I have been writing my books now for the last 7 years and this trip was something special. In 2013 I travelled across Kenya and Tanzania to the countries jaw dropping landscapes and intimate close-ups with the wildlife. Families of Lions lazing about in the grass as their cubs play with each other. Giraffes wander past and stop for a moment as they ravage the leaves from a tree. Elephants hurry their calf’s along across to the water hole as a leopard sits in the tree out of the midday sun.
Kenya and Tanzania offer so much to a photographer and wildlife enthusiast that it can often have you staring in wonderment. From meeting the young Maasai boys who spend a year fending for themselves on the plains, with their white painted faces making them stand out, to watching Lions play with their cubs and the Flamingos flying by to feed in the stream nearby, this is the ultimate wildlife experience for travellers and enthusiasts alike.
Going on safari and being able to get up close and personal with the wildlife is a big attraction to heading to this part of Africa, and visiting two huge National Reserves gives you so many more opportunities to not only see but photograph the landscapes, wildlife, meet the Maasai people and enjoy the Kenyan and Tanzanian hospitality and their wide array of local foods.
Markets are my favourite place to visit when I travel, always searching for that unique souvenir and see what the local people turn from recycled materials into art and in Africa they do this so well. From Maasai People inspired candle holders, carvings, paintings (check these thoroughly, some are quite clearly much better than others for the same money) and beautifully woven items.
Nairobi tends to be the starting place for many safaris and Lake Nakuru is only a couple of hours away. In November when I visited the rains had been more than double what they would normally get so much so even the Tourist Offices had been taken over by the lake. However this made for an abundance of wildlife and a very few tourists, so a perfect time to be able to get some amazing photographs under the beautiful blue skies.
Heading towards The Great Rift Valley, Masai Mara and Serengeti loaded with memory cards, batteries (remember sometimes charging is often difficult), and lenses with anticipation was greatly rewarded with stunning landscapes, and one-on-one moments with the wildlife in their element.
Many reserves have all the big five; Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo – but it’s not that easy to see them all on your first safari, particularly Leopards. Leopards are nocturnal, secretive and well camouflaged, but there are some reserves where they are easily spotted. Keep your eyes peeled though because we found one sleeping in a tree.
Meeting the Maasai people and the young Maasai boys on the plains who spend a year in the wilderness as they mature and become men with their faces painted white, walking out of the dusty windswept plains was totally surreal. This trip was one that had me standing utterly speechless at times with the landscapes that go on as far as the eye can see and Lions playing with their newly born cubs only metres away.
By Jay Mitchell