It is said that an Africa safari is a once in a lifetime experience, but it is one that can truly be magical for a photographer. Whether you are an experienced photographer or just starting your journey into the breathtaking world of wildlife photography, there is a safari experience perfect for you.
Safari countries are roughly divided into three regions: Central Africa includes Rwanda, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the DRC) and Burundi. East Africa includes Tanzania and Kenya. Finally we have Southern Africa, which includes South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Each destination offers a different wildlife experience and it is helpful to research each area to gain a better understanding of what you may expect.
Unrivaled Wildlife Photography
The diverse wildlife is undoubtedly the biggest attraction for photographers. Photographers are spoilt for choice as Africa is home to some unique and truly breathtaking wildlife phenomena.
The sheer scale of the Great Migration is unbelievable and should be at the top of any wildlife photographer’s list. It is the single largest animal migration on earth. The migration consists of approximately 1.5 million wildebeests, 300,000 zebras and antelope. They gather up their offspring to make the long trek from the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania to the Masai Mara National Reserve, further to the north in Kenya. Or head to Ngorongoro Crater, home of the very rare black rhino and the densest population of lions in world. Take a photographic journey across the flooded plains of Okavango Delta in Botswana as elephants, hippos, rhinos, impalas, giraffes, wildebeest and gazelles arrive in search of food and water. Visit Uganda for the opportunity to see and photograph the majestic and elusive mountain gorilla. The Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the most bio diverse regions in the world and home of the world famous Big Five.
On safari you become a spectator as the lives of the animals take center stage, which means you never quite know what will happen during a game drive. Its this level of spontaneity and adventure that makes a safari lodge so attractive to photographers.
Bear in mind that these are just some of the destinations available and each country is home to multiple national and private parks. Thus research is important before deciding on a destination for your photographic holiday.
More Than Just The Big Cats
The big cats may be the stars on most safaris, but the cast consists of a staggering number of creatures both big and small. Hundreds of bird, insect and plant species also lay claim to the vast expanses of these reserves as their home. It offers photographers a truly staggering variety of subjects during their trip and the first time can often be overwhelming. Rangers will use their expertise and knowledge to help point you in the right direction.
Safari operators now offer specialized photographic game drives since wildlife photographers desire a different experience to the typical safari-goer. These photographic game drives includes smaller group sizes (or personal game drives) and access to an expert ranger with photographic experience. The expertise of the ranger and tracker gives the opportunity to track a porcupine family or a herd of elephants to take the photo you desire.
Photographers may be interested in more than just the wildlife as they find themselves in landscapes steeped in unrivaled beauty. These landscapes provide the perfect backdrop to game drives and may prove to be a muse to those looking to photograph something different. Rangers are more than happy to share their knowledge of the area to find the perfect spot for your photos.
Safaris offer you the exciting opportunity, as a photographer, to become a part of your subject’s life. It will give you a new perspective on nature and broaden your horizons as a wildlife photographer.
About the Author
Mark Norman grew up on a farm in South Africa and continues to find joy in immersing himself in the great outdoors. Passionate about animals and conservation, Mark is a capable outdoorsman and works at Pondoro Game Lodges where is able to make a living doing the things he loves most.