Kruger and Southern Africa Photo Safari by Private Plane

A 13 day trip to Botswana & South Africa 
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Photos of Africa evoke emotions ranging from desire and astonishment to mystique and charm. This specialist safari will provide you with a vantage point to inspire feelings through photography and create images that celebrate the power of nature and its attention to detail. Private planes offer aerial photos and game drives that create expressive close-ups as your expert guides will take you to elusive sights. With six days in Kruger and five in Botswana, you will connect Africa's natural wonders from all the angles. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Lilac Breasted Roller in Kruger National Park.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Johannesburg, Soweto, Velekazi Street, Mala Mala Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, Greater Kruger, Mashatu Game Reserve, Okavango Delta, Vumburu Plains, Kalahari Desert, Moremi Game Reserve, Livingstone, Victoria Falls

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Johannesburg – Arrival and the Colors of Soweto

Arrive at O. R. Tambo International in Johannesburg where you will be greeted by your guide and transferred to the boutique-style Fairlawns Hotel & Spa. Your morning arrival will free up your afternoon to photograph another side of wild Africa. Head into the township of Soweto to capture the colors as industrial towers laden in graffiti and political murals cover the surrounding houses. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu were neighbors here, and you will make a stop at their houses on Vilakazi Street, which continues to be a vibrant cultural hub. Energy abounds, and you will not be short of locals posing for the camera. Return to your hotel to enjoy a spa treatment and relax at the pool before your welcome dinner with your photography guide.

What's Included: accommodation at Fairlawns Hotels & Spa, transfer, tour, spa, lunch, dinner

Day 2: Mala Mala Game Reserve – First Photographic Big Five Safari

Your private charter aircraft will take you from Johannesburg to Mala Mala Game Reserve, where you will be greeted by the evocative atmosphere of the savannah. Elephants hoot and buffalos grunt as you transfer to your lodge, while a mystical scent suggestively reflects the wild. Mala Mala shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park and is one of Africa's most celebrated private reserves. Wildlife moves freely between park and reserve, and Mala Mala has a legendary abundance of leopards. Most importantly, it has relaxed rules so you can enjoy the premier vantage point. In Mala Mala, your driver can take you off the trails, meaning you are set up in perfect position, rather than just the best position available on a marked trail.

Today's drives will help you to get used to the conditions and photograph a whole host of animals. Your photography guide will provide tips and guidance as you explore some of the subtleties behind the images. Learn how to better bring out the features of hippos in the glistening water, and refine your skills as you capture the deep-set and dark eyes of baboons.  Find the ideal settings as javelins of light are sporadically piercing the woodland canopy. Africa has very unusual conditions and it will take a little while to get used to them, which is why a photography safari needs to be over a week in length. Your subjects will not pose, and you will need to mix patience with skill to get the best shots alongside your photography guide.

What's Included: accommodation at Mala Mala Sable Camp, safari, private aerial charter, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Mala Mala Game Reserve – Photographing Kruger's Leopards

Photographing the most revered of animals requires you to delve deep into their world. Today you will be focused on the leopards, the most elusive of the Big Five and an animal that can create the most magical of safari images. A local tracker will assist, and you will follow the landscape's clues to track the prints into the trees and seek out the spotted hunter in its lair. The camouflage is eventually betrayed, and you will get a quick glimpse. Your driver will bring you closer, and you will hone in on the scene with a set of piercing blue eyes juxtaposed with the gloom of the upper canopy. Early-morning and late-afternoon are not just the best time for photography as they are also when you will spot leopards on the move. Stay patient, and by understanding the leopard you can predict where she is going to go, meaning you are in position for the perfect images.

Good wildlife photography requires a different type of safari. Rather than moving around a succession of sights, you will focus on a few compelling scenes and take your time to find the best angle. Your time out is not about having a thousand “okay” photos; rather it is about snapping images as if for a magazine cover. Assisting in the search for a good place to shoot is your customized game vehicle. Elevated seats provide comfort while clamps and plates ensure stability for your telephoto shots. The idea is that the camera is secure, but there is flexibility that allows you to respond quickly to what is happening in the wild.

What's Included: accommodation at Mala Mala Sable Camp, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: MalaMala Game Reserve – Photographing Animals on Foot

Exploring on foot will bring you a new intimacy and an alternative vantage point. You will need to move slowly and follow the trackers in gently approaching the herds. You will stop, take a few photos, gauge the reaction, and then creep a little closer. Zebras delight in the lens with emotion, pairs resting their heads on each other's backs. Kudu and springbok skip past, and you will find a herd of wildebeest on an open plain, juxtaposed with a backdrop of acacia trees. Even elephant and giraffe are encountered, the photos from below helping to portray a true understanding of their size. Many photographers enjoy the freedom of the walk, the camera ready on a monopod as the landscape slowly opens up. You will stick to open areas away from the presence of predators and find your way around the plains.

As you would expect, activities are designed to maximize the best light. Set off at dawn and stay out until you would like to return. Rest at the camp through the middle of the day, returning to the savannah in the late afternoon and staying out until dusk. For these 13 days, you will be on a real adventure and will welcome the luxury of your accommodation. Expect exceptionally appointed suites with views over the savannah as you will just open the curtains and there will likely be wildlife. Plunge pools and spa treatments help to clear your mind and dining beneath the stars is a fitting end to any day in the wild.

What's Included: accommodation at Mala Mala Sable Camp, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 5 – 7: Greater Kruger – Kruger Photography Safari by Private Plane

Kruger's scale seems to know no boundaries. From the Lebombo Mountains of the east to the meandering rivers of the west, this savannah stretches further than some U. S. States and a large handful of European countries. The region sub-divides into discreet habitats, each a favored home for a different mammal. The landscape and its scope is beautifully captured on an aerial safari as your private plane will be able to swoop into the furthest reach of the park to land on dusty airstrips that are far from the typical tourist trail. Nomadic elephants on the move, rhinos scattered around a waterhole, buffalo herds moving on mass, a river that winds through a canyon. These are the images that celebrate the enormity of Africa and the endless abundance of the savannah.

Each evening, you will discuss the next day's route with your pilot and your guide. Your base will be the Indlovu River Lodge in the west of the park, but your aircraft has a range that can reach the eastern corners of the ecosystem. At Mala Mal, you explored a compact area and used the guides' knowledge of resident animals. In contrast, these three days are an expedition, a journey into the unknown that reacts to the beauty of the landscape. Touch down on airstrips and then continue in a safari vehicle, usually heading out to one of Kruger's specialist photography hides.

Sunken below or hidden above a waterhole, these hides provide incredible close-ups. Swap your wide-angle for the telephoto, and then wait patiently for what comes past. A giraffe leaning over to drink, baby monkeys cradled in a mother's bosom or hyenas just a few meters away with a look of menace etched across their face. The Indlovu River Lodge is an ideal base as it has its own photography hides, positioned for the magical sunset light of the bush. You will return from your expedition around midday, enjoy a leisurely lunch and relax at the lodge, before settling into your hide for the late-afternoon wildlife show.

What's Included: accommodation at Indlovu River Lodge, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 8 – 9: Mashatu Game Reserve – Desert Safari Landscape and Specialist Photography Hides

Flying north in your private plane you will cross the unmarked border into Botswana and enter the surreal world of the Kalahari. The air is dry, dusty, and evocatively influenced by the rising sun. Dawn and dusk cast mystical tones across the landscape, creating photos of the glowing desert and its animals. New icons mark the land with massive baobab trees that stand like sentinels and give the desert its longevity. A photo of a nomadic animal and the baobab, especially at dusk, is one of Africa's most enduring images. Mashatu provides an excellent contrast to Kruger, warranting its two-day inclusion here. You will enjoy a classic desert savannah landscape in miniature. Unlike the epic scale of the Central Kalahari, you will not need to spend all day traveling to reach the game-rich areas. In this private reserve, you can capture the best of the Kalahari within easy reach of the lodge.

For this photography safari, it is recommended that you have a 12 - 30mm wide angle lens, a mid-range 70 - 400mm telephoto, plus a long telephoto of up to 600mm. Hides and vehicles have tailored clamps, so you will not need to bring heavy tripods, although a monopod is great for when you are exploring on foot. These two days use sunken photographic hides to capture predators like cheetah and leopard, along with unusual species like aardwolf, bat-eared fox, African wild cat, and black-backed jackals. There is also an impressive mix of birdlife to enjoy, with some 350 species that flutter about the reserve.

What's Included: accommodation at Mashatu Lodge, private aerial charter, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 10 – 12: Okavango Delta – Okavango Photography Safari by Private Plane

Vibrant colors are painted across the Okavango with the yellow of the grasslands dappled with impala, kudu, zebra, wildebeest, and sable antelope. Ivory palm trees stand tall above the savannah, their shocks of green a bright focal point to any photo. Papyrus-filtered rivers are covered in hippos, large pods that grunt and barge their way through the day. Islands stand isolated in the flooding while red sunset skies stand above stretches of thick mopane woodland while the blue with the waters of the world's greatest oasis always attracts the camera. The Okavango is a land of abundance, and the colors provide endless rolls of wildlife photos.

Much as in the Kruger, you will use a private plane to reach the contrasting areas of the landscape, from the woodlands and marshes of the east to the flooded areas of the west. Plan your day's photography around your interests. You may want to focus on the battles between predator and prey or the antics of hippos.  You may prefer to seek out the rare species like the sitatunga, or any of the Okavango's over 400 bird species. After touching down at the airstrips, you will usually continue by boat, either a motorboat or traditional mokoro canoe. Staying along the water allows you to photograph the heart of the Delta and create a storyline of images of how water brings life to the desert. Water travel is also quiet, and you can cruise very close to a whole host of animals, including the iconic yawning hippos.

Your base for these three days is the Vumburu Plains, where buffalo herds and lion pride clash on an almost daily basis. These game-rich plains bring the safari to you and offer compelling photos directly from your verandah. Located in the north of the Delta, this is also a very flexible base for your aerial adventure. Photographing Kruger helps to narrate a classic image of Africa with a variety of animals that meet on a landscape that reflects your preconceptions. Okavango Delta is the surprising side of the continent, where water flows and the abundance is almost embarrassing. Combining the two not only helps you to encounter the full array of safari scenes, but you can piece them together to see the beautiful jigsaw of a continent untamed.

What's Included: accommodation at Little Vumbura Camp, private aerial charter, specialist photography safari.

Day 13: Okavango to Livingstone – Victoria Falls From the Air and Departure

Your last day will take you to Livingstone for your connection with your intercontinental departure. On the way there, you will soar over the forests of Chobe and point your lens down at the world's largest elephant population, with some brilliant shots coming from the bends of the Chobe River. Then you will swoop past the Zambezi River and admire Victoria Falls from the air, the epic cascade an enchanting photo when shot from above. With the spray rising and the colors blurring across the landscape, these falls make an endearing final stop on the photography safari.

What's Included: private aerial charter, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch 

Price

Starting Price 

$14,295
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.