Botswana & South Africa Predator Workshop


Photograph the elusive and beautiful African leopard, learn to skilfully capture wildlife in low light conditions and in action.

A Signature Experience

Limited to only 3 participants, this workshop has been specifically designed around predators and big game.

This is an Africa photo workshop that promises to deliver on all fronts. You will return home not just having furthered your personal photographic skills but also with awesome images of Africa’s big cats, including exceptional photographs of Africas shyest big cat, the leopard!

You will also see the endangered rhinoceros as well as all of Africa’s wonderful and iconic creatures like giraffe, zebra, hippopotamus, baboons and warthog to name but a few. This is also a ‘big five safari’ which means that you will photograph lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo all carrying out a wild existence in one of Africa’s largest remaining ecosystems.

We have timed this workshop to coincide with what is traditionally the best time to photograph and you will be taught how to photograph portraits in super low light conditions, using flashes and spotlights at night. You will also be taught how to capture predators action, as we push the boundaries of modern-day digital photography.

Accommodation is wonderfully comfortable in air conditioned suites with electricity to charge cameras and batteries in your room. Did I mention the eye-level hides we will be using, built exclusively for photographers.

Workshop dates

This is a 9 day (8 night) Botswana and South Africa photo workshop itinerary that has space for only 3 photographers.

There are a number of exciting options to extend your workshop including photographing meerkats. These extension options are listed at the end of this page but are booked on request only. Please enquire about them when booking to receive more information.

2019

19-27 June – FULLY BOOKED!
7-15 August – FULLY BOOKED!

2020

26 August – 3 Sep –FULLY BOOKED!

9 – 17 September – ONLY 3 spaces available

 

Workshop price

2020: US$20,950 per single photographer. US$ TBA per sharing photographer.

The above rates includes all accommodation; meals; all transfers; all three internal flights including meet/greet and airport drop off; park fees; private safari drives; photographic tuition, guiding services of Greg du Toit, an internationally acclaimed professional African wildlife photographer; use of photographic hides. Not included in the cost are visas; purchases of a personal nature; alcoholic drinks; personal health and travel insurance; your international flights.

30% deposit confirms your booking. Only spaces available for a total of 3 photographers on this exclusive workshop. The above cost only applies if the tour is fully booked with 3 participants.

This tour can be booked on a private basis in which case it will be re-costed based on the number of participants.

Your Itinerary


You will be met at Johannesburg international airport by your host and guide Greg du Toit. A short one hour flight will take you to Mala Mala, South Africa’s original safari camp.

This was one of the first properties 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 50 plus years and as a result the wildlife has relaxed, making this a photographic mecca. The campgrounds 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 (albeit a bit slow). Bottled water is supplied free of charge and there 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 even room service, but this is not why you are here of course, keep reading on the next tab…


At Mala Mala we wake at 05h30am and depart camp in the dark at 06h00 (while all the other 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 at midday. You will then have time to download your images. For those avid photographers with big memory cards, the aloe flowers in the camp are flowering this time of year, and there is wonderful bird photography to be down right in camp.

Lunch will commence at 13h00 and the lunch buffet really is the finest in Africa. After lunch, I will present a talk on various pertinent photographic topics (non photographing partners can enjoy some more downtime). I travel with an entire workshop on my MacBook and depending on your needs and wants, I will present a course that is relevant to your personal photographic needs. The subjects I will talk about, using my own imagery as examples, will range from camera settings (aperture, shutter, ISO, white balance, exposure comp, metering, histograms) through to how to use your flash skilfully and how to shoot wildlife action in low light. Topics I will address will also include ‘elements of composition’ and how to achieve correct focus on still or moving subjects. I will also process a few images for you so that you can glean from my post processing style. There will of course be ample time for you to ask questions and to address areas of your own concern as well as to ask for a critique on a few of your own images. This way you can learn from your own experiences and develop your own unique signature style. This infield workshop will help you take your imagery to the next level. A masterclass on how to photograph leopards at night as well as an advanced auto focus lesson are a highlight of the workshop component of this trip.

Our afternoon safari drives will commence each afternoon at 15h30 where we will meet at 15h00, for a cup of tea or coffee according to an old safari tradition, and adapt our camera and equipment settings to the conditions we expect. 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 provides 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 you are able to exercise the freedom needed to obtain exceptional images. With only 3 photographers on the vehicle, you will have an entire row to yourself, enabling you to shoot out both the left and the right of the vehicle.

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. I will offer you exact settings as well as creative insights, and I will also ensure that you are best positioned to capitalize on each sighting, using my extensive experience in the field. 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 portfolio 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. I will share my secret recipe with you for photographing predators at night using a spotlight and some fill-flash. There is also an excellent hyena den site on Mala Mala.

We return to camp at 8pm where we will meet in the bar for pre-dinner drinks and banter. 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 tea will see you turn in for the night. For those not wanting to stay up late at dinner there is the option of room service.

This leg of the safari guarantees that you return home with exceptional images in the bag and Mala Mala offers you the BIG FIVE but in a non-touristy way as only Mala Mala vehicles traverse on the property. This means that on most of our sightings we will be the only vehicle there and at the very most, there will only be another two vehicles on a sighting with us. You will therefore not get the clutter of vehicles that you find in other parts of Africa. You will also enjoy spending time with Africa’s other splendid animals like giraffe, zebra and warthog.


I will take you to one of my favourite places in Africa for a sunrise coffee and after your last safari drive and breakfast, you depart for Botswana. The travel time is approximately 90 minutes before arriving in Mashatu, where you will be met by your Mashatu guide. A 30 minute transfer will take you into the heart of Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve. This little known corner of Botswana is also her best kept secret!

Once arriving at Mashatu Main Camp we will settle in before heading out on our first safari drive at 15h15 and photography will commence virtually immediately. This itinerary has been carefully designed so that you do not need to miss a safari drive on this transfer day. A pre-dinner drink in the camp’s bar (aptly called ‘the gin-trap‘), a hearty dinner, campfire and a cosy bed will bring an end to your first day in Botswana.


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 worlds largest land mammal, the elephant. Mashatu is home to the largest herds of elephant on privately owned land on earth and it also provides sanctuary to the worlds tallest mammal (the giraffe); the worlds largest antelope (the eland); the worlds largest bird (the ostrich) and the worlds 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 cheetah, 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, genet, honey badger and black-backed jackal. That’s right, this predator safari does not just include Africa’s large predators. Mashatu is also an ornithological paradise and plays host to more than 350 bird species. The avian photographic opportunities at the drying river pools are splendid. There is also a large breeding colony of bee-eaters that will challenge the reflexes of even the most experienced photographers.

Mashatu Main Camp is an oasis among the undulating and seemingly endless plains of the wild. Burning torches at the camps entrance beckon safari-goers home in the evening to the embodiment of warm hospitality. 14 luxury suites lie along the camps perimeter, and are designed to allow absolute privacy. 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 did in Mala Mala, except that the scenery will be totally different as we explore the wilderness in our open Toyota safari truck. With the dry season starting to take effect, the colours of Mashatu have changed to red and yellow, interspersed with soft greens which all makes for excellent backgrounds. Along the rivers however, it remains very green and it is not uncommon to find a 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 sun-rays of the changing seasons make lion, leopard and cheetah really glow.

At Mashatu there are two underground hides, designed and built especially for photographers. We will use these hides to get a low angle perspective on our subjects and, combined with our regular safari drives, these will ensure that you assemble a dynamic collection of incredible photographs on this leg of the safari. The hides offer the best elephant viewing and photography in Africa as well as a plethora of other photographic opportunities like one of the world’s largest antelope, the eland, drinking at eye level. Of late, even leopard and giraffe are drinking at the hides! These eye level hides make this African photography workshop an even more unique and incredible photographic experience. Our subjects are of course all wild and free, so sightings at the hides are dependent on mother nature and this is what wildlife photography is all about, patience and being out in nature.

* We have added the option for you to spend a night (or two if you like) at Mashatu sleeping out beneath a huge Mashatu tree and in a remote part of the reserve. Portable beds, flush loos, hot outside showers and a scrumptious hot meal are all on offer. Sleeping out in the African wilderness is an incredible experience and will not only allow you to listen to the enchanting night sounds but sleeping out will also give you the opportunity to photograph the most incredible Baobab landscape. This baobab grows high up on a sandstone outcrop and is one of the best kept secrets in Africa. The view from up there will undoubtedly touch your soul. I also know where to find elephant shrews up there and just imagine photographing elephants and elephant shrews on the same safari. Please note that this activity is only booked on request so when making your booking, please enquire about it. This has proven to be a highlight on previous workshops.


After a full morning safari drive and brunch, you will catch a short 90 minute flight back to Johannesburg International Airport for your onward travel home.

Please note that we only get back into Johannesburg in the evening so if your homeward flight is before 8pm, it will be necessary for you to overnight in Johannesburg and these arrangements can be made for you when booking.

For FAQs before booking a safari, click here

For FAQs before leaving on safari, click here

Your photographic possibilities on this workshop

Why this is the workshop for you…

– The entire workshop caters for only 3 photographers. This affords you personalized photographic tuition that regular scheduled tours are unable to provide. For every single safari drive you take, you will benefit by having a professional African wildlife photographer on board who will share with you his own unique recipe for photographing Africa’s wildlife.

– This workshop offers a feast of unique and spectacular photographic opportunities. As such, we cannot expect you to leave any of your equipment at home so we have arranged an extra luggage allowance.

– Mala Mala Game Reserve is not only one of Africa’s finest game reserves but it also forms part of one of Africa’s largest ecosystems, in excess of 30 000 square kilometers/ 12 000 square miles (almost the size of the country of Holland). The predators we will photograph are carrying out a free and wild existence in an area double the size of the Serengeti National Park. This is where the 1st leg of our South Africa photo workshop takes place.

– No one wants to see loads of vehicles and masses of tourists when on safari! On this exclusive safari, the only other vehicles you will see, will be vehicles from our own camps. This workshop is run on private land and is therefore as exclusive as it gets.

– Your host and expert safari guide, Greg du Toit, is a specialist in low-light photography. He has been commissioned by both the BBC and Geo magazines to assemble portfolios on leopards in the same locations where this workshop is hosted. On this workshop you will learn his secret recipe for photographing predators at night. You will not only learn how to use your flash but also how to shoot in low light conditions without your flash. See a leopard portfolio here. All the images that appear in this portfolio where taken on the same locations as this workshop.

– You will not only broaden your personal photographic horizons on this trip, but you will also push the boundaries of modern day digital photography as we photograph predators action in exceptionally low light conditions.

– If your flash has remained a mystery, then don’t miss this workshop as you will learn how to use your flash skilfully.

– Off road driving allows us maximum freedom on this safari. Not only will we see Africa’s big predators up close and in person, but we will follow them through the bush as they go about their business of hunting, patrolling, mating and roaring.

– This part of Africa also offers you the very best opportunities to witness predator interaction. World famous National Geographic documentary filmmaker Kim Wolhuter filmed his leopard and hyena interactions at Mala Mala and Mashatu is where he made his hyena documentary.

– While the focus of this safari is on predators, you will also enjoy regular big game sightings as Mala Mala is also one of the best places in all of Africa to view the prehistoric looking rhinoceros. Mashatu on the other hand offers some of the best elephant viewing in all of Africa.

– We are allocated our own private vehicle for these workshops allowing us to spend quality time at each sighting and also allowing us maximum freedom to ensure that we capture exceptional wildlife images.

– Our lodgings for this workshop lie right in the heart of predator action which means that the action happens in close proximity to the camp, so we do not spend hours traveling to photographic locations.

– This exclusive workshop caters for a maximum of only 3 photographers per vehicle. This means that your photography will be unhindered, more creative and will yield better results. You are able to shoot out of the left or the right side of the vehicle with plenty of space for your gear.

– Photographers of all levels are welcome and you will receive expert tuition based on your level of experience.

– We use hides on this workshop that have been especially built for photographers. This low angle view is exactly what photographers are looking for and in 2013, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year’s winning shot came from the same hide that you will visit on this workshop. Click here to see a short documentary on how the winning shot was captured. Leopards are now regular visitors to these hides and there is a chance of getting eye-level shots of predators drinking.

– Mala Mala offers one of the best chances you have in Africa of seeing and photographing wild dogs while Mashatu is currently an excellent location for cheetah with 7 resident cheetah in the area.

– This is a ‘Big Five’ workshop so you will see Africa’s iconic lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino but without seeing other vehicle traffic.

– Mashatu is an excellent place to see Africa’s smaller and rarer creatures like civets, genets, owls etc. Night safari drives are conducted throughout this workshop and take place immediately after the sunset when the nocturnal creatures are stirring.

– This workshop offers you a well rounded African safari experience and zebra, giraffe, hippo, baboons, warthog and birds are all a part of the experience as are baobab trees and other iconic elements of Africa.

– The vehicles used throughout this workshop are all open style safari trucks which means you are not shooting from a top down angle. There are no bars, windows or roofs to get in your way.

– For those of you wanting to experience real Africa there is an option of sleeping out on this workshop and photographing an ancient Baobab tree, plus having the opportunity to listen to roaring lions and the other African night sounds. Ask about the sleep-out option when booking, it is highly recommended.

Southern Africa Extensions


If you would like to photograph great white sharks, meerkats, aardvarks, pangolins or the wild flowers of Namaqualand, or even the sardine run, we now offer the following exciting tour extensions

Guest Testimonials

'Hi Greg! I wanted to tell you that I had the most incredible time on our African safari. I have such a hard time explaining the experience to my friends, since no words ever seem to do it justice. It was far beyond terrific! I am in the process of writing a review for you, which I hope to have done sometime soon. I have the same problem with the review, as I do describing the trip: no words ever seem fantastic enough.'

Adrienne Waltman (USA)
'I had a hard time writing this review. After having spent almost two full weeks with Greg, he has become a friend. And as much as it sounds odd to say, I expected to grow as a photographer, but did not expect to grow as a person like I did as well. Greg was able to take my photography to the next level in more ways than I can express. My understanding of both camera mechanics as well as animal behavior, from start to finish, was incredibly improved. He is beyond knowledgeable in both and it made the game drives interesting, and exciting. Getting to a good sighting, and being able to ask what settings we needed, or what to look for, made the whole process seamless. There was little guessing, shots just started to look good. Then, after a day or two, they started to look very good. I was almost always in the right position! We are already planning future trips with Greg, and I can see this becoming an annual destination. I can not recommend him enough!'

Chris Fischer (USA)
'Greg, Thank you for making possible an unending number of opportunities for us to be part of African nature and wildlife experiences that have have changed our lives and touched our souls. We anxiously await our next adventure with you. With our sincere and heartfelt thanks, Clinton and Rae-Anne Jammer.'

Rae-Anne Jammer (Canada)
'Hi Greg, At last we found time to send you a message! We're so busy editing photo's! Thank you very, very, very much for sharing these amazing two places with us! That was the best safari we did, EVER. And I'll never forget the baobab, still makes me cry when I think of it, sooooo beautiful! And of course thanks for all the foto lessons and your patience, explaining and setting my camera. Please let us know when your book is on the market, as said, we'll take about 5 copies! Bye for know, we'll be in touch, have fun on your next trip!'

Astrid & Jurg Bluemel (Switzerland)
Our safari exceeded our expectations! Greg's companionship, leadership & instruction was outstanding. It was clear that he engaged the best drivers in Bashi & Roan. They amazed us in their ability to find wildlife & the lengths to which they go to ensure we were in the right spot. We appreciated his "bush school" where he reiterated basic photography techniques. His reminders of the starting point settings while on location was also very helpful. We also had great fun photographing predators by spotlight & flash. He even taught us to photograph the night sky. Greg, I hope we can travel with you again in East Africa. Words cannot express how happy & excited we are with you, your team & our images!'

Tom and Pam Holmes (USA)
Having done several photo safari's in East Africa en Botswana this was by far the best photo safari. It was outstanding! Being in the midst of the predators actions was thrilling. Greg's coaching during the game drives results in my best images I ever shot. Your personality and knowledge of the African bush was amazing. It makes an unforgettable experience.

Arthur Lim (The Netherlands)
'I have done numerous safaris in Africa, in fact this was my twentieth over a period of about 15 years. And it was absolutely one of the very best. The quality of the sightings and the photographic opportunities they gave us was superb. Greg was the perfect guide, host and tutor, having time for everyone, his tutorials in the middle of the day were very well presented. In particular his special use of flash in certain situations was a revelation to me. All in all a fantastic experience, and for wildlife photographers a must-do safari.' (See a gallery of photos that Richard took on his safari here...)

Richard Barrett (England)
'I think we had forgotten just what a great guide Greg is. His wildlife and photographic expertise are without question, but its the fact that he devotes his time and efforts to us as clients, and give as much information and help as you want. He is also so good at directing the drivers to the ideal photographic spot for each sighting. His seminars during the day, may theoretically be stuff we should know, but there is always something to learn, and he explains and talks very well.'

Michael and Lisa Parker (England and France)