There is a reason why Masai Mara in Kenya is called the ‘Mecca of Wildlife’. Toehold Skipper Sachin Rai, in conversation with Sourabha Rao, breaks this magic down to discernible details, explaining in particular why and how our Big Cat Week Wildlife Photography Tour is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Sourabha: The name of this Tour itself is a curious one, why is it called ‘Big Cat Week’?
Sachin: The main intention of this Tour is to spend most of our time to see and photograph the big cats, specifically lions and leopards, as well as cheetahs and servals and if we’re very fortunate, the most elusive caracal, too. The emphasis is more on cats as compared to other mammals and hence the name.
Sourabha: What are the most exciting details about this Tour that make it unique?
Sachin: On this Tour, more than the count of the animals we see, what matters is the amount of time we spend in watching the big cats in their natural habitat. Sometimes we spend hours together watching one particular individual or a family of cats. In the vastness of the Mara, watching them is a delight, especially in the golden or amber light in the mornings and evenings.
Because the weather is great in May, even mid-days are conducive for photography, offering us more opportunity for making evocative images. We might witness a chase, a kill, and such breathtaking action in their natural habitat, all amounting to remarkable wildlife experiences. And because the Tour is timed such that the weather is favourable for photography, we may have great photo opportunities in beautiful light.
Sourabha: Which cats are relatively more elusive and which are easier to see?
Sachin: Usually the lions and cheetahs are spotted more easily than leopards as they’re too shy. Serval cats are difficult to be seen and caracals are perhaps the most rare and elusive of all. Observing and photographing individuals for long hours, and prides of lions and an entire family of cheetahs are unparalleled experiences in these savannahs.
Sourabha: How do the logistics of the Tour help the exploration of African wildlife in the Mara?
Sachin: Because we have the luxury of staying in the park itself, we choose the properties based on the possible sightings of either lion prides or the cheetah families and so on. This also means that there is not much travel by road except for the safaris themselves, so there is no physical exhaustion one has to be concerned about.
Sourabha: Why should one do this Tour if they have done The Great Migration and Harvest in the Savannah Tours? And why should one do this Tour even if this is the first time they are going to Kenya?
Sachin: If you are someone who loves watching one particular cat or a family of cats for hours together in their natural habitat, if you don’t really give more significance to the number of animals you see but to the amount of time you spend watching their behaviour with all your curiosity, this is the Tour you will enjoy joining us on. And I have already spoken about the photo opportunities. So if you are a wildlife lover and love making images of them in this ancient land of Africa, whether or not it is your first time, you are welcome on our Tour!
Join our Big Cat Week Photography Tour with Sachin Rai here!