12-day Kenyan Photographic Safari with Drew Davis, Instructor

12-day Kenyan Photographic Safari


Drew and/or Steve Davis, Instructor(s)

(July-August 2012 – Specific Dates TBD)

 Steve Davis Photography and Enaja Safaris and Tours, Inc. are excited to offer an exciting safari, complete with photography classes, in Kenya. Novice, expert, or anywhere between, Drew and/or Steve Davis will offer help and conduct classes (with personal attention to your specific needs) with all areas of photography and camera usage while Ena serves as your personal guide.

Trip Overview

(Click on a day-link in the list below to go directly to detailed descriptions of the accommodations and activities for that day, or simply scroll down to read about this exciting trip in its entirety.)

Days 1-2: Depart the USA/ Arrive Nairobi Ole Sereni Hotel

Day 3: Sweetwaters Tented Camp

Days 4-5: Samburu Ashnil Camp

Day 6: Mt. Kenya Mountain Lodge

Days 7-8: Mt. Longonot Ranch, Lake Naivasha

Days 9-11: Masai Mara Ashnil Camp

Day 12: Day Room Ole Sereni and Flights Home

OR (optional one-day extension)

Day 12: Giraffe Manor

Day 13: Flights Home



Day 1: Depart the US

  • Most flights depart the US in the evening. Depending on the airline, there is a stop in London, Amsterdam, Zurich, or other European city before connecting to Nairobi, Kenya. International airfare is not included so that you can use frequent flier mileage and/or the airline of your choice.


Day 2: Nairobi Ole Sereni Hotel

  • Upon arrival this evening, we transfer to the hotel for dinner and a good night’s rest. Dinner tonight is not included, based on a late arrival. (Visas, currently $50, are available upon arrival at the airport.)

Ole Sereni

Located just minutes from the international airport and bordering the Nairobi National Game Park, Ole Sereni offers views of animals in their natural surroundings at the waterhole from the restaurants, bar, roof-top swimming pool, and other parts of the hotel. Once home of the American Embassy, Ole Sereni combines the best features of a modern hotel and a traditional wildlife lodge offering world-class facilities and personalized service. Each of the 134 rooms is exquisitely furnished and air-conditioned.

Day 3: Sweetwaters Tented Camp
(3-hour drive)
  • After a leisurely breakfast, we depart in our private Land Cruisers, driving to Sweetwaters Game Reserve, arriving in time for lunch and an afternoon game drive with a visit to the Chimpanzee Center. We may have time to visit Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers.

Sweetwaters Tented Camp

Sweetwaters Tented Camp lies in the heart of the privately-owned Sweetwaters Game Reserve, and the floodlit waterhole is frequented by elephants and plains game such as giraffes, zebras, and impalas. The Waterhole Bar is ideal for nighttime game watching, and all of Sweetwaters’ thatch-roofed tents have verandahs facing the waterhole. The camp has a swimming pool for relaxation during the hot afternoons.

Sweetwaters Game Reserve

This game reserve reveals magnificent views across the game-studded plains to the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya. The Chimpanzee Sanctuary, a project initiated in part by the Jane Goodall Institute, allows visitors to see chimps in their own environment. The aim of this project is to set up a colony where chimps can be rehabilitated and introduced to an area similar to their natural habitat.

Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers

Because the Kenyan highlands area around Nanyuki is a major center for sheep and wool production, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa conceived the idea of training women to become self-sufficient. Started in 1977, the women have been able to card, spin, dye, and weave sheep’s wool to make rugs and blankets to generate income for their families. Today over 100 women rely on their income from this project.


Days 4-5: Samburu Ashnil Camp
(3-hour drive)

  • After a leisurely breakfast, we watch the change in landscape on our drive to Samburu. After lunch at the Camp, an afternoon game drive introduces us to some of the unique species found here.
  • The day starts with an early game drive returning to camp for lunch and optional camp activities. A visit to the Samburu Women’s Boma and another game drive fill the afternoon.

Samburu Ashnil Camp

Nestled on a hilltop in the middle of the Samburu National Reserve, Ashnil Tented Camp is close to the home range of elephants, grevy zebras, and gerenuks. On a clear day Mount Kenya is visible in the distance. Each of the 24 luxury tents has a dressing area, sitting area, and stunning views onto the Ewaso Ngiro River. The pool is a refreshing way to spend the time between game drives. This reserve is home to the Big Five and other more unique species. After a full day of game drives and nature walks, enjoy sundowner cocktails and Samburu cultural talks and dancing.

Samburu National Reserve

This Reserve has a natural serenity due to its distance from any unnatural development. The park’s River Uaaso Nyiro and the mixture of acacia trees, riverine forest, thorn trees, and grass vegetation attract a wide variety of animals including elephants, lions, cheetahs, grevy’s zebras, giraffes, gerenuks, buffalos, oryx, Grant’s gazelles, dikdiks and waterbucks. Unfortunately, heavy poaching eliminated the rhino population here, but you can be guaranteed leopard sightings and there are over 350 varieties of birds. These include the famous Somali Ostriches (distinguished during mating season by their unique purple/blue legs), kingfishers, humming birds, eagles, guinea fowls and vultures.

Luoniek Cultural Boma

This Samburu boma is run entirely by the local women. Here you experience a woman’s life, hear the daily songs, and visit the school built by the women. Beautiful Samburu beadwork is available, and all proceeds go to support the school.


Day 6: Mt. Kenya Mountain Lodge
(3-hour drive)
  • Today we return to the Mt. Kenya area, staying high on the mountain. We watch game 24 hours a day from our rooms and the bar’s porch. There may be time to visit Nanyuki town and/or do an optional game walk in the afternoon. The photographic bunker next to the waterhole is a photographer’s dream.

Mountain Lodge

The Mountain Lodge is a private hotel, located on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, surrounded by a dense rainforest that comes alive at dusk. At an elevation of 7200 feet, it is laid out specifically for bird and animal watching; all of the rooms have large windows and balconies, and a large artificial watering hole in the clearing attracts forest animals. Lights are kept on all night to attract animals for easy viewing. Elephants, buffaloes, rhinos and waterbucks are regular sights in the evenings and days. Another special feature is the specially constructed bunkers that are connected to the lodge by a short tunnel, allowing spectacular views of the animals while they drink at the waterhole.

Mount Kenya National Park

At an elevation of 5,199 meters, Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest mountain. To the Kikuyu tribes-people it is the home of the Supreme Being, Ngai. Part of the mountain’s fascination is the variation in flora and fauna at various elevations. These forest belts are host to many different animals and plants, with at least eleven unique species. Game to view includes monkeys, bushbucks, elephants, black rhinos, duikers, leopards, and bongos (a rare type of forest antelope). A number of other rare or endangered species, such as the sunni buck, Mount Kenya mole shrew, skink (a kind of lizard), and a variety of owls, can be found here.


Days 7-8: Mt. Longonot Ranch, Lake Naivasha
(2-hour drive, plus another 2-hour drive)
  • After breakfast with the Sykes Monkeys, we leave for Lake Nakuru where we see thousands of flamingos as well as other birds and almost-guaranteed rhino sightings. (Depending on the rains, the flamingos may be at one of the other area lakes. If so, the itinerary will be amended accordingly.) After shooting amazing photographs, a short drive takes us to Lake Naivasha. The late afternoon is at leisure to share sundowners with the game grazing on the lawn.
  • A drive/hike in Hell’s Gate National Park and a boat ride to Crescent Island are today’s activities. Lunch is either at the Ranch or at Delamere Nyama Choma, my very favorite local restaurant. There may even be time to do a game drive and/or relax by the pool.

Lake Nakuru National Park

The size of the alkaline Lake Nakuru fluctuates with the seasons, but its international fame comes from its having the largest flamingo concentration in the world. Lake Nakuru National Park should not be regarded only as a flamingo sanctuary, however, because the Park is also an outstanding place for watching a variety of other birds, including other brackish water species and birds of prey. Herds of waterbuck, gazelle, impala, and reedbuck graze in the surrounding acacia woods and grasslands of Lake Nakuru National Park. This park is an important sanctuary for both Black and White Rhino, often seen resting under acacias by the shore, and the park offers one of the best chances in Kenya of seeing a leopard.

Mt. Longonot Ranch House

This lodge – built by Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemmingway’s wife – lies on 82,000 acres and is conducive for horseback riding, hiking, and game viewing at close range. Don’t be surprised to “meet” a lot of game on the lawn. Longonot is well known for its cuisine. Though Mt. Longonot is an exclusive property, we will have the entire ranch to ourselves.

Lake Naivasha

Naivasha, the highest and only freshwater lake within Africa’s Great Rift Valley (and Kenya’s second largest freshwater lake), is unique in that it has no known outlet, normally a prerequisite for a lake. Teeming with freshwater fish and bathing hippos, the avid bird watcher sees paradise in a vast array of exotic bird life attracted by the large population of fish. The region also hosts distinctive herds of plains game and the elusive black-faced colobus monkey.

Crescent Island

This partially submerged volcanic crater is a private game sanctuary with herds of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, gazelle, and other plains game. Visitors can walk freely around the island among the herds of game. Crescent Island’s beauty is confirmed by the fact that much of Out of Africa was filmed here.

Hell’s Gate National Park

This tiny Park, located between Lake Naivasha and the Longonot and Suswa volcanoes, provides a variety of wildlife, unusual flora, and many species of birds, and is one of only two Kenyan parks where climbing, walking, and biking are allowed. Covered by ashes from the Longonot eruption 100 years ago, the park is famous for its geothermal station, Lower Gorge, and spectacular scenery. Some of the more interesting points of interest, great for fantastic landscape photographs, are:

Fischer Tower, a 75-foot high rocky tower, was formed by semi-molten rock forced through a fissure, cooling and solidifying as it extruded. To the Masai community, the tower is a Masai girl who was turned to stone after disobeying the family before her wedding. Watch for the rock hyrax (dassies) that are quite unperturbed by humans. You might even venture to climb the tower.

Obsidian Caves are comprised of distinctive black glass-like obsidian rock formed from the rapid cooling of molten volcanic lava coming in contact with water. Iron and magnesium give the obsidian a dark green to black color. Some obsidian contains small air bubbles that produce interesting effects such as a golden or rainbow sheen.
Hell’s Gate’s Cliffs are formed of columnar basalt. The best time to drive within the cliffs is late in the afternoon as the game comes out of cover, and you may see herds of buffalo and eland drinking at the waterholes and hundreds of birds flying and nesting in the rocky walls.

Grassy plains below the towering cliffs offer visitors a safe place to walk alongside giraffe, eland, hartebeest, buffalo, and other small gazelles and antelopes.


Days 9-11 Masai Mara Ashnil Camp
(4-hour drive)
  • We leave this morning, continuing on to the Masai Mara and arriving in time for lunch and an afternoon game drive. After entering the Mara, it is a game drive all the way to the Camp, and we stop en route to visit a Masai Cultural Village.
  • On day 10, we have an early game drive (or a full-day game drive) to witness the migration and other amazing wildlife so abundant on the Mara. You can opt for an optional early hot air balloon lift-off, watching the sunrise to start the day. Upon landing, feast on a full bush champagne breakfast followed by a game drive back to the camp. The rest of the day is at leisure for game drives and watching the migration. Watch for game at the Mara River from your room and the public areas of the camp.
  • Day 11 is a full day at leisure to do game drives. We can arrange to do either a full-day with packed picnic lunch or return to the camp for lunch. We might be lucky and witness a migration “crossing” the Mara River.

Ashnil Mara Camp

Ashnil Mara Camp is comprised of 30 luxury tents located within the Masai Mara National Reserve adjacent to the Mara River which is famous for the wildebeest migration. Each of the luxury tents includes en suite bathrooms, walk-in closets, and a sun deck for relaxation while watching game. Try surprising international cuisines from the restaurant’s set buffets and/or a sundowner cocktail in the open-air bar. If you want to contact the folks at home, Internet service is available at reception. Some of the optional activities available are guided nature walks, in-house cultural activities, sundowners, and bush dinners. You can even get a massage!

The Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara Game Reserve is widely considered to be Africa’s greatest wildlife reserve. The Mara comprises 200 square miles of open plains, woodlands, and riverine forest. Contiguous with the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania, the Mara is home to a breathtaking array of life. The vast grassland plains are scattered with herds of zebra, giraffe, gazelle, and topi, and the acacia forests abound with birdlife and monkeys. Elephants and buffalo wallow in the wide Musiara Swamp while the Mara and Talek Rivers brim with hippos and crocodiles. Each year the Mara plays

host to the world’s greatest natural spectacle: the Great Wildebeest Migration from the Serengeti. From July to October, the promise of rain and fresh life-giving grass in the north brings more than 1.3 million wildebeests together into a single massive herd. They pour across the border into the Mara, making a spectacular entrance in a surging column of life that stretches from horizon to horizon. At the Mara River they mass together on the banks before finally plunging forward through the raging waters, creating a frenzy as they fight against swift currents and waiting crocodiles. The Mara has been called the Kingdom of the Lions, and these hunters dominate the grasslands. Cheetahs are also a common sight in the Mara, as are hyena and smaller predators such as jackals.

Day 12: Day Room Ole Sereni and Flights Home
(4.5-hour drive)
  • We bid farewell to the Mara and the magnificent migration as we head back to Nairobi. There is time to visit some local places of interest before dinner at the Carnivore Restaurant. Our flights back home depart late tonight, arriving home the afternoon of day 13.

Giraffe Center At Giraffe Manor

The Center provides a taste of the Africa most tourists come to Kenya to see. In addition to the short nature walk, the Giraffe Center offers the rare opportunity to be (safely) close enough to the animals to feed and touch them. The entrance fee to the Center supports the re-establishment of the Rothschild giraffes in Kenya.

Karen Blixen Museum

This museum was originally the home of Karen Blixen, who came to Kenya from Denmark in the early part of the 20th century. The present museum sits at the heart of the larger coffee plantation run by Blixen between 1914 and 1931. Upon Kenya’s independence, the Danish government donated the house and surrounding land to Kenya. The house was restored by the Danish government and was used during the filming of Out of Africa. Much of the original furniture is on display in the house and, combined with the beautifully landscaped gardens and encompassing view of the Ngong Hills, the Museum has continued to be a very popular destination for international and local visitors.

Kazuri Bead Shop

This workshop is located at the base of the Ngong Hills outside Nairobi, on a portion of the farm once owned by Karen Von Blixen of Out of Africa fame. Lady Susan Wood founded Kazuri (which means “small and beautiful” in Swahili, the language of Kenya) in 1975, after observing that many women in the villages around Nairobi were nearly destitute. She and two Kikuyu women organized a ceramic workshop and taught jewelry making to the poor, and the instruction continues to this day. Each bead that makes up a necklace or bracelet is shaped by hand, without the aid of molds or forms, by one of the 90 local women employed by Kazuri. The beads are then polished and kiln-fired, painted, and fired again before being strung. You will see the ladies making the beads at the shop.

Matt Bronze

This is a wonderful gallery with a large selection of hand-made bronzes. There are pieces of all sizes and prices – everything from tasteful animal footprint ashtrays to jewelry, picture frames, and life-size sculptures.

The Carnivore Restaurant

Considered “Africa’s Greatest Eating Experience,” this open-air meat specialty restaurant has strikingly different food and atmosphere. All types of meat imaginable, including four choices of wild game, are roasted on traditional Masai swords over a huge, visually spectacular charcoal pit that dominates the entrance of the restaurant. The waiters then carry these meat-laden swords around the restaurant, carving unlimited amounts of the prime cuts onto sizzling, cast iron plates in front of you. A wide selection of salads, vegetable side dishes, and a variety of exotic sauces accompanies the meat feast. Dessert and coffee follow the meal. The Carnivore is also the home of the Simba Saloon, Nairobi’s most popular nightclub and disco. The informal outdoor atmosphere, exceptional snacks, and outstanding entertainment ensure a vibrant and exciting night out.

OR (optional one-day extension)

Day 12: Giraffe Manor

  • Upon arrival in Nairobi, go immediately to Giraffe Manor for lunch and an afternoon of playing with the giraffes, visiting Karen Blixen’s home, and relaxing at this beautiful historic home.

Giraffe Manor

Built in 1932 by Sir David Duncan, Giraffe Manor is situated on 120 acres of land. In 1974 Jock Leslie-Melville (grandson of a Scottish earl) and his wife, Betty (who also founded the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife) bought the Manor. They then moved five babies of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe to their property where they have been successfully reared and now have calves of their own. When Jock died, Betty decided to open her house to visitors. Exclusive, spacious, and elegant, it is the only place in the world where one can feed giraffes from the second floor bedroom window, over the lunch table, and at the front door. Guests can feed and photograph the giraffes and warthogs at the Manor, and also wander through the adjoining primeval forest to view the bushbuck, dikdik, and more than 180 bird species found there. One bedroom is furnished with Karen Blixen’s (Out of Africa) furniture that she gave to Jock and Betty when she left Kenya.


Day 13: Flights Home

  • Breakfast with the giraffes starts the day and then a private car and driver are at our disposal until the flight time tonight. Lunch and dinner can be arranged and included, should you decide to take this option. Arrival home is the afternoon of day 14.

 Total cost per person based on double occupancy:


($300 discount for payment by check)

  • Additional cost for all-inclusive (drinks, laundry, meals, area visits, etc.) night at Giraffe Manor: $535 per person, based on double occupancy.
  •  Hot-air balloon safari: $450 per person (yes, it is definitely worth it!)


  • Personalized photography classes and assistance from professional photographer(s)
  • Airport transfers
  • Full-board on safari
  • Accommodation as listed
  • Meals in Nairobi, unless noted
  • Exclusive use of 3 Land Cruisers, with

    • first aid kit
    • wildlife books
    • binoculars
    • cool box with water
    • fire extinguisher
    • sandbags
    • battery ports
  • Private, English-speaking driver/guide
  • Park entrance fees
  • Game drives
  • One cultural visit in Samburu
  • One cultural visit in Masai Mara
  • Government taxes
  • Flying doctor service
  • Dinner at Carnivore Restaurant
  • Game drive: Hell’s Gate Park
  • Lunch: Delamere Nyama Choma
  • Boat ride and game walk: Crescent Island
  • Visit to Giraffe Center
  • Visit to Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage


  • International airfare
  • Hot-air balloon safari ($450 per person)
  • Optional extra night Giraffe Manor ($535)
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, tobacco, laundry, phone calls. Emails, etc
  • Tips and gratuities:
    • Budget $2.00 – $4.00 per person per day for staff, $1.00 per bag for porters $10.00 – $12.00 per person per day for your driver and other guides
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Optional activities at camps/lodges
  • Any other item(s) not included in your itinerary
  • Visa fees: (currently) Kenya visa costs $50 per person


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