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Botswana and South Africa Photo Workshop|
This 9 day Africa photo workshop takes you to the best safari location in Southern Africa, which is also one of the finest locations in all of Africa to photograph predators, including the elusive and beautiful African Leopard. Learn to skillfully photograph in low light conditions and to master your flash on this exceptional South Africa photo workshop. Accommodation is comfortable and the travel is easy going. This safari promises to deliver a world class predator and photographic experience...
Day 1 - Arrive Johannesburg
You will be met at the airport by your host and guide Greg du Toit. You will then enjoy a beautiful drive on excellent roads into the northern reaches of South Africa. This pleasant six hour journey takes place in a air conditioned 8-seater passenger van. You will be able to stretch out and relax as you take in the African scenery. This is the best way to travel to the Tuli Block as flying involves having to land twice to clear customs in this remote region. You will be met by the Mashatu guides at the South African/Botswana border post. This is a very laid back border post and once through you are driven into the heart of Botswana's Tuli Block. This little known corner of Botswana is her best kept secret!
Once arriving at Mashatu Main Camp, you can enjoy sun-downers in the camp looking over the waterhole or you can head straight out and into the land of predators, too enjoy some excellent photography. A hearty dinner, camp fire and a cosy bed, will bring an end to your scenic and adventurous African sojourn.
Day 2, 3, 4, 5 - Mashatu Game Reserve (www.mashatu.com)
Mashatu Game Reserve is an enchanting wilderness in south eastern Botswana. Situated at the confluence of Kipling's 'great grey green greasy' Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, this area is unlike any other in Africa. If you are looking for a different and exciting part of Africa to explore then look no further. The ample plains range from savannah, to riverine forests, marshland, and sandstone outcrops. Dubbed the ‘Land of Giants’ Mashatu takes its name from the locally-sacrosanct Mashatu tree and the giants that roam the terrain. As one of the largest private game reserves in Southern Africa, Mashatu is a fitting setting for the world’s largest land mammal (the elephant). Mashatu is in fact home to the largest herds of elephant on privately owned land on earth! Mashatu also provides sanctuary to the world’s tallest mammal (the giraffe); the world’s largest antelope (the eland); the world’s largest bird (the ostrich) and the world’s heaviest flying bird (the kori bustard). Add the lion, the king of the beasts and the iconic baobab as well as a thriving population of leopard and you have a spectacular location for wildlife photography!
This extraordinary place possesses an ecological diversity uncommon in other reserves. Mashatu is home to the more uncommon and smaller predators including the aardwolf, bat-eared fox, African wild cat, honey badger and black-backed jackal. Our predator safari does not just include Africa's large predators! Recently introduced to Mashatu (as part of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve) is the endangered wild dog. Mashatu is also an ornithological paradise, and plays host to more than 350 bird species and the avian photographic opportunities at the river pools are absolutely sublime!
Mashatu Main Camp is an oasis among the undulating and seemingly endless plains of the wild. Burning torches at the camp’s entrance beckon safari-goers home in the evening to the embodiment of warm hospitality. 14 luxury suites lie along the camp’s perimeter, and are designed to allow absolute privacy and a communion with the bush and its inhabitants. In camp you can watch elephants splashing at the waterhole; listen to the African night sounds; smell the grassy scent of the bush; relax in the lounge in your room looking out into the bush and just enjoy being immersed in the great African wilderness.
Our safari routine takes the same shape and form as it will in Mala Mala (keep reading), except that the scenery will be totally different, as we explore the wilderness in our open Toyota Land Cruiser. With the dry season starting to take effect, the colours of Mashatu have changed to red and yellow, interspersed with soft greens which makes for excellent backgrounds! Along the rivers however, it remains very green and it is not uncommon to find leopard reclining in one of the large Mashatu trees. This is an awesome photo to add to your portfolio! Predator viewing is at its best now; the soft rays of the winter sun make lion, leopard and cheetah really glow.
At Mashatu their is an underground hide, designed and built especially for photographers! We will use this hide to get a low angle perspective on our subjects and this hide, combined with our regular safari drives, will ensure that you assemble a dynamic collection of unique images on this leg of the safari. The hide offers the best elephant viewing and photography in Africa as well as a plethora of other photographic opportunities, including many different birds species coming in to drink. This eye level hide makes this African photography workshop an even more unique and incredible experience!
Day 5, 6, 7, 8 - Mala Mala Game Reserve (www.malamala.com)
After a morning game drive and breakfast, we will catch a short 90 minute flight from Mashatu to Mala Mala (South Africa) which is the next leg of this spectacular African photography workshop. We will arrive in time for lunch and will enjoy a full afternoon safari!
Mala Mala is South Africa's original safari camp as it was the first property in South Africa to stop hunting, converting over to photographic safaris back in the sixties. The camp has been on the same location for the last 40 plus years and as a result, the wildlife has relaxed making this a photographer's mecca. The camp grounds are stunning, offering wide vistas of the African bush and many antelope wonder through the grounds unperturbed. You can enjoy Big Five sightings from the camp as you gaze across the Sand River.
The rooms all have air-conditioning and there is complimentary wireless internet connectivity. Bottled water is supplied free of charge, and their are bar fridges which are stocked upon your request. Your accommodation comes complete with a his and hers bathroom and a lounge area. The lodge has a beautiful pool, gym and their is room service.
At Mala Mala we wake at 05h30 and depart camp in the dark at 06h00 (while all the other safari guests are still asleep). We then track down predators based on tracks and the sightings from the previous night. We will be deep in the African bush by the time the sun rises at 06h45 and we will enjoy sublime photography until the light becomes too harsh. The first part of the morning will be spent with the predators or other members of the BIG FIVE and once light levels are too high to create dramatic low light imagery, we will move onto trying to capture birds in flight. We will stop for a scrumptious bush breakfast picnic, before returning to camp in the late morning.
You will then have time to download your images and to enjoy some downtime in camp. For those avid photographers not interested in downtime, the Aloe flowers in the camp are flowering this time of year, and their is wonderful bird photography to be down right in camp. For the non-photographing partners, you can lounge at the pool and soak up the delectable African rays or you can dive back into bed and enjoy a book?
Lunch will commence at 13h00 and the lunch buffet really is the finest in Africa! After lunch, Greg will present a talk on various pertinent photographic topics (non photographing partners can enjoy some more downtime). He travels with an entire workshop on his macbook and depending on your needs and wants, he will present a course that is relevant to your photography. The subjects Greg will talk about, using his own imagery as examples, will range from camera settings (aperture, shutter, ISO, white balance, exposure comp, metering, histograms) through to how to shoot wildlife with your flash. Topics he will address will also include 'elements of composition' and how to achieve correct focus on still or moving subjects. Greg will also process a few images for you so that you can glean from his post processing skills. There will of course be ample time for you to ask questions and this infield workshop will help you take your imagery to the next level. You can read guest testimonials here...
Our afternoon safari drives will commence each afternoon at 15h30 whereby we will meet at 15h00 before, for a cup of tea or coffee according to old safari tradition, and to set up our equipment and settings. Our safari drives will be conducted in the Land Rover Puma safari trucks. These vehicles offer the most comfortable safari drive with coiled suspension in the front and the rear. The vehicles are open with no roof, which allows for maximum photographic freedom and which also allows us to photograph leopards up in trees. Having a private vehicle all to ourselves, will ensure that we are able to exercise the freedom needed to obtain exceptional images. With only 3 photographers on board you will have an entire row to yourself, enabling you to shoot out the left or right.
While our driver guide expertly tracks the predators, there will be time to double check your camera settings and to make sure that you are ready to expertly capture the predator action to follow. With your own professional wildlife photographer in the front of the vehicle, you will receive expert and personalized tuition. He will offer you exact settings as well as creative insights, and he will also ensure that you are best positioned to capitalize on each sighting, using his extensive geographical and animal behavioral knowledge.You will of course be able to ask questions at will, as the whole purpose of the trip is to ensure that you expand your personal photographic boundaries and capture unique award winning imagery.
We will stop for a quick comfort break at around 6pm (depending on sightings), where you will stretch your legs and enjoy a sun-downer, another fine safari tradition. This will also facilitate an opportunity to check that your camera settings are all correct for the nocturnal predator action to follow. You will then enjoy a night safari whereby we follow leopards and other nocturnal African predators. There is a good chance of seeing a kill as lion and leopard do most of their hunting at night. Greg will share his secret recipe with you for photographing predators at night using a spotlight and fill-flash.
We return to camp at 8pm where we will meet in the bar for pre-dinner drinks and banter, another fine safari tradition! From there, we will move into the boma for dinner which is the original boma from the late sixties. We will enjoy dinner alfresco under the African stars and beneath a 700 year old African Ebony Tree. There will of course be lots more talk about photography and equipment as we reminisce on the day's sightings. A cognac or after dinner mint will see us turn in for the night.
This leg of the safari guarantees that you return home with exceptional images in the bag and Mala Mala guarantees you the BIG FIVE !!!
After your last game drive and breakfast we depart to Johannesburg. It is about 500km drive to the Johannesburg airport (5 hours), again on excellent roads which gives you a chance to take in the great African landscape. This is unfortunately the end of the safari.
If you don't have all the equipment you need, you can rent equipment for your safari, just inquire when you book!
If you feel like it is too soon for your safari to end and if you want the predator action to continue then there is good news. This predator workshop coincides with the time of year that the Great White Sharks breach off the Cape Coast. We can arrange an extension to go photograph Great White Sharks breaching and this will also give you an opportunity to relax in Cape Town and on the wine route. This extension is added on a per request basis only and is a short 1 hour flight away from Johannesburg!
Your expert guide for this safari is professional wildlife photographer Greg du Toit, and he will be with you every step of the way! Greg is an 8th generation African and this safari really is in his backyard! Greg trained as a safari guide and nature conservationist in the bush country that surrounds Mala Mala in the late nineties and he has lived in, and been visiting Mashatu for over a decade. Most recently, he has worked on an extensive leopard project in the area of Mala Mala whereby he set out to document the nocturnal lives of leopards. The results of this project formed the core of a solo exhibit titled 'Authentic Africa' hosted by the National Geographic Gallery in Singapore in 2012. He is passionate about this corner of Africa and both his bush knowledge and skills, combined with his astute in-camera techniques, will ensure that your personal imagery breaks new ground.
Still got safari questions that you want answered, see my FAQ page..
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