Trail Spotting: Photographing Wildlife Whilst on Safari

The African landscape possesses a powerful mystique that begs to be captured on film. Many adventure-hungry visitors travel to the world’s second biggest continent to experience the raw and unique beauty that has been the star of nature documentaries and conservation studies for decades. Whilst mini-series like the BBC’s Africa lure many to one of the last truly wild places on earth, no television series can prepare you for the awe and wonder sure to be felt from experiencing the wilderness first-hand.

Africa boasts a concentration of some of the world’s most fascinating animals, from powerful hunters of the Great Plains to wide-eyed nocturnal primates small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Travellers can choose from an incredible list of safari locations that are the natural habitat for species sure to stun.

There are numerous ways you can experience Africa, however, it can be an extremely expensive place to not only get to, but also explore.  Organised tours are a recommendable option, especially if you plan on going alone. There are cheaper options such as Absolute Africa who offer numerous safari trips alongside more luxurious options, or why not try a volunteering holiday?

Regardless of the methods you use to get to Africa, we looked into safari adventures and discovered lands we hope to tick-off our ‘places to see’ list very soon.

Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Ruaha National Park is one of Tanzania’s premier safari destinations. Rich with indigenous plant life and impressive animals, any wild experiences staged here are truly unique thanks to the practically untouched, unspoilt and unexplored ecosystem. One thing you are guaranteed is a vast array of birds – the park is their paradise and lists more than 571 nesting and/or visiting species. To make sure you see as many as possible, invest in a good Opticron spotting scope to ensure your inner bird watcher is satisfied before any with stage fright fly away.

Ruaha is said to have the highest concentration of elephants than any national park in East Africa. It also houses endangered wild dogs, lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffes, elands, impala, rare bat eared foxes, jackals and indigenous kudu.  It really is an amazing setting for safari photography.

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

There’s usually only one reason people book safaris to Rwanda and that is gorillas – good enough reason if any. About half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas live in the Volcanoes National Park, the 8090 km² gorilla haven made famous by Dian Fossey’s work, and the 1988 film Gorillas in the Mist.

Whilst gorillas are the main attraction, the park also houses endangered old world golden monkeys, small black-fronted duiker, the laughing spotted hyena, bushbuck and 178 recorded bird species.

As you’ll be climbing hills and dealing with mountainous landscape, make sure you have some good walking boots to protect your feet. Uttings Outdoors have some good options that will meet all your safari needs.

Maasai Mara, Kenya

Maasai Mara National Reserve is the must-visit place for adventurers wanting to spot, and photograph big cats. Chosen by the BBC as the setting for their Big Cat Diary television series, Massair Mara is home to the biggest lion prides, and is home to many other magnificent species such as tree dwelling leopards and speedy cheetahs. Try to go in July when the region welcomes vastly populated migrating herbivore herds, a key element to one of the greatest wilderness shows on earth.

Etosha National Park, Namibia

One of Southern Africa’s best loved wildlife sanctuaries, Etosha National Park offers excellent game viewing in accessible venues throughout its 22,270 km² borders. Zebra line the seemingly endless horizon and the many waterholes attract endangered black rhinoceros, lion, elephant and large numbers of antelope. A great time to do some photographing is during the drier months (June to November). The waterholes pull in a vast array of wildlife and visitors can expect to see up to 150 mammal species who call the park home.

Botswana

Boasting some of the best wildlife safaris in Africa, Botswana’s vast reserves are typically un-fenced, allowing the animals to run freely between them. Many areas are private, guaranteeing exclusive (but expensive) wildlife safaris; and at their heart is the Okavango Delta, one of the world’s most amazing environments.

There are many options in Botswana worth considering, all explained at Expert Africa – we’re voting for the Kalahari’s Salt Pans as it’s a truly unique setting.

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