Hey there! You made it! If you’re viewing this page then you obviously got the email link, and are one of those that have been put on our “short-list” for advanced information. If you remain confused – and I don’t blame you – then the pretext for that is that you have either:
- travelled with me before
- are about to next year
- have asked to be informed directly as soon as the next set of trips become available.
So, it’s eyes down for 2021. Now, I appreciate that year might seem a long way off, but the type of trips I’ve been putting together have been filling up to 18 months in advance and as such the earlier we can get you the information, the better. As such, whilst others may be releasing their 2020 programmes, the tighter, more specialized nature of what we do enables us to plan much further ahead. This not only provides you with the chance to schedule ahead, but also locks in pricing (compare many of our 2021 rates to those for 2019/2020 elsewhere for example!) as well as, more importantly, secure the locations and guides that I want.
Overall, our ethos remains the same:
- Small groups – maximizing your chance to work unfettered
- Excellent locations – places I have worked and photographed myself long before I started sharing these with guests
- Itineraries that ensure you are in the right place at the right time…and for the right AMOUNT of time too
- Photographer-lead – not “tour leader” supported. Anyone leading one of my trips is a photographer first and foremost, and has been hand-picked to ensure they give you the right type of photographic experience. To steer and guide is our raison d’etre…not to rush you around and worry about our photos and not yours.
- Everything geared to your photographic experience…not a ticking exercise in bad light….
A few facts and figures…
With the world the way it is, the crystal-ball of exchange-rate gazing has become nigh on impossible. However, we’re not a big corporate with an over-arching need to see a shareholder-driven bottom line, and as such we have set out our stall for 2021 in terms of pricing, and are going to stick with it. The aim is to give you assurance and security when you come to book your place.
Our pledge is simple.
The price you see now is the price you’ll pay…regardless! We will not burden you with fuel surcharges or supplements if things change, nor will we alter the rate and come back and ask for more if exchange rates move detrimentally. As you know, it’s never been my goal for us to have 10,000 people travelling on 10,000 holidays! The intention is to remain small, focused and totally geared towards the photographic experience, perhaps – in a small way – re-writing the way photographic tours are organized and function. My trips are always about making it work for YOU…and give you the chance to experience, if only for a short time, what it is like to work and shoot in some of these most spectacular locations. All the time you are on a trip, myself or one of my fellow-leaders will always be as accessible as you need…after all…that’s why we’re there!
Guiding and leading
All our trips utilize local resources of course (naturalists, spotters, drivers and guides), and all the ones listed here have either myself or one of my good industry colleagues accompanying the trip throughout to make sure you get the experience I have designed, and that you are hoping for!
The reality is – and this will come as music to the ears of all of you I’m sure! – that I cannot be everywhere all the time. In order, therefore, for me to be able to keep supplying the kind of intimate, small group photo experience that I want to, I have enlisted the help of a very small, select group of photographers who share my passion for teaching, photography and conservation. They are all experts behind the lens and extremely knowledgeable about the environments they will lead in. They’ve all got a pretty good sense of humour too 😉
When it came to selecting these photographers, there were a number of criteria I needed to see established. Firstly, each of them I have chosen to work with me is a photographer first and foremost, not a tour-leader-turned-picture taker as you will often see elsewhere. These are experts in the region, the photography and have great empathy for teaching. All have been hand-picked by me over the last year to allow us to spread the load, provide the same high quality photo experience (with as much or as little guidance as you need). I hope that a photo-guided “Andy Skillen Photography” trip has established a new set of standards that are now expected and anticipated, and you can be sure that I will continue to build and reinforce that. We believe we have provided a new type of photo adventure – based around small groups and a great deal of accessibility to the tour leader.
We are there for you…not to take our own photos…. 🙂
So what happens next…
Many of you have already asked me to earmark/reserve/put your name against a trip for 2021 and that has indeed been penciled in. If you asked something specific you will be on that list.
At this stage now, though, we need you to re-affirm your interest so we can ink you in a bit!
The list given here is the “bare bones” of what we will be offering and is intended to give you an idea of timings, price and basic itinerary. The in-depth itinerary will follow to those that register their interest against a trip, and all those will be despatched by the end of October.
Why do we do that?
Simply that we want to make sure that, at the outset, the itineraries fall only to the serious. We are a little protective of what we have done so far, and want to keep it that way. Where we are leading…inevitably others will try and follow, but we would like to just make it that little bit harder for them to even attempt.
After you receive the itinerary, it will be at that stage that you will be sent a booking form. so you have time to flex around and look at a number of trips if you wish! Of course, if you know for definite you simply want to book now, then we can organize that. At least that way you will be 100% guaranteed to be on the trip as we can’t predict which trips will have more than the group number register an interest…if that makes sense…and therefore it will be on a first-come-first-served basis once the full itineraries are sent out.
The good news is that although the general public will get wind of these in mid-October (partly because we will be at the Wildlife & Safari Show in Harrogate), they will automatically be put lower down the list until the end of the month in terms of taking up a space.
So…there we go…have a read, and as always, any questions, do fire them over. The system has been set to send you this whilst I am currently in Brazil, so don’t panic if you don’t hear straight back from me…wifi is not great most days!
Please copy your emails to Carrie (firstname.lastname@example.org) too, just as insurance.
A final thought…
One last thing…remember, all our trips do not include flights to/from the start/end points and some may not include all alcoholic drinks. This will be detailed in the full itinerary. We also base everything on shared accommodation – as we are murdered with single supplements everywhere and have to pass on these extra bills. If we can, we don’t charge, but its best to assume that you will be sharing or paying extra. The exception to this is Zambia…where our trip is geared for 5 people to enable room in the vehicle for an extra guide at night.
We do of course offer a number of options for extensions to all of these trips (which we can discuss with you later) as well as a selection of “unguided” (which means no photographer to go with you, but local guides of course will still be there) to some very special destinations and with some incredible itineraries. All of these trips have been undertaken by me in the past for pure photo reasons – and I am happy to share these hidden gems with you too. Of course, you are more than welcome to ask us to quote you for one of the itineraries below too if you wish, if you don’t want to be part of a small group, or if you feel that that you want to push your photography forward on your own. I am more than happy to help and guide in that instance and set up the chance for you to do so – just ask!
We will make a separate announcement on some of the suggested unguided trips before Christmas and into the New Year, as they are not specifically time-dependent and can be tailored to suit. Indeed, some of you have already been on some, or are scheduled to do so in the coming year.
2021: guided trips
The Dark Heart Safari
Location: Republic of Congo
Group size: 6
No. of nights: 8
Departure: 10-18 January (exact TBC, but this will be available within the next month)
Price: GBP 9,495
Included: 1 night Brazzaville; 7 nights at comfortable camps in the heart of the rainforests; all transfers on charter flights; boat trips; on ground transport; gorilla treks; local naturalist guides; visa assistance
Notes: an 8-night adventure into the very heart of Africa’s rainforests, with a focus on forest elephant, bongo, forest buffalo and other denizens of this incredible ecosystem. What is more…we include THREE treks to see lowland gorillas…a true once in a lifetime experience (except…we’re making it thrice!).
Highlights and Highlands
Group size: 6
No. of nights: 13
Departure: 1-14 February 2021
Price: GBP 5,850
Start/Finish: Addis Ababa
Included: 1 night Addis Ababa; 5 nights Simien Lodge; 2 nights Awash National Park; 4 nights Bale Mountains National Park; 1 night Awassa Lake
Notes: Almost two weeks of top quality photographic locations and the search for Ethiopia’s most iconic wildlife species including Waleda Ibex, Gelada baboon and Simien wolf amongst others. This trip is all about giving you plenty of time in each location to work with the subjects and push your boundaries to not just capture “animals on cards” but to truly integrate the beautiful surroundings in which they are found and weave in the character of each species across the portfolio you build.
Tanzania: predators and prey
Location: Ndutu region (Serengeti), Tarangire, Ngorongoro crater
Group size: 6
No. of nights: 11
Departure: 27 February – 10 March 2021
Price: GBP 6,995
Start/Finish: Kilimanjaro Airport, Tanzania
Included: 2 nights Tarangire National Park; 3 nights Ngorongoro Crater; 6 nights Ndutu region (Southern Serengeti); bush flight from Arusha to Ndutu; two open-sided vehicles (max. 3 people per vehicle); all meals/drinks; all guiding and fees.
Notes: arguably our most incredible African trip giving you just 3 people per vehicle, full support throughout and a bush flight to Ndutu. The latter is THE region for predator / prey interaction as the calving season swings into action. We spend 6 nights there, with 3 nights in the Crater on the way back, and a final 2 nights in the elephant heaven of Tarangire. This trip is geared to have you back at the airport on the 10th March in time for onward connections too. For a full idea of this itinerary, please check out the 2019 offering on the “guided trips” section of the website.
Kings & Queens of Katmai*
Location: Katmai national park, Alaska
Group size: 8
No. of nights: 8 (1 night Kodiak, 7 nights on board ship)
Departure: 1-9 September
Price: GBP 7,895
Start/Finish: Kodiak, Alaska
Included: 1 night in Kodiak in a mid-range hotel; 7 nights on our chartered ship in comfortable cabins; return floatplane rides to the start-point
Notes: To truly explore the Katmai National park, you need to have the ability to move…and not just by aircraft (which can be grounded in bad weather). As such, we’ve taken the decision to charter our own ship that will take us into Kukak Bay, Hallo Bay, Kaflia Bay, Kinak and Hidden harbour (about as remote as you can get in Katmai), and Geographic Harbour. Staying on the boat and cruising from location to location (depending on the intelligence we glean) we will make landings each day to enable on foot photographic opportunities with the grizzlies that call this part of Alaska home. Wolves are even a possibility in some bays, whilst sea otters, seals and the occasional whale are also a potential photo sighting from the ship. This will be a great immersive bear experience, and can be coupled with our Kodiak Giants trip (see below) to make for that once in a lifetime grizzly-fest!
Kodiak: land of giants*
Location: Kodiak Island
Group size: 6
No. of nights: 8 (1 night Kodiak, 7 nights in camp)
Departure: 9-17 September
Price: GBP 7,750
Start/Finish: Kodiak, Alaska
Included: 1 night in Kodiak in a mid-range hotel; 7 nights at our bear camp in super-comfortable cabins; return floatplane rides to/from the location; all meals and soft drinks; all guiding and transportation in the bear-watching areas; welcome meal in Kodiak
Notes: What a place Kodiak Island is: jaw-dropping beauty and some of the wildest terrain anywhere on earth. And do you know what? We take over one of the most prolific bear-viewing areas on the whole island – Karluk Lake – and have it to ourselves for seven nights. The aim? Some close-up encounters with the most iconic grizzlies on the planet – the Kodiak brown bear. This is the giant of legends, and your chance to experience this magic up close and personal.
*For serious grizzly fans…we have timed our two brown bear trips so you can do both, back-to-back, and experience some of the most incredible bear photography in some of the most spectacular parts of their range. This essentially would be the ultimate grizzly experience for the enthusiastic brown-bear photographer or watcher!
Polar bears: on foot and personal
Location: Manitoba/Nunavut border (remote cabins)
Group size: 6/7
No. of nights: 7 (2 in Winnipeg, 5 in camp)
Departure: 6-13 November 2021 (please note these days may move a little either way; confirmation will be before end 2019)
Start/Finish: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Price: GBP 9,985
Included: 1 night hotel in Winnipeg; welcome meal; 5 nights accommodation in our remote polar bear cabins; return flight from Winnipeg to Churchill; return scenic 50 minute charter ‘plane from Churchill to the viewing location; all meals on-site; 1 night in Winnipeg on return.
Notes: As you know, I’ve photographed polar bears all over the Canadian Arctic for many years, and this particular area remains one of my favourites. Camped in “polar bear alley”, and far, far away from increasingly bigger groups or the Churchill-based, dreaded tundra buggies, we set out to encounter these arctic giants on foot (as they visit our camp, protected by an electric fence) or out on the tundra directly. An eye-to-eye experience with the most exciting predator in the northern hemisphere, along with the chance of photographing other arctic species and, if the weather permits, the northern lights too.
Paradise in the Pantanal (2 departures)
Location: The Pantanal, Brazil
Group size: 6
No. of nights: 10
Departures: 10-20 September; 21 September – 1 October
Start/Finish: Cuiaba, Brazil
Included: 4 nights in land-based accommodation; 6 nights in our floating hotel in the heart of the jaguar region, at the peak of the sightings period; transport in our open-sided safari truck between locations; all meals; exclusive use of our Wimberley-equipped photo boat for the duration of your stay (the only one on the river!)
Notes: One of the fastest to fill, our Pantanal adventures are admired –and envied! – across the region. With just 6 people (not 12 or 15 in your boat), fully rotating, in-line seats equipped with mobile lens mountings (Wimberley), a higher position to see over obstructions and the best guides and boat drivers in the region, we ensure you see plenty of the big cats…and have the luxury of spending time to watch and record their behaviour. Added to that, we have 4 days of searching for anteaters, tapir, howler and capuchin monkeys and all manner of other Pantanal-dwellers; access to a nest-level platform for iconic Jabiru stork photography; 2 nights in an ocelot hide to attempt to capture this elusive cat on the memory card, and the option to spend time at a dedicated tapir blind where we may increase our chances of a special photographic encounter. We can also, on the river, take a day to visit an exclusive lake hidden in the heart of the jaguar-zone, where from a floating pontoon we could see anything – or indeed everything – come to drink during the day. A special – and super-popular – trip because of its duration in the key zones (10 nights in total), and the guides and equipment we use.
Location: Damaraland/Skeleton coast
Group size: 6
No. of nights: 11
Departures: 16-27 April
Start/Finish: Windhoek, Namibia
Price: GBP: 8,195
Included: Welcome meal; 1 night in Windhoek; 2 nights Sossusvlei; 4 nights Hoanib River valley; 4 nights private concession, northwest Damaraland; all meals and drinks; PRIVATE CHARTER AIRCRAFT between destinations
Notes: Oh yes…this is one even I’m more excited than normal about! I’ve photographed this part of Namibia for more than 20 years for a number of projects, and for the first time I’ve been able to put together an itinerary that will give you a true sense of this incredible, empty wilderness…in comfort! With 10 nights on location, starting at the iconic red sand dunes of Sossusvlei, we will use our own aircraft to fly from place to place and cut down on long transit times…as well as enable you to see this beautiful country from the air! The Hoanib river valley is one of the hardest places to visit…and home to the desert adapted lion (as well as other species such as cheetah, giraffe, zebra and elephant to name a few), and you will have 4 days to attempt to capture this rarest of predators through the lens. From here we fly further north to the heart of free-roaming black rhino country…where for another four nights we will track these true survivors by vehicle, and then on foot, to give you face to face photographic opportunities. Night photography, other animals, incredible scenics….this trip really does have it all.
Botswana: a triple-site adventure (2 departures)
Location: Chobe National Park; Okavango Delta
Group size: 6
No. of nights: 10
Departures: 4-14 July; 14-23 July
Start/Finish: Kasane, Botswana; Maun Botswana
Price: GBP: 6,895
Included: 1 night Kasane, 3 nights remote bush camp in Chobe National Park, 3 nights exclusive use of a houseboat on the Chobe river (with gimbal-equipped photo boat to use each day for outings; 3 nights heart of the Okavango Delta; all guiding/meals/drinks; bush flights from Kasane to the Delta, and the latter onto Maun at the end of the adventure.
Notes: This trip has been incredibly popular and I am delighted to reinstate it for 2021 with two separate departures. By using our remote tented camp in the heart of Chobe National Park, we get far away from the madding crowds of those doing morning or afternoon trips. Camping under the stars in fully equipped tents we will be immersed in the bush 24/7 and able to fully appreciate the true wonder of the Chobe region. Following three days of safari, we will transfer to the water, and our houseboat, for which we will exclusively charter for our group. With just six on board, plus your photo guide of course!, you are assured of space, time and service as well as the chance to work in an uncrowded atmosphere on the photo boat which we will launch twice a day along the river. The boat gives us a completely different take on the wildlife and the chances it presents are truly once in a lifetime as you maximize the opportunity to work at water-level with species as they drink, bathe and even cross the river. From here, we fly to the Okavango Delta, and the heart of Bushman country where the camp we will be using has some of the best trackers in the region – descended from the original bushmen that lived and thrived there. The result for you is unsurpassable photographic opportunity of Africa’s major species in an exclusive setting. Ten nights in Botswana, in an exclusive camp-site; sole-use houseboat and leading Delta destination…with bush flight and a hugely experienced pro photographer to support you…for less than £7,000…
In-Depth Zimbabwe (2 departures)
Location: Mana Pools and Hwange National Parks
Group size: 4
No. of nights: 9
Departures: 1-10 October; 10-20 October
Start/Finish: Victoria Falls/Harare (please note, depending on departure chosen, this will change the arrival/departure airport)
Price: GBP: 7,795
Included: 4 nights in a tented camp in a remote section of Hwange National Park; 5 nights Mana Pools at an exclusive use camp on the banks of the Zambezi; bush flight from Mana to Hwange (or reverse); road transfer from Victoria Falls to Hwange (or reverse); flight to or from Mana (depending on departure); all meals and drinks
Notes: A 9 night, 10 day photographic and wildlife viewing adventure taking in two of zimbabwe’s most spectacular wildlife locations, each offering a wealth of diverse photographic opportunity in uncrowded surroundings. With a group size limited to just 4, you are guaranteed plenty of tuition time, and also plenty of room in which to work. The trip is timed to maximise the end of the dry season in Hwange, as wildlife concentrates more and more around dwindling water resources, as well as heading to Mana Pools to maximise your possibilities of viewing Africa’s most elusive predators – wild dogs – as they transition from the denning phase to hunting on the floodplain. Elephant encounters with some of the region’s “standing bulls” are virtually guaranteed…and you can do as much as you like on foot. The angles you can achieve, and the intimacy of the photographic opportunity we can work makes this trip truly exceptional. We will also have the chance for water level photography with the river’s crocodile and hippo population (from escorted canoes), most of which will be done with a wide angle…and a lot of adrenaline! If you are interested in more information about photographing this region, look out for my article coming out in the November 2019 issue of Wild Planet Photo Magazine to find out more…
Zambia: a tale of two rivers
Location: South Luangwa National Park; Lower Zambezi National Park
Group size: 5 (no single supplement will apply)
No. of nights: 7
Departures: 15-23 September
Price: GBP: 7,950
Included: 4 nights in a remote camp-style lodge in one of the most prolific game viewing areas of South Luangwa National Park; 3 nights in our camp on the banks of the Zambezi river in Lower Zambezi National Park; all meals/drinks/guiding; flights to SLNP from Lusaka; from SLNP to LZ; and LZ to Lusaka.
Notes: Zambia remains one of my most favourite shooting locations in sub-saharan Africa. It is relatively unvisited compared to some East African venues for example, and yet harbours some of the most incredible wildlife anywhere on the continent. This photographic adventure has been specially designed to immerse you immediately into the heart of two of the country’s most iconic locations, where you will get the chance for some truly special photographic opportunities in an unhurried and uncrowded atmosphere. I have decided to gear this trip to encompass two of Africa’s greatest rivers and at a time of the season where game is being pulled towards it in ever-increasing numbers. This presents a fantastic stage for you to focus on, with an ever-changing cast of players entering stage left and right. A true once-only adventure encompassing two spectacular locations. Zambiaaaaahhhh indeed….