Loved by non-photographers too, our photo tour holidays offer the ultimate, small-group travel experience to the world's most wonderful and unique places - with special access away from the crowds. I love to travel, but I hate being stuck with loads of other people (especially when we've got nothing in common), being taken to the regular, over-crowded tourist attractions or wasting hours in an amazing country just relaxing by some pool. I want to get the most out of my holidays - I want to see as many different animals as I can, I want to travel through different landscapes and be shown hidden gems off the beaten path, I want to experience the culture, taste the food, meet new friends with similar interests, enjoy some luxury and importantly, I want to have the time to take some beautiful and unique photos of it all. This is what we strive for with our photography tours and workshops.
It's not enough for me to spot a distant lion, tick it off and move on - I want to have the option to try and get closer, on the correct side for best lighting and even wait for him to lift his head and stare directly down the barrel of my camera lens for a great photo - or to move on when I'm done - I want flexibility. I want the inside tips for the best photo location to be ready when the sun rises over the horizon and spills across the bay onto those boulders - and if I can't quite get my photo to work, it'd be awesome to have a friendly pro-photographer right there to offer advice (not one who'll stand in front of me to get the best shot themselves!). If there's a seal colony out on an island nearby, then I'd want to charter a boat tour out there just with my friends onboard so we can spend as long or as short as we want to get the photos without being crowded on a regular sight-seeing tour. If the seal colony was a bit of a tourist attraction on a local beach then I'd want to wait for the crowds to leave, and go down onto the beach after hours - just us as a small group, and a private ranger guide to photograph them at our leisure in beautiful evening lighting.
You don't even need to be a photographer to love this style of holiday - who wouldn't like a bit of luxury and a bit of extra patience from their tour leaders, or to be given the opportunity to fly over lakes covered in pink flamingos in Africa in a doors-off plane or over a beautiful coastline in a doors-off helicopter for some epic views? Stay on a private island, learn some new skills with your photography, make some new friends and have an unforgettable, unique holiday - all at the same time! Sound good? Well, there's a reason more than half of our guests come back again, and again on our photo tours!
Absolutely not! We have many non-photographers (and partners of photographers) enjoy our tours! As one guest said "It didn’t matter that I’m not a photographer - I used my iPhone. Just experiencing all these amazing locations at a relaxed pace, in comfort and without the crowds was wonderful!". The expert photography tuition is a bonus - the incredible access to experience the best places in a tiny group is the main thing! If you're traveling to take photos, or just as a holiday - in the end, it's all about seeing as many of the amazing animals as possible, experiencing the local food and culture, admiring the landscapes, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the whole unforgettable experience with a small group of friends. Whether or not you put a camera in front of your face doesn't really change this. We've had many non-photographers come on our tour, enjoying just spotting animals, identifying them, or watching their behaviour and by the end of the trip many of them do start picking up a camera (or borrowing one of ours) and start getting excited about photography too! Some have later gone on to become full-on photographers, to the delight of their partners! Either way, they have a ball and often come away with us again and again.
Most photography guests are beginner to keen-enthusiast level - so no need to stress that your photography may not be good enough - the whole point is to improve your photography, no matter what your level! Our tours are enjoyed by everyone from non-photographers, iPhone and happy-snap photographers right up to serious professionals. We start each tour with a quick photography crash-course, and our expert photography guides are there to help you throughout the whole tour. There is no better way to improve your photography than spending a solid week or two practicing, surrounded by amazingly inspiring subjects, with a small, friendly group of like-minded people. You will be amazed how much your photography will improve. We're there to offer as much or as little assistance as you'd like, at whatever level of complexity you're ready for.
The level of physical activity varies for each of our tours (check the dropdown for each specific tour), however none involve strenuous hiking or anything like that. In Kenya, for example, the hardest thing you'll have to do is walk to and from your tour vehicle mostly, other destinations involve things like optional snorkelling, or may include short walks or humid conditions. We've had 83 year old guests, guests with bad knees and even heart-conditions do even what we consider our most strenuous tours, so rest assured the tour you're looking at is very likely achievable. If you're concerned, just ask us. The tour information booklet we provide for each tour gives a clearer indication of what's involved for each destination. We're very mindful of the abilities of our guests and can always provide less demanding alternatives for those wishing a break.
For each of our tours, we've carefully prepared a detailed information booklet covering everything including our recommendations for what kind of clothes to bring, what type of power plug, what currency, what the climate is like, language tips and plenty of other information to help answer all your questions! We'll send you a copy of this information booklet when you book, or you can email us for one in advance. As for what kind of camera gear is best, whatever you have is fine, but if you've got too much and need help deciding what to bring and what to leave behind, or if you have a bit of money you could spend on getting something really perfect for the trip, please just contact us and we can certainly help you out with what's ideal for each particular tour!
Fear not - more than half of our tour guests travel solo. To help you make friends before you even leave and to be reassured and aided by the advice of your fellow-travellers (and those who have gone before you), we've created an interactive Facebook group for our CBP Voyager Club members (that's anyone who's been on, or is going on any of our tours, which also gives them 5-10% OFF any future tours!). You can find out who's coming from your area, perhaps even meet up beforehand or fly together. This is a great resource and we encourage you to make the most of it if you're on Facebook! Anyone can read the CBP Voyager Club Facebook page, but you can only interact once you've paid your deposit.
And do not worry that most accommodation is twin-share - we're good at pairing you up with a roomie who you'll get along with - it has been the start of long-term friendships for many! We can't guarantee that we'll always be able to have you sharing with someone of the same sex - it depends on the gender split, but we do our best. You can request to purchase a single supplement (a room to yourself) if you really need to (subject to availability) though keep in mind that you're usually only in your rooms to sleep as we fill your waking hours with plenty to do, and the couple of occasions we have had guests request rooms to themselves, they end up regretting it when they see the amazing friendships that form between the other roomies.
Of course we can - even in places like Kenya we've successfully catered for vegan, gluten-free, lactose-intolerant and vegetarian guests, and all have had a wonderful tour.
Rest assured that we do not travel through any of the major danger hot-spots like those highly warned against in travel advisory boards etc. For example, in Kenya, we do not even pass through downtown Nairobi and we operate completely away from the coast / Mombasa region and the Somali border. The fact that we like to take you to the more tranquil, less-touristy places on our tours conveniently means we only ever spend minimal time in busy, built up areas or large tourist attractions where thieves or terrorists might target - most of the places we stay at are quite rural and private, and you'll quickly feel right at home & safe.
Our cancelation policies are in line with other leading tourism operators, and you can read all about them here in our Booking Terms and Conditions. We are proud to employ industry best-practices.
The Voyager Club is our photo tour loyalty program! As our photo tours apparently can be very addictive (we've had guests come to more than half a dozen of our tours!), we created the Chris Bray Photography Voyager Club, giving repeat guests 5% OFF future tours with automatic Silver Membership, and then 10% OFF as Gold Members after their fifth tour with us.
Either click the 'Book Now' button above and fill in your details, or simply contact us and let us know which tour you're keen to join us on, and we'll send you a deposit invoice to secure your spot, along with the tour information booklet and our Booking Terms and Conditions.
The tour doesn't start until tomorrow morning, but we've included tonight's accomodation for you at 'The Weston' hotel in the quiet outskirts of Nairobi.
Our Kenya photo tour officially starts when we meet after breakfast at the Weston Hotel's conference room for a meet & greet, and a quick photography refresher course. Then we'll transfer you to Wilson Airport (near the international airport), and board our 45-minute flight to the legendary Maasai Mara! We land and head to the nearby 'Mara Ngenche Safari Camp' - our luxurious home for the next five unforgettable nights (see their website!). In a spectacular location in the heart of the Maasai Mara lies this small, intimate, luxurious and elegant camp. Well hidden in the beautiful greenery of riverine forest, each spacious tent is equipped with its own private plunge pool and offers panoramic views over the confluence of the Mara and Talek Rivers, a section that is always busy with hippos and crocodiles. After lunch, we won't be able to contain our excitement anymore and before you know it we'll be in our two extended, pop-top land cruisers with our cameras at the ready as our world-class driver guides take us out on our first of many unforgettable game drives throughout this wildlife mecca.
By evening, you'll be on such an incredible, buzzing high that, despite your comfy 4-poster bed, sleep won't be an option! So instead, as soon as you've set your cameras to download and charge, we'll gather and unwind at the picturesque bar tent to enjoy a sundowner cocktail or Tusker beer in front of a blazing campfire under the African stars before our gourmet dinner. All the meals here are freshly prepared by the camp's head chef from their fantastic a'la carte menu.
As you wander sleepily back to your tent, let the steward know what time you would like your wake up call and be sure to keep an eye out, as being an unfenced camp right inside the reserve, wildlife can and will wander right though! Fear not, however, as there are Maasai warriors on hand to perpetually ensure your safety, day and night!
The Masai Mara is world famous for its exceptional population of lions (BBC's 'Big Cat Diary' was filmed here, in fact our driver John was involved), leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, hunting dogs and other predators which follow the epic annual migration of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle to and from the Serengeti at this time of year which we have come specifically to witness and photograph. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 500,000 Thomson's gazelles, 200,000 zebras, 97,000 topi and 18,000 elands. All members of the "Big Five" (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) are also found in The Mara, along with other cats like the Serval and Caracal, large and beautiful Topi antelope, and 470 species of birds. I hope you all brought enough spare memory cards, because the density of wildlife has to be seen to be believed!
During these five days in The Mara, we'll explore around a fair bit, and chase many different photographs, but if we're lucky and the animals cooperate, we'll get the chance to hunker down beside the mighty Mara River and watch the thousands of wildebeest and zebra firstly congregating on the banks and then bravely plunging wide-eyed into the rushing water and striking out for the far side, while enormous Nile crocodiles (the biggest on Earth) lie in wait. While perhaps not for the faint-hearted, if we're lucky enough to see this mighty struggle of nature, it will present you with some astounding photo opportunities, and an experience you'll remember for the rest of your life.
This year we're also including an amazing hot-air balloon flight at sunrise one morning up over the Mara - a truly magical experience you'll never forget, followed by a champagne breakfast!
We're shaking things up a little today, and after breaky we have a real treat in store for you! We have charted a 12 seater plane to fly us from the Maasai Mara airstrip direct to a little known treasure: Lake Baringo. The flight will take about 1 hr and on the way make sure to keep an eye out for the breath-taking Rift Valley as it drops away beneath us, dotted with Maasai villages, amazing craters and herds of wildlife. But wait - there's more! Have you seen the movie 'Out of Africa' where Robert Redford and Meryl Streep fly over a lake carpeted with millions of pink flamingos? Well that's going to be us!
Once we disembark the transfer flight and enjoy a refreshment, a smaller plane will fly in to meet us at Lake Baringo, and we'll take the doors off so you can feel the wind in your hair and enjoy amazing open-side view for photography as the plane flies over the flocks of both Greater and Lesser flamingos on the nearby Lake Bogoria. Who knows, you might even take a photo or two (thousand)! Unforgettable! Guests have literally stepped off this flight and said "That is the best thing I have ever done in my whole life!". When the adrenaline wears off we'll board a boat and head off to our private island and unwind in in our luxurious accommodation, the 'Samatian Island Lodge' located on a remote island in the middle of Lake Baringo. Spot amazing birdlife (sea eagles, kingfishers, sunbirds, hornbills and more), a Nile crocodile or even a hippopotamus.
We'll all enjoy a well-deserved relaxing afternoon off, going through your photos with a tusker or coffee while sitting out on the panoramic dining terrace! Come dinner, you'll probably find that for an 'afternoon-off' you've still managed to take a huge number of photos, and there'll be plenty to chat about, before filling your belly with an amazing dinner prepared by our own private chef.
Yet another amazing experience! After downing a pre-dawn tea/coffee (they taste the best!) we'll climb aboard our waiting boats for a fantastic three hour boat tour out onto Lake Baringo! By the time the brilliant orange orb of the rising sun splashes its warmth across the lake, we'll already be nosing in and out of the reed-beds, framing up stunning photos of all-manner of birdlife skillfully identified by our local guides. Majestic Goliath Herons, diving kingfishers, stalking egrets, colourful darting Bee-eaters, Egyptian Geese, Hammerkops, Weaverbirds and more. In fact, Lake Baringo holds the world record for the most species of birds seen in one day - over 300! The best is yet to come, though, and after bartering some fish from locals out fishing on their astoundingly simple (and picturesque) balsa-wood rafts, our guides will then whistle loudly and chuck the fish into the water beside our boats. Switch your camera to rapid-fire, focus on the bobbing fish, and I'll count you in: Three... two... one... NOW! An enormous African Fish eagle will swoop down right beside us, talons extended, and snatch the fish from the water! You can imagine the photos. It's hard to get that exact moment though, so in between dodging yawning hippos and fields of lily pads with dragon flies as we explore the lake, we'll be sure to coax down several more Fish eagles for you to nail that perfect shot. Back on shore, you'll be more than ready to enjoy a hearty breakfast including omelettes, fresh fruit, cereal etc. The day is yours to relax and enjoy - or download and start culling your photos with a cold beer before another wonderful lakeside evening meal. We'll also fit in some 1-on-1 sessions to help you with your photography, and anyone who's keen for a swim in the lake can join me.
Because I know you'll all be secretly jealous of each others' fish eagle shots, we'll wake up pre-dawn and head back on the boats again for a couple more hours of birding (so you can attempt to better their shot)! After another wonderful breaky, we'll hit the road and actually head in to the remote Lake Bogoria (the flamingo lake we flew over) but this time by road, so we can photograph the flamingos on foot! It's quite amazing to experience the sheer numbers of these flamboyant birds up close! After lunch nearby, we'll drive onwards to our Kenyan home away from home - 'Rhino Watch Safari Lodge' - where we'll enjoy the next two nights in this family-owned and run luxury hideaway. We'll arrive at Rhino Watch in time to check in, and enjoy a delicious dinner. As we're up higher now, at the foot of the snow-capped Mount Kenya which is clearly visible from your 'chalet', it can get a little chilly - but of course they'll look after us here, even slipping a hot water bottle between your sheets ready for you as you finish dinner. It's good to be 'home'.
The problem with 'optional rest-days', or saying that you can 'skip a game drive if you like if you're feeling tired' is that everyone always dreads the photos they might miss out on, and so they come along anyway. There's no denying it though, what with all the early starts and the evenings that are just too pleasant under the stars to go in to bed (even if we're not trying to lure you out for some late night star-trail photos or painting with light), you'll all really enjoy today immensely, because today is a holiday (within a holiday). We'll have our delicious breakfast wonderfully late and spend a beautifully lazy morning enjoying the sun, flicking through your photos, or photographing the gardens (keep an eye out for those elusive chameleons!). After breakfast we'll set up a projector and have a look at the photo organising software Adobe Lightroom and how you can use this program to get the most out of your photos. We'll make a visit to a local school or orphanage which is always a delightful opportunity to be touched by the student's smiles and optimism, and a chance to give back to the community and the kids who will in turn be the custodians of this wonderful land. We'll have pre-bought boxes and boxes of crucial school supplies to hand out, including exercise books, pens, math sets, feminine hygiene items and more. It's wonderful, and we look forward to this every tour.
After enjoying lunch served out on the wooden deck gazing at Mount Kenya, this afternoon we'll find an opportunity to sit down with each of you individually for a 1-on-1 session.
Time to say goodbye to our friends at Rhino Watch (for the time being) and head onwards to our next location for this tour - the wonderful Samburu National Reserve! On the way, we'll stop at an amazing little roadside garden for what seems just like a toilet stop, but if you look closely at the plants, you may start to spot some chameleons!!! This is actually quite a highlight, and we'll find a bunch of them, and they are so relaxed you can even let them walk on your hands, and offer them up to any flies you see and their independently wandering eyes will then both lock forwards onto the fly and then... thwack! The impossibly long tongue will fire out and grab the fly! So amazing! The novelty will never ware off, but eventually I'll need to drag you away to continue the drive to our favourite accommodation in the whole of Kenya, the very luxurious 'Elephant Bedrooms'. After the stewards pass you a damp cloth to wipe your brow, and a glass of chilled, fresh fruit juice to quench your thirst, we'll then listen to the usual warnings of how elephants and other animals frequently wander right through and around camp (and the new discovery that the resident monkeys can now unzip tents and so you must use the provided padlocks!), you'll be escorted to your 'tent' (and I use that term in the loosest way possible, as you'll see when you look at Elephant's Bedroom's website!) to quickly unpack and hasten back to the shaded outdoor tables on the riverbank for an amazing three course lunch.
When the heat of midday subsides a little after lunch and the animals start to emerge, (and after you've emerged from the personal, refreshing plunge pool out the front of your 'tent'), we'll head out for an afternoon's game drive, crisscrossing Samburu's diverse and animal-filled landscapes in the search for yet more photographs. We'll have pre-organised special off-road filming permits for our vehicles, so nothing can stop us positioning ourselves in the very best spot possible for amazing close-up photos!
In addition to the uniquely forked Doum Palms decorating the area, there's some quite unique animals here too, and we should be able to find plenty of tiny little Dik-dik's (the smallest antelope), hornbills, the very elegant oryx, the finer-stripped Gravy's zebra, lion, cheetah, and perhaps even a leopard. The graceful Impala are more laid-back here too, and should allow us some more close-up and creative shots. Again, by staying at accommodation located inside the park, we are in the privileged position of being able to stay out shooting even while the sun's red orb sinks below the horizon, perhaps even capturing the 'money-shot' of a silhouetted elephant or giraffe against the sunset.
After sticking your camera on charge and downloading your day's spoils, come and join us for a relaxing drink on the verandah, before our four-course, candle-lit gourmet dinner under the African sky.
We'll be up before sunrise to grab a quick tea or coffee and a biscuit before heading off into the ever fading blackness, trying to find ourselves that picturesque, classic African 'flat topped acacia tree' with plenty of weaver bird nests hanging underneath, to silhouette against the sun as it pops over the horizon. Once we've got that in the bag, we'll cruise around the park seeking out yet more photo opportunities, hopefully involving some big cats if we're lucky, and then we'll be back for a late, gourmet breaky at Elephant Bedrooms.
We know you're all keen to take a look at your images from the last few days so after your late breakfast feel free to take it easy, relax by your plunge pool or at the communal lunge area, grab a cool drink and flick through your photos. Keep your camera handy an eye on the river outside your tent though, as elephants often wander right on down for a drink. We'll meet together again for a scrumptious lunch before heading back out for an afternoon game drive
Be sure to have your animal photo check-lists handy to tick off those elusive shots this afternoon. A Greater Kudu perhaps (a huge and magnificent antelope), or maybe the electric-blue vulturine guinneafoul or ververt monkey? Or maybe you're still seeking that to-die-for shot - a leopard in a tree? There'll still be plenty of elephants and probably some lions and cheetahs about too, because let's face it, you'll never have enough photos of them either! Go nuts! In the evening we'll head back to our luxurious Elephant Bedrooms and chill out with a 'hard-earned' drink and an amazing dinner.
Coaxed awake by your delivery of tea or coffee with biscuits to assist your gentle transition into another glorious morning in one of Kenya's most famous parks, we'll squeeze in one last early morning game drive around Samburu. You may think you've seen it all by now, but trust me, there's always more to discover, and you never know what you might find around every corner. A pride of lions on a kill? A flock of electric-blue vulturine guinea fowls? A huge bull elephant standing in the middle of the road, his huge great tusks almost dragging on the ground as he shakes his head defiantly at us? Even if you've seen it before, there's always a better photo you could take!
We'll be back to enjoy one last gourmet breakfast here before collecting our bags and farewelling Elephant Bedrooms camp to journey back to our Kenyan 'home away from home', the wonderful Rhino Watch Safari Lodge. Plus, today we're in for some African culture! En route we'll be exclusively welcomed into a traditional maasai/samburu village where the chief will explain their culture, walk us through their huts, show us how to start a fire by rubbing sticks, put on a cultural performance for us and more. Feel free to take as many photos as you want, if you have any memory space left to photograph it that is!
Arriving back at Rhino Watch this afternoon for a cold tusker or cocktail at the bar, after freshening up in your homely chelet, will be the perfect way to end the day. Have a go capturing another star trail after our gourmet dinner tonight, or just cozy into bed with your hot water bottle in preparation for our last day of game drives tomorrow!
The privately owned 'Solio Ranch' just down the road is becoming increasingly off-limits, as it's primarily dedicated to the protection and breeding of the very rare black rhinos, so we're very lucky to still be able to enter the conservancy for a full day's game drive today. After stumbling down to the restaurant before dawn to indulge in another delicious breaky consisting of fresh fruit, juices, freshly baked pastries, eggs - even omelettes to your liking - we'll load into our vehicles and head over to Solio to be ready and waiting at the gates when they open them for us. Considering it's our last day of game drives, we're keen to maximise our stay inside this wonderfully diverse reserve, especially in that golden morning lighting! There is of course every chance of bumping into almost any animal around every corner here, so stay alert! Aside from the endangered black rhino, there's a good chance of bumping into any of the big cats including lions, leopards and even cheetahs (my favourite), and various antelope, giraffes, vultures, zebras etc will of course spatter the landscape too! There's also plenty of birdlife including birds of prey, large herds of impala, troops of baboons, monkeys, giraffe - you name it. Solio's a great park to finish on because it's largely off the 'tourist trail' - we can go all day without passing another vehicle! Our expert guides, who can spot things like you wouldn't believe, will point out some incredible photo opportunities!
After a full day of game driving, we'll return to Rhino Watch and there'll be time for a shower and a quick chill-out before we gather for a celebratory last dinner together, remembering all the amazing things we've seen, and trying to decide which is your favourite photo.
That's it folks! Thank you so much for coming and sharing this experience with your new group of friends! After one last amazing breaky at the beautiful Rhino Watch, we'll provide airport transfers for each of you. It's about a 4 hour drive back to Nairobi, so make sure you book an afternoon flight home (departing after 2pm) in order to enjoy a leisurely breakfast together. Before you know it, you'll be jetting back home, back to the real world that has been so far away for the last fourteen unforgettable days. Make sure you stick a giant photo on the wall back home, so that every time you walk past it you'll immediately be transported back here to Africa, to re-live the magic of the great African migration.
IMPORTANT - Ensure you have read our Tour Booking Conditions prior to booking. The document covers everything from your rights, inclusions and payment schedule, to our cancellation policy and extent of liability.
All our photo tours are subject to minimum numbers. Please ensure you have read our tour booking conditions for our cancellation policy (above).
All meals are provided, however beverages must be purchased at your own expense. Bottled drinking water will be provided for free during game drives.
There won't be any strenuous hiking, but a reasonable level of mobility will be required, to climb into the light plane, to get in and out of our safari vehicles etc - if you're concerned, you do not need to come on the few short walks we do. Remember, you do not have to be able to out-run a lion - you merely have to be able to out run someone else in our group. j/k. This is one of our least strenuous safaris.
This is Africa we're going to - there may be occasional power outages, some of the roads are bumpy and pot-holed, and toilets that we pass along the way are not always going to be classy! It's all part of the experience though, and I'm sure you'll survive. (The bathrooms - as with everything else - at all our accommodation venues, are wonderful!)
After you book, we will email you an extensive information document telling you everything you need to know from what camera gear to bring, to mozzie protection, currency information, mobile reception etc.
Price does not include flights from your hometown to Nairobi, (Kenya's capital), nor your return flight back home. However, if you book early, flights from Sydney to Nairobi can cost around $2,200 return. We have our own travel agent who is more than happy to help answer all your questions and help you find and book the best flights, travel insurance etc.
Price does not include accommodation for the night before the kenya tour starts - we meet at the Windsor Golf and Country Club in the morning and we highly recommend this as a great place to stay the previous night.
Price does not include the optional hot air balloon flight over the Mara, because at $500 USD per person it's not cheap, and some people may prefer to do a morning game drive instead. If you'd like to go up, let us know in advance, and it is of course weather permitting.
We do not loan out our own camera equipment for this Kenya tour.
Park entry fees and game drives are included in the price.
You'll require a Tourist Visa to enter Kenya for this tour. These are easy to obtain and are valid for 3 months. You will also need a valid passport, with at least 6 months left on it before it expires, and at least two empty pages within.
A non-refundable, non-transferable $1,000 booking deposit is required.