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The perfect way to brush up your skills in the bush.

Three years ago Africa Geographic Travel and Alison Nicholls embarked on a fascinating and rather left-field Safari concept for the first time – an Art Safari.  We planned for a small group with a relaxed itinerary and very understanding hosts – to allow the creative juices to flow.  We invited artists and would-be artists of all skill levels to join us in the bush armed with a drawing pad, brushes and pencils.  Alison then took them through the basics of illustrating and sketching techniques (plus a few crafty tricks her and there) so that they can all capture the daily goings-on in South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve.

The safari was a huge success.  Here is some feedback from those that went along:

Ilona Etlenyi – Art Safari September 2011

The first part of my trip was an art- safari organized by Africa Geographic. Some of us met in Johannesburg the day before starting on our trip to the Madikwe Game Reserve. The selection of the Bush House was an excellent choice. We were the only guests at Bush House, and were treated as if we were royal guests. The rooms were most comfortable, meals and game drives were organized according to our wishes. Since it was unusually cold, we opted for game drives later in the day, since we had plenty to view and sketch sitting in the lawn chairs by the waterhole. Alison gave art lessons during the afternoons, we sketched a lioness eating a kill, we observed an elephant carcass at length (the stench was unbelievable), we saw zebras, giraffes, elephants, etc. One morning we went landscape painting to an area called Baboon Ridge.

I think all of us were sorry to leave at the end of 4 days.

Sketching by the waterhole

Penelope Bodry-Sanders – Art Safari September 2011

What I loved about this art safari is that you don’t have to be an artist to fully enjoy yourself. Art and science depend on “intense seeing” and if you want to sit quietly and watch animals move and interact with their environment and each other, an art safari provides the opportunity to fully explore and understand what you are seeing without the rushing about that so often prevails on traditional game viewing safaris.

For the artist, the experience is unparalleled and heightened on every level. Alison Nicholls is a generous and knowledgeable leader/teacher, helping you understand how animals are built, how they move and why they behave as they do. What better way to understand an animal than to draw or paint it? Alison is also a lovely and amusing traveling companion. I’ve been on over eighteen safaris and have never so thoroughly enjoyed my animal watching experiences. In fact, I cannot imagine going on future safaris without a sketchbook and pencil in my backpack and taking the time to sit, watch, listen, and to really “see” and record the marvels unfolding before me.

Lewis Mazzuca, Colorado – Art Safari September 2012

I attended Alison Nicholls’ Africa Geographic watercolor safari as a non-participating spouse.  I’m not a watercolorist, I’m a photographer and have been on four photo safaris previously.  Using my photo safari experiences as a baseline, I’ll state unequivocally that never have I experienced such professionalism, enthusiasm, organization and warmth as I did with Alison on this safari.  All previous photo safaris I’ve been on paled in comparison.

Alison’s organizational skills are superb, and her ability to orchestrate game drives, meals and other logistics all while providing each individual enough attention and mix it with a lot of laughter is most impressive.  I would not hesitate to recommend this African Geographic watercolor safari to my closest family and friends.  Thank you Alison, you made the safari an excellent experience for all.

Bobbi Bryson, Colorado- Art Safari September 2012

Alison taught us how to really look at an animal and see things that you don’t see from photos. I was able to continue sketching on the rest of our trip in Africa and found the game drives to be more interesting than before because I was constantly trying to sketch and by the end of our trip my sketches had much improved…

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Stacy Edick, Texas- Art Safari September 2012

This trip exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. From the hospitality of the Bush House, to the gentle and patient teachings of Alison, to the incredible company of fellow artists on a journey, the trip honestly is beyond words.

Celia Clowe (USA) – Art Safari September 2012

The trip was amazing. We saw 4 of the Big 5 + lots more. Sketching in the bush with Alison was a delight; she is thorough, humorous, knowledgeable, and patient. I found it amazing that the placement of a single line transformed my house cat into a lion. The lodge accommodations were 5 star, the food delicious and Geraldine the perfect hostess – really! Fantastic trip, well planned, what a pleasure.

Barbara Womack,Phoenix – Art Safari 2012

This past September I had one of the most memorable experiences of my life on a special art safari with Alison Nicholls, organized by Africa Geographic Travel. From start to finish, everything about this trip was outstanding. Prior to the trip, Alison provided our small group (5) with information on art supplies, clothing, and a range of other helpful tips. She made herself easily available by phone or email. Africa Geographic Travel was also very helpful (particularly Christian Boix) in making all necessary arrangements, like setting up my additional hotel reservations and handling logistics on a couple of private tours I wanted to take prior to the art safari.

All photos © Allison Nichols

The 2013 Art Safari will once again run this year (2-6 September), spending four nights in South Africa’s animal-rich Madikwe Game Reserve, based at the homely and relaxed “Bush House” Lodge. Once again we have booked out the entire camp exclusively for Africa Geographic Travel guests, so that you can while away your days sketching in the field and at the waterhole, soaking up Madikwe’s wildlife opportunities and Alison Nicholls’s trademark and endearing informal tuition.

No matter what your skill level may be, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned artist, Nicholls will endeavor to grow your skills and style in a relaxed environment whilst demonstrating how to sketch animals quickly, accurately and effectively.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to learn and improve your creative skills while enjoying the camaraderie of other wildlife lovers and the pleasure of being in the bush.

To find more about this tour visit  Art on Safari

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