Masai Mara and Samburu out of season. Photograph by Paul McDougall.

Masai Mara & Samburu Out of Season

Guided photographic tours to Mara and Samburu in the Low Season with Wildlife Photographer Paul McDougall.

Photograph Lions in the Masai Mara National Reserve. It is estimated that there are close to 900 Lions in the Masai Mara National Reserve and surrounding conservancies, making it one of the best places in the world to see lions.
Photograph Elephants in the rainy season of Samburu National Reserve. Usually, semi desert and dry this is the only time this location looks green and lush.
Photograph Leopards and Cheetah in the Samburu National Reserve with its diverse ecosystems.

Mara & Samburu Low Season

Location: Masai Mara & Samburu, Kenya
Dates: 22nd April to 6th May 2023
20th April to 3rd May 2024
Duration: 15 Nights 14 Days
Price pp*: From £6,952
Places (8 max): Available
Your guide: Paul McDougall
* Price per person based on 8 people.
Maximum of 4 photographers per vehicle.

Masai Mara

Everything about this reserve is incredible. The wildlife is abundant, and the vast grasslands ensure that animals are rarely out of sight, and the Birdlife is impressive, over 450 species have been recorded.

Wildlife is not confined to the reserve and wanders freely in the surrounding areas where the Masai still tend their livestock. Centuries of close association have resulted in a relationship where wildlife and people live in harmony with one another.

The first sight of this natural wonderland is breathtaking. Here, great herds of elephant browse among the rich tree-studded grasslands, along with an occasional black rhino. Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, topi, eland and many more species of plains game offer rich pickings for the dominant predators – lion, leopard and cheetah – that hunt in this pristine wilderness. In the Mara River, hippos submerge at the approach of a vehicle, only to surface seconds later to snort and grumble their displeasure. Seemingly drowsy crocodiles sunbathe on the riverbanks, mouths agape, waiting with subtle cunning for prey at which to strike with lightning swiftness.

Although July, August, September and, usually, October are the months when the Mara plains fill with migrating wildebeest and zebra (and therefore tourists), there is plenty of resident wildlife year round. Apart from the better known species, there are numerous opportunities to add some rare and less frequently seen animals to your checklist; in the southwestern sector you may be lucky enough to see roan antelope (which are, regrettably, rare elsewhere in the country), bat-eared foxes peer from their burrows and there are thousands of Topi, an antelope not found in Kenya’s other major parks – with the exception of Tsavo. There is also a great chance of seeing the shy Serval Cat, which becomes more active and easier to see with less vehicles around, the quieter times in Maasai Mara are also great for Caracal and Hyena. Numerous bird species will be seen hunting above the higher grassland.

The combination of gentle climate, amazing scenery and incredible numbers of wildlife makes the Masai Mara the most popular inland destination in Kenya.


Located on the edge of Kenya’s vast, hot and arid northern region, It is a photographers dream with Samburu’s rugged scenery, endless skies and vast panoramas creating a powerful and unique backdrop for some of Africa’s rarest game and several hundred bird species.

Samburu National Reserve is one of the 56 protected areas in Kenya. It is famous North of the equator because of the richness of flora and fauna found there; it can be reached through Nairobi-Isiolo-Marsabit road and Maralal-Wamba-Isiolo road. Lying on the flood plains and bottom land of Ewaso Ngiro drainage system in the Great Rift Valley. It rises to an altitude of 2785 ft above sea level and covers an area of 390 km2.Samburu National Reserve was established in 1948 as part of the enormous Marsabit National Reserve under the national park ordinance.

The reserve is part of the ancestral territory of the colourful Samburu people, close relatives of the Masai, and is home to a number of species rarely found elsewhere in any number.

Species to be seen include, Grevy’s zebra, Reticulated giraffe, Greater and Lesser Kudu, Beisa oryx, and the long-necked gerenuk, a graceful antelope that spends much of its time on its hind legs seeking out succulent leaves in the withered scrub that dots this harsh terrain.

Samburu’s dramatic scenery is scorched for most of the year by the relentless equatorial sun, but the wide Ewaso Ngiro River offers some relief. This river rises some hundreds of kms to the west in the foothills of the Aberdares and eventually vanishes beyond Samburu into the recesses of the Lorian Swamp, but is at its wide and dramatic best in the reserve, where you can see large numbers of crocodile on sandbanks at almost every turn. There are also many hippos, and the banks are lined with giant acacias, figs and doum palms, which provide shade and a vital food source to the wildlife that comes to the water. Herds of elephant roam the gaunt hills that punctuate the scrubland, some appear a vibrant red colour after rolling and bathing in the mud and dust.

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    Elephants in Masai Mara and Samburu out of season. Photograph by Paul McDougall.

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