We'll be visiting two of the best wildlife photography locations in Africa -- MalaMala Game Reserve in South Africa, and Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. To ensure we have plenty of time to explore and experience wildlife behaviors, we'll spend four nights at each camp. To maximize our time, we'll be flying to and between the camps on private charter aircraft. Prior to our wildlife adventure, we'll tap into the rich cultural traditions of South Africa by spending a day with a local expert in Soweto. The time in Johannesburg also gives us some time to decompress from our international flights, and adjust to the time change before we head off into the bush.
One of the best features of Mashatu is its unique water-level photographic blinds (aka hides) from where we'll be able to get breath-taking images of large mammals -- including elephants and giraffe -- complete with their reflections. Four of us at a time can be in the blind, so it is also an intimate experience. You'll of course always have a ranger or the local photo guide with you for safety.
Experience the water-level blind at Mashatu in this video. We'll have a chance to shoot from there (optional, of course)
To give you an overall feel for what you'll likely be able to see and capture, enjoy this slideshow of highlights from one of our recent trips:
We've gone out of our way to ensure that photographers will have an amazing and productive experience. We reserve additional baggage capacity on the charter flights, so everyone can bring the gear they need. We also use only private vehicles, and spend extra to make sure we have enough for everyone to have room to shoot. The vehicles are open, for maxium ability to see, and to pan.
Because these are private game reserves, we will also have excellent mobility, and the ability to go off-road when it is important to getting the best out of a quality sighting.
We also make sure we'll have plenty of power in camp for recharging as needed, as well as a setup for viewing and reviewing images, and doing some classroom instruction.
Top of the line Pro Instruction!
I'll be shooting with you the entire time. The trip is limited to eight photographers, so we'll have plenty of time to work together. Each evening we'll talk about the next day's shooting and cover shooting strategies for making the most of it. We'll also review our shooting each day and discuss what worked and didn't work. I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have. I can't guarantee that you'll get world class images, but I'll work to make sure you have the best possible chance!
Wildlife Photo Instruction: All participants will have plenty of 1-1 personal instruction time while we're in the field on game drives. We'll also have focused sessions on taking great scenics, including panoramas.
Classroom Photo Instruction: As always, we will be providing photo instruction in digital workflow and image editing and image enhancement using Photoshop, Lightroom and OpticsPro.
Both film and digital shooters are welcome. If you need help selecting or renting equipment, let us know and we can assist you. All participants will also receive a detailed package with plenty of information on how to prepare, what to bring, and how to safely photograph African wildlife.
Between the two private reserves we'll be visiting, we'll have a chance to see and photograph just about every animal that can be found in southern Africa.
MalaMala specializes in what it calls the "MalaMala Seven" -- Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Cape buffalo, Cape hunting dog (aka Africa wild dogs, or Painted dogs), and Cheetah. You can get an idea of the awesome range of game we're likely to encounter by looking at . For conservation reasons they do not publish their rhino sightings, but that is also a possibility.
Mashatu is one of the best places on earth to see all of the "Big 5" in a single day or single visit. Beyond that, it too has a wide variety of possible sightings. You can get an ide from their , their .
Both reserves have long since prohibited all hunting. The only shooting anywhere near us will be with cameras.
Life at MalaMala Camp
MalaMala is the oldest and most historic private game reserve in South Africa, and the first to make the transition from hunting to photography as its main focus. The location is the same, but the facilities are new and world class, with bathrooms in each suite, and an infinity pool for cooling off while you look out at the wildlife on the local savannah.
As you'd expect, camp operators put their nicest properties closest to the best animal viewing and photography, so we'll be pampered while we're at MalaMala. You can get a sense of accommodations from the , but perhaps more importantly this 360-degree image shows how we're located in a beautiful setting amidst the wildlife:
Life at Mashatu Camp
Mashatu prides itself on combining privacy with luxury. We'll be able to watch animals at the waterhole while we are in camp, and all of the camp's suites are privately sited to maximize your safari experience. All the rooms have indoor bathrooms and showers.
Here too we'll have a swimming pool for cooling off mid-day, although May is one of the most pleasant months of the year in Southern Africa -- little or no rain and moderate temperatures.
Meals feature traditional African cuisine, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to accompany the main courses and desserts.
Day 1: Arrive Johannesburg, personalized transfer to our hotel, welcome dinner. Relax!
Day 2: Full-day experience of Soweto and its history and culture. We'll have a custom tour led by local author and celebrated historian Robin Binckes. It will include some of the , as well as a chance to experience the traditional food and culture. This is strictly optional, of course, and you're certainly welcome to relax or spend time on your own instead.
Days 3-6: Charter to MalaMala camp. Four days and nights of wildlife photography. We'll start the day with a hot drink and light pre-drive food, then head out for a morning drive. Upon our return, we'll have brunch and a mid-day break, where you'll have an opportunity for a siesta, and I'll also do some (strictly optional) teaching. Afternoon (after tea and snacks) we'll head out for another game drive and traditional African sundowners. On the way back to camp our guides will be able to spotlight for us so we'll have the experience of night drives. After the afternoon/evening game drives, we'll relax and have a chance for drinks, looking at our images, and freshening up, before dinner. After dinner we may show some images or just admire the stars and relax. Of course we'll also have opportunities for photography around the camp itself -- so its always good to have a camera nearby. Since we have our own guides and vehicles our schedule will be flexible based on people's interests and sightings. It may also be possible for those who wish to go on a guided nature walk during the day.
Day 7-10: Charter to Mashatu camp. Here too we will have four days and nights of wildlife photography. Note that we specifically arrange for our charters to occur mid-day, so typically we will still be able to have two game drives even on days when we transfer between camps (although they might be shorter, depending on transport logistics). In addition to traditional vehicle safaris, Mashatu offers the option for those who wish to go on a safari by horseback. This is for experienced riders only, and certainly doesn't make for easy photography, but it is an option for anyone interested.
Day 11: Charter back to Johannesburg, in time for evening flights home, or to an extension to Capetown or another safari camp.
Price: $14,995 per person -- all inclusive, double occupancy. Includes photo instruction, all food, lodging, local transportation, wine, beer, and guiding. International airfare not included. Spouses welcome! $300 discount for a spouse or companion. Single supplement may be available. Additional $300 discount for a non-shooting companion.
To Sign-up, you can at our secure store, or give us a call at +1.650.851.8350!
For more information:
E-mail: safaris [at] cardinalphoto.com
or Call +1.650.851.8350