Few countries rival South Africa when it comes to wildlife and convenient travel. Home to the Big 5 and a bird list that nudges North America’s, it’s a country that takes conservation seriously: just one of its game reserves is the size of Wales while many others provide strongholds for endangered rhinos, cheetahs and wild dogs.
The first time I visited Victoria Falls I was eight years old. We put on raincoats in the bright Zimbabwean sunshine then wandered into an Enchanted Forest filled with a low rumble and fine drizzle. I’d been excited about seeing this big waterfall but had never imagined something so powerful it could surround me with sound and soak me with its rainbow-lit spray – it was magical!
Guides say that if you see 1% of what sees you in the African wilderness, you are very, very observant. This is mostly because every living creature makes use of camouflage, whether to hide from predators or sneak up on prey. It is also because guides know that our over stimulated and under utilized city senses are pretty much good for nothing in the jungle.
Everybody wants to capture those National Geographic type images when they go on a safari, iconic pictures that capture the moment and their subject perfectly. Apart from the fact that National Geographic photographers spend months in the field and you have a few days or weeks at most to attempt to do it, it is possible- with some preparation and a good dose of luck, of course.
Soft white snowfall on Christmas Day is a real scene-stealer, but the months before and after the powdery magic give the Northern Hemisphere Winter a bad name: sludgy ice mixed with mud tracked all over your living room and grey skies as dull and endless as left-over turkey. Luckily, there's a a perfectly balmy solution to escape your central heating and trade your thermal underwear for beachwear and sandals: say ‘hello’ to Christmas in Africa.
Home to hundreds of ethnic identities, Africa’s cultural heritage is as impressive as its natural one. Great empires have left behind mysterious towers and silent ruins; traders and colonisers from the four corners of the world influenced language and architecture. But for most travellers, Africa’s wildlife takes centre stage. The continent's fascinating human heritage is all too often overlooked or crammed into a contrived hotel show.
As people whose careers and day dreams are rooted in a passion for travelling in Africa, we asked ourselves: what is it that inspires us about this continent in particular?
The biggest challenge for any photographer going on safari is what to take in your equipment bag- we would all like to take as much gear as possible, but the strict weight restrictions on light aircraft dictate circumspection on what to pack. In an extreme case, I once met a safari photographer who had brought only one change of clothes in order to maximise his luggage allowance with camera gear! This is not completely necessary if you take a few of the pointers below.
Being from Cape Town I like to think that I live in the land of eternal sunshine – most Capetonians do. This isn’t too far from the truth as unlike London’s weeks of drizzly grey, Cape Town winters are peppered with glorious sunshine. And I’m not talking about a feeble, washed-out winter sun but rich, golden days with warm colours, pleasant temperatures and no wind. Perfect hiking weather!
On a recent trip to Kenya, I was privileged to spend a morning exploring the lush forests of Mount Kenya. It was a guided walk in the care of an armed ranger – there is plenty of game in the forest, including buffalo - and a superb guide from my hosts at Serena Mountain Lodge.