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Big Cat Film Safari in the Masai Mara

"The trip of a Lifetime" - "An exhilarating experience" - "I had the time of my life"

A unique experience with the Big Cats of the Masai Mara...

Not only will you witness the high-speed chase of the cheetah, and watch prides of lions hunting their prey, but you will do this alongside the veteran BBC Big Cat Diary/Week cameraman Gavin Thurston who will show you how the series is made in the bush and accompany you throughout the trip.

Also in the group will be team leader Piers Warren and professional editor Laura Turner who will show you how footage is pieced together with state of the art video editing technology to make programmes such as Big Cat Diary. Our base for the safari will be the beautiful Mara Bush Camp, discreetly tucked away in a riverine forest on the banks of the Olare Orok River. Exclusively for our group, the camp features luxury tents equipped with comfortable 4 poster beds with mosquito nets, en-suite flushing toilets and sink units in the bathroom with running water and hot bucket showers.

Make your own Big Cat Film - at the end of the trip you will take away a DVD that was produced during the safari. Note you do not need to be a videographer to come on this trip - many of our guests are keen stills photographers or simply want to watch big cat behaviour with the experts - no experience or equipment is required. But for those of you who want expert instruction on the use of camcorders then this will be available at all times.

We regularly meet up with the real stars of Big Cat Diary/Week/Live on these safaris - on previous trips we have seen Shadow, Bella, Chui, Olive and Kali the leopards, the Marsh and Ridge pride of lions with stars White-eye and Red, Cheza and Sala, and memorable close encounters with Kike the cheetah and her cubs (photo on the right), and more recently Shakira and her cubs and Honey's Boys. Check out the BBC Big Cat Live site

Click below for photos from some of the previous Big Cat trips to the Masai Mara:
April 2003 - April 2004 - July 2004 - May 2005 - August 2005 - August 2006 -
March 2009

See the bottom of this page for a video from the March 2010 trip (note this is just a few minutes of highlights, not the 45 minute film produced by the team during the trip).

Itinerary

Day 1 : Depart - London Heathrow (recommended flights Kenya Airways KQ101 take-off 1900 for overnight flight. Alternatively if you prefer British Airways you could take the BA65 take-off 10.05, but would then need overnight accommodation and transfers (which we can arrange for you at the Nairobi Safari Club).

Day 2: - Arrive Nairobi airport (KQ101 lands 0630). Transfer to Wilson airport for the 40 minute flight to the Masai Mara.

Arrive Mara Bush Camp for lunch, after which you will have time to unpack before briefings and the option of your first game drive before returning for a sumptuous dinner and your first night in the bush.

The camp has a fully equipped Mess Tent where all meals are served, and, adjoining this, a luxurious and comfortable Lounge Tent, where you can meet up with rest of the group to exchange safari experiences and highlights of the day. A Sundowner cocktail will help you unwind in front of a cozy campfire under the African stars with all of its sounds of nature. All meals at the camp are freshly prepared by the camp's head chef, offering buffet lunches and set a’ la carte dinners. Our chef will also ensure that picnic meals are readily available when we choose to stay out in the bush all day long. Early morning coffee / tea can be served on your private tent veranda. The camp is fully solar powered, but a Generator (well tucked away to ensure that there is no noise pollution) is available to provide power in order to charge all cameras & equipment.

Big Cat Diary,Kenya,Maasai Mara,Wildlife Film,Training,Holidays,natural history,tv,documentariesMara Bush Camp is not fenced, therefore Maasai ‘Morani’s (warriors) will look out for your safety while you are sleeping. The camp is for the visitor who appreciates simplicity and privacy away from mass tourism and wants to enjoy an authentic ‘safari’ experience rather than a large, crowded lodge with swimming pool & entertainment. Are YOU dreaming of sleeping under canvas out in the bush as it was 100 years ago?

Day 3 - Day 9: Full board at Mara Bush Camp. Daily game drives in the Masai Mara Reserve accompanied by the staff and local guides. We usually set off at 6am each morning with a packed breakfast, return to camp for lunch, then take an evening drive starting at 3.30pm.

Day 1 : After final morning game drives and lunch in camp we take the flight back to Wilson Airport in Nairobi, transfer to the Mediterraneo restaurant for dinner at 6pm before heading to the main Jomo Kenyatta airport at 8.30pm. Depart - Heathrow plane KQ102 or BA64 leaves 23.45.

Day 11: Arrive Heathrow 05.45

Big Cat Diary,Kenya,Maasai Mara,Wildlife Film,Training,Holidays,natural history,tv,documentariesWhat Wildlife will you see?Big Cat Diary,Kenya,Maasai Mara,Wildlife Film,Training,Holidays,natural history,tv,documentaries

Species in the Mara highly likely to be seen: lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, wildebeest, Thomson's gazelle, Grant's gazelle, warthog, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, eland, zebra, Maasai giraffe, hyena, hartebeest, topi, jackal, bat eared fox, bushbuck, impala, baboons, vervet monkeys, mongoose.
350+ species of birds, including vultures, eagles, bustards, ostrich, storks, kingfishers, weaver birds, hornbills and many more.
A variety of lizards, insects and many fascinating plants. All the above (and many more) have been seen on the previous Big Cat trips.

Personnel

Cameraman: Gavin Thurston (right in picture) - a BAFTA and EMMY award winning wildlife cameraman and presenter. He started work for Oxford Scientific Films back in 1981 specialising in mainly macro filmmaking. He then joined the BBC where his experience grew before going freelance in 1989. He has worked on nine of Sir David Attenboroughs series and four of the Big Cat Diary series. His more recent contributions include sequences for Planet Earth.

Check www.gavinthurston.com for more antics………

Producer and Team Leader: Piers Warren - Principal of Wildeye (left in picture) - Piers is well known throughout the wildlife film-making industry as the editor of Wildlife Film News and producer of wildlife-film.com, which he created in the 1990s. With a strong background in biology, education and conservation, he has had a lifelong passion for wildlife films and has a wide knowledge of natural history. He cut his teeth in the industry as a sound engineer and multi-media producer, running a studio for many years. He is one of the founders of the international organisation Filmmakers for Conservation and was Vice President for the first three years. Piers is the author of many magazine features and several books including Careers in Wildlife Film-making and Go Wild with Your Camcorder - How to Make Wildlife Films.

Editor: Laura Turner (pictured left) - an editor and camera operator with a passion for wildlife. After completing her degree in Media and Video Production, Laura trained at MATV regional news, and began freelance video work on live events, documentaries and corporate video. She has worked on wildlife film in Scotland and was the in-house editor for CTV Perth, Australia, where a documentary she edited won a WA Screen Award. Laura is Apple certified in Final Cut Pro, as well as an experienced Adobe Premiere Pro user. www.antfarmfilms.net

Plus experienced local guides and drivers from the Mara Bush camp.

 

 

Travel Information

Big Cat Diary,Kenya,Maasai Mara,Wildlife Film,Training,Holidays,natural history,tv,documentariesVisas: Required. Cost UK£20. For a visa application form from the UK download via www.kenyahighcommission.net

Immunisations: Check with your health clinic and Fit for Travel or MASTA.
Advised to be in date for; Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid Fever, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A. (Note: Yellow Fever immunisation is recommended because there is a continuing YF risk in Kenya, but a certificate is not required when entering from a non-endemic country, eg UK)

Malaria: Protection recommended - check with your health clinic
See Travelpharm.com for travellers' medication and health supplies

 

Insurance: It is essential you take out comprehensive travel insurance. Whichever insurance you choose please ensure it provides adequate cover for both you personally and also for any equipment you may be bringing with you.

The camp can provide an additional Evacuation Insurance (for example to get you rapidly to hospital in an emergency such as illness or accident) which they highly recommend. This costs £18 per person - just let us know if you would like it added .

big cat diary big cat weekDates: To be notified

Costs:
£4250 per person (a limited number of single accommodation will be available for a £300 single supplement)

Includes all local travel in Kenya (inc flight from Nairobi to the Masai Mara), park fees and game drives, accommodation and full board (apart from final dinner at the restaurant in Nairobi).

Note this does NOT include the international flight to Nairobi which you book yourself, or overnight accommodation/transfers if flying with airlines other than the recommended Kenya Airways flight above.

add your email address here to be informed of future trips:

Big Cat Diary,Kenya,Maasai Mara,Wildlife Film,Training,Holidays,natural history,tv,documentariesBig Cat Diary,Kenya,Maasai Mara,Wildlife Film,Training,Holidays,natural history,tv,documentariesBooking: To check availability contact: info@wildeye.co.uk or tel: 01603 871141
If places are available you will be asked to pay a deposit of £400 per person to secure your booking.
Places are strictly limited so early booking is recommended.

Check out the BBC Big Cat Live site


March 2010 - group and staff


March 2009 - group and staff

 

 
Big Cat Diary,Kenya,Maasai Mara,Wildlife Film,Training,Holidays,natural history,tv,documentaries

Comments from previous participants:

"I'm still trying to come back down to earth after our wonderful safari. It was so special, and everyone we met so welcoming" J Hampstead

"Just a quick note of thanks for an almost unbelievable trip! - It's just as well we took a few photos... (about 1500 of them). Our thanks to Piers for putting  it all together, the services of the team made it an almost unrepeatable experience. How come a mere 4 cats managed
to lift the trip into the magical? Thanks must go to Kike and her gang for their part too!
"
Simon & Susie Kelly

"I just wanted to thank you for such an exhilarating  experience in Kenya. It was a truly ultimate trip!"
F Khouri

"Received the tapes and the Masterpiece ------- a fantastic job of editing all the films and capturing the whole happy atmosphere of the safari, the commentary and the music was excellent we are absolutely delighted with it, so glad that we are going again next year.
Once again many thanks for organising the holiday and all that you did in making it such a super 10 days!"
J and J Welch

"Just like to pass on my sincere thanks for hosting what was a fantastic Big Cat Safari Trip. What a success it was. It certainly surpassed all my expectations. The wildlife we saw was breathtaking and I am really pleased with all the video footage we shot. ... It was really noticeable with everyone how their footage improved and developed as each day went by.... I have been taught much, made great friends and will always have fond memories of our time in the Mara" G Trezise

"Both of us thoroughly enjoyed the 'holiday' and we learned a great deal about animal behaviour and the art of photography"
J and D Brookes

"We would both like to thank
you for putting the trip together, it far exceeded all our expectations and the standard of both the tuition and accomodation was superb. We would certainly love to do the
trip again at the earliest opportunity."
T Grimley and M Robinson

"Just arrived back from the Mara and we did have a great time as ever, so count us in again on the next trip!!!!"

"Many thanks for such a wonderful trip to the Masai Mara. My aim was to see the leopard the only big cat I hadn't seen, and I was not disappointed. Second morning out, John our driver/tracker looked at me and pointed down, and there next to me a leopard looking at me eye to eye. Seeing him down the lens of the video camera made it so personal, I will never forget my first real encounter. I did not forget to record it, I did remember to do that.

The camp was on wonderful site right above the river, with a well stocked bar (a priority for me), the host was fantastic, and as for the bucket shower, it was a dream when you arrived back from a long day filming. The food was a fantastic five star, I was never disappointed with any meal. As for the group, they were great fun, a real cross-section of people, and ages from eighteen to me at seventy five, all mixing well.

Gavin and Laura worked hard to make sure we all had a good time, changing us around each day in our transport so we mixed with everybody which worked well. I could carry on and on about this wonderful photographer and video-makers orientated trip. if I was able to do this again I would go tomorrow.  Once again many thanks to all at Wildeye."
John Whitlock (2010)

Essential reading:

Careers in Wildlife
Film-making

Go Wild with your Camcorder
How to Make Wildlife Films

Wildeye Wildlife and Conservation Film and TV Training and Tours

For news of wildlife film courses, equipment for sale, footage required and jobs offered,
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