Trip review for a private photographic safari in Kenya’s Maasai Mara with Sarah Skinner (September 2016)
We’d like to give a HUGE thank you to Sarah for organising the most amazing Safari that we have experienced. I found Andy and Sarah through their incredible photography and approached Sarah about leading a private tour through the Mara Conservancy. From beginning to end we were able to leave all the planning and organisation in her very capable hands and the whole experience flowed perfectly. Combining this with her very generous sharing of photography knowledge, guidance and advice gave us the best opportunity to capture the beauty of all that surrounded us. We thoroughly recommend anyone thinking of heading to Africa to consult with these guys either through a workshop that they have listed or for a private photo tour. You couldn’t possibly ask for anyone better. Thank you and looking forward to our next adventure 🙂 Barry and Renee Doyle, Australia www.renee-doyle-photography.com
Trip reviews for ‘Botswana Wildlife Photographic Safari’ with Andy & Sarah Skinner (August 2016)
Coming back from Botswana on a Wildlife Trails photographic safari hosted by Andy and Sarah Skinner, with thousands of photographs, amazing memories and new friends. It was truly an adventure of a lifetime, we had the trifecta of sightings, wild dogs with puppies at a den, a leopard with her almost fully grown cub and a large pride of lions. As well as elephants, left, right and center, including at our lunch table, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, antelopes etc.. all the things that make an African safari. Andy and Sarah were excellent photographic tutors and mentors, always willing to answer any questions, they always made sure everyone was comfortable with their cameras, settings and techniques as well as double checking that everyone had the right view for their shots. Moses and Kane were incredible at finding the animals and getting us to the right spot for photographic opportunities. The crew who looked after us were fantastic, making the wild camping seem almost homey. I’ve made memories that will stay with me forever! – Nikki Humphrey, UK
“I’m back from the bush in Botswana. A bit fatigued from the many long flights, and my feet may never come clean!. Big thanks to Andy Skinner and Sarah Skinner for putting together an awesome and memorable safari and getting it right from start to finish. Met some good people, had wonderful sightings and learned about photography as a bonus. Many laughs were shared. Grateful for the experience and also to our wonderful guides Kane Motswana and Moses for sharing their skills and knowledge. Grateful for new friends and looking forward to the next adventure. I would add that I would not hesitate to travel with you again. – Cara Alderson, USA
“We have recovered after a world class Holiday in Africa. Botswana was by far the highlight, Sarah and Andy did an amazing job to make it a special time for us. Well arranged, good company, fine accomodation and not least – wildlife showing itself at it’s best. A warm thank you also to you both for being so generous in sharing your knowledge and experience in the field of photographing – we really learned a lot out there and our pictures bares witness to that!! The only downside is that we feel that this hobby will cost us a fortune ” Jan & Greta, Denmark
Trip reviews for ‘Big Cat Safari’ with Andy & Sarah Skinner (Maasai Mara, June 2016)
“As soon as I stumbled across a photography Big Cat Safari trip that was being organised to Kenya, I knew we had to get on board! Our very first trip to Africa, my dream come true and I wanted to be sure that we were with a travel agent and tour guides in the know, and we hit the jackpot with Wildlife Trails and Andy and Sarah Skinner! We knew nothing about photography!, we purchased a camera a week before we arrived in Kenya and by the end of the trip we had learnt so much through the constant guiding and patience of Andy and Sarah, boy do they know their stuff!. Not to mention the mutual respect and rapport between them and the local guides (who have outstanding knowledge and passion and who liase beautifully with Andy and Sarah) the rangers and the camp site staff where we stayed at the Mara Intrepids, magnificent place!. I cried when I said goodbye to the staff! I cannot express enough love and emotion I feel for our amazing Big Cat Trip, everything was perfect, big fun and the wildlife, out of this world! From the first day to the last which I never wanted to end! We’re already saving to do another trip to Africa with Sarah and Andy, we wouldn’t go with anyone else, we recommend them so highly” – Gina Robertson & Greg Robinson, Australia.
“After I met Sarah last winter in Abisko, it was soon very clear that we had apart from aurora photography another common interest: Africa! Seeing that Sarah is a natural in hosting groups, I checked my calendar and other plans and was happy to take the final spot on the Big Cat Photography safari. It was all perfectly arranged, all preparation information clear and complete and as soon as I met Andy and Sarah at the reception after pickup from Nairobi airport the game was on.
Some minor hiccups from the side of the hotel in Nairobi were quickly solved by Sarah and Andy and the domestic flight brought us quickly to Mara Intrepids Camp. I was used to more basic safari, but the luxury in Mara Intrepids Camp, the great tents, the friendly staff and the good food is a real treat after a day out on the plains.
The last night was absolutely great where Sarah and Andy had arranged a bush dinner. While the thunder was rumbling in the distance, a few raindrops were falling, we had such a great evening with good company, good food and great laughs.
The photography safari itself was absolutely perfect! Being a bit nervous about my level of photography, I was quickly re-assured by Sarah that I should not worry at all. Andy was a great tutor and I truly feel I made a huge improvement on my photography skills because of his clear explanation. Both Andy and Sarah had great suggestions for the daily program, and together with the driver/guides were a star in spotting cats and other wildlife and positioning the vehicle that had sufficient space for all our big and smaller lenses.
Being back home now, I already start thinking about on which other trip I can join them. Absolutely recommended for all level of photographers and of course also other Africa lovers who want to spend as much time as possible out on a drive” – Anneke Beuze, Netherlands
“I first met Sarah in Abisko, Sweden on a photography tour of the Northern Lights. I am a novice photographer and she took a lot of time to assist me and to help me understand my camera. Sarah is very friendly and you can’t help but feel comfortable in her presence. As we got to know each other I learned about her photography tours in Africa. She spoke about it with such passion and excitement that it was infectious and as soon as I got home I booked a spot on the Massai Mara photography tour. I’m so glad that I did! It was the trip of a lifetime. The luxury tent facilities were great, the service was wonderful, the food was great and the game drives were amazing. We saw so much wildlife in our first game drive and had a full week of game drives twice a day. We saw the animals up close and everyone got wonderful photographs of lions, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, leopards, bulls, impalas, birds, gazelles, and hyenas, just to name a few. Both Sarah and Andy took the time to help everyone with their cameras and photo settings. They also took the time to make sure that everyone was comfortable and that our expectations of the trip were being met. I will definitely join Sarah and Andy on another tour in the near future. I highly recommend their photography tours” – Judyann Lee, Maryland, USA
“Sarah and Andy helped us to create our dream honeymoon, The big cat tour exceeded both of our expectations! We got up close and personal with so many animals and we saw a cat on every drive! Sarah and Andy’s knowledge of both photography and the wildlife on the Maasai Mara was truly inspirational. Sarah and Andy were patient, friendly and approachable. Making us feel important, even though we were novices with the camera. We came away with the knowledge of how to get the most out of our cameras and a passion for wildlife photography.
Overall it was a wonderful, life changing experience. I cannot recommend Sarah and Andy enough…. Thank you!!” – Ben & Rebecca Thomas, UK
Trip review for ‘Big Cat Safari’ with Andy Skinner & Jackson Looseyia (Maasai Mara, February 2016)
“As a regular visitor to Africa and a keen photographer I chose this trip because it promised the opportunity to improve my photography with expert guiding in a reserve that I love and it more than lived up to its promise. Entim camp is a fantastic camp in a lovely setting with excellent facilities and great food. It’s located right in the middle of the action with all of the reserve within easy driving distance. The vehicles were comfortable and we always had an entire row each so we could shoot from both sides. Our driver/guide Sammy was fantastic and as a keen photographer himself knew precisely where to position the car to give us the best shots. The hosting was nothing less than superb with the perfect balance of guiding and photography skills. Jackson is a legend in the Mara and takes guiding to a whole new level from finding tiny lion cubs in a den in long grass to anticipating the behaviour of the animals and making sure you’re always in exactly the right place to get the perfect shot. Andy is extremely knowledgable and experienced, always able to offer advice, help and suggestions in different shooting situations. Having his expert knowledge on hand and being able to pick his brains about settings, lighting, editing and special effects definitely helped to take my photography up a level. All in all an awesome week with amazing sightings in a perfect setting with excellent hosts. Can’t wait for my next trip with Andy and Sarah to Botswana in August and will certainly be booking again in 2017!” – Kathryn S, Glasgow. UK
Trip review for ‘Big Cat Safari’ with Sarah Skinner (Feb 2015) & ‘Big Cat safari’ with Andy Skinner (Maasai Mara, Feb 2016)
“I have now done 2 trips with Andy and Sarah Skinner Photography, both to the Maasai Mara and with each of them individually. Both trips were amazing,staying at the wonderful Entim Camp – which is right on the Mara river with easy access to everything that makes the Mara an amazing safari venue and one of my favourite places on earth. The sightings we had were incredible; both were Big Cat specialist trips and lived up to their name with special sightings of these fascinating animals, but there is so much else to see in the Mara too, the wildlife abundant.
Both Sarah and Andy have all the qualities required to make the trip special with great guiding skills as well as the photography know-how, even though their camera of choice is Nikon, it is transferable to Canon users like me (joking!). You don’t even have to be an expert photographer, with fancy equipment, to go and enjoy these trips, regardless of what sort of equipment you have you will learn something new that will help give you great memories of your special trip.
The trips were well organised, with individual requirements catered for. I was fortunate to have travelled on both trips with Jackson Looseyia, so an added bonus to be able to spend time with such a Big Cat and Mara expert and a wonderful person too. Both of the Entim guides – Sammy and Petro deserve a special mention, their guiding and driving skills made the trip exciting, but safe and very memorable.
So I fully recommend a trip with Sarah and Andy – indeed I’m off on my 3rd one with them both this summer!” – Jackie Downey, London, UK.
Below is just a small selection of Sarah’s numerous 5* reviews as seen on Trip Advisor. Covering Sarah’s time guiding in the Arctic where she works in the winter months between November – March as a senior Northern light and landscape photography guide for Lights Over Lapland (www.lightsoverlapland.com) For more of these reviews covering her time here please CLICK HERE to visit the Trip Advisor page.
“My family and I were meet by Sarah at the hotel and from that minute on we had such a great experience seeing the Aurora Borealis in such a beautiful surrounding. Sarah was full of information, extremely helpful, and made sure we got the best photographs EVER! I highly recommend this group as we would never have obtained such amazing photographs without Sarah guidance, instruction and enthusiasm” – Derycke, Perth, Australia
“Sarah’s encouragement and enthusiasm for the subject were infectious. Nothing too much trouble. The northern lights came out in full force which made for a magical end to our time in Swedish Lapland (the only day out of 5 when we saw the lights). Thank you thank you thank you!”- Su H, UK
“A new experience to check off the bucket list. Our guide Sarah was wonderful, helpful, knowledgeable and patient! We began at the lodge where we were given cameras and tripods. Sarah briefly went over the camera settings for us and set them. We hiked a very short hike to an open area and began to set up our tripods. Sarah built a fire within the teepee that was located there and supplied us with a warm beverage. The night we were out was very, very cloudy, but we were able to get a few photos and enough of an education about the aurora and camera settings that it made it worth it. I used those settings for my entire vacation and landed some amazing photos on a different night. Overall, I would highly recommend this experience and enjoyed it” – Lisa K, Orlando, USA
“Even if you miss the aurora – this is still an amazing experience! Sarah was full of information, extremely helpful, and made sure we got the best photographs EVER! The level of customer service is extremely high. Highly recommend” – Sarvesh, India
“Thank you Sarah, for an amazing evening. Your patience and support resulted in some fantastic photos for us to treasure, and remind us of this very special place” – Helen C, UK
“Spent the evening with Sarah, looking for the aurora. She’s so friendly and knowledgable and her enthusiasm is infectious” – Robert P
“My wife and I participated in the Lights Over Lapland photography session on one of the coldest nights we’ve ever experienced. Sarah Skinner was our guide/instructor and she was fabulous. We met her in the lobby of the Abisko Turiststation. She had all our camera gear ready for us, showed us how to use the camera and then took us out into the dark and cold night. We walked for about 8-10 minutes until we got into an open area. We setup our tripods and waited for the Northern Lights to make an appearance.
Sarah was awesome. She answered all questions, ran from person to person to make sure their camera’s were working and setup properly. After about 45 minutes or so, we started to get a glimmer of the why we were all here. The Lights Over the Lapland began to appear. Sarah was scrambling between everyone making sure they could get pictures of this amazing site. She helped me adjust my camera exposure settings and I was able to capture some amazing shots.
As I mentioned, it was really, really cold this night. So our camera batteries we dying very quickly due to the cold. Sarah had an ample supply of batteries and was exchanging them in all our cameras at a rapid rate. It was so cold, that my camera was dying after 10 shots or less at times. But she was always there to pop fresh batteries into our camera’s.
She had a fire going in a teepee that was nearby and some wonderfully tasting hot tea. After about an 1.5 I was frozen and hanging out with everyone else near the fire. We would warm up for 10 minutes then run back out for some more photos.
This was a great experience and my wife and I would love to meet with Sarah again someday for more lessons. Under warmer conditions.
When we got back to the Abisko Turiststation Sarah showed us the temperature and it was registering -40 degrees. Brrr!!!
We had such a great time and love the pictures we took. Sarah had a Lights Over Lapland t-shirt on that my wife and I really liked. We asked if they were selling them, as we wanted to buy one. She said that she would ask Chad the founder of Lights Over Lapland the next day if he had any for sale and if he did she would email us the price. She also offered to deliver them to our hotel if we decided to buy them. Which was very nice of her. Chad contacted our hotel and said that he did have 2 shirts for us and that they would dropped them off for us. We were able to add them to our hotel bill which was nice since we didn’t have much cash at this point of our trip.
My wife and I had a great experience with Lights Over Lapland and recommend this activity to anyone who would love to capture a beautiful display in the night sky that most people never get to see. Chad and Sarah were great to deal with and it shows they really love what they do” – Bob & Sonya, Ohio
“Just to set the scene, I have wanted to see the Aurora for 25 years. So for my 50th birthday Andy brought me to Sweden. We spent 3 days in Lulea first. The first night we saw a faint Aurora about 1am. I was so excited. That was the one and only sighting we had there, due to heavy cloud cover.
We then arrived in Abisko, first night total cloud cover. I was gutted but thought, we have a few more days here, so to keep positive.
The next night was the night of the photography work shop. We arrived in a mini blizzard, faces long and a little heavy of heart. We had been in Abisko for 2 days by then, each day with full cloud cover, which is very unusual. So we thought there wasn’t much point in attending the photo evening.I am the eternal optimist, so said to Andy, “Come on, you never know, Aurora may dance for us”.
Sarah was quick to read us, she instantly put us at ease, saying “Don’t worry about the bad weather, I have taken some of my best shots after a snow storm”. Sarah is a ray of sunshine, extremely helpful, full of passion for her job and her enthusiasm soon put everyone at ease.
After the introduction, Sarah took us outside, the weather had cleared up, much to our delight. Sarah was guiding us to our location, when she suddenly changed her mind. “We need to get set up quickly guys, I have a feeling it’s going to happen quick” she said. So we went to a nearer location.
I had brought my own camera, so set up first and took a test shot. I squealed with delight as on the horizon was a faint Aurora. I was made up with that. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. The sky exploded. I mean, it was surreal. A very emotional and spiritual experience. We had over an hour and a quarter of dancing Aurora. I was dancing, shouting, laughing and generally whooping and a hollering. I can say without a shadow of a doubt, it was the best night of our lives.
Sarah kept us informed at all times, telling the less experienced photographers when to change their shutter speed. When I experienced a problem, she came to my rescue straight away. What an incredible person she is. I wanted her to get some shots for herself, as it is her passion. But she said “I am here for you guys, this is your night.”
Andy shouted “For goodness sake”, Sarah instantly asked if her was ok, he replied yes I’m fine, it’s just so amazing”. I know what we saw was the Aurora at her best. In fact we were told by friends who were at The Sky Station that night, a local man had only ever seen such a display 3 times in his lifetime. Where you could see the pinks with the naked eye. We spent a few hours in the field. Had a warm drink by the campfire. When we packed up, we saw a moose. Much to Sarah’s delight. Then the snow returned with a vengeance. So anyone who is thinking of doing this work shop, trust you guide. She was spot on.
Thank you for your warmth, your skill, knowledge and for understanding why I was running around like a mad women. We will have this memory to keep us warm for the rest of our lives. Plus we have tons of AWESOME photos. Andy who is a total novice, has some pictures that are better than mine!” – Diane N, UK