Photography is a fairly individual pursuit. It demands time and patience as well as in-depth knowledge of local conditions and the subject. Travellers are always captivated by Africa’s landscapes, people and wildlife.Subsequently; many travellers are inspired to make a visual record of the never-ending savannah plains and dramatic hoof-and-claw encounters they witness while on an African Safari. Early adventurers painted what they saw; modern visitors capture the moment through the lens of a camera!
Keen photographers are often restrained on a general safari – they lack the freedom to stake out a waterhole for hours or wait patiently for a lion pride to catch up with a herd of buffalo. They often need a particularly experienced guide to keep them informed of the likely movement and behaviour of the wildlife they are observing. The perfect safari, from a photographer’s point of view, is one that balances patient observation of the details with a sharp eye for dramatic opportunities.
Photographic safaris in Africa capitalise on the experience and knowledge of professional photo-guides – their ability to predict animal behaviour means you won’t miss out on any action. Another key advantage is exploring the wilderness in vehicles and boats that have been custom-designed for photographers. Specialist photographic safaris are suitable for single travellers, couples and groups, and are offered in most of Africa’s premier travel destinations.It is wiser to bring your own camera and lenses.
Uganda’s golden light sets it apart from many photographic destinations – from the silvery light of dawn to rolling hills of green, to the dramatic hues of sunset, this is a country where photographers have every advantage of beautiful landscape and ever green plains.
Kenya is another country with a wide range of photographic experiences: the Masai Mara’s Great Migration is one of nature’s most dramatic spectacles. Iconic imagery greets you at every turn of the road – whether it is tartan-robed Masai warriors, snow-capped Kilimanjaro or big cats stalking their prey in the rolling savannah grasslands.
Dotting the coast of East Africa are; Sky blue waters, pearl white sandy beaches, beautiful tropical lodges, moss covered ruins of the magical archipelagos of Zanzibar and Lamu that welcome you with an everyday picturesque, mesmerizing tropical beauty.
Botswana’s Chobe River has a well-deserved reputation as a wildlife mecca. Home to Africa’s greatest concentration of elephant, it is no surprise that a Chobe photo safari is richly rewarding for wildlife enthusiasts. Alternating between game drives and boat trips, photographers have the chance to capture the moment as hundreds of thirsty elephants rumble down to the river to drink. Hippo wallow and crocodile bask in the sun, fish eagles soar and riverbanks teem with buffalo, gazelle and the predators that hunt them.
Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are home to game-packed reserves that provide photographers with primal scenes of predator and prey. These destinations feature safari lodges that welcome photographers with facilities such as media rooms, private vehicles with specialist photo-guides, and battery recharging stations.
Namibia is famous for its rolling plains of apricot-coloured sand dunes and breathtaking desert scenery: there are abandoned towns slowly disappearing into the stark beauty of the Skeleton Coast and vast salt plains with desert-adapted species in Etosha National Park.
South Africa is the world’s third most bio-diverse country with legendary opportunities for photography. The Kruger National Park and its private reserves are famous for documentary-level sightings of the Big 5- especially of elusive leopard while malaria-free Madikwe offers beautiful Kalahari landscapes and plenty of game.
Many professional wildlife photographers consider Africa’s quieter “green season” – usually the rainy summer months of the year – to be the best time to photograph game. Visitor numbers are low, reducing the crowds at each sighting and the light is softer and more luminous under skies regularly filled with dramatic cloud formations.
However, the best time for easy game viewing is usually in the dry season when game is concentrated around waterholes. Unfortunately, the dry season means long days of bleached blue skies, harsh light and dusty conditions. During the green season, there is more water around, which makes for lusher landscapes and tender summer grasses that trigger the massed birthing of antelope fawns. The light is softer, the days are longer, the reserves are quieter and you get far more value for your travel Dollar.
If you want to zoom in on Africa’s most famous spectacles, such as the Great Wildebeest Migration in East Africa, then you need to book your photo-safari in the right season. Peak season game viewing in most African countries, means superb wildlife sightings but crowded reserves.