african safari holiday

5 Top Reasons to visit Zambia

Most Southern Africa safari itineraries include Zambia with a visit of the Victoria Falls and that is as far as a safari guest gets to know the country. This is a pity, as Zambia is a top-rated African safari destination, one should definitely include in a southern Africa safari tour. Here some good reasons for visiting this amazing country:

1. The varied habitats of
Kafue: Kafue, Lufupa and Lunga rivers with adjoining peaceful stretches of riverine vegetation, dambos and wetlands, extensive miombo woodland with seasonal floodplains and swampland create a diversity of habitats, that attract an abundance of wildlife.

2. The Luangwa river is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life blood of the
South Luangwa National Park’s 9 050 square kilometres. The park hosts a wide variety of wildlife, birds and vegetation. The now famous “walking safari” originated in this park. There are 60 different animal species and 400 different bird species. One special being Thornycroft Giraffe found only in the Luangwa Valley. Some magnificent trees grow in the Valley among the more common are the mopane, leadwood, winterthorn, baobab, large ebony forests, vegetable ivory palm, marula and the tamarind tree. The changing seasons add to the parks richness ranging from dry, bare bushveld in the winter to a lush green wonderland in the summer months.

3. The
Lower Zambezi National Park is still relatively undeveloped, but its beauty lies in its absolute wilderness state. The diversity of animals is not as wide as the other big parks, but the opportunities to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels are spectacular. The park lies opposite the famous
Mana Pools Reserve in Zimbabwe, so the whole area on both sides of the river is a massive wildlife sanctuary.

4. The
Victoria Falls are known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders), due to its towering plume of spray that is visible at a distance. Within this area of the mighty Zambezi River one can engage in wildlife viewing or one of the many adrenalin activities on offer. The 108 m long (354 ft) and 1 708 m (5 600 ft) wide Vic Falls are the largest sheet of falling water in the world.

5. Due to the riverine wildlife areas the light is sublime for
wildlife photography. Colors are crisp and clear, warm and rich. The landscapes of waterways with their distinctive vegetation are stunning backdrops for wildlife photography. The opportunity of photographing big mammals like elephants in and around the water allows amazing wildlife photography. It is simply heaven for wildlife photography enthusiasts.

The wildlife areas in Zambia are best accessible by light aircraft transfer to avoid long drives. A great variety of land and waterborne safari activities are available for a diverse and exceptional safari experience. The best time to visit is from April to November, however, the so called “emerald season” is worth a visit too.

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa
sources: safari destinations, wilderness safaris, image: Dana Allen

Get top African safari extensions in South Africa


South Africa is an excellent African safari destination with the famous Kruger Park and many more game reserves in other parts of the country. It would be possible to drive around the country and do safaris in every part and just as easy have great safari extensions in everywhere as well.

For beach and water sport lovers the long coastlines of the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean offer all possible waterborne activities, whale sightings and the famous sardine run. Besides that, the coasts have beautiful landscapes, nice places to visit and invite to amazing golf courses and many more land activities.

But also the Karoo, Cape Town and the Winelands spoil the visitors with beauty, good food and good wine.

There are safari extensions for everyone and for all interests and tastes. One holiday will not be enough to explore them all.

Enjoy a fabulous
African safari holiday.

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Featured African Safari Tour 2014: Kruger to Cape Town


For those with lots of time to explore South Africa by light aircraft and self-drive, this itinerary is perfect. It starts with a fly-in African safari in Kruger Park and continues with a self-drive tour through Swaziland. Then down to the beaches of the Indian Ocean, the rolling hills of Kwazulu Natal and after a short flight from Durban to Port Elizabeth the Garden Route, again by road and all along the coast to Cape Town. You will visit South Africa’s most beautiful places with a balance of flights and self-drive.

View and download the detailed itinerary

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Top African safari extension Lamu in Kenya


Kenya is well known for its outstanding safari destinations and especially for the Great Migration of the wildebeest in the Masai Mara. But Kenya has also a very beautiful coast line with amazing beach destinations.

For those who want to combine an
African safari tour with culture and beach, Lamu is perfect. The island and town Lamu are just off the north-east coast of Kenya. Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited town and one of the original Swahili Settlements. Besides the culture it offers beautiful beaches on the island itself or on the close by Manda Island.

Lamu is the ideal destination for ancient colorful culture, beach, all sorts of waterborne activities and beautiful beaches to relax in the sun. It is a perfect closure of an African safari holiday.

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Featured African safari tour 2014: Signature Africa


Go big and visit outstanding safari destinations across Africa. This African safari tour starts in Rwanda with the incredible gorillas, goes south to the Sabi Sands in Kruger with excellent Big Five sightings and further to the magical Linyanti in Botswana.

The lodges are outstanding and the safari experiences exceptional. View and download the itinerary

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Want African safari beach extension?


For many guests a visit to Africa is either an escape from winter in the northern hemisphere or they use their long summer holiday to have time for extensive travel. For both kinds of travel some time on a lovely beach, to reflect on the bush adventure, is much appreciated.

There is a great choice of beaches to visit during an
African safari holiday. Zanzibar might come to mind for many people and the island is ideal to be combined with a safari in Tanzania next to the other lovely islands off the coast of Tanzania like Pemba and Mafia. For visits to Kenya also an entire beautiful coast is awaiting the beach and water activity lover. From Diani Beach over Watamu and Lamu, there are beautiful resorts and cultural sights more than worth visiting.

For safaris in Southern Africa the beaches of Mozambique are an excellent choice. White sand, few people and great nature invite for an amazing beach time with activities like horse back riding and all sorts of water sports. Besides Mozambique also South Africa offers a great choice of beaches along the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean with breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and a great variety of accommodations and activities.

It is not an easy choice with so much on offer. Keep it simple and look what is closest to your safari destination to avoid loosing time with travel.

Happy Africa travel!

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa
image: Indigo Bay, Bazaruto Island, Mozambique

The Wildebeest Migration in teh northern Serengeti


It is probably one of the most exciting events on an African safari tour and absolutely wildlife photography enthusiasts heaven, the Great Migration of the big herds.

Read the adventures of professional travel photographer Ariadne van Zandbergen in the northern Serengeti.
here to read her article.

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

How to choose African safari extensions


Africa is in the first place known as a safari destination and people visit to see the Big Five. But there is more than the African bush. Endless uninhabited beaches, spectacular mountains, beautiful coastal landscapes, exceptional sights like the Victoria Falls and lively cities are the overwhelming choice of African safari extensions.

There are two ways in planning your Africa holiday with the safari extension that will suit you best. It either starts with the activities you would love to do or with the geographic location of your safari. If you want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, it makes sense to plan you safari for Tanzania or Kenya. Or if you want to do your safari in South Africa, you might like to see the Victoria Falls.

If beaches are your preferred safari extension, you will be able to do that in East and Southern Africa, but you should mind the climate. When travelling in the southern hemisphere winter, you should not plan a beach extension for South Africa. It will be too cold, but there would be other attractions like the whales.

Essentially it boils down to what your interests are besides the safari. Take it from there and avoid too far distances between your safari destination and the chosen extension, as you will loose probably days with travel. Rather come back another time to see other parts of the continent.

Happy Africa travel!

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

Featured African safari tour 2014: Signature Safari Tanzania


This amazing African safari takes you to the best places to enjoy wildlife and vast landscapes. The camps are carefully selected to provide the best safari experience with outstanding service.

View and download the itinerary

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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

Featured African safari tour: Cheetah & Big Five Kruger


The ideal wildlife areas for excellent Big Five sightings and cheetah sightings are Kruger Park and Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa. Phinda is “cheetah land” and more with its ancient sand forest, mountains and close proximity to the Indian Ocean. These two outstanding African safari destinations are combined in this safari tour and offer an exceptional experience.

The detailed itinerary can be viewed and downloaded

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African safari hotspot Luangwa in Zambia


Learn about the Luangwa Valley in Zambia as a hotspot for leopard and wild dog sightings on African safari.

Travel writer Brian Jackman takes you to this special place of adventure, great nature and amazing wildlife.

Read the article

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Want African Photographic Safaris with Cheetahs?


Cheetahs are not part of the Big Five, but they are beautiful animals and great photographic subjects. If you specifically want to see and photograph cheetah during your African safari, you should carefully plan where to go to be sure to see them.

Open savanna and bushveld are the preferred areas for cheetah. They provide the best conditions for their hunt as high-speed predators. Prime wildlife destinations like the Masai Mara in Kenya, the Serengeti in Tanzania and other areas with open plains are ideal to watch and photograph these amazing animals. Otherwise excellent areas like the Sabi Sand in Kruger, South Africa, offer only in their northern part the possibility to see cheetahs. Plan carefully where to stay in these areas to not be disappointed. Often camp and lodge websites provide information on the wildlife that can be seen. Some have a blog on the wildlife sightings, which give a good idea what to expect. Also ask specialized tour operators for advice.

An excellent option to see and photograph cheetah in South Africa is Phinda Private Game Reserve. It might feel a bit out of the way as it is not in Kruger, but it offers great sightings.

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Why Uganda is great for African photographic safaris


When safari travellers hear Uganda, most likely the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees come first to mind. The country offers plenty of opportunities to photograph these magical animals while trekking through the rain forest.

But Uganda is more than that.
African photographic safaris in Uganda mean also breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, the Big Fife in not crowded national parks, lush vegetation with great birdlife, stunning views and volcanoes. The colors are rich and a flight over the Queen Elizabeth National Park at sunset is an utterly amazing photographic moment.

Uganda has a lot to offer and it is not as busy as a Masai Mara. This leaves room for the individual discoverer feeling and great wildlife and nature photography. It is a great place to visit for all photography enthusiasts.

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How to create a perfect African photographic safari in Botswana


The Okavango Delta in Botswana is probably the best African photographic safari destination. Not only the Big Five sightings are outstanding, but especially the crisp and clear light makes it easy to get fantastic pictures. The combination of water with mineral rich soil and the African sun creates a perfect environment for wildlife photography enthusiasts.

There are several ways to plan a
photographic safari in Botswana. Keep in mind that you want to do photography and that too many fellow travellers on the game drive vehicle will make this difficult. Choose either a self-drive option (or 4x4 with driver/guide) to have your own private vehicle or choose lodges and camps that allow not more than 6 guests on the vehicle. If finance is no obstacle book a private vehicle at the best camps in the best areas. Otherwise self-drive or drive with driver/guide can be combined with camping as the jeeps can be booked with rooftop tents. That lowers the costs substantially.

However, plan with the best light in mind and the best wildlife areas to avoid disappointment. Inquire about practical things like what to bring camera wise and what to wear to have all you need with you, but not too much.

Talking only about the Okavango Delta does not mean the other regions of Botswana are not beautiful and great for photography. Only the delta offers the best light for crisp and clear wildlife photos, one wishes to take home.

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Featured African Safari tour: Best of Kruger & Botswana


Southern Africa has great Big Five wildlife destinations like the Kruger Park, Chobe and the Okavango Delta. They are easily to combine in one African safari tour and make for a great safari experience even just for an 11-Day trip. Find inspiration for your safari in the Best of Kruger and Botswana tour featuring great lodges and game reserves.

View and download the itinerary

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Featured African safari tour 2014: Botswana Explorer


Explore the best wildlife areas of Botswana with a mobile safari and experience the ultimate African safari. The luxury of this safari are the private camps, the private vehicle, the unbeaten tracks and the basic but comfortably equipped tents with your very own staff to make your stay as pleasant as possible.

View and download the Botswana Explorer itinerary

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Want to African photographic safari in Kenya?


As photography has become a passion for more and more people, an African photographic safari is probably the ultimate holiday for photography enthusiasts. Being the whole day out in the bush with photographic opportunities in abundance, this is the way to enjoy photography at its best.

On of the top
African safari countries is Kenya and the top event for wildlife photographers is the Great Migration. Millions of animals move into the Masai Mara with dramatic Mara River crossings. It is probably the most exciting a wildlife photographer can observe and photograph. Besides that the Mara boasts of Big Cats and wildlife interaction, which provide great wildlife photography opportunities as well. And if this is not enough, the landscape with the dotted trees and spectacular sunrises and sunsets melts every photographer’s heart.

But Kenya has more to offer for the enthusiast wildlife and landscape photographer. Amboseli with Mt. Kilimanjaro and the big elephant herds, Samburu with its fascinating landscape and different animal species or Lake Nakuru with the pink ribbon of flamingoes are only a few more destinations of a photographic safari in Kenya, a photographer should not miss.

Got inspired? Visit this beautiful country and come home with great pictures.

Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

What do you want to know about walking safaris?


Walking safaris provide a completely different experience and perspective on the African bush. They can be experienced entirely as walking instead of driving or as additional experience to an African safari with the normal game drives in safari jeeps.

Read more about that in Alan Murphy’s column right

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Featured African Safari tour: South Africa Explorer


The South Africa Explorer tour is a pre-designed itinerary, flexible in travel date and choice of accommodation. It is ideal to see Johannesburg, Sun City, Lost City, Pilanesberg National Park and Kruger Park with a good chance to see the Big Five and good value for money accommodation. It is not a private safari, but it is possible that one has the game drive vehicle for him/herself or shares it with a maximum of 10 guests.

View and download the South Africa Explorer itinerary

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Featured African Safari Tour: Best of Botswana Fly-in


Visit the best of the Okavango Delta and Chobe in Botswana. Have a fantastic African safari with excellent lodges and camps and get the inter-camp flight transfers for free.

View and download the Best of Botswana African safari itinerary

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How to help protecting rhinos


The rhino is a wonderful animal, roaming the earth already for a very long time, but the numbers are dropping due to poaching and the huge amounts paid for it’s horn. They are endangered and without help they would be gone soon.

If you want to help protecting the rhino you can do that due to several projects and Caroline Rees’ project is one of them.

Read more about how to help protect the rhinos

Create the best sundowner experience on African safari


There are many highlights on African safaris, but there is one all safari guests seem to agree on that it is one of the best, the sundowner. This moment after a day in the bush when the sun settles for the night and the sounds of the bush become more mysterious, all seems to slow down and reflect on the events of the day and the safari guests do the same, with a drink in their hand, watching the sun gently leaving the bush for the night.

The have the best sundowner experience choose a spot where you look out over the landscape or a clearing in the bush where you can see the sun set behind a tree. There needs to be something the sun can shine on like a tree or clouds to have the best photographic sunset. And be quick. The African sunset does not last long; it is over in a moment.

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Featured African Safari Itinerary 2014: Best of Tanzania fly-in


Visit Tanzania’s best safari destinations Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti with a comfortable fly-in safari that takes the guests to outstanding lodges and camps and all that with the inter-camp flights for free.

View and download the Best of Tanzania Safari fly-in itinerary

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Get the best waterborne African safari experience


There is no better place for waterborne safari activities than the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The magnificent delta is already a fantastic destination and probably light wise the best African safari destination for photography lovers, but it adds to that the water activities on the crystal clear channels that offer plenty of new perspective into wildlife and landscapes.

Experience a mokoro (dugout canoe) ride or explore the waterways by electro motorboat and discover a colorful world with the lechwe antelopes, adapted to the water rich region, elephants wading through the channels or hippos in their favorite environment.

Enjoy the very different view these activities offer and get the most amazing photographs.

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Featured Safari Itinerary: Kruger Explorer


The Kruger Explorer itinerary is a pre-designed itinerary, flexible in travel date, duration and choice of accommodation. It is ideal for short visits to Kruger Park in South Africa with a good chance to see the Big Five and good value for money accommodation. It is not a private safari, but it is possible that one has the game drive vehicle for him/herself or shares it with a maximum of 10 guests.

View and download the Kruger Explorer itinerary

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Want to ride elephant on African safari?


The African elephant is a magnificent animal and the favorite of many African safari guests. However it is not as easy to tame as the Asian elephant and a walk or ride on the elephant is a very special experience.

There are several elephant sanctuaries in South Africa where visitors can learn during the daily scheduled shows about the animals and can experience activities with them.

Even better are the elephant walks and rides in the bush in Botswana and along the Zambezi in Zambia. Baines’ Camp and Abu Camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana offer these kind of elephant activities and being with the animals in their natural environment is an incredible experience. The elephant ride along and through the Zambezi River in Zambia can be booked with the accommodations at the Victoria Falls. The mighty elephant and the mighty Zambezi are a good combination.

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Get the best Masai Mara African safari experience


The Masai Mara is always a great safari destination and Kenya itself is a top-rated safari country. But the most special experience offers the Great Migration with millions of animals filling the Great Plains and yet, it is silent with a Garden of Eden feeling over it.

And now picture yourself on an open 4x4 jeep exploring the open plains with your camera ready for spectacular photos. Searching the Mara River for potential crossings going on or about to happen. And eventually there is the big herd of about a thousand wildebeest crossing the river and you are there with your camera. The brave animals cross a river with strong currents and filled with crocodiles to reach the green grass on the other side to feed their little ones. It is drama and happiness in a nutshell. Be prepared for big emotions and magical wildlife photography.

Enjoy a magical
African safari experience.

African safari highlight 2014: Kruger Park?


When you plan your perfect African photographic safari tour you want it to be a selection of highlights, to come home with wonderful memories and great pictures. Kruger Park in South Africa is definitely a safari highlight and should not be missed when visiting Southern Africa. Already its vastness is impressive and the Big Five sightings are great.

Only be careful how you visit Kruger, self-drive in the public park or on private concession and private game reserve. The latter will give you much better results, picture wise and safari experience wise. Doing self-drive can mean seeing little and being in traffic jams at when you get into great sightings. On private concessions and private game reserves you can be sure your photographic safari will be a highlight as you will be able to photograph at outstanding sightings pretty much undisturbed.

Enjoy your safari highlights!

Why do a bush walk on African safari


When you are on safari you will mostly be on a game drive vehicle when exploring the bush. Being on a vehicle makes it possible to see the Big Five up close and have even a leopard walking passed you just a meter away. The vehicle’s passengers are not part of the wildlife’s “world”, they are part of the vehicle and therefore guests can get very close to otherwise dangerous animals. How fragile this balance of being not of interest for the wildlife is can be experienced when seeing the reaction of for example cats to sudden noise or movement. But it gets altogether different when leaving the vehicle and walking instead.

The animal behavior changes immediately and one feels also completely different. Suddenly you walk the ground where you saw a lion only hours ago. Now you are part of their world and you will see the bush from a completely different perspective. A bush walk is definitely a highlight of an
African safari tour and should not be missed.

For photography enthusiasts a bush walk offers plenty of opportunities to capture also the small things and send time where you want.

Happy safari travelling!

Want to see leopard on African safari?


The leopard is often called the elusive cat and that is for a reason. Leopards are everywhere in Africa, but mostly you don’t see them. It is the same situation on many game reserves and in many national parks where you can call yourself lucky to see one. But there are some areas where you can almost be certain to see a leopard during your African safari tour.

One of the wildlife areas with good leopard sightings is the Masai Mara in Kenya. The Mara is in general good for cat sightings and you stand a good chance to see a leopard during at a least a three nights stay. Another good option for leopard sightings is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Besides that it offers fantastic crisp light for wildlife photography and is a must be for photography enthusiasts.

But the best area to see leopards is the Sabi Sand, Kruger Park, in South Africa. Due to the fact that the area consists of private game reserves only with great efforts to protect the wildlife and strict rules for game drives, the leopards trust the vehicles and just do their thing which provides great sightings. Lodges and camps from mid to high end are available. If you want to be sure to see your elusive cat, go there.

Happy leopard spotting!

Why have travel insurance on African safari


When you book your African safari holiday check your itinerary proposal, if an emergency evacuation insurance is included. In most of the proposals this will be the case. This insurance will cover emergency evacuations due to floods or fires, but also in case of an accident or illness. It does not cover the actual medical treatment, only the transportation to the next hospital. You will need a separate insurance that covers medical treatment and possibly further transport back home.

Your health insurance will most likely provide such a medical insurance with world cover and also travel insurances offer this option. Check what exactly the coverage is to have the best cover for the best price. However get a general travel insurance as well with curtailment, cancellation, theft, damage and loss.

If you travel with expensive photo gear, insure the gear separately. The insurance will be called “all risk specified” and every single item of your equipment will be listed with its value. This is a must have for photo safaris.

Taking this precaution will give you peace of mind and safety in case of an emergency.

Safe safari travel!

How to plan your African safari routing


In general plan your safari routing in one flow like a circle, clockwise or counter clockwise. It feels natural and provides the best holiday experience. Avoid going back and forward and in zigzag. This feels uncomfortable and confusing. Let your African safari tour for example start in Johannesburg, move north east to Kruger, then further north to the Victoria Falls and from there to Cape Town. Depending on your international flight you might go back to Johannesburg or fly out directly from Cape Town. If for some reason you wish to start with Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula, maybe to recover from a long flight and to acclimatize, move then on to Kruger and further to the Victoria Falls and maybe also into Chobe and the Okavango Delta. Keep a close eye on flight connections to avoid “lost days” somewhere in the middle of your safari as they might take precious time you would rather like to spend in the bush.

An African safari circuit feels the best and will offer the best experience of a natural flow.

Happy safari holidays!

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!

How to make sure you get a great African safari guide


On your game drives you will share a safari vehicle with other guests and a driver/guide (on many private game reserves in South Africa will also be a tracker) unless you have a private vehicle, but there will still be a guide.

It is crucial for your
African safari tour that you have a good guide. A good guide finds the wildlife for you, knows the area and knows how to position the vehicle for the best photo. A great guide makes sure you get your perfect African photographic safari. But how to make sure you will have a great guide?

Most of the guides in the different safari countries are trained by an official institution and qualified through an exam. This is one criterion that makes sure there is a certain quality standard. Another important factor is experience and not to forget the personalities should match when you are on bush adventure trip.

You can ask people who were on safari to recommend a game reserve or even guide they were very happy with. In general private game reserves have well-trained and experienced guides, but still it can be a wrong match and you suffer during every game drive. Don’t let it get that far. When you feel this is not going well, talk to your guide first and try to improve the situation. If this is not working talk to the head ranger or manager to either get a different guide or join others on a different vehicle.

Try to work together with your guide and learn from him/her about the bush and let them know what your expectations are. This is a good foundation for a successful safari and great wildlife photography.

Happy safari snapping!

How many people are on your African safari vehicle?


This might be a question you have not thought about yet, if you haven’t been on an African safari before, but if you have, you will understand immediately its importance.

Most safari vehicles have seats for 10 guests plus driver. Many lodges and camps use all seats and put 10 guests on the vehicles during the game drives. This is quite a lot and can be an unpleasant experience. There are three rows of three seats each, which means one person will have the middle seat like on a plane. There is one lucky person sitting in the front next to the driver, but for the rest the vehicle is really full and if you want to do photography, it is not working at all.

The higher end lodges put only a maximum of 6 guests on a vehicle, which is much better. No one on the middle seat, space to do photography and a more intimate safari experience.

The best is of course the private vehicle, especially for wildlife photography enthusiasts, but that comes at extra costs.

However, check with your safari tour operator the number of people on the game drive vehicle to make sure you get what you are looking for on your Africa holiday.

Happy game drive experiences!

Want smooth African safari?

want smooth african safari

When you go on holiday you don’t want hassle, you want a smooth flow from one destination to the other with great experiences. In order to achieve that you can better book with a specialized African safari tour operator.

No funny flight connections and lost days between destinations, as you want to use everyday of your holidays as good as possible. Certain routings just don’t work. They don’t allow a flow and others work perfectly, using the available time efficiently. Jumping between safari countries also doesn’t help with a smooth flow as distances in Africa a huge and flight connections can be complicated and time consuming.

Keep it simple in the first place and go with the best routing. That will make sure you will see as much as possible during the available time.

Happy safari travel planning!

Mention your budget for your African safari holiday


You will most likely have an idea what your holiday may cost as you looked on the Internet for offered African safari tours and got an idea what the costs are or you have set a certain amount apart that you want to spend. Either way tell the safari operator what that budget is. That will safe you time and energy in finding the safari you like.

Often people think that mentioning the budget will make that a cheaper tour is made more expensive, because the budget is higher and the other party wants the money. Maybe that happens some times, but decent safari operators will use that information to create the safari that suits you best. It makes communication so much easier and avoids irritation and frustration on both sides. Make clear what you want, what budget is available and if this is realistic you will get it. Otherwise you will get explained what is realistic with that budget and why. Safe your nerves and time. Rather use your energy for an adventurous fantastic safari, made to suit you best.
Happy wildlife safari traveling!

What does an entry level African safari cost?


Lets imagine you want to visit South Africa with a part of your holiday in Cape Town and the other part with a safari in Kruger. To get a reasonably good idea of an African safari tour you should stay at least for 3 nights. That would make a 4-day/3-nights safari preferably with a professional guide for the game drives. Lets say you do self-drive to Kruger and choose accommodation at a lodge just outside the park on half board basis, the rate would be about ZAR 6,800 per person sharing. The game drives are of course in the park.

The Cape Town part of that holiday works completely different. You can just book a hotel online, rent a car at the airport and drive yourself around. Accommodations for any budget are available and so are scheduled tours, hop on hop off busses and more sight seeing activities like in any other city in the world.

Yes, you can also do self-drive in Kruger, but if you really want to have great sightings invest in a professional guide and vehicle for the game drives. Its worth it.

Happy photo safari holiday travelling!

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

Best price African safari 2014: Namibia safari?


Namibia is the ideal country for self-drive safaris. The roads are good, although many are dirt roads, but still good to do for self-drive. It is a country of great landscapes, panoramic vistas, a dramatic coastline, ancient deserts and last but not least amazing wildlife.

Due to the well to do self-drive tours Namibia is a best price
African safari option. Just rent a car and go. Book your accommodations on the standard you prefer, half board to have your breakfast and dinner at your accommodation and during the day you do your explorations in the area yourself, independently from the lodge or camp. That way you make the best use of your rental car. Only don’t try to save too much when choosing the car. Take one with higher ground clearance to feel comfortable in any terrain. And get information on the distances you cover to drive during daylight. Off you go.

Happy safari exploration in Namibia!

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

What to check when comparing African safari prices

what to check when comparing african safari price

It is a common habit to compare holiday offers, but you should know what to look at to compare them well.

Have a close look at the specification of your best price
African safari tour. Does the price include beverages and refreshments during game drives? How many people are on the game drive vehicle, 6 or 10? Are the transfers in minibus or with 4x4 jeep? And what kind of vehicle is the game drive vehicle, minibus or 4x4? Are park fees included? When doing flight transfers are the departure taxes and surcharges included? What about the transfers from/to airstrips and airports? Is the meal plan full board or half board? What safari activities are included?

When the offers are checked that way and are identical the difference will lie in the accommodation. From now on just follow your heart and choose the accommodation you love the most.

Happy photo safari holiday traveling!

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

African safari rate breakdown

african safari rate breakdown

Safaris are generally known for being expensive, but when you take a closer look it is not so bad considering what is included.

Many safari camps and lodges are on remote locations with demanding and complex logistics to provide good and safe accommodation with good food and game activities. When you can get your supplies only by air or boat, it gets expensive to run a camp. Also maintenance needs to be spot on, otherwise the timber deck will not be safe and good anymore. All this work reflects in the lodge and camp rates and the smaller the camp the more per person, but also the better the safari experience.

To get to your camp, the next one and back to civilization you need transport. Road transfer is an option and when you are a group of people the costs per person are low. But sometimes air transfer is the only option or the best option and that comes at a different cost.

When you are in the bush you cannot go out in the evening and find yourself a restaurant for dinner. It needs to be at least full board, fully inclusive is even better with local wines and spirits included.

When you put all that together an
African safari holiday price includes accommodation (the smaller and remote the camp the more luxurious), food, drinks, transfers, taxes, surcharges, levies, park fees and safari activities. The only thing extra is the international airfare, well and possible shopping in the curio shop.

A safari is the most transparent and predictable holiday cost wise. The tour is planned and you go for it with no other sights or tours you could fall for in between, which could double the price of your vacation, well with the curio shop temptation.

Happy photo safari travelling!

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

Get your African safari documents sorted


There is nothing worse than finally going on the long waited for holiday and stumbling from one problem into the other, just by not having the right documents, visas or insurance with you. So get it sorted before you go for a worry free holiday trip.

To experience a perfect
African safari tour, make sure you have your vaccination book with you (see blog post from last Friday). Entry into a country might be rejected, if you don’t. The same can happen when you don’t have enough empty pages in your passport for immigration to place their visas and stamps. Depending on how many countries you visit have at least four empty pages or more. Enquire for visas beforehand. In most of the African safari countries you can buy a visa at the port of entry, but not all. Make sure you know what your countries require.

The same importance has a travel insurance. Check with your credit card provider, if you have already one with your credit card. It should cover cancellation/curtailment, medical expenses, default and baggage loss.

Bring also your vouchers and other travel documents you got from your tour operator, just in case you are unsure about inclusions. And of course flight tickets and if you do self-drive bring your drivers license.

All set? Now its time for a happy safari!

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

What makes your African safari perfect?


Imagine you are at home somewhere in the northern hemisphere, planning your safari holiday while sitting next to the blazing heating on a Sunday afternoon in January. What will come to your mind, you definitely will need to have a perfect African safari tour?

Sun and warmth might be the first that come up. Keep in mind that travel during European summer means travel during southern hemisphere winter, with temperatures possibly falling at night down to 0. But there is lots of sun and temperature during the day can rise to really nice warm “summer days”.

Then the Big Five. You want to see lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo plus all the other wonderful animals. Make sure you visit wildlife areas and national parks where you can find them. Have rather a professional guide than doing self-drive in the parks. They know where to look and you will have the better sightings.

Photography! You will most likely want to come home with great pictures. Make sure you have at least a 400mm zoom. Point and shoot cameras are often too slow for shooting wildlife, but have often a good zoom and as long as the animals stand still you are fine.

And last but not least you will want a comfortable accommodation for a good rate. Enquire for specials. Some outfitters offer long stay discounts and have circuits you can book at really good rates including different lodges/camps and wildlife area.

Make a list of all that what is important to you for a safari and then go and get it. You will have your perfect African safari.

Happy holiday travel snapping!

P.S. A bundle with many practical questions and answers on safari travel is now available as free download in the iBookstore. Just search for the author Roho Ya Chui. The book is called “On African Safari”.

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

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

African safari 2014: Kenya safari?


Kenya has been the safari country one should definitely visit for decades. It is still wild, when comparing it with South Africa for example. There are few fences; wildlife is roaming free and the traditional tribes like the Masai are herding their cattle in the middle of lion and other predators with the same confidence as always.

Kenya is safari. It got a great variety of national parks and national reserves and it is almost impossible to visit all of them within one safari holiday, unless you want to hop from one to the other by plane and stay for only one night, but that would be a shame. You should take time when going on
African safari tour in Kenya. Stay at least for 3 nights at one place to have the best experience and to have great wildlife sightings. Take travel times into consideration when planning your trip. Don’t plan too tight.

It works best to combine the Masai Mara with Lake Nakuru, Laikipia and Samburu. Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Amboseli are another great circuit. To do it all together, you better have three weeks for your tour. And if this is not yet enough, there is the entire coastline with the most beautiful beach resorts of Watamu, Diani and Lamu.

Kenya got it all. It is a beautiful country, still wild, adventurous and with lots of amazing wildlife. It is a great choice to visit.

Happy wildlife photo safari travel!

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

Want to get best price African safari?


To achieve that, it might be a good first step to define what is the best price. Is the cheapest safari the best-priced safari? Think of the plumber who was the cheapest and made you need a full renovation after installing only a new toilet. The cheapest can end up being the most expensive. Keep that in mind when choosing your best-priced African safari holiday.
Compare the included services. Get an idea what luxury accommodation means in the bush. The intimate small camps are luxury, because you have the bush pretty much for yourself. Not all of them are expensive, but would fall in the category of best-priced safari camps.

Choose your mode of transport with care. When you are travelling by yourself or as a couple, a 4x4 vehicle with driver can be expensive, when you are a group of 6 it is well priced. Light aircraft transfers are not necessarily expensive. Compare them with alternative modes on transport. Don’t be too brave with self-drive and remember that you will not see as much on game drives as with a professional guide.

Compare camps within their quality standard group to have realistic results. And maybe it is nice to be naughty and have just one extra special camp as the cherry on the cake at the end.

Happy wildlife photo safari planning!

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

Why you should book with an agent


This question might sound like an open door, asked by somebody who is organizing safari tours for people and of course pleading for booking safaris with an agent. But it is not that simple. It is the experience clients share, what makes discussing that question relevant.

The first reasons are the logistics. Google map might say it is a 2 hours drive, but in reality its 3.5 hours, as Google doesn’t know about the cattle on the road, people walking, even on freeways, and potholes. It is also important to know the game drive times in order to book the right flights and transfers. When your flight arrives too late you might not even get into the park anymore.

Next is the different culture, also when it comes to booking offices and especially within big organizations or chains. The online rates at the Victoria Falls hotel might be a bit lower, but you also might never get a response from them. Or transfers. It is easy in big cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town where you just take a cab, but at the bush destinations it is a different story.

And there are more things that work different than on other holiday destinations around the globe and where it is good to have a helping hand. Therefore the idea of booking your
African safari holiday with an agent is not such a bad idea.

Happy wildlife snapping holiday planning!

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

Why you should see the Victoria Falls


The smoke that thunders, is how the Victoria Falls are called by the local tribes and although one could think a waterfall is something you look at and that’s it, the Vic Falls are different. You can spend days there and being busy each day all day.

Depending on the season the spray of the falls varies greatly. During high waters the “smoke” (spray) can be so much that you don’t see the rocks underneath it and some activities like swimming in Devil’s Pool are not possible. With low waters swimming on the rim of the falls is possible and really great.

But that is not all. How about riding an elephant along the Zambezi, or having tea at the famous Victoria Falls Hotel on the Zimbabwean side or while anyway using the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe do a bungee jump from it or watching others doing it from a helicopter soaring above the falls? You will run out of time when trying to do all the falls have to offer to see all angles of this magnificent sight.

Visiting the Victoria Falls during a safari can be done on really good rates, as a large range of accommodations is available. Keep in mind that the best price
African safari holiday operator is not necessarily the one with the best offers. Compare the details of the itineraries to make sure you are comparing the same qualities and inclusions. Sometimes it is worth to pay a few dollars more for excellent service before, during and after your holiday tour. If you are interested in photography, it’s good to have an operator that can advice and schedule the activities to get the best light for your indented great photos.

However, the falls are year round beautiful and just a fantastic sight in combination with the mighty Zambezi River.

Happy landscape and more photography travel!

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

How to get close to elephants

6-how-to-get-close-to elephants

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

Want to see rhino?

5-want-to-see rhino

When you see a rhino you see ancient time, an animal that seems to come from a million years ago with its heavy body the for horn use shaped head and of course the famous rhino horn itself. The ancient spirit of a rhino is its beauty and unfortunately there are people thinking when they use the rhino’s horn they become just the same beautiful spirit as the rhino and they would not believe that this would never happen. No matter how much rhino horn they consume, they will never be as strong and impressive as a rhino. But unfortunately they put that in their minds and that kills hundreds of rhinos every year with the count rising. Seeing a rhino has become a different experience, conscious of the threat they are under, seeing a rhino has become even more special than it always was.

If you want to be sure to see rhino on your
African safari holiday go to well established Big Five game reserves. You will not only be pretty sure to see them, you will also support with your stay the good work they do in protecting these amazing animals. The national parks and private game reserves do great efforts with anti poaching and rhino horn treatment to make the horn hunt stop.

Appreciate any rhino you see. Take great pictures and enjoy the challenge of getting great rhino photos, as this is not that easy.

Enjoy fantastic wildlife sightings on amazing safaris.

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

Get to see the Okavango Delta in 2014

4-get-to-see-the-okavango-delta-in 2014

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

Happy New Year on African safari!


African safari 2014: South Africa?


When you plan to visit South Africa in 2014 you will have to choose from a great variety of fantastic African safari destinations and numerous options for safari extensions. Yes, it sounds like work and it really is hard to make a choice.

South Africa is a big country and offers such a variety that it matches pretty much any holiday interest from safaris to marine life and fine wineries and all in between. It is great to do self-drive and explore the different regions and sight yourself, but mind the distances and travel times. It is easily misjudged.

Just as an inspiration here some ideas for top-rated
African safari holidays in South Africa. What about safari in Kruger Park followed by hiking in the Drakensberg, diving in the Indian Ocean, horse riding in the bush or on the beach, relax time in a beach resort before continuing to the magnificent Garden Route and ending up in beautiful Cape Town with a closure at a wine yard estate. Yes, you might be exhausted, but you will have seen the best and you will take home priceless memories.

Happy African safari travel 2014!

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

Want to see cheetah on African safari?

1-want-to-see cheetah-on-african-safari

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

African safari travel ideas 2014: The safari tours


If you don’t have the time to do lots of research on the Internet to put your African safari itinerary together, find yourself a trusted specialized African safari tour operator and choose one of their tours.

Pre-designed African safari tours are ready to book and usually cover the highlights of top-rated safari countries and regions. You would often end up choosing the same sights and game reserves, but in the safari packages you have it all ready and if the tours are group tours and you would like to do that, it will save you money.

There are also tours with a certain theme or interest, like walking tours, horseback safaris or visiting a specific event like the calving of the wildebeest in the Serengeti. Group tours have also a tour guide and different languages for certain tours are offered.

They are some kind of a carefree solution when you don’t have the time for the process of designing your
African safari together with your agent, although it is really nice to do that.

Enjoy relaxed safari holiday travel!
Happy safari snapping!

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

How to book your African safari holiday in Botswana?


It is good to search the Internet first. Get an idea what you can see in Botswana and what appeals to you. Look up maps to get an impression of locations and distances between the parks you are interested in.

While doing that, you will come across many names of lodges and camps. When you visit their websites you will notice that many of them do not publish their rates. This is the moment to get help with your
African safari booking. One option is to contact the lodges separately and try to put your safari itinerary together yourself. That is not easy, as you need transfers and knowledge about travel times and schedules. The better way is to find a specialized tour operator to help you from there.

Now you know what you want and together you can create the safari tour you have in mind. It will save you a lot of time, nerves and money; you can spend more pleasantly in curio shops or for nice activities.

Botswana is a fantastic photographic safari destination, but offers so much for all interests and first of all beautiful nature and wildlife.

Happy photo safari travelling!

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

Want to see the Victoria Falls?


You can spend days with seeing the Victoria Falls, from the Zambian side, the Zimbabwean side, from above and from below. If you plan to stay for only 2 nights at this top-rated African safari destination, use your time wisely to get to see all angles of this magnificent sight.

There are opening hours of the falls, transfer times and scheduled departures for the activities and excursions to consider. Also mind you are crossing a border when moving from Zambia to Zimbabwe and back. Don’t plan too tight and the day you fly out should not be filled with excursions until the last minute.

But it is possible to do a tour of the falls on the Zambian and Zimbabwean side, have a helicopter flight to see them from above and go on a boat tour under the spray of the falls. If you also want to get in the falls, a swim in Devil’s Pool can provide that, available depending on the water level.

Still not enough? Maybe a lunar tour makes it complete, seeing the falls shining in the light of the full moon.

Happy photography sight seeing travel!

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

Why Tanzania is a great African safari travel idea


The top safari country in East Africa was traditionally Kenya, but during the last years Tanzania became the favorite African safari destination for a growing number of guests and that is not a surprise.

Tanzania’s most famous part is the north with the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park. The active guests can climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and do a safari afterwards and otherwise the northern safari circuit is just fabulous to do even within a one-week holiday. Three different highlights from the migration in the Serengeti over the impressive Ngorongoro Crater to the small, but beautiful Lake Manyara National Park or/and Tarangire are pretty easy to combine either as drive-in or fly-in safari.

But that is not all Tanzania has to offer. The south is just as beautiful, yet very different and great for those who like to explore off the beaten track. And if this is not enough, Zanzibar and the beaches are the perfect safari extension to rest, relax, explore culture and history or continue wildlife watching, but then under water with diving or snorkelling.

Bring time, if you want to see all within one holiday and recon that Tanzania is a bit more costly than Kenya. But it’s worth it!

Happy amazing safari travelling!

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

Merry Christmas on African safari!


African safari hoiliday 2014: Namibia safari?


Namibia offers safaris of a completely different kind. This vast country is fantastic for lovers of dramatic landscapes and stargazing. The Namib Desert with its many faces from the sand dunes of Sossusvlei to the famous Skeleton Coast is fabulous for landscape and aerial photography. The desert adapted wildlife like Oryx, elephant and rhino make wonderful photographic subjects with the most spectacular backdrops of astonishing landscapes.

Namibia offers something for all budgets. The self-drive safaris are easy to do and help to experience this beautiful country even with small travel funds. Etosha is the country’s famous wildlife area with spectacular animal interactions around the waterholes.

Only be prepared for long distance drives or choose to fly, which comes with a price tag. When driving make sure you measure distances in hours and not in kilometers and keep in mind to be at your destination before night fall.

Namibia is definitely one of the top-rated
African safari holiday countries.

Happy photography adventure travel!

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

Want African safari in Kenya?


Be prepared to have a lot to choose from when planning an African safari in Kenya. Kenya is a fantastic safari country where wild feels wild and a Masai Mara National Reserve has entrance gates, but no fences and the Masai people still live in their traditional villages and herd their cattle.

If you want to see lots of different national parks and wildlife areas, bring time. Only the north offers already Samburu, Shaba, Meru, Laikipia, Mount Kenya and the less frequently visited Marsabit and Lake Turkana. On the way south are Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Aberdare with a turn to the west to see the Masai Mara and then further to Amboseli with Mt. Kilimanjaro and to Tsavo. Yes, this is what you can choose from and the coast not even mentioned.

Have a good look at a map when planning the safari and ask for the transfer times by air and by road. Don’t get carried away and put too much in one itinerary. You will have to make choices. And if you can’t, your budget will do it for you. Visiting remote places in the wild comes with a price tag due to complex and costly logistics and your own transfers to all these places. Self-drive is not recommended when you don’t have Africa experience and in parks like the Masai Mara you will need a guide to find the animals and not to get lost.

It is already an adventure planning your
African safari tour to Kenya with this amazing choice of fantastic destinations. Enjoy it!

Happy wildlife safari travelling!

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

What to visit in the Eastern Cape during your African Safari holiday?


The Eastern Cape province of South Africa and especially a small village called Qunu are the news of the day with the state funeral for Nelson Mandela taking place today.

The remote location of the village does not help making it part of an African safari holiday to visit his grave. But there are safari options in the Eastern Cape that are worth bringing the visitor down there in the first place.

Several private game reserves and Addo Elephant National Park are situated in the Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown area. The big advantage of the area is, that it allows Big 5 malaria free safaris. The vegetation is very different from Kruger Park and it has a completely different look and feel.

From the Eastern Cape the holiday can be continued along the famous Garden Route and further to Cape Town. Only bring enough time, if you want to do the tour self-drive, otherwise use the domestic flights that are available for very good rates.

Happy safari holiday planning!

Ute Sonnenberg for
Image: Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

What to see on your Cape Town tour?


Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and almost every African safari holiday itinerary includes at least a few days in this lively place.

The best time to visit Cape Town is in summer (northern hemisphere winter). The cape looks like an enlarged Cote d’Azur with its blue sky, the rough coastline, the blue sea and the beautiful coastal vegetation. A sight you cannot miss in Cape Town is the Table Mountain. It dominates the area and is the one you see on every post card. You can visit the top of Table Mountain by foot or the more comfortable way with the cable car. The vistas are stunning. Only be early in the morning at the cable car station to avoid the huge queues later in the day.

Another landmark is Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years. It is one of the must-see sights and offers also a different vantage point on Cape Town.

Right at the waterfront is the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, the place to be for shopping and restaurants. Many hotels are located at the Waterfront and it is wise to stay in one of them as you can walk everything when you want to go out for dinner or shopping.

You can also use the hop-on hop-off busses to explore the city or use one of the scheduled city tours. Plan at least two full days in Cape Town to get a chance to see something of it and to enjoy its busy life.

And if that is not enough, the Winelands and the Cape Point are just an excursion away.

Happy Cape Town adventure travel!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Where can you find Mandela's spirit in Johannesburg?


All Johannesburg city tours somehow catch places where Mandela lived, worked or where his work and life had influence on. Most likely a new standard in the tours will be a drive by and maybe a short stop at Mandela’s house in Houghton. Houghton is a beautiful green residential suburb with in front of his house right now a sea of flowers. He spent the last years of his life there.

The house is not far away from Rivonia. The suburb gave its name to the Rivonia Trial where Mandela was sentenced for life in 1964. He and others were arrested on a farm in Rivonia where they hid from the apartheid government. Nowadays Rivonia is a residential suburb in Sandton, the business heart of Johannesburg with its well known Sandton City shopping mall.

Other sights like the Apartheid Museum are further on the southern outskirts of Johannesburg. But it actually does not need really sights to see and feel his spirit in the developing and growing city. All that is a result of what he stands for.

It is worth it to stay in Johannesburg at least for a day to explore the city. It is a very green place and offers lots of nice cafes and restaurants and of course also shops. Pretty much all
African safari itineraries for Southern Africa bring the visitor to Johannesburg and one got the chance to get a glimpse of this dynamic place.

Happy safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How can Pretoria be part of your African safari holiday?


Pretoria is not the first that comes to mind when planning an African safari. Johannesburg is the hub to African safari holidays in Southern Africa. But there is a very special way to travel in South Africa and that involves Pretoria.

Blue Train starts (or ends) in Pretoria. It offers a wonderful way of traveling and the journey from Pretoria to Cape Town takes about 27 hours with a bit of stopover sight seeing along the way. It could be an option to have a day or two in Pretoria with sight seeing of the traditional buildings, the purple blooming jacaranda trees in October and November and to make the experience complete stay at the Herbert Baker Hotel, named after the famous architect.

This version of a safari holiday is for the ones that have time. Photography lovers will not only be able to comfortably sit, view and shoot, but the train itself is a wonderful photographic subject as well.

Happy safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How is safety on African safari?


When you travel you want to know that you are safe even on adventurous holidays like African safaris.

The safari lodges and camps have safety rules that are explained to you at arrival. They can include not walking by yourself at night in an unfenced camp, not leaving the walkway, not standing up in the open game vehicle at sightings and how to act in case of an emergency. Follow the rules; they are there for a reason.

The guides/rangers at the lodges and camps are usually well trained and professional, definitely at the higher end game reserves. Bush walks are conducted by armed guides/rangers and will aim to avoid confrontations with dangerous animals by providing at the same time a great experience.

In cases of force majeure like for example a flood after extremely heavy rains or a fire, emergency procedures are in place for the safe evacuation of the guests.

Has a guest an accident or falls ill, medical assistance is available and guests can be flown out to the hospital for appropriate medical care.

In general all is done to secure the guests safety and if something unforeseen happens the staff is well trained and prepared to deal with the situation. The guest can help to be safe by following the rules and being conscious that he/she is in the bush with free roaming wild animals.

Happy safe safari travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

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

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

What kind of African safari activities are available around Kruger Park?


On your safari in Kruger Park your main activities will be game drives in the park, trying to spot the Big 5. However there are lots of different things that you can do to enrich your African safari tour.

It is nice to have bush walks. That will give you a completely different perspective on wildlife and the bush. You will be part of their hierarchy and some will run from you and others won’t.

In the vicinity of Kruger are two possibilities to have interaction with elephants. One is Elephant Whisperer and the other one Elephant Sanctuary. Both have educational value and both offer elephant rides. It is a nice way to get up close with these amazing animals.

Another way to learn about wildlife and conservation is the Endangered Species Centre in Hoedspruit. Their focus is helping rare and endangered wildlife. Cheetah conservation is one of their core disciplines.

For the cultural insights it is worth visiting the Shangana Cultural Village, hosting a show performed by the Shangaan people. The Shangaan are the local people of the region and you can find them usual as trackers on the private game reserves. They are outstanding trackers and often find you the leopard you were so desperate to see.

Still think a safari is boring with sitting on the game drive vehicle all day? Only think of all the wonderful photography opportunities!

Happy photo safari snapping!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How to create a flow for your African safari itinerary?


Whenever you plan a trip you intuitively wish to create a flow, a noiselessly experience of awe and joy. Sometimes you get it right first time and sometimes you need a second attempt for the same region to get the feeling right. Especially when the destination is in a different part of the world with a completely new environment, you have no experience with, it can be hard to create the flow. A very good example is an African safari in South Africa with the extension Victoria Falls and Cape Town.

It turns out that the best routing for the noiselessness flow is the Kruger Park – Victoria Falls –Cape Town itinerary. Why? This is hard to say. First of all it is always good to start with the safari and move forward to cities or beaches. It just feels right, like one needs some kind of less intense time after the safari experience to let all the deep impressions settle. Second, the logistics make more sense and support the flow.

But all that only works when the lodge/camp and plane seat availabilities allow that. If they make the ideal routing impossible consider alternative dates and accommodations or do a complete change of mind and reset your expectations to avoid disappointment and frustration.

Experience taught that when an itinerary falls into place effortless, it is exactly what you need for the best experience. Don’t fight it and think you need to push through the impossible. The flow starts already while planning. Surrender and your intuition will choose the right itinerary although you haven’t been there before.

Happy photo safari planning!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How to take part in African wildlife conservation projects?


When you want to contribute to wildlife conservation while being on African safari holiday, you can consider several options.

An indirect affect on wildlife will have the choice of your lodge or camp. The more eco-friendly your safari accommodation is the better for the wildlife. Small camps and lodges have also less impact on the animals, as less people will invade their natural habitat.

You can also visit endangered species centers and the entrance fee you pay will contribute to the good work these centers are doing. They look after injured wild animals, release them when they are better and do research to help endangered species like cheetahs.

In Kenya are
African safaris available that focus on saving the elephant. In cooperation with the Scheldrick Wildlife Trust the safari guests visit the elephant orphanage in Nairobi privately and follow the path of the young rescued elephants during their safari until the release camps in Tsavo East. For each safari guest an elephant will be adopted. The contribution helps the trust saving small elephant babies that have lost their mother through poaching or other tragedies.

A pretty spectacular way in taking part in conservation are the so called “African vet safaris”. You will stay at a private game reserve and take part in animal immobilizations for treatments. You will not do the darting, but you will give a hand in handling the animal during treatment. It is an incredible experience and your safari booking pays for the expensive procedure.

There are also volunteer programs you can join to make a difference. There is lots to do, there are lots of opportunities to come up close with wildlife and to help them to survive.

Happy wildlife conservation travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

What not to miss on African safari at the Victoria Falls


One of the most spectacular sights on African safari in Southern Africa are the Victoria Falls and with it the Zambezi River. Visiting the falls is not only going there, seeing a waterfall, taking a photo and that’s it, there are lots of activities available at and around the falls.

There are guided Victoria Falls tours to start with. You will walk the falls on a path and see them from different angles. Depending on the amount of water the falls are carrying, you will see more or less from the rocks they are falling from.

Another opportunity to see the falls is from a helicopter. There are flights available from 12 minutes, which is enough to get a good view of them. Photographers might prefer a flight in a cesna with the door removed for clear pictures.

The brave ones might enjoy the bungee jumping from the so often photographed bridge at the falls. And with low water levels you can also swim in Devil’s Pool, right at the top of the falls, really only accessible with low water, otherwise you get swept over the rim and down the falls.

More water born activities are fishing, sundowner cruises, rafting and canoeing. The Zambezi is a majestic river and very beautiful.

Activities on land are a visit to a village, to a market, to town and also game drives in the surrounding game reserves. There is no room for boredom at the Victoria Falls and there is something for everybody. And the most beautiful activity is actually sitting at the Zambezi and looking over the river into the setting sun.

African safari Vic Fall snapping!

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How to prepare for emergency situations on African safaris?


Savvy travelers will know that it is of importance to have a travel insurance that covers medical aid around the world and you definitely should have that insurance when going on African safari. You will be in very remote areas right in the African bush and you should also check, if your safari tour offer includes emergency evacuation. The emergency evacuation will not cover the actual medical costs, but it will cover the costs to bring you to a hospital for proper medical aid. Most of the tour operators offer that as a standard, but just check, if it is part of the included services.

Provide your African safari tour operator with an emergency contact in case something happens to you. You might be unconscious and not able to let the people know whom to call to bring you home or to take care of your personal belongings. Make a little card that is in your wallet and a note in your phone whom to contact in case you are travelling self-drive without a guide, just in case you get found and people want to help, but don’t know how.

If you are taking medication, make sure your have a sufficient supply of your medication with you while travelling. You might not be able to get the specific medication at the remote places you are going to. Have information on you about your medical condition that paramedics are able to help properly.

One of the smaller emergency situations can be lost luggage. Keep some clothes with you in your hand luggage to help you through the first days, in case that situation occurs.

And in general don’t try to be brave or thrill seeking in the bush. That will keep you out of problems and ensures a great safari adventure.

Happy wildlife African photo safari adventure!

Ute Sonnenberg for

What activities offer African safaris in teh desert?


When you hear that somebody goes on African safari you imagine immediately lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant and rhino and people in 4x4 safari vehicles snapping away with their cameras. But what about the desert?

Botswana and Namibia are home to amazing deserts, the Namib and the Kalahari. Wildlife sightings in the desert are slightly different from game drives in the bush. First of all you start looking different. There are lots of desert adapted animals, but they are often small and very well camouflaged. The bigger mammals are mostly not in great numbers, unless you go to the Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana during green season. You got to look for them, but when you see an Oryx walking the sand dunes of Sossusvlei you cannot find a better photographic subject than that. Its magical.

But the desert offers more. As mentioned in an earlier post, stargazing is one of the activities. There is no distraction from the light from settlements, the air is clear and just by lying down on your back on the desert floor you can watch the whole universe. Another great activity is quad biking. It is great fun to explore the desert that way and you can cover big distances without getting too exhausted. Guided walks are also a very nice thing to do. Walk the desert with a guide from the local tribe and you will be surprised what the desert has to offer. You would have never saw it yourself. And on top of all that comes the balloon ride with a champagne breakfast at the landing spot. Go with the wind in the best early morning light and capture the breathtakingly beautiful landscape with your camera. It is an utterly amazing experience.

Ready to visit the desert? Happy desert photo 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!

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What are starbeds on African safari?


Sleeping under the stars, nicely tucked in a warm and cozy duvet, fresh air to breath, and nothing but the stars above you, that is a night in a starbed.

African safari destinations offer starbeds, mainly at places where the stars are breathtakingly beautiful to see and no lion or leopards around to eat you while sleeping. Great locations are Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert in Namibia and the Mkgadikgadi Pan in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. There are no disturbing lights of settlements, no pollution, the skies are clear and all that together lets the stars shine, that one would like to look at them for the entire night.

There is another location with starbeds on the Laikipia Plateau in Kenya called Loisaba and a few bush lodges in Botswana offer that as well. But in the bush it is only possible with guarding and in areas where is no Big Five wildlife.

It is a magical experience, an unforgettable night under the stars.

Happy star sleeping under the skies of Africa!

Ute Sonnenberg for
Image above by Dana Allen

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 are the top 10 African safari mistakes?


Howard Hillman is a New York based travel writer. He wrote thousands of pages of travel reviews and now he made the efforts to summarize the top 10 African safari mistakes.

It is quite a read, but can be helpful for your own
African safari holiday planning. Some reflections might also make you smile.

From the blog:

1. Group tours

If you book a group tour on less than a luxury or high-quality one, you risk suffering vehicle mates who incessantly talk, argue, tell bad jokes, irritatingly laugh, whatever.
Crowding - Your vehicle may be crammed. Not only will this be uncomfortable, it will obstruct your panoramic view while seated.

Lower-quality guides - Group tour driver-guides are generally less friendly, accommodating, articulate and knowledgeable than private tour safari guides. They are more likely to recite dull memorized spiels instead of spontaneously tailored commentary.

Undesirable vehicle mates - You risk suffering travellers who, for example, incessantly talk, argue, tell bad jokes, or irritatingly laugh.

2. Cost

Spending too little is a common safari mistake. Your adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so you could later regret it if you skimp. When planning your adventure, make the most of it.
Skimping - A safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so you could later regret it if you skimp. When planning your safari, make the most of it. While we’ve found that some travelers go beyond their doable budget, most do the opposite.

Rate range - Some travellers have only a hazy idea of safari rates. To give you a rough idea of them, I list below current safari-tour prices. They are the typical per-person-per-day rates based on double occupancy for the high season (and will vary by locale). Low-season prices are about 25% lower.

For packaged bare basic camping safaris, plan on US$150 to US$200.
For packaged mid-range lodge or camping safaris, count on US$250 to US$400.
For packaged luxury lodges and camps, expect a US$450 to US$650 charge.
For a private tour safari for two people, increase the packaged tour prices by 25 to 33% – and for a foursome, by 10 to 20%.

What’s included - Learn ahead of time exactly what’s included before you book. Normally, these are covered by the rate:
- Accommodations
- Meals
- Game drives
- Park fees
- Lodge/camp transfers

And these normally are not:
- Tips
- Laundry
- Alcohol
- Phone calls
- International airfare

Different safari operators have different inclusion and exclusion policies. Always check first.

3. Timing

During the middle of the day, many mammals take shelter in the bushes and tall grasses. Early morning and late afternoon are the best game-viewing times.
Best & worst - Early morning and late afternoon are the best game-viewing times. During the middle of the day, many mammals are hard to spot because they take shelter in the bushes and tall grasses.

Late sleepers & pool lovers – Safari-goers who sleep late and head off late on their morning game drives literally miss a lot of what they paid a lot to see. The same is true for those who return early from their afternoon game drives to take a dip in the lodge’s swimming pool.

Animal behavior – Although a full moon is romantic, its brightness can alter both the predator’s and prey’s normal behavior. This makes it more difficult to spot wildlife on night drives.

Going on an ill-paced safari tour -Too much, too little - Some tours cram in too much (or offer too little) game viewing in a given number of days. Analyze the itinerary.

Not going on a safari if you have only several days to spare - Better to see than not at all – A long safari is obviously better than a short one. But it is also true that a short one is better than no safari. If you are on a business trip in, for instance, Dar es Salaam and have several days to spare for a safari, go for it. You may never have the opportunity again.

4. Vehicle type

A tour in a minivan may make you feel like a sardine in a can – and your ride will be bumpy and your view, obscured.

Going on a safari in a minivan instead of in a four-wheel-drive safari vehicle: Minivan tours – One will save you money. However, you’ll feel like a sardine in a can – and your field of vision will be noticeably obscured.

Jarring ride – Moreover, a safari normally requires many several-hour-long rides down bumpy, rutted dirt roads. This will prove quite uncomfortable to passengers because while the suspension systems of Land Rovers and Land Cruisers are built to handle the jolting bounces, those of minivans are not.

Incongruous experience - Being on safari in a minivan does not create an “Out of Africa” feeling.

Driving your own vehicle on a safari or renting one: Penny wise, pound foolish – What you save in money usually does not compensate for the downsides:

Your lack of expertise – A knowledgeable guide or guide-driver is essential for getting the most out of your trip. He knows from years of experience where to find the rare animals. He teaches you insider insights. Without him, you would likely see, learn and experience comparatively little.

Misplaced focus - Your attention will be focused mainly on driving, not on looking for wildlife or catching up on your safari guidebook.

Wrong turns – You could get lost.

Emergency repairs – You could have a mechanical breakdown in the middle of nowhere.

Vehicle damage – Car damage caused by terribly bumpy, rutted roads could be costly.

5. Guides and drivers

People who drive their own vehicles miss out. Much of their attention is focused on driving, not on looking for wildlife.

Automatically blaming your guide for not spotting all the major animals - Some wildlife is not easy to spot – Wildlife doesn’t appear on cue. If the trained and sharp eyes of a nearby predator are unable to spot a camouflaged animal or bird, then how can we expect the less endowed eyes of your guide (even with binoculars) to do so?

Animal count - Don’t judge your guide just on how many different animals and birds he spotted. Wildlife is not confined in a zoo (on safari you are the one in the cage – the vehicle).

Under tipping your guide and driver

The need to tip app – Most safari guides and drivers receive meager wages. They depend on tips for their livelihood.

Tipping guidelines – Seasoned travellers tip their safari guides (or guide-drivers) approximately $7 to $20 per day per person, depending on their guides’ overall performances and the size of their parties. Tip the driver about $5 to $10 per day. If you are on a packaged tour, ask the tour operator for its recommendation.

Not considering the possibility of having a guide-driver instead of a guide and driver: Benefits either way – There are strong benefits in paying extra to have a separate guide and driver instead of a single guide-driver.

However, if there will be only 2 to 4 people in your vehicle, be at least aware of the several benefits in using a solo guide-driver:

Use of front passenger seat – The guide occupies the seat next to the driver. This is a choice place for viewing as you drive through the game reserves. If you have a combined driver-guide, you can alternate the use of that front seat with your vehicle mates.

Knowledge level – True, a guide specialist is usually (but not always) more apt to be more knowledgeable than a driver-guide. However, the difference in his knowledge may be valuable to only someone interested in learning academic details.

Cost – You will save money, sometimes a substantial amount.

6. Health and safety

Some visitors forget to pack eye drops. Carry them, particularly if you wear contact lenses. Air carries fine-particle dust.

Worrying that lions will jump into your vehicle

It’s extremely unlikely - You are more likely to be in an automobile accident back home than being attacked by a lion. Unless a lion’s traditional food (game) is scarce, it will seldom seek human meat, for various reasons, including the following:

Odor - We humans smell awful to lions – so do the gas fumes of your safari vehicle.

We’re not a menu priority - The flesh of safari animals like eland, wildebeests and wart hogs is considerably meatier and more abundant than that of humans in safari parks. It’s also tastier.

Provocation - In rare cases when a lion does attack humans in a game reserve, it is almost always because the beast was provoked or cornered.

Exception to the rule – Over the last few decades in Tanzania, lions have ended the lives of over 500 villagers, herders and farmers outside the animal-rich safari reserves. The primary reason is that the population of the animals such as eland and zebras that lions traditionally eat is quite low (due to hunting by the natives) in those human-inhabited areas. Hungry, the lions attack humans and their cattle.

Ignoring warnings

Be escorted at night – If you are instructed to call the main lodge for an employee to escort you between your cottage or tent and main lodge building at night, do it. Sometimes unescorted guests are knocked down, trampled, or at least severely frightened by elephants and other wild animals that pass through the grounds in the dark.

Stay in your vehicle - Don’t get out of your private vehicle if the reserve forbids it. You don’t know what might be lurking in the bushes.

Not bringing sunglasses, sunscreen, eyedrops and mosquito repellent: Sunglasses and sunscreen – You will be out on game drives for hours at a time – and the bare safari earth intensely reflects the sun’s rays. Protect your eyes (by wearing sunglasses that effectively block ultraviolet rays) and sunscreen (SPF rating of 15 or higher).

Eye drops – Pack them, particularly if you wear contact lenses. The safari air carries fine-particle dust.

Malaria medication – Take it. Normally, for it to be effective, you need to start the preventive medication a week or two before your arrival.

Mosquito repellant - Mosquitoes are the chief source of malaria (and dengue fever), so use a good repellent, one containing the ingredient DEET. For further protection, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts from after 3 p.m. and before 10 a.m.

Bush dinner germs

Sanitizer gel - In bush dinners and sundowners, you are in a wild setting, usually far from your lodge or camp. There will be no faucets for washing your hands – and not every event sets up a small table with soap, bowl and hot-water pitcher. So always carry a small bottle of hand-sanitizer gel.

7. Tents

Some travelers book a budget tent campsite out of a romantic notion that it would be adventuresome. If you don’t sleep well, you will doze during game drives.

Confusing the “tented camp ” with the “campsite” category

Different definitions - “Campsite” accommodations are spartan while “Tented camps” have at least a moderate level of comfort – and some are luxurious.

Staying in a basic campsite for the wrong reason

Undesirable featuress – A typical basic campsite has many drawbacks: Small, cramped tents (some with little or no standing room). Uncomfortable cots and chairs. Cold showers. Foul outhouses.

The only option for some – Such sacrifices make sense to those who truly cannot afford to spend a little more for better accommodations – it’s better to go on a basic campsite safari than none at all.

Nonsensical for others – Sadly, some people who can afford more choose a basic campsite tour out of a misguided romantic notion. They think it would be fun to “rough it”. They end up being heavy-eyed and tired during their long daily game drives, which are the underlying reason they flew thousands of miles to go on a safari.

Not realizing that tented camps can be luxurious

Mid-market tented camps – They are a world apart from a basic campsite. They are clean and comfortable – and the staff does all the chores (seldom so in basic tent camps).

Luxury tented camps - The tents are designer furnished, the service polished and professional, and the food well above par.

Being unfamiliar with walking safari camps

A memorable happening - A walking safari is one of my favorite safari experiences – and you will probably relish one, too. Consider:

You’re in the wild - As the name suggests, you hike in the wilderness populated with lions, elephants, and more. However, these outings are safer than they might seem.

Quality camping - Although you sleep in a traditional safari-style tent, they are large – and the bed is big and comfortable. Service and guide quality are luxury level.

Nightly encounter with nature - You smell the wilderness and hear the wildlife sounds at night in your tent. And sometimes passing four-legged visitors brush against your tent, magnifying the safari experience.

8. Booking

Many visitors select safari booking websites carelessly. While most websites are reliable and trustworthy, some go in and out of business, leaving customers in the lurch.

Booking without first vetting

Don’t take a risk - Never book with a budget-safari category operator or agent without first thoroughly checking it out. Incompetent and unscrupulous operators outnumber the reputable ones in that category. Book with the wrong one and you could possibly:

- Face departure delays, sometimes measured in days
- Have an inept or uncaring guide
- Ride in a crowded, run-down safari vehicle that breaks down in the middle of nowhere
- Camp out under conditions worse than promised
- Pay for extras that are normally part of a safari tour price
- Lose your investment

In contrast, virtually all high-end operators are reliable and trustworthy. The same is true for most (but not all) mid-range operators.

Best bets – It’s generally safest to book your safari tour through your local travel agent or directly with the safari operator via its website.

Safari-booking websites – Hundreds of safari-booking websites exist. Be aware that while most are reliable and trustworthy, some go in and out of business, leaving customers in the lurch. Select with care.

Deal with the best – The best safari operators are usually the most successful. Because they have healthy revenues, they can afford new vehicles, good maintenance and competent guides. Financially struggling firms are more apt to use old, ill-maintained vehicles and hire rookie guides who learn their trade literally at your expense.

Booking after you arrive

The cost of waiting – I recommend you book your safari before arriving in a safari country – and if you are going on a high-season safari, do it months ahead of time. If you don’t pre-book and the vehicles and driver-guides of all the reliable operators are fully booked (it happens), you may have to hang around town (no fun) for several days or more waiting for a tour opening. Or, in desperation, you end up booking with a disreputable outfit.

9. Clothing

Some people nowadays wear the cliche big-game-hunter safari outfit. Those who do get deserved smirks from the rest.

Wearing white, dark, blue, striking, or camouflage clothing

Fine-dust air - The safari plains are dusty. White or dark clothing quickly shows the accumulated fine dust in the air that settles on your clothes. Khaki is the best color because it is dust hued.

Avoid blue - Blue attracts the tsetse fly. Its bite is painful and could inflict dengue fever, a form of sleeping sickness.

Don’t alarm the animals - Large, asymmetrical patterned clothes can distress animals.

Shun camouflage clothes – You could be arrested in some countries for donning camouflage clothing if you are not a member of the military.

Dressing up “Hollywood safari” style

What not to wear – If you already bought a “safari wardrobe”, you might not like what I’m going to say. Nowadays, very few safari-goers wear the cliched big-game-hunter safari outfit. Those who do get deserved smirks from the rest.

What to wear – Today’s safari dress code is comfortable, everyday clothing – the kind you would wear to a casual country-club barbecue.

Not dressing for the climate

Seasons are reversed – Unlike in the northern hemisphere, June, July and August are the coldest months in the southern hemisphere.

Climate difference – The climates of Kenya and Tanzania are significantly different than South Africa’s because of geography. Kenya and Tanzania are on or near the equator while South Africa is on the southern tip of Africa.

Kenya and Tanzania – The Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Masai Mara game reserves can be chilly at night. The land rises as high as 2200 meters (over a mile) above sea level. Pack a light sweater and jacket as part of your safari clothing wardrobe.

South Africa – It will be even chillier at night in the cold months in the Kruger National Park. Dress in layers. You may need gloves and a hat in addition to a thick sweater, especially for the late evening and early morning

10. Cameras

Many visitors shoot photos when their vehicle is idling. Unless their camera or lens has a quality image stabilizer, their photos won’t be sharp. It’s best to wait until the driver turns off the engine.

Blowing safari photo ops by being unaware of these fundamentals

Best hours - Safari shots taken in the early morning and late afternoon hours usually produce the best photos of the animals and landscapes. Mid-day photos often lack vivid colors and needed contrast.

Avoid camera shake – For sharp photos, don’t shoot when your vehicle is moving on a rough road or terrain. And unless you have a good image stabilizer, don’t expect crisp photos even when the vehicle is starting or idling.

Avoid telephoto shake – You can also prevent fuzzy photos by not using a telephoto lens in greater magnification than your practiced skill in holding the camera steadily.

Camera cleanliness – Keep your camera and lens sealed when not in use – and bring a lens cleaning kit. Fine dust is normal on a safari and could cause your camera’s circuitry or mechanics to malfunction.

Know your camera – Pre-test a new camera and master its basic features before the trip. It’s too late for this education on a safari.

Memory – Take enough digital memory. My rule of thumb for safaris: Estimate how many shots you think you will take. Then, double that number – likely you’ll need it. Locally bought memory for your camera is costly and sometimes unavailable or defective.

Batteries – Bring backup batteries for your camera. And bring a battery charger and adapter that is compatible with the local current and electrical outlets.

With courtesy from travel writer
Howard Hillman.

Happy safari travel!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Can elderly and disabled people go on African safari?


African safari holidays are active holidays and can be exhausting. People with spine and neck problems should be careful as the game drives are on rough and bumpy roads. That might not be a good thing to do with such a condition. In any case, for people who are on a medical treatment it is strongly recommended to consult the physician.

In general elderly and disabled people can go on
African safari, as long as their physician does not advice otherwise. There are steps that make the getting in and out of the game vehicle easier and many lodges have wheelchairs to make the getting around in the lodge easier as well. There is always help as one is not alone and if necessary, staff can be booked for help.

But check in advance what help is available at the lodges and camps you want to book. Rather book flight transfers than road transfers. You will also be sure that the lodge has an airstrip in case of an emergency.

Luckily the amazing safari adventures are available also for people with health limitations and it gives them access to a strong healing source, the African bush with its amazing wildlife.

Happy safari going!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How are bathrooms on African safari?


This is not a silly question. The sanitary facilities on African safari holidays can be a major concern. It is essential to feel comfortable and the picture one might have from Africa can be worrying. But there is no reason to worry.

The standards of the bathrooms of
African safari accommodations are similar to western world standards and they vary depending on the accommodation class, just like anywhere else. The 5 star safari lodge has usually huge bathrooms with bathtubs, shower, outdoor shower, basins, flush toilets and lots of space. With a lower star rating the bathrooms get smaller and more essential, but they still have a shower and flush toilets.

Campsites will also be all right, but get some more information beforehand when you want to stay on public campsites. Their standards can vary quite a lot. It also matters in which African country your are and where in that country. But that affects rather the camping quality than the lodges and hotels. If you have doubts ask people who have been there or check on Tripadvisor.

There are also bathrooms that are always and everywhere the same, the big ones, the bush. They might be used while being on a game drive and going back to the lodge is not an option.

However you feel about the topic, don’t be shy and ask if you have questions. There is nothing silly about it.

Happy African safari holiday travelling!

Ute Sonnenberg for

Where can I go on self-drive African safari?


Finding your perfect African safari depends on many questions and one of them is the way of getting around. You can choose between fly-in safaris, road transfers and self-drive safaris. The latter is most likely the most adventurous and should be considered carefully.

South Africa and Namibia are the easiest countries for a self-drive
African safari. They have a good road infrastructure and self-drive in the parks is also well to do even for first time Africa visitors.

Botswana is already a bit different. While you can drive with a normal car in South Africa and Namibia, in Botswana you will need a 4x4 vehicle. Be prepared to get stuck at least once, as you drive through water and sand. Listen well to the instructions when you pickup the vehicle and take a GPS with you. Do not go alone when you are inexperienced, go rather as a group.

Self-drive in East Africa should only be done by experienced African safari travellers. The road infrastructure is not that developed as in Southern Africa, you will encounter road blocks and other obstacles while going to the nature reserves. In the reserves like for example the Masai Mara, navigation can be very difficult. A GPS will not help, because the Masai Mara has so many roads and they are not mapped on the system. Also for security reasons self-drive in Eastern Africa is not recommended for inexperienced travellers. Don’t get too brave.

If you are insecure about what you should do, talk to people with experience and they will help you making a decision that will allow you having a wonderful African safari holiday.

Happy wildlife safari holiday snapping!

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

Can I bring my iPad on African safari?


Travelling with the iPad has its advantages. The screen is bigger to search the map or the Internet or to check emails. It has also some practical benefits when being on African safari.

For photography enthusiasts it is a nice tool to upload images quickly to share them with fellow travellers, to reflect on the day and to empty your camera’s memory card. But be careful, there are only adapters for SD cards for iPad. Bigger memory cards would need more power and that does not work with the iPad.

Check before you go on your safari what exactly you can use your iPad for and rather bring a laptop when you want to work seriously with images.

Another great benefit of having the device with you is the possibility to look up information on the wildlife you are seeing and the area you are in. It can increase the educational value of your safari.

Make the best of the possibilities of modern technology and have more benefits from your travel experiences.

Happy photo safari travel!

Ute Sonnenberg for

How is Internet on African safari?


In the past this question would have had a simple answer, there is no Internet, but that has changed. Nowadays many safari lodges and camps have even Wi-Fi, but there are still camps that want to deliver the ultimate African safari experience without cell phone signal and without Internet.

Internet in safari camps and lodges is satellite based Internet and bandwidth is usually not very good. Recon that it is pretty slow when you try to use it at times when everybody is back from the game drive and wants to check the emails.

Some camps also charge for the Wi-Fi, often in packages of e.g. 30 minutes. They can be quickly gone when you have the bad luck of Internet rush hour and it is very slow. All he 5 star accommodations usually do not charge and offer Wi-Fi even in the room. Tented camps have the wireless usually in their main area.

Often cell phone signal is weak or instable. You can switch on your phone while you are on game drive (but set it on silent!) and while driving around there will be areas with good signal to fetch your messages and you can read them back in the camp.

Ask when you book your safari, if the lodge or camp has Internet, if you rely on it. Just to make sure you make the right choice.

Happy safari planning!

Ute Sonnenberg for

What is an African walking safari?


The first that comes to mind when hearing the word African safari are the images of 4x4 jeeps driving into the setting sun with guests having their photo cameras ready to photograph the incredible landscape or the Big Cat that hopefully turns up right in front of the sunset for the best of the year image.

That is one version of a safari, but there are more. Walking on
African safari is a very special way of exploring the bush and wildlife. One is not on game drives, but walks a bush trail and pitches tent every evening where the trail brought you. The luxury version of walking safaris is with a team pitching camp while you are still on your trail exploring the bush and making sure all is done with the shower ready when you arrive.

Walking in the bush means being part of the bush and wildlife will look at you as part of their hierarchy. That can lead to interesting encounters and is highly educational.

A walking safari for wildlife photography is not ideal as it is very tough to carry the heavy equipment through the bush, but a bush walk can also be done as part of a regular safari, just to get the feeling.

Happy safari walking!

Ute Sonnenberg for

What animal interactions can I book on my African safari?


Going on African safari means in the first place that you will be on game drives to see the wildlife in the African bush and if you are a photography enthusiast, to photograph the Big 5. You will be on the game drive vehicle, a 4x4 jeep, and the animals are roaming free in the wild and they are wild. If you would step out of the vehicle they would either run off or attack when they feel threatened. That is not the animal interaction this post is about.

As a part of your
African safari you can visit wildlife sanctuaries where you can learn about conservation and experience animal interactions. That can vary from an elephant ride to being with cheetah or endangered birds. The choice of the sanctuary should be made carefully as there are different levels in the commercialization of the experiences. Look out for the more conservation serious places where they mainly take care of injured animals and work with the endangered species.

It is of great educational value to learn about the wildlife, the efforts to protect it and the help you might be able to provide, and if its only by spreading the word through your images. And of course, it is fantastic to touch an elephant or even ride on one.

Happy wildlife conservation interaction!

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How is Christmas on African safari?


Christmas in the northern hemisphere means winter, in many countries snow and cold, short days, candlelight, lots of food and time with the family. Celebrating Christmas on African safari means in many ways the same, being with the family, lots of food, candlelight, but very different weather and surroundings.

The bush lodges and camps do great efforts to make Christmas in the bush special. They often organize surprises like cultural dances, choirs and special menus. Candles are lit and the places are nicely decorated. It might sound like Christmas at home, but it is not the same. Celebrating Christmas in the middle of the African savanna, surrounded by the Big 5, with the sound of the bush while having your Christmas dinner is very different. For some it is the ultimate place to be for Christmas and others suddenly miss home, the snow and the cold. It is a deeply emotional experience and even the most skeptical admit that there is nothing to top a leopard calling in the surrounding bush while you enjoy your Christmas dinner.

Happy merry safari Christmas! Imagine the pictures!

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What clothes should I wear on African safari?


Planning your perfect African safari comes with practical questions. They go from what kind of safari accommodation works for me, what mode of transport is convenient, what health precautions do I need to take, what photo camera equipment to I need to bring to eventually what to wear on safari.

The choice of clothes for your
African safari is not the least concern. The choice is crucial to feel comfortable in all possible situations. Get information on the weather at your time of travel. In general it is good to work in layers, from t-shirt over fleece to light rain jacket or even warm jacket for winter in southern Africa. Mind the colors. Choose natural colors like khaki and beige. Flashy colors attract insects and scare off wildlife. Bring a sunhat and closed shoes for on the game drives and flip flops for in the camp. Choose the micro fiber fabrics for really hot areas and rainy times. They are light, very pleasant when its hot and dry very quickly when they get wet.

Don’t worry about evening clothes. On safari the safari outfit is good for everything. You only might like to change into something different once a day, just to feel different. And yes, bring your swimming costume. Most of the camps have a pool!
You can always go to a good safari outfitter. Their staff is usually very knowledgeable and they have the right clothes to feel comfortable on African safari holidays.

Happy safari travel and wildlife snapping!

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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!

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What makes an African safari special?


People who have been on African safari say, that there is something special about it and that they want to come back again and again. What is it that makes people feel like that, what is it that gets under your skin and doesn’t let you go anymore?

Maybe it is that untamed nature, the free roaming wildlife, that driving a road and suddenly comes an elephant or looks a giraffe at you. That feeling of being part of all that, connected as we probably were thousands of years ago. Animals everywhere and not concrete and traffic, silence and real darkness, exposed to the elements and a fascinating way of living in comfortable safari camp in the middle of nowhere. Maybe the way we live when being on
African safari is the way we would naturally live, if there weren’t the demands of nowadays times. Maybe we feel like being back to our source and cannot get enough from drinking from it as it makes us strong and energetic.
However, there is a magic when standing on the same ground as the leopard 60 meters away from you, who decided to walk through your bush dinner arrangements, ignoring everyone just like cats do. It makes you feel real and it is almost touching that nature just accepts you as part of it and doesn’t mind that you usually sit indoors behind a computer.

Maybe that is also a reason people love to photograph a lot during safaris, to capture just that feeling and moment. As a guest said only recently, every time I see the pictures from my safari they make me smile.

Happy photo safari smiles.

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Can my African safari accommodation be outside the park?


When you want to go on African safari to the Kruger National Park you will picture yourself in a lodge or safari camp inside the park. That is the desired accommodation as one is already in the bush, ready to depart on game drives. It is also very exciting to stay in an unfenced camp with the Big 5 around. Wildlife photography lovers will walk with their camera always ready to shoot and there is nothing nicer than watching elephants bathing in front of your veranda. But there can be a good reason to choose the accommodation outside the park. Budget.

The safari accommodations outside the park cost significant less than inside the park. In the example of Kruger Park there are plenty of guesthouses and hotels just a short drive away from park entrance gates. The downside to it is, that the drives go over tar roads and that there are no elephants bathing in the pool, but it saves money and the game drives are conducted inside the park with open 4x4 vehicles.

So, yes, you can stay in accommodation outside the park on
African safaris and it is still be a lovely safari holiday. By doing that you might give yourself a couple of extra days and maybe even a beach extension or a visit to Cape Town.

For photography enthusiasts the extra available budget might go into extra photography gear, to come home with even more beautiful wildlife images.

Happy photography safari travelling!

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How to find my perfect African safari for Christmas


It is less than two months to Christmas and if you start now planning your African safari for the festive season, you might have a problem.

Planning your perfect
African safari means that you have clear ideas what you want to experience, how you want your camp to look like and which safari destination you want to visit. You put lots of time and efforts into research and now your vision should become real. There is only one problem; you are late. Christmas is peak season and availabilities are tight. If you want your safari to be away from the crowds in the authentic setting of a small luxury tented camp you will have to adjust your expectations. The small camps and lodges are fully booked. You might find here and there a private mobile camping safari available, but that will come at a cost. Otherwise getting space at a bigger lodge is already luck.

So, what to do now? Which parts of your safari planning are flexible and less important? What do you really need to be happy on your African safari? If you are a photography lover you might find it important to have space and privacy on game drives and you can cope with accommodation at a bigger lodge. That opens the option for travelling with a private vehicle, using it also for the game drives and staying at a bigger lodge or camp, where you can easier find availabilities.

If you want to see certain sights like for example the Ngorongoro Crater, but the three lodges at its rim are fully booked, consider taking accommodation outside the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area and drive into the park every day. That can be done easily, as there are accommodations available just a short drive away. The same method can be applied when the accommodations available inside the park are too pricy with their peak season rates.

Stick to the core of what is really important to you, the part that makes your safari perfect and try to be flexible with the rest.
If the adjustments work, go for it and have a magical Christmas in the bush. If not, postpone your trip, but probably not as long as to Christmas next year.

Happy wildlife Christmas snapping!

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How to create my dream African safari


The times that an African safari was only a dream for many people have passed. Transport has become easy and airfares have become affordable. The African countries have developed and even self-drive is possible on a couple of top-rated safari destinations. The African safari dream can come true!

That does not mean all is easy now. While dreaming, so many dreams have evolved and so many destinations are desired, that panic can hit when the actual moment has come to go. How to put all the dreams into 2 weeks safari? When the available budget is high enough one could see all great wildlife areas in Southern and East Africa within the two weeks, just by flying everywhere, but it would not honor the great places at all. There needs to be time at every destination to really tune in and enjoy it. Choices need to be made. Go for the most recurring safari dream and start researching about the destination and the available options. Read, talk to people, search the Internet and often coincidents help to make the decision. The lodge that is just not available at your travel date or the flight connection that is fully booked. You might get help that way in your decision process and the choices that fall easy into place are most likely the ones that work best for your dream
African safari. Don’t try to fight them, embrace them. Use images from destinations, lodges and camps to reassure yourself in your decision. You look with your heart at the images, the same source as your dreams, so you will feel what the right choice is.

From there it is really easy. Book, go and enjoy. Live your African safari dream and get the pictures you always wanted.

Happy safari wildlife snapping!

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5 Top-Rated African Safari Destinations in Kenya


Kenya is mostly known for the Masai Mara and the Great Migration of the wildebeest. The Masai Mara is definitely a top-rated African safari destination and not only for Kenya, but for entire safari Africa. The Great Plains of the Masai Mara are the northern tip of the Serengeti and host to the probably most spectacular event on the African safari calendar, the Mara River crossing of the big herds.

A wonderful
African photographic safari destination is also Amboseli National Park. Amboseli lies on the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro and is home to a big elephant population. The arid moon like landscape with its swamps and as backdrop Mt. Kilimanjaro is fantastic for photography.

From Amboseli it is only a short drive to Tsavo West National Park, a volcano landscape with stunning views on Mt. Kilimanjaro, intense colors of the soil, wide open views and awesome wildlife. The volcano ground and mountains create the special character of Tsavo West and it can be very hot, making one feel like being in an oven.

Divided only by the road Nairobi – Mombasa, Tsavo East is even bigger and a great home for the wildlife. Tsavo East does not have many roads and the wildlife has therefore plenty of undisturbed space. That does not mean that the sightings are not good, they are, as the park is wildlife rich and the roads that are there are just enough. Tsavo East is also the location where the elephant orphans from the Scheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi are released into the wild.

Another top-rated safari destination in Kenya is Samburu, far away from Tsavo in the northern part of Kenya. Samburu is also host to a big elephant population and a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. Due to its location north of the equator, it has several species of wildlife that are not found south of the equator. Samburu is fascinating and intensely beautiful, however it can also be an intense and tough safari experience.

All mentioned safari destinations are ideal for wildlife photography, offering great sightings and stunning landscapes. At least one of them should be part of every Kenyan safari itinerary.

Happy wildlife snapping!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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How to find top-rated African safari destinations


That might sound like a silly question in times of Internet, but it might not. How do you know what makes an African safari destination top-rated?

There is Trip Advisor as a source of information where people post their feedback on accommodations, overall travel experiences and tourist attractions. The feedback you find there can give you an idea about the quality of the accommodation, but also about the overall experience on the game drives. People often share what animals they saw and when you see that most of the guests had great wildlife sightings, it should be a good safari destination.

Another valuable source of information are books and travel guides. Professional travel writers write them with lots of experience in all parts of Africa and make them a reliable recourse for your travel planning.

You can also search blogs for information on African safari destinations and you will find professional and hobby travel writers with useful information and loads of images.

Last but not least talk to people. Find people that have been to Africa and also talk to your tour operator. Safari tour operators have the insider knowledge and experience to be good advisors. Have also a look at their websites for guest feedback. It will give you an idea what safaris were favored and loved by the guests.

When you taped into all these different resources and all talk in praise about the same destinations, then you know what the top-rated
African safari destinations are and you can be assured of a great photographic safari.

Happy wildlife photo safari planning!

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How can I do my African safari bookings?


How you do you African safari bookings depends on how you found your perfect safari holiday. It is one way to go via the Internet and find your safari tour operator there or the traditional way via the travel agent close to home. Lets focus on the online safari booking as it is what we do nowadays from our computer and in the future probably from our smart watch.

When you found your
African safari, talk to the tour operator how the procedure is and how you can pay. Use also the Internet to google a bit about the operator to see what else is on the net about them. When you intent to pay with credit card, ask for the transaction fees. They can be quite high depending on the payment facility provider. Rather go for wire transfer as it is safe and has only small transaction fees. Be kind and don’t let the other side pay your bank fees. They will have to pay their own to.

When the financial part is settled check your insurance. Do you have travel insurance and what does it cover? A medical cover is absolutely recommended and so is the cancellation cover. Many people have their travel insurance covered with their credit card. Check what conditions come with it and if you need to make at least a part of the safari payment with the card to have coverage.

Travelling to Africa requires vaccinations and precautions e.g. for malaria. Talk to your general practitioner for advice. Get yourself repellent to be protected when the bugs come out in the evening and make sure you have protection form the sun.

When all that is set and you have your voucher in your hand, it is time to focus on the more important things like what to wear on safari, what photo equipment to bring, what and how to pack and more of these essential questions. Now enjoy the fun of safari travel!

Happy wildlife photo snapping!

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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!

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How to find my perfect African safari tour operator


Going on African safari is a different venture than visiting the Costa Del Sol or Paris. You will travel to wildlife areas where the Big Five roam free, the camps have no fences and different rules of survival apply than in the western world. This kind of travel requires an operator that understands what you are looking for and has also a feeling which mode of travel will suit you best. When you haven’t been to Africa you will not know how you will feel in the bush, with the climate, the animals and the accommodations. To avoid that you feel uncomfortable and unhappy during your African safari holiday, you should do efforts to find the perfect operator for your needs.

A starting point is Google search. About a million safari tour operators will roll out. Now have a look at their websites, also the ones on page 2 and 3. You will feel immediately if the website appeals to you or not. Dismiss the ones that don’t appeal to you and stick to the ones that do. Now read a bit on the websites what kind of tours they offer and where. If this is a match, send an email with the questions and ideas you have. Now wait for the reply. If that takes too long (more than 2 days), it might not be a good sign. When the response arrives look at it the same way as with the websites. You will feel rather than reason how the operator is a match for you. Trust your gut! Just like you do with people you meet in person. Ask to be called. Chat on the phone and ask your question. By doing that you will know even better how to decide.

You might end up booking your safari with the one that did not have the cheapest tour, but it feels right. And it usually proofs to be right.

And don’t forget your special interests like wildlife photography. Not all tour operators that say on their website they are great in photographic safaris, also are. Some only follow the fashion and demand of the market although they do not have the specific knowledge or experience to be the right partner.

However, no worries, trust your intuition and you will do great.

Happy photo safari snapping!

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What should I know about health on African Safari tours


When you go on African safaris you should talk to your physician for advice with regards to malaria protection and necessary vaccinations. Pregnant women can go on safari even without vaccinations and malaria protection as long as they visit non yellow fever and malaria free areas.

Malaria protection is always a discussion issue as there is no guaranteed protection and the tablets available can have unpleasant side effects. Choosing the right travel time and using repellents can be just as good. It is a personal question and it is your personal decision what to do.

In most of the lodges and camps the water from the tap is no drinking water. You will be advised by he lodge. Use the bottled water provided by the lodges to avoid stomach problems that can spoil your safari. If you want to be absolutely sure you do not get in touch with the water, do eat only cooked vegetable.

Some guests take a sip of whisky in the morning for the stomach, but I’m not sure, if this is the only reason for having a drink.

However, being on safari is great and you should thoroughly enjoy it. The food is usually very good and plenty.

Happy wildlife photo safari snapping!

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What is a top-rated safari country


A top-rated safari country has a great variety of safari circuits, offers safaris for all interests and budgets, has beach extensions, provides great wildlife sightings and has something nobody else has.

All that applies for example to Tanzania. It got its popular northern circuit with the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti and off the beaten track safaris in Selous and Ruaha. It has the Great Migration including the calving of the wildebeest and great wildlife viewing in the other parks. It got the best chimp tracking in Africa in Gombe and Mahale Mountains and fabulous beach extensions on Zanzibar. The only negative to say about Tanzania is, that it is not possible to put all that in one safari. One needs to come back and back to see it all, which is not an unpleasant thing to do.

Similar lists can be made for other destinations like Botswana and Kenya. Look out for them and find the African safari tour that includes all highlights you want to see.

Happy wildlife photography travel snapping!

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The non-material resources you need for a great safari


Besides the necessary funds to go on photographic safari, some photo equipment and the post-production equipment, there are other meaningful resources for a successful wildlife photography safari.

Make sure you do the right planning. Is the routing all right to avoid time loss? Do I visit the right safari parks to see what I want to see? Am I trying to do too much within the time I have? Read about it in books and on the Internet. Talk to people with experience and most of all don’t push yourself too far in terms of what you can all do on one safari day. Relax. A day on safari is not like a day rushing around in a city. You can rush, but it will not get you anywhere. Time is different in the bush.

Read some books on photography to learn about wildlife photography and the special conditions in the African savanna. Don’t get carried away with things you think you will absolutely need on safari. Less is more. Just bring the right things and often you have them already.

If you can, take a day rest before going into the bush. That will make you enjoying your photo safari from the very first moment.

Happy safari snapping!

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