Kenya is a magical place. It’s one of the most naturally diverse destinations in Africa. It offers contrasting landscapes that range from arid deserts with decades-old acacia to riverine forests shrouded in fog to exquisite sandy beaches. So, it’s almost a disservice for any photographer not to consider Kenya for photography tours.
Whether you are a complete amateur or veteran photographer, you can find the perfect subjects for your stills in the East African nation. Photo safaris in Kenya allow you to capture the soul of the land in various settings. Photograph some splendid sights like a million wildebeest migrating across the Masai Mara, elephants covered in red-dust bathing in the Galana River in Tsavo, or the majestic waterfalls in the Aberdares. You can choose to photograph the people, flora, or fauna.
With proper instruction and reliable equipment, photographers can get spectacular images. The charm of Kenyan photography tours is that almost anyone passionate about photography can join. It doesn’t matter if you will be using the latest-model DSRL or an iPhone; you can capitalize on the incredibly photogenic locations this country offers.
Of course, if you are planning your first Kenyan trip, you might be unsure about where to start. Which are the best places to photograph? What impediments should you expect? Is your fitness vital? Such considerations are common for any traveler who wants to get the best from their photo safari. For that reason, we compiled this extensive guide to help you have an exciting experience.
What Comprises a Photography Tour?
The intro painted a picture of what you can do on a photography safari in Kenya, but what does this type of travel entail? As the name suggests, the trip is tailored around photography. The itinerary takes tourists around some of the best places that guarantee superb photo opportunities. It allows you to experience the culture, wildlife, cuisine, and attractions in different locations.
A photo safari is more flexible than a regular holiday because it lets travelers leverage any chances that present themselves.
For example, if you spot a unique bird you want to photograph, you can stop to admire it and snap that amazing shot. Guides work with tourists to ensure they get the perfect images, which could include going off the beaten path to take a closer look at a subject. So, expect more than a few detours during a photography expedition.
Kenyan photo trips include trained and experienced guides who know all the right places to take you. If you like to capture wildlife, the guide knows where to direct you. Do you prefer photographing archaeological sites? Then your guide will show you where to look. Guided photo tours are convenient and save time.
Another characteristic of a photo safari is that you can work with professional photographers. Amateurs who might need direction on how to get beautiful pictures can rely on the instructors provided. Get help choosing a subject, adjusting lighting, and composition. If your equipment is giving you trouble, then you can count on the assistance of skilled instructors.
Note that a photography tour is not the same thing as travel photography. The latter is a subcategory of the profession. A travel photographer takes pictures from different locations to educate, inspire and narrate. Travel photographers use customized photo holidays to document their chosen subjects. However, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to enjoy a customized photo safari. You can take one of these trips to add some stunning snapshots to a personal collection.
Do Fitness Levels Matter?
The photo safari determines how much physical activity is involved. For example, if the trip includes hiking Mt. Kenya, then you have to prepare for a bit of hard work. Conversely, a safari walk in the plains doesn’t require you to exert much effort. Don’t focus too much on fitness, though. Most Kenyan photography expeditions are not strenuous. Therefore, persons of different ages can enjoy photo holidays in Kenya.
The Best Kenyan Destinations for Photography Tours
No better way exists to explore Kenya than a photo safari. The trip gives you the freedom to stop and marvel at the wonders of this country. Kenya has so much to offer, it would take weeks to get around to seeing half of it. Therefore, we took the initiative to compile a few places to start with when planning a photography tour.
You don’t need convincing to visit the Masai Mara, one of Africa’s most prominent wildlife reserves. For years, The Great Migration has been and continues to be, Mara’s USP. In July every year, this part of the continent showcases one of the biggest and most magnificent natural phenomena in the world.
A group of some 1.3 million blue wildebeests, several hundred thousand Grant’s zebras, Thomson’s gazelles, common elands, and topi cross from the Serengeti, searching for pasture. It’s a must-see sight that attracts visitors from the world over. Whether you photograph wildlife or not, there’s no debate that you need to capture the splendor of The Great Migration.
The vast plains stretching across the Mara have a lot more in store. Ready your camera to take snapshots of the gorgeous landscape that offers a striking contrast; from the breathtaking Mara River to the rugged savannah. Head to the western escarpment to catch several of the big five roaming around the park.
If you love thrilling photo tours, the Mara doesn’t disappoint. Watch assorted bird species dominate the clear skies or crocodile hunting in the river.
Northern Kenya has exciting destinations for photo expeditions, especially for tourists who like to focus on culture. Samburu gives an opportunity to interact with some of the most culturally rich communities in the north, such as the Samburu, Turkana, and Borana.
The Samburu National Reserve houses most of the region’s flora and fauna, thanks to the Ewaso Nyiro River, which supplies water to the arid lands. Capture a graceful impala as it strolls the riverine forest, a pride of lions stalking prey or a hippo emerging from the muddy waters of the Ewaso Nyiro.
Early in the morning or in the evening, you have a chance to get perfect images of the two mountains visible from the Reserve – Ololokwe and Koitogor. Click away at the unique bird species found in the region as you drink in the remarkable sunset.
The Kenyan coastline boasts white sandy beaches, azure waters, and a lovely climate. It’s an ideal destination to relax and maybe take a photo or two. Diani is particularly inviting with its palm-lined streets, glorious sunsets, and warm people. So, it’s no surprise since 2015, it has been crowned Africa’s best beach destination.
Diani is one place where your creativity can run wild. Go snorkeling and take photos underwater, photograph the shoreline from a jet ski or capture the clear blue skies while kite surfing.
Book a photo tour that includes a stop by the sanctuary to see white and black colobus monkeys, Wasini islands, or the Shimba Hills National Reserve.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Tucked between the slopes of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy offers unmatched beauty. The Laikipia Plateau affords the Conservancy lush lands with diverse vegetation. Although the area doesn’t have a lot of animals, the Conservancy promises diversity. It hosts the big five, which means you can shoot popular wildlife like the African elephant, rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo.
The main reason to include Ol Pejeta in a photo tour, though, is a photo opportunity of the world’s last two northern white rhinos. A safari tour around the region lets you get up close with the animals and other attractions.
While at the Conservancy, visit the SweetWaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, which houses orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees.
Tsavo East and West
You can be sure you will get more than a few spectacular photos of Kenya’s largest protected area. The Tsavo is in two parts, east, and west, and they both provide staggering beauty. Tsavo East is the biggest of the two, with a sprawling wilderness characterized by grasslands and savannah. It’s one of the world’s most biodiverse reserves.
Tsavo East offers a wide array of wildlife and birdlife. Apart from the Big Five, Tsavo East National Park hosts mammals like the African wildcat, bat-eared fox, and gerenuk. Bird watchers can take pictures of herons, secretaries birds, and starlings.
For landscape photography, Tsavo East offers awe-inspiring locations like Lugard Falls, where you can shoot the dazzling white water rapids. Take pictures of various subjects from Mudanda Rock, the best vantage point in the park.
However, for truly captivating landscapes, Tsavo West is it. This part of the Tsavo is mountainous, rendering itself gorgeous scenery. Its rocky ridges contrast with the rich riverine vegetation to create picturesque panoramas worthy of a few MBs on your camera storage.
Tsavo West also has its share of wildlife, with a selection of large and small animals. Your photo expedition can include rock climbing, allowing the group to see the park from different perspectives.
From the coast to the central highlands to the arid lands in the north, Kenya is a land of contrasting beauty. Regardless of your proficiency or familiarity with photography tours, treat yourself to one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.