Monday, April 15, 2019

Hot Air Balloon Safari Over the Masai Mara.

If you have never gone up in a hot air balloon and you have always wanted to go, go to the Masai Mara on a hot air balloon flight over the Mara river. If you like nature and wildlife, I can't imagine a better hot air balloon flight in the world!

March, 2019:

November, 2018:

Sometimes only a few of my guests go up in the hot air balloon, sometimes most of them do. Regardless of who goes, they all have one thing in common. The hot air balloon trip over the Mara river is one of the highlights of their trip.

Visit my website for more information on upcoming Kenya safaris.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Ultimate Kenyan Safari- Masai Mara & Giraffe Manor, 2019

This past February I hosted another group in the Masai Mara. This time it was a small group. There were only seven of us. No one in the group had been to Africa before. It is always fun seeing people experience the Masai Mara for the first time. We had fantastic group chemistry which made the trip that much more fun!

On our fist day in the Mara we had a great sighting of a cheetah mom and her two month-old cub. The cub was using mom's head as a springboard. It was super cute! A few minutes later we saw a mating pair of serval cats. And that was just the first morning in the Mara.

We had a lot of highlights. One of which was seeing elephants in camp. I could go on, but the pictures and videos in the slideshow will do a better job of showing what the trip was like.

I take groups to the Masai Mara every February and November. If you have never been to Kenya before and would like to go some day I hope you will consider joining us.

Check out the details of our next trip.

Or see our website for pictures of our African adventures.

After the safari is over we are back in Nairobi for a stay at Giraffe Manor and a private tour of the elephant orphanage. 

Join us in Africa for a bucket list safari trip of a lifetime!
Some nice comments from my November, 2018 trip:

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

What constitutes a "Bucket List Safari?"

One of my favourite things in life is a great sighting on a safari. Better than that is a quiet, private sighting on safari. I think that is what is so appealing about a hot air balloon safari. When you are sixty feet in the air, it is completely peaceful. All you hear is the hot air balloon burners kicking in occasionally when the captain needs the balloon to have a little more elevation.

On our November, 2018 HW Photo & Safaris tour, eleven of us enjoyed a hot air balloon safari over the Mara river. 

Seeing the animals below, while floating gently above is an amazing experience. Some people are pretty nervous before they go up, but once in the air, it is a completely comfortable, fabulous experience! In my experience, even the most nervous first timers, were completely relaxed once in the air.

The last time I was up in a ballon was in 2012. I really need to go up in the balloon more often. As much as I love leading tours, ensuring everyone is enjoying a trip of a lifetime is stressful. I am always worried about everyone and hoping they are having a great time. I don't mind the stress though. If I am ever not stressed about people enjoying themselves, to me that is when I should quit because I am no longer serving my guests to the best of my ability. 

For the hour-long trip floating above the Masai Mara seeing pristine nature below it is a completely blissful experience and I notice my stress melts away. We float over the Mara Triangle part of the Mara where there are very little vehicles. Other than a few roads down below we don't see any sign of human activity. That is nature just the way I like it.

Join us in the Masai Mara in February or November for a truly bucket list safari experience. 

So what makes this safari a bucket list safari? Is the hot air balloon the definition of a bucket list safari? Nope, the hot air balloon flight is optional. Is it the visit to Giraffe Manor?

 Or the private tour of the elephant orphanage? Donating much needed supplies to a local school and visiting the children? Or is it going with a professional wildlife photographer who knows which camps to choose based on the camp experience 

and the animals in that part of the park? Enjoying a maximum of 3-4 people per vehicle instead of the six people you will often see in vehicles? No. What makes it a bucket list safari is all of the above. It is the combination of all of these and many more attributes of this trip. You can contact Greg at to enquire about this trip. Sign up for one of our bucket list trips to Kenya and the Masai Mara and find out for yourself first hand why this is a bucket list trip.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Bucket list Masai Mara. November, 2018 Safari.

In November, 2018 HW Safaris hosted 13 guests in Kenya.
We enjoyed great company, we were hosted by fantastic camps and lodges and even as the guide hosting the trip, I enjoyed a trip of a lifetime. I have been on this same itinerary many times and it just seems to get better every time I go.

Some of the highlights of our November, 2018 safari included:

  • Tea time and breakfast with the giraffes at Giraffe Manor.
  • Private tour of an elephant orphanage
  • Two camps in the Masai Mara- Five star lodging, camps with no fences. We are on safari 24/7 when we are in the Mara.
  • Great leopard and lion sightings. Lots of ellies and thousands of ungulates made for great images.
  • Hot air balloon ride of the famous Mara river.
  • Visit to Loigero Primary school
  • There were really too many highlights to mention. Check out the youtube video as I tried to sum up some of our highlights while providing a nice keepsake for my guests via this youtube video.

Join HW Photo & Safaris in Kenya. We are now booking for November, 2019. Contact Greg at for more imformation.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Giraffe Manor Slideshow

We had a great time at Giraffe Manor, so making a fun slideshow of the day was a no-brainer.

We are now booking for November, 2019. One of the benefits of booking early is the first two couples to book for November will be in the rooms at Giraffe Manor with balconies and have the best views of the grounds. These couples can also feed the giraffes from the balcony of their rooms.
Contact Greg to book your bucket list Masai Mara safari. See here for trip details.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Home From our Bucket List Safari in the Masai Mara

We're back home from another great HW Safaris trip to the Masai Mara. This time I had 13 guests plus myself. We had such an amazing trip a fantastic group!
14 people, mostly arriving to Kenya as strangers. Six from Canada and eight from the USA. Some were photographers, some were supportive photography spouses. 

We spent time in Nairobi National Park to shake the rust off our photography skills, then on to Giraffe Manor, a private tour of an elephant orphanage then 9 days split between two camps in the Masai Mara. I choose those camps strategically as they complement one another based on the types of camps they are and the type of game in that area of the Mara.

We brought donations that support two schools and a village and enjoyed a village visit and a school visit.

We also thoroughly enjoyed an optional hot air balloon ride that gently soared over the Mara River.
And we had amazing sightings. 5 different leopards, lion sightings almost every game drive, 5 cheetahs, bat eared foxes and too many other animals to mention.
If there was fun to be found, we found it! I took over 3500 pictures of people enjoying their safari. At the end of the trip the best of those images were given to my guests. 

And we are already talking about a reunion trip to a different country. I love my job!!!

Our next bucket list trip to the Masai Mara is in November, 2019

I have said it before and I'll say it again. If you are only going to go to Kenya on a safari once, you should join our group. It isn't a "laying on the beach" type holiday, but you can certainly take some time off from the odd game drive and have a siesta when you like. For the others who like to go, go, go, you can get that on our safari photo tour too.

I encourage you to join us. You won't be disappointed!
HW Photo & Safaris.

Many of us met as strangers, but we left as friends.

The above video is from our February, 2018 trip. Our November, 2018 video will be ready soon.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Brown Bears of Katmai Alaska

This was an unexpected last minute wildlife photography trip. I had a week to prepare for it. Since it kind of fell into my lap due to the generosity of one of my photography colleagues who was supposed to go, but couldn’t make it I had the opportunity to go in her place. I love photographing brown bears and I love Alaska so whether I could afford the time off or not I had to go.
We flew into Kodiak, on Kodiak, Island, Alaska. From there we took a De Havilland Beaver float plane to a boat in the Kinac Bay in the Katmai National Park. The idea is we stay on a boat for seven days and take a skiff to shore and photograph the bears fishing. If one Bay isn’t productive, we try another. As we are staying on a boat for the week we are able to be mobile. From the boat we take a skiff to shore to photograph the bears. The skiff is a 20 foot boat with a ramp. It allows us to get into the shallows of the ocean and safely dismount with our photography equipment.
Half of our trip was cloudy and rainy. I expected that as it is Alaska after all. The weather didn’t bother me. Actually I prefer cloudy days as they provide better light for photography. The problem was the salmon run was quite insignificant. Poor salmon run = poor brown bear viewing. Still we had a few good brown bear photography sessions.
Most of our bear photography trips involve being as big as possible and staying together as a group and shooting with long lenses. The philosophy here is quite the opposite. We were encouraged to use short lenses, get low to the ground and photograph the bears at close proximity while they were fishing. The best images came from the use of short lenses. (100-400mm was perfect) while lying on our stomachs at the water’s edge. The bears came remarkably close to us and completely ignored us as they were busy fishing.
On one occasion the biggest male in the area came bounding toward a photographer chasing a fish. He missed the fish and stopped dead in his tracks about 2-3 feet away from the photographer. She didn’t even flinch. She looked at him and he stared at her for a second or two. That second or two felt like minutes. Then he got distracted by a fish and kept on fishing. If that happens ten times, I bet 8 times that photographer is in the hospital or worse. And if there was an incident, how long would it take to get the skiff out to us, then a float plane would have to be ready to fly in and get the photographer out back to shore where a car would have to take her to the hospital. And would she have the luxury of that 3-4 hours to get to a hospital? After that close call, from that point on, I was obsessed with the “what if’s”. The photographer did the exact right thing and froze. She didn’t move a muscle and had nerves of steel. Still, in my opinion we were too close to the water’s edge and behaving careless in regards to our safety. The bear could have taken a swat at her “just because”. He could have seen her as competition for his fish had he caught it, etc. One bite from that 1000 pound bear or one swat with those six inch claws and her life would have never been the same. I think that day she was beyond lucky to come out of that incident unscathed.
All in all it was a fun trip. On the way in our float plane landed in Kinak Bay, a 45 minute flight from Kodiak. We cruised for two hours out to Geographic Bay where we spent the first 2.5 days. The bear photography was pretty good there. From Geographic it was a four hour boat ride to Hallo Bay. Hallo Bay is beautiful! Unfortunately for us the bear viewing was very scarce and the bears that were there were really skittish. After Hallo Bay we cruised into Kukak Bay. The bears in Kukak bay were dosey and just kind of layed around. After a couple empty bear viewing attempts at Kukak Bay, four of us chose to go on skiff rides instead of photographing sleepy bears. Our skiff highlights were photographing puffins and a family of river otters
On one day we were lucky enough to photograph a wolf. And the bear group was even luckier on one morning. After seeing nothing all morning, the wolf that we photographed earlier approached them and came within a few feet of them. What an incredible encounter!
Hallo Bay, Alaska
I would recommend this trip Captained by Chuck Keim aboard the 70’ Coastal Explorer. Chuck has 30 years’ experience on the sea and is a great guy! His second; Dwayne is about the hardest working guy you’ll meet. He kept that boat “ship shape”.
The other highlight of our trip was meeting Sophia. Sophia is Chuck and Olga’s granddaughter. She joined us on the boat for a few days. She has got to be the happiest four year old I’ve ever met. She kept us entertained on the boat and was happily escorting the photographers to and from the shore on the skiff with her Grandma and Grandpa. That little ray of sunshine definitely added a fun aspect to the trip. We were all delighted to be entertained by this little social butterfly. At four years old she was happy to teach eight adults a life lesson. If you are nice to people and genuinely a positive person. If you are fun to be around and welcoming to strangers, you will make people’s day and they will adore you for your positive way about you. Whether you are four or ninety six, people like that are just fun to be around.