African Photo Safaris

Specialised travel reads for African photographic safaris


It seems with photography going digital also the tutorials, information and picture books went digital. You will hardly see people carrying around paper books on wildlife photography with them on safari or even reading them at home. The “reads” on photography are nowadays Kindle books or iBooks, youtube videos and blog posts.

In preparation of your
African photographic safari it would be probably the best suggestion to check youtube and several blogs. Good blogs are PetaPixel, Fstoppers, The Phoblographer and National Geographic. There are lots of information and tips available to make your safari a success. Choose to download the for you most important information on your Pad and you will have all with you no matter where you go. That way you can travel with an entire travel library on photography in the middle of the African savanna. Another advantage is, that the digital sources are updated regularly and you will have access to the most recent information and news. Ready to go?

Happy safari snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

African photographic safari 2014: Namibia landscapes?


From all amazing safari destinations of Southern Africa, Namibia is the one with the most impressive landscapes and vastness. From Sossusvlei in the south to the Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast in the north, it is like a warm bath of stunning views and panoramas.

If you got the chance to do a balloon ride in Sossusvlei or travel by light aircraft have your camera ready for continues shooting, as the incredible vistas seem never to end. But also when being on the ground, only sitting on the veranda of your tent and looking out over the desert, have your camera close by. The changing light creates constantly new colors and pictures.

Being on
African safari in Namibia means always fascinating landscapes and often with just as fascinating animals like for example the desert elephants in Damaraland or the oryx in Sossusvlei.

Be prepared for excellent photographic opportunities and great pictures.

Enjoy Namibia!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

image: Wilderness Safaris

Want African photographic safari in South Africa?


For all photography lovers South Africa offers a great variety of photographic opportunities, with and without wildlife.

But of course a photographic safari with amazing Big Five sightings is what a photography enthusiast is looking forward to when going on
African safari in South Africa. Kruger Park should be on top of the list with its outstanding sightings and the vastness of the park. For the best experience one should consider private game reserves as they offer the best conditions for great wildlife photography.

Additional good safari experiences offer game reserves in Kwazulu Natal and the Easter Cape, but Kruger is “wilder” and more the original bush experience. However a game reserve like Phinda, that was in the past a pineapple plantation, is not an excellent safari destination to see cheetah and black rhino.

For those who want to extend the photography beyond wildlife the Garden Route and the Cape offer plenty of fantastic photographic opportunities for landscapes, people and even architecture.

The great diversity of South Africa makes sure that one goes home with an amazing treasure of pictures.

Enjoy photographing South Africa!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa
Image: Londolozi Private Game Reserve

Why Tanzania is a top-rated African photographic safari destination


Tanzania is the home of the Serengeti, the mother of all savannahs with its endless plains and abundance of wildlife. It is the place where the Great Migration happens for about three quarter of the year and where the wildebeest give birth to thousands of young ones every year before they months later move into the Masai Mara, famous for the dramatic crossings of the Mara River.

But there is more than the big herds of the migration that makes Tanzania so attractive for
African photographic safaris. The vast landscapes, the wildlife rich national parks of the northern circuit and of the off the beaten track southern parks and not to forget the magical Ngorongoro Crater.

And if this is not enough the beaches of the coast and Zanzibar provide even more photographic opportunities of lush vegetation, amazing landscapes and colorful culture.

Ideal would be to travel at least for two weeks to get a bit of everything, but the northern safari circuit can be seen pretty well within a week and is heaven for wildlife photography enthusiasts.

Happy photography safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa
Image: Faru Faru, Singita

What is the perfect African photographic safari experience?


As a wildlife photography enthusiast you will want great pictures of the Big Five, all other amazing animals and maybe also great landscape shots. Your perfect African photographic safari would be going home with the perfect picture.

In order to get that, your safari should be planned carefully. Choose safari destinations that offer excellent Big Five sightings. Go rather for private game reserves or concessions than for game drives in public parts of national parks. Consider a private vehicle to have enough space for your photography and freedom of movement. Choose your time of travel carefully and ask for an experienced guide.

Last but not least the accommodation should offer facilities to charge your photographic devices preferably in your room and if the lodge/camp has Wi-Fi that would be nice, in case you want to share your images immediately.

All that set, you will achieve your goal and come home with the perfect picture.

Happy wildlife photography safari!

Get your African safari vaccinations


Traveling to Africa is beautiful and to keep it that way you should follow some health instructions. There are several ways to source information on necessary vaccinations and other precautions for your photographic African safari tours.

The Internet is one source you can use, but it is better to talk to your physician or visit one of the travel clinics available in pretty much every country. The travel clinics are the most specialized party and probably the best place to contact for advice. They also do the needed vaccinations and provide information on malaria precaution.

The vaccinations are not only important for your health; they will also be required at immigration in several African countries. There is nothing worse than not being allowed to enter your safari country, because you don’t have the required yellow fever vaccination. Some airports offer vaccination services as emergency solution when arriving, but you might prefer doing it at home.

Some vaccinations expire only after 10 years or more, so you can use them for all sorts of travel to keep you safe.

Happy healthy safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa

How to get close to elephants

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Elephant are for most of us these wonderful lovable animals we would love to get close to and interact with. Who wouldn’t like to hug an elephant?

You can see elephants when you are on holiday in Big Five safari areas, but getting really close to them is not advised when being in the bush. They are big animals and in a mood they just push over a few trees and you don’t want to be in the middle of something like that. They are quite outspoken and give several warnings, but when you don’t understand them or think you could ignore the warning, this could get you really in trouble. Enjoy watching them on game drives with a professional guide behind the wheel, while leaving you with the focus on taking fantastic photographs. But if this is not enough and you want to get really close to elephants, there is another option.

Elephant sanctuaries are the best choice to see elephants, get close to them and even ride one. They have educational programs to create awareness for wildlife conservation and what we can contribute to protect these awesome animals. You can find specialized
African safari itineraries built around conservation and interaction with wildlife, in this case with the focus on elephants. Ask your safari tour operator when you are interested in this kind of safari experiences to include them into your holiday. It is special to be close to such a big and strong animal.

Happy wildlife photo safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa

Get to see the Okavango Delta in 2014

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The crystal clear waters of the Okavango Delta together with the lush vegetation and the abundance of wildlife make it a top-rated African safari destination. No matter where your interests lie the Okavango Delta is great for everyone.

For wildlife photography enthusiasts it is heaven. There is no better light, the colors are stunning and the wildlife sightings are outstanding. The delta offers with its variety of the normal game drives in 4x4 jeeps and several waterborne safari activities a great diversity of photographic angles and subjects.

And for all who want just watch and relax, a comfortable chair on the private veranda is the perfect place to forget the hassles of daily life and enjoy the moment. The remote camps are quiet places in stunning settings and no worries, even children like it. There is lots to do and to discover for visitors of all ages.

Happy relaxed and inspiring safari travelling!
And bring a camera, any camera, you will want one.

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa

Want to see cheetah on African safari?

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Cheetah are magnificent animals, elegant, fast, beautiful and at the same time also fragile. Their delicate slim body for moving on high speed with the beautiful spot pattern is the perfect wildlife photography subject on any African safari.

Cheetahs do not have an easy life. The predator competition is hard and as they don’t stand a chance against lion and leopard they hunt mostly during the day and then eat very quickly before anybody else notices that they have a kill and steels it from them.

You can find them in open areas where they can benefit the most form their speed for the hunt. An excellent area to see cheetah and enjoy these beautiful animals is the Masai Mara. There is even a female cheetah that has discovered standing on game drive vehicles makes great viewing points to scan the area for prey.

Cheetahs can also be seen in other safari countries like South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. Make sure you talk to somebody who is specialized in African safari bookings to direct you to the right safari destinations for excellent cheetah sightings. Always keep in mind to look out for open areas, the preferred hunting ground of these Big Cats.

Happy fast cat photo snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa

Guard against loss on African photographic safari


Travelling with your precious and often expensive photographic equipment on African safari should be done with care. Anticipate on possible dangers to your photo gear when packing for the photographic safari.

Make sure you have one compact bag you can take with you everywhere that the camera gear is always under your watch. Never leave it unattended in a car or in a public area. Consider the weather and the terrain you are travelling. Have rain and dust protection for your gear and if waterborne photographic activities are included make sure you have a waterproof box or bag to carry your camera in in case it makes a plunge. Make sure when you use your camera on a boat or on great heights that it is fixed somehow to you in case you let go and the camera falls. In water it will be gone and from heights it will be shattered.

Pack the way that even if you get a fright or distracted and you loose attention for your camera it will be “on” you and not forgotten behind or fallen or removed. Make also sure you backup your pictures. Don’t only have them on the memory card in your camera. Upload them to a laptop or other external backup drive to not loose also your pics when loosing the camera.

Planning all that carefully before you go on
African photographic safari helps to have a worry free fantastic experience.

Happy wildlife photo safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa

How to choose your African photographic safari


You might think you just go to the internet and leave through the tours like you do with the summer holiday catalogue for the Costa de Sol, but soon you will find out that there is more to it with African safaris than you thought.

The complex logistics, the remote locations, the different time concept and thinking in hours not in kilometers when talking about distances is of importance when choosing your African photographic safari destinations and routing. You might have the idea to see the best wildlife photography destinations within a two weeks holiday, but these wildlife areas are in different parts of Africa, making you spend a lot of time on planes and roads. Even if you want to combine “only” destinations in Southern Africa, be prepared for extensive and complicated travel between them. Rather stay within one area like Kruger Park, Botswana and Victoria Falls. Even visiting these three areas that look so close together means lots of flights, transfers and border crossing, but its still good to do.

Make sure when you choose your safari tour that you don’t loose too much time with travel. Use your days to be in the bush and not on transfers. You will also stand the chance to see better wildlife interaction when staying in one area for longer. Your wildlife photography will benefit from that.

Happy wildlife photography travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa

Want to photograph leopard on African safari?


Sure you want. The elusive leopard is a fascinating wildlife photography subject, not easy to see and not easy to photograph.

Leopards move fast, on the ground and in trees. The light changes with every step they make. Branches get in the way or he decides to decent from the tree just not where you positioned your game drive vehicle. Then he disappears in the high grass and the photo session is over. Waiting. Maybe he will not move for hours or when you thought you could go, suddenly he comes into action.

Staying with the animal is the only way to not miss anything and to be there when the action happens. Part of the game is that you are patient and tune in to the leopards way of life. But to be able to do all that you need to choose your
African photographic safari destination and accommodation carefully. You will need a private game reserve, preferably in the Sabi Sand in Kruger Park in South Africa. Additionally you will need a private game reserve that offers private vehicles and the flexibility to bring your lunch to you wherever you are in the bush and supports your quest. There are not many that fit that profile, but the ones that do all that are great. They even have a pedigree of all their leopards on the reserve and you will end up knowing all their names.

Inspired? Get ready for an exciting and fascinating African wildlife photography safari!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa

Create your perfect African photographic safari


As a photography lover you enjoy the creative process from thinking about a photo project to finding an inspiring photographic subject, taking the picture and making something stunning from it. Creating your perfect photographic African safari tour works just the same way.

As you go on safari you want to photograph wildlife. You want to see the Big Five and get the best photos of leopard and lion preferably in the golden light of a perfect morning game drive. Well, you know what your photo project and your photographic subjects are. Now you only need to take the picture or not? Yes, but in between you need to choose your African safari destination to get in the best position to take these pictures. Check out where the greatest wildlife photos were taken, inquire for the best game reserve with the best-qualified guides and game drives in that area and rather stay a day or two less to safe costs than taking less quality. Now go on your African photographic safari and take your pictures. Come home and make some awesome photo books, prints and gifts from them and have the photo project of a lifetime.

Sounds good? Happy creative wildlife photography snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa

Why on African photographic safari in South Africa?


There are many reasons to go on African photographic safari in South Africa, but the most important is probably the great wildlife experience the private game reserves offer.

As a wildlife photography lover you want to be up close with the Big 5 to get the best shots. You don’t want to get explained, that dot you see in the distance is a cheetah. You want to be where the cheetah is and private game reserves in Greater Kruger Park make that possible. They are ideal for photographic
African safari tours. The vehicles are allowed to go off road and they are equipped with a ranger and a tracker to find the animals for you.

It helps also that not many vehicles are allowed at sightings. There is nothing more annoying for a wildlife photographer than a dozen vehicles fighting for the best spot to photograph the lion cubs.

Overall you can say that a photographic African safari on private game reserves in Kruger means guaranteed great sightings and excellent conditions for photographers. It is a great plan to go there.

Happy wildlife photography snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa

African photographic safari tours 2014: Botswana safari?


Any place in Africa is great for photography, but somehow the best place to be for wildlife photography is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The photos are clear, crisp and the colors are rich. The water in combination with the mineral rich soil makes the difference that changes the light.

Even if you don’t see big animals, the colors of the grass and papyrus, the flowers in the water and the dragonflies, little frogs and birds give such a pleasure to every photography enthusiast. Botswana is a must do
African photographic safari tour. You just get the picture quality that makes any photoshopping unnecessary. And of course they have lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, elephant and some species you only see in the delta.

As an extra excitement come the waterborne activities and it can feel a bit tricky to sit with your camera equipment in a mokoro (canoe made from a tree) knowing that any moment a hippo can pop up or an elephant can wade through the reed. But the photographic opportunities are just stunning.

Put it on your bucket list!

Happy wildlife photo snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui “soul of leopard”, Travel Africa

Want to see lion on African safari?


This must sound like an open door; of course you want to see lion. That’s the reason you go on African safari. But what, if you booked your African safari tour not thinking of the best area to see them?

Don’t let it get that far. Tell your specialized safari tour operator what you want to see and that the lion are a must see for you. There is nowhere a guarantee as they are wild animals, but there are certain areas where you stand a very high chance to see them. Private game reserves and private concessions in national parks are the best choice. Their vehicles are usually allowed to go off road for the Big Cats and that can be crucial to see the cats you came for.

It is also good to stay in the area longer than only for two nights as the cats might like to hide for while due to weather or full moon. At least 3 nights would be good, 4 nights are great.

However keep in mind its nature. Stay relaxed when you haven’t seen them during the first two game drives. They might be just around the next bend.

Happy lion photo safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How is winter on African photographic safari?


Winter in the southern hemisphere is June, July and August and means pretty cold nights where temperatures can drop to or even below 0ºC. The days warm up again and temperatures can rise to about 20ºC. For the practical “what to wear” point of view that means, dress in layers, that you can adjust with rising and falling temperatures. But what does it mean for the African photographic safari from the photography point of view?

Winter is excellent for wildlife photography. The light is clear and sharp with almost no cloudy day, always sun. It doesn’t rain in winter, which means water is in demand, what leads the animals to the year round waterholes and therefore they can be found easily. Due to the lack of water the grass is low, which makes it easier to see and photograph the animals. And last but not least the colors are beautiful, the earthy brownish and reddish colors are stunning and give together with the light the images a golden glow.

However, bring gloves, a warm jacket and a warm hat. You will need it!

Happy photo safari snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How to plan a Big Cat African photographic safari


The African Big Cats are lion, leopard and cheetah, world famous from the BBC’s Big Cat Diaries series, filmed in the so called marsh in the Masai Mara in Kenya. TV series are a good source to prepare for an African photographic safari, but should not be overestimated. There are more areas with great cat sightings that are not part of TV series.

Do some research on wildlife density and predator density before you choose your
African safari destination. Great areas for cat sightings are the Masai Mara in Kenya, the Sabi Sand (Kruger Park) in South Africa and Moremi in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Another important question is the possibility of off road driving during game drives. It can be crucial to be able to follow the animal for a day to get the pictures you want. But a leopard does not care about roads and moves fast. Off road driving will be necessary to not loose sight of the cat.

If the funds are available choose for a private vehicle. That will give you the freedom to stay out in the bush as long as you want and to stay with an animal or move on when something new comes up. When more people are on the vehicle more opinions and wishes are to be taken in consideration. When doing wildlife photography that can be frustrating, for both sides.

Rather go in winter than in summer, talking about southern African winter and summer. In winter the light is stunning, the grass short and the animals gathering around waterholes. They are easier to find and you will get a better view with less grass between the lens and the face of a lion.

The choice of your safari accommodation should depend on the game drive quality the lodge or camp is providing. Always ask how many guests they have on a vehicle and the off road options. A great adventurous African safari tour for Big Cat photography can be a camping safari with a private driver and 4x4 vehicle. That will provide great freedom of movement and flexibility throughout the days.

However, do your research and prepare yourself for the trip. Don’t have too high expectations, even in outstanding wildlife areas. It is nature and the animals are wild. They have their own agenda. Being part of their world, doing efforts to find them and working sometimes hard to get great images is incredibly rewarding and provides exceptional wildlife experiences.

Happy safari wildlife snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How to prepare for no electricity on African safari


Pretty much all African safari lodges and camps have electricity, either by power lines, generator or solar power. Some have power sockets only in the main area and not in the tent, but you will have electricity to recharge all your electrical devices and cameras.

However if you decide to do an
African mobile safari, you will need to face a different situation. A mobile camping safari will take you to private and public campsites and many will not have power. That is the moment when it becomes really adventurous and challenging, realizing where electricity comes from, not from a box in the wall, it needs to be generated.

For these kinds of adventures get yourself an inverter. An inverter makes that you can use the battery power of your safari vehicle to recharge your laptop, camera, phone and other devices. But you can only recharge while driving. The devices use too much power and the inverter will stop working when the vehicle’s engine is not running. You need to get your mind around that quickly, otherwise you will end up with no charged camera batteries and laptops. It requires thought through anticipation and planned energy use. It can be useful to have your laptop with you on game drives to upload images and recharge immediately to have a fully charged laptop when back in camp. That can lead to wonderful situations like standing under a tree with a leopard, watching the animal through the open pop up roof while uploading your images from the morning onto your laptop to empty your memory cards and use the rest of the game drive to recharge your computer.

It is a very good survival training for photographers to conquer any situation and still getting the images you want.

The same thoughtful process applies to light sources you want to have when it gets dark. They also need to be recharged while driving and not to forget the fridge you carry on the vehicle to keep your food fresh and eatable.

It is a mind changing experience to be for some time the generator of the electricity you need. It is a consciousness enhancing process you can benefit from in many situations, also back home with a power socket in every corner of the house.

Happy photo safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

What is teh perfect game drive vehicle on African photographic safari?


The perfect game drive vehicle on African photographic safari is an electric 4x4 Landrover. Surprised? Yes, something like that exists, although it is still in the testing phase.

The advantage of such a vehicle is not only the zero pollution while driving through the bush, it is also silent and therefore less intrusive to the wildlife. There will still be the breaking branches and crushing leaves, as the vehicle is not a cat, but that annoying noise of the engine is gone. Wildlife photographers on
African safari can move almost noiseless through the bush and have more and better opportunities for great wildlife photos.

It might still take a while until the electric 4x4 jeep is advanced enough to replace the conventional 4x4s, but imagine how that will improve the African safari experience for all, not only the photographers.

Happy silent wildlife snapping! … with the sound of the shutter being louder than the vehicle.

Ute Sonnenberg for

Where can I find photo inspiration for my African safari?


You might wonder why you should look for photo inspiration before going on African safari, but it is very helpful for your wildlife photography.

Checking the right Africa photo books before going on photographic safari will not only make you wanting the perfect light, it will also train your eye for composition and that can be crucial for your wildlife images. We can train our eye by looking at the paintings of the old masters, training our eye in general for light and composition, but the bush is different and the same method will work well for the specifics of wildlife photography. Take for example Peter Beard and Michael Poliza. Look at their image and learn. Browse National Geographic and watch the BBC wildlife documentaries. The BBC’s photography is outstanding and you will learn framing your subjects.

You might have heard about sports people watching their sports executed by the best in their field to get better. It works just the same way. Our brain gets it and makes our hands and eyes do it. Benefit from it.

Happy wildlife photography snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Where can I find information on African photographic safaris?


When you plan your African photographic safari you will come across many questions, from African safari destination related questions to wildlife photography specific questions and health and what to pack questions.

The Internet is always a good source to find answers, but it is often very helpful to have all questions and answers in one place, as you might not think yourself of other helpful information and would not ask the question. Here is the good old travel guide a very helpful tool with lots of practical information and good advice on the sights worth visiting.

What I haven’t seen so far is an African safari travel guide that covers travel information and detailed photographic advice. As far as it gets to that, are probably the still separate travel info and wildlife photography guide we put in the iBook store. Just search for Roho Ya Chui and you will find them. But as a comment of a reader of this blog said yesterday, it might be a good plan to produce just that comprehensive
African Safari holiday and wildlife photography guide and make it available for free to the public.

Until then, keep in mind to also talk to people who have been on African photographic safari to get first hand advice. And look at the work of great wildlife photographers to prepare your eye for the light and subjects in the African bush.

Happy wildlife photography snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Can I get photo equipment of African safari?


There are many ways of going on African safari, but all include somehow photography. Some guests enjoy the most watching the animals and will snap only a bit when the Big 5 make their appearance, just to have proof for their family back home that they really saw them. Otherwise they enjoy nature, being outdoors and seeing the wildlife.

Then there are the photography lovers and advanced photography enthusiasts. They will have at least a bridge model digital camera and most likely a DSLR. These guests are experienced photography travellers, choosing their holiday destination with an eye on the photographic opportunities. But they might not have the equipment for great wildlife photography and they often don’t know, if their
African safari holiday will be a once off or if they will come back. The question will be, should I buy that extra lens for the safari or not?

There is an easy answer to that question that makes life much easier. Some safari lodges offer professional photographic equipment, an ideal situation as one can try it out on safari and decide later, if it is worth buying it. It can be a bit challenging when you try to photograph the one leopard and you are not used to the camera, but it is great to have the opportunity to try out this amazing photo gear.

Ask when you plan you safari, if this is interesting for you.

Happy wildlife safari snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Can I post my African safari images immediately?


We are so used to shoot away and immediately post our images to the various social media, that we want to do that also on holiday and also on African safari holidays.

In order to post your safari images on the go you need a cell phone signal. The Masai Mara in Kenya is very good with that and guests often take a photo at a cat sighting and send it immediately to the people back home to tease them. Whole conversations develop as the people back home want to know what’s going on and they can be part of the experience even when they are at the other end of the world.

But not all safari areas have a cell phone signal or not everywhere on the reserve. So the answer is yes, but it depends on where you are. Rather expect that it is not possible and be gladly surprised when it does work. Use the Internet at the lodge or camp to post your images. Although it is not right at the sighting, but still on safari and your friends and family will appreciate that they can be part of your holiday.

Happy wildlife snapping and sharing!

Ute Sonnenberg for

What camera should I bring on African safari?


The answer to this question depends on the photography you want to do. When you go on African safari to mainly enjoy watching the wildlife, but not really expecting great wildlife photography, a point and shoot camera is fine. It is small, easy, has a good zoom and allows nice pictures of your African safari holiday. It will struggle with certain light conditions and speed, but it is a good compromise, if you don’t really want to get into photography.

If you expect a bit more than holiday photos and you want to be able to cope with more complex light conditions, but don’t want to make the step to interchangeable lenses, a bridge model is the right camera to bring on safari. It got more functionality than a point and shoot camera and the zoom is also better.

If you aim on great wildlife photography a professional or semi-professional camera model is the right choice. Already the ISO options will help a great deal to get better results and features like fast focus point choice are essential for wildlife photography.

If you buy a new camera before you go on
African photographic safari, make sure you practice prior to your safari at home to get a routine in operating your camera.

Whatever your choice is, have fun!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How can I practice for my African photographic safari at home


It often happens that African safari guests who are keen hobby photographers, experience some frustrations with their photos when they are in the bush. They are mostly experienced travel photographers, photograph a lot at home and are often a member of a photo club. Yet, they have their struggles, as the bush is different to anything else. It starts with the light, the circumstances of a game drive and ends with the speed of a big cat in a tree when the light is changing with every step.

Practicing photographing with the
African safari light at home will not be possible as the light is not there. But there are many other things that can be done to be prepared. There is lots of information available on the Internet where people share their experiences on photographic safaris about what went well, what were the problems and how they solved them or not. Lots of practical advice from experienced wildlife photographers is available on the net, look for it, read it and make use of it.

Practice a lot outdoor photography at home before you go on photographic safari. You will get used to photographing outdoors with natural light and under different weather conditions.

Practice photographing moving objects, like your cat or dog or horse. If you don’t have pets, go to a park where they walk and play or visit horse events or sports events. That will not only teach you photographing motion, but also patience, especially when you photograph cats.

When you have done all that you will be well prepared and ready to conquer the photographic challenges that could not be anticipated beforehand and to enjoy your African photographic safari adventure.

Happy wildlife snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

What makes a perfect African sfari


Finding or creating your perfect African safari is challenging and not because they are hard to find, but because the most difficult part is to determine what makes them perfect for you. There is an overwhelming number of perfect African safari holidays available, however they are perfect for just the same overwhelming number of different people and now find yours.

Here some general features that make a safari perfect, just as cornerstones of your own safari creation.

The quality of wildlife sightings and game drives should be on top of the list. The wildlife density of an area is very important to make you happy on safari. Next on the list is the comfort you need to feel good on holiday. This is very personal. Some like rough camping with shared facilities and others need the safe comfort of a bed with a neat duvet. Don’t think you need to push yourself to camping, if you usually don’t like it, your safari would be terrible and you would not enjoy a moment. Basic needs should be met. The mode of transport is the third important factor to make your safari perfect. If you have ten days and want to see a lot, do a fly-in safari. Otherwise you will be constantly driving with only few time for the actual safari or sight.

Last but not least the people. When you travel in a group, make sure you know each other well enough to go on such an adventure. If you travel solo, a safari is a great opportunity to meet new people and to make new friends.

Make a list for yourself with all what you need to feel good when travelling and then put together your perfect African safari tour.

Happy wildlife photographic safari planning!

Ute Sonnenberg for

African Safari Travel Ideas for Photography Lovers


Isn’t an African safari already a great travel idea for photography lovers? Yes it is. However there are plenty of different safari destinations that offer entirely different photography experiences. Here a few African photographic safari ideas for inspiration and useful travel planning.

The gorillas of Uganda. Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is probably one of the most amazing African photography tours one can do. It is physically demanding to track the animals in the high altitude rain forest with tropical climate and a heavy camera on your shoulder, but its so worth it. Coming visa vie with these incredible animals, sensing their proximity and being able to capture these moments forever with your camera are just an unforgettable experience.
The calving of the wildebeest. There has been so much said about the Great Migration in the Masai Mara, but not that much about the calving of the very same wildebeest one photographs crossing the Mara River when they are about six months old. The calving of thousands of wildebeest happens between the end of January up until March every year in the Southern Serengeti. A spectacle worth photographing and enjoying to be right in the middle of it.

Lion hunting buffalo. There is a place called Duba Plains in the Okavango Delta in Botswana where the lion are specialized in hunting buffalos. The island has lots of water and muddy areas what makes the hunt very spectacular. Lion usually don’t really like water, but they have to on that island in order to get their food. It is incredibly interesting to witness the strategy of both parties, how the buffalo play with the lion and vise versa. As the island is an open plain, visiting photographers stand a good chances to see it all and to get fantastic photographs of hunting lion.

African safari travel ideas are in particular of interest for wildlife photography enthusiasts, but also very exciting for safari travellers that just want to enjoy the sighting. All three have in common that there are not many accommodations, as they are some how specialized and also want to protect the wildlife from the crowds.

Gear up for the special moment!

Happy wildlife photo safari snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Image: courtesy of Sanctuary Retreats in Bwindi, Uganda

How is transport on African photographic safaris


Travelling in Africa means covering large distances and the choice of transportation can be essential for your African safari itinerary.

If you choose road transfer, be prepared for long drives. In South Africa road transfers use good roads, however the distances are still huge. But in other countries the drives go often on dirt roads, which slows down travelling a lot. Plan more time for getting around and it can be nice to even do self-drive and explore the countries your own way.

The best way of getting around and not loosing time is flying. Fly-in
African safari tours make efficient use of your time and bring you exactly where you want to be, right at the lodge or camp. The aircrafts used are small. They fly right to the bush camps and need to be able to land on the short bush runways. For guests that love flying these light aircraft flights are great, as they hop from lodge to lodge and make as many stops as they have to drop off and pick up guests. People who don’t like take off and landing, this can be a bit of a challenge, but it is actually really great.

Two other ways of transport should be mentioned, although they are not used for getting around in the country or between countries. They are walking and horse or camel riding. Walking safaris and horseback safaris add a new dimension to an African safari holiday. One is part of the bush throughout the stay, a very different experience from being on a vehicle. Mobile horse safaris and walking trails focus on a certain route they make within a certain area. They are not suitable to cover big distances.

And there is also public transport. This can be an adventurous way of getting around and should be thought through carefully before doing it. The so called taxis or matatus are used by the locals to get around and are a very affordable way of travelling. Also coaches are available on scheduled routes to cover big distances in the countries and between countries. Their fares are very reasonable.

Be always time and safety conscious when choosing your mode of transport to make sure your safari is a success.

Happy wildlife safari photo snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How much would it be to go on African photographic safari


It is great to make plans for an African photographic safaris, searching the Internet for destinations and images, getting excited about the wildlife one hopes to see, but at the end comes the crucial question, how much is it to go on African photo safari.

That depends on a number of factors. First, do you travel in a group? If the answer is yes, you can choose between budget big group tours or for the photographer more suitable small group travel of a maximum of 6 or 8 guests. Sharing the costs as a group makes a big difference.

The mode of travel has also substantial influence on the price. If you decide to do self-drive with a rooftop tent to stay on campsites, you will have a very good priced way of doing African safari travel. However, you should consider hiring a guide to make sure you see the wildlife you’d like to photograph. Road transfers in general are cheaper, if you do not travel solo. For solo travel look out for shuttles, that go for example to Kruger Park to reduce the costs. Fly-in safaris are great, because they offer another dimension by seeing the bush from bird view, but they have their costs. They also do save time and allow you to see a lot while not losing time with driving the huge distances in Africa.

The next factor is the safari accommodation. As explained in the blog post from yesterday they vary a lot and cover the price range from budget camping to 5 star lodges.

Last but not least are the seasons and the choice of destination that determine the price of a photographic safari. For example Botswana can be pricy as the Okavango Delta is a logistically difficult area to operate camps and lodges and the destination is also a top-rated wildlife area. However there are seasons and the rates can differ a lot between peak and low season. There are also more specials available in low season, which allow high-end safari quality for a good price.

All that in numbers means a photo safari can vary between a few hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars. Sort out first what is important to you and what you want to see, and then look what is available to meet your expectations.

Happy photo safari organizing and wildlife snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How to find your perfect African safari accommodation


“I am pretty confused, there are tours coming out of my ears and I do not know where to start. I do not know why 1 tour is 3000 and another is 10000, when on paper they look similar.” (quote from an African safari inquiry)

Does that feel familiar? It can be indeed confusing and besides choosing the right African safari destination for what you would like to experience, the accommodation question can be really tough. Fortunately there is the Internet with photo galleries of all camps nowadays, which is a great help.

First of all create some kind of funnel to come to a decision for your African safari accommodation. Determine the safari country first. If the country offers more than one top-rated safari area get information on each area to know what you can expect to see there and if that is what you have in mind. Once the country and wildlife area is determined, look at the different kinds of accommodation available. They usually range from camping to five star camps and lodges. The five star lodges and camps have mostly the best spots with their private concessions. And interesting enough the public campsites are often also very good positioned. Their facilities differ in quality and it is good to get information on that beforehand. It is recommended to do camping, if you have already experience with that. Doing camping in the African bush adds to the normal camping that there are no fences and the campsites are in Big Five areas.

If you decide to stay at a lodge or camp, the search continues. What category should you choose? This is a very personal question. Some guests feel safer in a cottage and do not choose a tented camp. Others love to stay in a luxury-tented camp and prefer them rather than a lodge. However there are the different categories and the choice is not easy. The price can be a good criteria, yet there are still a lot of options. Now the photos come in very helpful.

Go to the websites of the lodges and camps and get a feeling for what you can expect there. Also the quality of the images gives already an idea of the spirit of the accommodation. Do they care for detail and quality or are they more casual with that. From now on only your gut feeling will be able to guide you to your final decision. Trust it. A photo says more than a thousand words and all statistics and rates sheets. Go for the accommodation you fall in love with.

Happy wildlife photo safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

5 African Photo Safari choices for Kruger Park


The Kruger National Park in South Africa is huge, about 2/3 the size of Belgium. It offers a great variety of options for African safaris and especially for photographic safaris.

First. Wildlife photography enthusiasts can create their own trip by renting a car, driving themselves around in the park and staying at one or more of the many available camp sites. To make sure you see some wildlife, read in advance about the park, get information from the park offices and maybe team up with local guides. Otherwise the trip can be unsatisfactory with regards to wildlife sightings and the missing great photos.

Second. Book yourself on a group safari that stays in an accommodation just outside the park, but has game drives in open 4x4 jeeps with professional guide inside the park. This can be a very affordable option, but keep in mind that the other guests have different ideas about what they want to see and how long they want to stay at a sighting and you as the photographer might be frustrated.

Third. Book yourself in at a safari lodge inside the Kruger Park. Considers taking a private vehicle as it will give you more freedom and the lodge might otherwise put up to 10 guests on one game drive vehicle. Be aware that game drives in the public part of Kruger Park mean that traffic jams at sightings are possible.

Fourth. Book a private game reserve in the Greater Kruger Park. Choose one that guarantees a maximum of 6 guests per vehicle. Taking a private vehicle can also here be a good idea, although it might be pricy. The private game reserve will make sure that you can go off road for cat sightings and no crowds of vehicles fill up the bush and roads. Some private game reserves offer even high end photographic equipment for rent. They are the best choice for photographers with regards to the quality of sightings and freedom as photographer. However, they have a price tag.

Fifth. Book yourself into the exclusivity of a walking safari. Great walking trails are available that bring the guests to off the beaten track places and the accommodations are in mobile tented camps in the middle of the bush. Their price is also very interesting. Their only disadvantage is the problem with cat sightings. When you see cats, you will not be able to sit or stand and photograph them. You are on foot and so are they.

Consider the different photographic safari options when you make your planning to make sure you get what you have in mind, photography wise and safari wise.

Happy wildlife snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for