Note: this safari has been completed – please see the recap of it on the blog. The final details on future safaris are being competed, and will be posted soon. We will have a safari starting November 30th, 2013 – and 3 back to back safaris starting March 15th, 2014. Please check back for the detailed itineraries.
A sneek peek at new itineraries will include an exciting day hunting with and photographing the Hadza (Bushmen) tribe, and a new centrally located private luxury camp for our ‘Big Cats and the Great Migration’ safaris…..and a Mountain Gorilla photography extension. Stay tuned!
If you’ve dreamed about taking a photographic safari that will truly be the trip of a lifetime, it doesn’t get any better than this. This 11 day safari (15 days with extension) offers the absolute best possible itinerary and timing to photograph the spectacular Serengeti without the high season crowds! Included are very exclusive off road ‘filming permits’ for our vehicles while in the Central Region. These filming permits allow for off road access to photograph the wildlife in areas otherwise off limits (Our vehicles are posted “Do Not Follow”). That said, our photographic opportunities will be defined by more and closer encounters with targeted wildlife, and with optimal light angle. Be sure to consider adding the four day extension where we will target the Leopards of the Seronera, and Lions on the Kopjes – subjects and venues that will really benefit from the filming permit.
This journey will highlight five distinct habitats in the Serengeti ecosystem: The Ngorongoro Crater, the Ndutu woodlands, the Short grass plains, the tributaries of the Seronera river valley, and Kopjes of the Central Serengeti. While the spotlight on this safari is on the great migration and the big cats – we will also see and photograph a large variety of other species every day, including a seemingly endless amount of exotic birds. Bring lots of memory! (One of our enthusiastic 2012 participants took 27,000 images on this safari!)
April in the Serengeti / Full screen and slideshow controls lower right / Images by James Blue ©
Our small group will enjoy a range of first class accommodations throughout the safari. We will be staying at our four favorite lodges – chosen for their great service, comfort, and proximity to where we want to photograph. The vehicles are custom made Stretch Land Cruisers with large open tops that are ideal to photograph from – they are the largest and most comfortable type of vehicle used in the Serengeti. We will only have 3 persons per vehicle, allowing plenty of room for gear and movement.
This safari is an opportunity for photographers of all experience levels to capture great images. I will be shooting along side every day, and will always be available to provide personal photography instruction, guidance and tips. We will all enjoy the camaraderie of sharing our daily experiences with like minded enthusiasts, and learning from each other along the way.
April has become our favorite time of year in the Serengeti, as it is beautiful, green and flowering, and moreover, offers a significantly lower number of people in the field (consider literal traffic jams and 20+ vehicles piled up on significant wildlife vs often having the roads and wildlife to ourselves!) It also offers lower lodging prices, and more attainable and liberal use of off road permits. These benefits are due to a generally over hyped risk of rain ruining the safari – hence the low season. Yes, the chance of rain is higher, but it ‘usually’ confined to afternoon thunderstorms. More often than not, we have experienced glorious weather, with intermittent showers on some days – and with much more dramatic light than just blue skies. We experienced more rain in 2012 than prior seasons, yet we had a fantastic safari which yielded photo-ops beyond everyones expectations.
Tailored for photographers, this safari showcases the Serengeti at the highest level available. That said, we work hard to make the most of this opportunity. We are up early and on the road before first light – some days out all day – and always returning after dark…so much for a relaxing “sundowner” at the lodge. Our goal, in addition to a safe and enrichening experience, is to provide quality photo-ops – lots of them…as many as possible…everyday. To be sure, having your own private network of very experienced guides and VIP access to some of the Serengeti’s most desirable areas is a luxury few have ever experienced. Please consider the full itinerary, details and value of this safari in your decision.
Note: Off Road Filming Permits are subject to final approval of our application submitted to the Tanzanian Government. Blue Photo Safaris has attained and complied with these permits in the past, as such we anticipate approval.
UPDATE: OFF ROAD FILMING PERMITS APPROVED !!! 11/7/12
April 4 / Day 1 / Depart USA for Amsterdam connection
(Recommended flights: Delta/NWA from USA to Amsterdam - KLM Amsterdam direct to Arusha, Tanzania (JRO)
April 5 / Day 2 / Arusha Coffee Lodge
Welcome to Tanzania! you will be greeted at the airport and expedited through customs with your paperwork pre-arranged. We will then drive to the luxurious Arusha Coffee Lodge on the outskirts of Arusha. We will all enjoy a late diner and visit before retiring to our suites.
April 6-7 / Day 3-4 / Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
This morning starts off with fresh coffee from the namesake plantation...followed by a hearty breakfast. With great anticipation, we'll waste no time getting started up the road, taking in the interesting sights along the drive from Arusha to the Ngorongoro Crater. We will arrive at the beautiful Sopa lodge with time to enjoy lunch and take in the commanding views from the crater rim. A brief rest and we will be off again, descending the 2000 ft walls to the wonders on the crater floor. The volume and variety of wildlife in the crater is nothing short of spectacular, and given the confines, one cannot help thinking they have entered a lost world. We have added an additional day at Ngorongoro as the single day we have offered in the past left everyone wanting more. The Crater is home to an estimated 25,000 large animals, including the highest density of mammalian predators in all of Africa. We will plan to be the first vehicles in the Crater in the mornings, and the last out in the evening - taking full advantage of the glorious light it is known for. The Ngorongoro Crater is the remenents of a volcanic eruption from a mountain thought to be larger than Kilimanjaro! It is the largest intact caldera in the world. Photographic opportunities abound here, many of which would be hard if not impossible to duplicate anywhere else. A stronghold of the endangered black rhino, huge 50+ year old bull elephants with the largest tusks in all of Africa, and regal black maned lions are just a few of the highlights.
April 8-11 / Day 5-8 / Lake Masek Tented Camp
A morning game drive in the Crater will be followed by our short commute to the Lake Masek Tented Camp. We will arrive at our lodge mid-day, with time to get settled into our accommodations and have a pleasant lunch on the veranda. This area beckons game drives in every direction: resident lion prides, cheetahs and leopards make this area their home, as do many antelope, gazelle, elephant, cape buffalo and giraffe. Driving off road is allowed in this area, which greatly improves the photo opportunities. Exotic birdlife will seem commonplace - many of which will be nesting and very active. The great migration should be moving through the area, presenting countless opportunities to photograph the spectacle of thousands of wildebeest, zebra, eland and gazelle. In our 4 full days exploring this wildlife rich habitat, we will spread out and cover as much country as possible - staying in contact with each other to enhance everyones opportunities. The possibilities are endless here: offering a great chance to get in on a dramatic lion or cheetah hunt, big cats with cubs, or a mass movement of the great migration. The end of each action filled day here will find us relaxing and dining in comfortable main lodge at Lake Masek.
April 12 - 13 / Day 9-10 / Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge
This mornings game drive will have us headed into the Central Serengeti via the Gol Kopjes. An afternoon and evening exploring the Seronera region will yield more incredible habitat and wildlife. We will be subjected to an amazing diversity of wildlife in the Seronera Valley. With the highest concentration of leopards in the Serengeti - we will be targeting them during our time here. The many beautiful Green Barked Acacias and Sausage trees along the Seronera river and its tributaries are the favorite vantage and lounging spots for the many leopards. Moreover, as we will not be confined to the roads, we will make the most of these leopard sightings and should come away with some amazing images. Surrounding the Seronera Valley are numerous Kopjes offering the opportunity for iconic images of lions on the rocks. Several lion prides, cheetahs, leopards, serval & caracal cats, elephants, giraffes, antelope, gazelles, pools with hippos and crocodiles, - as well as spectacular birdlife... the Seronera Valley never disappoints. The Serengeti Serena Lodge is our favorite lodge in the area, offering great service and comfort - it will be tempting to just 'hang out', but the game drives will pull you away.
April 14 / Day 11 / Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge / Flight back to Arusha / Arusha Coffee Lodge
This is our final day afield, with a chance to make one last game drive in the Seronera Valley before our flight back to Arusha. This last opportunity should not be discounted as the game viewing along the Seronera river is amazing. We will meet our plane for a 11:30 AM flight back to Arusha, where we will have lunch and comfortable rooms waiting. We will have the afternoon to relax around the lodge - and take in some of the antics of the resident Vervet monkeys.
April 15 / Day 12 / Arusha tours / Evening flight home
This final day in Arusha will include a tour to the Cultural Heritage Center, relaxing around the lodge, and packing our gear for the flight home after dinner. Note: We have added this extra day to unwind and explore Arusha at the conclusion of the safari. We have found this a far more pleasant way to end the safari, than rushing to the airport at the end of the last day afield.
April 16 / Day 13 / Amsterdam to USA - Welcome Home
April 14-17 / Day 11-14 / Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge
This 4 day extension offers a chance to further explore the Central Serengeti - concentrating on the high concentrations of Leopards - and the Lion prides that lounge on the rocks of the numerous Kopjes. We will have Off Road Filming Permits for the duration of the extension - offering a chance to get close-up shots of the big cats that are generally out of reach of traditional safaris. Adding this extension brings the total time in the spectacular Central region to 7 days - and with access rarely experienced. Do not miss this opportunity!
April 18 / Day 15 / Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge / Flight back to Arusha / Arusha Coffee Lodge
This is our final day of the extension, offering one last game drive in the Central Serengeti before our flight back to Arusha @ 11:30 AM. This last morning always offers great photo-ops in the heart of the Seronera Valley - so plan to shoot right up to the point where we arrive at the airport. Our hour long flight back to Arusha will provide expansive views of the Serengeti - and an interesting overview of our safari route. We will have lunch and comfortable rooms waiting at the Arusha Coffee Lodge, and an afternoon to relax around the beautiful lodge grounds.
April 19 / Day 16 / Arusha tours / Evening flight home
This final day in Arusha will include a tour to the Cultural Heritage Center, relaxing around the lodge, and packing our gear for the flight home after dinner. Note: We have added this extra day to unwind and explore Arusha at the conclusion of the safari. This is a far more pleasant way to end the safari, than rushing to the airport at the end of the last day afield.
April 20 / Day 17 / Amsterdam to USA - Welcome Home
- All accommodations
- All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- All airport transfers, hotel transfers, meet and greet services (the safari is 100% escorted)
- All national park and reserve fees, including special off-road game drive permits within exclusive areas
- Private services of your professional and knowledgeable Tanzanian driver/guide
- Private use of a specially outfitted 4x4 Stretched Land Cruiser with unlimited game drives
- Internal airfare from the Serengeti National Park back to Arusha
- Tanzania visa fees and VIP assistance with visas upon arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport
- Use of Nikon Action 7×35 binoculars while on safari (one set per person)
- Unlimited bottled drinking water, soft drinks (coke, diet coke, sprite) and bush snacks in your vehicle
- Detailed welcome package, including pre departure planning
- Comprehensive support from the operational office in Tanzania for the duration of your safari
- International airfare to and from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)
- Travel Insurance (highly recommended)
- Soft drinks, beer, wine and spirits not specified above
- Gratuities to your guide (suggested at $30-$60/vehicle/day)
Cost: $7,295 ($9,890 w/4 day extension)/person
Non-refundable deposit: $1,000 /person
If you would like to be included in this exciting safari it is advisable to register early as space is limited. No additional slots will be available once it is full. Please contact us via phone or email and we will get your spot locked in.