INDIA'S No.1 ' TRAVEL AND PHOTOGRAPHY' COMPANY

The Great Migration - Wildlife Photography Tour
Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya

Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya
August and September 2017
Bookings Closed: Please note that bookings for this Tour have been closed. Please get in touch with us if you have questions.


TOUR HIGHLIGHTS



  • Six nights and seven days in two different parts of the Mara
  • An exclusive experience with only three participants sharing a safari vehicle
  • A stunningly productive, professionally guided Photography Tour to Kenya's best-known wildlife reserve in the peak season
  • Defining pictures of the Great Migration — a phenomenon considered the greatest wildlife spectacle on Earth
  • Plenty of opportunities to photograph action at the height of mammal activity in the picturesque environs of the savannah
  • Photography of animals unique to Africa, such as the giraffe, the hippopotamus, the ostrich and the Nile crocodile; and virtually infinite room for landscape and creative photography
  • Extensive photography assistance both on and off the field
  • A wealth of natural history and post-processing learning
  • A fun and highly interactive environment without barriers



This is a Toehold Blockbuster

The largest congregation of mammals in the world moving en masse in an endless expanse, the sights and the sounds of the assembly reaching as far as you can see and sense; and the wildlife so copious that you can barely choose what to frame in your view - we won't ask you to imagine it, for you cannot, accurately. You just have to see it.

It is the Great Migration and there is nothing else quite like it on the planet. And it's coming next August to a savannah near you to give you a different perspective on life.

How is it?

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 his 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.

And it is not called 'The Mecca of Wildlife' for nothing. It is not a misnomer but the mot juste. For every year, like pilgrims thronging a holy site, nearly two million ungulates congregate for the blessing of a green future. And it is the wildlife photographer who achieves salvation.

Chief protagonists of this real-life drama are the 1.3 million white-bearded wildebeest and the 360,000 Thomson's gazelle. Breaking the monotony of design are the stripes of nearly 200,000 Burchell's zebra, and the rest of the cast is composed by eland numbering in upwards of 10,000.

Entering the stage in around July, this galactic posse sweeps across the Mara like some colossal wave as it advances towards its greater destiny. And when the animals reach the Mara River, where hungry Nile crocodiles lurk to cash in on this annual surplus, they are faced with the conundrum of their lives.

The promise of a flourishing life lies on the other side and the distinct peril of sudden death looms directly ahead. They have reached the crossroads of life and death. The scale of this exodus is so immense, and the spectacle so electrifying, that it is hard to escape it and nearly impossible to describe.

But on this Tour, you can photograph it in all its glory.

What you will see and photograph:

If the Great Migration is a magnum opus, its grand climax is the river crossing. Most wildebeest and zebra have young ones born in February or March in the Serengeti, who now follow their elders on their epic quest for green pastures. But, first they must make it across the life-giving river that can very well be their deathbed. And staying in the Mara Triangle, the hotbed of migration activity in the southern part of Masai Mara, will give us a ringside view of all the drama.

As the hordes of hooves arrive at the river banks, the prospect of a tumultuous swim, slippery rocks and a precipitous climb on the far bank await them. The greatest threat is from the lethal Nile crocodile jaws that lurk under the water surface like aquatic mines. But there is no other way; they must take the plunge.

The crocodiles, having patiently waited for this annual feast, approach the nervous animals busy battling the current, now committed to the crossing with no chance of a volte face. They team up and form an ambush, and when they've identified their quarry, latch on with their enormously powerful jaws to a hapless victim.

For most animals caught this way, their lives have just been snapped shut in a death trap. After drowning the casualties, the reptiles tear them apart through effective teamwork and swallow chunks of flesh with astonishing quickness, sending the demised prey back to the bottom of the food chain in the unending circle of life. If fortunate, you have immortalized the last moments of their biographies in tell-tale photographs.

Those who make it across the channel live another day to face the many challenges that make life in the bush a perennial tightrope walk between feeding and being fed on.

The predators on land are far from left behind, who go into a frenzy over the surplus food and thrive during these months as it is relatively easy to hunt and a great time to raise the young ones. And therein 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. Amongst other scavengers, vultures enjoy a virtually unlimited supply of food during this time of plenty. And all that means that you can be a part of the feast — with your camera.

But the Migration is only the centrepiece of the greatest wildlife show on Earth in 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 dinner, while the planet's largest land mammal, the African elephant, moves about in its customary 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 storeys. 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 nemeses, the impala glides across the frame like a symbol of elegance and the topi presents an interesting - although a bit queer - subject for portraiture.

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 the Mara to photograph the this icon of Wild Africa, it is yet to be discovered by man. Here, individuals of various ages and standing in lion society may be observed hunting, grooming, resting and copulating on the picturesque open plains in spectacular light, all in the public gaze. And the presence of young cubs in virtually every pride makes the prospect all the more enticing.

Clearly, the most important thing you have to do is be there.

Important Prerequisite: All participants of the Tour mandatorily need to be vaccinated against yellow fever and polio to be allowed to travel to Kenya. Please talk to us for assistance.

PHOTOGRAPHY SKIPPER




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.

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TESTIMONIALS BY OUR PREVIOUS TOUR PARTICIPANTS

Photography enthusiasts who were a part of a similar Tour previously said:

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Please click on any thumbnail and use the left and right arrow keys to navigate between photos in the gallery.





Please note: The Tour commences at Nairobi on 21 August 2017 for batch 1, and 28 August for batch 2, at around 8:00 a.m., and end after breakfast on 27 August for batch 1, and 3 September for batch 2. On day 1 of either batch, you may either take a flight that reaches Nairobi in time for the start the same morning, or fly in the previous day and stay overnight in Nairobi (in which case, the cost of accommodation will be additional). Please also note that flight costs are not included in the Tour fee.

We have the following schedules for this Tour:

Batch 1: 21 to 27 August 2017
Batch 2: 28 August to 3 September 2017

The itinerary common to the above schedules is as follows:

    TALEK RIVER AREA, MASAI MARA


  •   DAY 1    Monday: Transfer to and Overnight in Mara

    Checking out from our Nairobi hotel after an early breakfast, we pick up the participants arriving this morning (if any) and make our way to the heart of the Migration action, the legendary Masai Mara, which we reach by afternoon.

    After lunch close to the entrance of the Mara, we start our first game drive en route to our first destination around the lodge area.

    The transitory herds may be seen very close to the lodge and sometimes a little further away but there is no chance of missing them. Feeling our way around, we will understand the current state of the Migration.

    After the drive, we check in to exclusive and cosy tents at the first camp of the Tour, the lodge. Once fresh, we exchange notes about our initial observations and experiences, and hear insights from the Skipper about his strategy for the rest of the Tour ahead before dining and retreating to our rooms to tuck in for the night.
  •   DAY 2    Tuesday: Full-day Ride in Masai Mara in the Talek River Area; Overnight in Mara

    The lodge is a lovely property located stunningly, right next to the Talek River, which is one of the two rivers (the other being the Mara River itself) which the migratory herds cross. Ergo, this property has been deliberately and carefully chosen to give us quick and easy access to all the action.

    We spend the whole day looking for crossings as well as predator and other action, while the Skipper takes a call on returning to the lodge for lunch based on the prevailing situation.

    In the evening the Skipper will bring you a ChaayaaChitra
    ChaayaaChitra: Photography Techniques, Tips, Tricks
    session to help brush up on your basics and make sure you're equipped to do justice to the opportunities coming up, before you enjoy a scrumptious supper and retire for the night.

    MARA TRIANGLE, MASAI MARA


  •   DAY 3    Wednesday: Transfer to and Overnight in Mara Triangle

    Having explored the Talek River side, it's now time to proceed to the celebrated Mara Triangle area and look for action around the Mara River, so after a morning drive around the Talek, we cross over to the Triangle and check in to the delightful lodge.

    After lunch we enjoy an introductory ride in the area before returning to the lodge for another interactive session, we call ChitraTantra
    ChitraTantra: Photo Principles, Reviews, Critique
    , before supper and sleep.

  •   DAYS 4 TO 6    Thursday to Saturday: Safaris and Overnight in Mara Triangle

    We enjoy the next three days in the very heart of the Migration around Serena and the Mara River, leveraging the Skipper's rich experience to get to the right places and make memorable, meaningful images to capture the scale and wonder of the dramas unfolding before us.

    Every morning we start at 6:30 after an early breakfast and hope to catch action in the quintessentially spectacular savannah light and after the post-lunch afternoon safari, return after sunset to unwind.

    In the evenings, the Skipper will continue to bring the fabulously entertaining and educative interactive sessions, including a third kind of session we call Charchaaloka
    Charchaaloka: Presentations, Lectures, Discussions
    , where valuable photography advice including shooting techniques, camera settings and post-processing tips; fascinating natural history insights; image critique; post-processing tips, and some riveting and funny anecdotes will be imparted!

  •   DAY 7    Sunday: Checkout and Return to Nairobi

    After having spent a hopefully eventful time photographing the Migration in the Mara, we check out after breakfast and return to Nairobi by lunch, whence we take the departing flights for our abodes, where a wealth of images will be processed and many captivating stories told to our families.

  • OPTIONAL EXTENSION TO NAKURU FOR BATCH 2: 2 NIGHTS/3 DAYS


  •   DAY 7    3 September, Sunday: Checkout of Masai Mara and Transfer to Nakuru

    If you wish to make the most of your Kenya experience, we recommend you join us for the extension to the enchanting Lake Nakuru National Park. On day one of this extension, we'll be transferred to the lovely lodge, whence we embark on an evening safari before retiring overnight.

  •   DAY 8    4 September, Monday: All Day and Overnight in Nakuru

    We spend the entire day in Nakuru National Park, feasting our eyes on rhinos, hopefully predators in green environs, and the breathtaking diversity of bird life, before huddling together for a most appetising supper and a night's sound sleep.

  •   DAY 9    5 September, Tuesday: Checkout and Return to Nairobi

    After an early breakfast, we check out and depart Nakuru and drive back to Nairobi, our drive out serving as a parting safari, whence we return home with a huge grin plastered on our visages for having opted for the extension and derived such great value from the Tour!

Batch 1
Individuals
USD 3,480*
5% GST Extra
Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
Couples
USD 6,780*
5% GST Extra
Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
Toehold Patrons
USD 3,340*
5% GST Extra
Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
Batch 2
Individuals
USD 4,110*
5% GST Extra
Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
Couples
USD 7,920*
5% GST Extra
Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
Toehold Patrons
USD 3,910*
5% GST Extra
Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
Toehold Patrons: Customers who have participated in at least three previous Toehold Photo Tours

Optional Nakuru Extension: Please contact us for a quote or please fill out the form here.

* Exchange rates listed here as on the date of payment will apply. Additional bank charges may be payable at actuals.


Inclusions
  • Road transfer from Nairobi to Masai Mara and back as per the Tour itinerary
  • All safaris and reserve entrance fees
  • Accommodation on twin-sharing basis in comfortable tents or rooms at all the lodges as per the Tour itinerary
  • All scheduled meals while on the Tour
  • Services of a driver-cum-naturalist
  • Services of Photography Skipper
Exclusions
  • All travel expenses between your home and Nairobi Airport
  • Any kind of personal expenses, optional tours or extra meals ordered
  • Insurance, laundry and phone calls
  • Any kind of drinks (including bottled water)
  • Visa expenses
  • Yellow fever and polio vaccination charges
  • Optional tour to a Maasai village and balloon ride
  • All applicable taxes
  • Anything that is not included in the inclusions list
Payment Terms
  • 15% booking amount (non-refundable)
  • 60% before 15 April 2017
  • 25% before 5 June 2017
Cancellation Fees
  • 15% on or before 18 April 2017
  • 50% between 19 April and 19 May 2017
  • 75% between 20 May and 20 June 2017
  • 100% on or after 21 June 2017

Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.

Terms and Conditions

  1. Participants who have a medical history of blood pressure, heart-related problems or asthma are advised to seek medical advice before enrolling for this Tour.
  2. Fitness to complete the Tour is the only criterion for participation.
  3. Toehold Travel & Photography Pvt Ltd. shall not be responsible for injuries, damages, or losses caused to any traveller in connection with terrorist activities, social or labour unrest, mechanical or construction failures or difficulties, diseases, local laws, climatic conditions, abnormal conditions or developments, or any other actions, omissions, or conditions outside the travel partner's control.
  4. All clients travelling with Toehold Travel & Photography Pvt Ltd. must complete and sign a reservation form and the "Release of Liability, Assumption of Risk & Arbitration Agreement" form.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who should participate in this Tour? What are the eligibility criteria?

    This Tour is open to everybody of a minimum age of 18 (unless accompanied by a guardian), and anybody enthusiastic about wildlife and/or photography will enjoy it. Apart from interest, fitness, a valid passport, valid yellow fever vaccination card and proof of polio vaccination, there are no other requirements. However, in order to make the most of the Tour photographically, we recommend you be familiar with at least the basics of photography. If you're not, we recommend you join our Art and Science of Photography Workshop before the Tour.
  • Are yellow fever and polio vaccination mandatory?

    Yes; vaccination against polio and yellow fever is mandatory in many countries including India. Please talk to us for advice on how to get one.
  • Are earlier yellow fever and polio inoculations valid?

    Yellow fever vaccination is valid for a period of 10 years from the date of administration, and polio vaccination is valid for a year. Please check your vaccination cards to verify validity. Please note that the vaccination must be valid as on the date of your return to your country after the Tour.
  • 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 even 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 Tour 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 you need. 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.




LOCALE

Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya

QUICK INFO

  • Date:
    Batch 1: 21 to 27 August 2017
    Batch 2: 28 August to 3 September 2017

  • Tour Cost

    Batch 1:
    Individuals:
    USD 3,480 + 5% GST
    Per person

    Couples:
    USD 6,960 6,780 + 5% GST
    Per couple

    Toehold Patrons:
    USD 3,340 + 5% GST
    Per person

  • Batch 2:
    Individuals:
    USD 4,110 + 5% GST
    Per person

    Couples:
    USD 8,220 7,920 + 5% GST
    Per couple

    Toehold Patrons:
    USD 3,910 + 5% GST
    Per person

    All fares excluding flights

  • Optional Extension: Nakuru
    3 to 5 September 2017
    (2 Nights/3 Days)

    Please contact us for a quote.

  • Skipper: Sachin Rai

VIDEO

INCONVENIENT DATES?

If you are unable to make it on these dates, get in touch with us to help you plan an exclusive custom tour to Masai Mara this migration season.

DISCOUNTS ON RENTALS

Did you know? Photography enthusiasts joining this Tour and every other Toehold Photography Tour are eligible for a nett discount of 10% on all equipment rentals. Talk to us to avail of this offer!

PAYMENT OPTIONS

We accept all major credit and debit cards.

UPCOMING EVENTS

ART AND SCIENCE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
DIGITAL POST PROCESSING
PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS
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KIDS CAMPS & WORKSHOPS