Join us for the adventure of a lifetime to photograph Africa’s amazing wildlife and landscapes!
November 4 – 15, 2019
We’ll be photographing Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park, and Lake Manyara while staying at private luxury tent camps throughout Northern Tanzania. We travel with private Land Cruisers, professional wildlife guides, catered meals and excellent accommodations all hand-picked by your guide, Mike Hagen. We are limiting the size to 12 participants and this number includes your tour leader.
One of the best aspects of this trip is that we photograph with only three passengers per vehicle. This allows each person to utilize an entire row, with one seat for their camera gear and the other seat for photography. There will be plenty of room to move around and everyone will have excellent access to all photo opportunities.
This is a trip for photographers, designed by a professional photographer. Your tour leader, Mike Hagen, works exceedingly hard to help put you in the right spot at the right time to create images you’ll be proud to hang on your wall. Mike has been running photo tours in Tanzania since 2008 and has selected the very best guides and lodges to make your experience amazing. Many of our camps are inside the National Park areas, so we literally have wildlife all around us. Staying in the parks means that we cut down on travel times and we can begin our game drives immediately.
Each day, we’ll be waking up in the early morning hours to take sunrise photos and then staying in the bush late for sunset photos. The goal is perfect light and great images so all decisions we make are around optimizing your photography experience. During the mid afternoon, we’ll take a rest for picnic lunches in the bush or we’ll head to our camp for a brief siesta. Each evening, we’ll return to our luxury tented camps for an unbelievable meal cooked just for us by our private chefs.
Trip Cost – $12,400
The cost of the Tanzania Wildlife Photo Safari is estimated at $12,400 per person for double occupancy. $1,000 non-refundable deposit is due at sign up. Deposit payments may be made by credit card. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover cards and PayPal. You can pay for the $1,000 non-refundable deposit by clicking on the “Buy Now” button on this page to secure your place.
Remaining $11,400 to be paid as soon as possible. The latest date to pay the $11,400 remainder is 180 days prior to departure. If final payment is not received when due, we reserve the right to treat your reservation as canceled and will offer your seat to the next person on the waiting list. This $11,400 payment must be paid via bank transfer (wire transfer) or via bank check. Bank information will be forwarded to all those who have paid the initial deposit.
Single Supplement = $1,500
All trip fees are quoted in US dollars and must be paid in US dollars.
Hotels & Lodging
Nov 4– Arusha Coffee Lodge, Arusha
Nov 5– Maramboi Lodge, Tarangire NP and Lake Manyara NP
Nov 7– Lion’s Paw, Ngorongoro Crater
Nov 9– Sametu Camp, Serengeti NP
Nov 12– River Camp, Serengeti NP
Nov 15 – Arusha Coffee Lodge, Arusha
Official arrival. VIP transfer to hotel in Arusha. Dinner & overnight.
November 5 – 6 – Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park is often referred to as the “Baobab Capital of the World.” I like to think of Tarangire as the elephant capital of Tanzania. The park is one of Tanzania’s larger parks with over 1,100 square miles in size. Tarangire is renowned for its wild landscapes and diverse habitats. The Tarangire River, from which the park derives its name, is the only permanent water source within 1,600 square miles of protected wildlife area.
In addition to numerous animals, the park has over 550 recorded species of birds and has the highest recorded number of breeding bird species of any habitat in the world. Tarangire is most famous for its elephants. There are 3,000 resident elephants in the park during the green season (Nov-May) and another 3,500 individuals migrate into the park during the dry season ( July-Oct). Elephants can begin to migrate into Tarangire as early as May and June as they follow the long rains and love the tall swamp grass found in Tarangire National Park and especially in the swamps.
Elephant watching is excellent in Tarangire all year round as is bird watching as well. During the dry season, herd animals of all kinds (elephants, wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and antelopes) migrate from the surrounding areas for the water found inside the park. Tarangire is home to the greatest concentration of wildlife outside of the Serengeti eco-System.
During the dry season, giant rock pythons leave the swamp areas to avoid being stepped on by herd animals and live in the trees on the edge of the swamp. These are amazing creatures and some of the most unusual wildlife viewing is of rock pythons killing large animals of all kinds! Tarangire is also home to the last remaining pack of wild dogs in northern Tanzania. They remain an extremely elusive find, but in the last few years one pack has been breeding successfully and has been seen in the Silale and Gursi Swamp areas of the park.
November 7-8 – Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater is the jewel located within the larger Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The NCA was the world’s first multi-purpose land use area with the goal to host not only tourism, research and conservation efforts, but also to allow local pastoralists access to ancestral grazing land and to protect explore archeological sites for early hominid discoveries.
Within this large area, defined as from the Ngorongoro Forest in the Karatu region all the way to the Serengeti, lies Ngorongoro Crater – one of seven World Heritage Sites designated in Tanzania and the world’s largest intact and unflooded caldera. This means the entire rim of the old volcano is intact. The Crater is only 12 miles wide and 100 square miles in total with the floor at an elevation of 5,600 feet and the rim of the Crater walls reaching another 2,000 feet in elevation.
The Crater floor provides six distinct habitats: acacia forest, swamp, short -grass, long grass, riverine and woodland. Each habitat attracts a variety of animals. The Crater is home to almost 30,000 animals in an area naturally enclosed by the slopes of the volcano. Despite the high walls of the Crater, approximately 20% of the herd animals do migrate in and out. However, the lion population remains rather steady between 55-65 individuals. The lions of the Crater lack genetic diversity because new males do not venture down in the Crater to challenge the males of these in-bred prides.
Ngorongoro Crater boasts the highest density of hyena in any location in Africa. The Crater is one of the best locations for viewing black rhino and the huge old bull elephants. There is not enough vegetation or shade to support the large cow and calf herds, but the old males “retire” to the Crater for the wonderful swamp grass and acacia forest.
The only animals you will not see in the Crater are the impala and giraffe. It is not known why impala do not inhabit the Crater, but giraffe are unable to descend the steep grade without lowering their heads, which raises their blood pressure to dangerous levels. Birding in the Crater is a delight, with over 500 recorded species and an ease in exploring different habitats all within rather close range of each other. Look for the golden-winged and Tacazze sunbirds, Rufous-tailed weaver, Jackson’s widow bird and pallid harrier, as well as the grey-crested Helmut shrike and the beautiful crowned cranes.
November 9 – Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Gol Kopjes (Serengeti)
After a morning game drive in Ngorongoro Crater, we head out towards Serengeti National Park. Along the way, we stop at historic Olduvai Gorge for a history lesson on this famous and important paleoanthropological site.
In the afternoon, we go on a game drive through the Gol Kopjes looking for cats such as lion, leopard and cheetah.
November 10-11 – Central Serengeti
November 12-14 – Northern Serengeti
Recognized as a World Heritage Site, Serengeti NP is one of the most famous wildlife areas in the world and is considered the world’s oldest protected eco-system. Serengeti National Park, as we know it today, was gazetted in 1951, but a smaller area first received protection between 1921-29 by the British to prevent decimation of the lion population from hunting.
The park itself is 5,700 square miles, but the more extensive Serengeti eco-system is over 9,600 square miles of protected land from Ngorongoro all the way to Loliondo and Kenya (the smaller Maasai Mara) and including the Maswa Game Reserve on the southern boundary of the park.
The Serengeti is the largest national park in Tanzania, with a staggering animal population of almost four million and 523 recorded species of birds! It is the largest wildlife sanctuary in the world and the site of one of the most breathtaking events in animal kingdom-the migration of more than 1.5 million wildebeest and another 400,000 zebra.
The area consists of treeless central plain, savannah dotted with acacia and granite outcroppings called kopjes, and riverine bush and forest in the north. The park’s name is derived from the Maasai language “SIRINGET” which means endless plains. The famous “Migration” that people dream to experience, is actually a dynamic process taking a full year to complete. There are different ‘events’ that happen during the year and in different locations in this park.
There are two primary “seasons” in the Serengeti. They are the green season and the dry season. During the green season (November-June), there are short periods of rain usually at night and in the late afternoon. During this time, the wildebeest and zebra herds leave the northern part of the Serengeti and travel east and south into the short grass plain of the central, southern and eastern Serengeti. The herd traditionally splits into two distinct migratory routes, with pregnant females and dominant males moving directly south, through the Seronera area and onward to the short-grass plains of the southern Serengeti.
The bachelor males move easterly around the Gol Mountains and then south through the Gol Pass, the Gol Kopjes and onto the southern plains. The female wildebeest need to be in this area to begin the calving, as they rely on this particular kind of grass for calving and milk production, that is high in calcium, potassium and magnesium. Wildebeest calving can begin anytime between January-March. More than 750,000 females will drop their calves within a 3-week period of time, so predator/prey activity is at a peak.
The short grass plains also offer some of the best protection against predators, as they are more visible to the herd animals. Herd animals will remain in this area as long as there is decent rain that continues in the following months, although they only need short bursts of rain to be happy.
The wildebeest rut, or re-breeding of the herd, usually begins near the full moon in April and last through the month of May and sometimes into June depending upon when the rut began. At this time the herd usually begins to move to the Central Serengeti but will travel large distances still following the best grazing and water. These are some of the most amazing herd sightings, as the male and females herd reunite for breeding.
The herd movement continues both west and north between May usually to the end of July. At this point, the herd disperses a bit and males without females may migrate directly north to the Mara and some may move to the famous Western Corridor and remain year round in the Serengeti. During the dry season (July-Oct), we recommend significant time in the northern Serengeti to have the opportunity to witness river crossings.
The majority of the wildebeest and zebra herds (65%) remain in the Serengeti all year round and often are seen in the areas of Lobo Valley, Bologonja and Kogatende, where grazing remains excellent. Herds now cross over the Mara River multiple times during the dry season and remain in the area until the short rains signal it is time to move onward.
The area of the central Serengeti is a location to be enjoyed all year round, because of the large cat populations. Cats do not migrate with the herds, so during the dry season they are actually more actively searching for dwindling food sources. The Serengeti has the largest population of lions (3,200) inn all of Africa, primarily due to the abundance of food.
November 15 – Return to Arusha
Final game drive. Fly back to Arusha from Northern Serengeti. Lunch, shopping and Dayroom at hotel. Transfer to JRO in evening for departure flights.
Should You Come?
Yes! We have designed our Tanzania wildlife photo safari to cater to photographers and their spouses/partners/friends. It is very common for two people to travel together on our trips with one being an avid photographer and the other along to enjoy the splendor of the country.
We welcome photographers of all levels and all camera types on our trips. Mike Hagen is a very patient teacher and loves working shooters of all skill levels. He shoots Nikon, but is skilled at camera systems from other manufacturers such as Canon, Sony, Fuji, and Olympus.
We focus our time on photographing in the field. Therefore, we’ll spend the majority of our time during daylight hours making pictures. There will be some time each evening to review photographs and do some limited classroom work, but most of the learning will be accomplished while in the field shooting pictures.
What to Bring
Please email Mike Hagen for more information mike @ VisAdventures.com. He will send you a detailed description of gear, clothing, luggage, documents, vaccinations, etc.
This price includes almost everything once you arrive in Africa such as ground transportation, airport transfers, prepaid Tourist Visa, all meals, water, lodging (double room occupancy), Land cruisers, guides, in-country airfare, etc. Price does not generally include alcoholic drinks or bottled drinks at dinners.
It does not include your airfare to/from Africa. You’ll need to arrange this on your own, however our outfitter recommends flying KLM via Amsterdam (AMS). Our destination airport in Africa will be Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) and this is where the safari begins on the evening of 11/4/18 and ends on 11/15/18.
Additionally, the price does not include costs associated with getting your passport, medical vaccinations, gratuities or drinks at lodges.