Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Trip Report: Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari, February 2016

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 4 Comments

About 5 years ago we started conceptualising a safari that would take our guests to some of Kenya’s most iconic and diverse wildlife reserves.  We knew it would be an amazing experience as each of the reserves and parks in the itinerary could stand up on it’s own as an incredible safari destination.

We called it the Big Cats & Tuskers photo safari and for 4 years now it has been one of our most popular, and one of my favourite, safaris each year.

The 9 day safari is anchored on either side by the Mara Triangle and Amboseli National Park and in between we also then Lake Nakuru National Park and Lake Naivasha.  The diversity on this safari, both from a landscape and wildlife point of view, is quite staggering and any photographer, regardless of skill level, will walk away from this adventure with a seriously impressive portfolio of African wildlife images.

From 11 to 19 February this year I had the pleasure and privilege to share this Wild Eye safari with a wonderful group of guests, my guiding team in Kenya and a very good friend and guide, Grant Marcus, who co hosted the safari with me.  Of the eight guests on the safari four were return clients while for the other four it was their first African safari ever.  I loved the combination of introducing Africa to a new group of guests while at the same time building on the memories and images of the guests who have traveled around the world with me on other safaris and expeditions.

If you’ve been on a safari with myself or any of the dynamic Wild Eye team you will know that we’re all about having fun while changing the way you see the world and this safari was no different.  We had everything – great sightings, many laughs, good learning sessions and nice quiet time – but on this safari the whole was much bigger than the sum of all the parts.  It was amazing!

As soon as I receive the images from all the guests that joined me in Kenya I will be posting a guest gallery to show the incredible diversity of this Wild Eye departure.

For now I thought I’d share a few of Grant and my images from the 4 destinations we visited a few weeks ago but before we get stuck in just something in mind.  I don’t go out on a safari to shoot for myself as my goal is to focus on my guests but all of the images you see below were taken in just 9 days out in the field.   Notice the diversity of subjects and scenes which is something you will also notice when I post our guest gallery and when you check out the trip reports from the previous few years.

Seriously, if you are looking for a safari that offers diversity and that will help you create an incredible wildlife portfolio this is the safari you need to look at.

Right, so here we go.  Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy.

The Mara Triangle

Theoretically the Mara is where, on this safari, we look for and photograph Africa’s big cats.  Thinking of it like that might be a bit of a simplification as this part of the Mara ecosystem is without a doubt on of the most beautiful and prolific game viewing areas in Kenya.  Yes, we do focus on the cats but the Triangle has a lot more to offer and, as with all our other safaris in this area, the photography and game viewing was amazing.

The Mara is the quintessential African wildlife destination.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Grant Marcus - Wild Eye

Grant Marcus - Wild Eye

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Grant Marcus - Wild Eye

Grant Marcus - Wild Eye

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Grant Marcus - Wild Eye

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is a part of the Great Rift Valley and is a saltwater lake outside the town of Naivasha.

Apart from a few waterbuck, buffalo and giraffe the lake doesn’t have too much wildlife around but is supports an incredible number of bird species.  The one night at Naivasha is a great way to break up the trip and the afternoon and morning boat rides on the lakes makes for a very unique wildlife photography experience, great birding and a nice opportunity for everybody to zone out and just enjoy time out in nature – something we don’t do often enough.

Oh, and there are some Colobus Monkeys at the lodge where we stay which makes for great photography.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Lake Nakuru National Park

This small park to the west of Nairobi is known for it’s fever tree forests, flamingoes on the lake and all round solid game viewing and it’s well known for it’s rhino and buffalo.  The lake shore, where you can get out of the vehicle and photograph on foot males for a great morning and offers different angles and photo opportunities.

During our two days in Nakuru we got quite creative with the textures and colors of the fever trees, had an amazing lion sighting and we all – yes all of us on the safari – saw our first ever Striped Hyena!

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Amsboseli National Park

Amboseli is all about elephants and makes for the Tuskers part of our safari.  The smallest National Park in Kenya is one of my personal favourite wildlife photography destinations and never disappoints.  Never.

It is a truly an iconic African bucket list experience.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Grant Marcus - Wild Eye

Grant Marcus - Wild Eye

Grant Marcus - Wild Eye

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers
Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

So after 9 days, 4 incredible destinations and many incredible sightings our first Big Cats & Tuskers photo safari for 2016 came to an end.

Our July 2016 BC&T departure is already fully booked but during the next few weeks we will be releasing details for safari dates up until 2018 so make sure to keep an eye on the Wild Eye Facebook page and the blog.   With 2 Wild Eye photographic safari guides, only 8 guests – all on a single basis with no single supplement – and one of the very best photo safaris itineraries out there you can be assured of one of the best safaris experiences you can ever imagine.

4 of the 8 spots on the February 2017 BC&T safari is already waitlisted so get in touch if you would like to be added to the list and I will let you know as soon as bookings open.  Trust me, it’ll be worth it!

Regardless of how amazing the sightings and photographic opportunities on a safari is there is something that is way more special and something remember for long after we’ve packed our cameras away.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Big Cats & Tuskers

A huge thanks to everybody who shared this amazing Kenyan safari with Grant and I.

It was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to share Africa with you on this Wild Eye photo safari and I trust that we have changed the way you see the world!

I look forward to seeing you all again very soon for our next African adventure together.

Until next time.

Gerry

About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at www.gerryvanderwalt.com or follow my journey on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Periscope.  I look forward to changing the way you see the world! Have you checked out The Wildlife Photography Podcast?

Comments 4

  1. Jim Matson

    Really enjoyed this article Gerry. It helped us make the decision to join you on the Feb 2017 trip. We are stoked and can’t wait.

  2. Pingback: The Ultimate East African Safari - Wild Eye

    1. Michael Laubscher

      Hello Susan

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read this report. I will send you a email and we can take it from there.

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