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Big Cats of Londolozi Signature Workshop|
This 5 night South African photography workshop is unique in many respects. Not only will you enjoy world class hospitality in one of Africa’s finest and oldest safari establishments but you will visit the very home of the African leopard. Londolozi has been the location for numerous documentaries on the big cats of Africa and famous books like ‘Leopards of Londolozi’ have also been produced there. With expert tuition, a grand total of only three people per workshop, comfortable vehicles with effective support and the opportunity to rent your ultimate dream equipment, you are guaranteed to go home with exceptional photographs. Keep reading for full itinerary details...
Day 1 - Arrive Johannesburg
From Johannesburg airport it is a short 10 minute drive to a small private airport and your transfer is prearranged. Unlike other small airports in Africa this one is pleasant and luxurious. With no long lines, you will soon be seated in a comfortable air conditioned lounge with snacks and coffee on offer. For those of you wanting to book a freight seat for your gear, this can be arranged.
A one hour flight on a light aircraft will see you land at Londolozi, the home of the leopard. This dedicated airstrip is only five minutes from camp and you will have time to settle in and enjoy a delicious lunch. The food at Londolozi is so good that they have even published their own cookbook.
After lunch we will get our cameras and lenses ready for the first safari drive. I will go through a few key checks with you so that you are ready to capture award-winning imagery from the very first drive. On this workshop we cater for all types of photographers from the very beginner to the very advanced and skilled. I will help the beginner photographers with one on one tuition and in such a way that the photographic opportunities for the more advanced photographers are not in any way hindered.
Our first safari drive will not be a mere introduction as the photography will start in earnest and will only end in the dark, when we pull out the spotlights and continue photographing.
Our day will end around a fire and with an incredibly delicious buffet. For the health conscious there is a divine salad bar at Londolozi with their own 'sexy Londolozi salad dressing'. For the carnivores among you, Londolozi sources its meat from the finest butcheries in South Africa and we do meat very well. In fact it is said we do meat better than almost anyone except for the Argentinians.
Our night will end with you returning to your air-conditioned and very comfortable room. The rooms have full power so charging is not an issue at all and neither are other luxuries like hairdryers (not that I use one).
Day 2, 3, 4, 5 - Londolozi Game Reserve
These 4 full, long and beautiful summer days will be spent indulging in wildlife photography at Londolozi, which is one of the original pioneering private game reserves of the eco-tourism industry in South Africa, and is an unashamedly family run, stand alone operation. The root of the word Londolozi is a Zulu word meaning “protector of all living things” – an ambitious conservation ethic that Londolozi embraces in its sensitivity to the natural world.
The reserve is internationally recognised for its far-sighted and progressive management of land and wildlife rehabilitation as well as productive community involvement. We will be staying in Varty Camp which is the original safari camp of Londolozi steeped in history and with an exceptional safari culture.
World renowned as one of Africa’s finest game lodges, Londolozi was the first game reserve in the world to be awarded Relais & Châteaux status, reinforcing its commitment to luxurious accommodation, fine cuisine and exceptional service. Londolozi was recognized the #1 Hotel in the World with the Conde Nast Traveler’s 2014 Readers’ Choice Award. To wet your appetite some more, Londolozi run a very active blog here.
Our days begin early with a 5am wake up call where tea/coffee and some fruit will be brought to your room. At 5am we head out into the wilderness that is Londolozi. Some days we will head south to the large open plains that are the preferred habitat of the cheetah and rhino. Other days we will cross the river and head into the north where beautiful koppies (rocky outcrops) are home to some of the finest leopard viewing in all of Africa (read more about the leopards here). We will hardly see any other cars as we track down Africa’s big game.
Londolozi is a private game reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park. Not only are there no fences but this is one of the largest ecosystems in Africa, bigger even than the Serengeti National Park, and in which we have our own private concession. The animals we will track are wild - no bait, collars or tracking devices are used. This is the real deal and you will photograph numerous leopards in their wild habitat.
Having been born in South Africa and having visited this region my entire life, I have very carefully selected Londolozi to host this workshop. Not only has Londolozi done more in terms of catering for photographers than other lodges but their land lies at the heart of a highly productive game viewing area. We are right in the middle of numerous lion territories and this is arguably the best place in Africa to see and photograph Africa’s three big cats as well as the big five, and all the other general game including the exciting possibility of seeing wild dogs. We have maximum freedom and exclusivity making this a sublime workshop that will see you go home with full memory cards and memories to treasure for life.
We will have breakfast sent out to us each morning as we are here to photograph! When the the sun is too harsh we will head back to camp and enjoy a leisurely lunch and choice South African wine (but not too much as VR and IS only work up to a point).
We will then have the workshop component of the safari where we will meet for ‘bush school'. I have a number of relevant lessons on wildlife photography, which I will share with you. You will be able to ask me any questions that you might have and my tuition will be personally tailored for you. What makes this workshop unique is that we will actually prepare one of your images for print and Londolozi will print a large fine art print which you will take home. This workshop will therefore encompass all aspects of nature photography from capturing the image in the camera through to editing and printing. Of course attending ‘bush school’ is not compulsory for those wanting to enjoy the swimming pool or a massage (not given by me but by the camp masseuse!)
After a cup of tea, coffee or cappuccino and some delicious cake, we head out on the afternoon drive at 4 pm. It is Summer time here in Africa and the afternoons are long which means that the light just gets better and better. We will again search out photographic opportunities of many different kinds and we will continue into the night using a spotlight and our flashes. Low-light photography is my specialty and I look forward to helping you photograph predators, owls and chameleons at night.
We will arrive back in time for a delicious dinner around the campfire followed by nightcaps for those who still have energy to reminisce about the day. After turning in, the good news is that we wake the next day to do it all again. With the long summer days it means that although this workshop is 5 nights long, you will get 7 day’s worth of photography out of it.
After one last safari drive, you (and your fine art print) will take a 1 hour flight back to Johannesburg for your onward travels. For those of you not wanting to head home there are a number of exciting options to extend your stay in Africa. You can either continue with a safari to another destination (we have a ‘best-kept secret' regarding a camp and concession in the Northern Kruger National Park). Alternatively, Mala Mala is just next door and just a 1 hour flight from Johannesburg is the Okavango Delta. These private extensions are handled on a per request basis and should you wish to extend, we will be happy to make suggestions and compile a bespoke itinerary and costing for you. Please enquire about extending your stay when you book your place on this workshop. The advantage of first doing a photo workshop and then continuing with your safari is that you will be more ready and better equipped to capture those special all-to-often fleeting moments.
Greg du Toit has worked extensively at Londolozi and the surrounding bush. In the late nineties he served as an apprentice walking guide in the area. Since those early days, he has gone on to photograph the region extensively and this lead to commissions from both the BBC and Geo resulting in published portfolios documenting the secret and nocturnal lives of leopards. Greg will be your host and photographic mentor every step of the way on this unique workshop.
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