Tanzania Photographic Safari, June 8-19, 2010

June 8 - 19, 2010

Safari Leader: Chris Gamel
Please see our Safaris and Workshops section for more workshop and safari dates.


About The Photographic Safaris

Looking for a photographic destination of a lifetime? Well this is it! This photographic safari will be conducted in the east African country of Tanzania, home to the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and Mount Kilimanjaro. It will combine an exciting photography workshop in one of the world's most outstanding wildlife, landscape, and cultural locations together with a luxury vacation in fascinating Tanzania.

What Is Different About a Photographic Safari?

Unlike a traditional safari, which focuses on observing wildlife, a photographic safari specializes in getting you in the right place at the right time to create the perfect picture. Our emphasis is photography, and LOTS OF IT!

Our safaris are designed to maximize photographic opportunities. Early morning and afternoon game drives provide ideal shooting conditions, with an emphasis on good light and quality subjects. Landrovers are limited to three photographers and each landrover has its own guide. Our small group guarantees everyone will have the opportunity to create memorable images. A custom-made camera tent ensures that digital photographers will have all the power they need throughout the safari.

The safari is very informal and fun, an ideal situation to maximizing learning. Chris Gamel will be shooting alongside you at all times, sharing his knowledge of photography and animal behavior. We will have discussion and assistance on a variety of specialized topics such as photographic technique, composition, exposure, creative filming techniques, action shooting, and animal behavior. Advanced techniques will be constantly discussed, demonstrated, and put into practice.

Because of the unique location of this workshop, and the luxury accommodations, this workshop adventure is open to spouses as well as photographers. Even nonphotographers will find the locations visited and the wildlife viewing opportunities to be thrilling. The cost for non-photographers is the same as for active participants.


Tanzania, south of Kenya on the African continent's Indian Ocean coastline, lays claim to the title Home of the Safari, since the word itself is taken from the Swahili word that means "journey." While Tanzania's Kenyan neighbors may dispute that claim, there is no doubt that Tanzania offers one of the best environments in the world for an enriching wildlife experience. The country's game viewing opportunities are considered by many to be the best in Africa. Its game parks are populated with many of the world's most exotic creatures, including all of the "Big Five." Its lakes are huge and bountiful with fish. Its cities are relaxed and friendly. Yet, to a greater degree than is true of many of its neighbors, this sprawling county, the largest in East Africa, remains untouched by the vacationing hordes.

The Schedule

June 8 – Depart home country (applicable for those that need to travel to reach Amsterdam).

June 9 – Amsterdam to Arusha, Tanzania

Connect in Amsterdam with your flight to Kilimanjaro Airport, arriving late this evening. You will be met by Thomson Safaris staff and transferred to your lodge in the scenic foothills of Mount Meru.

June 10 – Arusha to Serengeti National Park

This morning, take a scheduled Regional Air flight* from Arusha to the Serengeti (50lb baggage weight limit). As soon as you land, you will begin wildlife viewing en route to your Nyumba, where you will have lunch.

Head out again this afternoon to explore this exclusive region of the Serengeti, including the Mara River system. The northern area of this ecosystem is an outstanding seasonal location, which few travelers have the opportunity to experience first-hand. You may see gazelle, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, buffalo and much more.

Return to camp late this afternoon with time to refresh before your first al fresco dinner under the canopy of your dining tent. After a delicious meal this evening you will have a chance to relax around a roaring campfire and fall asleep to the sound of nearby animals.

June 11 – Serengeti National Park

After breakfast you’ll have a full day to journey far and wide in this immense park, allowing your guide’s unerring instincts to lead the way. An infinite number of dramas play themselves out on these endless plains: predators stalk prey, animals eat, scavenge and graze, mothers nurture their young, birds hover and soar overhead, young animals frolic as older animals keep a watchful eye on these vulnerable little ones… in short, it is a story of life and death, decay and renewal and ultimately, survival of the fittest.

Take a picnic lunch with you to enjoy while you continue to explore the park. The vast open expanses of space, the multitude of animals inhabiting the pristine landscape, all of this will leave you in awe and impress even the most seasoned wildlife enthusiast. Return to your Nyumba in time to refresh before your evening meal.

June 12 – Serengeti National Park

Spanning nearly 6,000 square miles, the Serengeti has even more to offer you today. With your skilled guides at the helm, the wildlife viewing promises to be interesting in each new area of the park you visit.

As you make your way south you’ll stop by the village of Mgumu, just outside the park gate, where you can peruse the market and enjoy your picnic lunch. Afterwards, continue on your journey and arrive at your private Nyumba in time for dinner this evening. As always, the attentive Nyumba staff is at your service, making sure you are comfortable and that all your needs are taken care of.

June 13 – Serengeti National Park

Today you have the option of joining a Serengeti balloon safari (additional fee and advance reservations required). The experience begins with an early rise (approx 4am) and pre-dawn drive to the balloon launch site, where you will be given a balloon briefing prior to take-off. As the sun rises, you lift gently off the ground, enjoying a bird’s eye perspective as you skim over the tops of acacia trees, meander over the Seronera River and finally touch down. You’ll be greeted with a champagne toast and treated to a full English breakfast.

For those who do not join the balloon ride this morning you’ll awaken instead to the calls of the African dove or superb starling. From the comfort of your Nyumba you’ll smell the luscious scents of hot tea and fresh coffee beckoning you to greet the dawn; the majesty of the Serengeti awaits! As you sit comfortably on your verandah, sipping hot drinks and watching the day break, you may even spot giraffe or zebra grazing in the distance. After breakfast at your Nyumba you begin your quest to discover abundant and fascinating animal behavior in the park.

Later this morning you’ll all regroup to continue your wildlife viewing for the rest of the day, stopping to enjoy a picnic lunch at your leisure.

Upon your return to camp this afternoon you can relax in the tranquility of your Nyumba as you reflect on today’s activities; your exploration of the heart of the park has been both informative and adventurous and you’ll relish each moment in your unique surrounds. Few travelers ever have the privilege of seeing, “the world as it was in the beginning.” Under your dining tent, hot soup, fresh bread, entrees and a scrumptious dessert await your evening indulgence. Retire to your comfortable camp beds after a full and satisfying day.

June 14 – Ngorongoro Crater via Olduvai Gorge

Rise early on your final morning in the Serengeti. Heading east, you’ll depart the Serengeti. Shortly thereafter you’ll stop at Olduvai Gorge, an archeological site of extraordinary importance in our understanding of the origins of “man.” Here in these desolate gullies, several generations of the Leakey family toiled for decades in search of prehistoric clues in the mystery of human evolution. The small museum details some of their most important finds, among them the skull of “Zinjanthropus Man” and the 3.6 million year old australopithecine footprints from Laetoli.

Stop to enjoy a picnic lunch around noon, then continue to wind your way between the hills as you slowly ascend through Ngorongoro Conservation Area, en route to the Crater itself. Your first glimpse of the Crater floor is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Make your way around the southern rim of the crater, stopping to take in the whole panorama along the way, as your guide shares some of the local history with you. Arrive at your Nyumba, situated amongst picturesque flat-top acacia trees, in time to freshen up before visiting a nearby Maasai boma.

Just a short drive from your Nyumba, through the lush foliage that typifies the fertile Ngorongoro region, you’ll find the village of Irkeepusi. Upon arrival you’ll meet Thomson’s Maasai friends. Here you can catch a glimpse into the lives of these famed East African people. Learn about their history, cultural and their pastoralist lives tending sheep, goats, and cattle.

After your boma visit, return to your Nyumba in time to relax at camp before a scrumptious dinner this evening. At this elevation the nighttime temperatures are cool year-round (40-55 degrees F or 4-10 degrees C) so make sure to bring a jacket or fleece to cozy up by the fire. Sleep well tonight, before a busy day tomorrow.

June 15 – Ngorongoro Crater

Rise early for breakfast before you spend a fully day exploring the crater floor. The area is world-renowned in its reputation and very small in its scale, so you will see other safari goers. Don’t let that distract you from the beauty of the place or from the fact that this remains one of the only places on earth where you may see all of the Big Five at once: Lion, Leopard, Bull Elephant, African Buffalo and Black Rhino. To maximize your time on the crater floor you will enjoy a special boxed lunch at a scenic picnic spot.

This afternoon your journey will continue throughout this tremendous landscape, which is constantly changing as animals move to and fro in search of pasture, water or prey. Before sunset you’ll depart this Garden of Eden for the comfort of your Nyumba, where you will have time to discuss the multitude of wildlife behavior you witnessed, and to log them in your safari journal.

June 16 – Ngorongoro Crater to Tarangire National Park

Depart Ngorongoro after a hearty breakfast for Tarangire National Park, Tanzania’s fourth largest. You’ll take a picturesque route through Tanzania’s fertile “breadbasket,” the Ngorongoro Highlands, which neighbors the Conservation Area. Then descend 2,000 in elevation from the Highlands to the floor of the Great Rift Valley. As you meander down the impressive Escarpment Wall, gaze out at the vast space that comprises the Rift Valley. The inviting view goes on further than the eye can see as it entices you to explore more of Tanzania’s diverse landscapes. When you arrive at Tarangire’s park gate, stop for a picnic lunch. Afterwards head deep into the park for more wildlife viewing.

The Tarangire River that runs through the middle of the park is the only year- round water source for the myriad animals that inhabit this diverse region. The rich landscape features sprawling savanna, dramatic cliffs, acacia woodlands and meandering riverbeds. The distinctive baobab tree is common in this area, and with its enormous trunk and gnarled branches it is quite an extraordinary sight. (Because of their tremendous girth, they were often hollowed out and used for shelter by many of the local cultures throughout the centuries.) Wildlife viewing as you go, you make it to your lodge late this afternoon. Relax before dinner.

June 17 – Tarangire National Park

Continue your exploration of Tarangire today, searching the trees for leopard, watching as elephant play, bathe and socialize near the river and spotting lion, cheetah, hyena, and a multitude of birds as they go about their fascinating daily routines. Enjoy a picnic in the park to maximize your time immersed in the wilderness and return to camp late in the day.

Enjoy open air dining this evening with views of the Tarangire River Valley. Laugh and share stories over a wonderful final dinner in the wilderness. On this last night in the bush, reflect on all that you’ve experienced as you write in your safari journal or review the photographs in your safari portfolio.

June 18 – Tarangire National Park to Arusha to Amsterdam

This morning, you will depart Tarangire, wildlife viewing en route to Arusha, where you will arrive in time for lunch at Riverhouse. You’ll have a chance to pick up a few last minute souvenirs if you’d like. You’ll head off to your day rooms, which are provided so you can prepare for the final journey home. Grab a shower, rest, or take a swim at your leisure. Enjoy a light dinner snack before being transferred to Kilimanjaro International Airport for your departing flight to Amsterdam.

June 19 – Arrive Amsterdam and connect to your final destination.

The Cost

The cost of this all-inclusive trip is U.S. $8,790 per person (does not include airfare to Arusha, Tanzania). The same rate applies for each participant regardless of whether they are doing photography and participating in the workshop, or not. This fee includes all incountry ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals. The non-refundable deposit for this trip is $1200. Optional hot air balloon is $475 per person.

Accommodations are two persons to a room. If you will be traveling alone and would like a private room there will be a supplementary charge of $1200. For an additional fee you can choose to have both the safari *and* your flight from New York or Boston booked for you. We encourage this service if you are departing from North America, as we will all be able to arrive in Tanzania on the same flight at the same time. It is our experience that this service eliminates many scheduling headaches, and the cost is at or slightly below the average market rate for such a flight.

Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserve the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participant.

What’s Included?

• All Game Park fees
• All accommodations, based on double occupancy
• All meals inclusive of restaurant staff tips
• Services of guides and drivers
• Land transportation in safari Land Rovers. Each of the three rear seat passengers has a complete seat to themselves, including access to windows on both sides of the vehicle and empty seats for photographic equipment.
• Airport transfers to and from hotels
• Internal airfare from Serengeti to Arusha
• Bottled water at all times
• $30 Tanzanian Airport departure tax, if KLM / NW ticket purchased through us.

What is Not Included?

• Additional tips for staff such as guides and camp staff
• Fees for passport, visas, immunizations and insurance
• Alcoholic beverages while on safari
• Laundry, phone and other items of a personal nature
• Cost of hospitalization and evacuation if necessary

What Do I Do Next?

Does traveling to Tanzania excite you? Can you see yourself photographing the wildlife of East Africa? Do you dream about looking a lion directly in the eye? Then now is the time to register. Our groups are small, so space is limited. Register now to reserve your space on the photographic experience of a lifetime. If you have any questions before registering, please contact us at info@chrisgamel.com.