Knowing your customers and their passions always helps in ensuring a perfect holiday. When Sabrina contacted me looking for a safari holiday, I was cock-a-hoop. I love Sabrina’s photography and I just knew that the images she would get whilst on safari in Kenya would be amazing...
My family of four had always wanted to go on a safari and as it would be our first time, we contacted Nikki to make all the necessary arrangements.
We flew from Gatwick in the November to Nairobi via Dubai and on landing we were greeted by our pre-booked tour guide who would stay with us for the whole duration.
We knew then that this holiday would be good, but it turned out to be amazing!
Our first night was in Nairobi, then we travelled to Samburu National Reserve in the north where we spent two nights. We had a private vehicle that had a panoramic viewing roof, which opened so that we could all stand and be so much closer to the wildlife.
As we drove into the park on the way to our lodge, our driver opened the viewing roof so we could stand and have panoramic views of the surroundings as we had our first encounters with the animals, including giraffes, elephants, gazelles and zebras.
Our driver/ guide, Richard, was so knowledgeable and patient. As a professional photographer, I was in heaven. He pointed out the breeds/ species and paused so I could snap away and faff around with lenses.
After arriving at our lodge, checking in and having lunch, we went back out for another safari until sunset. The next morning we did a 6am safari in another direction watching the animals at sunrise.
One of the highlights from this safari was seeing a herd of elephants stampeding through to find water. There must have been 20-25 elephants and it was a magnificent sight.
We returned back to the lodge for breakfast and had the rest of the morning at our leisure. After lunch we went on another safari until sunset. The next morning after breakfast, we set off for the next destination while taking a different route through the park again, stopping to view more wildlife.
We headed for the famous Treetops Lodge. On the way, we stopped to take photos as we crossed over the equator. Before getting to Treetops, we stopped for lunch at Outspan.
The climate of the Aberdare National Park was very different to hot and dry Samburu. Surrounded by mountains and green forests, it was a much cooler temperature. We also experienced snow-capped Mount Kenya, something the locals were very proud of, as they pointed it out.
We stayed one night at Treetops Lodge, which has two large watering holes and an open rooftop to view the animals drinking from the watering holes. It was a chance to relax and view; instead of going to find the animals, they came to us.
The following morning we headed for Lake Nakuru, stopping off at a waterfall to view. We also stopped at a coffee plantation to watch the locals harvesting the coffee beans.
As we entered Lake Nakuru, we stopped to view the wildlife en- route to the lodge. After checking in and having lunch, we went out on a safari. There were several other tour companies and the good thing about this was the communication between the tour guides. All the guides would take different routes but they would inform each other over the radio of findings and locations so that everyone got a chance to see as many animals as possible.
One of the most spectacular moments was when we were driving back to the lodge for the evening as the sun was getting low, and we were hit by a foul stench. That’s when we saw two female lions right next to our vehicle. They were feeding on a buffalo carcass. We were the only ones to see this up so close. Our guide did inform the other groups but for 5-10 minutes, we had this moment to ourselves. The lions were not bothered by our presence in the slightest and carried on feasting.
We headed back to the lodge after this and we were buzzing from this experience.
The next morning after breakfast, we checked out and headed for the Maasai Mara National Reserve, stopping off first at Lake Vishnu for a boat trip. This was a lovely addition to our trip that we weren’t expecting and also a nice break from the long drive to the Maasai Mara.
This was our final leg: two nights in the amazing Maasai Mara. This was my favourite part and we definitely saved the best until last. As we drove along the long track to our lodge, we stopped to watch and view the animals.
After checking in and a lunch, we went back out for another safari. It was strange as one moment we would be driving along and just the odd animal would be in sight, but within moments we would be driving through herds of buffalo, wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, impalas, elephants and giraffes.
Then we would turn a corner to find a solitary leopard asleep in a tree; then another corner a cheetah searching for food and then over a hill to find a pride of lions lounging on rocks.
The following day, we went for another long safari, seeing hippos and crocodiles as well as everything else and more, including a baby giraffe that was born that morning.
I could go on and on about how amazing this all was, but for an animal lover and photographer, I was in paradise. The animals were close enough to capture using a 70-200mm lens and often also with a wider angle 24-70mm.
The five hotels that Nikki had chosen were perfect and each complimented their location. They were clean, well run eco hotels or lodges, and supplied excellent meals with friendly English-speaking staff.
The highlights for me as a professional photographer were waking up at Keekorok Lodge in the Maasai Mara to find zebras grazing on the grounds in front of our room. We also had hippos on site and a viewing platform to see the wildlife outside. In Samburu we watched elephants crossing the river from our room balcony.
The weather varied from region to region. It was hot and dry in Samburu, Treetops was cool and fresh, Lake Nakuru and the Maasai Mara were warm and dry.
Kenya is a vast country and to be able to experience as much as possible needs very careful planning, and Nikki as always was brilliant. She tailored everything to our needs, rather than offering a bog standard package.
The memories we have were made possible because Nikki had been with us every step of the way.