Big Cats of the Massai Mara
The Rolling Plains of Africa
 
Testimonials from previous guests
 
 
The Masai Mara is deservedly known as Africa’s greatest wildlife reserve, and is famous for the abundance of lion, the other big cats, the Great Wildebeest Migration and the Masai people. It is without a doubt Africa’s most well know and famous safari destination. The area has become well know having featured in many excellent TV programmes including the BBC’s long running “Big Cat Diaries” and “Big Cat Week” as well as the more recent Disney Nature’s “African Cats”. Staying in luxury bush camps the big cats will definitely be on our agenda but we will also have ample opportunities to photograph the wide variety of other wildlife this area supports. 
 
With many years’ experience of East Africa and photographing its wildlife I have designed this trip specifically for the enthusiastic wildlife photographers interested in learning more about their camera and at the same time capturing some memorable images.
 
To find out more take a look at the trip reports and my photos for previous visits, the itinerary and importantly read the testimonials from previous guests below.
 
You can also have a look at the camp I use for my trips by clicking the following link or checking them out on trip advisor (yes trip advisor covers East Africa too!)
 If you are interested to know more please contact me either through the contact page on this website or by e-mailing bob@naturesphotos.co.uk and I will be more than happy to discuss it with you or put you in touch with someone who has enjoyed a trip there with me in the past. You might also be intersted in one of the other trips I run to East Africa e.g. the trip to Southern Tanzania in September..
 

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Testimonials

 
The whole experience was magical and I really want to go back as soon as I can. I did have high expectations and this trip met them and went beyond as well. It was really good to experience the Mara through the eye of the camera lens as well as just being there, watching the behaviours and habits of the animals, and learning some names of the inhabitants. I saw so many creatures I had never seen before, and to be so close to some of the larger birds of prey and the various animals was such a privilege. 
I was bowled over by the quality of the camp, the friendly staff who were always there to help and support, the food, the Mara itself, and being so close to the animals. The camp was so well organised and the staff were excellent without exception. Little touches like the biscuits in the morning and the hot water bottles (twice a day) were very welcome. I felt safe and very well looked after. The food was excellent.
Francis our driver was really excellent and has the most amazing eyesight and understanding of the environment and animals.
Thank you also Bob for the really helpful literature you sent before our trip which was useful in preparing for the it, for both the photography elements and our first trip to Kenya. You had clearly worked really hard before the trip, to ensure that we had everything we needed and were prepared for the experience. The photo tuition and support was really helpful as was the excellent feedback and support you gave us Bob. You were very generous with your time and (your equipment) during the time we were there, from the moment you met us from the plane to saying adieu at Heathrow. Your comments on the techniques of wildlife photography were helpful and I felt my skills improved as the week went on. I learned a lot.
It was also really interesting to visit the market and the village and to gain a small insight into the life of the local population. Thank you for setting this up. It gave real variety to the week.
 
Joyce Rothschild - Big Cats of the Masai Mara - February 2015
 
 
I simply loved the camp, the staff and this trip. You were always available for everyone and I appreciate your willingness to answer even the most trivial questions even when you had your hands full with other enquiries.
Bob, overall many thanks for a wonderful trip to the Mara and for all your hard work and dedication in making it a fantastic trip for everyone. I appreciate your attention to detail and the effort you put in to ensure everyone was happy both with the trip and photographic techniques.
I have visited East Africa on several occasions and this was certainly the most memorable. I would have no hesitation in recommending you, so much so that we have already booked for Botswana and Tanzania. Thank you whole-heartedly once again.
 
Wendy Collens - Big Cats of the Masai Mara - February 2015
 
 
We had a wonderful and very special holiday which we'll always remember. This was a fantastic trip and our expectations were fully met and exceeded, we had a fabulous time and we will definitely be going again!
Our driver/guide Francis was excellent, it was a pleasure to meet him and to spend time with him. He clearly has tremendous knowledge and was very helpful and good fun. Bob's support and photo tuition was just right, he was extremely helpful and knowledgeable. The village and market visit was very enjoyable and we would recommend this optional activity.
Keep up the good work Bob! We loved our first safari holiday. We'll certainly be booking another holiday with you and Safari Consultants.
 
Richard and Deborah Allen - Big Cats of the Masai Mara - February 2015
 
 
I have just returned from my second back to back trip with Bob to the Masai Mara and once again it was brilliant without exception. The camp facilities are first class, the food on par with the best restaurants and the staff unbelievably helpful and friendly.
As with all wildlife watching it is unpredictable but due to the knowledge and skill of our guides and of course Bob no drive failed to deliver something. Bob once again showed his patience and teaching skill to both beginners and some of us more experienced photographers. I seem to learn something new each time I am with him.
 
Phil Kemp, Kidlington Oxon - Big Cats of the Masai Mara - February 2015
 
 
My background is entomology and nature conservation and I have been in to wildlife photography since my late teens - so an awful long time, but I have never been to Africa before. What attracted me to this trip was that it was based in one place, actually out in the bush, and was specifically aimed at photographers. So I anticipated like minded individuals who wouldn't want to be rushing on to the next lion all the time.  In the event, it surpassed all my expectations! There was so much to point a camera at - not just the charismatic mega fauna - although there was plenty of that - but things like Hyraxes, Mongoose, Oxpeckers, Kingfishers  ... and more and different Kingfishers. I think what made it such an exceptional trip was our guides/drivers. It is not only that they know the place intimately and therefore where to find stuff, but they were able to anticipate what animals were likely to do and put you in the right place AND at the same time, they appreciated the needs of the photographer, taking account the light and the background. The hospitality and standards of catering provided by the camp were also quite exceptional and made for a very pleasant stay.
I would heartily recommend this trip to any wildlife photographer. Would I go again - certainly! What would I do different another time - not too much. I took two camera bodies and my main lenses where a 17-85mm and a 300mm  plus a 1.4x converter. I took about twice as many shots using the 300mm, but sometimes it was a bit much - we were just too close. So, if I was going again, I would take a lens in the 200mm range (maybe a 70-200mm zoom).  But I probably wouldn't take my 100mm macro. I barely used it. There were butterflies and occasional dragonflies about, but hardly any other insects (because this is the end of the dry season - although, this year, it had not been particularly dry). The only mosquito I saw the whole time was in the departure building at Wilson Airfield in Nairobi!
So thanks, Bob, for organising such a fantastic trip and I look forward to doing another one someday.
 
  Some of Stuart's Photos
   
 
This was a holiday of a lifetime; an absolutely breath-taking experience and a wonderful opportunity to take better nature photographs in a perfect environment. I forgot to mention a superb opportunity to meet and make new friends, especially our group leader and workshop tutor, Bob Brind-Surch.
From the moment we touched down on the airstrip in the light aircraft our adventure began. We were met by our drivers, George and Benje who drove us to the most impressive Kicheche Mara Camp where we were greeted warmly by the staff. The accommodation maybe a tent, but it was luxury with a flushing loo, a good shower and quality toiletry products. The beds were comfortable, the tents spacious and the food fantastic!
The adventure then began! We saw all the animals and birds we expected to see, except of course the rhino, and plenty more. We woke early having had a cuppa and some biscuits and out in the vehicles before dawn, watching the dramas of the early morning unfold in front of our eyes. Breakfast was taken in the bush after our drivers made sure that there were no risk from predators or other dangerous animals. After breakfast we continued observing and taking photographs under the expert guidance of Bob. In our group we had photographers of differing experience and all were helped as and when, at their own level. Nobody felt foolish to ask maybe the simplest of questions.
Our driver was George (a Massai Mara guide) who was staggeringly expert on the wildlife and fauna of the area. He could answer every question in perfect English. He could see things none of us could see including birds sitting on far away trees and be able to identify them! He drove cautiously and observed the necessity to give the animals and birds space to behave naturally. This is after all a conservation area! From a photographic point of view, both drivers knew exactly where to position the vehicle to enable us to take the best possible shot! They were able to read the signs that some event had happened. Maybe this was watching the sky for vultures and eagles, or listening to the sounds around or watching movement in the trees and bushes. They communicated with the rangers and other guides by radio.The large off road converted Toyota vehicles were sturdy and safe, and although open sided we never felt vulnerable in front of any animal including the Acacia Pride of lions.
We returned to the camp for lunch and then had a few hours off relaxing/sleeping or downloading our images before starting out again at 4pm.At sunset we had ‘sundown’ which was a wonderful opportunity to have a glass of something, mine was wine, but others had a G&T and watch the magnificent sunset, with our cameras at the ready. We then returned to the camp for a shower, dinner and bed, before the next day of adventures started! We were guided by the guards after dusk and before dawn to and from our tents, so never felt any danger.
Every day we experienced new drama unfold. Fortunately for me we never witnessed a kill, but saw the pride of lions eating a giraffe and her calf she had tried unsuccessfully to defend, followed by the hyenas, jackals, vultures and eagles. We saw a mother leopard and her two cubs; two cheetah brothers chasing their quarry that fortunately for me got away! I asked to see one of the two adult male lions who ‘service’ both prides; The Acacia Pride and The Off Beat Pride and was amazed at the size and strength of this beast dragging his recently killed wildebeest down a slope into the valley and up the other side. What a magnificent creature he was!
There were plenty of herd animals, the names I need to look up including zebras, buffalo, wildebeest and elephants. Hippos and crocodiles in the mara river to enjoy whilst having breakfast! There were an abundance of birds including ostrich to photograph. One of my highlights was watching giraffe give birth, only to watch in horror as the hyenas gathered. It was too dark to see the outcome, but a couple of days later we saw mum and baby alive and well!
We had an opportunity to visit a Massai village and the local Aitong Market, so plenty of opportunity to take people shots!
You could not fail to enjoy this trip and take wonderful images! The light was perfect, the subject matter was in abundance, the guides imparted their knowledge and with Bob’s expertise helped and guided us to take the best shots possible!
 
  Some of Maddy's Photos
   
 
"I do take a few photographs which do not have some form of wildlife in them, but not many. I take a lot of insect shots and some are as small as 2mm, weighing-in at a fraction of a gram, but on this trip I did not make a great deal of use of my macro lens - I was captivated by the majesty of the lion and the sheer size and power of the elephant. It is quite different seeing them in the wild and in their own environment when we are caged and they roam free.
I have rarely taken a holiday in the same place twice, because there is always something else that I have wanted to see or do. That is not how I felt after my trip to Kicheche Mara Camp. I do want to return and I do want again to experience the hospitality and the opportunities presented on a workshop arranged by Bob.
Crucial to these opportunities were the guide/drivers that Bob selected. They knew what we wanted to achieve and set about making certain that we would leave with our ambitions fulfilled. We were left in no doubt about their skill and knowledge, but what was uncanny was when an animal started to move and our driver said ‘hold tight’ then drove in a great arc and waited. Sure enough within a very short time the lion, cheetah or leopard turned up right on cue! "
 
 
   
 
"The prospect of a few days in Kenya was a long held dream which I never expected to come true, it took 4 or 5 days of complete amazement and disbelief to believe I was actually there.  Bob, the perfect host ensured everything ran smoothly; from the pre-travel arrangements to the goodbyes at Heathrow 10 days later. The staff at Kicheche Mara Camp were professional but very friendly & approachable, the guides/drivers were just amazing and incredibly knowledgeable:  they seemed to know which animals we wanted to see, where to find them and where to position the vehicles so that we were able to achieve great images. 
Friends have asked me whether I photographed the big cats, the elephants or giraffes. My answer is yes and so much more: we saw a pair of cheetah brothers on our very first morning on the way into camp from the airport and were able to follow them at various times during the trip.  We met the local pride of lions many times; in rain & in sunshine and at both sunrise & sunset and all times in between. But my favourite cat was the mother leopard with her two cubs, just 5 mins from camp. She was so beautiful and graceful and yet there was no doubt about her maternal instincts to protect her cubs or her innate strength and power. 
One of the highlights of the trip was taking breakfast on the banks of the Mara River watching the hippos wallow in the water below us, another was seeing a baby giraffe being born just as the light disappeared and knowing there were two hyenas nearby – it took two days to confirm it had survived and then there were the sunsets – a fantastic sight to end the day.
Any expectations I set out with were all met and exceeded ten fold. It was halfway through the trip before I stopped standing & looking around with absolute amazement and wonderment that I was there.Both drivers were excellent and knew their country inside out and their knowledge of the wildlife was incredible, they managed to safely drive along rutted tracks while spotting game unseen by us. I felt totally safe within their care.
The camp was 5*, absolutely superb! I couldn't fault it. The staff were attentive, efficient and very friendly. The food was excellent, I enjoyed every meal, many of which were very inventive, how the chief managed in the facilities available I'll never know, as I never managed to get that peek behind the door.
I don’t think I’ve come back to earth yet! It still feels like an amazing dream. Thanks again for the best experience of my life, it was truly amazing.
Probably the 100 dollar question – would I go back? Unequivocally, Yes I would go tomorrow if given the opportunity! Thank you Bob for providing a trip of a lifetime."
 
   
 
"I had done quite a bit of homework on this trip, the camp, area etc. But nothing from the research came close to how fantastic the whole experience was.
We were provided with 5 star treatment in the middle of the bush. The food was so fresh, with homemade pickles the local WI could not better. There was a great choice and they catered for all needs. All the staff where wonderful and they made you feel very special.
Our superman Maasai driver Joesph, not only drove the vehicle over difficult terrain, he also spotted and talked about the animals all at the same time. He knew which direction the animals would move into and with that knowledge he put the vehicle in the right spot every time.
With Bob you felt you could ask any question without feeling stupid. He anticipated our questions, this made for a very relaxed trip and even let us use his shoulder as a mobile tripod when taking moon pictures.
The optional extra visit to Aitong town was an excellent addition to the holiday for me. It was a place I would not have considered going to before the safari. But to see life on market day was very special. The photo opportunities, people and animals where captivating. So very glad I went there.
Throughout the whole week I could not stop smiling I was so very happy, this was the best week of my life ever. "
 
   
 
"I have just returned from two remarkable weeks in Kenya with Bob, one of the best experiences I have ever had. It far out passed my expectations. Accommodation and food on par with the finest hotels. What also made it special was the expert knowledgeable guiding and photo tuition given by Bob and the guides the abundance of wildlife was amazing. I strongly recommend this trip to anyone interested in wildlife photography. "
 
   
 
"This trip with Bob more than filled all my expectations; it was truly the trip of a lifetime. I have been on safari twice before, but this was by far the best.
The time spent with each site and the knowledge and advice given made all the difference. The Maasai guides were excellent and their knowledge of wildlife was phenomenal. They also understood where to place the vehicle to get the best light.
The service in camp was excellent and food wonderful. I enjoyed walk, made more exciting by encounter with lions, but felt safe at all times.
As someone with very little experience, I found the tuition very useful. I have come back feeling more confident using my camera and have learnt new techniques I can use in other parts of my photography. There is very little that would have improved the experience.Every part of it was designed to help us enjoy and learn. Even the animals seemed to know what to do!!
 
Thank you so much for a fantastic experience "
 
Heather Mann - February 2014
   
 
"Hi Bob,   I hope you had a good second week and you have obviously arrived back in the UK safely. I would like to thank you for a wonderful trip thats the first time I have been on an organised trip for many years and my first ever safari. From the moment you came LBPC and booking the trip I was very impressed with the amount of contact and information supplied by yourself it certainly made the trip very easy and most enjoyable.
I was very impressed with the information supplied by Bill and his team and the very attentive staff at Kicheche camp all this made my holiday wonderful.
It was great a start with the first game drive form the airstrip even though we had been up all night on the flight from the UK. The days seemed to get better and better and I am very pleased with the shots I have taken. We seemed to pack so much into the week which was great.
Since getting back most of us have been in contact and have put some of our images on Flickr. I hope to speak to you soon and maybe meet in Suffolk Once again thank you for your time and effort it was very worth while.
Regards Paul."
 
   
 
"Bob.
 
This was my first experience of a photo safari, so I had nothing to compare it with - but I could not fault it in any way. It is fair to say that I went on the trip with very high expectations my expectations which were surpassed in every respect. The skill of the drivers in putting us in exactly the right place for great photo opportunities was truly amazing. I also wanted to see some normal everyday life and colour among the local people. The Aitong market visit was exactly right for this - not at all stage managed and some great opportunities for a little candid photography.
 
Thank you."
 
   
 
"Hello Bob.
 
I must thank you for organizing an amazing Safari at Mara North Conservancy.
As a cat lover I was more than happy with the opportunities we had to photograph and observe the lion and cheetah activity and the sighting of the Serval was an added bonus. I don't think my images of the leopard will be winning any competitions, but this is an excuse to try again sometime. It was great to learn more about animal behaviour and experience things that I had seen on television. I was very impressed with the accommodation, service and catering at Kicheche Mara. I have learnt over the years that the knowledge/skill of the drivers for getting in the best position for photography is very important and Jimmy was excellent at this.
 
Thank you again."