Hide & Seek
DATES 17 February- 4 March 2021 (16 days) x1 SPACE LEFT
TOUR LEADERS Marsel van Oosten and Daniella Sibbing
FEE 14,995 USD from Nairobi
SINGLE SUPPL. 3,000 USD for a single room*
DEPOSIT 3,000 USD per person
GROUP SIZE max. 6 guests
LEVEL all experience levels
SPECIALS private charters and small camps
* There are 2 single rooms available on the tour (which are sold out). And there is a single room “light” package: a single room everywhere, but sharing a family tent in Rekero (which is 4 nights having your own bedroom, while sharing the bathroom). The price of the single room “light” version comes with a single supplement of just 2,000 USD.
This exciting tour takes you to the beautiful Maasai Mara and a very exciting new location where we can photograph from a hide (in daylight and at night). The Mara part of the trip offers you lots of cats and large numbers of plains game in stunning setting, right after the first rains. And the hide we are going to visit end of January, so we can fully prepare you for what’s coming and help you get the best shots possible! We have seen some awesome shots coming out of that hide and an array of animals that you don’t often see, like caracal and striped hyena.
1 Night in Nairobi
On arrival at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport, you will be met by a VIP meet and assist service as you arrive at the terminal building. They will assist you through the formalities of the health checks and immigration and luggage collection. They will do everything possible to fast track and simplify the process and will introduce you to the transfer driver who will take you from the airport to the hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you’ll have dinner at the hotel.
4 Nights in Rekero Camp (Maasai Mara N.R.)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Wilson Airport for our private charter to the Maasai Mara. As we have a charter we have no issues with all our equipment and luggage, as everyone is allowed 40 kg of luggage per person.
One of Kenya’s undisputed natural highlights is the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which sprawls across more than 1500 square kilometers of the country’s southwest. The park protects a phenomenal array of game, including charismatic species such as elephant, lion, leopard, and buffalo, as well as crocodiles and hippopotamus in the Mara River. The birdlife is no less impressive, with over 450 resident bird species. However, the true highlight here is the Great Migration, recognized as one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. To survive the dry months of July to September, some 1.7 million wildebeest, migrate from the parched plains of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Along with much smaller numbers of antelope buffalo and zebra, they move to the more forgiving grasslands of the Masaai Mara. In their wake come predators such as lion, hyena, and cheetah, for whom these giant herds are an easy source of prey.
We should be on the ground at Ol Kiombo Airstrip by around 11 AM with a short drive into camp before lunch. We will have two private vehicles at our disposal for the duration of our stay here, with every guest having their own row of seats.
Rekero is a tented camp, situated into a grove of trees on the Talek River, with access to the main river crossing points above the Talek River junction and lower crossing points. This central part of the Reserve is rich in game, and cats are plentiful. The area just outside of camp is the haunt of the well-known leopard Bahati, and you are also close to possibly the best area in the Mara to find Caracal, as well as the cats of the Ol Keju Rongai stream system.
Today and the next 3 full days are available to explore the Mara Reserve. The immediate vicinity is phenomenal for game, but you are also in a striking distance of other well-known areas such as Musiara crossing point and the Ol Keju Rongai system and grasslands. We will be free to dictate our schedule and make the most of the time available to us. Inside the reserve, we have some time constraints in the mornings and evenings but nothing that should affect our game viewing too much.
4 Nights in Kicheche Bush Camp (the Olara Motorogi conservancy)
After the early morning game drive, we transfer to Kicheche Bush Camp. Kicheche is in a phenomenal area of cats, with leopard sightings being particularly good and all the other cats in evidence as well.
Kicheche is situated in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, an 85 square kilometer expanse of prime private wilderness in southwest Kenya, which forms part of the Maasai Mara-Serengeti ecosystem and wildlife dispersal zone. The conservancy lies immediately to the northwest of the main Maasai Mara Reserve. Tourism is limited to a maximum of 94 beds, which maximizes the wilderness experience and minimizes tourism’s environmental impact. This video impression of Kicheche will give you a good idea of the feel of the camp.
Open hills provide a habitat for a diverse range of grazers, including giraffes, zebras, hartebeests, and warthogs. These herds attract large numbers of predators, including lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and jackals. In between the hills run several small seasonal streams, fringed by stretches of forest that are home to a broader range of species, including baboons, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, and leopards.
Today and the following 3 days, we have full days to explore the conservancy and search for cats and any other activity going on. Again, we will be completely flexible in terms of timing, but we will be up and out very early and spend the best hours of light searching for photographic opportunities. In the evenings, we will spend the maximum time out there until the light has gone.
There is also an opportunity to do a Hot Air balloon trip if that would be of interest. This is an optional extra and not included in the cost. It is also possible to book this on the ground if you prefer but would then be subject to availability.
6 Nights in the Lentorre (The Rift Valley)
After a last morning game drive, we change camps and fly to Lentorre, on land responsibly leased from the local Maasai community. It is owned by people who have a love for wildlife and wilderness areas who wanted to protect it and then share it with the world.
We take over the camp with our group, and it is ours for the next 6 nights. That sounds long, but it’s for a good reason.
The reason for us to go to Lentorre is the hide they have recently built. Or rather: it’s been there for a while, but they have upgraded it in November 2019 and it has proven itself already! We’ve seen stunning pictures coming from it and are eager to go out and photograph there with you! This hide is really complementary to the hide tours we do in South Africa & Botswana in terms of the sort of animals that visit the hide. The light is softer (which does make photography more difficult), but as a result, it attracts nocturnal animals as well. Furthermore, there are a number of animals here that have been frequenting the hide that won’t (or are not likely to) show up on our other hide tours, like caracal, bat-eared fox, and striped hyena, just to name a few rare species!
For everyone to have enough room to move around, we’ll be taking only 3 guests in the hide. There is one session per night, meaning you go in for the afternoon, night and morning, entering the hide when the light starts getting good until a few hours after sunrise when the light starts getting harsh again. This means you’ll be in the hide every other night, during your stay.
There is always a luck factor in play with hide photography because you never know what shows up before you. That’s why we didn’t want to offer you just 2 hide sessions, but rather do 3. As a result, we’re staying 6 nights at Lentorre. Which will be wonderful!
One thing to take into account is that the hide is so productive and the images look very nicely lit because they use very soft and warm LED lights. The soft light helps to not frighten animals from coming to the waterhole to drink water. During the test phase with the lights, they noticed full nocturnal wildlife like for instance an eagle-owl coming to drink and bathe in the waterhole without care. The soft LED light will however push your camera to its limit. In order to photograph the subjects at f/2.8 or f/4 aperture, with a shutter speed between 1/60s -1/500s, you are easily looking at ISO6400-26800 and up.
The hide is not just a hide for night photography. In the daytime – especially in the afternoon – it also gives you the opportunity to photograph animals at a close range without their knowledge at a distance of just 3 to 7 meters. The low perspective on the animals makes the shots look spectacular!
But wait… there is more! Because on the three days you are not shooting in the hide, you can do other things besides catching up on sleep and looking at your stunning images!
You can for instance go to the Maasai community and photograph their culture. You can walk with the cattle, experience a real Maasai village, and maybe purchase a few souvenirs for friends back at home. The Olkirimatian Conservancy would not exist without the efforts of the Olkirimatian community.
The lodge also offers game drives, although you should not expect the game drive to be as productive as what we’ve seen at the Mara!
Another really interesting activity Lentorre offers are visits to Lake Natron & Lake Magadi, to look for flamingos. You can do this by car, but you can also do this by…. helicopter! We are just going to let the pictures speak for themselves. The lakes look different in every season and change color based on the amount of rain that has fallen, so you never know exactly what you can expect. But you can expect it to be stunning. Aerial photography in this region is truly phenomenal. Please let us know if you would like to do this and we’ll arrange a helicopter to come to camp to take you flying over the lakes. There is space for 3 guests per helicopter (one next to the pilot and 2 at the back seat). All doors will be taken out to allow for uninterrupted views. The costs of this excursion are not included in the tour fee and depend on the number of guests flying. The helicopter is charged through a fixed fee per hour and needs to be booked in advance.
INCLUDED IN THE TOUR FEE
- all accommodation (15 nights)
- all meals & drinks (full board)
- safari vehicles with every guest having their own row of seats
- 3 nights in the overnight hide
- all park fees
- all transfers
- internal flights (charters for only our group, including 40kg of luggage each)
- in the field instructions
- image reviews
- lots of fun and sleepless nights!
NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR FEE
- Additional excursions outside of the itinerary or mentioned as being additional (like the helicopter at Lentorre)
- international flights
- travel and cancellation insurance
- gratuities for local guides
- items of personal nature
TRAVELING TO KENYA
Kenya opened its international borders on the 1st of August and is ready to welcome you. There is already a large number of airlines flying to Kenya, of which these are just a few examples: Kenya Airways, Swiss, Lufthansa, KLM, AirFrance, British Airways, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airways, Emirates, and Turkish Airlines. But I’m sure more will follow in the next few months.
Here are the COVID-19 protocols for Kenya:
- These countries are exempt from mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Kenya. This list includes almost all countries our beloved Squiverati come from!
- All passengers on international flights must show a negative COVID-19 certificate on arrival, obtained no later than 96 hours prior to departure from their home country.
- Body temperatures must test below 37.5°C (99.5°F) and visitors must have no persistent cough, no difficulty breathing, and no other flu-like symptoms.
- If there is a reported case of COVID-19 on a flight or if the above symptoms are detected, all passengers within two rows of the passenger with the symptoms will be quarantined for testing. If the test results are negative, they will be allowed to leave the facility.
- It is mandatory for all passengers arriving in Kenya to complete the Travelers Health Surveillance Form by the Ministry of Health. The form is found here and must be completed online prior to disembarkation. Passengers will receive a QR code after completing the form and will be required to display it to a Port Health Official to proceed through immigration.
- Strict infection prevention and control measures have to be followed: social distancing, good hand hygiene, and the wearing of masks remain mandatory.
CANCELLATION TERMS & PAYMENT
We know that booking a tour now comes with a bit more uncertainty than before COVID19. And we understand the need to be more flexible. Well… good news! We’ve been able to negotiate very favorable terms & conditions for this tour.
A deposit of 20% is payable within 7 days after booking, in order to reserve your seat on the tour.
The final payment is only due 60 days before the start of the tour.
We have been able to negotiate more flexible cancellation conditions at the lodges for this trip than our usual terms.
Should you need to cancel the trip (for non-COVD19 related reasons), the following cancellation conditions apply:
- Up to 61 days before arrival, no cancellation fee is charged; you will receive a full refund.
- 60 days – 31 days before arrival: 50% of your tour fee will be refunded.
- 30 days until arrival date: your payment has become non-refundable (which is usually 90 days in advance).
The lodges are offering special COVID19 terms & conditions, but they are only accepted if there was an actual change in the government-imposed travel restrictions between the moment of booking and the moment of traveling. If you are currently not allowed to enter Kenya due to COVID19 restrictions and you book this trip, you do so at your own risk and the above-mentioned cancellation policy applies.
The COVID19 terms & conditions are applicable if one of the below-listed changes occur between the point of booking and the time of intended travel:
- A change to outbound government/state/regional travel advisory that is mandatory, and is preventing you to exit the country that you live in.
- A change to entry restrictions (including mandatory quarantine) inbound to Kenya, that is different to the point of booking (a change that prevents you from entering Kenya – for instance, because your country is no longer on the list of countries that can freely enter Kenya)
- You receive a positive COVID19 PCR test result and are therefore not able to enter Kenia.
Under those circumstances, the following COVID19 cancellation terms apply:
- Up to 7 days before arrival, you will receive a full refund of all money paid.
- If you cancel 7 days or less before your arrival date, you will receive a 75% refund of all money paid.
We trust you understand that a week before traveling, some costs are no longer refundable. This goes for instance for the planes we have chartered for the group, and some of the lodges also charge us a small cancellation fee. To fulfill the responsibilities to their guests, and to meet new COVID-19 protocols, all camp staff have a 14-day quarantine before they rotate into the camps, so canceling at the very last minute is unmanageable for them. By charging unresolvable costs only from 7 days or less before travel, they are doing their best to compromise on covering the cost, but they cannot go beyond this. By then they have also ordered supplies, as well as paid for park fees, etc. and those costs are unrecoverable.
All photos in this itinerary were provided to us by the lodges with the consent of the photographers. Most have been edited or cropped to a smaller size for placement on our website.