Greater Kruger Big 5 safari – pro photographer


We’ve limited this safari to 8 guests in two game-drive vehicles. With four guests in each vehicle, Ernest and Karen can provide personal attention and coach your photography to a new level.

Together they will focus on ensuring you capture great photos. Close encounters will be approached in a manner that does not interfere with their natural behaviour and ensures the best shooting angles and lighting. And the best part? In the Manyeleti, you never compete with dozens of other vehicles at the same sighting.

This safari can be combined with Sabi Sands Photographer-guided Safari

Join award-winning photographer Ernest Porter on a private photographic safari in the Big 5 Manyeleti Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger


Length: 5 days / 4 nights
Group Size: Minimum of three and maximum of eight - 4 per vehicle
Location: Manyeleti Game Reserve, Greater Kruger, South Africa
Departure Dates: Set departures in April, May, June & September as per the dates below

from ZAR 31,285 per person sharing

Not a photographer? We’ll take the photos and make them available to you after the safari so that you can relax in the moment.

Manyeleti Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger is something of an open secret amongst those in the know as a wildlife-rich safari destination with low visitor numbers. In addition to the Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo), this is a good place to see wild dog (painted wolf) and cheetah (although of course, none are guaranteed), and Pungwe’s rangers and trackers are the best at finding the wildlife you want to photograph.

Pungwe Safari Camp, with only four en-suite Meru-styled tents, offers privacy as few camps can. Thatched roofs over each large tent ensure that the interiors remain cool in summer and mild in winter. En-suite bathrooms with free-standing hot showers, large baths and flushing toilets provide all the creature comforts one could wish for. Each of the tents offers either twin or king-size options under a four-poster style mosquito net, providing protection and an ambience reminiscent of a bygone era, further enhanced by the soft glow of lanterns. The food is wholesome – using locally sourced fresh produce – and often cooked on an open fire. Vegetarian requirements are catered for, and although remote and off-the-grid, the luxury of ice is always available.

Prices and dates


Per person sharing


Per person sharing

Spots left

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26 to 30 Apr 2023



6 spots / 3 chalets

28 May to 1 Jun 2023



8 spots / 4 chalets

26 to 30 Jun 2023



8 spots / 4 chalets

4 to 8 Sep 2023



8 spots / 4 chalets

Please enquire about GROUP SAFARIS at Pungwe Safari Camp: With only 4 Meru-styled tents, the lodge can be booked exclusively, with a maximum of 8 guests.

Price Includes:
Accommodation, all meals starting with lunch on arrival day, and ending with breakfast on departure day. Morning and evening game drives, personal photography and Lightroom instruction from Ernest Porter, all transport in the reserve and guided game viewing and walking activities, pro-photographer guiding fees and informal photo processing sessions, tea and coffee, wi-fi, conservancy levies and gate fees and 24/7 office support.

For bookings greater than 6 clients, Karen Blackwood will assist Ernest Porter. Should Karen Blackwood not be able to guide this trip due to other commitments, a suitable, professional replacement would be recruited to co-lead the trip with Ernest Porter.

Price Excludes:
International and domestic flights, transportation to/from the lodge, visas (should your country require one), excess baggage charges, sodas and alcoholic beverages (full bar service available), gratuities (gratuities for the ranger and tracker are mandatory; please plan approximately $10-20/R130-260 per day]); all other gratuities are optional), spa services, laundry service, travel and medical insurance, personal calls, gate fees if self-driving, and any other personal expenses or activities not specified in the itinerary.


Whether you choose to drive yourself, catch a shuttle or fly in from Johannesburg or Cape Town to the nearest airstrip, we can arrange your transfer to Pungwe Safari Camp. After you have checked in, had lunch and explored your base camp, you will set off with Ernest on your first photographic game drive.

Should attendance swell to 8 participants, an extra photographic guide will assist Ernest. The group will then set off in two different vehicles (4 guests plus one photographic guide on each). Your guides will rotate between vehicles whenever you set off on a new drive.

Before the start of any drive, your guide/s will help you set up your cameras to be ready to take those great shots you came looking for. Throughout the drive and as light conditions vary, their commentary, suggestions and instructions will ensure you are set and ready for whatever the bushveld delivers on the day.

Suggestions of style and composition will also be discussed once your first volley of shots is in the bag.

You will look for elephants, rhinos, and buffaloes cooling off in waterholes, search for cheetahs on the plains, find the lion pride where it was last seen, or hopefully join wild dogs (painted wolves) as they hunt down herds of impala and wildebeest.

Later, as the fantastic red African sun slips down beyond the horizon, you will find a suitable vantage point to enjoy a sunset cocktail before bringing out the spotlights and heading out for nightlife photography opportunities. Your guides will position vehicles and spotlights for dramatic backlit scenarios of lions and leopards, chameleons and perhaps even a pangolin.

Back at the camp, enjoy a quick shower and join the group back at the mess area or around the fire to discuss the game drive and the plan for the following day – drink in hand!

After a scrumptious dinner, served on candlelit tables at the boma, those keen on an early night may retire to bed. A fire will be kept burning for those keen to stay a bit longer and enjoy the company of fellow guests and the sounds of the bush.

Overnight at Pungwe Safari Camp

Photographers on this tour are expected to rise earlier than for most safaris as the day starts well before sunrise. You will all gather at a designated meeting point for a steaming cup of coffee before heading out.

Morning game drives are the best time to locate the big cats, as they are generally still active after their nocturnal hunts. The Manyeleti is one of the best places to view leopard, lion and cheetah, and no effort will be spared to locate one of these animals for you.

In addition to these felines, a host of other predators call the “Manyeleti” 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 be encountered.

Morning drives generally last 3+ hours or even longer – depending on sightings.

The Greater Kruger is a wonderfully diverse area and the range of photographic opportunities it offers are endless. Large raptors roost on exposed branches as the day heats up, and a slow approach may result in very striking take-off images.

Everything from a dwarf mongoose to a hulking white rhinoceros lives here, each presenting a unique and exciting photographic opportunity.

You will return to a wonderful made-to-order breakfast before taking a nap or join Ernest for an optional Lightroom class to learn a few tricks on how to process your photos. Difficult lighting, such as the previous night’s game drive, will be explained, and settings will be sharpened for the next attempt.

Lunch is an abundant spread, and afterwards, there will still be ample time to photograph flora and fauna around the lodge, or enjoy a little quiet time before the afternoon game drive.

Tea will be served again at mid-afternoon, after which you will embark on an afternoon game drive.

African wild dogs are not uncommon in the area and, should there be any sightings or trails to follow, you will start your search for these 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.

As the safari progresses, 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, participants tend to start taking a greater interest in more technical shots. Provided it is a cloudless and moonless night, 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.

Night drives always offer the possibility to photograph predators, but you can also try to photograph smaller creatures, such as flap-necked chameleons or one of the seven species of owls residing in the Greater Kruger.

Dinner will be served upon your return to camp.

Overnights at Pungwe Safari Camp

On your last day in Manyeleti, you will undoubtedly be encouraged not to 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.

After your last game drive and breakfast, you will say goodbye to your fellow photo safari guests and guide before your departure.


Additional information

Ernest Porter is an award-winning and well-renowned bird and wildlife photographer from South Africa. His achievements include: Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year Top finalist, winner of the July 2016 Tamron South Africa photography contest, Best of Africa featured photographer, prominently featured in Yahoo’s “Animals in Flight” Photo Gallery, and multiple VotoArt wins.

He is Canon-sponsored and has been published in numerous magazines and wildlife books and guides, including Animals of the Greater Kruger. Ernest is a staff photographer for the Black Eagle Project Roodekrans based in Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in South Africa and has documented the development of four fledglings at the gardens, from hatching to training to departure. Ernest offers privately guided photo tours to the gardens and the black eagles’ nest. He is a sought-after speaker in the avian and wildlife photography community. Ernest is an expert instructor in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Karen Blackwood is a USA-based airline pilot, wildlife photographer, and world traveller. She volunteers as a Bald Eagle monitor for the Raptor Education Foundation in Colorado, tutors children through Reading Partners, teaches young equestrians basic horsemanship and has coached many people in effectively using their cameras.

Karen’s photography credits include: January 2018 NOW Photo Award, published in the 2017 Africa Geographic Yearbook, 2nd-runner-up in Nature’s Best Photography Africa 2017 contest and published in the coffee-table book, April 2017 Best Photo in Nature Photographers, finalist in Best of Africa’s 2017 contest, finalist in Kodak Moments contest, multiple times featured photographer in Naturalist’s Notebook and in NatureGraphy, 1st Honorable Mention in the Kodak National Photo Contest, multiple winners in the Amigo Airshow Photo Contest, gallery showings in Colorado including selection for the exclusive year-long Healing Arts exhibition and fund-raising cards, and the use of her photos in promotional videos and specialised publications.

To make travelling easier for you, we recommend spending the night before the safari begins in Johannesburg or Hoedspruit so that you can arrive at the lodge relaxed and well-rested the following day. We can offer you an add-on package that includes B&B accommodations in Johannesburg and Hoedspruit and round-trip ground transportation, including gate fees with a professional driver between Hoedspruit and Pungwe Safari Camp.

Transportation between Johannesburg and Hoedspruit is not included, but we can recommend flights. Round-trip airfare from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit is approximately ZAR 4,500 to ZAR 5,000. You can also rent a car and drive to the lodge from Hoedspruit (approximately 2 hours), or Johannesburg (approximately 7 hours).

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