Hardly few years back, with manual cameras and film rolls, not everyone was interested getting into Wildlife photography. Only few people were haunted by this rare passion. Though it was glamorous but not affordable to everyone. But with the arrival of digital cameras and memory cards, wildlife photography has become a passion and a fashion as well. Tourists carrying huge lenses and camera bodies in National park is normal scenario now a days. Social media has played a big role for making wildlife photography a tempting passion. Posting a picture gets one instant gratification. Also, Google & YouTube are good source of information, and one needs no photography workshop or classes to learn basic wildlife photography. But there are some essential things for wildlife photography that one needs to learn & understand.
1. Knowledge of National Park: It is very important for you to gather some information about the national park you would be visiting. The terrain, the tracks, the tree cover, forest density, the kind of wildlife in the national park, the month you would be visiting, the light to expect, the weather to expect etc.
2. Wildlife Knowledge: Create the checklist of animals you may encounter in the National park. If you are planning to take Tiger images, then you will be better equipped if you know the behavior of the Tiger.
3. Safety: Always remember that you are in a national park and surrounded by wild animals. Your safety and the safety of wild animals you are shooting is of paramount importance. Do not underestimate the speed and power of wild animals at any point, irrespective of the size. Hence it is important to keep safe distance from wild animals. Follow all instructions of the guide & the driver in the Jeep, do not force them to get very close to the animal. Besides you will be able to capture good images only if you are at a safe distance wherein the animals are not disturbed by your presence & behavior. Avoid making unnecessary sounds, or talk loudly, no sudden or jerky movements while you are in the vehicle. As all this can easily scare the animal and send it in cover, thus depriving you of a good wildlife snap.
Once you cover the above basic things for wildlife photography, then what?
Then should gain the technical knowledge of taking photographs. Expert advise here is do not be over dependent on your photography equipment or post processing of the pictures, rather get them right while clicking them. Always remember, it is the eye behind the camera which is more important than the camera itself. Latest technology can’t replace the art of photography.
Masai Mara is one of the greatest Wildlife reserves in Africa and it is located in south-west Kenya. Masai Mara National Reserve with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania forms Africas most diverse, amazing & most spectacular Eco-system and possibly the worlds top safari friendly Eco-system. Masai Mara National Reserve covers an area of 1,510 sq km and it is located at 1,617 meters above sea level. Add the private conservancies and the area is at least twice the size. Masai Mara hosts over 95 species of mammals & over 570 species of birds. Masai Mara National Reserve has one of the largest densities of lion in the world
The wildebeest migration is the annual natural relocation of vast numbers of the wildebeest, joined by large numbers of zebra, and smaller numbers of Thomsons gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, and Impala. Wildebeest migration takes place every year and it is highly predictable. They migrate throughout the year, constantly seeking better water resources & fresh grazing land. July to October is the best time to be in Kenya for it.
Wide range of hotels & resorts are available in and around the Masai Mara & the conservancies surrounding it. Restricted numbers of vehicles are allowed in the conservancies surrounding the Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve is about 270 kilometer from Nairobi (Capital) and takes approximately 40-45 minutes by flight & 4-5 hours by road. The road is in great condition for the most part. You may have to travel on dirt road from Narok town to Sekenani Gate but condition of that road is fairly good. The other road through Lemek and Aitong town is very bumpy and not good at all for driving.
Best Time To Visit:
Wildebeest migration takes place in JULY to OCTOBER which is best time to see this amazing animal migration. Although, Wildebeest Migration is not guaranteed through Masai Mara, it has yet to let us down. December to February is great time for big cats. As land gets dryer, water sources become limited and big cats can easily catch their prey near those water sources. Good opportunity for tourists and wildlife photographers to capture those moments.
Recommended Number of Days:
We recommend at least 3-4 days for Masai Mara safari. If you are interested in wildlife photography then the longer you stay the more chance of getting the ultimate snap.
Staying in a jungle resort while on wildlife holiday is always a great fun, however for a comfortable and hassle free experience one must take care of himself and his group. There are numerous safety measures to take while staying near a national park. Some are listed below.
First and foremost – Avoid going towards the forest on foot or in a vehicle if it is prohibited area. There are gates from where all sightseer’s vehicles enter. Utilize just the approved entryways to enter at the given time with a valid permit to enter the park. Avoid entering from any other area in the protected areas.
If you get caught in a national park without a valid permit, you will attract a jail term and your vehicle will be seized. So kindly don’t think on these lines regardless of what local or a resort person instructs you to.
Never leave the vicinity of the resort alone after sunset. Not even if you plan to just go for a walk after your dinner. After nightfall, Leopards frequently tend to approach the villages and resorts in search of food or the livestock. At night, Tigers also roam around the protected areas. It is not worth taking the risk for little adventure you want to experience.
If you need go out for some urgent work, and have to cross the buffer area of the jungle, don’t go on a two-wheeler. Make sure you are in a car and take someone from the resort or village who are familiar with area, and always carry a torch & communication device for sure. After sunset, driving a two-wheeler in a forested area is a huge risk, especially if the forest has animals like Sloth bears. If it breaks down for some reason, you will be in a trouble. Four-wheeler will at-least offer some protection from the aggressive animals.
In case, if you are in Elephant dominated area, then even a four-wheeler is not advisable at night. It is better to postpone all your work for next day. Wild Elephants can kick your four-wheeler really hard. Hence it is good idea to stay in safe boundary of your resort.
Please do not even consider carrying any weapon even if you possess one. Getting caught with a weapon in forested area is a non bail-able offense and attracts a term of up to 7 years in prison. You can carry a wooden stick while on foot but not any kind of weapons whatsoever even in a safari vehicle.
Be careful when you go in to the bush, there are many species of venomous snakes and scorpions in and around the national parks.