Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Trip Report: Big Cats and Tuskers Photo Safari – Part 2

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 1 Comment

Just this morning some one again asked me why our Big Cats & Tuskers photo safari is one of my favourites.

Diversity and a truly Kenya experience.  That really is about it.

The safari takes us to the Masai Mara, Amboseli and two of Kenya’s famous lakes which not only makes for wonderfully diverse images but moving from one place to the next also gives you a better understanding of the beauty of the country and how wildlife and people can actually live in harmony.  There are very few places in the world where you can see zebra and giraffe literally next to the road only a few minutes out of the capital city.  Wonderful to see.

After three days in the Mara we head back north to Lake Nakuru – Penny shared some images from this part of the safari in this post – where we spent one full working the area around the lake which is known for it’s amazing backdrops and large herds of flamingoes.

On this particular morning the flamingoes were not quite performing like we would have liked them to but the occasional fly by made for nice action shots.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

The fact that we were not working on a time schedule to get back to the lodge for breakfast meant that we could work the area which, right throughout the day, is one of the most productive wildlife and photographic areas in Nakuru.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

This is also one of the few areas in the park where you can get out of your vehicle and work sightings.  The density of animals around the water’s edge and low angles make this one of the most productive wildlife photography spots you could ever wish for.

The next stop on the safari would see us heading to Lake Naivasha where we would spend the evening and next morning cruising the Lake in search of photographic opportunities.

As luck would have it the evening boat ride was not all that productive as the weather turned and left us rather cold and wet.  This was, however, not enough to dampen our spirits and after dinner and a good night’s sleep we were back out on the water.

This time around nature played along and were treated to a magical morning of wildlife and nature photography.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

While on the lake we were again reminded of the amazing way in which wildlife and people lived together in Africa.  Small groups of fisherman could be seen heading out into the water as they set out to ply their trade while around them nature carried on as it has for many years.

The photographic opportunities were plentiful and Lake Naivasha was, as with all the years before, a great way to spend the morning before hitting the road to Amboseli.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Back at our lodge we had time to enjoy breakfast and have a shower before packing the vehicles and heading East to where the Wild Eye team would be waiting our camp at the base of Kilimanjaro.

The Mara produced incredible big cat sightings, which took care of the first part of our safari’s name, so our goal in Amboseli was elephants.

We were not disappointed.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

People often ask me if I don’t have enough elephant images but I reckon this isa very non-creative and quite boring way to approach wildlife photography.  Yes, I have literally thousands of ellie pics but there is always more options and different ways to create images of these amazing animals.

Now in Amboseli you always have the incredible backdrop of the iconic Kilimanjaro which, as you can imagine, is a very sought after part of any image taken in the park.   The year before the clouds did not quite play along and we never got to see the mountain but this year things would work out.  Beautifully!

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

By understanding the movements of the elephant herds – something which you can predict with a reasonable amount of certainty – we were able to move around and work various angles, scenes and types of images that are truly ‘Amboseli’.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

There is however so much more to Amboseli.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

We saw lions on two of the days in the park and even though we didn’t see them hunting – like we saw twice in the Mara earlier that week – it was awesome to watch them move through the grasslands.  It’s moments like this that, once you have a shot or two, you just sit back and enjoy the experience of being out in the field and watching nature do it’s thing.

When you take the time to just sit back and fall into nature’s rhythm, and not screaming around after every big 5 species out there, you end up with some very different and unique sightings.  In Amboseli we had a few of these moments.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

After watching an eagle attacking this Sacred Ibis it looked for protection and safety on the front of one of our vehicles.

A little later, on our way to Lake Amboseli we saw a Snake Eagle on the side of the road.  Initially we thought it might be dead as there was no movement.  What followed was an amazing sighting of the large raptor killing and finally swallowing a pretty large snake.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

A very unique sighting but will share more on this particular scene in a future blog post.

We carried on to one of my absolute favourite photographic spots in all of Africa.

Lake Amboseli.

The vast expanses of this dried up lake feels almost alien.  As far as you can see there is nothing except for the heat haze that renders anything from an elephant to a wildebeest as a blurry, ghost like image in the distance.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Spending quality photographic time flat on your stomach in the middle of Lake Amboseli is something that every wildlife photographer should experience once in their life.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Heading back from the cracked earth of the lake we would stop at the lookout point for lunch.  The walk up the hill is most definitely worth it and from the top you get an amazing landscapes of Amboseli which ranges from swamps and marshes to grasslands and the dried up lake.

The view from the top of the hill truly shows the world of contrasts and, in between lunch and a cold drink, makes for amazing wildlife photography.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

On our last afternoon we in Amboseli we spent more quality photographic time with elephants as they congregated around the few waterholes on the edges of the lake.  For most of the time we sat watching and photographing these animals it was just our three vehicles making for another quality Wild Eye moment.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

Heading back to camp on the last afternoon is always a moment filled with melancholy as the inevitable end of the safari draws near.  On our way back Amboseli, almost as a final parting gift, produced one last time.

The light was incredible!

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

An amazing end to one of my favourite safaris.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

As always with our safaris in Kenya I have to send a huge shoutout to our team in Kenya.  You guys are incredible and without you this experience the amazing feedback from our guests would not be possible!

Nancy: “The Wild Eye experience will change your world.? You’ll want to go back again and again. They are unsurpassed in every area of a photographic Safari!”

Sallie: “This was the first Wild Eye photographic Safari and most certainly won’t be he last. I was a little ‘scared’ before I went as I only have an entry level camera and am very new to photography. However I feel I have learnt so much and smith even going to print some of my images.”

Simon: “Was amazing to go on a trip with so many diverse destinations, so different to most safaris where you only visit one place. This trip allows you to create a really diverse photography portfolio. Highly recommended!”

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

This image shows what a photo safari should be about.

It’s about the people.

It’s about making memories and making friends.

It was an absolute pleasure sharing another incredible experience with all of you.  Yes Jimmy, you as well!

After most of the guests left my Kenyan adventure continued as I accompanied two of the guests to two villages, one in Maasai land and one in Laikipia.

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

But that’s a story for another time.

For now, that brings down the curtain on another amazing Big Cats & Tuskers photo safari.  In July Andrew and I will be running another departure and then Penny and I will be hosting the 2016 edition of this incredible safari in February.

Wouldn’t you just love to join me for this safari?

Gerry van der Walt - Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari

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?

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