Because I had changed my job in the summer, our 2018 summer vacation was cancelled. With increasing activity of the "African virus" and finally some days off after Christmas we started to plan a new safari. In total we had 11 free days / 10 nights from December 12th 2018 to January 6th 2019. We, that were this time 3 persons: My wife Simone, my daughter Luise and me. We did not want to waste the short time with long journeys in the safari vehicle and therefore we decided to stay in only one place this time. The highlight of our safaris so far was the Masai Mara in Kenya - so we planned to go there again.
We have been there three times in August and were able to observe thousands of wildebeest during the big migration, including several of the famous "River Crossings". But in December / January the wildebeest are back in the Serengeti. The small rainy season in the Masai Mara also ends in mid-December. We were therefore very curious to see how the Mara changed in flora and fauna at the end of December.
The planning was again very successful with Mr. Nowak from Let's go Africa and Sunworld Safaris. This time, we stayed 9 nights, again in the Mara Bush Camp - Private Wing. Because of the late booking the flights were unfortunately very expensive. The outward flight to Nairobi was with SWISS from Düsseldorf via Zurich, the return flight was with Lufthansa via Frankfurt.
This time I took two different photographic systems with me:
Canon EOS 5DS R with
- EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- Canon Extender 1.4x III
- Canon Externder 2x III
Sony Alpha 7R III with
- FE 24-105 f/4 G*
- Sigma 60-600 f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports* withSigma MC-11* Adapter EF-E
- Samyang 14mm f/4*
Also in my hand luggage: laptop, iPad, two power banks, various batteries, a Powershot G11 for my wife, a Canon 12x36 IS III* binoculars (binoculars with image stabilizer - this has been very useful on the trip) and whatever else you need to have with you…
More general safari travel tips can be found in the Tips & Tricks section. In the checked luggage there was a Benro tripod, two Sirui monopods and 2 Manfrotto Superclamps. Bean bags in sufficient quantity are provided by Sunworld Safaris in the vehicles. During the nine days, I have again taken over 10.000 pictures. This time about 45% of them with the Canon 400mm lens on the 5DS R and another 45% with the Sigma 60-600mm lens on the Sony Alpha 7R III. Especially the Sigma 60-600 performed very well on the Sony a7R III with the MC-11. The autofocus worked without problems and fast. Fantastic features of the a7R III are the fast continuous shooting speed (up to 10 frames/second at 42 megapixel resolution) and the option of silent shutter release. The huge focal length range of the new Sigma 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM* Sports seems ideal for a safari and surprisingly in my experience it does not come at the expense of image quality. The sharpness in the entire range on the Sony with 42 megapixels is very good. Of course the sharpness and contrast is even better in the 1:1 view at the 400mm f/2.8 lens with the Canon EOS 5Ds R, which is 5 times more expensive, but the difference in good light is much smaller than I had expected. Furthermore, the 400mm fixed focal length at open aperture f/2.8 is still unbeaten in bad light.
This time, my daughter used the Canon EOS 7D Mk II* from the very beginning with her Christmas present: a Sigma 150-600 f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary*, so once again the weight limitation of our hand luggage was an issue. Both SWISS and Lufthansa unfortunately allow a maximum of 8kg of hand luggage per passenger. Although my wife was also loaded with photo equipment in her backpack, we exceeded the personal weight limit. So my daughter and I each hung a camera housing with lens around our necks and stood with it and the backpacks on our backs emphatically relaxed at the baggage check-in counter. Nothing was weighted and we could get on the plane without any problems - We were lucky!
27. 12. 2018
After a long time of waiting, the day we had been looking forward to for so long finally arrived: The Christmas stress was over and we were finally headed back to Africa. After the lazy Christmas days, we were already getting used to being up early for the upcoming morning game drives: The plane to Zurich took off in Düsseldorf at 6:35am, so we set the wake-up alarm to 3:30am. Our daughter Franziska brought us to the DUS-Airport at 5:00 am.
After changing planes in Zurich and a long but unproblematic flight, we arrived in Nairobi on time at 7:40pm local time (= winter time Germany + 2 hours). The queue in front of the passport control at Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi was long and the check-in was "pole pole" (Swahili for slow), but at 9:00pm we met our driver outside who took us to our hotel (Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi). The hotel is new and is located directly at the airport. After a short shower we fell into bed totally exhausted. On the next morning we will leave at 7:30am to the Masai Mara.