*As seen in The Logbook
In 2008, long-time friends James Blue & Kevin Harris embarked on an adventurous photo safari in the Serengeti of Tanzania. The experience left a profound impact on them both and ultimately inspired James to put together his own safari company shortly after their return. James began taking small groups of photographers to experience the magic of the Serengeti in 2009. Kevin joined the company in 2014 when Grand Safaris was born and they began putting together their own camps in Ruaha and Serengeti National Parks. As a U.S. company they are uniquely situated as perhaps one of a very small minority of licensed and insured Tanzanian tour operators that own & operate their own camp facilities.
Finally, photographer Darren Bennett joined the grand partnership as the company expanded and Warren Baty came on board to assist with marketing and sales.
The company originally launched in 2009 has evolved into what it has become today in Grand Safaris. The company focuses on providing exceptional photo safaris specializing in the spectacular Serengeti & Ruaha ecosystems. Since then the company has been growing from strength to strength off the back of their uniquely appealing approach.
As the company was founded by photographers, they naturally specialize in helping their guests many of which are togs themselves, to return home with amazing imagery. Each tour, which lasts between 8-14 days is bespoke and tailored around this goal.
The safari vehicles are purpose built and customized to further help their photographer guests achieve the best possible images. This is a feature of their business that also benefits their non-photographers guests as well. In fact, there is a strong possibility that they have the most photographer friendly vehicles in Tanzania allowing their guests to shoot from a wide variety of photo angles that other vehicles cannot achieve.
With a less generic and more focused goal in mind, Grand Safaris employs some of the most experienced and knowledgeable guides in Tanzania, several of which have worked with film crews for the BBC, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and more. They know the wildlife and the areas where they operate exceptionally well, and they also know what photographers prefer in terms of positioning and lighting.
By choice, Grand Safaris operates in spectacularly game-rich areas and have designed and positioned their camps to be away from the crowds of other tourists. Free from the competition of other tour operators their camps offer a more genuine African wilderness experience, providing an element of seclusion that is free from distraction.
Grand Safaris makes use of three camps that guests can enjoy. In Ruaha National Park they have the permanent luxury safari site, the gorgeous Grand Ruaha Camp. Then, in the Serengeti there are an additional two seasonal safari camps, the Grand Mara camp in the North and Grand Kopjes camp in the South.
THE GRAND SAFARI APPROACH
The guys behind Grand Safari have found that creating the perfect excursion depends on several key variables and tying them all together smoothly. When helping guests design their TZ safari they first determine how much time the guests have, what they want to see and what their budget is. After an extensive information finding process they embark on making their guests safari dreams come true. Seasonal variables such as the dry season vs. green season play an important role as does the location and movements of animals.
Photographers are usually patient, but whether a client is a photographer or just an adventurer, it is important to manage expectations at the planning process. Especially as with many guests coming from the United States, the trip to Tanzania is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY
While Tanzanian law requires companies to employ locally, this is something that Grand Safaris would do anyway. To not only take full advantage of the extraordinary strength of local knowledge but also to support the local communities that rely on this industry. They employ between 15-20 people depending on their requirements and also support a number of groups that do wildlife research and anti-poaching initiatives.
They strongly support the work that the Ruaha Carnivore Project does in their efforts to help the Wild Dogs and all of the large apex predator species. They also support the work of Remembering Wildlife and several other TZ conservation organizations. They have also designed their camps to be as “green” as possible, without sacrificing amenities, to further do their part for local conservation.
Looking for a Photography Safari?
PRICE: Ranges from $400 per day all-inclusive to $1200 per day all-inclusive
ADDRESS: 10645 N. Tatum Blvd / Suite 200-278 / Phoenix, AZ 85028
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 1- 888 – 314 7782