Safari FAQ - Before joining Greg on safari

This FAQ has been compiled following over 10 years of emails and phone calls. They have been carefully compiled to give you peace of mind before making your booking. I explain the reasons why you need to book your exclusive African safari or workshop through me. Let's grab a cup of tea or coffee, and I'll answer most of your pre-booking questions here...

First things first, what about Covid-19?

While Covid is a worldwide pandemic, I have really good news; most of the African countries that I conduct safaris in, have had very few cases. Add to this that we have our own exclusive safari truck and that we request private dinning and all activities are ‘open air’. Temperatures are taken everyday in camps and sanitiser stations are in place. We fly in small planes from small airports. My safaris are conducted in remote locations with low population densities. Safaris in their very nature are ‘socially distanced’ and in an open air environment. You will feel a lot safer on safari than most other places and your biggest decision is therefore whether you feel comfortable traveling to Africa? *Please note that I am a camera doctor and not a medical professional, and that the above is therefore only my opinion.

Ok but what about Ebola?

This is an easy question to answer because Ebola should not in any way be factored into your decision making process for any of the safaris or workshops that I am marketing. Why? Because I only sell safaris in East (Kenya and Tanzania) and Southern Africa and there have been hardly any cases in these regions. Did you know that the USA had 11 and Europe had 14 cases in the 2014-2016 outbreak? The chances of getting Ebola on my safaris is therefore, in my opinion, negligible. *Please note that I am a camera doctor and not a medical professional, and that the above is therefore only my opinion.

Ok, but what about terrorism?

Terrorism is truly a global issue and the only safari country regularly plagued by this is Kenya. Unfortunately for Kenya, the media has really done their tourism and wildlife a grave injustice by way of sensationalism. The terrorism in Kenya has been solely targeted towards the Kenyan citizens themselves. No tourist destinations have ever been targeted. The few kidnapping cases, from years gone by, all occurred on the coast and we do not go near the coastline on safari. On the safaris that I list, we do not go into the Nairobi city centre at all. My safaris go straight from the international airport, located out of town, to boutique lodges on the outskirts of town. We use highway bypasses and do not pass through town at all. To get to our safari destination we fly in and out of a small airport called Wilson, also on the outskirts of town. We do not do any shopping and we spend our time out in the bush on safari. The threat of terrorism is therefore negligible and sitting reading this wherever you are in the world, you are probably closer to a major terrorist threat than you will be in Africa. Please do not boycott Kenya as its wildlife needs you to come on safari. Tourism is the only future that wildlife has in Africa. From my experience, the best time to travel to Kenya is when the masses are avoiding it, due to ignorance and false reporting – you have the whole place to yourself at this time. Thankfully all the other safari destinations I travel to have had no terrorist attacks. Countries like Botswana and Namibia must surely rank among some of the safest destinations in the world.

What makes a photographic safari different to any other?

A photographic safari is a safari specifically designed and executed with photographers in mind. This plays out in many different ways, keep reading.

Do you offer private safaris over and above the safaris advertised on your website?

Yes, I certainly do but I do not advertise my private safaris as each is custom-designed. Although, on my ‘Bespoke Best Of Africa‘ page I do share with you my thoughts on each country, and I include a gallery from each too. If you would like to travel alone or with a friend, spouse or your own group, I can arrange a private safari for you. In this case we will rework a costing depending on your group size and we can also tailor an itinerary. We can look at different dates if need be or you can book the same set departure dates as advertised on my website but just have it run as a private safari. I have a few clients that are very serious photographers and which solicit my services to lead them on private safaris (including one National Geographic photographer). But mostly I just have people who, like me, love nature and love photography. These people come on a pvt safari to get the most out of the experience and we have a good mixture of fun combined with serious photography. I also guide families from time to time, which is great fun and I cater for all levels of photographers (except pink iPhone users).

How would I go about booking a private safari?

You can email me from the contact page… Questions I am going to ask you will range from what country or countries you are interested in, to what wildlife you are wanting to see or photograph. For some suggestions, see my private photo safari page. I insist on only offering my clients the best wildlife experience and as such, the time of year that you travel will be very important when trying to assess where we should go. Please therefore let me know what time of year you prefer to travel? When you email me also kindly give me an outline of your expectations in terms of the accommodation, wildlife and photography. The more you tell me about your expectations the better I can tailor a safari that will exceed these expectations. I will then use my knowledge of both the continent, camps/lodges and wildlife to make recommendations. Another vital bit of information that I will need to know is if you are traveling on your own or with a partner or in a group? This affects charter flight costs as well as the cost of securing an exclusive safari truck. Once we agree on a basic outline, you will receive a fully customized itinerary and this is all done without you needing to commit in any way. Only when you are entirely satisfied that we have the right product for you, will the booking process begin.

Ok, what does a private safari cost?

My private safaris cost upwards of $25 000 for a single photographer, depending of course on the duration, country and locations chosen. To give you an idea, an exclusive Southern Africa private charter safari to the most exclusive wildlife lodges and concessions can cost up to $300 000 for 2 photographers for 2 weeks. Of course the cost will vary greatly, depending on the choice of camps and the duration of the safari. We always send an obligation free quotation and itinerary so don’t be shy to get in touch. If you trying to keep the cost below $25 000 then join me on one of my advertised set departure photo safaris and workshops, which are all exclusive African safaris in their own right.

I see that for private safaris you mention a lot of ‘Bespoke Best Of’ safaris. Is there a reason for this?

The ‘Bespoke Best Of’ concept has proven to be wonderfully effective. What I have found over the years is that photographers who sign up for private safaris are the kind who return to Africa more than once. They are the kind who want to extract the best photographically from the continent. So, instead of flitting about from one iconic destination to another, I designed the ‘Bespoke Best Of’ concept. What this means is that we knock off one country at a time. The advantage of this is that you will get to shoot in the iconic locations but then also in the off-the-beaten-track locations. If you think about it, if you only go on safari to the iconic destinations, these are the places every other photographer goes to, and so you will land up getting shots similar to others. The ‘Bespoke Best Of’ safaris are usually longer (2 weeks) and if you stick to the ‘best of’ plan, you will get the best results from the continent. We have designed incredible ‘Bespoke Best Of’ safari itineraries for almost every country. You can read about what makes each country special and see a gallery from each here. There is contact form at the bottom of the page, so get in touch once you have decided which country you would like to make your ‘Bespoke Best Of’ choice!

What is the difference between a safari and a workshop?

Traditionally, a photo safari does not have a formal time set aside for a presentation or a lesson. A photo safari is therefore more about being out in the field and photographing. A workshop however, is traditionally more focused on teaching photography and techniques. The actual taking of photos then takes on a more educational role to teach and explain, as apposed to actually capturing award winning imagery.

A few years ago I asked the simple question ‘Why can’t you have both?’ As a result, each one of my safaris and workshops are now a combination of both a safari and a workshop. I tailor the trip to your exact needs. Some of you would really like to learn and improve your photography and as such you require me to engage with you in a more formal time of learning. For others, going on a safari is more about capturing that special image and as such, I make it my duty to place you in the correct position to capture the action and beauty of each special moment. Still others require a combination of both and this I also facilitate seamlessly.

Ok, so there are elements of both a safari and a workshop in each of your products but why the distinction then?

The reason I call the Masai Mara Predator tour a ‘safari’ is that due to the nature of photography in this ecosystem, we are generally out longer in the morning and afternoon, usually about 10 hours per day. Therefore, there is often no time to have a formal type of lesson or feedback session in camp. On this trip, the photographic tuition takes on a more fluid and dynamic form, taking place mostly in the field and hence the reason for me marketing it as a ‘safari’ and not as a ‘workshop’.

The driving distances for my Botswana and South Africa predator workshop are shorter than in the Masai Mara and on this trip there is usually an hour or two free after lunch. This time lends itself beautifully to me teaching a practically relevant lesson on photography. During this time I can also give you feedback using my own images as well as your own.  Although marketed as a workshop, this trip guarantees exceptional predator and big game photographic opportunities. So, a workshop does in no way lessen the photographic results you will get. Think of it as a safari with formal photography lessons included. You will still go home with full memory cards but also having improved your own personal photography by way of formal lessons.

Why do you currently only sell a handful of different trips for the whole of Africa?

Over the last decade I have lead safaris across the African continent and I have hosted dozens upon dozens of photographers from different countries and backgrounds, each with his or her own level of experience and photographic aspirations. One thing I have come to realize is what photographers want and in short, photographers want photographs! But, not just any photographs, they want awesome photographs. In order for me to be able to guarantee my clients this awesome imagery, there are very special criteria that need to be met. Let me list just a few of them:

1. There simply needs to be a plethora of wildlife and this immediately excludes most ecosystems.

2. Secondly, we need to be based in a camp or lodge that allows quick and easy access to special photographic opportunities because, remember, it is all about the light.

3. We need freedom to be able to drive off road as much as possible.

4. We need to avoid other vehicles so that we can change positions and work a particular angle, scene or sighting.

5. We need to see action.

6. If you are traveling all the way to Africa on a photo safari, you want to leave with dynamic photographs of all the predators and big game. This means that we need to be able to not only find these creatures, but as photographers, we also need to get close to them. It does not help seeing a leopard a mile away. This again excludes many locations.

7. Being in the right area is not enough, the time of year is also critical.

8. The vehicles and driver guides are an essential component of a successful photographic safari and these all important factors need to be carefully factored in.

9. As wildlife photographers, we do not want to photograph in contrived circumstances. We want to photograph in Africa’s largest ecosystems where the animals roam wild and free.

10. Photographers do not want to shoot cliched imagery and as such we need freedom to explore and to seek out unique opportunities, to be able to venture off the beaten track, away from other tourists. You want to finish a safari with unique images that you can enter into the Nature’s Best or NHM Wildlife Photographer of the Year competitions.

When you add all above points together, there are really only a handful of locations and camps to consider for serious photographers. I have visited almost all Africa’s safari locations and I have photographed most of them extensively. At the end of the day, the safaris that I sell are the only ones that I feel will satisfy any and every kind of wildlife photographer.

I see you do trips to the Masai Mara and Mala Mala. Are they not very touristy?

Like so many places in Africa, it is local knowledge and insight that will determine the outcome of your experience. I have lived in East Africa for 4 years and I have been following the migration in the Masai Mara for the last 16 consecutive years. During this time I have learnt how to not only offer the ultimate wildlife experience but how also to get away from the crowds. I do this by carefully selecting my camps and by knowing which areas are busy and where we can get away from the traffic and photograph in peace. The camps I use offer us quick access to the major points of action (for example river crossings) but each also affords us the opportunity to get away from the heavy traffic. The Masai Mara is 1500 square kilometers big and I know how to take you to the far flung corners, to places where the photo opportunities are excellent. This is also why I use a camp in a private concession. The Masai Mara is the wildlife mecca of Africa and one should not avoid it but rather learn how to operate successfully in what is Africa’s best ecosystem for wildlife photography. The location of the camps I use and the intimate knowledge I have of the reserve are what make this an authentic safari experience. The only time you are forced to see lots of vehicles is at river crossings but other than that we can get away from the worst of the traffic.

Mala Mala is in no way touristy. Yes you get a ‘big five certificate’ but that is about where the touristy bit ends and at least you are guaranteed of seeing the Big Five roaming wild and free, which is hard to do anywhere else. At Mala Mala you will only ever have at the most two other vehicles on a sighting. In reality you will often be alone at a sighting as Mala Mala is situated on private land and no other safari vehicles from other camps are allowed to drive in central part of the reserve. It is also the largest piece of private land in the area, which means we can go exploring without seeing anyone else. Mala Mala forms part of one of Africa’s largest parks, bigger even than the Serengeti National Park. With only 16 vehicles out in the bush, even when all the camps are full, you will have 1 vehicle per 1000ha. Where else in Africa can you be guaranteed of seeing the big five (including the endangered rhinoceros) and also be guaranteed of not seeing more than two other vehicles at any one sighting? Mala Mala is one of the very few locations in Africa that is both a wilderness and a photographer’s mecca.

Which safari is for me?

Each one of my listed safaris and workshops are absolute ‘must do’ safaris, that is why I only list a handful. Each one it totally different but all will offer you the best and most awesome photographic opportunities available in Africa. The time of year is different for each so depending on when you plan on traveling this can help you decide. Beyond that, I am afraid I cannot make the decision for you. I have however included as much information as possible, along with galleries for each safari, to help you as much as possible. You can also read the ‘Why this is the safari for you’ segment at the bottom of each safari page. After living in Africa my entire life and working as a safari guide, then as a safari camp manager and now as a professional wildlife photographer, I have narrowed all my experiences down to just a handful of safaris, so you better believe that each one  is incredible.

Ok, I am sold. How does the booking process work?

You simply complete the booking enquiry form that every safari and workshop page on my website has. You will find it at the bottom of each safari page. I will then reply to your email and introduce you to my agent who will handle the paperwork for the safari. When you land in Africa, I will then be there to greet you and from that point on I will be your personal host, guide and photographic tutor, until the very end of the safari.

Um, so you don’t actually book the safari but you work through an agent. Why?

As a working professional wildlife photographer I am out the office more than I am in the office and in order for me to offer you a truly professional service, I have chosen to work with an agent. But, it must be said that I do not just work through any agent. Currently I work only through two agents, depending on the location of the safari. These agents act as ground-handlers; I know each one personally and I have been working with them for many years now. Both are highly specialized companies that cater exclusively for photographers. By using agents, you can still benefit by having a working professional wildlife photographer as your personal safari guide, but you need not endure a substandard booking experience and please believe me, my administrative skills are substandard.

If you go through an agent does this not hike the cost of the safari?

Working through my agents does not add to the cost of your safari because the agents I use do not add a fee on top of what the safari camps charge you, if you had to book privately. Each agent rather collects a commission from the camps/lodges. It is standard practice that safari camps will offer agents between 10-30% commission on bookings and this is where the agents make their money. This means that you are paying the same rate per person per night at a safari camp or lodge that you would, even if you booked the safari yourself. The only catch is that each of my agents charge a flat administration fee for handling the booking and logistics of your safari. Depending on the length of your safari this fee will vary but a 9 day safari will carry an average administration cost of around US$400. This is a once off fee for your entire safari. For this administration fee you get all the logistics taken care of, including the booking of all internal transfers and flights as well as special luggage allowances, private vehicles, meet and greets etc. You also get peace of mind which allows you to relax and enjoy your safari knowing everything is taken care of and should something go wrong, you have a ‘go to person’ on the ground in Africa. The agent then builds my travel costs into the overall cost of the safari and I am booked into the camps as a pilot/guide, which means I do not get charged the full tourist rate.

You say you give photographic ‘lessons’ as a part of the workshop experience. How is this facilitated?

I travel with an entire workshop on my laptop and during the trip I will monitor your progress and I will present topics that will challenge and motivate you to take your imagery to the next level. I will also address any problem areas that you might have, as well as give you feedback on your own images. This is all done in a relaxed manner and usually in the library or a quiet corner of the camp or lodge. I find that a good time to meet is before the afternoon safari drive. I like to give you a masterclass on autofocus early one, to make sure that we iron out any major problems, so that you can be sure to capture great images from the start. By the end of the workshop I will have taught you everything you need to know to take images like a professional wildlife photographer. While on safari drive I will share my settings with you but I will not at any stage force you to shoot the way I do. I will also teach you how to use your flash and how to shoot in low light conditions. I published a 13 page portfolio for the BBC Wildlife Magazine documenting the nocturnal lives of leopards and low light action photography is my real specialty. On a safari or workshop I will teach you to shoot the kind of images that I do. You can see some of my work here

Why do you try to combine a safari with a workshop?

Well my answer to this is simple: An African safari is not cheap in anyone’s language or currency. For you to travel all this way to learn how to shoot would not be fair. Likewise, for you to travel all this way, only to take images that are no good would also not be right. My aim is for you to travel all this way and to not only learn more about photography but to also go home with a portfolio of wonderful, dynamic and powerful photographs. I have the experience to facilitate both and therefore I offer both.

Let’s take a photographic break… FAQs continue below…

Let’s continue…

What makes a Greg du Toit exclusive photo safari different?

First and foremost, I am from Africa. Not only was I born in Africa but my family has been here for 11 generations. Africa is my home, and when you travel with me, you are a guest in my home. I delight in showing and sharing my home with you and each of my exclusive African safaris are a personalized and hospitable experience. As we say in Swahili, ‘Karibu Sana’ which means ‘You are very welcome’!

Secondly, not only have I been in Africa my entire life but I have been working permanently in the African safari industry since 1996 (well over 20 years now). I started out as a walking safari guide before meeting my wife, Claire. We then teamed up to manage safari camps in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. During this time I gleaned valuable insight into geographic locations and safari camps, which I have used to design my exclusive African safari itineraries.

Thirdly, all my itineraries are designed by myself personally, and specifically with photographers in mind. But, and this is where I differentiate from the competition, my aim is to place my clients in locations and positions where they are able to shoot award winning images as apposed to cliched type shots. As a result, I only sell a small handful of select exclusive African safaris and each promises to place you in the very best locations on the continent for wildlife photography and at the exact right times, so that you can create unique and powerful imagery.

That all sounded quite philosophical, give me a point for point answer as to why your safaris in Africa are different?

Ok, for the left-brained of you:

– My photo safaris take you to the VERY best ecosystems in Africa for photography. This sounds logical right, but you will be surprised how many famous ecosystems in Africa actually produce very few solid photographic opportunities.

– We visit these ecosystems at the optimum time of year for photography. This knowledge has been collected over many years of getting it wrong as a professional wildlife photographer, in my personal capacity. You cannot afford to get it wrong on your trip of a lifetime.

– For my exclusive African safaris I only use safari camps that are located in the heart of the wildlife action. This is an all too often neglected point, as one really needs to know an area well, before one is able to identify where the best wildlife photography occurs. You will again be surprised how many camps are not located in the heart of the action.

– On my safaris you will have exclusive use of a vehicle as this is essential to being able to capture award winning images. My trips have only 3 photographers per vehicle.

– As far as possible I try to place you in locations that allow off-road driving, as freedom and flexibility are key to creating powerful imagery. After years of safari travel, I have learnt where off-road driving is allowed or ‘tolerated’.

– My private African safaris take you to the exact locations that I travel to in my personal capacity as a professional wildlife photographer, when I am shooting for a book project or for award winning images. See my book page here

– When on safari I place you in positions where you can shoot the same type of wildlife imagery that I do. See my latest images here

– The exclusive African safaris I sell, I have been on many times before in my personal capacity and I am not using these safaris as a tool to travel to see new places.

– As a professional photographer I am totally willing to share my knowledge with you and since we are in my backyard, I am not competing with you and I want you to finish your safari with exceptional images.

– The secret to my work, is that I get it right in the field and in the camera. I know about light and animal behaviour and as such, I know how to achieve winning results in-camera. This is my philosophy and believe it or not, it is a different approach, especially in a world where photographers are shooting on as many auto settings as possible, and then focusing most of their attention on post processing techniques in front of their computer. My ability to achieve my results in the camera is what won me the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 where you have to submit your RAW files. My second published book is even titled ‘Getting It Right In Camera’.

– While photography is the focus of my safaris, I believe that to be a great wildlife photographer you need to be passionate about your subjects and their environment. You need to enjoy just being out there. My ultimate goal besides making sure that you finish your trip with wonderful images, is to respect nature and to share my passion with you for the great outdoors and for Africa’s splendid creatures.

– Being a photographer myself I understand what a critical issue the safari truck and space is, and that is why I limit my safaris to just three photographers per vehicle and why I use open safari trucks where possible, so as to avoid you having to shoot from the roof, and getting a top down perspective on your subjects.

– I keep my tours small and usually limited to just one vehicle, so that you can receive one-on-one tuition, based on your skill level and aligned with your interests. I don’t run big groups where you get bounced around from one photographer to the next.

– I understand that photographers want unique shots and I have learnt over the years to visit various ecosystems outside of the conventional times of year, so as not only to avoid traffic but to also avoid getting conventional photographic results. Very few photographers have the intimate knowledge that is required to do this.

Ok, hold on a second, you say that you not competing but do you take photographs on your safaris?

Yes I do, and that is because I love photography. I have reached a point in my career where it is extremely difficult to obtain unique imagery for my African portfolio. I aim for just 6 new images a year for my portfolio from Africa and maybe another six that I am prepared to publish. To rectify this, I am branching out in my personal capacity and looking for projects outside of Africa, like bears in Finland and musk oxen in Norway. I am also seeking out new projects in Africa like the bat migration and Ethiopian wolves. Despite this, I always have my camera handy as one just never knows when a great shot will turn up.

On your safari, I will sit in the front of the safari vehicle where I work closely with the local driver guide to ensure that you are in the right position for each shoot so that you are be able to capture unique behavioural opportunities. By sitting next to the driver, I can use my experience of animal behaviour to make sure we move ahead of the action and that we are properly positioned. Buy having only 3 photographers on a vehicle we can all sit on the same side of the safari truck and I will make sure that you are lined up correctly for each shot.

Photographing for me is like driving a car and something I do everyday. Even if I am photographing, you will still be free to ask me any questions that you have and while I shoot, I will call out my camera settings for you. If of course you get stuck, I will put my camera down to help you. I believe that through me photographing, you benefit more from my skills as a professional wildlife photographer as while I photograph, I share with you my thoughts and I caution you regarding potential issues around exposure, depth of field, shutter speed, composition, focusing etc.

So you sit in front hey, is that not the best seat?

No, the front seat has a good angle and that is the only advantage. Sitting in front, you are unable to shoot out of the right side at all, as the driver is in your way. Shooting out the front is also difficult due to aerials, tracker seats, mirrors, rifles and windshields. In Mala Mala you have an aerial to the front right and the driver right next to you, making shooting very difficult. In East Africa, you have a windscreen blocking your entire front view and you do not have the option of shooting out the top. When sitting in the front there is also only room for one big lens and you cannot have your camera bag handy. In the new Land Rovers you can only fit a 400mm on your lap as anything longer hits the dashboard.

By sitting in front I am able to direct the driver which benefits your photography. To get the ultimate shot, you need to quickly assess a scene and move ahead of the action. If I sit on the back I need to shout to the driver whereas next to him I can often just gesture with my hands. Sitting in front I can also hear the radio and liaise with the guide regarding how to rotate into sightings so that we get to the action in the best possible light. Having worked as a guide I know the tricks of the trade but I need to sit in front to execute them.

Obtaining award winning wildlife imagery entails far more than just having the correct camera settings. Knowledge of how wild animals behave and being positioned correctly are both of vital importance. I have the necessary wildlife and photographic experience to put you in the right place at the right time as often as possible, but to do this I sit in front so that I can direct the driver easily and quickly. Time is of the essence when working with wild animals and sitting in front I will make sure that the vehicle is optimally positioned to give you the best chance of getting that award winning shot.

My photographic safaris and workshops each only have 3 photographers per vehicle which means that you can shoot out the left and right. If you would prefer a lower angle, then simply shoot off a beanbag placed on the seat next to you. I run my safaris in remoter places with less vehicle traffic and whenever possible I will allow you to jump out of the truck and shoot from the ground (although this is not something I should advertise so please keep it our little secret).

Ok, so where do I sit?

For my safaris I only have 3 photographers per vehicle (unless otherwise specified) and what we do is each photographer sits on the left-hand side of the vehicle. This way I can line you all up easily and quickly for that award winning shot. Having your own row means you can also shoot out the right as there will be times when it is impossible to position the left-hand side of the truck to face the action. To keep it fair, we change seats for every safari drive and by moving one seat forward each time, you will get to shoot in each seat. When you get to the front, you then start at the back again. This way no one feels like they are always in the worst seat.

Please note that in Mashatu Game Reserve there is a tracker who sits on the back of the safari truck. This tracker helps us find photographic subjects and also directs the driver. When sitting in the back row, you will share that row with the tracker but this need not be a disadvantage as the tracker will always duck out of your way if you are shooting out the right-side. You can also get him to hold your spare camera and lens or even your flash. If you do not want the tracker to join us then please specify this to me before booking. In Londolozi, the tracker sits on the front of the bonnet and in big cat sightings will climb on the back but he will not be a hindrance. Other listed safari locations do not have trackers but if its a concern then please check in with me when booking.

If you bring a non photographing spouse along then you two will need to share a row so as not to hinder the other photographers. If you a photographer concerned about non photographing partners joining then please specify this when booking so that we can make sure you on a tour with no non-photographing spouses. Most photographers travel alone or both shoot if they are a couple, and therefore each is booked as a photographer – meaning that they have there own row. So, non-photographing spouses are rarely an issue.

If you, for medical reasons, have to sit in a certain seat then you please need to book a private safari.

Some photographic safari companies claim that sitting in the back is the best way to lead a safari, what do you think?

Every photographic company has their own recipe and I cannot speak for other companies; I can only speak for myself and for my recipe, which is to only have three photographers on a vehicle so that each photographer can shoot out of the left and right side of the safari truck. I sit in front where I am not only out of your way but I am able to effectively communicate with the guide to not only spot potential photographic opportunities but to position the vehicle ahead of the action, and in the best position for the light. Don’t forget photography is all about the light.

Tell me more about your recipe again?

My recipe, like many chefs, is simple. When you go on a safari drive with me, you are going with a professional wildlife photographer and you will shoot like one too. We get out early and we stay out late for not just the golden light but for the blue hours too. On every safari drive, our main objective is to get the best wildlife images possible. By having your own row, with maximum freedom and flexibility to shoot out the left and the right, and having a seat open next to you to place your camera gear on, you have the best chance of getting that award winning shot. As your expert specialist guide I make critical decisions about animal behaviour and light as quickly and effectively as possible. I am also available for questions and I give camera settings recommendations. Before we go on a safari drive and back in camp I teach and help you with your camera settings and photographic concepts and principles. I travel with an entire workshop on my laptop computer. I am available and approachable. This is my recipe and after over 10 years of specialist photographic guiding I can say that it works. Please read my guest testimonial page here

You mention award winning photography but have any of your safari clients won awards from photos they took on your safaris?

Yes, I am happy to say that many of my safari clients have won awards in various local and international competitions from shots that they have taken on safari with me. I have had one repeat photographer who started out as a beginner and went on to win the mammals category (which is the largest category) in the most prestigious Russian competition. Also, most notably, I had a young photographer on one of my safaris who I taught to use flash and radial blur and he placed in the junior category of the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year, and went on to win the grand prize a few years later.

Now let’s talk money, how much does a photo safari cost in general in Africa?

Photo safari costs vary greatly across the continent and range from $3000 to $300 000. The industry is mostly priced in dollars across the continent and tourism is big business and the future for Africa. The most important factor to remember that you get what you pay for and that the devil really is in the detail.

Your safaris are considerably more than $3000, why?

Remember that at face value all safaris look the same but my safaris offer you the following and it all costs extra:

– We fly to most of our destinations and we take the most direct route there. Time and comfort is of the essence, so I use small airlines, charters and private airstrips close to the camps.

– I use camps that are located in the very best possible locations for photography, regardless of what they cost. When it comes to finding photographic subjects and in the best light, I make zero compromise. I also usually use more than just one camp so that we spread our chances of seeing more animals. This especially applies to predators, which are territorial in nature.

– I only use private vehicles and private concessions where possible. I also only cater for 3 photographers per safari. Running small group or private safaris increases the overall cost of the safari dramatically.

– My safaris are all inclusive with no hidden costs. From the time you land to the time you leave, you don’t need to pay for anything except personal gifts and gratuities that you feel you want to give.

– My safaris take you to the very best wildlife locations in Africa and not just this, they also take you to the very best locations within these locations. For example, lots of safaris will take you to Amboseli National Park but when I take you to Amboseli National Park, I offer you photography in an exclusive private concession as well as inside the national park. If you book a cheaper safari to Amboseli, you might land up in dust and traffic on a corrugated road and you will be sharing sightings with mini-buses and not being able to drive off-road. This is what I mean when I say that you get what you pay for. This is just one example of countless I can give you but when you book with me, you have peace of mind that you getting the very best photo safari possible anywhere in Africa and with no compromise on the photographic or safari experience, whatsoever.

There seem to be lots of photo safari companies, surely they offer the above?

If you see a safari cost that is way below mine, then the company is certainly not offering all of the above as there is just no way around these costs. It is very important that you compare apples with apples. For example, you cannot compare a safari that caters for 3 people to one that caters for 4 people. You also cannot compare the photo experience as having 4 photographers or more in a car does not work. You shooting into and over each other. Likewise, you cannot compare staying in a large hotel-type lodge to staying in a small more intimate camp. You also cannot compare staying in a camp that is 10 minutes from the wildlife action to a camp that is 40 minutes away. With my safaris I offer you peace of mind that no compromise has been taken and that you are getting the very best photographic results and the very best safari experience.

Are there any other pitfalls when booking a cheaper safari?

Yes, the first being the travel plans. Pay careful attention to how you getting to your locations as one easy way of cutting costs is to book larger airlines and to fly into major centres. Also check luggage weight restrictions as you don’t want to have to go through the stress of being overweight and you certainly don’t want to have to leave critical camera gear at home. The 2nd is to check the vehicle situation carefully and to assess whether you will be shooting out a tiny window and how many other photographers are in the vehicle. The 3rd is to check who is leading the safari? Lots of safari guides are leaving their lodge and camp jobs to become specialised photographic guides and they are simply using the industry to see places, and they are doing this on your dime. Find out who is leading the safari, how long have they been a specialist safari guide and how many times have they been to the locations you are visiting? Then most importantly, have a look at their photographic body of work. Most times they will not be able to teach you beyond their own style (unless they have lots of photographic experience), so it is really important that you approve of their photographic style and imagery.

Sorry to be blunt, but what qualifies you to lead workshops as like you say, everyone these days seems to be an expert?

Over the past 20 years, I have spent thousands of hours in Africa photographing (read an interview here). You are quite correct that these days almost everyone seems to sell themselves as a wildlife photographic expert or professional. Many people leading photo safaris are indeed experts, but they are expert marketers or social media gurus. I like to think that my images are my foremost qualification to lead photographic safaris and workshops. I do not digitally manipulate my work and all my subjects have been photographed in free and wild conditions. Here is a link to a few of my galleries and my latest from social media.

I was also a nature conservationist long before I was a photographer and I have studied African wildlife in great detail. As a result, I am able to predict unique behaviour, which is a skill not often highlighted in the photographic safari industry. In a two year period I saw 16 kills (actual take-downs). While lots of luck is involved, knowledge of animal behaviour also plays a major role. See a video of one here

All fine and well but are you a professional photographer?

Yes, my books sell well and I run a highly exclusive limited edition fine art print business. I have been commissioned by the National Geographic Channel as a photographer for the launch of their Great Migrations series in the Masai Mara. I have hosted a solo exhibit for the National Geographic Society in London. The exhibit titled Africa sold out in its first month before being extended. I have been commissioned by the BBC Wildlife Magazine and Geo Magazine to compile portfolios on African Leopards. In short I have worked for the National Geographic and the BBC in both the areas that I sell safaris. You can see a small selection of my published work here and you can read my full bio here. I was awarded the most prestigious award in world wildlife photography when I was named the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013. I have placed a total of 6 times in the same competition and most recently in 2017.

What is your teaching style?

I have set and structured workshop material on my laptop in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. While I come fully prepared, my teaching style is relaxed and less formal. I will tailor both the content and style of my teaching to suite your needs. Every photographer is unique, with unique passions, skill sets, experiences and frustrations. My aim is to treat and teach you as an individual, and to make sure that regardless of your current level, I help take your imagery to the next level.

Ok, this sounds heavy. Do you need to be a semi-professional to do one of your trips?

Not at all. I cater for everyone from beginners through to professionals. I delight in taking your imagery to the next level, in getting you excited about your photography and getting you passionate about Africa.

If a group departure, how do you manage different experience levels amongst photographers?

I have learnt to do this over the years and it is not as hard as it sounds. When in the vehicle I will help the more novice photographers with camera settings and general advice. While I do this, the more experienced guys are shooting away. When back in camp, I will tailor my tutoring to cater for both. This means that a more experienced photographer might need to sit and listen to a topic which he already knows a lot about, but I believe that even us experienced guys need to be reminded of the basics from time to time. I will also always make sure I tailor the workshop component to the needs of the experienced guys as well, and usually a talk on flash really gets them going.

What if I do not really want a workshop type safari, I just need to enjoy some good photography and relax?

This is absolutely fine by me. Nothing on my trips is compulsory. The main overriding aim for me is that you enjoy and get out of the trip, exactly what you want. If you want me to just point you in the right direction in the field whilst on drive, and then relax in camp, that can certainly be arranged.

What about non photographing partners, friends and spouses? Can they join one of your Africa photo safaris?

Yes, bring them along. Although I designed my trips for photographers, photographers like to photograph exceptional wildlife right? Well, non-photographers also want to see exceptional wildlife so there is no conflict of interests there. The only catch is that if they want to join the morning safari drive, they will need to get up early (about half an hour before dawn). For the rest, the safari is similar to a non photographing safari as they do not need to sit in on classes unless they want to. Ok, there is a second catch: Photographers like to spend longer than usual at a sighting to extract as much out of a good sighting as possible. The non-photographing partners will therefore also need a good dollop of patience. Often though, patience in the wild is equally rewarding for everyone.

Side note: I am not only a wildlife photographer but I am also a safari guide and qualified Nature Conservationist and as such, non-photographers will get the full safari experience as I share interesting facts and insights concerning Africa’s wildlife, people and ecosystems.

Ok, so non photographing partners can join, but will they enjoy the trip?

Yes! I have years and years of experience as a safari guide and I will make sure that even non-photographing partners get the full safari experience. They will take in beautiful sights and they will share in an adventure of a lifetime. They will also learn interesting things about animals and about Africa in general.

What is the accommodation like?

The ‘Botswana and South Africa workshop’, the ‘Ngorongoro and Serengeti’ safari and the Londolozi workshop are hosted in lodges with air conditioning and large spacious rooms. My ‘Predators of the Masai Mara’ and most of my extensions and ‘bespoke best of’ safaris are hosted in luxury safari tents. It is incorrect to refer to these lodgings as ‘tents’, they are the size of large bedrooms with flush loos.

It is the new millennium, why the need for tents?

Well, an African safari would not be a safari without a spirit of adventure now would it? A traditional Hemingway safari involves penetrating the wilderness and then doing so in sure style. This is a tried and tested winning recipe, and I believe that one of the best ways to experience Africa is to do so under canvas. What better than lying inside your comfortable bed, all snug and warm, listening to lions roar or buffalo graze outside. Another very important reason is that I only use camps in prime game viewing areas. Most times, these camps need to be mobile as they must carry a lite eco-footprint.

What if I do not like roughing it?

Then join me on safari! The camps I use have charm and you will be more than comfortable. Some of our lodgings are just outright luxurious and lavish. At the very worst, our camp will possess rustic elegance, which is both beautiful and rare in this modern era . If however you are not wanting any compromise in terms of luxury then please sign up for my Botswana and South Africa Predator workshop or my Ngorongoro Crater And Serengeti Signature Safari or my Leopards Of Londolozi or a Bespoke Best Of Africa safari.

  • We would like to thank you for the great predator trip to Kenya, with the extension to Amboseli. From the beginning to the end, you managed to get us into the right spot at the right time. Your dedication to the bush and the animals was extraordinary. On every game drive we could be sure that you would give your best ing terms of getting us to the predators, especially to the cats. We managed to get to some amazing sightings with the big cats and elephants! Especially at Amboseli we felt the dedication in searching the big tusker and on our first day, shortly after we landed on the airstrip, and we succeeded to see Craig - the second biggest tusker in Amboseli. A dream come true! The lodges were well chosen and in amazing surroundings. What makes the trip with you special and productive is the fact that you know the places and the people (drivers) very well. This small, but key-factor, gave us some amazing encounters with lions, leopards an elephants. It was an mind-blowing experience to travel with you and we hope that you will see us again in the future. If you are looking for a down-to-earth person, that is connected to the bush and the animals, and if you want to see nature through his eyes and through your camera, Greg is THE ONE. Thank you for this amazing trip!
    Thomas and Sarah (Switzerland)
  • '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)
  • 'Dear Greg, the training and experience with you has been even better than we expected. You bring out the best of Africa as you teach us each day to appreciate the animals and capture the best moments with pictures. You are patient and professional and we look forward to another journey with you. Best to you, Bob 'the camera caddy' and Jacquie.'
    Bob and Jacquie Paul (USA)
  • '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)
  • 'This safari; my first; was simply put, both amazing and breathtaking and overwhelming! I was going for only one word so going to stop before I use all the emphatic English words I know 😉 Doing such a voyage with Greg insured that I got the most of the journey, more than once he rescued me from a camera that did not want to cooperate, or was it my clumsiness in an exciting moment 😉 But, more importantly, I believe I have a better grasp of the photographic process as a whole, a better understanding of what is entailed in taking a photograph. Coming home, I feel a renewed excitement for the still's medium!'
    Nancy and Pierre Nadeau (Canada)
  • 'Thanks so much for the amazing trip to Shompole and the Masai Mara. The photographic opportunities are just too many to capture. Add the big five in 24 hours, with the accompanying wonderful birdlife and beautiful landscapes, all filled with light and sounds. We appreciate you sharing these very special places and your knowledge with us, particularly your photography advise as it has allowed us to start to capture the wildlife in a way that begins to do their wild beauty, life and land some justice.'
    Gavin and Jayne Erasmus (Hong Kong)
  • 'Dear Greg, We wanted to thank you once again for guiding us in Kenya and sharing that special part of Africa with us. We loved our time at Shompole, I think our favourite pictures will be of the local people. Being in the midst of the migration was also very special. Hope to meet up again before too long. Kind regards, Maggie and Peter.' (See a portfolio of 'Life in Kenya's Southern Rift Valley' by Peter here & Maggie here)
    Maggie Manson and Peter Farmer (UK)
  • 'Hey Greg, It took three days to download and organize my 5412 files! You blew me away with your kindness, graciousness, and expertise. Okay, so now I am bit and I can't wait to go back. The wild is the only thing that makes sense and I understand what motivates you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for introducing me to your world and for sharing your experience, strength, and hope for the future of conservation.'
    Nell Dickerson (USA)
  • 'Greg, thanks so much for the outstanding private safari in the Okavango Delta, Botswana that you led for us. The itinerary that you and C4 Photo Safaris developed gave us a terrific mix of magical Delta experiences, with fine camps and excellent local guides. The most important ingredient in this terrific experience, however, was you. On the photographic front, we were inspired by your commitment to artistic creativity and excellence, as well as ethical practices, in the capturing of wildlife images and greatly appreciated your graciously shared world class photographic expertise. We were delighted to find that you are also a knowledgeable naturalist, with wide-ranging expertise and engaging stories (and a voluminous reference library on your phone!) about both the fauna and the flora of Africa. We were encouraged by your commitment to conservation and especially to the Rebuilding the Pride project run by Masai landowner group SORALO in the South Rift Valley of Kenya. We look forward eagerly to joining you in the Masai Mara next year and in the South Rift Valley in 2018!'
    Mark and Bonnie Overgaard (USA)
  • 'It was such a privilege to spend a week with Greg. On all levels he is a joy to spend time in the bush with. Its really apparent through his passion, knowledge and talent why he was The Wildlife Photographer of the Year. We had some amazing sightings. From following mating leopards for 5 hours on my birthday to packs of wild dogs, cheetahs, and 19 different leopards. Oh, and two snakes! And of course, spending some time with Claire was very special to us.'
    Deborah Keener Brown (USA)
  • 'Our experience on this trip has far exceeded each of our expectations. The abundance and diversity of wildlife in Masai Mara was spectacular (ranging from some serious herds of wildebeest and zebras, prides of lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, giraffes and a rhino etc), providing numerous photographic opportunities. We also witnessed impressive crossings of wildebeest and zebras. Greg was great not only because of his wealth of knowledge in wildlife, he also gave invaluable advice as to how to best capture the amazing scenes happening in front of us from both a technical perspective and also a art/creative perspective. He was generous to share with us his take on different subjects on location, and his award-winning technique and creativity. The camp selection and the guides at the camps were great (the guides had eagle-eyes to spot animals from a serious distance). All in all, it was a great trip and we hope to come back to Africa as soon as we can!'
    Simon Pang (Hong Kong)
  • 'On behalf of Kim and myself, I wanted to thank you for a superlative vacation. Although we have not finished going through all of our photos yet (so many!), we can say that any single day of our safari exceeded our expectations for the entire trip. We saw that much! And the credit is due to Greg and our local guides David and Patrick, who were kind enough to share their knowledge of the natural history of East Africa, as well as insights into the Maasai culture. Kim and I are both trained as anthropologists, so understanding the dynamic of the Maasai and their landscape was important to us. We were very excited to learn about how the conservancies work, as this sounds like an important innovation in conservation. We also greatly appreciated the opportunity to take a walking safari! In closing, the last thing we expected to see was a leopard somersaulting over a dead Caracal, but the attached photo proves me wrong. Thanks again!'
    David and Kim Purcell (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)
  • 'A journey for my soul. Wild as I always wanted it to be. Everlasting memory. Grazie Greg.'
    Silvia Leonardi (Italy)
  • 'I have traveled several times to Africa, but my recent trip with Greg to Mahale and the Serengeti has been a never-to-be-forgotten experience. Greg's photo workshop was amazing. I feel much more comfortable with my camera now. The greatest wisdom I carried away from Greg is this: I am the photographer not the camera, I can be in control and not depend on the  camera's interpretation of what I see. His tips and advice put me on the right direction to being in control! Beyond the camera, Greg's passion for the natural and his immense knowledge of the Serengeti from the predators to the birdlife and to the smallest flower in that never-ending expanse, gave me a privileged glimpse into the heart of Africa. Thank you Greg. See you on the predator tour!'
    Punam Anand Kumar (India)
  • '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)
  • 'Good morning Greg. I trust you got home safely. Eric and I had an uneventful journey home. Surprisingly, Eric found his extender in his camera bag! Thanks for being such an incomparable guide and company. See you in February, if not before (maybe October).'
    Stephen and Eric Cheek (UK)
  • 'It was a great pleasure to discover that Greg is an outstanding naturalist and birder as well as a world-class photographer. Birders and naturalists who lack an interest in photography would certainly be interested in Greg's other skills. Greg played a very large role in assuring the success of our Safari in many ways.'
    Bob and Sue Purcell (USA)

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