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Photographic Safaris: Experience, Comments, Advice?

Photography Photographic Safaris Zambia

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30 replies to this topic

#21 Peter Connan

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 05:03 PM

@rouxeny, your comment about being in a car full of like-minded individuals is definately a very good point, but arguably self-driving is at least from that perspective an even more cost-effective remedy?
Ek oefen skelm.

#22 KaingU Lodge

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 03:14 AM

There are certain camps that have a "photographer in residence" for part of the season, which to me seems like a great idea as you get tips and help but don't have to go the whole dedicated trip route.  I know that Alex Walker's Serian did it this year, I am sure others do it also.  A good agent should be able to help out and advise. 



#23 rouxeny

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Posted 14 October 2016 - 07:16 AM

@rouxeny, your comment about being in a car full of like-minded individuals is definately a very good point, but arguably self-driving is at least from that perspective an even more cost-effective remedy?



Yes, I think a self driving safari would be great, but not as my first. I think that would take a level of experience that I don't have. I have little experience driving a four wheel drive vehicle off-road, I'm not familiar with driving in Africa in general, and I doubt I have the logistical skills necessary to prepare for, and carry out, an extended camping trip far from home.

I'm more than glad to spend the money to not stress.
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#24 Dave Williams

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Posted 19 October 2016 - 09:56 AM

I have looked at group tours and discounted them purely on cost. Maybe that's a bit unfair but the reasons I arrived at that decision was based on being in Goa years ago, seeing the hotel the tour was based in, the numbers involved and the total cost. It was 3-4 x the amount I was paying for a superior hotel, I could hire my own private guide and vehicle and the pace of the day was mine to set.Nothing has persuaded me to change my opinion since.

Guided tour packages usually mean they maximise numbers to the vehicles available (otherwise the cost soars) sometimes overcrowding them, particularly if they are to be used as a mobile hide. Even with two abreast, one side is probably limited to the view and direction of the light. I have seen guided vehicles with three abreast. Piggy in the middle  gets very little in the way of open shots. You are usually paying a home based tour company's expectations on profits as well as a home sent guide in addition to the ones based on foreign soil. Much better to deal abroad directly if you go down that route IMO. Best still to hire a guide directly. 

A friend went on a photo safari to Africa where there were supposedly only 6 people in one of those safari vans with a pop up roof. The tour had taken 7. Now the vehicle will seat more than 7 but you can't fit that many standing up to say nothing of being able to swing your camera around with ease. He successfully sued and won a substantial amount but that didn't really compensate for what he had missed.

I have been on photographic hide holidays and although they can be very rewarding in terms of sights and opportunities I was brought down to earth when I researched other peoples photos and they were all identical to mine ( although maybe better executions!) You can look at some shots and immediately recognise where they were taken. It's a lazy approach to getting the shots you want but there again, particularly if you are in a foreign country, I can see the attraction to many. I now try for a bit of both hide and self found photography.

Like so many others I have a wife who isn't really interested in my passion so I have to find destinations that are suitable for us both or, as I have done for the last couple of years, taken individual holidays. The latter is something I never envisaged doing a few years back but I find with my life passing by I need to get out and do these things whilst i still can. No use regretting not doing so when it's too late. I have a very supportive and understanding other half which is crucial for a marriage to survive!

My solo trips are taken with a friend, I have been with 4 different people and got on well with all of them. Choosing who is important. You don't necessarily need to spend all the time together, there are advantages to being alone, but it's nice to have a travel companion and to reduce costs too. 

I think that depending on where you choose to holiday you will probably come across like minded people anyway so even if you are travelling alone you won't always be so, particularly around the bar in the evening.

As for photo specific tutoring , yes I can see that that's a plus. I would certainly favour a tour where the leader was less interested in their own photos although I guess they can talk you through what they are doing as they look through their own viewfinder. Personally i have never had any tuition and it shows. I stumble along on a shallow self learn curve but hey, it give me an incentive to improve. It would be no fun to get perfect results from the off!

In a group you might have a wide ranging span of experience and equipment too. You can't cater for all needs at once and when one person has the perfect shot they may well agitate to move on whilst you haven't got anywhere near the shot you are looking for.

Where you choose to journey to is probably defined on where you are based too. I imagine Hawaii isn't served with too many direct routes to anywhere other than the USA but I say that with complete ignorance. From my own experience I find The Gambia perfect for a tog/non tog holiday as there is guaranteed winter sun for us northern folk, the birding is excellent even in the coastal holiday strip and it's inexpensive. I have had a holiday on the coast in Kenya and taken a three day safari with my wife. I swore then that having our own vehicle was the way to go as other vans passed us at great speed on hearing of lion sightings elsewhere. The same has happened in Sri Lanka ( another excellent venue for me and my other half) where most folk are obsessed with Leopards and little else. Our next holiday is one I'm really excited about, a self drive in Namibia. I'm just a bit worried that my o/h might get bored of my continual photographic obsession so I have made sure we are staying at the most cost effective places that have swimming pools for her to lounge by when I need to go off on my own.

Actually, I'm going to The Gambia before then. Twice in fact. First with a friend and heading off in to the non tourist area , roughing it, then returning with my wife on a standard package holiday at a level of comfort she is happy with.

Anyway, whatever your decision. Good luck and enjoy!


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#25 SharonV1

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 02:24 AM

Hello:

 

If you are planning to go to South Luangwa, I highly recommend Edward Selfe.  As others have said he is both a great photographer with much to teach about wildlife photography, but also a wonderful guide.  I just got back from spending 5 days with Edward.  My 2 friends and myself hired Edward to spend the first part of our 2 weeks with us and had our own vehicle along with the camps guide and scout.  Edward was wonderful.  I was really worried that it would be uncomfortable or maybe so focused on the photography that I wouldn't enjoy it, but it was exactly the opposite.  I learned a tremendous amount but always felt that the most important thing to Edward was that we have a great and exciting experience.  And we really did.  We got to photograph wild dogs twice and not from inside the vehicle either.  Edward persuaded the camp guide to allow us to get out and photograph the dogs sitting on the ground.  Amazing.  And we had some totally amazing experiences with Lion prides interacting with Elephants that were something I'll never forget.  This was an amazing safari and mostly because of Edward.  He also took me from a photographer who always used auto settings to being very comfortable with setting up my camera for wildlife.  I would be glad to talk to you about it if you want more information.  Just message me.  I think you would be really happy with Edward and if you go to his website he has some group safaris on his website if you didn't want to just hire him privately. 


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#26 pault

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 05:12 AM

@SharonV1. I can answer for at least 20 people that we would like to hear more. There's a way that is much easier than writing 20 PMs
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Waiting again... for the next time again


#27 martywilddog

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 12:46 PM

While I was planning our safari to SLNP I was constantly on Ed Selfie's website/blog. He posts trip reports as well and of course pictures. They looked gorgeous!

 

For some reason I didn't think to contact him for a quote - I had probably already made the arrangements when I found his website. But the pictures on his blog and in his trip reports look beyond great! I grew an especial dislike towards a man I have never met, Patrick Cooper, when reading his trip report for sucking all the safari luck out of the universe in his one trip. I'm joking of course and green with envy :) It's probably wrong to expect every trip to be like Patrick's, that man is just too lucky! A lot of people would love to see wild dogs and leopards, he got to watch them interact! (where can I sign up for his next safari? :)

 

Everyone in the valley knows Ed, it's a tight nit safari community and if memory serves he's married to a lady from one of the "well known" safari families in the Zambian industry (but don't remember if her last name is Pope or Carr). Just to say that he is not just a photographer I think, but someone with real insight into the park and it's history. And the guides and staff speak highly of him. 

 

One of the camps he works out of is Zikomo, I can definitely recommend the camp and the area it is in (I just posted a trip report on it). That area + the help of a pro must be magic! 

 

And though of course the pro needs to be paid and I see costs mentioned as a downside, I didn't think Ed's safari's were priced very expensively. But you have to keep in mind that his group trips are based from camps that are not focused on luxuries, but rather on bush camp and wild life experiences. Don't know what your safari taste is like, but I saw you mentioned Bots, so that is generally very luxurious. 

 

Of course all of this is pure speculation since I have never met the man and like @pault, I would love to hear more from @SharonV1



#28 SharonV1

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 02:21 PM

DSC06530.jpg DSC05418.jpg DSC05429.jpg 30501419491_14ef562a58_b.jpg

 

 

Marty Wild Dog wrote: "Of course all of this is pure speculation since I have never met the man and like @pault, I would love to hear more from @SharonV1! "

 

Thanks Marty!  I am still pretty new to this forum and wasn't really sure how to do a trip report, but I'll look into doing that, because my Zambian Safari was eventful and amazing to me.  To give you some context to my "Safari" experience, this was only my second safari.  September 2015 I went to Kenya and then this September to Zambia.  Both trips were wonderful in their own ways and I believe I've been fortunate to have the best folks helping me with planning them.  Like many, when I started trying to plan my first Safari and first trip to Africa it was daunting.  Although I'm an experience traveler and plan my own trips normally, this was very different.  So instead of doing it myself, I researched the companies that plan these trips for people instead and in the end was fortunate to get to know Paul Hawley at Africa Exclusive in the UK.  Paul has really done very well for me.  He was able to help me understand why the way I wanted to do the Kenya safari was really backwards and he designed a first Safari that was perfect, including the opportunity to see 2 river crossings in the Mara during the migration. He then talked about Zambia as his favorite Safari Destination and so we worked together on a trip to Zambia.  It was my idea to have a photographic guide with us for part of the trip and I had seen Edward's website and suggested him to Paul.  Paul made all the arrangements for Edward to join us for 4 days of our time in the South Luangwa.  We stayed at Norman Carr camps and Edward joined us in our private vehicle along with the Norman Carr guide and scout.  It was a perfect arrangement.  And the 4 days with Edward were really remarkable for the amount and variety of wildlife we saw.  I think that good guiding, both Edwards and the Norman Carr guide, were the reason.   The Luwi area is not known for having as much wildlife as other parts of the NP, but for our 4 days it was perfect.  I already mentioned we had two different encounters with the wild dogs that allowed us to be out of the vehicle and photographing them from a position on the ground.  There was one dog (we think the same dog) both times who was extremely curious about us and got very close...close enough to make me nervous...but it was so exciting to watch them with pups waking up...playing....cavorting after a kill....I'm actually glad I didn't witness the kill itself.  We found them the first time as they were finishing up eating an Impala.  So one morning along the dry Luwi riverbed we found both a pride of lions sleeping along the banks and a little further along, the pack of wild dogs sleeping in the shade of the river bank.  We decided to keep an eye on them and come back that afternoon when they would be starting to move around.  We found them again in the afternoon and had our second encounter with the dogs just as the puppies started to wake up and play....they eventually got their elders up and the whole pack moved off, but not before once again having a curious dog come close to us as we photographed them.  Amazing!  Then it was on to the lions...they had moved to the middle of the riverbed near a waterhole.  We started noticing Elephants one or two at a time coming to the riverbank and clearly being disturbed that the pride was near the waterhole.  They would hang out and dust themselves and trumpet some...the Lions ignored them completely....lolling around....sleeping...But the elephants clearly wanted to come down to the water...and as we watched, over about 30 minutes...we believed they were somehow communicating with other elephants and we could see the elephants coming through the trees from all directions.  Once about 30 - 40 elephants had amassed on the river bank, they all came down...lined up facing the lions...and charged in mass.....like a wall of gray....and the lions....got up..and moved!!!  The elephants didn't think they had moved far enough so they charged them again....and the lions moved fast..and much farther this time!!!  It was amazing to see.  Once the elephants felt they had moved them far enough away..they posted guards...and the rest of them went and drank their fill....and in 10 minutes they all had finished and they moved off...up the bank and into the trees and it was over.  But we were blown away by the number of behaviors we witnessed and the power of the elephants was so evident..in ways we had never thought about.  The way they communicated and coordinated with each other....I'm still amazed.  The reason I believe that Edward made a difference was that the typical camp guide would have taken us to see the Lions and after a few pictures, we would have moved on...looking for the next siting.  But Edward encouraged our guide to stay put..let things happen.  We did that frequently and were always rewarded with interesting things.  Another time, there were three lions one morning again along the river bed and we got very close...and were taking pictures of them in the sunlight which was really perfect.  All of a sudden, three elephants, for no apparent reason decided to chase these three lions...and they continued to chase them...across the riverbed to the opposite bank..up the bank, and then a great distance on that bank.  Everytime the lions stopped and lay down, the elephants chased them again...it was again, quite a show.  Finally, Edward asked our guide and scout one evening to let us walk to where there were lions resting along the river bed and once they checked it out, they did let us do it.....never thought I'd have a chance in the wild to stand as close to lions as we did that evening.  There were other similar experiences and the 4 days with Edward were filled with these types of encounters.  That's why I've come home determined to go back to South Luangwa and I wouldn't consider going back without hiring Ed again.  Here are some pictures:

 

 

 

 

 


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#29 martywilddog

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 09:33 AM

Such amazing sightings you had @SharonV1! South Luangwa elephants seem to have a liking for chasing other animals :) We had two wonderful sightings as well where they chased wild dogs and once a hyena. But yours sound even more exciting! 

 

I am going to have to insist you write a full on trip report in the zambia forum ;-) !



#30 SharonV1

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 11:55 AM

Thanks Marty....I didn't even realize there was a Zambia area of this forum.  I'll check that out! I also want to thank Optig from this Forum for his good advice for me on my trip to Zambia.  I'm also still trying to figure out how to get the pictures into the posts properly.  I'll keep working on it and try to do a full report soon. 


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#31 pault

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 12:50 AM

Thanks Marty....I didn't even realize there was a Zambia area of this forum.  I'll check that out! I also want to thank Optig from this Forum for his good advice for me on my trip to Zambia.  I'm also still trying to figure out how to get the pictures into the posts properly.  I'll keep working on it and try to do a full report soon. 


Have you found the page with instructions on how to do that? And others' learning experience?

Waiting again... for the next time again






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