For many adventurers, the allure of travel is in the land itself.
- Wildlife & Polar
Wildlife & Polar highlights
- Types of Holiday
Popular Cultural Holiday
This is a small group guided holiday. The group is usually between 4 and 16 in size, with an average of 12 like-minded clients booking individually, in a couple or as friends together.
Download the detailed trip notes for everything you could possibly want to know about this trip, including detailed itinerary and full kit list.
A fantastic, immersive safari experience that gets you close to the wildlife for some great photographic opportunities, with a five-star luxury camp to enjoy when not out on the Mara plains filling your memory cards. This is not a relaxing holiday, but it is the best way to get close to the incredible wildlife and to take your photography skills to the next level. It’s also lots of fun!
This is tough but I can narrow it down to three:
First night, waiting for sundowners, Paul had tracked a cheetah and anticipated it would climb a Boscia tree. We positioned our vehicles so that the setting sun would be behind the tree and waited. Sure enough the cheetah climbed up and we were able to capture it as a silhouette against a stunning Mara sunset.
Cheetah kill: we spent the morning waiting for Malaika and her 3 sub-adult cubs to hunt. They eyed-up some wildebeest in the distance and we positioned the vehicles for the best vantage point, but in so doing, we disturbed a hare that ran off at speed. The cheetahs spotted this ‘amuse bouche’ on legs, made chase and executed a perfect kill right in front of our vehicle. Adrenalin overload!
Leopard with cubs: Bahati, a beautiful leopard, moved her 8-week-old cubs to a new den, carrying them one by one in her mouth. A very rare sight, and a privilege to watch.
And then there’s the Scotch egg that also deserves mention: voted Top Mara breakfast!
I’ve been on a few trips with Paul and know that he takes no prisoners. My two friends and I were called the ‘Sunshine Variety Club outing’ because we were so slow with our cameras; (which we thought hilarious). So if you’re too slow, or you don’t know how your camera works properly or you are not prepared to take risks with your photography then you may get an earful. However if you want to learn, then Paul will pass on hugely useful tips and advice so that you will never take just a plain old ‘record shot’ again (though of course we amateurs need at least one of those!). Paul is harder on himself than on his guests; if he calls it wrong (admittedly this is rare) or is himself too slow to get the correct lens on (it happens!), then the air will turn blue. His objective is for you to get the great shots, he works hard to make this happen and his good cop/bad cop approach pays dividends in the end. Wallflowers need not apply… But bring a thick skin with you, and throw a few filthy jokes into the mix and you’ll be fine, and what’s more, you’ll go home with a gallery of photographs that you will treasure.
Get to know your camera – not just ‘auto’ but all the other buttons too. Bring the best lens you can, and hire one if the eye-watering prices for new glass are beyond you. You will regret not doing so once you are in situ: lens envy is not good. I had a Canon 7D and a 1D with a 100-400 lens but was v envious of the 500mm lenses. However, I got some great shots once I’d got all the various bells and whistles on my camera sorted – and used the bean bag for stability (they are in all vehicles). Bring a wide lens too as the Mara skies are simply stunning. One of my favourite shots has no animals in it at all.
In addition to your usual pro-style camera bag for taking as hand-luggage, bring a softer day pack for using in the vehicles: these will get dusty and need to be crammed under the seat - big camera bags will be too bulky. Bring enough memory cards or a laptop/hard drive to download – you will take many more photographs than you could ever imagine. A laptop/tablet is also useful so you can review your photos at the end of each day; there are plenty of UK plug sockets in the mess tent for recharging but no sockets in the tents which are solar powered (no hairdryers required!).
Take note of the luggage weight limit and pack accordingly (though our luggage was not weighed for the internal flight). Ballgowns and tiaras not required as it is v casual in camp. Pack light and take advantage of the awesome laundry system (taken in the morning, washed and ironed by 5pm). Take a fleece for the early mornings as it is cold out before the sun rises, but the heat of the midday sun can be scorchio, so bring sunscreen.
I stashed an energy/nutty bar in my day-pack each morning, as there can be a long wait until breakfast if you are on a stake-out!
This is an expensive safari, but you get what you pay for. The brilliant guides at the Kicheche camps know every inch of the plains and can spot a big cat from a mile away. The vehicles are especially adapted for photographers and the guides are photographers themselves, so they know how to get you in the right place for the best shots. If you go on a trip with Paul, he will work you hard but your photography will improve and he is committed to finding the best wildlife, whatever it takes. Be prepared for long days, but they pay off. We stayed at Kicheche Bush Camp and were treated like royalty; the staff are fantastic and the food is amazing, but beware the scales when you get home!
Be prepared to hit the ground running and to keep going - Everything you may have read about his trips is true. Paul and the fantastic Kicheche guides work really hard to get you in the right place at the right time - leaving camp in the dark to be in the Mara when the sun comes up backlighting a cheetah and her four cubs, or watching the most amazing river crossings that even the National Geographic would be envious of.
Even if, like me, you are a complete novice you will get lots of helpful advice. Just when you think you will practice photographing a bee eater in flight (thinking Paul is far enough away not to notice) the radio will crackle from three vehicles away and you will be told your shutter speed is too slow!
But at the end of the day you will learn a lot and come home with some photographs you will be proud of and want to go again. This was my first trip with Paul and I have already booked another one - although I will have to try and master slow panning before then!
The river crossings were phenomenal especially watching a leopard stalking along under the river bank to take an unfortunate wildebeest.
Watching a two month old elephant with no control over its legs or trunk running about and ending upside down with all four legs in the air.
Just about everything else - lions and cubs, cheetah and cubs, leopard and sub adults ...
Paul lives up to his reputation and works really hard to help you get the most out of the trip. His enthusiasm and energy is legendary and he is not joking about 14 hour game drives (although they never seemed that long!).
Be prepared for lots of helpful advice and take an ipad or laptop as he likes to have a look at what you are doing. He uploads his photographs after each game drive - take a look at them and see how to really get the best shots.
On top of everything else you get to stay in a fabulous camp with terrific staff and top guides.
Where do I begin... if your objective is to come home with some gorgeous photographs of truly wild animals in one of the finest wilderness areas on the planet, this is the trip for you. But be under no illusion, it's hard work. If you're looking forward to your nutmeg pancakes (Paul's breakfast insult of choice, it seems!) before a leisurely morning, look elsewhere. If you want to be in the right place, right time, this is it.
Lion cubs a-plenty, cheetah family at play - and on the hunt, a close encounter with a leopard, this had it all. And when we were back at camp, we couldn't have been in greater luxury.
Many, many moments, but it has to be having a leopard walking directly towards me before sitting down right next to our back wheel. I don't think I breathed for about 5 minutes. Lion cub calling for it's mother, cheetah chase and kill...
Paul Goldstein. Crikey. I'm not sure there's anyone quite like him. I've never met a more hard working, enthusiastic and passionate photographer. The times when it's your turn in a vehicle with him are hard work, and you can feel drained at the end of it but he'll stop at nothing to get in the right place. You'll be shouted at and put under pressure but the trick is to cut through all that to what's important. Watch what he's doing, how he's lining up shots, ask him what he's trying to do etc and learn from being in his presence.
Mainly practical stuff here I think. Firstly, cameras - know yours inside out before you go. Understand how to fluidly change settings and how that affects exposure, focus etc. Be ready to quickly change lenses. Paul seems to have an ability to think a number of photos in advance and it can be hard to keep up, but it's great if can try. And if you've not got a big white lens - hire one. Unless of course you're a Nikon shooter, in which case good luck with Paul!
If you're taking a big camera bag with all your kit in, take a small shoulder bag or similar. With 3 or 4 people per vehicle and lots of big lenses, there's not a lot of space to move big bags around. Decant what you need for a drive (batteries, cards, sun cream, water, smaller lenses etc) into a little bag and leave your big bag in your tent.
Laundry - go light. Daily laundry service, so you literally only need 2 or 3 changes. Take warm fleece for mornings but it gets hot in the day - shorts, sandals etc are the way to go.
Luggage - don't stress over the weight limit. This may of course change, but for me, I was about 5-7 kilos over and both international and internal flights - never checked, no problems.
This is a very expensive trip, so think carefully if it's for you, and read the reviews on here. If you're passionate about wildlife photography, and want the best opportunities to get amazing pictures with the best guides in the Mara, with a camp site that'll do 5-star meals every night and look after your every need, this is it.
But it's not for the timid!
Lightweight clothing for the day time, as the sun can be quite strong. Bring warmer layers for the cooler evenings and early mornings, when temperatures can drop surprisingly due to the altitude a lot of Kenya sits at.
Tom Bowring - Customer Operations
Unfortunately we are not qualified to answer all your questions in regards to travel health, so we strongly recommend you contact your GP or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. There will be limited information in the trip notes but you should always seek further qualified medical advice.
Nomad Travel Clinics are experts in preparing people for travel, providing advice on vaccinations, anti-malarial and staying healthy whilst overseas. We have arranged a special 10% discount for Exodus passengers on any vaccinations that you may require! Take along your Nomad discount card, sent with your confirmation pack, or call Exodus for your special discount code.
Visit www.nomadtravel.co.uk/exodus for further information.
For additional information please visit: www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk
Charlotte Taylor - Customer Operations
Just taking Sterling cash will be fine, and there is no need to change in US dollars. The local currency is the Kenyan Schilling, and you will be changing your money into this and spending with schillings only. Some services will accept dollars as payment, but it is not legal tender. It is best to change money at the airport in Nairobi and ATM machines are availabile there as well. Credit Cards are accepted at most points on the trips if you get stuck as well!
Tom Bowring - Africa Operations
No, from September 2015 it is no longer possible to get your visa on arrival in Kenya. You must arrange for an eVisa online via Kenya Visa applications.
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