Guest Post: Wild Eye Masai Mara Trip, 22-28 September 2013

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 1 Comment

Last year, during a presentation at the Wild Eye office, we had a draw which would see the winner join us for a photo safari in the Masai Mara!

Almost a year has passed since then and our winner, Seyms Brugger, recently joined Morkel and Marlon at the Wild Eye Mara Camp for a week of photographing the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth!

Below Seyms shares his experience, images and memories of an amazing photographic adventure!

* * *

Wild Eye Masai Mara Trip: 22-28 September 2013

Where does one begin?

There are only very few words that can describe the experience.

Since a young boy, the “Greatest Show on Earth” has captivated my imagination, always longing for that one day when I could experience it for myself.

Well it took many years, but finally I was on that plane heading straight towards the endless plains of the Masai Mara.

While waiting for Kenyan Airways at OR Tambo International, one could feel the excitement, all guests eagerly talking about the possible sightings that were ahead. Wild Eye Ambassadors, “Sir” Morkel Erasmus and the legend himself, “Lord” Marlon du Toit (my nicknames that I decided to give these two legend photographers) were our Photographer guides, and it wasn’t long before Morkel started with his jokes and the impersonations.

I had in my mind a vision, or should we say a wish list, of the 10 type of photos that I wanted from this trip. I am fortunate that I photograph Wildlife quite regularly – so I think it’s really important for all wildlife photographers to have a plan, an idea of what type of photos they want to get.

In no particular order :

  1. A crossing with all the chaos and mayhem that comes with it.
  2. Crocodiles attacking Wildebeest / Zebras in the water
  3. Isolated Wildebeest jumping into the river
  4. Sunset / Sunrise with the iconic Mara Umbrella Trees
  5. Cheetah on a termite mound with Cubs
  6. Scenic photo with open landscapes, herds of Wildebeests  and stormy clouds
  7. Elephants with endless plains in the background.
  8. A kill, in the open, from start to finish ( any Cat )
  9. Serval ( any Serval would do as I don’t have any in my portfolio )
  10. Thunderstorm with Gazelle / Wildebeest or Zebra shielding from the rain

Let’s carry on again, and now we skip straight to arrival at the Wild Eye Camp.

I must say, landing on the small airstrip was quite emotional, as there were literally 1000’s of Zebra and Wildebeests around the airstrip. The sheer volume was astounding. One doesn’t quite know how to explain what your eyes are seeing…except something along the lines of “OH MY WORD!!!”.

The Wild Eye Mara Camp is exquisite.

Tucked away in between a cover of trees along the river, it seemingly hides itself and makes you feel like you are in a magical place. The Hippo grunts welcome you, as if to say ‘”welcome to Kenya “.

A stunning dining area  next to the river was to provide many memorable nights, discussions based around the amazing sightings that were had.  A media tent, with plug points and internet access provided again, many exciting discussions and sharing of photos.

Instead of sharing a day-by-day description of events, I thought I would instead share photos of the entire week, combined with some key information regarding the Wild Eye set up in the Masai Mara.

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

A massive Giraffe stood and posed. With Morkel Erasmus’s advice, I shot with the 600 lens to focus on the head and neck only, the mountain behind providing a fantastic backdrop

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

 A lazy Lioness rolls around on top of a termite mound

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris
My first opportunity to photograph Crowned Cranes, this one being close enough for a great portrait

With so many Safari Operators available for trips to the Masai Mara (and any reserve as a matter of fact), one really has to consider each carefully.

But if having great opportunities for taking amazing Wildlife Photos are a must, then one needs to go no further than to travel with a dedicated, Photographic Specialists.

Why you may ask ?

I can safely say that many photos during this trip would not have been possible without being in the hands of great drivers and world-class photographic guides.

They understand animal behaviour and they anticipate, and then make sure that you are in the right position for THAT shot.

And all the time they are assisting you with your settings and giving you any advice that you need so that you can better your Wildlife Photography.

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

A rainbow appears between the clouds, all while some beautiful light spreads itself across the open plains

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

A large, impressive Male Lion

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

A massive thunderstorm broke out, and this Zebra had no option but to stand and take a beating from the rain

One always says that location is key, and well, the location of the Wild Eye Mara camp is SUPERB.

In the mornings, it was 45 minutes before we saw any other vehicles – simply because the Wild Eye Camp is inside the reserve.

All other operators fight the queue to get into the Mara at the various gates because they all stay outside the reserve.

Again, in the evening the situation was similar. While most cars sped off to make the gate closing time, the Wild Eye vehicles were still out in the field.

Trust me – this extra time that you have is key and is the difference between getting that shot or not! It was not uncommon for there to be only the Wild Eye vehicles at sightings.

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

By no means the greatest Serval photo, but to date my only Serval photo – so will keep this one until a better one comes along

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

This was one of several Crocodile attacks that we witnessed, although it seemed like fully grown Zebras were just one step too far for the Crocs and they always seemed to end up taking a Wildebeest

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

The Honeymoon Couple resting on termite mound seemingly oblivious to the 1000’s of Wildebeest around them

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

Big skies, dramatic clouds and endless plains – this is the Masai Mara!

There are literally thousands of amazing photos of crossings all over the web, so I guess it is really hard to take that one photo that stands out from the rest. Sitting at the crossing is an experience that I will never forget.

I will admit, my legs started shaking and I became teary eyed. There are no words that will ever express the scene that one witnesses.

The chaos, the noise, the battle for life and death. One can only imagine what goes through a Wildebeests mind before taking that leap into the water.

Needless to say, watching a river crossing is humbling and life-changing. But now I realise that my photos of the crossings are no different to most others.

They are not THAT shot that will win awards, BUT they are more than amazing because I stood there with fellow Wildlife Lovers and Photographers and watched these animals through my shutter, my finger shakingly pressing down, my heart beating….

One always has a story linked to a photo, and my photos, of the crossings are pictures that I will simply never be able to forget and a story that will live deep down in my soul for years to come.

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

A story unfolds before my eyes as the Wildebeests cross the mighty Sand River

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

A leap of solitude, the sheer walls of sand behind it holding endless stories of struggle and victory

Lions are plentiful in the Masai Mara, and during the migration, they have a buffet laid out in front of them. Every single Lion that we saw had fat, full bellies. Many kills were barely eaten as there is simply so much food available. The Wild Eye Camp is situated in a fantastic area of the park and there are many Lion prides within its vicinity.

On one drive, we were fortunate to witness probably what most Wildlife Photographers wish for – a Lion kill from start to finish.

Let me also add – this kill happened 15 metres from the vehicle!!

Again, our Wild Eye vehicles were expertly positioned so that we could capture the very best photos possible. Watching a kill is not for the faint-hearted.

The sounds, the anguish, the battle of the prey as it struggles are all deeply emotional.

Yet, one appreciates this battle for survival.

It is after all, how nature operate.

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris
The Lioness grabs the throat and tries to knock the Wildebeest over with her strength

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

The Wildebeest battles back, and here they seem entwined in a “dance”

Wild Eye Great Migration Photographic Safaris

The Lioness changes her angle and again, tries to knock the Wildebeest down

There are many more endless stories and pictures, but it’s the memories of being in the middle of “The Greatest Show on Earth”  that truly steal the show. The big open skies, endless plains, and the sheer number of animals are staggering. Wild Eye takes you into the middle of that action.

“Sir” Morkel Erasmus and “Lord” Marlon du Toit are world class photographers and true Wild Eye Ambassadors – and all around fantastic guys. Each trip has a world-class photographer (or two) accompanying you to help you improve your photography.

I could not imagine a photographic trip without the expertise of Wild Eye, their prime locations and value for money.

Thank you to Jono, Gerry and Andrew for affording me this opportunity – a trip that I will never forget.

Let Wild Eye change the way YOU see the world!

Seyms Brugger

* * *

Seyms’ Links:

Comments 1

  1. Pingback: Trip Report Part 1: Great Migration 22-28 September 2013 - Wild Eye Photography

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *