Wonders of the Endless Plains
Subjugated by an ever-growing human footprint, few countries can claim to have vast expanses of land where animals in large numbers still roam freely. Tanzania is one of them. And it is ‘plainly’ spectacular.
So while it is unclear whether you will ever have enough of it, it is certain that in the ‘land of the endless plains,’ your amazement will be boundless too.
- A 7-night/8-day Tour to three of Tanzania’s best-known wildlife destinations
- A comprehensive experience of the expansive beauty of the Serengeti Ecosystem
- An overwhelming variety and population of fauna in the wildebeest calving season
- Make images teeming with atmosphere and touched by some of the most dramatic natural light anywhere on the planet
- Glean a world of natural history and photography knowledge through Toehold’s exclusive interactive discussions
- Extensive photography assistance both on and off the field
- A wealth of natural history and photography post-processing learning with an expert Skipper
Spread over 15000km2, Serengeti National Park is the famous venue of one of the planet’s epic spectacles the Great Migration of over 1.5 million compulsive white-bearded wildebeest and some 250,000 zebra, who move along the length of the national park and cross borders into Kenya in search of grass that is literally greener on the other side. Notified for protection by the British in 1951, its exceptional density of predator and prey has made it Africa’s best wild haven. Composed of savannah grassland, riparian woodland and rocky outcrops called kopjes, the Serengeti embodies the enduring symbol of the African bush.
Neighbouring Kenya in the north, this East African wildlife refuge hosts one of Earth’s largest and most spectacular theatres of Nature – the Serengeti Ecosystem. Together with other natural treasures spanning its length and breadth, it has weathered the ravages of time to remain the wild soul of the African continent. And tapping into its juiciest part at the right time, this fulsome Tour will show you the best side of wild Tanzania.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area includes the Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera formed when a giant volcano committed harakiri some three million years ago. Its demise paved the way for a lavish variety of wildlife to thrive in the 2000ft deep, 260km2 pothole that you won’t mind taking a ride in and is clearly a paradigm shift from the vehicle-breaking urban variety.
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
January, the calving season, is when miniature wildebeest and zebra emerge into the savannah, marking the midterm of the migration. Intercepting this advance, you will behold the spectacle of a large number of hooves and horns dominating the landscape.
Apart from the ungulates, Africa’s famed Big Five are an expected draw. Lion prides lie sprawled on the plains while cheetahs go like stink in pursuit of ‘fast food’. Coexisting with the cats, elephants drift gracefully, rhinos stand their ground flaunting snout-top spikes of hair, and plucky warthogs fittingly dubbed the Savannah Express trot across the frame with their piglets in tow in a single file.
In the more aerodynamic class of creatures, the imperious martial eagle and the strikingly designed bateleur eagle reign supreme over the skies. Down below, the magnificent crowned crane and the unique southern ground hornbill lend themselves beautifully to photographs. As many as five varieties of vulture the Ruppell’s, the griffon, the white-backed, the lappet-faced and the hooded form a most effective sanitation team as they sweep the savannah clean of leftovers.
But the most precious treasure on the Tour will be unearthed in Seronera Valley, around which a bulk of our safaris will revolve. Harbouring the mercurial leopard in the giant sausage trees on the banks of the river, where a variety of herbivores are attracted for a drink, this is the best place in East Africa to observe and photograph the most elusive of the continent’s big cats, and is probably the only place in the world that can hold a candle to the prodigious Masai Mara.
NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA (Part of the Optional Pre-Tour Extension)
With an estimated 25,000 animals within the crater itself, Ngorongoro hosts almost every individual species of wildlife in East Africa. Clearly, there’s a lot cooking in this caldera as you realize that it’s much more than merely a game reserve in a giant pothole.
Most notable among the celebrities are the rare black rhino and the cantankerous hippopotamus. Saline lakes fed by shallow streams foster the graceful flamingo. Lion and cheetah allow delightful early-morning and late-evening atmospheric images and bewilderingly large bull elephants, free from competition in the crater, have made this terrain their own, especially once they’re past their prime, to the extent that Ngorongoro is referred to as the ‘old age retirement home for elephants’! a ‘retirement home’ that can bring even retired photographers raring back into action!
1. The Tour will begin at Kilimanjaro Airport on 4 March 2019 (3 March 2019 if you opt for the pre-Tour Ngorongoro extension), and end at Kilimanjaro on 11 March. Airfare between your home and Kilimanjaro Airport, and from Arusha to your home is NOT included in the Tour cost, but the flight from Serengeti to Arusha is.
2. If you’re not opting for the Ngorongoro extension, we recommend you arrive anytime on 3 March 2019 in Kilimanjaro, and stay at a hotel in Arusha (at extra cost), since the transfer from Kilimanjaro to Ndutu takes about seven hours. However, if you are taking a flight that arrives in Kilimanjaro early in the morning and you do not mind driving seven hours the same day, you may arrive on 4 March.
3. If you’re opting for the Ngorongoro extension, please see below.
One-night Optional Pre-Tour Extension: Ngorongoro Crater
We recommend participants desirous of making the most of their Tanzania experience to opt in for the Ngorongoro extension. If you do, you’re required to arrive in Kilimanjaro latest by 01:00 p.m. on 3 March. If you cannot find a flight that lands you in Klimanjaro by then, we recommend you arrive on 2 March and stay overnight in Arusha (at extra cost).
3 March 2019, Sunday
If you’ve opted for the extension, you arrive on this day at Kilimanjaro, and are immediately whisked to our lodge along the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater via Arusha, a 3.5-hour drive to traverse the 170 km distance. After we check in, we’re briefed about the extension by the Skipper, before we enjoy a scrumptious dinner and retire for the night.
4 March, Monday
After an early breakfast at the lodge, we head out for a long safari with packed lunch. We’ll enter the famous and magical Ngorongoro Crater even as the sun has barely illuminated the depression.
The crater is replete with a rich diversity of wildlife, and we’ll go about enjoying everything it has to offer. The rim of the crater can be seen from virtually anywhere within the crater, and it offers a lovely blue background to pictures, making for very pretty imagery.
After reluctantly wrapping up our excursion of the crater by post-lunch time, we climb back up to the rim and exit the crater and undertake a breathtakingly scenic three-hour drive to our next destination, Ndutu, where we unite with participants who didn’t join us for the extension, and where the core Tour begins.
4 March, Monday
We arrive in Ndutu by dusk, with a safari en route to the camp, and meet participants who didn’t join us for the optional extension. After exchanging stories over dinner, we retire for the day with vivid dreams of what lies ahead.
5 to 7 March, Tuesday to Thursday
For the next three days, we enjoy all-day safaris in Ndutu, with our lovely camp in the bush acting as our refreshing base on our quest for the best of Tanzanian wildlife, as we fill our memory cells and cards with the many splendours it has to offer. Each morning we hit the safari track at 06:00 a.m., enabling ourselves with such an early start to catch plenty of action during the most active hours of the day, and staying in the park the entire day with packed lunch boxes, we arrive at the lodge for dinner by 07:00 p.m.
8 March, Friday
After a last early-morning drive in Ndutu, we depart for Serengeti Central, reaching there by 12 noon, whereupon we are transferred to our gorgeous lodge. After a preliminary safari in the evening, we dine and retire in the lodge with colourful dreams of more African wildlife goodness that lies ahead.
9 and 10 March, Saturday and Sunday
Staying inside the reserve, we enjoy the indescribable luxury of roaming the Serengeti plains for two full days, each day venturing into the field even as the first rays of the sun kiss the grass blades, and returning to our nests as the orange ball of fire hoists itself down the distant horizon.
While gratifying encounters with lions are virtually engraved in the wall, the spellbinding views of the calving wildebeest are certain to get the image counter ringing. Leopard and cheetah are all but guaranteed attractions, but regaling us will also be all the various local stars depicted in the What you will see and photograph section. All the exciting action will carry over to the camp after safari hours too, with Toehold’s exclusive ChaayaaChitra, ChitraTantra, CharchaaLoka sessions, making your experience truly well-rounded and comprehensive.
After every evening’s discussion will follow an appetising spread of Indian, Continental and local cuisine, treating your taste buds with the same zeal with which the visuals have treated your eyes through the day. Following a delectable supper, we are lulled into a dreamless sleep by the fascinating sounds of the African bush.
11 March, Monday
After an early breakfast and morning drive, we are transferred to the airstrip, whence we fly to Arusha, arriving there at 11:45 a.m. Upon arrival we’re transferred to a local restaurant for lunch, after which we’re dropped to the Kilimanjaro International Airport for our flights back home.
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- All safaris in four-wheel-drive safari vehicles, national parks and reserve entrance fees as per the itinerary
- Accommodation on twin-sharing (unless single occupancy purchased at extra cost), all meals and one-litre mineral water per day for the Tour duration
- Services of an English-speaking driver-cum-naturalist including meet-and-greet services
- Charter flight from Arusha to Kilimanjaro Airport
What’s Not Included?
- All airfare and travel expenses between your home and the destinations
- Optional Tour to Ngorongoro unless purchased at extra cost in advance
- Any kind of personal expenses, optional tours or extra meals ordered
- Insurance, laundry and phone calls
- Any kind of drinks (alcoholic, mineral, aerated)
- Visa expenses
- Vaccination charges
- All applicable taxes
- Anything that is not included in the inclusions list
- USD 1500 of the Tour fee as booking amount (not refundable)
- 100% of the Tour fee before 5 December 2018
All figures per person.
You may also choose to pay in equal monthly instalments (EMI). Please speak with us for details.
- USD 1500 of the Tour fee on or before 14 December 2018
- 100% of the Tour fee on or after 15 December 2018
All figures per person.
Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.
While Toehold Photo Travel is one of our most popular offerings, we work as a travel agency without bringing the photography guide element in to your travel. In short you would be using our travel experts service to just plan the vacation and execute it.
- Unlike a Photo Travel experience, your Vacation is completely personalised.
- The dates, style of travel, class of hotels and lodges, destinations, everything is tailor-made to suit your custom requirement.
- A Skipper or a photography guide doesn’t travel with you to guide you unless you decide to take our customised and guided photo travel experience.
So take advantage of the immense experience and field knowledge that we bring in to your Vacation’s planning without having to pay for our time and costs. Plus, we don’t charge an additional fee for our time and travel planning services.
Who should participate in this Tour? Are there any eligibility criteria?
Anybody interested in African or general wildlife and/or wildlife, landscape or bird photography and is above the age of 18 (unless accompanied by an adult) can participate in this Tour. There are no eligibility criteria.
I am a newbie in nature photography. Am I eligible?
Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold’s eminent Skippers. In fact if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up right away! However, in order to make the most of the Tour photographically, we recommend that you be familiar with photography fundamentals. If you’re not, we suggest you join an Art and Science of Photography Workshop before the Tour.
Is vaccination against yellow fever and polio mandatory?
Yes; the vaccination is mandatory in many countries including India. Once you sign up we’ll be happy to advise you on how 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 a year. Please check your vaccination card 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 many people can I expect to share the vehicle with on safaris?
Our Tanzania Photography Tour is designed to provide you the best balance between unimpeded photography and your budgetary needs, seating four in each 4WD vehicle. The vehicle has three rows at the back (excluding the driver row), which means plenty of free space.
How sure are you about photographing wildlife on this Tour?
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, and longer focal lengths are particularly welcome on full frame cameras.
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 or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.
I do not have appropriate equipment. What do I do?
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 better, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Photo Tours! Visit our Rental Store to see what we offer.
A small note to thank you for the great time I had on the photo tours. Your organisation was meticulous, something that many professional tour agencies lack in their approach. I eagerly look forward to more such tours.
Highly recommend traveling to Africa with Toehold! Great learning for my kids and a very enjoyable experience.
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.