Teen Sensation - A Teenager's Africa Photography Camp
Your child has probably seen The Lion King, and been fascinated by the heart-rending tale of Simba, Pumbaa, Zazu, Rafiki and all the other characters.
But now, It's time for them to see the myriad dramas of the bush play out in the flesh; for them to learn that in reality, nobody's a villain; that all creatures big and small are equally important for the ecosystem of our planet; that all animals are beautiful, wonderful and heroic.
It's time for Africa.
How is it?
To the green at heart, a mention of Kenya evokes its primordial picture seen on television - plains, prey and predators teaming up to spawn the most spectacular wilderness site on the planet, where large animals still maraud wild and free. And on this special camp for teenaged nature-lovers, it's even better than anything they've imagined.
With over ten national parks and nature reserves harbouring bounteous wildlife that is easy to view, Kenya is the crème of wild Africa. And it is a venue for all seasons.
May marks the end of the first of the two annual wet seasons here. Nourished by the long rains, the grasslands and the woods alike spring spectacularly back to life and shine resplendently in verdant green.
The myriad dramas, triumphs and tragedies that compose life in the wild show up in a mélange of hues. And topping this spectacle is a blessing from the weather god, who is known to let His hair down at around this time every year.
As the day advances, a dark grey curtain of clouds hoists itself down the distant horizon ahead. Behind you, the nomadic wind, never one to be stopped in its ceaseless flight, nudges the water-bearers, exposing for now the nearest star which seizes the moment to bask in its own glow by shining with full resplendence, even as a rainbow graces the sky as a giant ornament.
In an instant, everything has turned into an impossibly exquisite canvas of golden éclat; memories of a lifetime have become enshrined in a moment of magic. It happens only in Africa.
What your child will see and photograph:
For tourists, this is technically the low-season but the wildlife doesn't seem to know it, for save for the overwhelming numbers of ungulates that are otherwise a prerogative of the Great Migration seen here between July and September, virtually all the other spectacles of the savannah are in due attendance for photography while highly discounted off-season rates prevail. This means it's the best time to introduce your child to this incredible land while keeping your pocket free of holes.
MASAI MARA GAME RESERVE
The famous venue of the BBC Big Cat Diary series and countless inspiring stories is a theatre of dreams. Masai Mara is where the first-time visitor to Africa starts their love affair with the continent's wildlife. For not only does this miniature paradise have a flourishing population of lions and the rest of the Big Five, it is a most splendid place to photograph them.
A part of the Greater Mara Ecosystem and covering 1510km2, the Masai Mara National Reserve is home to what is effectively a bona fide wildlife symposium, with over 250 species of birds and a mindboggling diversity of mammals on show.
Here lies the best opportunity in Africa to photograph the notoriously elusive leopard, which is often seen arresting the watcher's breath by flaunting its beauty from atop a tree or on the ground. And where there is a cat, a spotted hyaena with its trademark psychedelic calls is never far away, plotting relentlessly as it does to usurp an adversary's hard-earned kill.
Masai Mara is a land of terrestrial superlatives. The world's fastest land mammal, the cheetah, is often found sitting pretty on a termite mound, surveying the plains to locate breakfast, while the planet's largest land mammal, the African elephant, takes its size in its stride as it moves about in genial majesty.
The largest living bird on earth, the ostrich, always likes things to be to its satisfaction. And to top all this, the giraffe, the world's tallest land mammal, uses its ground clearance to look down on one and all from the upper reaches of its slender neck. Decidedly, the denizens of this system appear to love setting records.
Rather less ambitiously but with equal beauty, an impressive variety of antelope roam the rolling plains. While the fleet-footed Thomson's gazelle runs like the wind to preserve its life from its nemesis, the cheetah, the impala glides across the frame like a symbol of elegance.
Warthogs and hippopotamuses are always around the corner, while so are diverse birds such as the beautiful crowned crane and the magnificent bataleur eagle.
But, without a doubt, the imperious lion is the centerpiece of the wonderland, with the spotlight rightly on the emperor of all he surveys. If there is a better place than Masai Mara to watch and photograph the iconic African lion, it is yet to be discovered by man.
Here, individuals of various ages and standing in lion society may be observed hunting, grooming and resting on the picturesque open plains in spectacular light, all in the public gaze.
Clearly, there is never a dull moment in the Mara.
LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK
If Jaipur is the Pink City, Lake Nakuru National Park must be called the Pink Park. For, anywhere between thousands and millions of flamingos throng the eponymous lake of this 188km2 reserve, obscuring its surface as an overwhelming carpet of resplendent pink - a sight that is seen to be savoured.
Other attractions of this wetland sanctuary surrounding the soda lake on the floor of the Great Rift Valley include pelicans, Rothschild's giraffe, flourishing populations of baboon, warthog, Burchell's zebra and one of the highest densities of black rhino.
Clearly, extra memory cards are imperative.
An avid angler, great raconteur and naturalist par excellence, Phillip uses his passion for wildlife to spread the joy of nature through his infectious ways to adults and children alike. Having explored wilderness areas throughout India as a photographer and naturalist, Phillip has won many laurels, including a Wildlife Conservation Award in 2009 for his report on saving the Bannerghatta National Park. And courtesy of his skill, imagination and technical mastery, his work has been used in various magazines, newspapers, journals and calendars for embellishment and education through his incisive lens.
Read more about Phillip here.
WHY GO ON A TOEHOLD PHOTO TOUR?At Toehold, we are passionate about photography just as you are, which lets us understand your travails and needs perfectly. And we use this insight to specially design our Photography Tours so they give you a toehold to excel at the art and set you up for success.
The Toehold team at your disposal will keep you tuned and geared, so you come in empty-handed but go out with bagful of images and tales of an experience that is better lived than heard.
- A clinically organized tour with utmost attention to your comfort and needs
- An open, informal environment that promotes interactive learning
- A team that will strategize and work to a plan to optimize opportunities and ensure a great tour
- Practical, hands-on assistance in photography from the tour Skippers both in the field and off it
- A wealth of subject matter knowledge
- Individual interaction with the Skippers over general or specific issues
- First-hand learning from the masters in the art and craft of photography
These exclusive, informative and interactive sessions are -
TESTIMONIALS BY OUR PREVIOUS TOUR PARTICIPANTSPhotography enthusiasts who were a part of a similar Tour previously said:
We spent five beautiful days in this great place (Masai Mara), and were able to see all the three big cats. The highlight was the cheetah hunt, when five cheetahs charged and killed a male impala - It was a fantastic experience, and we really can't expect more.
The way the tour was organised and the places we stayed in were simply fantastic. Jayanth was a great Skipper. I was astounded by the way he could virtually read the cheetah's mind and put us in the best possible angle to shoot from. I learned a lot of techniques from him, and after this tour, can can safely say that I'm finally able to take a flawless photograph.
- Dr Senthil Kandeepan, Delhi
Rather than list a string of adjectives, let me share a short story that occurred during a recent Masai Mara tour, which typifies the reason I continue to go on photo safaris with Jayanth.
Early one morning Jay spotted a female leopard near the Mara River. Our Land Rover tracked her for the entire morning as she made two unsuccessful yet exciting hunting attempts. She was hungry, had cubs to feed and we knew she would make another hunt attempt. At 12:15 pm, Jay made a key decision: rather than break off from tracking Siri and driving 45 minutes back to the camp for lunch (which would have almost certainly resulted in our not being able to locate her in the afternoon), he radioed our camp asking them to send box lunches to us so that we could maintain visual contact with the gorgeous cat and not miss any photo opportunities. Jay did not want us to miss the rare opportunity of witnessing a leopard hunt.
This is the kind of client-focused decision that is the highlight of all of the trips I have been on. I hope to be fortunate enough to join Jay on future photo safaris.
- Tom Ori, Colorado Springs, USA
It was a 50th birthday wish for my wife to visit Kenya and she had decided on a photography tour with Toehold, led by Sachin Rai. I truly was not expecting the red carpet treatment considering their reasonable rates, and had prepared for the worst, but to my surprise the tour was well planned, executed with no issues at all (truly), because at every turn, our Skipper Sachin seemed to always be one step ahead of everything that was needed. The added bonus was the care and consideration this man took with his two rookies who knew little to nothing of photography. Here is a man that in less than three days had us shooting like pros, and even encouraged specific focusing on magazine-worthy photos while we were out in the field. I am pleased to say I have at least a few that I could not be more proud of due to his guidance.
No matter what stage in life as a photographer you are, this tour is well thought out, and plenty of room is provided, and you will not find yourself crammed in a vehicle with no room to spare. There was never more than three or four in a vehicle that seated nine. From sunrise to sunset, Sachin had amazing energy, and we could not have imagined a more incredible experience. Without doubt we will be seeing him again. He and his company gave us a journey of a lifetime.
- Raymond Solorzano Reno, Nevada
A small note to thank you for the great time I had on the two photo tours to Masai Mara and Rwanda. Your organisation was meticulous, something that many professional tour agencies lack in their approach. I eagerly look forward to more such tours.
- Ajith Pai, Mysore
After seeing five different prides of lions, two cheetah hunts, following a leopardess and six days of bliss in the Mara, I can safely say this is one of the best weeks of my life. All I have to say is: just go with Toehold; don't think about it!
- Siddharth Reddy, Bangalore
Highly recommend traveling to Africa with Toehold! Great learning for my kids and a very enjoyable experience.
- Manjunath H, Bangalore
I never imagined to see such professionalism and personal touch in a young company. My worries were laid to rest the moment I landed in Nairobi. Salute Toehold and thank you for this experience.
- Sanjay Sridhar, Chennai
First I want to thank you for making this trip a memorable one for me, I was really very happy with the kind of audience we had in this group and it was a pleasure interacting with most of them. It was a very good learning experience for me in the filed of photography and I being a novice I got immensely benefited with this tour
- Satish K, Hyderabad
I am constantly impressed by the efficiency, knowledge and quality of the Professional services offered by Toehold team. I was extremely satisfied with the arrangements done for our Kenya Tour which was conducted during May 2012. The Location of accommodation were very well thought over to save the time of travel inside the game reserve. Being a Vegetarian, I didn't face any problems in finding suitable food option in the buffet. No need to mention about the Skippers who were very cooperative and were guiding the participants with their rich experience. It was a totally Successful trip, where in I could take images of all BIG 5. Not to forget that this trip has helped me a lot in securing my ARPS distinction as well.
- Prasanna Venkatesh, Bangalore
Please click on any thumbnail and use the left and right arrow keys to navigate between photos in the gallery.
Please note: Participants of this Tour assemble at Mumbai Airport on the night of 20 May, Saturday (the previous day of the Tour start date), on time for our flight out to Nairobi, but flight costs are not included in the Tour fee. Upon landing in Nairobi, we're transferred to our hotel for an overnight stay (at extra cost).
- DAY 1 22 May 2017, Monday: Transfer from Nairobi to Nakuru, Evening Safari and Overnight in Nakuru
Leaving after an early breakfast, we drive to Nakuru, arriving there by lunchtime, and checking in to our lodge for the next two days overlooking the beautiful Lake Nakuru. Following a scrumptious lunch, we embark on the afternoon safari, seeking the chief spectacle of the flamingo congregation and over 400 other species of birds found here, enjoying our maiden foray in the African wilderness!
In the evening we enjoy a tribal dance and celebration before an appetizing supper, and retire for the day.
- DAY 2 23 May, Tuesday: Full Day and Overnight in Nakuru
Setting off after breakfast, we spend as much time in the park as we can in order to sight the plentiful wildlife of Nakuru. The early morning drive will be followed by lunch and an evening safari.
This being an excellent location to see the elusive leopard, we take our chances to spot the spotted beauty of Nakuru. Efforts will also be made to photograph white rhinos and black rhinos.
Between the rides, we meet at the picturesque Baboon Hill overlooking the lake and its flamingo formations, and discuss various topics of nature photography and the natural history of Africa. Meanwhile, here, ultra wide-angle perspectives of baboons, a fixture atop the hill, are a distinct prospect.
For participants who want to relax and take the afternoon easy, the beautiful lodge with plenty of trees and a great restaurant is a fabulous place to rest.
A rivetting session of ChitraTantraChitraTantra: Photo Principles, Reviews, Critiqueby Phillip before dinner will be a fitting, erudite way of ending the enriching day.
- DAY 3 24 May, Wednesday: Visit to Lake Naivasha and Transfer to and Overnight in Masai Mara
Early this morning, we check out of our lovely lodge in Lake Nakuru and visit Lake Naivasha, where a beautiful boat ride will give us a wealth of opportunities to see and photograph some amazing birds, including the African fish eagle. Later, a pleasant drive across the dramatic Great Rift Valley will take us through the Narok Township, a major Maasai administrative centre, to Kenya's most renowned wildlife sanctuary, Masai Mara Game Reserve.
Masai Mara is home to the colorful Maasai tribe, who may be seen around the borders of the park, with Morans ('warriors') loping across the plains, young boys herding goats, or elders grouped under a tree discussing the matters of the day.
Game viewing is never dull in the Mara, and patience is often rewarded with unique sightings. By now hopefully the group will have been acquainted with the African bush, so we seek to make the most of the bounty on offer in the way of an en-route evening safari, before enjoying a scrumptious dinner and retiring.
- DAYS 4 and 5 25 and 26 May, Thursday and Friday: Morning and Evening Safaris and Overnight in Masai Mara
Staying inside the park will ensure a great experience and early access to photography hotspots, so we may catch a lion pride gearing up for a hunt or a solitary leopard retrieving its kill from the high branches of an Acacia tree merely a few hundred metres from the camp.
Every morning while at Masai Mara, we start our day after an early breakfast at 6:30 and venture into the bush. For those of our young participants who are agreeable to spending the entire day in the field, packed lunch boxes will be provided to keep us going the whole day, thereby maximizing wildlife viewing and photography opportunities.
An occasional afternoon shower may be encountered but this will in no way mean a dampener, for the animals continue to be seen and what's more, it will open up the prospect of making evocative images of wildlife in the rain. And when the clouds have passed, the light that illuminates the scene can serve to illustrate the meaning of the word 'ethereal' better than any lexicon in the world.
Meeting at specific points in the savannah, we learn and discuss various topics on photography and natural history of Africa and the Mara in general. These two days are tipped to be the highlight of the Tour with plenty of wildlife on show.
In the evenings a session of CharchaalokaCharchaaloka: Presentations, Lectures, Discussionsor simply a question-answer interaction will afford a wealth of learning on a diverse array of photography and natural history topics.
Maasai Village Optional Tour
While at Masai Mara, based on the group's inclination, the Skipper will plan a visit to a local Maasai Village for a few hours in the day to learn and understand the Maasai culture, their way of life and their interesting community living. This optional Tour costs an additional USD 20 per participant.
Balloon Safari Optional Tour
A ride in a hot-air balloon over the endless expanses of the savannah is an ultimate safari experience. We leave the lodge before dawn, when the sky is clear, the air brisk and the conditions perfect. As the sun rises over the Mara plains, our balloon lifts off - a bright splash of colour rising gracefully into the infinite blue. A stunning panorama unfolds below us and the balloon basket becomes our lookout post for a bird's-eye view of the Mara's magnificence. We float silently just a few hundred feet above large herds of wild animals. Upon landing, the retrieval safari cruisers take us back to our driver.
- DAY 6 27 May, Saturday: Departure for Nairobi
After a scrumptious breakfast, we drive out making sure we arrive by lunchtime at an Indian restaurant in Nairobi. After lunch, we are transferred to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for our home-bound flights.
The Tour ends but your love affair with African wildlife has just begun.
LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK
MASAI MARA GAME RESERVE
Inclusive of taxes
Inclusive of taxes
Inclusive of taxes
* Exchange rates listed here as on the date of payment will apply. Additional bank charges may be payable at actuals.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who should participate in this Tour? What are the eligibility criteria?
This Tour is open to youngsters between the ages of 13 and 18 who are interested in travel, nature, wildlife and/or photography.
- My child is just outside the specified age group. Can he/she join?
We've set the minimum age as 13 considering that it's an international Tour and the kids will stay away from their parents for a week. However, if your child is under 13 and you're confident that they can travel without you, please talk to us. If your child is over 18, please admit them to the adults Tour instead.
My child is a newbie in wildlife photography. Is he/she eligible?
Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced wildlife photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold's eminent Skipper. If your child is a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign them up right away! However, in order for your child to make the most of their experience, we recommend that they be familiar with at least the basics of photography. If they aren't, we strongly recommend you sign them up for a Art and Science of Photography Workshop anytime before the Tour.
- What are the mandatory requirements for this Tour?
Apart from a passport valid for at least another six months from the date of travel, valid yellow-fever and polio vaccination cards are mandatory. We also need a letter from a parent or guardian expressly authorising the child to travel with us, for customs clearance.
- Are yellow-fever and polio vaccination mandatory?
Yes; the vaccination is mandatory in many countries including India. But don't worry; we'll fully assist you to get one.
- Is an earlier vaccination card valid?
Yellow fever vaccination is valid for a period of 10 years from the date of administration, but polio vaccination is valid for only one year. Please check your vaccination cards to verify validity. Please note that all vaccination must be valid as on the date of your return to your country after the Tour.
- What about the visa?
You'll need a Kenyan visa, which is applied for and issued online. More information will be shared, and assistance provided, when you sign up.
- How many participants are expected in one safari vehicle on this Tour?
Our Photography Tour is designed to offer participants an excellent balance between photography convenience and economy. We'll be using four-wheel-driven safari vehicles which have large windows and a thatched roof that opens up to give a 360-degree panoramic view for convenient wildlife-viewing and photography. Each vehicle will be shared by only six participants, or five participants and the Skipper, to ensure everybody has ample space to move around and shoot comfortably.
- What about my child's safety during the event?
Your child's safety is of paramount importance to us. The Skipper leading this Camp has been trained by Toehold on child protection; child behaviour and development; health and safety; activity programme delivery; and Toehold's code of conduct, policies and procedures. The Skipper will accompany the children on all activities and the Camp will have at least one staff member qualified in administering First Aid, at all times. Besides, the Skipper has immense experience in leading camps for children and youth, and is fully capable of ensuring your child's safety and wellbeing. All wildlife activities will be only in enclosed safari vehicles and participants will not be allowed to get off the vehicle anywhere in the bush except at pre-designated areas that have been declared safe. Even though our lodging will be inside the parks, both our lodges have security personnel at night to prevent accidents with wild animals. So overall, you can rest assured that your child is in very safe hands during the Tour!
- What about connectivity during the Tour? Will I be able to talk with my child every day?
Yes, absolutely! Both the national parks we'll be visiting have excellent phone and internet connectivity, so you'll not lose touch with your child except during some short times of the day when we might be visiting remote areas and may be temporarily not reachable.
How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?
Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven't experienced themselves, Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge sharing. Besides, most of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps in making your experience focused.
How sure are you about photographing wildlife?
Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours and the local expertise we leverage, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings and photography were unsatisfactory. Also, the exhaustive itinerary should offer ample opportunities for a productive time. However, since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, we stop just short of claiming that sightings are guaranteed.
What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?
A wide-angle or normal zoom is a staple for landscape and general photography. For birds and mammals, a focal length of at least 300mm is usually necessary. An additional 100mm often proves very effective especially for birds. However, if you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what your child needs. What's more, you enjoy a 10% discount on any equipment you hire for the Tour. Click here to see what we offer.
© - All Text, Photographs, Videos and Narrations are properties of Toehold Travel & Photography Private Limited.
- Date: 22 to 27 May 2017
- For Ages: 13 to 18 years
- Tour Cost:
Individuals - USD 2,145/-
Per teen inclusive of taxes
Buddies - USD 4,190/-
For two teens inclusive of taxes
Junior Patrons - USD 1,995/-
Per teen inclusive of taxes
All fares excluding flights.
- Skipper: Phillip Ross