playing
- enjoying the wide views, the beautiful hills, the grass that moves graciously with the breezes and smelling the fresh and pure air
- giggling about Everts silly jokes (there were many of them)
- finding the best light, looking for great compositions, waiting for cool expressions of the animals
- having lazy dinners without any interference of mobile phones, since there was hardly any reception- loved it!!
- trying to understand how the Masai guides can have eagle eyes – even if they actively pointed at animals they just spotted, I couldn’t always see them! :D
- lying in my amazing lightweight (180grams!) Amazonas hammock (got it for this trip, can’t live without it anymore)
- getting up at 5AM – admitted, it will never be my hobby, but the sunrises we got in return were my FAVORITE.
One thing I love about the Mara Eden Safari Camp, is that it’s right in the middle of nature and there is no fence surrounding it. This meant that all the animals could just walk through the camp as well. In the night, we would hear the sound of hippos nearby, crocodiles were lying in the river just 20 steps away from our tents etc. So when the sun was down, there would always be a local Masai guide who would escort us to our tents, to make sure that we’d be safe. Thank you guys!!
Some of the animals were really shy and kept running away from us, even though we approached them really carefully (honorable mention for the warthog! I seriously only have photographs of their cute bums, hahaha!) Some of them got really close though, even leopards, elephants and lions. There was one specific animal though that I just couldn’t get rid of. He creeped in the back of the car several times a day, trying to steal my breakfast… super annoying! Luckily I did manage to catch him on this selfie, just before he sneaked away into the great wide open.
The week went by way too fast, and before we knew we were in the plane back to Nairobi. The photos here are just a selection of all the goodness that we saw, because I couldn’t post all 8000 photographs I shot! :) I am forever grateful that I could take this trip, such an impressive experience…
What I also loved, it that Evert and I discovered that -even though we are both pretty experienced professional photographers- there was still a lot we could learn from each other, and that we really enjoyed it! So this story may be the beginning of a new fun project. Sitting in the plane back home, we realized we would love to go back and take fellow photographers with us – beginners, advanced enthusiasts and professionals – for a wildlife photography safari. A trip that revolves around learning how to create better images, in terms of light, composition, moment, spacing, framing, but also technical aspects where necessary. We’ve made some really cool plans about how to set this up and I can tell you – it’s going to be fun!!
In case you’d feel tempted yourself to come and join us on this crazy ride, we made you a magazine to flick through and get a feeling of what to expect, including all the practical details. We would totally love to welcome you on board of this fun wildlife photography workshop! It will be in the Masai Mara from February 2-9, 2019 and in case you’ve got any questions, just shout!
And if you were just here to check out the safari photographs, I hope you enjoyed!! Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! :) xo