01 December 2013

What do African safaris offer for photographers?


What a question! As if there could be any doubt about what an African safari offers for photographers, lion, leopard, elephant and more amazing wildlife and nature. But there is more.

Think about the landscapes of the Great Plains in Kenya and Tanzania, the vast savannas. The landscapes of the desert in Namibia and Botswana with possible aerial photography. Birdlife! Photographing birds from a Mokoro in the Okavango Delta or in the bush in Kruger Park. Incredible sunsets and sunrises, preferably with a marula tree or umbrella tree in front of the setting or rising sun ideally with a leopard in it. What about snow capped mountains and lakes with flamingos. And not to forget the colorful people of the Masai and Samburu. If this is not enough go under water and photograph the fish, whales, turtles and corals.

A safari is heaven for photography lovers. It makes one to want more and more and more.

Happy safari snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

What African safari specials are available?


Planning a safari leads always to the questions of costs and available funds. Often desires and reality do not match and compromises need to be made. That is not a bad thing as you are in a process of discovery and learning along the way what is really important to you to see and experience and your perfect African safari will fall into place eventually.

Be a savvy traveller and benefit from specials. They come with terms and conditions as one special is not to be combined with another, but optimizing the routing according to the specials saves you a lot of money you can spend on other activities or in the curio shop.

There are long stay discounts up to 30%, specials like Stay 4 Pay 3, free transfers and honeymoon specials with the bride paying 50% of the regular rate. You will find the better specials in low season. In peak season many special will not be valid. However ask, there is always something, but be aware that the periods of the best specials fill up availability quickly.

Happy savvy photo safari planning!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How to combine an African safari with diving?


Imagine your usual holidays go to the sea and you enjoy watersports, especially diving. Now you decided to go on African safari, but you cannot let go your passion for diving. You don’t have to. Africa has the most amazing dive spots and fantastic coasts on the Indian and Atlantic Ocean. But it can be a tough question how to divide the available time and funds between safaris and diving. Not to mention the luggage. What to pack? There are tight luggage allowances for the safari flights and you need completely different things for diving than in the bush.

The luggage question can be solved easily. Your not-bush luggage can be stored at the ground handlers office where you collect it after your safari part is finished (or they bring it to you).

You should reserve a bigger part of the available funds for the safari. That will be necessary as the bush part costs more due to the remote location, included game drives, 4x4 transportation and possibly light aircraft flights. Hotel accommodation costs always less.

Time wise the diving should be seen as a beach extension for the safari, matching the allocation ratio of the funds. The beach follows the stay in the bush and is perfect to let the safari impressions settle. Doing it the other way around would somehow feel awkward.

If you decide to combine safari and diving try to avoid travelling with diving equipment. Rather rent it at the resorts. You will regret it having the diving equipment with you while travelling on safari is travelling light.

Happy wildlife safari travel above and under water!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How can an active African safari in Kenya be like?


The picture we usually have of a safari is people sitting on a 4x4 safari vehicle looking at animals. It looks like pretty inactive being driven around in a game reserve. It is more active as it looks, as the roads are bumpy and you are exposed to the elements, which is also tiring, but there are more active options one can choose to do during an African safari. Especially families will appreciate that as children get quickly bored with game drives.

Kenya is a great example for a great variety of activities that family will really enjoy. Climb on Mt. Kenya, do bush walks in the forests of Mt. Kenya, walk the Aberdare, do camel rides in the northern part of the country, do bush walks with the Samburu and Masai people, do horse riding, canoeing, boat rides, fishing, balloon rides. Visit communities, schools and plant a tree as part of a community project. And these are only activities in the bush regions of the country. The beaches offer just as much water born fun.

Still think a safari is sitting still on a vehicle?

Happy active African safaris! … and photography was not even mentioned!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How to get around on African safari


Traveling in Africa requires some extra thoughts when it comes to getting around in a country and between countries. Distances are big, the infrastructure is mostly less developed or not available at all and driving at night is not recommended for several reasons.

When you plan an
African safari in South Africa or Namibia self-drive is a good option, but do your homework with regards to rules of the road and the bush. In Botswana self-drive is an option, but be prepared for water and sand.

To be on the safe side, getting around by plane or arranged road transfer might be the better options. Light aircraft flights have their price, but there are areas like the Okavango Delta where they are essential to get to the best spots. You will also be faster and the bird view position provides stunning vistas and photography opportunities. Road transfer takes longer, but costs less, especially when travelling as a family.

Don’t try to be brave and too adventurous. Rather choose the safe option. Getting in around in Africa is different and is often misjudged.

Happy wildlife photo safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

What is the moonbow at the Victoria Falls?


We all know rainbows and the same principle applies to a moonbow, but it is rarely seen as it requires quite a combination of conditions. But there are several places in the world where moonbows are produced by spray of a waterfall and the Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe are one of those places where you can see a moonbow. Only make sure you plan your African safari holiday between January and July as it needs high water levels to produce sufficient spray for the moonbow to appear.

“A moonbow (also known as a lunar rainbow, black rainbow, white rainbow, lunar bow, or space rainbow) is a rainbow produced by light reflected off the surface of the moon (rather than from direct sunlight) refracting off of moisture in the air. Moonbows are relatively faint, due to the smaller amount of light reflected from the surface of the moon. They are always in the opposite part of the sky from the moon.
Because the light is usually too faint to excite the cone color receptors in human eyes, it is difficult for the human eye to discern colors in a moonbow. As a result, they often appear to be white. However, the colors in a moonbow do appear in long exposure photographs.
Few places in the world frequently feature spray moonbows. Such sites in the United States include several waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, California and Cumberland Falls, near Corbin, Kentucky. Victoria Falls, in Africa on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is also widely known for spray moonbows.”

It is definitely a fantastic event for a photographic safari and challenging to get the picture right. It is one of the great sights and activities the Victoria Falls have to offer, a must see place when visiting Southern Africa.

Happy safari moon snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for
image: courtesy of wikipedia

How is summer on African safari?


Summer in southern Africa is December, January and February with high rising temperatures. It is hot during the day and warm during the night. It is wonderful to escape winter in the northern hemisphere and spend some warming up time in Africa for Christmas or New Year. African safaris at that time of the year have their own magic. It is green, lush and abundant in many ways. It is calving time for many animals with baby animals running around as wonderful picture perfect photography subjects. The warm temperatures allow relax time at the pool and the sundowner is especially refreshing after a game drive on a hot day.

Summer is also the time of rains, not constantly and not every day, but it can happen that you experience rain during a game drive. On an open game drive vehicle this is the moment the ponchos come out (they are available on the vehicles) and the game drive continues with yourself tucked warm and dry in your poncho while seeing the bush changing in the soft light the rainy air provides. For wildlife photography enthusiasts this is the moment of the best light for black and white photography.

Summer is just a great time to visit.

Happy wildlife safari snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for