Professional wildlife artist Alison Nicholls will share her art techniques and teach you how to create wildlife field sketches. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned artist, Alison will help improve your artwork. This safari includes game drives so that you experience the African bush in a new way; learning creative skills in a beautiful and relaxed environment.
Wildlife viewing is excellent – Madikwe boasts the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo) plus other iconic species such as springbok, oryx, zebra, hippo and giraffe, and predators such as cheetah, brown hyena and African wild dogs
Length: 7 days / 6 nights
Group Size: 5 + Alison Nicholls (Guide)
Location: Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Departure Dates: 14 - 21 September 2023
This safari is based at The Bush House in the malaria-free Big 5 Madikwe Game Reserve. Morning and afternoon game-viewing activities will be vehicle-based, using a private open vehicle with a ranger. And whenever the group is in camp, sketching opportunities abound, as there is an active waterhole which can be viewed from the lawn and an underground hide just inches from the water. The Bush House exudes a true sense of home away from home in Madikwe’s Big Five country. Its informal style, intimate atmosphere and caring staff never fail to make you feel part of the family. The lodge has six en-suite rooms, four of which have private verandahs.
Alison Nicholls is a professional artist who lived in Botswana and Zimbabwe for nine years and returns annually to sketch in the bush, work with conservation organizations and lead our art safaris. She is a signature member of Artists For Conservation, the Society of Animal Artists and a member of the Explorers Club and Salmagundi Club in New York City. Her work is in collections worldwide and she has been featured in wildlife art magazines in the USA and UK. She donates a percentage of every sale of her art to African conservation projects.
Daytime art workshops will feature topics chosen by guests depending on their interests. You will be able to assess your sketches, add colour or more detail, practice sketching some commonly seen species, and learn many tips and techniques from Alison. Some topics which can be covered in detail are:
- Adding colour to your sketches and how to use colour to show distance, heat, dust, light, shadows etc.
- How to use a sketch as the basis for a studio painting.
- Different ways of creating a field sketchbook – by species, by day etc.
Watch this video of a previous art safari in the Greater Kruger.
Africa Geographic client Susie G enjoyed her 2022 art safari and had this to say:
“This was my first art safari, but I have done a few photographic safaris with professional photographers. I have come to expect a high level of communication, creativity, and teaching skills, as well as personalized individual attention from the instructor. Alison was amazing! Besides being an experienced artist, she has great communication skills and presented art exercises in easy-to-understand examples. Everyone felt that they received lots of personal attention and suggestions. She was never too busy to answer questions or draw a quick sketch as a helpful example. She demonstrated simple forms for each animal that were very useful as a place to start when facing a blank page and a moving subject. Alison was able to determine our individual skill levels and suggest improvements without us becoming overwhelmed. The watercolour classes after lunch were fun and informative, with detailed steps to achieve the suggested results, but with her understanding of each student’s skill level and their personal creative vision.
The trip was organized to perfection by Africa Geographic. All of the internal flights and the transfers were on time and easy. The overnight hotel at City Lodge at the airport was convenient and easy to find. Christian even recommended a safari lodge to recover from jet lag before the art safari began. It was a great recommendation! I would use AG as a travel agency again. We all made new friends and learned as much from each other (well, almost) as from Alison. She is an inspirational artist, a dedicated and skilled teacher, an experienced guide, and a delightful travel companion. It was a very fun and creative trip and I am looking forward to the next art safari!”
Christine O also enjoyed her 2022 Art Safari:
“You know a trip has been great when you are sad to see it end and are already thinking about the next one shortly after. Alison’s art safari helped me reconnect with my art in an inspiring and joyful way. With Alison’s expert advice, I noticed an improvement in my sketches on day one and learnt how to translate better what I saw onto my page. The daily drives helped hone my ability to capture what I saw quickly and to feel more comfortable using watercolour to sketch.
The AG team were also great to work with. They were very responsive and helpful with all my questions and travel logistics to ensure a positive trip. I’m so glad I signed up for this memorable experience that I will always remember.“
14 to 21 September 2023 - only 1 space left
Per person sharing
Per solo traveller
One night accommodation at OR Tambo City Lodge on bed and breakfast, and, six nights full board accommodation at The Bush House, drinks (soft drinks, waters, juice, local wines and local beers, tea and coffee), 2 game drives daily, return road transfers from OR Tambo to The Bush House. Alison Nicholls guidance fees. The services of an additional driver/guide. Gate entrance fees and conservation levies to access Madikwe Game Reserve, and 24/7 office support.
International flights, visas, any COVID-19 Tests or vaccines required, and/or related costs to acquire them. Items of personal nature, telephone calls, laundry, alcoholic drinks (especially spirits), travel and medical Insurance, tips, excess baggage charges, any activities not specified in the itinerary.
Arrive at OR Tambo City Lodge, Johannesburg, and meet Alison Nicholls for dinner at the hotel. Overnight at OR Tambo City Lodge.
Depart to Madikwe Game Reserve by road transfer (4 -5 hours with a rest stop along the route). During the drive Alison will show you some of her sketches, talk about the art safari and ask what each of you hopes to achieve during your safari.
On arrival, you will meet your Bush House hosts and check into your room. Before lunch, you will have time to acquaint yourself with the lodge, grounds, waterhole and underground hide.
After a light lunch, Alison will talk about which materials to take on your afternoon game drive and give a short demonstration showing how she uses simple shapes to begin her wildlife sketches. With your materials and Alison offering advice, you will embark on your first art safari game drive.
Alison will sit in the middle row of the vehicle on drives, allowing her to talk to every guest easily. On the drives, the main aim is to learn to sketch wildlife quickly and confidently, mostly in dry materials like pen or pencil, to complete as many sketches as possible. Watercolour and other materials are more suitable for use during workshops at the lodge, but you can of course, try using watercolour on drives too.
After a stop for sundowner drinks, you will slowly return to camp, keeping an eye out for some of the nocturnal species that will likely start emerging as the shadows lengthen. At around 19h30, dinner is served, and the following day’s art safari plan and sketching activities will be discussed.
Overnight at The Bush House
The routine for each day will vary depending on guest requests, weather and wildlife sightings, but the general routine is as follows:
06h00 – Wake-up call followed by tea/coffee and biscuits in the lounge.
06h30 – Depart for your morning game drive. During the drive, you will stop for tea/coffee and biscuits. Late morning return to The Bush House for brunch.
09h30 – Brunch
11h00 – 14h30 – This time will be spent at the lodge, where guests can watch and sketch various animals that come to drink at the lodge waterhole; visit the underground hide to get close-up views; relax by the pool; and take part in art workshops.
Art workshops are usually held from 11-13h00 (although the timing is flexible), allowing you to relax before heading out on the afternoon drive. During the workshops, each guest works at their own pace and on their chosen subject matter. You can continue with pencil and pen or take advantage of Alison’s experience with watercolour and learn how to turn your sketches into completed paintings. Alison will demonstrate watercolour techniques, in particular her use of watercolour washes. She will discuss and demonstrate how to use colour & composition, how to simplify a complex scene, and know when to stop painting. The aim of the workshops is to allow you to leave the art safari with your own completed artworks and the knowledge of how to sketch and paint when you return home.
14h30 – Lunch.
15h30 – Afternoon game drive.
19h00 – Return to The Bush House for dinner.
Overnight at The Bush House
The morning game drive and breakfast will be at the usual time, followed by checkout and transfer by road back to Johannesburg.
If you intend to depart from Johannesburg on this day, we recommend that you choose a late evening or night departure.
All art safari participants will be dropped at O.R Tambo International Airport or at any other airport lodging of their choice.
Africa Geographic will be only too happy to arrange any extensions or pre-trip accommodation bookings/program you may need in Johannesburg (or elsewhere in Africa).
If you are a ‘first timer’ on safari, we recommend that you schedule your art safari after other safari activities, rather than as your 1st destination. This will allow you to become familiar with some of the wildlife before you attend the art safari and begin sketching.
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