A wildlife photographer will always be very conscious of the gear to be used while on a photography safari. While the right gear for the safari is paramount to taking back home award winning images, some factors are important to consider that would impact positively or negatively on that perfect safari.
First time Wildlife Photographers to Africa are always faced with the dilemma of how to come up with that ideal itinerary. We have summarized it into a 5 most important factors to consider when organizing your Photography safari to Africa.
01. Choice of Destination for Wildlife Photography
There is always a personal preference for every individual when it comes to wildlife. Some will prefer to photograph the big cats while others may be more inclined to other animals. Before you select the destination, it is always important to know the availability of “Your Preference”. For instance, you might be interested in photographing the Wild Dog packs licaon pictus. Some wildlife reserves don’t have these animals and therefore it would be disappointing not to encounter them. Also some areas would have them but with extreme rare sightings. It would be advisable to try and find one that you would have more opportunities at sightings.
02. The Weather Conditions
Africa mainly lies within the intertropical zone. Africa is more dependent to the rain and there exists some seasons of Long rains. During these long rains, some parks and reserve are rendered impassable. You could easily find yourself stuck in a rut for days trying to maneuver out of the mud. Although sometimes the rain offers a different and interesting perspective to photography.
During the dry spell, most animals converge within the water hole and riverine forests. It is always easier to spot game and get the action within these zones. After the rainy season, the grass sprouts back and in some grassy plains, viewing wildlife can be an uphill task. For better Wildlife Photographing results, it would be advisable planning your safari before the long rains or a couple of months after the rains.
03. Animal Migration Patterns
Prior to your safari, it’s important to find out about the current migration patterns of the wildlife in areas you are set to visit. A set example is the Mara Serengeti eco system. With migration of about 1.5 million wildebeest, finding the location of the herds is important if you are to capture the ensuing river crossings. For avian photographers, some Eurasian and Palearctic migrants are found only during certain months of the year.
04. Planning the Itinerary
After having researched and being more informed about the Wildlife, then arises the question of how long one should spend in every destination. For the best Wildlife Photography results, the more time you spend out there in the wild the better your chances of capturing better shots. A very important factor to that is the safari guide who leads you out in the wild. The level of knowledge of any individual safari guide plays an important role in the photos one captures.
The first and last hour of the day is always the best time to be out taking photos. It is therefore vital to forfeit the trappings of a properly laid out breakfast in the lodge or camp and opt for a bush style picnic breakfast. This gives you the leisure of concentrating of the photography and worrying less on keeping time to return back to your camp for breakfast.
Always go for accommodation that are located close to the epic entre of the action. This saves you travel time over the bumpy terrain and offers you ample time to spend with the animals. Always look out for an ideal location within the wildlife area and try to minimize on the travel distances within the reserves or parks. Most camps and lodges in this era offer free Wi-Fi. In the event not, try and talk to your local safari outfitter and get a preloaded internet modem.