Back by popular demand we are proud to announce our 2017 Big Cats Of The Mara photography workshop!
The Masai Mara really is the place to see the Big Cats in the wild; home to the BBC’s Big Cat Diary series, the opportunities to observe and photograph Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and so much more are amazing; drawing Richard here year after year.
Many photographers run tours to the Mara but Richard’s images speak for themselves as to his experience and skill working in Africa with Big Cats, alongside the award standard guides who were initially hand picked years ago and as much a part of the trip as the wildlife. Always putting his hard earned photographic and animal experience to work for you, alongside the amazing tracking skill of the guides, you will be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of all the Mara offers.
Richard will be on hand every step of the way to improve your technical and field craft skills whilst out in the plains, taking your photography to the next level all whilst having a blast. Whether you are a well seasoned snapper or total beginner you will be able to learn and grow, returning with images to be proud of as well as skills that you will carry with you on your next photographic endeavours.
As of the moment we are only running a single Big Cats tour in 2017
Places are strictly on a first come first serve basis
His realistic, no nonsense approach to teaching and photography means anyone with any level of gear will enjoy this trip, spending thousands of pounds on gear a photographer does not make (although if you have it, bring it along!!). Field-craft, patience and technique are what you will learn putting what you do have to best use.
Richard will be using his experience, directing the vehicles exactly as he does when working alone, the same way that has enabled him to take the images he does the world over. Once back in camp, informal sessions on digital workflow, raw processing and anything else will be made; preferably with a cold drink in hand! We run focused trips, working hard to get the shots but all the while, never loosing the important sense of fun; that’s why Richard does what he does, a love of animals and enjoyment.
The trips are limited to 8 people with a maximum of 4 guests per vehicle (vehicle’s normally carry 6 or more guests, so you all have room for your gear!!). This is hugely important and often glossed over on some other tours. You really do need room to move around in the vehicles to make the most of the opportunities that we work hard to get to and these vehicles really do allow for this when not full to capacity.
Olare Motorogi Conservancy
Richard prefers to run not only the workshops but his own freelance African photography in the private conservancies that border the main Mara reserve when working in the area. But why? The main advantage is the much quieter environment where numbers of people are strictly limited. The crowds of 30+ vehicles (PER SIGHTING!) that can be seen in the main reserve are never a risk in both the conservancies in which we base our tours. The numbers of vehicles operating in the conservancies are strictly limited and the rules governing those working within are very well respected. The rules also allow the guides to make their own (very well informed) choices about a sighting, extending a trust to their tracking and animal welfare skills that pay dividends in terms of sightings and photo opportunities. Those who are located in the main reserve are strictly prohibited from entering the conservancy which ensures a much more calm, natural environment in which we can work. When the need arises however, we are allowed to enter the main reserve when we like. Flexibility is a key part of our tours and this really does let us have our cake and eat it!
This tour is heading out in mid February which is a fantastic time to experience the Mara. Less people are on the plains whilst the Mara’s cats are mostly resident and need to hunt almost daily through necessity. This makes for a very productive and pleasant experience in which to work within the Mara ecosystem and is one of Richard’s favourite times to visit.
Kicheche Bush Camp
Our camp for this trip is Kicheche Bush camp. A intimate, amazing tented camp located right in a private conservancy of Olare Motorogi. Very (very!) comfortable with amazing staff, food and all the comforts you need, it is the perfect way to have a safe, genuine African experience. The tents are of the fully sealed, semi-permanent variety with toilets and hot showers available inside after each afternoon drive as well as large comfortable beds.
Evening meals around the campfire are great and can all be washed down with cold beer, wine or juice. It is perfectly situated just outside of the main Mara park to allow us an easy path to the crossing points as well as the plains the bulk of the migration take part in and is one of Richard’s absolute favourite locations to work from.
The private conservancy is fantastic for the cats, especially Lion and most of Richard’s big cat photography is within private reserves such as these, where he prefers to work. Also benefiting from a close proximity to the main Mara reserve, we have the ability to venture in when we need to (especially for the crossings) but crucially, the hoards staying within the reserve cannot follow us back into Olare Orok. This really does let us have our cake and eat it!
Our Big cat tours are held in the expansive Olare Motorogi Conservancy that borders the Maasai Mara National Reserve and is home to an abundance of animals including all the big cats for which the Mara is famous. It forms part of a vital buffer zone between the Mara Reserve and the wildlife dispersal areas surrounding it, covering an area of 33,000 acres directly adjoining the Maasai Mara National Reserve to the south and is an area of outstanding beauty and importance for wildlife. It encompasses the lower river valleys of the Olare Orok and Ntiakitiak rivers, together with the associated riverine woodland.
This conservancy offers pleasant and exclusive viewing of game in a pristine environment, with a rich and diverse wildlife population rarely found anywhere else on the African savannah. It is one of Richard’s top locations and many of his most widely published pictures have been taken within its borders.
This is a wonderful, relatively undisturbed part of the Maasai Mara ecosystem, with good populations of both predators and herbivores, including many elephants. Rhino and wild dog have also been sighted in the area occasionally. It is felt that the Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Olare Motorogi Conservancy and similar future initiatives represent the best chance to save what is undoubtedly the most important part of the Maasai Mara ecosystem outside of the officially protected Mara Reserve area.
Working in the Mara
You will work in the exact same way Richard works when photographing alone. That is determined and flexible. We leave camp at about 5am (after your morning coffee brought to your tent) and make our way to the destination chosen for that morning. Richard’s flexible work ethic means we will be ready on any given day to stay close to camp or travel out far pending the animal movements. We also work smart. Our extensive experience means we go for the predictive approach rather than the clumsy run and gun one. Knowledge of the animal’s behavior is a key component to wildlife photography and this allows us to (usually!!!) predict where the animal will be in a few minutes time when we are on a sighting. This allows the animal to come to us which is a much better experience for the wildlife as it puts them at ease as well as giving us the most time to prepare for a given shot. This ‘micro-risk’ method Richard has developed means we sometimes miss ‘regular’ shots but more often than not come away with something much more special than the simple, drive up and shoot technique achieves.
On the days we are heading to the river crossings, we make our way strait to the Mara river and assess the Wildebeest herds. Most days are split into two drives. The morning drive usually ends around 12 o’clock to allow us to rest and escape the mid day heat. The cats do the same and it allows a more focused afternoon drive, heading out around 4 o’clock and returning after sunset for hot showers, drinks around the fire and dinner.
The vehicles are custom modified Toyota Land Cruisers. Able to take 6 or even 9 people, we strictly limit the numbers to 4 in the back (with Richard huddled up in the passenger seat). This is so everyone has freedom of movement as well as allowing ample room for equipment. There is absolutely no need to take turns on a sighting and the open nature of the vehicle allows for everyone to get high or low in the car for the shot you are after all at the same time.
A Mara regular, professional wildlife Photographer Richard Costin hosts several workshops each year out in the world famous reserve and neighboring conservancies. Known for his relaxed yet focused teaching style that puts results ahead of ego or photography posing, he will be on hand to help you get the absolute most from your time out in Africa.
Working with the same crew on each visit they make a tight team and while a lot of people run tours in the Mara, Richard’s results speak for themselves. You get a working pro that lives by the quality of his images guiding your hand and not just tour guide who’s own images are nowhere to be seen. Head on over to the gallery section to view his work.
When guiding you on the tours, you and your photography comes first. Got a question during that frantic once in a lifetime Leopard kill? Richard will answer and help you ahead of any personal needs or agenda and we are proud to have yet to run a tour without a repeat guest (except the first one years ago of course!)
Richard’s skill combined with the amazing tracking ability of the guides, you will be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of all the encounters. We are here to improve not just your technical skills, but your field craft as well, taking your photography to the next level all whilst having a blast. Whether you are a well seasoned snapper wanting room to work or total beginner you will be able to learn, grow and return with images to be proud of as well as skills that you will carry with you on your next photographic endeavours.
£4520 per person* (including all flights). Unlike a lot of other tours, this includes international flights from the UK. Please get in touch for alternate costing/options for travellers coming from outside the UK.
* Costs are given on a shared basis (couples of course kept together), all tents have private wash area and are available with either twin beds or a double. If we are unable to pair you prior to travel there may be an additional fee involved.
* Our prices here are correct at the time of writing. Due to the current turbulence regarding the pound against the dollar prices are subject to change in either direction prior to booking. Please get in touch for more information.
* To bring a great value trip to you we work with very tight margins from our operators. To that end the trip prices quoted above are based on the assumption of a minimum of four persons travelling in total for this trip. Should we for some reason not meet this minimum requirement we will offer you either a full refund or the opportunity to still join us with a slight fee increase.
For more information regarding booking conditions, please see the “small print enlarged” section below or contact Safari Consultants on +44(0)1787 888 590.
All bookings are made through our partnership with the fantastic Safari Consultants. A UK based tour operator offering full ATOL bonding for the trip as well as a wealth of experience and knowledge of African tourism. Richard uses and relies on them for all his African travel and they are great!
THE SMALL PRINT ENLARGED
Whilst some like to gloss over the following, we feel it is important to note that this trip is a genuine safari experience, therefore..
All stages of this trip are well planned and run by very experienced people. However, it is called wildlife for a reason. Although it is extremely unlikely to return from a drive in the Mara empty handed, we are ultimately only able to show you the wildlife in Mara as it is, wild. So please be aware that we cannot 100% guarantee a sighting of a particular species. Please be assured however our guides live and breath the Mara every day and are superb trackers of award standard. As well, Richard’s photographic experience in the Mara speaks for itself through his images, not just his words. The Mara is one of the best spots to see these animals in the wild but you must be prepared for some periods of waiting and that some drives will be better than others. Richard and the team will be doing everything possible to make this a trip to remember but we feel it is only fair to let you know that this is wildlife; a trip to the zoo it isn’t!
Likewise, the weather is beyond our control but we will be prepared to go out in all conditions, come rain or shine. This can however, have knock on effects for special excursions like the early morning balloon rides (if you decided to book one). We will always press ahead regardless of the weather as long as it is safe. People who can put things into perspective and enjoy whatever nature has in store will get the most from this trip, even those who wish to come without cameras and simply observe the wildlife.
This trip is suitable for ages 8 and over, providing appropriate behaviour in the vehicles and around the camp is maintained. Should an individual behave inappropriately, Richard and/or Kicheche reserve the right to restrict that person’s safari activities without refund. This is to ensure a fair and enjoyable trip for all guests. We have never had to do this though and hope we never will!
There is very little walking or physical exertion required. However, please note that the ride can be bumpy when driving from location to location. If this may be a cause for concern, please get in touch for further information. All correspondence is held in the strictest confidence and the camp is very accommodating to all needs so something can always be worked out as long as we know in advance.
The price stated includes the current fuel surcharges being levied by the relevant airlines. We will not surcharge this price unless further fuel surcharges exceed 2% of the total cost of this itinerary, in which case you will only be surcharged the amount which is over and above the 2% surcharge.
To bring a great value trip to you we work with very tight margins from our operators. To that end the trip prices quoted above are based on the assumption of a minimum of four persons travelling in total for this trip. Should we for some reason not meet this minimum requirement, we will off you either a full refund or the opportunity to still join us with a modest fee increase. For more information regarding this please contact Safari Consultants on +44(0)1787 888 590.
Exchange rates: Please note that the exchange rates between the SA Rand and/or US$ dollar and UK£ pound are currently extremely volatile, with the recent trend being a huge devaluation of ourUK£ pound. As many costs relating to your holiday are paid in either of these currencies, the price of your holiday is closely linked with these exchange rates. For this quotation, we have used the current exchange rates, however, we will need to reconfirm the holiday price with you at the time of booking.
Please see section 8 of Safari Consultant’s terms and conditions for further details of the pricing policy.
It is a requirement that UK flights are arranged through Safari Consultants.
If you have any further questions please simply get in touch and we will be happy to answer all your queries.
If you would like to book a place or find out more use the form below to get in touch..