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African Safari Advice
  
 
Steven Campbel
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · African Safari Advice


I know at least a couple of members here have gone on an African Safari (is this even the right term?). Essentially a organized trip to an area of Africa to observe and of course photograph the various exotic animals in thier natural habitat. This is a dream trip of mine and although it won't happen this year or maybe next, it's something I want to look into, plan for or even see if it is realistic. No doubt it's an expensive trip.

How does one go about planning for such a trip? Who are the most reputable guides, companies etc that lead these trips? How long should you put aside? Is this the best use of my time and money for such a trip, or are there better, more affordable alternatives for wildlife photography in other countries or areas?



Jul 04, 2014 at 04:21 PM
Taoguy
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · African Safari Advice


My first trip to Africa was on business, non photo related in 1997. Have returned several times for photography. As far as planning the trip, I'd suggest you first decide what type of trip you would most enjoy. The cost will be expensive for sure, so you want to get as specific as possible as to the type of photography you want to shoot.

Most people take the safaris based on the large mammals. I know several who have traveled to Africa just for bird photography. In the past few years I have been more fascinated with the people of Africa and their stories.
Your planning should be specific to your desired subjects.

2nd, the air fair will be a substantial cost, get your dates determined as far in advance as you can. Last year I traveled to Uganda, booked and bought my tickets 6 months in advance and a friend who was going along had to cancel 60 days out. I have a friend who could join me at the last minute and since the air ticket was not transferrable his ticket cost 75% more than mine.

Reputable guides. Much of this depends on your age, skill set, physical condition, sense of adventure and bank account. My first trip was business, we finished early and spent 9 days in the bush and traveling the roads of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia. Fun but traveled too fast, no guides but got an idea of what another trip might offer.

There are many well known U.S. guides, I've used only one and the safari company (from Africa) was really good, the U.S. guide/photographer just so-so, I would not use again. I would search the web for local guides/companies in the country I was going to, there are many and many very good. Make sure it is a photography oriented trip. Means early mornings and late evenings. I see so many pics from mid day trips, flat light, the critters hunted all night, laying around sleeping mid day.

Its very hard to travel to Africa and not allow at least ten days for one trip, longer is better. I've done a 9 day trip after a specific shot. You end up losing two to three days traveling. Selecting your primary interest helps here.

How much $$$? I always leave a day or two early than any beginning workshop/safari. I also leave a day after or so, get my gear cleaned up, files adjusted/checked, and a little down time. That costs extra. I also scout for the next trip potential. The $$ will be directly related to the number of days you stay in the country. Will you be camping or staying in hotels? I do both but tend to stay in good hotels when I come in from trekking.

I have kind of become obsessed with three mammals in the past five years, Polar Bear, Brown Bear, and Chimpanzee's have climbed on my list above the gorilla. Least expensive is the brown bear, lots of camping but it took me years to find this guide and the type of trip I like. Polar bear trips are just great again not cheap but incredible trips. The chimpanzee trip I took last year was focused on the gorilla and ended up it was the chimpanzee that garnered my attention and I will return either late this year or next for the chimpanzee and the people of Uganda. This September I'll be spending two and a half weeks with the brown bear and then maybe I'll sneak over to Uganda in November if all works out.

As I stated earlier there are many great guides/safari companies, two that come to mind, I have not used but have met with people who used them. Most of the time the schedules did not work for me. If my schedule permits I may use either in the future.

Andy Biggs - http://www.andybiggs.com
Joe & Mary McDonald - http://hoothollow.com/index.html

This will give you a start, half the fun is in the planning. Feel free to PM me if you have more specific questions.
Good luck with your planning.
Gerard



Jul 08, 2014 at 04:11 PM
Steven Campbel
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · African Safari Advice


Thanks Gerard! I saw reference to a company, C4 Imaging and Safaris. I checked thier site and it seemed like a good outfit. They do a number of different type of trips, with camps right on reserves. The price isn't cheap, but I didn't think it would be. That being said I thought it was reasonable. Air fare is extra. This is a trip I want to do someday, so getting the basic information is the start.


Jul 09, 2014 at 11:58 AM
Taoguy
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · African Safari Advice


Steven.

Their prices are in line with most, they seem to have a good website with a lot of info. Their hides would be a joy to spend a few days in, I've never seen anything quite like that although I have been permitted to travel on some privately owned land that neighbors Kruger some years ago and they had lodges where the anilmal approached quite close. They also seem keenly aware of the needs of a photographer vs a tourist who gets bored after ten minutes in one place.

Hopefully you'll get the chance soon, everyone should see Africa at least once.

Good luck,
Gerard



Jul 09, 2014 at 05:57 PM
 

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Steven Campbel
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · African Safari Advice


Taoguy wrote:
Steven.

Their prices are in line with most, they seem to have a good website with a lot of info. Their hides would be a joy to spend a few days in, I've never seen anything quite like that although I have been permitted to travel on some privately owned land that neighbors Kruger some years ago and they had lodges where the anilmal approached quite close. They also seem keenly aware of the needs of a photographer vs a tourist who gets bored after ten minutes in one place.

Hopefully you'll get the chance soon, everyone should see Africa at least
...Show more

Thanks! I plan on getting there someday, hopefully sooner than later. I leave for a dream trip trip to France and Belgium in a few weeks to visit WW1 battlefield sites. Once I recover from that I will start to take a harder look at Africa.



Jul 21, 2014 at 11:29 AM
Taoguy
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · African Safari Advice


I'm envious of your trip. I've said for years I wanted to visit some of the WW II battlefield sites, Normandy without the crowd, etc. My dad was at Normandy WW II. WW I less publicized but would certainly be a worthy trip. Good luck and post a few on your return. Safe travels..
Gerard



Jul 22, 2014 at 12:16 AM
nma
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · African Safari Advice


Take a look at Access2Tanzania, a company with an office in Minn. US and Tanzanian ownership. We hired a driver-guide and the trip was designed with our wishes in mind, particularly my photography. The guide knew nothing of photography but luckily I knew how to push the shutter.

We were there in mid to late January 2012. We got very close to the animals. Maningo was our driver-guide. He was very careful and tried to answer our questions. He was very knowledgeable about the birds and animals. I would assume that other A2T guide-drivers have similar knowledge.

I think we saw and photographed many examples of the animals of Tanzania, not just one or two. Quite a few nice landscape shots, too. Most surprising to me was my fascination with the people of Tanzania. Clearly, many did not want to be photographed but I was able to make quite a few interesting pictures of the vivid street scenes.

This will be a much cheaper alternative than a photo tour. It the level of accommodation is up to you.



Jul 23, 2014 at 06:25 PM
Jmadhavan
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · African Safari Advice


Hi Steve,
I have been to Africa 6 times. I have used Thomson Safaris, based out of Boston, MA. They deal with Tanzania. They are a very good company and are quite reasonable. The best way to arrange a trip would be to do some reading to get a general idea of where you want to go and what you would like to see and then call the company and talk to one of the experts to finalize the details.
Hope you have a great trip. PM me if you decide to go with Thomson.
Jas



Jul 29, 2014 at 11:46 PM





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