Photographer Will Burrard-Lucas built a waterhole in Kenya’s Southern Rift Valley and captured a series of stunning wildlife photos.
Burrard-Lucas captured lions, hyenas, buffalo, leopards, zebras, and many more at the DIY waterhole and adjacent hide he made with the local Maasai community.
What’s more, the Shompole Hide, as it is known, is now a new tourist attraction that photographers and nature enthusiasts can visit.
“I teamed up with Shompole Wilderness Camp, to build a new waterhole, well away from other sources of water, and a hide (also known as a blind) from which people would have a chance to see some of these elusive creatures for themselves,” writes Burrard-Lucas on his website.
Burrard-Lucas started digging the waterhole back in 2021 and filled it from drums of water transported on the back of a pickup truck. “I set up a camera trap and over the coming days the wildlife started to show up,” he adds.
He then hauled two shipping containers to the remote sub-Saharan location which were converted into a spacious hide with windows, a toilet, and fold-down beds.
Members of the Maasai tribe then helped to construct a five-kilometer pipeline from the river and installed a solar pump to keep the waterhole permanently topped up.
My first nights in the hide were challenging!” Writes Burrard-Lucas. “The wildlife was skittish and my movements were clumsy.”
“More often than not, animals would get spooked and disappear in a cloud of dust before I could take a photograph. Over time, however, I got better at moving around silently and the wildlife got used to the new occupant of the hide.”
During the nighttime, the photographer had to work in total darkness and he figured out a way of lighting the waterhole that didn’t disturb the animals.
“Lighting was as critical as the design of the hide itself. It was important to me that this would be totally flexible so that any photographer could illuminate the waterhole in their own style and capture photographs that didn’t look the same as everyone else’s. For me, experimenting with lighting is one of the most challenging and exciting aspects of working at night,” Burrard-Lucas says.
The British photographer wanted to picture a lion above all creatures and sure enough, the majestic beasts arrived.
“I was alone with nothing but air between me and the lions. The cats were just a few meters away and seemed impossibly large from my vantage point,” he says.
“The lions knew I was there and held my gaze as they approached the water. Nothing compares to that connection, the feeling of vulnerability and the exhilaration.”
Image credits: All photos by Will Burrard-Lucas.