This Africa photo safari in the form of a big cat photography workshop combines a South Africa photo safari with Botswana, and is one of the best African photo safari tours. Included in this itinerary is a Mala Mala photo safari and a Mashatu photo safari.
Scroll down to see the guest testimonials at the bottom of this page. Watch a YouTube video from this workshop, made with my iPhone.
BOOK YOUR SPOT NOW by filling the form at the end of this page. Only space for 3 photographers.
This is one of the best African photo safari tours on the continent and has been specifically designed around predators and big game. The South Africa photo safari portion includes a 4 night Mala Mala photo safari while the Botswana leg consists of a 4 night Mashatu photo safari.
You will be hosted and mentored on this Africa photo safari by low-light predator specialist and South African wildlife photographer Greg du Toit. He will give you a daily ‘bush school’ lesson during which he will share with you his own techniques and recipes for low-light predator photography. You will then have a chance to put this into action as you photograph predators in low-light conditions on night safari drives on the Mala Mala photo safari leg. Learn how to use your flash and push your personal photographic boundaries. Customise your camera and autofocus for predator action and learn how to achieve the correct exposure, even in the most difficult lighting conditions. Critical shutter speeds, motion blur, metering, histograms, light and post processing are all topics covered on this big cat photography workshop.
This is an Africa photo safari that promises to deliver on all fronts! You will return home not just having furthered your personal photographic skills but with an awesome big 5 photo safari portfolio, including exceptional photographs of Africa’s shyest big cat, the leopard. Cheetah and wild dog are also exciting photographic prospects, making this one of the best photo safaris you can do. You will also see the endangered rhinoceros on the South Africa photo safari leg. This is however not just a big 5 photo safari experience, as you will photograph Africa’s other wonderful and iconic creatures like giraffe, zebra, baboons, hornbills and warthog, to name but a few.
We have timed this Africa photo safari for June/July, which is the ultimate month to photograph in the locations you will be visiting. It is fall here in Africa, with wonderful orange backdrops! A very exciting inclusion of this big cat photography workshop are the three exclusive sessions of underground hide photography that you will enjoy on the Mashatu photo safari leg. Accommodation is luxurious and in smaller more intimate camps, which are in the best locations for accessing the wildlife. Air conditioners, Wi-Fi and electricity are standard on this safari.
Did I mention the eye-level hide we will be using, built exclusively for photographers and which we have booked exclusively? Why not make this a ‘best private Africa photo safari‘ by adding any one, or combination of the following exciting extensions.
This is a 9 day (8 night) Botswana and South Africa photo safari itinerary that has space for only 3 photographers.
There are a number of exciting options to extend your big cat photography workshop including a ‘best Zimbabwe private photo safari‘ to Mana Pools, a Meerkat photo safari, a ‘best luxury African photo safari‘ to the Okavango Delta and a ‘best private Namibia wildlife photo safari‘ to the Skeleton Coast. Any one or combination of these best Africa photo safari extension options are booked on request only. Please enquire about extending your photo safari when filling in the booking form at the end of this page.
The above Africa photo safari rate includes 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 of this big cat photography workshop 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 Africa photo safari. The above cost applies if the workshop is fully booked with 3 participants.
All the ‘best private Africa photo safari‘ extensions to this big cat photography workshop, including the Zimbabwe Mana Pools, Namibia Skeleton Coast, Botswana Okavango Delta and South Africa meerkat photography safari are costed and booked on a private basis. Enquire about doing any extension or combination of extensions, either before or after your predator workshop, by filling out the form at the end of this page. We will then send you your own best Africa photo safari itinerary.
Your big cat photography workshop starts by departing Johannesburg from the small and private Airlink terminal, where you can sip a cappuccino and enjoy the lounge snacks. You will be met at the start of this South Africa photo safari leg by your host, professional wildlife photographer Greg du Toit. A short one hour flight will take you to the world-renowned Mala Mala Game Reserve for your Mala Mala photo safari to begin. The airstrip is just a 5 minute drive from Mala Mala’s 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. For over half a century now, Mala Mala has been a mainstay of the South Africa photo safari circuit and is an absolute photographic mecca. The campgrounds are stunning, offering wide vistas of the African bush and many antelope wonder through the grounds unperturbed. Your Big 5 photo safari sometimes starts with you spotting members of the Big 5 from the camp and leopards regularly pass through during the night. Thankfully you will be sound asleep when they do!
The rooms on your South Africa photo safari 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 is a bar fridge in your room, which is stocked upon your request. Your room is luxurious, complete with his and hers closets, a lounge, indoor and outside showers plus a bath. Your room on this Mala Mala photo safari also has a desk and charging station for you to download and review your photographs.
See pictures of your camp here.
On this Mala Mala photo safari you wake at 05h30 and depart camp in the dark at 06h00 (while all the other guests are still asleep). We will search for predators based on tracks and the sightings from the previous night and you will be deep in the African bush by the time the sun rises at 06h35. The first part of the morning will be spent with the predators or other members of the Big 5. Mala Mala is one of the best African photo safari destinations for leopards and it is not unusual to photograph seven or more different individual leopards on this big cat photo safari. Sublime predator photography is the order of the day until the light becomes too harsh. Once light levels are too high to create dramatic low-light imagery, we will move onto trying to capture birds in flight before we stop for a scrumptious bush breakfast picnic on your South Africa photo safari. Returning to camp by 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, after which Greg will present a ‘bush school’ masterclass on pertinent photographic topics that will help you to capitalise on the unique wildlife opportunities on this Big 5 photo safari. He travels with an entire workshop on his MacBook and depending on your level and interests, will present a course that is relevant to your personal photographic needs.
The subjects Greg will address on this Mala Mala photo safari, using his own imagery as examples, will range from camera settings (aperture, shutter, ISO, white balance, exposure comp, metering and histograms) through to how to use your flash skillfully and how to shoot wildlife in action and in low-light. Topics that will be covered on this big cat photography workshop will also include ‘elements of composition’ and how to customise your focus settings. He will also show you his 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 and to ask for a critique on your own images. In this way, you can learn from your own experiences and develop your own unique signature style.
This in-the-field big cat photography workshop will help you take your imagery to the next level. A masterclass on how to photograph leopards at night and motion blur photography with flash, is a highlight of the workshop component of this Mala Mala photo safari.
Your afternoon safari drive commences each afternoon at 15h00. The safari drives are conducted in the Land Rover Puma safari trucks and these vehicles offer the most comfortable safari drive, with coiled suspension in the front and the rear. The safari trucks are completely open with no roof, which provides for maximum photographic freedom 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 safari truck, you will have an entire row to yourself, enabling you to shoot out both the left and the right on this big cat photo safari.
While your driver guide expertly tracks the predators for the evening shoot, 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 personalised tuition including exact settings and creative insights, and he will ensure that you are best positioned for the light and wildlife action. You will of course be able to ask questions at will, as the whole purpose of this Africa photo safari is to ensure that you expand your personal photographic portfolio and horizons.
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 South Africa photo 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 as you follow leopards and other nocturnal predators. There is always a chance of seeing a kill on a Mala Mala photo safari and the predators do most of their hunting at night. On this South Africa photo safari, Greg will share his secret manual recipe with you for photographing predators at night and using a spotlight. There is also a great hyena den site which means that you have an opportunity to photograph all of Africa’s big predators.
You return to camp for dinner at 8pm 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 you 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 on this South Africa photo safari.
This South Africa photo safari leg of the workshop guarantees that you will return home with exceptional predator images in the bag as a Mala Mala photo safari 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 making this one of the best African photo safaris you can do. Because June/July is a quieter 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 on this South Africa photo safari.
On the last morning of your Mala Mala photo safari Greg will take you to one of his 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 3 hours as we need to land to clear South Africa customs before carrying on to Botswana for the Mashatu photo safari. Arriving in Mashatu, you will be met by your Mashatu guide and 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 and new Euphorbia Villas Lodge, you will settle in before heading out on your first Mashatu photo safari drive at 15h15. Photography will commence virtually immediately as your lodge is the closest to the central game viewing area. This Mashatu photo safari 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, you 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.
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 on an Africa photo safari, then look no further.
The ample plains on this Mashatu photo safari range from arid savannah, to riverine forests 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 the best African photo safari.
This extraordinary place possesses an ecological diversity that is uncommon in other reserves. Mashatu is not just a great location for a big cat photography workshop, but it is also 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 Mashatu photo safari does not just include Africa’s large predators but its smaller ones too!
Mashatu is also a bird paradise and plays host to more than 350 bird species. The 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 most intimate and luxurious lodge on the reserve and is your home on this Mashatu photo safari. With only 8 luxury suites the camp enjoys an incredible view over the endless Botswana bush. Set on the edge of a cliff and surrounded by Euphorbia and Baobab, the habitat around your camp is perfect for leopards, 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!
Your Mashatu photo safari routine takes the same shape and form as it did in Mala Mala, except that the scenery and photo opportunities will be totally different as you explore the wilderness in an 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 at this time of year and the soft sun’s rays of the winter make lion, leopard and cheetah really glow.
On this Mashatu photo safari there is an underground hide, designed and built especially for photographers. From this hide you will get a low angle perspective on your subjects and, combined with your regular safari drives, you will assemble a dynamic collection of incredible photographs. The hide offers incredible elephant viewing and some of the best elephant photography in Africa!
It also offers a plethora of other photographic opportunities like having the world’s largest antelope, the eland, drinking at eye level. Eye-level shots of a leopard drinking at the hide are also a possibility on this big cat photography workshop and to help you get this shot, we have booked an evening hide session. This underground and eye level hide makes this Mashatu photo safari an even more unique and incredible photographic experience. June/July is a great time for the hide as the waterhole is not overrun yet with elephants, meaning that a host of other animal species are also drinking and this is great news for your Africa portfolio!
Special note: We have added the option for you to spend a night at Mashatu sleeping out beneath a huge Mashatu tree and in a remote part of the reserve. Sleeping out in the African wilderness is an incredible experience to do on a Africa photo safari 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 a Mashatu photo safari. 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 on your Africa photo safari, then this sleep-out is for you!
*Please note that this Mashatu photo safari sleep out activity is only booked on request and all 3 participants need to agree to doing it. Please enquire when making your booking about adding this to your itinerary.
After a last morning of eye level photography in the underground hide on your Mashatu photo safari, you return to camp for brunch after which you will catch a 90 minute flight back to Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg, for your onward travel home. Transfers and overnight hotel bookings can be arranged depending on your travel schedule. This is the official end of the big cat photography workshop.
For those wanting to continue on with your Africa photo safari there are these exciting extensions on offer to make your safari the ‘best Africa photo safari‘. These extensions include the Okavango Delta, Mana Pools, Skeleton Coast and a Meerkat photo safari. Add any one or combination of these extensions to your predator workshop and make this the best private Africa photo safari experience!
Please note that we only get back into Johannesburg after the Mashatu photo safari leg 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.
Browse the portfolio of photographs below, all taken at Mala Mala and Mashatu on this Big 5 photo safari. Click own any image to enlarge.
– Exclusivity is what helps to make this one of the best African photo safari tours and this workshop caters for only 3 photographers, giving you personalised photographic tuition that larger scheduled tours do not. For every safari drive you take, you will benefit by having the same professional African wildlife photographer on-board, teaching and sharing with you his own unique recipe for photographing Africa’s wildlife. You will also have your own row in the vehicle on every safari drive to place your camera bag and other gear next to you. You will also be able to shoot out the left and the right.
– For the best African photo safari tours timing is everything! This is why your big cat photography workshop runs at the very best time of year. In June/July 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 busiest tourist season which runs through August and into September.
– Another reason why this is one of the best African photo safari tours is due to the mode of travel between destinations. You fly direct into Mala Mala’s own airstrip, which is a 5 minute drive to your camp. You then take charter flights to Botswana and back, making the travel as direct and as short as possible and no time is wasted or safari drives missed.
– Mala Mala Sable Camp is your home for the first leg of this workshop and it is smaller and more intimate than the Main Camp, and children below 12 are not allowed.
– At Mashatu your Euphorbia Villas Lodge is also smaller, vastly more intimate and luxurious than the 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 Mashatu camps. The best African photo safari tours always use camps in the best location for wildlife and photography.
– This workshop offers a feast of unique and spectacular photographic opportunities making it one of the best African photo safari tours you can do. We therefore cannot expect you to leave any of your equipment at home so we have arranged an extra luggage allowance for all flights.
– 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 one reason why this is one of the best African photo safari tours!
– Another reason is because this workshop is run on private land only and it therefore offers you an exclusive wildlife and photography experience. Nobody wants to see loads of vehicles and masses of tourists when on safari!
– Your host and private safari guide, Greg du Toit, is a specialist in low-light photography and 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 learn how to use your flash but also how to shoot in low-light conditions without your flash. Greg 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 making this one of the best African photo safari tours.
– 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 you photograph predators 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 skillfully.
– Off road driving is another critical factor on the best African photo safari tours and off road driving is allowed throughout on this workshop. Not only will you see Africa’s big predators up close and in person, but you 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 workshop is on predators, you will also enjoy regular other big and small game sightings. 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. The two locations combined make this one of the best African photo safari tours.
– We are allocated our own private vehicle for these workshops allowing us to spend quality time at each sighting.
– Location is everything on the best African photo safari tours. Our lodges for this workshop lie right in the heart of the wildlife areas, which means that the action happens in close proximity to the camp so you do not waste time traveling to the best areas and you do not miss the good light.
– 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, you will lay a foundation that will allow you to break new ground in your own personal imagery going forward. Greg will give you all the building blocks you need to be an expert wildlife photographer.
– What makes this one of the best African photo safari tours is the use of the underground hide at Mashatu which has been especially built for photographers. This low angle view is exactly what photographers are looking for! Click here to see a short documentary on the hide.
– 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, making this one of the best big cats photography workshops.
– This workshop includes a total of 3 exclusive sessions in the hide. Without other photographers 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 – making this combination one of the best African photo safari tours.
– 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 which is what makes this one of the best African photo safari tours.
– 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. The diversity of wildlife is another factor contributing to this being one of the best African photo safari tours you can do.
– This big cat photography workshop offers you a well rounded African safari experience. 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 big cat photography 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!
– Extend your stay in Africa with a 3 or 4 night Meerkat photo safari.
– Make this a ‘best luxury African photo safari‘ by continuing on to the Okavango Delta, offered as an ‘easy to do’ extension to your predator workshop (3, 6 or 9 nights).
– Make this a ‘best private Namibia wildlife photo safari‘ by adding the 5 night Namibia Hoanib Skeleton Coast extension to your predator workshop.
– Add a 7 night Mana Pools extension to your workshop and make this a ‘best Zimbabwe private photo safari’.
– Book your place now by filling in the form at the bottom of the page. Space for only 3 photographers on the Botswana and South Africa Predator Workshop. All extensions booked on a ‘per request’ basis. Enquire about any extension when filing in the form below.
* Still got questions? See the FAQ I wrote about African photographic safaris.