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Thread started 05 Jul 2012 (Thursday) 14:10
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The Great African Photo Safari no. 5, 2013 in Kruger, South Africa

 
condyk
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Jul 05, 2012 14:10 |  #1

Sorry, now full!

Join us on a trip of a lifetime!

This will be the 5th Photo safari I've organised for POTN members and for 2013 we'll be travelling to the famous Kruger National Park, located in the far NE of South Africa, around 6 hours from Johannesburg International Airport.

My intention is to take two separate groups, each of five people, plus myself as organiser/general guide. I'm considering August 2013 and each trip will be 14 days, with probably 12 days actually in the park itself. I envisage that the first group will meet at the airport, we'll pick up our hire vehicles and then head to our JHB overnight guest house. Next morning will pick up supplies and then take the long drive to Kruger. From memory it's around 400km and roads most of the way very good, so we'll be in our camp around 4.00pm on the 2nd day. On the return we'll leave Kruger early and head straight for the airport. I'll then take a day or so break and then pick up the next group ... and repeat! Can't wait :-)

The absolute focus of the trip is on wildlife photography, including birds and reptiles, and all levels of experience are welcome. I am also happy to take along non-shooting partners of photographers - viewing can as rewarding as photography in my opinion and, of course, you don't need to join us on every game drive. Just bring some binoculars.

Costs, inclusive everything apart from restaurant food and drink and your own air-fair from your home airport to JHB and back, will be around £130/day per person, i.e. around £1800. I'd expect to take 2-3 payments over the period August 2012 to around March/April 2013.

In the past usually the first payment has been mainly for accommodation, second mainly for vehicle hire and the third for everything else that will be paid for once we're there (food, fuel, tips, park entry, day fees and conservation fees, etc.) I'll also bring lots of essentials like tyre pump, medical kit, guide books, maps, gps, etc so no need to worry about that kinda stuff! The third payment will reflect more accurately the actual and projected expenditure, so may well be less than the £1820 above. It won't be more!

If you unfortunately decide you can't or don't want to go after paying some or all your money in then you need to find a replacement or you will lose much/all your money. This is because it's unfair other group members should have to fork out lots of extra cash to cover your change of mind.

Standards of accommodation we'll use in Kruger will vary from good to excellent, depending mainly on the age of the camp; we'll also overnight in JHB and make use of a local 4* guest house - very carefully chosen. I've only been disappointed with one camps accommodation and we aint going back there! I have more often been delighted.

We will mix self catering with camp restaurant eating. Some camps will be very well set up in that regard and you'll also have access to laundry, a well stocked shop, a cash point and even telephone. Other camps will be much more remote and we'll plan ahead for that and take the basics of what we need in with us. Self-catering is really nice, usually we have a braai/bbq and everyone does something towards the group meal. If you like wine then South Africa has some really nice options and very reasonably priced.

My experience of running these trips with very mixed groups of absolute strangers is that those that enjoy them most are fairly easy going, self-disciplined, good sense of humour, team-workers willing to muck in and help with whatever needs doing, have a sense of adventure (and self-preservation) and are not 'too anal' about their photography: remember, the group will likely be quite mixed so if you get easily irritated with yourself and others when you can't get the 'perfect shot' then best you join another trip. Similarly, those with a sometimes anxious or controlling personality might also prefer to source a trip via another organiser.

I try to encourage a relaxed, low key but focused vibe ... we can all be relaxed, have fun, go with the flow but still possess the self-discipline and concern for other group members, e.g. to get up and be fully ready in time for the 5.30am game drive! If you're comfy with that approach then you'll likely enjoy yourself.

During previous trips we've ventured To Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa. I love them all, but for wildlife numbers and variety there is no doubt Kruger in South Africa is supreme. Each time we've seen the Big Five and captured many truly beautiful images.

Generally the routine is the same each day: we sleep early, wake early, go for a game drive from around 6am to 10am, before the light gets too harsh, return to camp for breakfast, do some chores, for the group and ourselves, maybe have a snooze. We then go for a second game drive from around 3-5.30pm. You really become conscious of quality of light in Africa and these times are adhered to so we maximise chances of perfect light, the so called 'golden hours'.

In terms of gear I've usually taken two bodies, one with something like a 70-200 or 70-300 and the other with a 400mm - these are the ranges you'll use most. Something like a 70-300 or a 100-400 on a single body is also fine. Big 500 or 600mm's are a great idea but can sometimes be impractical and get in the way of other shooters. But there's no doubt greater range and quality can pay dividends. A walk-around lens is also handy ... I generally take a fast prime, or something on the wider side. A macro is nice if that's your kinda thing. You don't have to spend mega-bucks, just buy smart.

A laptop is very useful for viewing and storing images. On previous trips people have sometimes 'shared'. A backup drive is also really wise to have. With two bodies and a laptop you can easily manage with a couple of 4GB cards. I can offer a lot of advice about what to take ... but generally you can travel surprising light. Many people have brought way too much on previous trips - a PITA for all!

Anyway, several people have expressed keen interest already. There are a max of 10 places available. I will choose those who I feel are likely to be most compatible and help ensure a smooth, relaxed and enjoyable trip.

If you're interested then please ask questions here, or you can call me if you prefer, even visit if you're in the UK! I would like to get groups formed asap, take first payments and then book accommodation in the next 6-7 weeks ... often the best camps and accommodation go very quickly so we can't delay much beyond September.

In terms of flights I can only really talk about UK ... I have usually monitored prices and then booked around January for a July/August flight. Sometimes there's a great offer and so worth booking early. I'll fly from Heathrow direct to JHB. The one thing we need to do is arrive same day if AT ALL possible.

Over to you ...


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Olli
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Jul 05, 2012 14:25 |  #2

What a coincidence, just a 30 min ago I checked the fare to Jburg ...

Would love to be in your your team again, Dave, but timing is not not the best for us.

Anybody else ... what to say ... join if you can.


- olli
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"The best travel is a leap in the dark. If the destination were familiar and friendly what would be the point in going there?" (Paul Theroux: Dark Star Safari)
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advaitin
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Jul 05, 2012 14:31 |  #3

All right. I've made my declaration on the other thread, but will repeat. If the time frame of August 2013 stands, I definitely toss my name in.
I'm Charles Griffin, age 69 (by then), retired news photographer, Army Infantry back in early '60s, with off road training and experience with tracked and wheeled vehicles (mostly on jeeps and 3/4 ton trucks, however). Also a Peace Corps volunteer In India in mid '60s. I maintain a commercial drivers license with passenger endorsement. A photo safari is something I have long wanted to do.


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tommykjensen
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Jul 05, 2012 14:39 |  #4

Olli wrote in post #14674600external link
Anybody else ... what to say ... join if you can.

As one who has been on 3 safari trips with Dave I can only concur. If you have the money and time then go for it.

I would love to go a fourth time but don't know yet. I migth do something entirely different next year but still in South Africa ;)


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tommykjensen
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Jul 05, 2012 15:41 |  #5

Dave, do you plan on starting the trip in north Kruger as our last trip and then work your way down to south or will you just concentrate on the south part which had the highest concentration of animals (and unfortunately also tourists) ?


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joayne
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Jul 05, 2012 19:55 |  #6

Subscribed after 4 years of wishing ... ;)


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condyk
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Jul 06, 2012 10:27 |  #7

Olli wrote in post #14674600external link
Would love to be in your your team again, Dave, but timing is not not the best for us.

Anybody else ... what to say ... join if you can.

Thanks Olli, would love to have you again :D

advaitin wrote in post #14674625external link
A photo safari is something I have long wanted to do.

Cheers again ... but consider whether you're happy to ride three to a vehicle and possibly with less experienced shooters.

tommykjensen wrote in post #14674666external link
As one who has been on 3 safari trips with Dave I can only concur. If you have the money and time then go for it.

I would love to go a fourth time but don't know yet. I migth do something entirely different next year but still in South Africa ;)

Thanks Tom ... if you do go to ZA separately and need any input then let me know.

tommykjensen wrote in post #14674968external link
Dave, do you plan on starting the trip in north Kruger as our last trip and then work your way down to south or will you just concentrate on the south part which had the highest concentration of animals (and unfortunately also tourists) ?

Will be Central and South, probably entering south at Berg en Dal for the Leopards and Rhino, up to Biyamiti, which is a remote, private camp, known for Lion and Cheetah, then the very busy Skukuza Camp - some superb wildlife areas around there and great facilities, but also crowds on the larger roads! Then possibly Talamati which again is remote, we went last time with the waterhole and viewpoint near the entry, and good for Lion, then finally either Setara or Olifants. We traveled a LONG way last time. This time less camp to camp travel and more intensive spotting around camp roads and back roads. Apart from Skukuza doubt we'll see too many people.

joayne wrote in post #14676075external link
Subscribed after 4 years of wishing ... ;)

:lol:


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tommykjensen
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Jul 06, 2012 10:58 |  #8

condyk wrote in post #14678724external link
Will be Central and South, probably entering south at Berg en Dal for the Leopards and Rhino, up to Biyamiti, which is a remote, private camp, known for Lion and Cheetah, then the very busy Skukuza Camp - some superb wildlife areas around there and great facilities, but also crowds on the larger roads! Then possibly Talamati which again is remote, we went last time with the waterhole and viewpoint near the entry, and good for Lion, then finally either Setara or Olifants. We traveled a LONG way last time. This time less camp to camp travel and more intensive spotting around camp roads and back roads. Apart from Skukuza doubt we'll see too many people.

Sounds great.


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DDA
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Jul 06, 2012 12:53 |  #9

condyk wrote in post #14678724 (external link)
Will be Central and South, probably entering south at Berg en Dal for the Leopards and Rhino,

Rhinos in the South? Naaahhh... I can't remember having seen a single rhino in that part... (how many was our record? 16, 18 in one day? I'm not sure anymore ;-)a)

Anyway, even though I won't be able to make it, I can only recommend going for those who can. We had a great time with some awesome viewings...

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tommykjensen
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Jul 06, 2012 13:02 |  #10

DDA wrote in post #14679390 (external link)
Rhinos in the South? Naaahhh... I can't remember having seen a single rhino in that part... (how many was our record? 16, 18 in one day? I'm not sure anymore ;-)a)

Haha it was many. I believe we were over 30 in total in just a couple of days.

IMAGE: http://photos.klein-jensen.dk/Travel/South-Africa/South-Africa-2011/i-J8WJM6V/1/X2/20110801southafrica20110195-X2.jpg

IMAGE: http://photos.klein-jensen.dk/Travel/South-Africa/South-Africa-2011/i-R5N59gm/1/X2/20110801southafrica20110171-X2.jpg

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condyk
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Jul 06, 2012 13:21 |  #11

Great stuff fellas. Amazing we got so close to those Rhino that day DDA.


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DDA
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Jul 06, 2012 16:09 |  #12

condyk wrote in post #14679523external link
Great stuff fellas. Amazing we got so close to those Rhino that day DDA.

We didn't get close to them. They closed down on us ;)


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invisiblegirls
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Jul 06, 2012 17:49 |  #13

Dave, I've followed the thread over to its new home, still love to be on the list. Am away until the beginning of August but would appreciate meeting up early August, so many questions. In the meantime I'll re-read the previous threads.
Stan


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advaitin
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Jul 06, 2012 23:55 |  #14

Three people inexperienced shooters in a jeep. In India there were three of us and a driver and guide--and no driver ever seemed to know what "stop!" meant.

I'm willing to rent and drive a vehicle--as long as I get a chance to do some shooting for myself and I don't mind sharing information or working with others or working around others. In fact I rather enjoy seeing other people learning to improve their photography, although I suspect that many advanced amateurs will be just as capable or more than me. At least when someone spots an animal, this driver will understand "stop"and "back up."


Canons to the left, Canons to the right,
We hold our L glass toward the light,
Digitizing in a snap reflective glory
That will forever tell our imaged story.

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condyk
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Jul 07, 2012 10:45 |  #15

advaitin wrote in post #14682158external link
Three people inexperienced shooters in a jeep. In India there were three of us and a driver and guide--and no driver ever seemed to know what "stop!" meant.

I'm willing to rent and drive a vehicle--as long as I get a chance to do some shooting for myself and I don't mind sharing information or working with others or working around others. In fact I rather enjoy seeing other people learning to improve their photography, although I suspect that many advanced amateurs will be just as capable or more than me. At least when someone spots an animal, this driver will understand "stop"and "back up."

You can ride with me if you're worried about missing critters ... I know when to stop and how to find position for people and I can also spot if someone else is taking their turn driving. There'll be no additional vehicles on the trip; everyone will share equally.

I think the huge number of great shots posted in previous trip threads shows that folks won't miss too much. Some folks seem to be great spotters right off, like Tommy and Olli above, but for others it takes time. We can ride convoy for first 3-4 days until people get familiar with how to spot, park rules and the different environment. All will be cool :cool:


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