Safari in Kenya, with Pangolin Photo Safaris, was a major adventure. It was thrilling and tiring. I traveled to the Masai Mara for five days and continued on to the Samburu Reserve in northern Kenya for three nights.
There were twelve people on the Masai Mara part of our trip and eight continued on to Sambura. They were all ages and from all parts of the world. Many of the attendees had traveled with Pangolin before. When guests return to the same company for new adventures, it says a lot about the company and the hosts and in this case our photography educators.
Gerhard “Guts” Swanepoel and Janine Krayer are the professional photographers and managers of the tour to both destinations. Guts is a co-founder of Pangolin Photo Safaris. Andreas Knausenberger, another well known wildlife photographer and organizer for the company, joined the group for the Masai Mara portion of the trip. All three of the photographers were personable and worked hard to meet the guests needs.
There were only four guests in each jeep and the photographers rotated jeeps each day. It was interesting to have different techniques introduced each day. The teaching styles of the teachers were different and complemented each other.
We were awake before dawn, boarded our Safari vehicles and took off around sunrise. Animals and birds are much more active during that time of the day and later in the afternoon. We stayed out all day, stopping for breakfast and lunch out in the bush. As the sun was finally touching the horizon and dusk was settling in, our drivers would make a mad dash to get back to camp. In the Masai Mara they are not allowed to be out in the park after dark. Sumbara was similar. Dinner was at eight and then we made our way back to our tents so we could do it all again the next day.
This was a Photo Safari. Besides seeing animals (yes we did see many) I was learning to improve my nature photography skills. And here is what I have learned so far…I am such a raw beginner. It was a very humbling experience to be around so many good photographers that often spoke a language I did not understand. I am returning state side with new tricks in my pocket. I know I will not remember all the things I learned, yet, I will stumble through my learning curve, pick myself up and move forward with improved photography skills. Not only was I weary from a long day out in the reserves, but my brain was also overwhelmed with information. I found, by the evening, I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
Did I love being out in nature? You bet. Being in the “outback” is thriving for me. I love hearing the lion roar and the hyena laugh. The birds are amazing. Each morning I awoke to the wonderful sounds of exotic birds. The most marvelous sounding birds were often the plainest to observe.
Our accommodations were top notch and the food was amazing. I have finally come to understand the term “Glamping”. At each camp there was a chef and his assistants. We were served three course meals. Everything I ate was tasty. I did not lose weight on Safari.
The rooms were canvas cabins at the Mara Bush Camp and beautiful hotel room-type accommodations at Saruni Samburu. The Saruni hotel was on top of a cliff and was eco-designed to fit into its environment. Our bathroom had a rock wall in the back of the bathroom. The shower was outside. It was warm and lovely, taking a shower with a gentle wind blowing.
The animal activity was amazing. There was nothing missing from this adventure. I saw lions, many, many lions, cheetahs resting and on the hunt, a leopard in a tree with his kill nearby, hyenas, and so much more. And then there were the wildebeests. I was able to witness the river crossings of hundreds upon hundreds of wildebeests. They leaped and ran and swam. The zebras joined then at these river crossing events. Most made it yet some were pulled down for a crocodile’s dinner. The hippos would move out of the way during these crossings and observe. These were definitely worthy National Geographic moments.
Now I have returned state side and am beginning the drive west from New Jersey. Once again Miss Elsie the cat joins me. I have been on the road for about 6 days. I am planning to be back in the southwestern United States by the third week in October. Surgery is pending. I am glad I put this procedure off until fall. I had a wonderful time exploring the magic that is Africa.