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Tour Overview

Dates: March 2017
Length: 5 days
Group Size: 6 participants
Price: ZAR 16,650 per person sharing
Single supplement – ZAR 4,000
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  • Kruger Photographic Safari with Albie Venter

     

    A fantastic photo safari experience to capture the Big Five, and many more species, in the Timbavati Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park.

    Departure dates

    21 to 25 October 2016 – Booking closed

    10 to 14 March 2017

     

    Introduction

    The Timbavati Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park is well known for providing a fantastic photo safari experience and excellent sightings. Participants on this photo safari can expect several sightings of the highly coveted Big Five, plus an additional array of iconic species such as wild dog, cheetah and up to 40 other mammal species.

    Nocturnal species like civets, servals, genets and bushbabies are also possible to spot, and there is a great diversity of birdlife, with over 360 species listed in the Timbavati. Taking all of these factors into consideration, Umlani Bushcamp provides the ideal base for Albie Venter’s photo safari course with Africa Geographic thanks to its ideal location in the heart of the Timbavati Game Reserve.

    Umlani Bushcamp will be your base for four nights over the course of this photo safari.  This beautifully designed eco lodge is not only off-grid, but also off the beaten tourist track, offering intimate and thrilling wildlife encounters, award-winning meals and a chance to reconnect with nature in one of Africa’s world-renowned, unspoilt wilderness reserves – the Greater Kruger National Park.

    lion cubs-Umlani Bushcamp is a mere 40-minute drive from Hoedspruit Airport and just 13km from the Timbavati/Klaserie gate. You and your fellow participants will have exclusive use of Umlani Bushcamp and the vehicle during this photo safari.

    Albie Venter, your photo safari leader will join efforts with a local tracker to make the most of your time in the bush. Albie lives in Hoedspruit and has spent a lifetime photographing and guiding in East Africa and the Greater Kruger area, which is “his playground and backyard”.  His wildlife photography is blessed by both an incredible eye for opportunity and the masterful usage of light conditions in the field.  An enthusiastic, inquisitive and humorous teacher, Albie Venter combines  all his years of photographic experience in the bush with a willingness to share everything that is magical about the surroundings.

    Leopard Female-

    Detailed Itinerary

    Day 1: Welcome to the Timbavati

    You and your fellow photographers will make your own way to Umlani Bushcamp where Albie Venter and the camp’s staff will be waiting to welcome you to the Timbavati.

    After a refreshing drink you will be briefed about safety and the layout of camp before being shown to your room.

    During afternoon tea once you’re settled, Albie Venter will brief you about what can be expected on your photo safari in the Timbavati over the next five days. All cameras and gear will then be checked prior to heading out on the first afternoon game drive. Due to Umlani being in the vast and open ecosystem of the Greater Kruger National Park, wildlife movements can be very dynamic. For this reason Albie Venter will already have spoken to the resident guides to decide on the best photographic plan of action for the afternoon.

    Based on what animals are around, Albie will decide on the photographic subject and timing to ensure the best lighting conditions, and you can expect to stay at the sighting until the sun has set.  With Albie at the wheel of your game viewer you will be assured of the best angle, positioning and seat in the house to maximise your photographic exploits. Having Albie in control of each and every approach sets this photo safari and your experience in a league of its won.

    Nyala-Umlani

    When the sun does start to dip, you will stop for obligatory sundowners. This is usually the first proper chance to get to know your fellow travellers on the photo safari.

    A night game drive back to camp will then ensue, during which you will be on the lookout for the exciting nocturnal animals of the Timbavati such as civets, genets or bushbabies. This will also provide the chance to learn a bit more, and experiment with tricky nocturnal lighting.

    Back at Umlani Bushcamp you will be invited to linger at the boma or viewing deck or opt to go back to the room for a quick shower and a change of clothes before your evening meal.

    A well deserved rest and comfortable bed awaits everyone after dinner.

    Days 2-4:  AM and PM photographic game drives in the Timbavati

    Photographers on this tour are expected to rise well ahead of any conventional guests as we’ll be starting our day well before the sun is up.

    The meeting point will be at the at the boma at Umlani Bushcamp where a fresh fire-brewed cup of coffee or tea awaits. This will also provide the chance to discuss the strategy for the day. With the sun still well below the horizon, you will head out to see what the bush has in store.

    White Rhino 2-Morning game drives are the best time to locate the big cats, as they will still be active after their nocturnal hunts. The Timbavati is one of the best places to view leopard and lion, and we will make a concerted effort to find these animals for you on this photo safari. In addition to these felines, a host of other predators call the Timbavati their home. Sightings of spotted hyenas and black-backed jackals are almost guaranteed, while four species of mongoose, banded, slender, dwarf and white-tailed, may well be encountered.

    Spotted Hyena-2The Greater Kruger is a wonderfully diverse area and the range of photographic subjects is endless. Large raptors still roost on exposed branches as the day heats up, and a slow approach may result in very striking take-off images. Everything from dwarf mongoose to white rhinoceros lives here, each presenting unique and exciting photographic opportunities, and you can expect to stop for a break midway through your game drive to process it all in over a cup of tea or coffee.

    After arriving back at camp once you’ve made the most of the best photographic light before the temperatures rise, you can enjoy a hearty breakfast on the deck while overlooking the waterhole at Umlani Bushcamp.

    Umlani-Bushcamp

    Between game drives, each guest will get the opportunity to pick their five best images for feedback. Albie Venter will evaluate each image and give constructive critique during these sessions.

    You’ll find that after breakfast is also the perfect time to download and review your photographs. Albie Venter will be on hand to give advice on image selection and the best ways to process photographs using Photoshop and Lightroom. Difficult lighting such as the previous night’s game drive will be explained, and settings will be sharpened for the next attempt.

    The best place to while away the hot hours of the day is the Umlani Bushcamp viewing deck, which is situated on a dry riverbed and overlooks a very active waterhole. A constant stream of antelope and the occasional elephant come to drink here, while competing for space with the resident dagga boys (old buffalo males). There is also a pool under the jackalberry trees for those who prefer to take a dip.

    Umlani-water-hole

    Lunch is served on the viewing deck under the distant gaze of the resident dagga boys, and then you are free to enjoy your own leisure time.

    Tea will be served again during the mid-afternoon at the central mess area, after which you will embark on an afternoon game drive that will be varied depending on what has been seen previously. African wild dogs are not uncommon in the area and, should there be any sighting or a trail to follow, you will start your search for one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores. A wide variety of colourful birds, two dozen species of antelope, giraffe and zebra will also help to set the stage for great wildlife photography.

    Leopards-Timbavati

    As safaris progress it is interesting to note how people’s photographic view shifts. At first it is the exciting predators that take their fancy, but as those images slowly mount, we find that people tend to start taking a greater interest in more technical shots. Provided it is a cloudless and moonless, a night safari can be a great chance to experiment with Milky Way images. The high ISO capabilities of today’s cameras can capture beautiful images with only the moon as illumination. After sundowners, why not even experiment with these new and exciting techniques to bring back some imaginative shots?

    African Wildcat 2-Night drives always offer the possibility to photograph predators, but you you can also try your hand at photographing smaller creatures, such as flap-necked chameleons or one of five species of owls from in the Greater Kruger.

    Day 5 – One last game drive and departure

    On your last day at Umlani Bushcamp you will certainly be encouraged not too miss out on the morning game drive. After braving the early rise for a final time, you will set out again in search of wildlife. And if lady luck shines down, you may even have the chance to focus your lens on the holy grail of the Timbavati – one of only three wild white lions. After your last game drive and breakfast you will then say goodbye to your fellow photo safari guests and guide before you set off home.

    Timbavati-white-lions

    Accommodation

    Sleeping just 16 people, accommodation at Umlani Bushcamp is in reed and thatch huts built in the local Shangaan style .

    The four double huts come with double beds and en-suite facilities including an open-air bush shower. Comfortably-fitted with white mosquito nets, crisp white linen and towels as well as with standard bathroom amenities, the huts also have bottled water (although the tap water is perfectly safe to drink) and insect repellent.

    Umlani-Bushcamp-Rooms

    Umlani’s philosophy of simplistic luxury and ‘getting back to nature’ is enhanced by the romance of operating without electricity, so each hut and the entire camp is lit by candlelight and oil lamps, providing a warm and romantic atmosphere. Solar panels and inverters provide ample power to recharge batteries, laptops and flashes for your photo safari.

    Umlani-Bushcamp-Timbavati-Greater-Kruger

    The public areas at Umlani Bushcamp are dedicated to laziness: the bar opens onto a deck overlooking the riverbed and a busy waterhole; hammocks hang between the trees around the pool and there is cheeky elevated game viewing hide at a small dam a couple of kilometres from the camp.

    Dinner is a memorable African affair in the dining room by candlelight or surrounded by lanterns and torches in the riverbed.

    Umlani-Bushcamp-Timbavati-Kruger

    About the Guide

    albie

    Albie Venter studied nature conservation in Cape Town, and has been involved in professional wildlife guiding, wildlife management and eco-tourism since 1997. He has been a member of the Field Guide Association of South Africa (FGASA) throughout his career, and holds both-Level 3 and SKS-DA (special knowledge and skills –Dangerous Animals) qualifications as well as a Bronze Level Guiding Certificate of the Kenyan Professional Safari Guides Association (KPSGA). Albie Venter is a registered Field Guide Assessor for the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa – FGASA.

    Albie Venter nurtures an interest in all aspects of wildlife ranging from walking safaris to specialist wildlife photography. His photographs and articles have appeared in magazines, calendars and other publications both in South Africa and internationally and he has regularly contributed articles to Africa Geographic since 2008.

    Additional Information

    Climate: October falls in Timbavati’s dry season. Morning temperatures are cooler (it would be wise to bring warm clothing) ranging between 10-15°C. The afternoons are clear, sun-filled and pleasant with an average temperature of around 25 – 28°C. October is the start of the rainy season in the Kruger, which brings plenty of animals to the two waterholes situated close to camp.

    Difficulty: This course is aimed at beginners who wish to gain more insight into wildlife photography. The tour itself is vehicle-based, meaning there is no strenuous physical activity involved.

    Group size: The group size will be limited to 6 participants.

    Price includes: Accommodation, housekeeping services, game viewing activities and services of a professional game ranger and tracker. All meals (breakfast, lunch and two course dinners), hot drinks and rusks, game drive snacks, soft drinks and water, plus your Timbavati conservation levy.

    Price excludes: International or domestic flights, road transfer to the reserve (although these can easily be arranged – please ask us), gate entrance fee, visas, items of personal nature, telephone calls, laundry, travel and medical insurance, gratuities, excess baggage charges, or any activities not specified in the itinerary. Alcoholic beverages – clients may bring their own, or supply a list for purchase which will be settled on arrival.

    Recommended equipment: Camera Body (should be able to handle high ISO for night photography) with a wide angle lens (landscape and wide angle photography), a medium telephoto lens (+-300mm), and a full telephoto (400mm+) or teleconverters for bird photography. For night photography an off-board flash accompanied by a flash transmitter (pocket wizard) is recommended. The clients are responsible for their own vehicle mounts and should use what they are comfortable with whether it is a bean bag, bar clamp with head or a mono pod. Bring a tripod along for landscape photography (NOTE: due to vehicle space no tripods can be used on the vehicle). There will be dust and dirt around, so please bring along lens cleaning equipment.

    For those wanting to hire any photographic material in South Africa to make the most of this tour, please contact us and we will set you up conveniently with the best advice and equipment on offer.

    Booking and payment details: Once you have decided to join one this safari, you will need to contact us for a booking form, which will include details relating to deposit and final payments etc. As our groups are small they fill up quickly.