By Kamal Varma
January 28, 2016
Kenya offers the wildlife enthusiast an endless supply of photographic opportunities. Whether it’s the thunderous roar of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest leaping the banks of the Mara River, the majestic beauty of the Cheetah, or the raw primal ferocity of the mighty lion, Kenya seems to offer it all.
The river crossing is a spectacle to behold. Thousands of wildebeest and zebras line the banks of the river until one brave soul takes the plunge. It can be hours or even days of waiting until the actual crossing takes place. Once the crossing takes place, it can last for several hours. On my most recent trip, I had the privilege of seeing two crossings.
While many people visit the Mara solely for the purpose of seeing a river crossing, there are endless other photographic opportunities that are equally awe inspiring. On my most recent trip, I had the opportunity to spend two mornings and one evening with the elusive leopards. These magnificent cats are not nearly as plentiful as the cheetah’s or the lions. And in fact, of the three times I’ve been to Kenya, this is only the second time that I’ve actually seen a leopard. The leopards blend in beautifully with their landscape.
One morning, I had the opportunity to watch a leopard and her cub slowly walk along the rivers bank. Out of necessity, I was forced to shoot at very high ISO’s (8000 and above)
After 15 minutes of watching the leopards, my guide advised me to hold on to my gear as he proceeded to drive quickly for a quarter mile before driving across the river. I was a little surprised (and truth be known, a little upset thinking I’d missed photo op’s). He then told me to grab my gear and wait. And wait I did. What happened a few minutes later was surreal. ….
Leopards were not the only cats I had the opportunity of photographing. On my first afternoon game drive, I heard thunder in the distance and a pride of lions in the foreground. I turned around and was greeted to this.
The very next day I spent hours just watching a lion and her three cubs.
While I’ve always had a soft spot for the big cats, the sheer number of other animals is almost hard to imagine.
And of course, no trip would be complete without the postcard sunrise shot.
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS:
I have been to Kenya three times, and each time I have used the services of Gamewatchers Safaris. They are simply outstanding.
When flying out of Nairobi to any of the Safari camps, you are limited to 30 lbs. This includes your camera gear. I highly suggest you get a camera vest. They are relatively inexpensive and offer a great way to carry such things as batteries, chargers, lenses, filters, memory cards etc. This will help keep you within your weight limit.
If you are a serious photographer, take two camera bodies. The last thing you want is to have something go wrong with your camera.
As for lenses, I took a 17-40, a 70-200 and a 100-400. This was perfect. You get very close to the animals so you likely won’t need anything more than 400mm (on a crop body). Take time to put your camera down and see what’s happening. At times, you can be overwhelmed by all of the action and get a little trigger happy.
Bio: Kamal is an avid photographer living in Calgary, AB his photography passion includes travel, wildlife and landscape. Kamal also likes to play guitar when he can't get out to shoot.
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