At African Impact in the Greater Kruger area of South Africa, we run host of photographic products ranging from volunteer projects, internships and professional guest safaris. One of the latter options, the Two-Week Photographic Experience project, is a trip that runs every season for two weeks and is all about opportunity and development. There’s no workshop, no introduction to cameras or presentations on the exposure triangle – it’s spending as much time out in the field as we can, broadening our scope for photographic opportunities with active mentorship and guidance from myself on the vehicle.
In February I had three guests; Jake, Ian and Jeannine. Jake was a retuning guest, Ian was a proficient photographer and his wife, Jeannine, although wasn’t particularly interested in photography, she was however very keen to learn about the wildlife we would be seeing. They were a fantastic trio to be around and showed interest in everything we came across from different birds of all sizes, insects and of course the bigger mammals and predators.
One of the biggest highlights of the trip is being able to visit Kruger National Park, which we do through Tambuzi Safaris – a third party operator who specialise in trips to the Kruger. We were lucky enough to be guided on all visits by the owners themselves, Gert Kruger and Isabel De Clercq, who always offer nothing short of a fantastic and informative experience. Whilst Tambuzi might not be strictly focused on photography, their expertise and mailable approach to pleasing the needs of their guests meant that it was a breeze to set up my guests with the best angles and opportunities that nature was throwing our way.
The first trip was full of life, with migratory birds perched on every bush and constantly flying overhead – leading to frantic efforts to ID and photograph them. We checked off plenty of general game; zebras, impalas, nyala, giraffe, buffalo, thousands of elephants and some spotted hyenas – a photographer and nature enthusiast’s paradise! Whilst heading back from a full day in the Kruger National Park, we stumbled across a rather special moment – or rather, a moment that had happened just merely a couple of minutes ago. An elephant had just been born, and just besides the road there lay a baby, covered in blood, with its protective mother standing guard. We watched as the baby took its first steps; stumbling from time to time as it adjusted to its own weight and use of legs. Photographically it was near impossible, but o come across such a sighting is something you’d never normally hope for but is exactly the reason why so many of us are addicted to game drives and being out in the bush amidst wildlife – you simply can never predict what’s around the next bend… and that was further confirmed when we bumped into a pack of African wild dogs just minutes before exiting the gate.
As the first trip had been a hot and plentiful, what would follow on the other two trips couldn’t be anything but the opposite. The summer rains came down in full force and overnight saw dry river beds turn into flowing rivers. Lucky for us, we were out in the rain for both the following trips – resulting in a rather cold and soggy time but resulted in some of the best photography from the trip. Everything had a new edge to it, with the rain bringing out new textures in the animals and a new dynamic quality to everything we had seen previously drenched in sunlight. In particular, a sighting of baboons, soaked in the onslaught of rain, brought out the most emotive images I’ve personally seen in a long time. As the troop casually played and caused noisy havoc, a mother grasped tightly to her baby as the rain drops continued to pummel them. Despair, sadness and misery jump off the image, and you can’t help but to connect to the duo in such an empathetic and powerful way.
Despite being the photographic lead, Gert and Isabel proved fundamental in giving my guests the best possible experience and would often stop and point out things most people would commonly overlook – and that’s exactly what you want from a guide. They would happily position to the needs of the photographers and their information further highlighted the incredible fauna we were around. Every sighting became an experience, and every photo (over 13,000 in total by the end) was a memory they could look back on and share with others.
Get and Isabel became part of the team, and it was sad to say goodbye after having spent so much time with them. They run a company that offers great experiences that I not only don’t hesitate in recommending, but also look forward to working with every time the opportunity arises.
For more information on African Impact and the type of photography products we run, please follow the links below:
Want to boost your photographic skills out in the field?
Check out our Two-Week Photographic Experience
Want to spend months working on your own project?
Check out our Wildlife Photography Internship
Want to learn photography and how your images can make an impact?
Photography Manager, African Impact