OCTOBER 22-31, 2022 - THIS EXPEDITION IS FULLY BOOKED
Do you want to join me on my travels to Africa? In October 2022 I will take a group of like-minded people with a passion and appreciation for wild places to two of my favourite corners in all of Africa. Kitirua Conservancy in Amboseli as well as Mara North Conservancy in the Masai Mara. A once-in-a-lifetime trip focused on creating meaningful stories about the wild…
Scroll down to read the full itinerary.
For this expedition, I am collaborating with my dear partner Elewana Collection, who run sixteen boutique lodges in locations across Kenya and Tanzania. On this particular trip, we will visit 2 of their most iconic camps, Tortilis Camp in Amboseli and Elephant Pepper Camp in Mara North. In the past few years, I have visited both conservancies multiple times, which results in a very elaborate understanding of the area as well the wildlife, the guides, the seasonality and the light. I also took some of my best wildlife images in both places, so you better get ready for a wild ride. For a period of 9 nights, we will emerge ourselves in both conservancies and experience some of Africa’s wildest flora and fauna. The first half is spent in Amboseli, focusing on elephants, whereas the second half of the trip is spent in the Masai Mara, focusing on Big Cats.
With everybody traveling towards Kenya from different directions, the first day is all about landing and acclimatizing. We are spending the first night at Hemingways, a luxury five-star hotel in Nairobi. The next morning our adventure starts!
Day 2 – 6
Early in the morning we travel to Wilson Airport where we will board our flight to Amboseli National Park 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 arrive in Amboseli and transfer to Tortilis Camp, right on the edge of Kitirua Conservancy.
We will stay at this amazing camp for 4 nights and will spend full days in the field. This particular camp is the only camp in Amboseli that has access to the Kitirua Conservancy side of the dried Amboseli lake-bed. If you have followed some of my previous trips to this area, you know that October is the best month of the year to visit this place. It’s the end of the dry season and the lake has completely dried up, creating one of the most impressive photography backdrops in the world. Flat as a coin, with mount Kilimanjaro in the background. Herds of elephants up to 60-80 or even more individuals cross the lake-bed twice a day on their way from the forest to the swamps and back, in search of food and water. On top of it all, the arrival of rains in November will give us beautiful cloud build-up in the afternoon, which is incredible for dramatic and moody photography of these gentle giants. Due to the camp’s exclusive access to this area, there won’t be any other vehicles around, which is a unique experience. It will be just us and the elephants. We have organized off-road permits which means that we are free to move around anywhere we want, on the Conservancy side as well as the National Park side, which will consequently lead to unique once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunities.
Even though our focus of the first leg of the trip is on elephants, 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!
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 North Airstrip.
Day 6 – 10
After spending 4 full days with elephants in Amboseli, we change our focus to Big Cats! Because you just arrived in big cats heaven. Mara North, my favorite conservancy in the Masai Mara ecosystem, is a safari-insider favorite. 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 Elephant Pepper Camp, located in the best possible location, right in the middle of the conservancy. 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 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.
Amboseli National Park covers 392 sq kms, only a small portion of the surrounding 3000 sq km of the Amboseli ecosystem. Our camp, Tortilis Camp, is located on the south western edge of the park, facing the mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. It overlooks its own private wildlife conservancy, Kitirua Conservancy which is 30,000 acres in size. Away from the busy eastern side of Amboseli, and with its own private conservancy, you will experience a truly remarkable little corner of Africa.
The area is famous for the dramatic views of Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world. But even more so, for its healthy elephant populations, which have been followed and documented by world renowned researcher Cynthia Moss. Amboseli is derived from the local Maa word ‘Empusel’ which means ‘dusty place’, and it is one of the top places in the entire world to see elephants in the wild. Within this ecosystem reside some of the largest elephants in Africa, and the guides we work with at Tortilis Camp know the individual elephants by name and family history. An incredible way to learn more about elephant conservation.
We are staying at Tortilis Camp, a camp that is particularly known for its unique location, being the only lodge/camp with access to the Kitirua Conservancy where all the magic happens. More than 50% of the guides at Tortilis are Masai, with strong ties to the surrounding communities. All tents are simple but spacious, with king or twin beds, depending on the composition of the group. Each tent has an ensuite bathroom. The entire lodge has a thatched roof and a great nostalgic feel. The main area has a huge deck overlooking Kilimanjaro. The lodge runs on 100% solar energy and was one of the first eco lodges of its size.
The days are warm, rising to a maximum of 30 degrees centigrade, but very comfortable with minimum humidity. October is very dry, which creates lots of dust, making for incredible imagery. The mornings and evenings are cool so bring some warm clothes.
The lush rolling hills of Mara North will be a welcome break from the dry & dusty Amboseli plains. This vast and fertile landscape boasts a plethora of wildlife; with over 450 bird species and both resident and transient populations of lion, leopard, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, cheetah and elephant. On top, Elephant Pepper Camp is perfect for those wanting to observe the spectacle of the great migration, classified amongst the “Seven Wonders of the World”, when, from July to November, over 1.3 million wildebeest and zebra cross from the Serengeti in search of greener pastures. The camps remote location allows for all animals to walk through camp day and night, which means it is perfectly common to have lion, leopards and hyena foraging around your tent. Temperatures are a bit lower than in Amboseli, which means mornings can be very chilly, all depending on the emergence of the short rains, that usually come in November. This means we are there right before the short rains, which will give us great cloud build-up in the afternoon, incredible for photography.
All tents are set underneath Fig and Elephant Pepper trees and are spaced out to ensure privacy. From your personal verandah or hammock, you can watch wildlife roam the Mara North plains. Tents are spacious and luxurious and offer big ensuite bathroom areas.
1 x night at Hemingways Nairobi based on B&B
4 x nights at Tortilis Camp
4 x nights at Elephant Pepper Camp
All accommodation based on twin / double sharing
All domestic airport transfers
All domestic flight tickets + additional luggage
Full board in both lodges incl all meals, wines & spirits
Conservancy fees Kiritua Conservancy
Conservancy fees Mara North
All game drives
Photographic lectures & image review sessions
1-on-1 tuition in the field
Optional walking and night safaris
International flight tickets
Travel & cancellation insurance
Tips & gratuities for staff
PCR testing and Visa
Champagne, private cellar wines & spirits
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 behaviour, composition, light, elephant conservation, how to find your voice as an artist, social media, equipment, and so on. In between activities there’s also room for 1-on-1 tuition about any of the above topics or whatever comes to mind.
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 of 4 people sitting in the back, creating enough space for everyone to move around. 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.
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 cultural aspects, and of course wildlife 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 around the theme of story-telling, which means I deliberately 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 more information about Terms & Conditions click here.
Yes, there is. However, the aforementioned price is based on twin sharing, which means you will share the room with another person in the group. This can be organised as twin beds or as a double bed for couples. As soon as the group is complete, we will make a roomplan taking into account personal preferences. The single supplement of € 1950 will give you a private room in both lodges.
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 both legs of the trip, it is possible to embark on a once-of-a-lifetime hot air balloon safari. You can decide on flying over Amboseli National Park and look at big herds of elephants from above, or explore the Masai Mara from the air. Both landscapes are very different, the former being very dry and flat, the latter being lush and hilly. 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 both areas.
Pie Aerts (@pie_aerts) is a Dutch documentary and wildlife photographer with a sincere interest in human/wildlife conflict 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 believes art can be an incredibly powerful tool in restoring that lost connection and therefore founded Prints for Wildlife in march 2020. Since the international outbreak of COVID-19 Pie spend more than 45 weeks in Kenya, visualising his personal relationship with the Kenyan landscape. Pie serves as a Canon EMEA ambassador and as a Hahnemühle Ambassador.
Make sure to read the Terms & Conditions by clicking here.