January 21, 2004 -- Focus on Africa wants you to come on a safari with them, shoot some film, and, if the images pass muster, get them printed in a coffee table book. Repeating its successful venture of a decade ago, the group is operating 28 different safaris in 10 different nations from March to July 2004. They've put the call out to photographers, professionals and "serious amateurs," who'll pay prices 40% to 50% lower than the usual vacation cost charged the general traveler, they say. The lowest ticket of the 28 safaris is just $1,080 for a four-day land-only gorilla trekking adventure in Rwanda.
Escorting these trips will be professional photographers, whose work appears regularly in such magazines as National Geographic, Geo and Outdoor Photographer. Also on hand will be naturalists and ornithologists, as well as experienced professional guides.
Helping to lower those costs by 40% to 50% are the co-sponsors, no doubt, who include Canon USA, Hasselblad, Lowepro, Outdoor Photographers Magazine, Brooks Institute of Photography, and South African Airways. Endorsing the project are the East African Wild Life Society, the Kenya Tourist Board and the African Wildlife Foundation. More than 140 camps and lodges in Africa are also participating. Canon will be providing a number of cameras and lenses for the project.
The purpose of the safaris is "to recognize the crucial role of tourism on the future of Africa," says David Anderson, an Africa expert whose tour company (Destinations & Adventures) is organizing the promotion. It has been running some 30 years, Anderson traveling on nearly 100 safaris himself. He believes tourism to the regions of east and southern Africa will be helped by his efforts, and thus ensure its survival. "If tourism does not survive," he says, "the wildlife sanctuaries will not survive."
One of the 28 deals is a two-week safari in Kenya, costing $2,250 (land-only, half off the usual cost, they say), with a single room supplement of $700 and a domestic flight (Nairobi from Masai Mara) of $140. The group size is limited to four persons in a nine-passenger vehicle, allowing plenty of room for equipment. You spend two days in Nairobi, Tsavo National Park, two days in Samburu Game reserve, two days in Lake Nakuru, and six days on the Masai Mara Game reserve. Options on this Kenya package include hot air ballooning ($425), Lake Victoria Fishing Trip ($425) and extra nights in Nairobi ($100 per person per night).
Included in the Kenya trip are best available hotels, lodges and tented camps as per itinerary or equivalent; three meals daily on safari (breakfast only in Nairobi and Arusha); professional English-speaking safari guides; transport via modern minibus with photo hatches, or four-wheel drive Land Cruisers; guaranteed window seat; all entry fees; lodge staff tips and taxes; airport transfers and arrival/departure assistance in Africa; baggage handling in East Africa; comprehensive safari preparation; and charter flights as per itinerary.
You have to arrange your own airfare, but Anderson's tour company will assist you. Sample airfares out of NYC as we went to press: JFK to Nairobi on KLM $1,125; JFK to Johannesburg or Atlanta to Capetown $1250. Add-on airfares from other cities, in a sampling, seem to range from $100 to $250.
The firm also says it will take you on identical safaris individually for a "small additional charge." The amateurs will have an opportunity to get their shots published in a coffee table book and considered for use on a companion website.
If you are interested, you can get a copy of a free video (while the supply lasts) shot during the first program ten years ago or so, which also describes production of the book. Phone 800/927-4647 or visit www.focusonafrica.com. There will be a charge of $4.95 to cover postage and handling for the video.