Explore the unimaginable // May 2019

The Big Cats of South Africa Photo Tour


Lions, leopards, cheetah, wild dogs…
Get up, close and personal with the biggest predators of the African Bush!

 

This South Africa Photo Tour is all about wildlife & nature photography. During 12 unforgettable days we will travel to 3 of South Africa’s most sensational wildernesses, on the lookout for Africa’s big cats. We will track large prides of lions, search trees for the elusive leopards and see cheetahs hunt at lightning speed!

The Kruger & Phinda reserves boost an amazing variety of ecosystems, which form the perfect habitats for the big cats. Sabi Sands is renowned for the world’s best leopard sightings, and Ngala is home to large prides of very active lions. Phinda will be a cheetah guarantee! Large counts of other members of the big-5, groups of wild dogs, over 300 species of birds and animals like giraffes and antelopes are very regular visitors as well.

Our private trackers & guides will show us the most beautiful landscapes and bring us up-close interactions with the spectacular wildlife. Your ­­­photographic guide will teach you on the spot how to master your camera, so you’ll be ready for that perfect shot!

Blend in the best hospitality, luxurious and secluded lodges and transportation by planes, 4×4’s and helicopter, and you are in for the trip of a lifetime!

 

1 May – 12 May 2019   |   11 nights / 12 days

5 to 6 guests   +   2 photographic guides

Luxury wildlife & nature tour

All Co2 is offset by us!

13ᵒC – 27ᵒC  (55ᵒF – 81ᵒF)

Planes, helicopter & 4×4’s

Ngala & Sabi Sands and Phinda Game Reserves.

5* lodges  +  all meals & drinks included.

Daily workshops and  masterclasses.

 

  Photograph so much more than just the big 5. We will visit a countless number of eco-systems, in which we will have close encounters with the big cats, birds, big game, small animals and amazing scenery.

  Spend daily one-on-one time with your photographic guide, for ultimate photographic instructions. You will be amazed how quickly your photography skills improve!

  Visit the area with the highest density of leopards in the world. Many leopard territories overlap in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, allowing for unparalleled and spectacular leopard sightings!

  A helicopter flight takes us high above the beautiful South African low field and on a spectcular flight through the Blyde River Canyon, making for sensational aerial photography!

  Daily workshops & masterclasses: from basic wildlife and nature photography to taking nighttime photos of the milky-way and star-trails, and from photo editing to mastering your photo organization!

  Feel small when we photograph the milky-way & star-trails. The African continent is one of the best places in the world for astro photography. Almost zero light pollution allows for the brightest stars!

  See spectacular African sunrises and sunsets, and photograph the deep orange skies from hilltops overlooking valleys, or frame them with the silhouettes of trees, giraffes or elephants!

  Why waste time driving in between lodges? We will fly you from lodge to lodge, with a total of 4 flights (1 flight is the helicopter flight). This way we don’t waste any of our precious photography time. A fast and scenic way to travel!

  The best hospitality: indulge in sensational food, fabulous wines and smiles wherever you look, and be surprised by amazing dinner locations!

Included:

  All accommodation (based on twin-share rooms) from the day you arrive until the day you leave

  1 night in Hilton Sandton and transportation to and from the hotel

  3 nights in a colonial 5* luxury safari lodge in Ngala Private Game Reserve

  3 nights in a historical 5* luxury lodge in Sabi Sands Game Reserve located on a ridge overlooking the park

  4 nights in a private 5* luxury safari lodge, set on the game rich plains of Phinda Private Game Reserve

  All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks)

  All drinks, both alcoholic (basic beers, wines and spirits) and non-alcoholic

  A spectacular helicopter flight through the Blyde River Canyon, for once-in-a-lifetime photography opportunities

  4 flights in between the lodges

  Local transportation by private busses

  VAT, bed levies, tourist taxes & landing rights (subject to change as per our T&C’s)

  Two private photography guides, with daily one-on-one instructions, masterclasses and workshops

  The Krijn van der Giessen photography “Guide to Utimate Wildlife & Nature Photography"

Not included:

  International flights to and from Johannesburg

  Visa (free for most nationalities, but may has to be arranged in advance)

  Tips for guides & lodge staff

  Spending money for personal expenses

  Premium wines, beers & spirits. All basic wines, beers & spirits are included.

  Travel insurance (compulsory for all tour guests) and vaccinations

  Photography equipment (we have some loan equipment - first come, first serve)

  €15 p.p. guarantee fund scheme

  No hidden fees!

Price:

€ 9,850 per person sharing

€ 1,500 single supplement, if you prefer to have your private room. This charge gives you a private room for the first 6 lodge nights only, since the last lodge in Phinda doesn't have the capacity to offer single rooms.

DAY 1:


Today you will arrive in Johannesburg. We will pick you up from the airport the moment you arrive and transport you to the Hilton hotel in Sandton. At your own leisure you can refresh, and relax by the pool. We will meet as a group for pre-dinner drinks, where you will meet all your fellow travelers, the people you will spend the coming 12 days with! During dinner we have ample time to get to know each other a little bit better and we will introduce you to your roomy for the coming days.

DAY 2:


Today we will head for the bush! Early morning we will be picked up by a private bus at the hotel. We will fly with a small aircraft from Johannesburg to the Hoedspruit airstrip, where we will be welcomed by the lodge staff.

Upon arrival we will check into our rooms, quickly refresh and meet for lunch. Directly thereafter we will give you a crash course / refresher course Wildlife Photography, so you’re all set to go for the afternoon game drive!

The aim of this photo tour is wildlife photography, but nature being nature we can’t predict what we will see. So before we go out, we have a chat to our ranger & tracker to discuss the current situation out in the bush. Depending on weather, previous animal activity and other factors, we make a plan for the afternoon.

During the game drives both the ranger and the tracker look out for the best animal sightings. The tracker is locally born and raised in the bush and has an unbelievable eyesight when it comes to tracking animals. He sits on the bonnet of the vehicle and looks for animal footprints, broken branches, flattened grass and even smell. The trackers know like no other where common animal paths can be found and where animal hiding places may be.

Depending on what we see, we will stay out in the bush for 3 to 4 hours, before returning to the lodge for a tasty dinner and an early night. It has been a long day after all!

DAY 3 & 4:


We will wake up before sunrise at 5am, have a quick cup of coffee or tea, a small bite to eat and head out into the bush again. Basically the same story like yesterday, but we will now continue where we left the bush last night. The tracker may continue to follow animals tracks he found, or can bring us to a great sighting straight away.

Back in the lodge we have breakfast together, whereafter everybody has about an hour or 2 spare time to enjoy the beautiful location we stay in. Go for a swim, read a book or start downloading the many photos you’ve taken so far!

Directly after lunch we will sit down as group and review the first day. We will discuss the sightings and have a look at each other’s photos (you can share photos at your own discretion). We will load the photos onto a big screen and give compliments and constructive feedback. During the reviews we merge in another workshop wildlife photography, giving you useful tips for this afternoon. Before you know it, it will be time to head out into the bush again!

Depending on the time we get back to the lodge, we may light a bonfire, play some games or head into the bush for some night time photography and light painting! This will be very exciting since being in the darkness of the bush at night, you will be emerged in the sounds of nature and overwhelmed by the millions of stars. Hear the lions roar, the leopards cough, the elephants trumpet and the crickets chirp! But don’t worry, our ranger and tracker will guard over us, so we can fully focus on the milky way!

DAY 5 - 8:


After our morning drive and breakfast we will pack our bags and say goodbye to our friendly hosts, who have started to feel like family already. But the farewell can’t take too long, because one of the most exciting moments of this tour is about to happen!

Our private helicopter is warming up its engines already, waiting to take us for a dazzling flight through one of South Africa's wonders of nature: the Blyde River Canyon. The flight gives you endless opportunities for sensational aerial photography.

After leaving the canyon behind us, we won't fly back to Ngala, but straight to our new home for the coming 3 days: Kirkmans Lodge in the world renowned Sabi Sands Game Reserve!

After arrival at our new sensational lodge, we will download our photos, chat about our new home and discuss the ins- and outs of Sabi Sands Game Reserve.

The coming three days will be fully focused on tracking down and photographing the famed leopards & lions of Sabi Sands. There is no other part of the world where the viewing of these fascinating animals is better, so fasten your seatbelts and let’s go!

Since we have our private vehicles, rangers & trackers, we can stay out in the bush as long as we want and go wherever we want to go. We only stop when everyone in our group has the photos they want.

During the breaks in between the photographic game drives, we organize workshops & masterclasses focused on organizing and post-processing of your photos (Lightroom & Photoshop) and we look at more advanced techniques you can use, to improve your photography during the game drives.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is not only a haven for wildlife, the scenery can’t be forgotten either. So whenever the light is perfect, we will stop to take landscape photo’s.

DAY 9:


Unfortunately, today it is again time to say goodbye. However, with the excitement of travelling to Phinda Private Game Reserve there is no real reason to be sad! The 1 hour long flight sees us flying over Swaziland, towards the south-eastern part of South Africa. We land only minutes away from our lodges and will be picked up by the rangers who will be guiding us for the coming 4 days. We should arrive just in time for lunch and establish ourselves in our private lodge!

We will start the afternoon with a quick rundown about the reserve we are in. This very unique environment definitely needs some explanation, since it has quite complex ecosystems. This does improve your appreciation and understanding of our new location, which will also increase the changes of taking the photographs we are after. After afternoon tea we head out for the bush and see what we can find.

Once back in the lodge and after dinner, we will head onto the lawns of our private lodge to do some serious astro photography. The open plains with some dead trees make for perfect photo framing, and we will experiment with different techniques and light painting fun!

DAY 10:


Today is birding day! We will go straight to a bird hide, which has been built on the edge of a dam, overlooking trees and the nearby reeds. Over 300 species of birds are recorded to be living in this area, so bring your super-tele-photo lens (or borrow ours), and click away! We will give you bird behavior training, so you can predict what the bird is going to do. This increases your likelihood of taking amazing photos! The hide gives great shelter, so the birds won’t notice that we are there.

We should still be in time to catch the tail-end of the bird migrating season, spotting some European birds who have stayed over winter in the warmer South African climate. But, nature being nature, you will never know when the European birds are heading back home.

Depending on how we go, we might stay in the hide or the surroundings for lunch, or we may head back to the lodge. The same goes for the afternoon. We may go for another birding session, or we might focus on other animals or scenery.

Tonight a big bonfire is a guarantee, and some glasses of wine or gin tonic (or something non-alcoholic if you prefer) will be enjoyed. Life’s good! We will discuss all the sighting we have had so far on this trip, and check whether there are still specific animals or landscapes we want to see. Together with our guides we will make a plan for tomorrow.

DAY 11:


Today will be our last full day in the bush, so the aim is to see & photograph anything we haven't seen so far. We will follow the plan we made during last night’s dinner, and head out to be as productive as we can!

The last night in the bush should be a night to be celebrated! So, like every night we will have a delicious dinner, but tonight we make it super special! We will share our stories, and feast on the best of local cuisine!

DAY 12:


The last day, the last drive. It is sad to leave, but by now we will be full of memories (and so will be our memory cards), impressions and have stories for months to come!

After our last game drive we have a little farewell ceremony and head for the airplane that will take us back to Johannesburg.

Arriving at Johannesburg we all go our own ways. If you want to extend your stay in (South) Africa, please let us know. We have many exciting extension packages available, which can be booked through us, organized by our preferred tour operator in South Africa.

If you can't wait to be one of the lucky ones to experience this Photo Tour, you can book by clicking the button below!

BOOK NOW

How experienced do I need to be?

It doesn’t matter! Our tours are all about the nature, wildlife and photography, and we travel with guests of all skill-levels. Whether you are a pro or just a beginner, we would love to have you on one of our Photo Tours!

We take the necessary time to teach you how to take the perfect wildlife and nature photos. We only start taking snaps ourselves when all of our guests are happy and comfortable with their own cameras. Until that moment, we are there to support you and give you advice!

When you book your Photo Tour with us, you will receive our “Guide to Ultimate Wildlife & Nature Photography", which will help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime. On the first night of the actual trip we will issue the same in a hard copy version – it’ll come in handy when we are out in the bush!

My partner doesn't take photos. Can he/she come along?

Although our Photo Tours are, as the name suggests, centred around photography, we would absolutely love to welcome your partner if he or she would like to join us.

However, it is important to note that the focus of our tour guides will be on those who are taking photos. That said, with the stunning surroundings in which we’ll be immersed, the tours are just as enjoyable for those who don’t want to take photos all the time.

Besides this, we will have the loan equipment with us as well. If it’s not already in use, we can guarantee you that your partner won’t be able to resist the temptation of trying to take some shots him/herself as well!

What do I need to bring?

There are some key items you have to bring, such as your camera gear, clothing suitable for the season of the tour, and some other basic items. When you book your Photo Tour with us, we will send you a packing list based on the specific tour, which will help you prepare and ensure nothing is left behind.

I don't have my own camera gear.

You don’t need professional camera gear to join our Photo Tour. However, a DSLR camera with zoom lens will come in very handy.

Remember, you can use our loan equipment (a canon DSLR body, free of charge!) and play with our professional lenses on our tours. Please let us know before you book if you would like to borrow a camera, since we only have limited availability and don’t want to disappoint anybody.

Last but not least, we also have guests joining our tours who don’t take photos at all. They just join us for the amazing nature, fabulous atmosphere and once-in-a-lifetime experience!

How do I book my Photo Tour?

Simply contact us via one of the options below:

– Send an email to info@krijnvandergiessen.com

– Call us on +791 5 66 263 831 (I’m a Dubai-based photographer, so the number calls out to Dubai. Please feel free to use FaceTime if you want to avoid the call fees)

– Fill out this contact form

Once you’ve let us know you are interested, we will send you all the information you need to book your Photo Tour!

Are Photo Tours safe?

Absolutely. Photo Tours are safe as long as you listen to the professional guides and rangers. They are in charge on our tours. Keep in mind that we are in nature and animals can always behave in an unpredictable way, but risks are kept to a minimum wherever possible.

If you have any concerns, please feel free to contact us so we can personally answer any questions you may have about safety.

I travel alone. Do I have to share a room?

You don’t have to share a room, but it is the standard option for our tours. If you’d prefer a room to yourself, this will come at an additional cost. Please refer to the pricing section of each specific Photo Tour for full details.

We do recommend sharing a room with someone else. We’ve learnt from experience that people sharing a room develop a very special friendship. Sharing such an amazing trip with someone you don’t know creates a bond you won’t experience if you opt to stay by yourself.

Room-mates are always chosen based primarily on gender, but we can’t guarantee same-sex sharing as this depends on the mix of guests with which we will travel.

When do I have to pay for my Photo Tour?

To secure your spot on one of our Photo Tours, an initial payment of 20% is due. A further 30% is due 180 days prior to the tour, and the remaining 50% is due 90 days prior to departure. Paid amounts are non-refundable.

What brands of camera do you support?

We make use of Canon camera gear ourselves, but we welcome all brands of cameras on our tours. CanonNikonSony or any other brand – they’re all welcome with us!

Which languages do you speak?


English is the main language of our tours. Since we travel with people from all over the world, it is important to have a basic understanding of the English language (it is the most universal and easily accepted for this type of adventure). Since Krijn is from a Dutch heritage, he is fluent in Dutch as well.

We start where others stop:

The reasons why you should join one of our Photo Tours are endless. When you travel with us, you are guaranteed loads of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We focus fully on photography, and pride ourselves on the fact that we start where others stop.

Personal:

We travel in small groups (8 people maximum, though smaller) of like-minded photographers. This ensures plenty of focus on you as an individual, and gives us the opportunity to ensure you’ll always have a window seat in our vehicles. We book small and exclusive accommodation which allows for uninterrupted views and plenty of candid photography opportunities.

Superb hospitality:

We absolutely love great food and luxury accommodation, so our Photo Tours are filled with it! Your personal photographic guide Krijn doesn’t have the title of the best photo tour operator for nothing. Although he has over 15 years experience as a nature, wildlife and culture photographer, Krijn also has over a decade of international hospitality management under his belt.

For these reasons combined we go the extra mile to ensure we stay in unique lodges and serve up something delicious and, where possible, local. Picture seafood buffets on the beach, spit grills in the bush, home-made breads and some great bottles of wine and you’ll get an idea of the food we usually enjoy. We also cater to any dietary needs and requirements you may have.

Experienced:

We always travel with local and highly experienced guides and rangers. This not only ensures you will be treated to the finest and ‘off the beaten track’ locations, but it also gives us the opportunity to customise the experience for you.

Learn from Krijn's experience as travel photographer. In the past years he travelled through over 50 countries, in search of the perfect photos and exciting new locations for our photo tours.

Professional:

At the end of each day, we will share our opinion about the photos taken that day. Professional advice is given to help you improve your skills, or just to help you get that second pair of eyes to encourage a different angle. How much advice you’d like to receive, as well as how in-depth you’d like to go is completely up to you.

Fun:

Our tours are mainly focused on photography, but what is life without a bit of fun? It’s one of the most important reasons we want you to travel with us! Together we will share our experiences around a bonfire, we’ll shoot star trails, engage in light painting, fly in open-door helicopters and, once the day is done, unwind with a hot beverage and a board game or two.

Sustainable & ethical:

Sustainable travel is key: wherever we go, we only leave our footprints. As much as possible, we try to offset carbon emissions and work together with local specialists. Besides that, we believe in ethical travel: we never feed animals to lure them in our direction, but rather go to areas with naturally high animal populations.

All skill levels:

We love to travel with all levels of photographers, from beginners to experts. At the end of the day it is all about the overall experience, and not about how good your photography skills may be. We encourage the group to assist each other in attempting and experimenting with new techniques. Krijn will personally help you become a more confident photographer – building on your strengths and helping you improve your weak points.

Jam packed:

We understand it’s not every day you embark on a journey like this: so lets make most of it! We jam pack our tours with interesting content, and don’t waste any time with irrelevant gaps in the program. We will fly you where possible from location to location, to not waste time driving. We have a well though-through itinerary from early morning until bedtime, to offer you only the very best the destination has to offer! Guaranteed no hidden fees gives you peace of mind when it comes to the financial side of things!

1 May  -  12 May 2019

 

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More information?

The brochure contains more detailed information. Click here to download the PDF brochure

English brochure

Nederlandse brochure

 
 
  • Hugo van Roermund
    Hugo van Roermund
    My trip to South Africa was life-changing. Krijn knew the best spots to find wildlife. I’ll never forget that up-close with the lions! The service and hospitality were amazing, the lodges exceeded my expectations; everything was taken care of. It was the best mix of activity and relaxation. Krijn’s passion for photography and his personal connection to the area and its people are inspiring. I can highly recommend his services.
  • Aimee van der Wolde
    Aimee van der Wolde
    Krijn gave us an amazing experience in Mozambique! His passion for travelling and exploring different cultures is inspiring. He has a creative eye for finding unique off-the-beaten-track spots to photograph and the food and accommodations were even better. Looking forward to our next adventure!
  • David Lange
    David Lange
    Krijn taught me (I am at beginners level) the basics of photography, which I now apply to every photo that I take. This resulted in amazing Safari photos! Especially knowledge of the composition is something that pays off immediately when you’re an inexperienced photographer. I can’t recommend him enough: excellent hospitality, great company and you’ll learn a lot!
 
 

Do you want to be up, close & personal with Africa's biggest cats?

Book now!