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69 Reviews

  • Reviewed July 2015
    Mark Ellison

    This ain't your usual safari...

    Where do I begin... if your objective is to come home with some gorgeous photographs of truly wild animals in one of the finest wilderness areas on the planet, this is the trip for you. But be under no illusion, it's hard work. If you're looking forward to your nutmeg pancakes (Paul's breakfast insult of choice, it seems!) before a leisurely morning, look elsewhere. If you want to be in the right place, right time, this is it. Lion cubs a-plenty, cheetah family at play - and on the hunt, a close encounter with a leopard, this had it all. And when we were back at camp, we couldn't have been in greater luxury.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Many, many moments, but it has to be having a leopard walking directly towards me before sitting down right next to our back wheel. I don't think I breathed for about 5 minutes. Lion cub calling for it's mother, cheetah chase and kill...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Paul Goldstein. Crikey. I'm not sure there's anyone quite like him. I've never met a more hard working, enthusiastic and passionate photographer. The times when it's your turn in a vehicle with him are hard work, and you can feel drained at the end of it but he'll stop at nothing to get in the right place. You'll be shouted at and put under pressure but the trick is to cut through all that to what's important. Watch what he's doing, how he's lining up shots, ask him what he's trying to do etc and learn from being in his presence.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Mainly practical stuff here I think. Firstly, cameras - know yours inside out before you go. Understand how to fluidly change settings and how that affects exposure, focus etc. Be ready to quickly change lenses. Paul seems to have an ability to think a number of photos in advance and it can be hard to keep up, but it's great if can try. And if you've not got a big white lens - hire one. Unless of course you're a Nikon shooter, in which case good luck with Paul! If you're taking a big camera bag with all your kit in, take a small shoulder bag or similar. With 3 or 4 people per vehicle and lots of big lenses, there's not a lot of space to move big bags around. Decant what you need for a drive (batteries, cards, sun cream, water, smaller lenses etc) into a little bag and leave your big bag in your tent. Laundry - go light. Daily laundry service, so you literally only need 2 or 3 changes. Take warm fleece for mornings but it gets hot in the day - shorts, sandals etc are the way to go. Luggage - don't stress over the weight limit. This may of course change, but for me, I was about 5-7 kilos over and both international and internal flights - never checked, no problems.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a very expensive trip, so think carefully if it's for you, and read the reviews on here. If you're passionate about wildlife photography, and want the best opportunities to get amazing pictures with the best guides in the Mara, with a camp site that'll do 5-star meals every night and look after your every need, this is it. But it's not for the timid!
  • Reviewed July 2015
    Robert Ordidge

    Photographic Safari Masai Mara June 2015

    This photographic safari was lead by Paul Goldstein who is a well known and highly rated wildlife photographer. The Masai Mara is a very special area in Kenya to go to in order to photograph wildlife in their own environment. The days start before daylight and end after darkness descends.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    On this trip there were many such moments from following a family of lions. watching a cheetah and family of four adolescent cubs servive against hyenas and other scavengers and a magnificant male leopard hunting. More relaxing times were spent with a herd elephants. The most important point to remember is that things change rapidly, no two days were the same and you do not know what is round the corner. Even the changing weather gave opportunities to photograph some really moody skies and sunsets.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Paul Goldstein will not be everyones cup of tea, but no one can deny his enthusiasm and drive in order to get you to where the the animals are and to give you every chance to observe and photograph them.There is time in the evenings to evaluate and discuss each others photos and to learn from each other. He and his drivers seem to instinctively know where to start looking and can "read" the signs.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The days are long and sometimes tiring, spending time in 4x4's over rough terrain. . This was my second trip and I would go again. To get the most out of this trip you do need to know how your camera works and how to change the settings quickly for often you have to be instinctive. Long lenses will be needed so consider hiring if you lenses are not powerful enough.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Accomodation and food were first class. Every one at the camp went out of their way to look after us and even learned everones name on the first day. Everything went smoothly to plan and we all got on well with each other.
  • Reviewed July 2015
    Andrew Barnes

    Non Stop Photographic Safari - Awesome Expeirience

    This was not my first trip with Paul but my first safari and it was absolutely brilliant, the Mara North camp is ideally located in the conservancy, it was clean, comfortable, great food, the service was second to none and the guides never let us down finding the animals - including all the cats up trees! Their knowledge of the animals and the conservancy and Mara Reserve are unbelievable,

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So much happened - Cheetahs hunting, baby elephants fooling around, a lioness stuck up a tree, but it has to be watching a Leopard hunting & then failing to grab its evening warthog meal

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Paul - watch, follow and learn - he will always get you to the best locations, never stops trying to find more, gives 100% ,leads from the front, and of course very direct with his comments/advice, always look at his pics at the end of the day when he shows them and learn - they are pretty damn good ! He is always great entertainment, if there is down time be prepared for a quiz or two, and some jokes !!!!!!!! Essential you take a laptop on his trips as he likes to see and critique your images, I didn't on this trip - a big mistake as I was 'politely' reminded on several occasions ! Also went out his way one morning at 4:00am to take us 'Milky Way' Gazing, even found a lioness wandering around as well at that time ! Oh, and of course be prepared for a bit of slow panning :-)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for long days - you can spend up to 10hrs a day in the Land Cruisers on game drives , it's non stop, Travel Light - I took loads of t-shirts I never used due to daily washing service, Essential Camera Gear - telephoto (400-500mm) & wide angle lens Tripod for Star/Milky Way Pics - no tripods in Land Cruisers Label battery chargers as power points all in one spot in the lounge tent - saves confusion between Canon users

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you enjoy wildlife photography - there is no better location, leader, camp/accommodation, guides, or camp staff, get on and book it !
  • Reviewed July 2015
    Emmanuelle Rolland

    Astonishing safari at Mara Camp

    Staying at Kicheche Mara Camp in Mara North Conservancy with stunning views, delicious food and formidable staff, this safari didn't disappoint with wide range of photographic opportunities from unbelievable skies to amazing wildlife. Size of group was larger than Bush Camp but very well managed, and being with like-minded people, I had a great laugh on game drives and in the camp.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to say as we were lucky to have no fallow time, each day was different but equally astounding. My favourite moment was when our vehicle were the first to find a cheetah and her 4 juvenile cubs all bundled up in the morning sunlight, their eyes were glinting and they all looked stunning. Seeing the Milky-Way early morning was also a magical moment. Amazing leopard sighting in the open and failed warthog chase, lioness up a tree, 1 day old lion cub hiding in the bushes, hunting cheetah and ensuing steal from the hyenas, thunderstorm on one side and fiery sunset on the other, playful tiny elephant calf, I could go on and on...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Like him or not, you can't deny that Paul works hard to give you loads of photographic opportunities. Along with all the experienced guides positioning the vehicles to perfection, he will make sure that you are at the right place at the right time and he always delivers. Don't be afraid to ask questions or show him your photos, you will get a strong opinion but you will learn. I also appreciated the extra effort to wake up even earlier to photograph the stars and to accommodate the large group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travel light (free laundry and excellent beauty products) but bring as many lenses as you can, for Nikon 80-400mm gives you great flexibility and a wide angle. Take a fleece and a light wind/waterproof jacket. Swap tips and advices with other people. Also find out what they like to see/photograph so you can pair up in the vehicles accordingly. Take a laptop and an external hard drive to save your photos and process them at the same time on Lightroom. Know basic photography and your camera, make sure you have the correct settings and the correct lens when you approach a sighting. If you're not ready, you can easily miss the moment. Take your eye off the viewfinder and take it all in, enjoy the surroundings. Engage with your guide, they are all very friendly and know the Mara inside out.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip is not for the fainthearted, be prepared for early mornings and long days, but the rewards are immense. If you love wildlife and photography, there’s no better place. Whether at Mara Camp or Bush Camp, you’ll be extremely well looked after at Kicheche. I’ve caught the bug and hope to go back soon.
  • Reviewed July 2015
    James Treharne

    Photographic Safari Massai Mara

    An excellent holiday. The team worked tirelessly to give us the maximum opportunities to see the animals and their understanding of what photographers want was amazing. The food was first class and the tented accommodation was a revelation to me. Very comfortable and the staff made every effort to ensure our comfort. I am delighted with some of the photographs I have taken.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the animals in their natural habitat , being positioned in the best positions to photograph them. The camp and the food were much better that I had expected.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Paul, though unconventional, has taught me a lot about wildlife photography. He worked really hard to ensure that we got inspirational photographs. His photographic work and encouragement was excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try to get a kit list for what photographic gear you need to take ,i.e. which lenses. Be prepared to take the minimum of clothes and use the laundry service. Take shoes which are easily removed for use in the vehicles.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is not a lot of time available for the photo clinic but it would be helpful if the camp could provide a laptop and a card reader, so that clients could download photos themselves. Paul's advice could then be given on a full size photo rather than on the camera screen.
  • Reviewed July 2015
    Robert Ordidge

    Photographic Safari Kenya 22-30th June 2015

    A special photographic trip to the Masai Mara led by Paul Goldstein.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Really difficult to pick out one moment as there were so many. Every day brought new and different experiences from following a pride of lions with many cubs, the plight of a cheetah with four juvenile cubs trying to compete with hyenas for food, and spending time with a wonderful leopard climbing up a tree and a clumsy lioness trying to get down from one.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Paul Goldstein is a recognised wildlife photographer and is a passionate and driven leader. There is no time to hang about when he is leading. He simply gets you to where the photographic opportunities are most likely to be and this is no mean achievement given the nature of wildlife. He expects a lot of himself and those that go on his trips. He is not everyones cup of tea but if you want to see and learn then you will be in for a treat.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You must understand the basics of photography and be able to adapt and quickly alter camera settings in order to get the most out of this trip. The days are long, five am till seven pm, and by the end of the trip you will be tired but very happy. This is not a trip for beginners in wildlife photography as events change so quickly and you have to be ready and prepared to change settings in order to get the best out of this trip. This is an expensive holiday and to get the most out of it you will need good gear. Any doubts hire a couple of big lenses

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Mara is the place to be if you have a passion for photographing animals and birds. The camping facilities were of a very high standard especially the food. All in all just a wonderful experience and a place to return too.
  • Reviewed July 2015
    Dan Heap

    This is a safari on the next level from any other

    There’s so many positives to say about this safari. We stayed at Kicheche Mara camp, and it was a stunning well maintained camp with spectacular views. The food was phenomenal, and the atmosphere around the camp was great - partly down to our group, but also down to the way the camp was set up. The wildlife was spectacular. I’ve done 4 safaris, and whilst the Classic Tanzania safari was very good, this one is completely next level. The aim of identifying one target for the day, then staying with them all day is the future. We sat with Cheetahs on hunts 3 times, we saw a Leopard on a hunt once, we saw Lions with cubs playing almost every day, we saw Cheetah cubs playing 2 days and we had amazing sunsets and thunderstorms that contributed amazing sights and photography opportunities. In Summary, I will be booking to go on this trip again next year I suspect.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a Cheetah run at full pace. Been an aim for me on all previous safaris and this one delivered it - 3 times. As well as that, we were in the prime position for each of the bursts. What an amazing sight - I’m still lost for words.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Quality. You’re time in the vehicle with Paul is hard work, I’m not going to lie. A constant stream of instructions with the sloe desire of getting you a phenomenal photo mean that you’re often under pressure. At times you do need a strength in personality to believe in what you’re doing, and marry it with some of the instructions. However, if you want to be in position to get the very best photos in Africa, then Paul delivers every time. There’s plenty of laughs, plenty of chance to have discussions, and plenty of chance to get a view on your photos - a strong view on whats good and what can be improved is sure to follow. Everything you’ll read in the other reviews is correct - if you take comments to heart, if you hold grudges, if you don’t want to have times when you’re under pressure to get the best photos - then take the advice on board.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t worry too much about weight limits within reason. My hand luggage was weighed at Heathrow (Too heavy had to repack) but after that it wasn’t weighed at all. Take the equipment you feel you need to take the best photos. Take a small tripod for shooting the Milky Way - just don’t take it in the vehicle. Using big lenses requires flexibility - you often have to cram into small areas to get good shots (I’m 6ft 3 and a big build - this was at times tough to do) so consider taking a smaller lens - maybe the 100-400 Mk II. Take a good wide angle lens - it’s vital, and a good polariser too. The laundry in camp is brilliant - it was easy to survive on 1 change of clothes - be warned though - it’s very cold at 5am in the morning - a wind proof jacket was very useful. Take a small laptop to edit your photos on - this allows you to get the best out of Paul’s Clinic - and ask questions - they’re only opinions at the end of the day, some will help you get better, others you’ll disagree with and discard.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just get involved. Every exodus group I have been in has been great. Stand up on the back seats (no shoes) help the guides to spot things, swap lenses with other people in your car. This is the best safari I have ever done - it’s difficult to imagine any other group has the quality of guides that Kicheche do. They are usually the first people to an interesting sighting, they have fantastic eyes, but also have great information links. Just a phenomenal holiday.
  • Reviewed January 2015
    Oliver Oliver

    Superb safari, beyond expectations

    Run out of superlatives to describe this trip. A plethora of fantastic sightings, Bush Camp is a wonderful place to stay and Paul's coaching really helped me to get some great shots

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a cheetah, cubs in tow, make a kill (and defend said kill from a hyena) on the transfer to the camp from the airstrip was very special. Honourable mentions to the lioness carrying her very young cubs, and watching a leopard hunting

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Paul's enthusiasm is infectious, and his determination to find (and make the most of) opportunities to take excellent photos is what sets this trip apart from a normal safari. Very entertaining and knowledgeable, and he will challenge you to really improve your photography rather than just take safe "souvenir" shots. Caution advised for those who are easily offended, and/or those unwilling to put in the hours behind the lens

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travel light - the camp laundry service is included and works very efficiently. Bring a decent length lens - 300mm equivalent or more, and a computer/tablet so you can review your best shots with Paul
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous

    Intense and rewarding week

    We spent a week with Paul Goldstein in the Olare Olok Conservancy and Masai Mara Reserve. Wild weather with storms and sunshine framed a week of extraordinary wildlife experiences, beautiful landscapes, hands on photography and great company. Staying at Kicheche Bush Camp was a real treat - integrated into the landscape (no fences here!), we were wonderfully looked after in camp and outside. The guides were superb, the quality of the food and drink whether in picnics or in camp was excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Spending 2 days with a cheetah with 5 cubs. Unless of course it was the lion cubs stuck on one side of a gully with their mums and the kill over the other side of the muddy stream......or the leopard and her cub.....or the magnificent cheetah brothers.....or the newly born giraffe.......or the sunrises/sunsets/storm skies.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    One of the joys of travelling with Paul is that he prioritises the right things - finding the wildlife and the photographic opportunities, and giving those all the time they need. With the help of the great Kicheche guides, Paul got us in the right place at the right time; succeeded in keeping us entertained and challenged us to take ever better pictures. Charismatic, energetic and with decided opinions, there was never a dull moment.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take more warm clothes than you first thought - it's chilly before dawn in open vehicles. There is a reason the Maasai wear woolly hats.....
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous

    Paul Goldstein Photographic Safari

    An adventure where we did not stop grinning from beginning to end. We were part of a super group that gelled well from the first minute. We expected the trip to be good but it considerably exceeded all our expectations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the relationship between Malaika, the cheetah, and her 5 cubs on two different days and following their progress and reactions as she hunted gazelle for them. On one afternoon drive with Paul he asked what we would particularly like to see. We replied "leopard" and he and our guide duly obliged with one in a tree about an hour later. The following morning the three guides found a large male, bigger than they had seen before plus a mother and her cub.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Paul is dynamic, full of energy and inspired our guides, already highly competent, to give of their very best, pulling out all the stops to make our experience truly wonderful. Somehow he managed to combine organising the group with both taking and editing his own photos so that he finished the trip with a few hundred real pictures (if that!) whereas we returned with over 8,000 shots! I guess that a good part of the difference can be put down to our lack of expertise.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Have plenty of sleep before you go and a couple of days off work when you get back. You can expect to be on the go from 5:30am to 9:30pm (by the time that you have finished dinner) on several days of the trip. You will probably spend one or two afternoons around camp to make some time to edit your photographs if you don't fall asleep on the job! But we would not have had it any other way - and we are both over 70! Travel very light - the camp laundry service is superb and turns round in 24 hours except for ladies' underwear which the Masai men cannot do for cultural reasons. Detergent is provided as are all the necessary toiletries. Take plenty of camera cards! You will be taking a lot of bursts and may not have time to edit them.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Darren and Emma are the perfect and most attentive hosts. They coped magnificently with special dietary needs and were ALWAYS on hand to see us off on our early drives and to welcome us back on our return. All three guides, Patrick, James and Charles, were absolutely brilliant, very experienced and worked together extremely well. They anticipate Paul's needs to achieve good photography, particularly in relation to lighting, know almost to the metre where the big cats will go and position the Land Cruisers to maximum advantage without intruding on the cat's environment. The domestic staff and the askaris who escorted us around after dark were also dedicated to their jobs, particularly James and Wilson who looked after the Bush Camp "East Wing". The camp atmosphere was uniformly friendly, attentive and welcoming.