Why All Photographers Should Visit Kenya
Taking amazing landscape, portrait, macro and wildlife photographs is an art form and if you appreciate all styles of photography, there’s no better place to be than Kenya in east Africa!
Whether you wish to watch giraffes galloping across desolate plains, photograph leopard cubs playing beneath Acacia trees or observe Masai people in their own village habitat, there’s a location in Kenya to suit your requirements.
In this article, we’ll give insight into the best places for photographers in Kenya and offer unique photography tips on how to gain the best pictures to showcase your talent!
Photographing the Masai Mara Migration
The Masai Mara lies south-west of Kenyan capital Nairobi and is accessible via road and air. It’s spectacular at any time of year with a naturally diverse selection of wildlife including all of the “Big Five” in residence – lions, cheetah, elephant, buffalo and rhino.
The landscapes are flat, arid and grassy in parts, sprinkled with umbrella-like acacia trees and outstanding views of Serengeti National Park over the border in Tanzania in the distance.
There are a multitude of ways to gain the best wildlife photographs in the Masai Mara. The first is on a jeep tour or alternatively, a Masai Mara walking safari. Experienced guides will get you up-close (safely) to rhinos, giraffes and lions and you may even have the opportunity to photograph Masai people at a nearby village.
However, if you are travelling to the Masai Mara for the wildebeest migration in July/August each year, you may wish to capture aerial images or film from a hot air balloon. As you drift high above the savannah, watch over a million wildebeest, eland, gazelles and zebra making their way across the plains to the Serengeti.
Photograph them from above as they gallop and splash their way across rivers, occasionally stopping for a drink. The spectacle is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world and for keen wildlife photographers, one not to be missed!
Know your camera! There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving in a destination hoping to gain world-class photographs and finding you don’t know what certain functions do on your camera.
Investing in a good DSLR camera with a wide angle lens for landscapes, a macro lens for close-ups and a zoom lens for wildlife is paramount and using a sturdy foldaway tripod or a flexible one which securely attaches to the side of a jeep or balloon basket is also helpful.
Also carry additional camera batteries and use fast writing SD cards, as you’ll want to continuously capture these memorable images as they happen.
Photograph Wildlife and City Skylines from Nairobi National Park
There’s no better place to combine wildlife and city photography than at Nairobi National Park just outside the Kenyan capital.
The park is located around 7 kilometres south of Nairobi and whilst photographing black rhinos, giraffes, zebras, leopards and lions in their natural habitat, you can also achieve outstanding city views with several towering skyscrapers as a unique backdrop!
Afterwards, head into the city itself to capture historic architecture, colourful markets and visit fascinating animal sanctuaries and heritage museums.
For the most atmospheric photographs venture to the park just before the “golden hour” or “magic hour”. This is the period of time just after sunrise or before sunset.
The colours are much softer as the sun isn’t as high in the sky, enabling you to gain breath-taking photographs of Kenya wildlife and landscapes.
This tip is used by world-renowned photographers and cinematographers to gain iconic pictures which highlight the subjects yet utilise natural colours to create superb shots.
Capture Colourful Bird life and Alpine Flora of Mount Kenya
If you adore the great outdoors and don’t wish to be confined to a jeep to take great photographs, you could hike Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest mountain. With crystalline lakes, rugged peaks and dense emerald forests, it’s the perfect place for wildlife and landscape photography in Kenya.
This off-the-beaten path location with its sheer cliffs and tall jagged peaks, boasts far-reaching views and also offers a unique opportunity for close-up macro photography of flowers, plants and birdlife.
There are a several Mount Kenya trekking routes, including scenic Chogoria with its steep gorges and The Sirimon Route which transports you through ancient forests for high altitude wildlife viewing.
Hikers will have the opportunity to see monkeys, elephants, buffaloes and leopards, plus as the mountainous terrain is dotted with icy glaciers and wild alpine flora it adds a completely new dimension to your Kenya photography tour.
The sun rises and sets at the same time each day at Mount Kenya, due to its proximity to the equator. This makes timing your hikes to gain perfect photographs during the “golden hour” much easier!
Also capturing photographs when hiking on foot gives you a lot of flexibility, however it does require patience! The benefit of exploring Mount Kenya with a tour guide is that they know the best places to discover specific flora or fauna to photograph.
Hiking alone is much more challenging, so be sure to research the area and ask knowledgeable locals for tips and advice before setting out.
Snap Herds of Elephants at Amboseli National Park
If you’re travelling to Kenya with the intention of photographing elephants in Amboseli National Park, you’re in for a huge treat. This park is a haven for both wildlife and landscape photography, with big skies, open plains and Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance!
Amboseli National Park boasts one of the highest percentages of elephants in the country and it’s not unusual to find them free-roaming dirt tracks and grassy savannahs.
A 4×4 tour with a knowledgeable guide will get you as close as they can without disturbing these magnificent creatures as they go about their daily business.
However, elephants aren’t the only species in the park, you can also photograph hyenas on an early morning safari in Amboseli, view hippos on river banks and marvel at vibrant pink plumes of greater and lesser flamingos!
Practice your wildlife photography before you arrive in Kenya. Photographing birds, bugs and butterflies in your garden is a great place to start.
Always find the focal point for your picture, whether it be a small herd of animals or a specific one which stands out.
If you’re hoping to focus your photography on one species in particular, learn about their behaviour, that way you can anticipate their movements and social interactions and be set up and ready to take magnificent photographs.
Above are just a few places where you can gain incredible photographs in Kenya. You may also wish to visit beautiful sandy beaches of Kenya by the Indian Ocean, the buzzing coastal city of Mombasa, Samburu or Tsavo National Parks or Lake Nakuru.
Wherever you decide to visit, a photography holiday in Kenya will be one of the most memorable experiences you’ll ever have in your lifetime, and for photographers, it’s definitely one you won’t want to miss.