Mirrorless on the Mara – The great migration
10 days on safari with the wild-eye team
Landing on the grass strip runway Mara Serena situated high on the plateau of the Mara Triangle, was the culmination of a 40 year dream, and the start of 30 days in East Africa for my wife Helen and I.
40 years ago we had travelled by ship from New Zealand to Capetown on our big OE but because of politics of the time we were denied visas to travel overland through Africa to Europe. The one day we had in Capetown we hired a car and toured the beautiful Cape Province area before returning to our ship and continuing the rest of the journey to Genoa Italy , vowing to one day return to the Africa continent. Life intervened and 40 years later the day had now arrived.
After landing on the grass runway on the Masai triangle we were introduced to our drivers and then set out on the 40 minute drive to our campsite on the Mara River our home for the next 10 days
Our first siting of the Mara River, our base for the next 10 days, A herd of wildebeest were building on the far side, would we see a crossing on the first day? Alas the herd moved on but we were not to wait for long.
Our first elephant siting on the river just around the bend from our camp. Of course for us new to Africa everything was a first siting, it was around the 3rd day before this initial excitement died down and we could start to focus on things like animal behaviour, light and composition in the photograph
The evening light was spectacular so had to be true to my landscape roots. Now I just have to get some animals in my landscape shots.
Day 2 and the wildebeest herd we saw yesterday had returned and continued to build , our guides were confident we would see a big crossing
The crossing was every bit as dramatic as we had hoped.
Giraffe Yes landscape with wildlife my two styles of photography are starting to come together
Our camp was surrounded by lion prides or so it seemed, within minutes on our early morning drive we would come across one of the many local lion prides. As they were active at this time we spent many hours with them and witnessed the full range of behaviour, resting, hunting, mating, killing, eating, playing, they were a real highlight of our trip.
We came across this male lion walking with his brother through one of the many drainage ditches, a common place to find lions we were to discover. Initially I thought he was brushing the flies off but they mark their territory by rubbing their faces on the bushes.
The kill , not what we expected , we had been thought it was the females that do ost the hunting , here a male takes down a wildebeest on his own, his coalition male partner just stood and watched him until he had subdued the wildebeest and then joined for the meal
Not the prettiest birds but a critical part of the food chain, as newbies it amazed us how that in a couple of days a fresh kill, could be reduced to skin and bone.
we were to see many lions sleeping but not always in such a scenic spot as these three.
We started to explore further from our camp as the days progressed , the mara triangle really isi a beautiful part of Kenya, and getting the odd day of rain and soft light suited me down to the ground.
Zebra, a chance to get creative in composition and post processing
Photo bombing zebra, whilst trying to get a shot of a herd of buffalo, one of the harder animals to photograph well in my opinion. (buffalo not zebra)
We had to travel a reasonable distance to get a shot of our first cheetah mum but wow it was worth it.
Cheetah shake, we spent 4 hours in the rain with this cheetah and loved every minute of it. We found the Wild-Eye team will wait as long as it takes for us to get the shot we want, giving all the guidance but never over specifying the how, always giving you the creative licence to get the shot your way.
Elephants herds are plentiful and endlessly fascinating but again patience is required to get an interesting composition.
We had a standing joke that the animals would turn away and leave you with only a butt shot, in this case I think it makes the shot.
“Once you have banked some shots then you can start to experiment” Great advise Gerry
At last a buffalo shot I am reasonably happy with although it took a bit of post processing to get the effect I was after.
Vulture flying. This shot is dedicated to a fellow traveller and great bird photographer who shared the 10 days with us , I had never been really interested in photographing birds but Roberto Anil’s love of them and his expertise rubbed off on us and so Roberto this is for you.
Lioness hunting unsuccessfully on this occassion the grazing herds didn't quite come close enough to mount the attack
We had hoped whilst on the Mara to meet some of the local Masai people, it was a special surprise to find that we would have them as part of our ground crew while we were there. Their pride of their culture and the manner in which they went out of their way to make us feel at home was a very special highlight of the trip
A trip and an opportunity of a live time, so many highlights, the Mara is even more magical than everybody says it is, to be able to send 10 days immersed in it , never leaving the reserve, returning every night to its life blood the Mara river, makes it in a way a spiritual journey , to be alongside fellow travellers and professional photographic guides , enriching every aspect of the trip, makes this far more than a photographic exploration , it is a transformational journey.
If you have the chance, try it yourself, you will not be disappointed.