Reporter’s Diary: How to prepare for filming wildlife in Kenya’s Maasai Mara

Kenya’s Maasai Mara is one of the East African country’s most visited protected nature areas with thousands pouring into this vast landscape each year to witness African wildlife in their natural habitats. 

Preparation is key, whether these visitors are news-gathering professionals or simply tourists hoping to make the most out of what is, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get up close and personal with wild animals that few get the chance to meet in the flesh.

Most will want to capture photos and videos of the things they see. For those unsure of what kind of gear will get the job done, go for a diversity of camera equipment. 

For our field assignment in the Maasai Mara, we were sure to bring a long, zoom-capable lens suitable for filming potentially dangerous animals at a safe distance, a portable light to film wildlife that is not active during the day, along with a wide lens and microphone for filming interviews with the people who keep the nature reserve running. 

On the clothing front, forethought and planning is equally important. Bright colors that don’t appear naturally in the local landscape could startle or alarm the wildlife who call the region home. Instead, opt for muted, neutral tones like beiges, greens, grays and browns. 

Bring a sufficient range of layers to accommodate the dramatic swings in temperature that occur in the ecosystem over the course of a given day. Light, airy fabrics and appropriate headgear will come in handy while waiting for a wildebeest crossing under the heat of the midday sun, while warmer, bulkier garb is a must for frosty, pre-dawn game drives.

Finally, from a health and safety perspective, it’s wise to consider the local insect-life. Unlike other parts of Kenya, the Mara is a malarial zone, so long sleeves and pants will help protect against mosquitos in the evening. Blue clothing is also known to repel tsetse flies, blood-sucking flying parasites that deliver a painful sting and sometimes transmit sleeping sickness.