Africa is a continent of vast contrasts and varied landscapes, places where you can truly immerse yourself in timeless scenery of distant horizons and huge open spaces. It is one thing to enjoy a moment in an incredible landscape, and entirely another attempting to photograph it as you see it.
There are so many brilliant documentaries out there that capture Africa’s wildlife on film. I get goosebumps every time I watch David Attenborough’s introduction to the BBC Africa series. Professional teams from National Geographic, Discovery Channel and BBC head out into Africa’s game parks and reserves every year with their million-dollar equipment to snag the most amazing footage – and they do. The thing is, so do travellers. Sure, travellers may not have the most advanced equipment, but they do explore the same wilderness and return with weird and wonderful safari moments caught on their point-and-shoot cameras.
Blessed with abundant wildlife and a benign climate, South Africa has long been a leading safari destination. Its most famous and flagship national reserve – the Kruger National Park – is Africa’s oldest conservation area. Among South Africa's reserves you'll find Big 5 safaris in malaria-free areas and conservancies for rare and endangered animals, ranging from rhinos and cheetahs to aardvarks and mountain zebras. These attractions combined with a first world infrastructure make South Africa the perfect choice for a first-time safari goer.
Played under sunny South African skies, the Nedbank Golf Challenge is Africa’s ‘Major’ – the sport’s showcase event on the continent. And thanks to a recent restructuring and increase in prize money, this year’s tournament promises to be a cracker.
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!
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.
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.
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.