Kenya Images Information – Photogenic Experiences + Places


Images Experiences and Places in Kenya

Have you ever ever needed to {photograph} the Maasai Mara, expertise Kenyan tradition and dramatic landscapes the place elephants roam beneath the tallest peaks in Africa?

*All imagery equipped by Laura Merz.

Let’s take a photogenic journey by means of Kenya with journey and wildlife photographer, Laura Merz. Calling Nairobi dwelling for the previous three years, Laura’s insights are invaluable for anybody planning to go to Kenya with their digital camera. Her work gives a vibrant peek on the potential experiences you possibly can get pleasure from and {photograph} when exploring the landscapes, wildlife and tradition of this vibrant nation on the jap coast of Africa.

The calls of one million lesser flamingos fills the air with a delicate warble. Small teams birds rise into flight, repositioning themselves in different sections of the lake. On foot, you’re immersed within the scene, no safari automotive to separate you from the magic of this second. Lake Elmentaita, Kenya 2021.

From the second I set foot in Kenya three years in the past, I fell in love with the heat and vibrancy of the tradition. The juxtapositions of cultures and explosion of colors are a deal with for any inventive to expertise. The toughest a part of planning a visit right here is selecting which area to concentrate on first! The nation has a wealth of various experiences relying on the place you go and what you’d wish to see – any of those areas is usually a journey on it’s personal, or they are often blended into an extended expertise.

Photographers searching for one of the best locations to go for unforgettable sights and inventive alternatives are going to wish to plan your journey in a different way than the informal vacationer headed out on their first safari. With that in thoughts, I’ve compiled an inventory of my favourite areas and a few useful tricks to seize memorable pictures of your time in Kenya.


#1 Nairobi

Kenya’s capital is a mixture of cultures, an evolving experiment in preserving traditions alive within the trendy world. Round one nook you’ll discover a Maasai warrior sipping a latte, whereas on the subsequent road you’ll discover Indian eating places with essentially the most scrumptious curries. On the Metropolis Market you’ll discover countless stalls of baskets and handicrafts brings a daring dose of color into your pictures, whereas the butcher outlets and flower stands are at all times stuffed with motion. Town is alive with the hustle and bustle of enterprise and the boldly painted “matatus” (metropolis busses) that clog streets and pace by means of intersections. Simply exterior of town, you’ll discover vibrant glass studios, bronze artisans, potters, and art work product of recycled supplies.

Whereas Nairobi is a good place to apply road pictures, there are just a few vital “do and don’ts” when creating pictures within the metropolis. The federal government has lifted restrictions on pictures permits within the Central Enterprise District, however photographing authorities buildings remains to be prohibited. Click on to see map of Authorities Buildings the place pictures is prohibited. It’s additionally best to create pictures early on the weekends when enterprise is slower and you may stroll round with fewer crowds.

Personally, my favourite locations to {photograph} are roadside outlets stuffed with baskets and carved furnishings. You will discover these alongside the primary roads within the Nairobi suburbs, equivalent to Karen and Gigiri, the place you may pull off the highway and store on foot. It’s at all times greatest to ask earlier than photographing, however you’ll discover most store house owners are glad to permit pictures so long as you’re making a purchase order.

If town isn’t fairly your vibe, simply thirty minutes north in Tigoni you may spend a day strolling by means of rolling inexperienced hills of tea plantations. Reserving a tea tour and lunch is a good way to immerse your self on this space the place the air feels recent and clear and the tea pickers within the fields make for an attention-grabbing photograph topic. In case you’re fortunate, a colobus monkey will grace you with its presence!

Picture Tip: It’s usually protected to apply pictures within the metropolis throughout the day, however like all large metropolis crimes of alternative are frequent. Be ready that some folks will need to negotiate a worth so that you can take their {photograph}, and the straightforward act of pulling out an costly digital camera means you’ll be a goal for many who need to promote you issues – or choose your pockets. Most individuals are very pleasant and useful however do your due diligence and examine together with your resort or tour operator for any latest updates on areas to keep away from. Displaying high-value objects like cameras at night time is extremely discouraged, and also you’ll need to journey with a information or buddy after darkish.


African Elephants, Naboisho Conservancy. Maasai Mara, Kenya

#2 The Maasai Mara

For most individuals, the point out of “Kenya” will conjure up visions of the Maasai Mara. Due to the prolific sport viewing alternatives, distinctive Maasai tradition, and excessive charges of tourism to this space (which connects to the Tanzanian Serengeti) that is possible essentially the most well-known and publicised space in Kenya. An unlimited oasis of savannah and bush supply limitless alternatives for distinctive animal sightings, vibrant sunrises, and dramatic landscapes. With the arrival of the seasonal rains in April and November, the colors throughout the Mara change drastically from dusty browns and yellows to vibrant greens punctuated by delicate flowers. The wildlife right here adjustments too, with infants being born sometimes in January and grazers following the provision of meals all year long.

Planning your journey to this space, recognized colloquially as “the Mara,” requires extra than simply choosing a camp to go to. Selecting to remain at a camp in a conservancy versus a location within the Nationwide Reserve will offer you totally different photographic alternatives, particularly throughout peak journey seasons. The Nationwide Reserve boasts stunning lodges and lots of distinctive siting alternatives for the informal safari-goer. However relating to pictures, conservancies are virtually at all times the higher selection. 

I used to be out with my information earlier than dawn, hoping to create a silhouette {photograph} with the morning gentle, once we received a name a few male lion resting within the open. We raced to the situation, and noticed a number of vehicles forward of us positioned to the best of this picture. However my information knew I needed the dawn to return by means of as backlight and positioned the automotive completely. The lion had been in a pensive, resting state wanting in direction of the solar. However for a short second he turned to take a look at me, allowed me to fireside just a few pictures, after which received up and left – I had the one picture of this superb scene at this vantage level. This male and his brother have been trying to increase their territory and have been pushing dangerously near a rival delight. Inside every week, he could be killed in a territorial dispute. Naboisho Conservancy, Maasai Mara, Kenya. 2022.

Conservancies are a singular community of lands usually owned and managed by tribal and/or eco-conservation teams with the goal of defending wildlife whereas offering financial alternative for the native inhabitants. This implies while you keep on a conservancy, you’re not solely supporting animal conservation efforts, you’re paying a small nightly payment which helps to empower the indigenous communities that reside on these lands. That is all great after all, however what does this need to do with pictures?

As a result of they’re domestically managed, conservancies set their very own guidelines for occupancy restrictions that means smaller crowds, they usually have strict guidelines about approaching wildlife in a respectful approach. Additionally they assist you to be out earlier within the morning and later at night time for sport drives. These small adjustments make for an unlimited distinction within the varieties of pictures you may create!

Maasai Mara, Kenya.

Getting your automotive into place properly earlier than dawn, or staying out previous darkish make it simpler to create epic dawn and silhouette pictures. You’ll additionally be capable of go off highway to see animals – not allowed within the Nationwide Reserve – for up shut encounters and distinctive vantage factors. Automobile restrictions imply you’ll by no means be with various different vehicles, and the animals are typically extra relaxed in consequence. It is a enormous distinction from the crush of 30+ vehicles that may be discovered at prime sightings within the Reserve.

Whereas conservancies are my go-to advice for pictures, the exception is a go to to the well-known Wildebeest Migration, which occurs between July and September alongside the river between Kenya and Tanzania. A few of the greatest view factors are on the Nationwide Reserve, however many camps in conservancies can organize to take you to view the migration with superior planning.

Maasai Mara Nationwide Reserve, Kenya – The migration of wildebeest throughout the Mara river is a yearly phenomenon that’s incomparable. In case you can tune out the tons of of vehicles round you, the sight of the animals kicking up mud within the river is actually breathtaking. It’s impactful and shifting to know the idea that these animals should face grave hazard with a purpose to discover sufficient meals to proceed their position within the ecosystem.

Picture Tip: Cultural visits to rural villages supply an opportunity to see how some tribes of Kenya proceed to reside in accordance with their traditions. Whereas many have adopted western clothes kinds and trendy housing, the Samburu, Turkana and Maasai tribes are notable exceptions. These teams differ extensively of their openness to outsiders and pictures. Your safari camp or tour firm will help you organize a go to for a day. Nonetheless, in case your pictures targets are based totally round cultural documentation, you’ll need to take into account becoming a member of a pictures tour that has the best connections for intimate portraits.


#3 Samburu

Samburu, a dry desert setting in Northern Kenya, is dwelling to a placing number of palm tree known as “Doum Palms.” The desolate environment and low grasses create beautiful environmental wildlife portraits, showcasing the panorama these animals name dwelling. The arid setting creates a singular safari expertise because the solar drenches the rolling hills with smooth pastel sunsets and animals create criss-crossing tracks alongside the sandy roads. Many lodges right here even have pictures hides, which let you anticipate the animals with out sitting out within the warmth of the day.

Samburu is notable additionally for its distinctive wildlife. Whereas many guests come to Kenya for the “Huge 5” Samburu is dwelling to quite a lot of distinctive wildlife species that can’t be present in most different elements of Kenya, such because the reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, Beisa Oryx, and the gerenuk. These animals are fascinating to {photograph} since they’ve totally different options than their extra well-known cousins, and supply a special perspective on the pure world.

The dry local weather of Samburu creates dramatic lighting circumstances which might be good for pictures, significantly throughout dawn and sundown. The nice and cozy, golden gentle casts a lovely glow on the panorama, making a pastel impact within the mountains at sunset.

Giraffes Below the Doum Palm Samburu, Kenya – The drum palms are an immediately recognisable characteristic within the dry arid panorama of Samburu. I used to be completely taken with their kind and the shelter they offered to the animals determined for a break from the desert solar. The form of the 2 reticulated giraffes appeared to echo the traces of the timber and I desperately needed to create this picture – however I used to be too near the scene to make use of my prime lens successfully. I remembered a method I had tried as soon as earlier than, known as the Brenezier Technique, and I used to be in a position to sew collectively eight pictures to create this picture.

Picture tip: On safari, it’s price carrying a long-range lens (my go-to is the Sigma 150-600mm). You’ll additionally need a shorter lens with a large aperture for low-light conditions and when animals resolve to return proper close to your automotive. For early mornings and late evenings, I virtually at all times use my 24-70mm lens for huge panorama pictures, utilizing a -2/3 publicity setting to essentially deliver out the deep colors of the sky. Alternatively, taking pictures at +1/3 or +2/3 can provide you a softer morning glow feeling to your pictures.

In case you don’t need to purchase a lens, take into account renting one for the time you’re touring – it’s well worth the expense to have the pliability to essentially focus in on the animals and create that dreamy bokeh on the identical time! Renting an additional digital camera physique can be a terrific funding, so that you don’t need to be switching lenses and also you’re at all times prepared for “the shot!”

African Elephants, Samburu Nationwide Park, Kenya.


#4 Amboseli

Amboseli is one other favourite amongst guests to Kenya, with the placing backdrop of Kilimanjaro and seemingly countless herds of elephants. The mud right here – for which Amboseli will get its identify – kicks up because the animals stroll, giving a dramatic misty impact to black and white pictures. This area can be dwelling to a lot of Africa’s final “tremendous tuskers” – these elephants have tusks weighing greater than 100 kilos – an actual deal with for anybody desirous to create the proper elephant portrait.

With the placing backdrop of Kilimanjaro and the in depth wetlands, this space of Kenya is the proper setting for reflection pictures and dramatic vistas of elephants and hippopotamus. The park additionally has a number of seasonal lakes that entice quite a lot of fowl species, offering photographers and birders with alternatives to expertise an enormous variety of fowl species. Amboseli is definitely accessible from Nairobi, just a few hours’ drive from town, making it an excellent location for photographers who’re brief on time or who need to mix a go to to the park with different locations within the area.

Elephants below Kilimanjaro, Amboseli, Kenya – I desperately needed to create this shot, however as I realised how troublesome it could be, I may barely enable myself to hope it’d work. For 2 days, we waited however the cloud cowl on Mount Kilimanjaro would fully obliterate the view. Every time the mountain briefly emerged, there have been no elephants to be discovered. When the elephants got here, the mountain would disguise once more. Lastly, as we sat having our breakfast within the safari automotive, the weather all got here collectively – I held my scorching espresso out the window as my driver sped towards one of the best vantage level, hoping to not spill it on myself. Nevertheless it was well worth the wait when the shot all got here collectively, the elephants on their day by day trek by means of this subject under Kilimanjaro. I waited to fireside the shot till the group separated on this kind – with the small group beneath the smaller peak, and the bigger group below the bigger peak. The instructions of their actions and tusks demonstrating each their acquainted connection and but individuality that makes elephants such an interesting species.

I extremely advocate staying at Tawi Lodge, which is idyllic and set by itself watering gap – elephants and giraffe typically come to drink whilst you’re consuming lunch! Tawi can be set in its personal conservancy the place a few of the largest tuskers roam, permitting you to rise up shut and private for one of the best photographic angles of elephants. Don’t neglect to ask them to arrange a “Sundowner” expertise within the bush – one of the vital memorable experiences you may have below Kilimanjaro.

Picture tip: To create a dramatic shot of elephants, it’s greatest to shoot from a low angle and use a large angle lens. I used to be laying on the ground of my safari automobile with the door open, with a purpose to seize this picture of “Craig” from floor stage – he was simply 5 toes away at one level!


#5 The Rift Valley

This space of Kenya is commonly neglected by guests, however is properly beloved by locals. A go to to this space leaves you relaxed with sweeping views of mountains, slot canyons, and alkaline lakes stuffed with pink flamingos. There’s even an opportunity to pursue the elusive black leopard. 

Mentioned to be the birthplace of human civilization – a few of the earliest human stays have been discovered right here – it’s arduous to not really feel the electrical energy of those area as in case your soul is in some way linked to the deep historical past of this space. The Rift Valley itself spans your complete nation and expands throughout the continent. It has been rising for millennia because the tectonic plates shift, and it may be seen from the highway as you drive to your vacation spot, however it’s most spectacular from the air – practically well worth the worth of a flight to your vacation spot.Inside the area, varied alternatives exist for no matter your photographic wishes could also be. Lake Elementaita in recent times has surpassed the bigger lakes — Nakuru and Naivasha — in reputation resulting from its monumental inhabitants of flamingos. Ol Pajeta is without doubt one of the first conservancies in Kenya, and now could be dwelling to the final two Northern White Rhinos – a go to to this park will certainly depart a deep impression on you as to how intertwined the lives and fates of human and animal populations actually are.

In Laikipia, black leopards have been re-identified within the final a number of years, and the wild canine inhabitants has returned from a catastrophic brush with canine distemper. Correct planning and a devoted pictures automobile are required to seek out them, so it’s greatest to tell your safari lodge if that is your purpose to allow them to advise you on timing and length of your safari!


#6 Diani

No go to to Kenya is full with no go to to the coast. With its historical Swahili tradition, fabulous coral reefs, and white sand seashores, the coast is stress-free and photogenic for many who need to pursue underwater adventures. Whether or not you need to go to historical forts entangled with baobob timber or expertise conventional Dhow boats and snorkel alongside the coral and mangrove timber, there’s a metropolis on the coast that may meet your wants.

But when underwater pictures is your purpose, Diani is a major selection, providing a excessive density of sea life, attention-grabbing rocky options alongside the shores, a swimmable shoreline with pristine clear waters – and no predators away due to it’s pure coral reef barrier.

Sometimes the seashores in Diani are freed from seaweed, and the water ranges differ drastically all through the day, practically consuming the entire seashore at excessive tide, whereas leaving an unlimited expanse of white sand throughout low tide. Due to its eastern-facing course, the seashores listed here are gorgeous because the pink hues of the early morning bathe the shoreline in color. On particularly calm mornings, the reflections of the tide create a mirror-like impact that’s otherworldly towards the rising solar.

Picture Tip: The glass-clear waters stay waist-high for a good distance from the shore earlier than you attain the coral reefs, or sandbars, so you possibly can be strolling for a very long time to attempt to attain them by yourself. You possibly can constitution a glass-bottom boat journey from one of many firms on the seashore to take you to the reefs for one of the best snorkeling places. I beloved utilizing my Olympus TG-6, discovering all kinds of distinctive starfish and sea urchins.

This information can solely scrape the floor of all that Kenya has to supply, nevertheless it’s designed to be a launch level from which you’ll be able to create your personalised pictures journey. Kenya has a approach of creating you fall in love with nature whether or not for the primary time, or over again – I can’t wait so that you can expertise this superb place for your self and create the pictures of your desires.

Need extra inspiration and pure magnificence from Laura? You possibly can observe Laura’s adventures by way of Instagram @lauramerzphotography or buy any of the pictures shared inside this information or different gorgeous prints by way of her print retailer. With 10% of gross sales going to the African Parks Community.

Kenya Photography Guide by Laura Merz

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