Limited to only 3 participants, the Botswana and South Africa Predator Workshop has been specifically designed around predators and big game. You will be hosted and mentored by low-light predator photographic specialist Greg du Toit, and taught how to photograph in super low-light conditions and how to use your flash. An underground hide and night drives will be used to get you the ultimate elephant and predator photographs.
This is an African wildlife 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 Africa’s 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, baboons, hornbills and warthog, to name but a few. This is a ‘Big 5 safari’ which means that you will photograph lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Cheetah and wild dog are also an exciting photographic prospect on this workshop.
We have timed this trip for June, which is the ultimate month to photograph in the locations you will be visiting. Not only is it outside of the crazy tourist season but it is fall here in Africa, with wonderful orange backdrops.
Through a series of formal and specialised lessons, you will be taught how to capture predator action and how to shoot in low-light conditions and with your flash, as we push the boundaries of modern-day digital photography. Lessons on this workshop include how to customise your camera and autofocus for predator action. You will also be taught how to achieve the correct exposure, even in the most difficult lighting conditions. Flash, critical shutter speeds, motion blur, metering, histograms, composition, light, post processing and creative shooting techniques are all topics covered in our formal ‘bush school’ lessons.
Accommodation is luxurious and in smaller more intimate camps, which are in the very best position to access the wildlife. Air conditioners, Wi-Fi and electricity to charge cameras and batteries are in your room. Did I mention the eye-level hide we will be using, built exclusively for photographers and which we have booked exclusively?
Why not extend your workshop with a private safari extension? See an exciting list of extensions here.
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 and visiting Africa’s ultimate wilderness destination, the Okavango Delta. 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.
The above rates include accommodation in Mala Mala’s Sable Camp and Mashatu’s Euphorbia Villas; 3 exclusive hide sessions at Mashatu (including an afternoon/evening session for potential predators drinking); meals; laundry; house drinks; all transfers from time of arrival in Johannesburg to time of departure from JHB; all internal flights and airport taxes; conservation fees; private safari vehicle; formal lessons and in-field photographic tuition; guiding services of an internationally acclaimed and professional African wildlife photographer.
Not included in the cost are visas; purchases of a personal nature; gratuities for camp staff, personal health/travel insurance; your international flights.
40% deposit confirms your booking. Only spaces available for a total of 3 photographers on this exclusive workshop and only one departure per year. The above cost only applies if the workshop is fully booked with 3 participants.
Your Botswana and South Africa Predator Workshop safari starts by departing Jhb from the small and private Airlink terminal, where you can sip a cappuccino and enjoy the lounge snacks. You will be met here by your host and professional wildlife photographer, Greg du Toit. A short one hour flight will take you to the world-renowned Mala Mala Game Reserve. The airstrip is just a 5 minute drive from Sable Camp, your home for the next 4 nights.
Mala Mala 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 even sometimes spot members of the Big 5 from the camp and leopards regularly pass through camp at night on their nightly forays. Thankfully you will be sound asleep when they do!
The rooms all have air-conditioning and there is complimentary wireless internet connectivity (albeit a bit slow). Drinks and water are supplied free of charge and there are bar fridges, which are stocked upon your request. Your room is luxurious, complete with closets, a lounge and indoor and outside showers. Your room has a desk and charging station for you to download and review your photographs. The lodge has a beautiful pool, gym and there 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 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 06h35 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 5 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 done right in camp.
Lunch will commence at 13h00 and after lunch I will present a ‘bush school’ masterclass on pertinent photographic topics that will help you to capitalise on the unique wildlife opportunities you will be enjoying on this trip. I travel with an entire workshop on my MacBook and depending on your level, 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 show you my personal workflow and post processing technique. 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 ‘in-the-field’ 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. Not only will you be taught how to photograph astutely but you will also be taught about rear or 2nd curtain motion blur. If these words don’t mean anything to you then sign up now!
Our afternoon safari drives will commence each afternoon at 15h00. 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 5pm (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 predators. There is a 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. There is also an excellent hyena den site on Mala Mala.
We return to camp for dinner at 07h30pm where we will meet in the bar for pre-dinner drinks and safari banter. From there, we will move into the ‘boma’ for dinner where we will dine alfresco under the African stars. There will of course be lots more talk about photography as we reminisce on the day’s sightings. An after dinner tea or coffee 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 will return home with exceptional images in the bag as Mala Mala offers you the BIG 5 and not in a touristy way either. Only Mala Mala vehicles traverse in the central game viewing area and 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. Because June is a quiet time of year for tourists visiting, you will also enjoy long periods of time on sightings without needing to move out and make space for other cars. You will also enjoy spending time with Africa’s other splendid animals like giraffe, zebra, mongoose 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 2 hours 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’s exclusive Euphorbia Villas lodge, we will settle in before heading out on our first safari drive at 15h15 and photography will commence virtually immediately as our lodge is the closest to the central game viewing area. This itinerary has been carefully designed so that you do not need to miss a safari drive on this transfer day and by using the closest lodge to the wildlife, we can get onto sightings first and enjoy the best light. Cocktails in the ‘bar with a view’, a scrumptious dinner 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 world’s 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 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 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 honey badger, bat-eared fox, African wild cat, genet, porcupine 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’s Euphorbia Villas lodge is the newest, most intimate and luxurious lodge on the reserve. With only 8 rooms, the camp enjoys an incredible view over the endless plains. 8 luxury suites set on the edge of a cliff and surrounded by Euphorbia and baobab trees are each designed to allow absolute privacy. The habitat around camp is perfect for leopards and as you listen to the African night sounds you might well hear the sawing cough of this, Africa’s most enigmatic predator. As you relax in the lounge in your room looking out over the African savannah, your city stresses will literally dissolve away. This is an immersive experience 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 orange, interspersed with soft greens, which all makes for excellent backgrounds to your photographs. 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’s rays of the changing seasons make lion, leopard and cheetah really glow.
At Mashatu there 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, 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. Even leopard and giraffe are drinking at the hide. These eye level hides make this African photography workshop an even more unique and incredible photographic experience. June is a great time for the hide as the waterhole is not overrun yet with elephants meaning that a host of other animal species can also drink and this is great news for your Africa portfolio!
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 of Mashatu. The view from up there will undoubtedly touch your soul. The sleep out also gives you access to photograph Africa’s ultimate eagle, the Verreaux’s Eagle, which nests on a cliff close to our camp. We will take an early morning walk to get there and if you are wanting to experience walking in the wild, then this sleep-out is for you!
*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.
Depart for home or continue with a salt pan, meerkat and Okavango extension…
After a full morning safari drive and brunch, you will catch a short 90 minute flight back to Lanseria Airport for your onward travel home. Transfers and overnight hotel bookings are all arranged depending on your travel schedule. For those continuing on an exciting extension to the Okavango and to photograph meerkats, flamingoes and zebra from the air, we will commence with the extension…
Please note that we only get back into Johannesburg in the evening so if your homeward flight is before 9pm, it will be necessary for you to overnight in Johannesburg and these arrangements can be made for you when booking.
– 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 the same professional African wildlife photographer on-board, who will teach and share with you his own unique recipe for photographing Africa’s wildlife.
– Timing is everything in Africa and your workshop runs at the very best time. In June you have the benefit of fall colours in the background of your shot and it is the dry season in Africa which means the rivers and waterholes are attracting wildlife. It is also not the crazy tourist season which runs from July through to September.
– This workshop is designed to maximise photographic time at two of Africa’s top photo destinations. As such you do not waste time with long transfers. You fly with a small airline and direct to Mala Mala’s own airstrip which is a 5 minute drive away from camp.
– The camp you stay in at Mala Mala is Sable Camp, which is smaller and more intimate than the hotel-type Main Camp and children below 12 are not allowed in your camp. This camp gives the quickest access across the river and into the photo concession.
– At Mashatu your Euphorbia Villas Lodge is also smaller, more intimate and luxurious than other camps in the reserve. But most importantly, it is quicker to access the central game viewing area from Euphorbia Villas than from any of the other camps.
– 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 for the flights departing from the reserves.
– 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 wildlife ecosystems, in excess of 20 000 square kilometers/ 7700 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 larger than 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! This workshop is run on private land and it therefore offers you an exclusive wildlife and photography experience.
– 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. 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. He also won the most coveted title in world wildlife photography from a shot he took in the exact same hide you will be visiting on this workshop, when he was named the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2013. He has been visiting both reserves for the past 20 years and he knows how to extract the very best photographically from both locations.
– 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 documentaries at Mala Mala and Mashatu
– 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. 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. This workshop will help you lay a solid foundation upon which you can build your photography. Through a series of carefully designed lessons, crafted and tailored specifically for this workshop, and with ample examples from a professionals own work, you will break new ground in your personal imagery.
– We use a hide on this workshop that has 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 the hide and there is a chance of getting an eye-level shot of predators drinking. For this reason your workshop includes an exclusive afternoon/evening session in the hide as this is when the predators are most likely to drink.
– This workshop includes 3 exclusive sessions in the hide. Without other strangers sharing the hide, you will have ample space to lay out all your cameras and lenses next to you, so that you are ready to capture any shot that presents itself.
– Mala Mala offers one of the best chances you have in Africa of seeing and photographing wild dogs while Mashatu is an excellent location for cheetah.
– This is a ‘Big 5’ 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, 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 and Verreuax’s Eagles in flight, plus having the opportunity to listen to roaring lions and the other African night sounds. Ask about the sleep-out option when booking.