Tanzania Luxury Lodge-based Photographic Safari, March 3-14, 2011

March 3 - 14, 2011

Safari Leader: Andy Biggs

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.


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.


It's About Photography — Lots of it!

This workshop will be very informal and fun. Andy will be shooting alongside you at all times. We will have discussion and assistance on specialized topics such as, for example, long lens technique, action shooting, wildlife observation, field craft and African animal behavior. Advanced techniques will be constantly discussed, demonstrated and put into practice.

This workshop is about shooting. Lots of shooting. There will be no classroom sessions, no lectures, no slide shows, and most importantly, no unnecessary egos. We will all work closely together, sharing our knowledge and experience.

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

The Schedule

March 3 - Depart home country.

March 4 - Amsterdam / Arrive Arusha

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 Arusha.

March 5 - Arusha / Ngorongoro Highlights

Awaken to a new world this morning. Exotic birdcalls fill the air as you walk up to the main dining room for breakfast and a safari briefing. Depart Arusha by Land Rover, taking a picnic lunch with you, as you cross the Maasai Steppe en route to Lake Manyara National Park. The park is nestled at the base of the 2000 foot Great Rift Valley Escarpment Wall. Rainwater nourishes Manyara's forests of tamarind, mahogany and fig, and supply nourishing waters to the resident fauna as well. Search for troupes of monkeys playing in the grass, elephant taking shade under baobab trees, hippos cooling themselves in fresh-water pools along the alkaline shore, and lions sprawled out on the umbrella of the trees.

Depart the park this afternoon and wind your way up the switch-back road that takes you to the top of the impressive Great Rift Valley Escarpment Wall. As you rise 2,000 feet above the plains below, you’ll be struck by the magnificent views of the Maasai Steppe as it stretches out before you.

Pass through bucolic rural farm land as you approach your destination: Gibbs Farm. This luxury highland property is well known as an historic coffee plantation and organic farm. Today, each of the private cottages features a blend of modern amenities and charm from a bygone era. Classic décor is enhanced by traditional local art and the experience of staying at the Farm will be complemented by attentive, personalized service from the well-trained staff. You’ll dine on the finest farm-to-table gourmet cuisine, which the chef prepares from-scratch, daily.

Relax in your comfortably appointed room before heading to bed early tonight. You have a very full day on the agenda tomorrow.

March 6 - Ngorongoro Crater

Rise early for a farm-fresh breakfast before you depart around 6am for nearby Ngorongoro Crater. Take a picnic lunch with you from the Farm so you can maximize your time on 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.

Your journey will take you throughout this tremendous landscape that is constantly changing as animals move to and fro in search of pasture, water or easy prey. Before sunset, it is time to depart this Garden of Eden for the comforts of your lodge. Refresh with a hot shower or unwind with an inviting bath before your evening meal. Later tonight you can enjoy the warm glow of your cozy in-room fireplace as you fall to sleep to the sounds of the cracking fire in the background.

March 7 - Ngorongoro Highlands / Serengeti National Park

With a staggering population of birds numbering over 230 species, you will want to take advantage of an early morning wake-up call to enjoy the dawn chorus. As the cool, fresh air of the Highlands fills your lungs, you’ll feel invigorated and rejuvenated, ready for another great day on safari. Later you’ll enjoy a scrumptious breakfast of tropical fruit, steel-cut oats, yoghurt, fresh eggs cooked-to-order, sausage, warm muffins, pancakes, and fresh-brewed Farm-roasted coffee.

Depart after breakfast for the Serengeti. You will make your way around the southern edge of the crater rim, spotting the occasional buffalo along the way. At Olduvai Gorge, make a brief stop at the museum to view some of the incredible finds of Drs. Louis and Mary Leakey.

By late morning, you will arrive at famed Serengeti National Park. The plains seem endless as you meander through the wildlife-rich central and southern Serengeti plains, stopping for a picnic lunch around noon. Arrive at Kusini in time to refresh before dinner. At your luxury, permanent-tented-camp you’ll have fine food, great service and a unique ambiance that highlights the natural environment.

March 8 - Serengeti National Park

Wake up early this morning so you can have a few bites to eat and a hot cup of coffee before departing camp at 6am, when driving can begin in the park. Maximize the light of the early morning and return to camp for a hearty lunch and a brief afternoon repose. Then you’ll head out to explore the plains once again, and to capture the best afternoon light on film. Return to camp before sundown. Enjoy engaging conversation around the crackling night fire this evening.

March 9 - Serengeti National Park

More wildlife viewing is on the agenda today as you explore the fertile Serengeti. You will be looking for warthog, jackal, eland, kudu, reedbuck, baboon, topi, hyena, gerenuk and giraffe. You may also see tightly grouped herds of wildebeest, which often gather together during their prolific calving season. Keep an eye open for newly born calves frolicking on the open plains.

Stop for a picnic lunch at your leisure and later today, after a wealth of opportunities for more wildlife photography, you’ll return to the comforts of your luxury camp. Dinner is sure to be a lively, engaging affair as guests swap stories about all that you saw. Then head to bed for a good rest. Overnight at Kusini Camp.

March 10 - Serengeti National Park

Spanning nearly 6,000 square miles, the Serengeti has even more to offer you today. For a different perspective on the scenery, you will move to a location in the park. Arrive in time for lunch and return to the bush to capture the late afternoon light on film.

This area, called the Seronera Region, is home to more lion than any place on the planet. Keep your eyes peeled, and your cameras at the ready, while you scan the horizon for these big cats on the prowl. Carefully inspect the shadows cast by an acacia tree, where it is not uncommon for lion to be found napping. Peer around a kopje in the hope of finding these big-cats perched atop their favorite lookout point and surveying their territory.

In the Seronera river system that flows through the heart of the park you can spot some of the largest crocodiles in Africa, hippos, kingfishers, egrets, monitor lizards and more. Lion will wait to pounce on unsuspecting grazers that gingerly approach the banks of the river. Wildebeest group closely together to protect newborn calves from unknown threats. The zebra and buffalo that linger nearby share a symbiotic relationship with the wildebeest; each species’ strongest sense (sight, hearing and smell, respectively) serves to alert all nearby animals when a predator is close by. Watch how different species interact and share territory in this greatest of games: survival of the fittest.

Return to your lodge in time for dinner this evening. Afterwards you can relax with friends before returning to your room. With the Milky Way clearly visible from your panoramic verandah, do some star-gazing through your telescope before heading off to bed. Overnight Bilila Lodge Kempenski.

March 11 -  Serengeti National Park

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

For those who do not join the balloon ride this morning you’ll awaken after dawn in the comfort of your room. As you sit comfortably on your verandah with a hot morning drink, you could spot giraffe or zebra grazing in the distance. After breakfast, begin your quest to discover fascinating animal behavior in the park.

Later this morning you’ll all regroup to continue your wildlife viewing before lunch at the lodge. Afterwards you’ll have time to relax with an afternoon repose, or take a dip in your private plunge-pool before returning to the bush for more exploration. Tonight you will have a special boma-style dinner back at the lodge. Overnight Bilila Lodge Kempenski.

March 12 - Serengeti National Park


More wildlife viewing is on the agenda today, your last day in the Serengeti. Head out on the trail in your trusted Land Rovers. Roll down the windows, or stand up to take advantage of the customized roof hatch, feeling the fresh air rush past as you navigate winding paths and secret trails in your pursuit of interesting wildlife sightings. Return to your lodge for lunch and the option to relax here this afternoon or to return to the bush for the rest of the day.

This evening when you return to the lodge, you will have a special dinner in a private dining room. Savor each morsel the expert chef has prepared especially for you while you discuss your experiences and compare notes with your fellow safari-goers. Rest easy, and enjoy your last night on the Serengeti plains.

March 13 - Serengeti / Arusha / Depart

Today you will take a Regional flight* from Seronera to Arusha (50 lb baggage limit). As you visually retrace your route from above, note the change in landscape from the flat plains of the Serengeti to the verdant, rolling hills of the Ngorongoro region. Touch down in Arusha where you can do a bit of shopping before having lunch at Riverhouse. Then you’ll be transferred to your day rooms, which are provided so you can rest and repack before going to the airport for your KLM flight to Amsterdam. A special boxed dinner will be provided this evening.

March 14 - Amsterdam to home

Connect in Amsterdam and arrive back home.


The Cost

The cost of this all-inclusive trip is U.S. $9,990 per person (but not inclusive of 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 in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals. The non refundable deposit for this trip is $2500. Optional hot air balloon is $475 per person.

Accommodations are two person to a room. If you will be traveling alone and would like a private room there will be a supplementary charge of $2700 (very limited availability).

For an additional fee you can choose to have the both the safari *and* your flights to/from Tanzania 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 reserves 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
- Hot air balloon flight of $475
- 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?

Our groups are small, so space is limited. If this exciting trip has your name on it; if you're excited by the thought of becoming a member of this trip, then now is the time to register. Remember, there will be limited space available for this workshop. When they're spoken for, that's it. If you have any questions before registering, send us an e-mail with any inquiries to info@andybiggs.com.