JANUARY 25 - FEBRUARY 3, 2023
Do you want to join me on my travels to Africa? In January 2023 I will take a group of like-minded people with a passion and appreciation for wild places to Kenya. We will visit Chyulu Hills in Amboseli and Naboisho Conservancy in the Masai Mara. A once-in-a-lifetime trip focused on creating meaningful stories about the wild…
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After successfully selling out the first edition of this unique photography expedition in January 2022 in the blink of an eye, we are back with a second edition, this time in January 2023. We will visit Great Plains Ol Donyo Lodge in the incredible Chyulu Hills and Great Plains Mara Nyika Camp in Naboisho Conservancy. In the past few years, I have visited both areas multiple times, which results in a very elaborate understanding of the wildlife, the guides, the seasonality, the light and the photographic opportunities. For a period of 9 nights, we will emerge ourselves in some of Africa’s wildest flora and fauna and stay in top-notch Great Plains properties.
With everybody traveling towards Kenya from different directions, the first day is all about landing and acclimatising. We are kicking off the trip in Nairobi National Park, just outside of the city, and only a 40 minute drive from the International Airport. We are spending the first night in The Emakoko Lodge, a family-run boutique lodge that will give you a wonderful introduction to Kenya. If your flight arrives on time, you can even join your first afternoon game drive. The next morning we board an early flight to Chyulu Hills.
Day 2 – 6
Early in the morning we travel to Wilson Airport where we will board our flight to Chyulu Hills Airstrip. We have booked an additional freight chair on all domestic flights which means every participant can carry an additional 10kg of luggage in addition to the 15kg that’s allowed. After a short 45 minutes flight we touch down on a dusty airstrip on the edge of the mighty Chyulu Hills mountain range, with Kilimanjaro welcoming us in the background. Our guides for the next 5 days will be waiting for us at the airstrip and the first game drive is a fact.
In the heart of the lush Chyulu Hills, in between Tsavo East and Amboseli National Park, you will find Ol Donyo Lodge, our home for the next 4 nights. The lodge is small and intimate and with only seven suites, exclusivity is guaranteed. For this trip we have therefore booked this lodge exclusively for our group, no other tourist will be around. On top of that, Ol Donyo is the only lodge with access to the 275.000 acres Mbirikani Group Ranch, which means it will be just us and the animals, no other vehicles. The next 4 days we will spend in the field, exploring all aspects of this mind-blowing landscape. Since it’s predominantly known for its big Supertusker elephants, this will be our main focus. Especially this time of the year, they will frequently come to the waterhole right in front of the lodge. A sunken photography hide on the edge of the waterhole will give us prime access to experiencing some of the biggest elephants on the planet from only a few foot away. But there’s more, we will also explore the diverse landscapes of the Chyulu region, spend time with the several resident prides of lions, we will climb hills to enjoy sunset views over Kilimanjaro, embark on exhilarating walking safaris or night drives, venture into the mountains and have the possibility to go horseback riding with giraffes, elephants and cheetahs. In between all activities, there’s the option to relax at your own private plunge pool that comes with every suite, do some editing in your room, or attend one of my lectures around lunch-time about several photography related topics. Anything is possible, for 5 days the Chyulu Hills are our playground.
On day 6 after our morning game drive we will transfer to the airstrip and board our flight to Wilson Airport. We switch planes on the runway in Nairobi and connect straight through to Mara Naboisho Airstrip.
Day 6 – 10
After spending 5 days in the Chyulu Hills we shift our focus to Big Cats! Because you just arrived in one of the Masai Mara’s most abundant conservancies, Naboisho Conservancy. It’s one of the most densely populated wildlife conservancies in all of Kenya and therefore literally dotted with wildlife, everywhere you look. Another big added benefit of this area is the feeling of exclusivity and intimacy due to the limited number of visitors allowed. Once again, it will be mostly us and the animals. We will spend 4 nights in Mara Nyika Camp, run by Great Plains, an amazing intimate tented camp in the middle of the action. We will spend full mornings and afternoons in the field and only get back to camp for lunch and a short rest. I will show you some of my most favorite secret spots and we will spend time with some of the most impressive leopards, cheetahs and lions of the Masai Mara.
On the morning of the 10th day, we will check out to make our way back to Wilson Airport in Nairobi. Upon return everybody will proceed his/her own travels.
Great Plains’ philosophy is all about conserving nature and culture and the Mbirikani Group Ranch is a perfect example of what happens if people come together. The lodge we visit lies in a 275.000 acres area that is owned by 4000 local Maasai. Due to a unique cooperation, they benefit directly from the profit of the lodge and ensure the conservation of the ranch and wildlife. This resulted in a safe haven where animals can freely roam.
Each suite at ol Donyo Lodge offers its own window to the soul of the East Africa. Their views look out over the suite’s plunge pool and across the rolling plains to Mount Kilimanjaro. The movie ‘Out of Africa’ has been partially recorded in this area and when seeing it with your own eyes, you will understand immediately why. The lodge is one of 3 Relais & Chateaux properties in all of Kenya, a standard that stands for excellence in fine dining, wine and service. Very special is the rooftop terrace on every suite, where you will find a starbed. Enjoy a night under the African sky, with only the stars to cover you and the sound of roaring lions and hyenas in the background.
From every corner of the conservancy, we have a view on Kilimanjaro, which makes a perfect backdrop for photography. But even more so, the area is known for its big elephant bulls. Lone bulls with huge tusks that have been roaming these valleys for centuries. We will work with 2 incredible guides that I have been working with for years. They not only know the area like the back of their hand, but also every single individual elephant, which will provide incredible photographic opportunities.
Even though our focus of the first leg of the trip is on elephants and landscapes, it is very likely that we will bump into lions, cheetah, hyena’s, zebra, giraffe and lots and lots of birdlife. It is a true photographers paradise!
The days in January are warm, rising to a maximum of around 28/30 degrees centigrade, but very comfortable with minimum humidity. The mornings and evenings are cool so bring some warm clothes.
Mara Nyika Camp, meaning “Large Plains or Great Plains,” is an intimate tented camp set in a valley and there could not be a better location for the second leg of this trip. The camp tucked away under the treetop canopy straddles a small stream on the western side of Naboisho Conservancy, a 50.000 acre private conservancy bordering the Masai Mara. “Naboisho” means “coming together” in the Masai’s Maa language and represents the 500 local landowners who established the conservancy. The conservancy model strives to conserve natural and cultural heritage, tourism, and livelihoods for the local communities. Each guest’s stay supports over 500 Masai families with a sustainable livelihood and helps to ensure the conservation of this vital corner of the Masai Mara eco-system.
The five light-colored canvas tents are designed to optimally enjoy the environment. All canvas tents actually consist of three separate tents: a bedroom, a lounge and a bathroom with a beautiful copper bathtub. A spacious wooden veranda and a fantastic view over the vast Masai Mara plains make this experience complete. Walkways from the guest suites to the main area evoke the feeling of a treehouse under canvas. Once again, we have exclusively booked this camp, which means there won’t be any other guests around. It will just be our group and the staff, an amazing intimate safari experience.
1 x night at Emakoko Lodge
4 x nights at Ol Donyo Lodge
4 x nights at Mara Nyika Lodge
All domestic airport transfers
All domestic flight tickets
Full board in both lodges incl all meals, wines & spirits
A free set of Canon camera equipment for usage in both camps
Conservancy fees Mbirikani Group Ranch
Conservancy fees Naboisho Conservancy
All game drives
Photographic lectures & image review sessions
1-on-1 tuition in the field
Optional walking and night safaris
All other activities i.e horseback riding, mountain biking etc.
International flight tickets
Travel & cancellation insurance
Tips & gratuities for staff
PCR testing and Visa
Optional Hot air balloon
05.00 – 05.30 wake up + coffee/tea
05.30 – 09.00 photography in the field with focus on soft morning light
09.00 – 09.30 bush breakfast or packed breakfast
09.00 – 11.00 continue photography in the field focusing on B&W photography
11.00 – 13.00 lunch in camp + lectures by Pie
13.00 – 15.00 have a swim, rest, edit, back-up
15.00 – 18.00 photography in the field with focus on soft afternoon light
18.00 – 19.30 optional night drive
20.00 – 21.30 campfire drinks & dinner
21.30 off to bed to rest for another day of adventures in the bush
We are very flexible when it comes to planning our days. Usually, we leave each day with a packed breakfast, which allows us to stay out in the field all morning. If the conditions and sightings are good, we can even decide having lunch in the field to maximize our time with wildlife. We also carry our own sundowner drinks each afternoon, which gives us full flexibility.
As you can see in the planning, at lunch time I will host several lectures. Topics can be workflow, post-production, animal behavior, composition, light, elephant conservation, and so on. In between activities there’s also room for 1-on-1 tuition about any of the above topics.
In both lodges we will use Toyota Land Cruisers that are specially modified for photography. On board you will find bean bags, blankets, a fridge with ice-cold drinks and 220volt electricity sockets for charging. There will be a maximum 4 people sitting in the back, creating enough space for everyone to move around. This means every person has its own row of seats, leaving you with enough space for your bags as well. I will be sitting in the front, next to the driver and alternate between both vehicles. A rotating scheme will make sure everyone gets to spend an equal amount of time in my direct presence. Working with the right people is everything. Therefore, I carefully selected the best possible naturalists/guides that will lead us on this expedition. As a result, we will work with some of the best people in the industry.
Nope, not at all. Everybody is welcome. Beginners and professionals. In fact, a diverse group always makes up for a lot of fun, because the main idea of these expeditions is all about interaction and learning from each other. I’m more than happy to explain you the basics of how to use your camera, but we can also have a deeper conversation about how to grow your personal brand as a visual artist, or how to find your voice. So please don’t hesitate if you have never used a camera before, I’m there to help.
As soon as you have confirmed your booking, we will share an extensive list of recommended gear items that you would need for this expedition. However, don’t stress, any camera will work, it all depends on how you use it. We offer a custom advise for every level, from amateurs and beginners to full professional photographers.
An incredible feature or working with these 2 camps, is that every participant will receive a Canon kit of equipment. In each lodge you will receive a Canon 5d Mark IV body + 24-105mm lens + 100-400mm lens + batteries & memory cards. The photos you take with the camera during your stay are presented to you on a memory stick which you can bring home. On top of that, every participant will also receive a pair of Swarovski binoculars to use during the trip! A feature that no other photography trip offers!
In the past 2 years I have spent 45+ weeks in Kenya and I know the country and its people inside out. This has generated an in-detail understanding of seasonality, geography, animal behavior, photographic opportunities, community living, and conservation. This combined with 10+ years of experience in photographic story-telling, makes this trip a unique opportunity to learn. The entire itinerary is crafted based on photographic opportunity, which means I deliberated chose certain areas camps and guides to work with. We will maximize time in the field and won’t be restricted by gate opening hours. We have off-road access and full flexibility everywhere we go. In between game drives – I will be hosting lectures and there’s room for 1-on-1 tuition as well. It’s a trip that’s centered around teaching you how to tell meaningful stories about the wild and you will go home with an incredible series of images!
For this particular trip, the Terms & Conditions of Talisman Travel Design apply. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
Yes, there is. We are offering 2 rates, one based on twin sharing and one based on single occupancy. Please know that the twin sharing option at both camps offers very spacious rooms with 2 double beds. As soon as the group is complete, we will make a roomplan taking into account personal preferences.
Of course. We will send you a full briefing before the trip on which steps you need to take in order to travel according to local and international Covid laws. Please be aware that Kenya, in addition to a negative PCR result, also requires a double vaccination in order to enter the country. This might change overtime and we will keep you posted accordingly.
During the second leg of the trip, it is possible to embark on a once-of-a-lifetime hot air balloon safari which means you can explore the Masai Mara from the air! Witnessing the sun rise over the plains, photographing the Mara River and seeing big herds of wildlife move in the open. This activity comes at an extra cost and is excluded in the rate of this trip. However, I do have very good contacts with hot air balloon operators in the Masai Mara.
Pie Aerts is a Dutch documentary and wildlife photographer with a sincere interest in human/wildlife coexistence stories. Through his lens, he examines the intricate relationship between animals, humans and nature and, as we become increasingly distant from each other and ourselves, he uses photography to search for the cause of this disconnect. He’s the founder of Prints for Wildlife, a fundraising platform that since its inception in 2020 has generated 2.1mio dollars for conservation and believes art can be an incredibly powerful tool to restore the disconnect. Pie also serves as Canon EMEA Ambassador, Gitzo Ambassador and Hahnemuhle Ambassador.
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