travel tips

Tips for responsible travel

When we visit beautiful places, it’s natural to want our holidays to have a positive impact on local people and the environment. 

Before you travel

• Read up on local cultures and learn a few words of the local language – travelling with respect earns you respect.

• Remove all excess packaging – waste disposal is difficult in remote places and developing countries.

• Ask your tour operator whether there are local conservation or social projects that you could visit on your trip, and if/how you could help support them.

While on holiday 

• Buy local produce in preference to imported goods

• Do not buy products made from endangered species, hard woods or ancient artefacts

• Respect local cultures, traditions and holy places – if in doubt ask advice

• Use water sparingly – its very precious in most African countries and tourists tend to use far more than local people

• Remember that local people have different ways of thinking and concepts of time. This makes them different not wrong; try to cultivate the habit of asking questions.

When you get back

• Write to your tour operator with any comments or feedback about your holiday and especially include any suggestions on reducing environmental impacts and increasing benefits to local communities.  

• If you’ve promised to send pictures or gifts to local people please remember to do so; many are promised and not all arrive.

• Enjoy the memories, reflect on your experience and start planning your next trip

Photography Tips

How to photograph wildlife

1. The Right Equipment

A good safari camera will have little or no lag between the time you depress the shutter release button and the photo is taken. This is because you often only have a moment’s notice before the animal disappears or the bird takes off. As many wildlife sightings will occur during early morning and dusk, your camera needs to be able to function well in low light conditions as well as bright sunlight during the day.

You can spend a lot of money on a large telephoto lens to help you take the ultimate shot. For most however, an entry level wide angle lens (50 mm to 250mm) will do a good enough job, resulting in some wonderful wildlife and even bird shots. A beanbag, a window mounted tripod or a monopod that you can rest the camera on to help stabilise the long lenses is a wonderfully useful piece of equipment. The bean bag is the simplest and least expensive.

2. Patience and Luck

“Everything comes to him who waits”, is a very relevant saying for wildlife photography. Patience will help you get better photographs because you will be able to take pictures of animal behaviour that you would otherwise have missed. There is no guarantee of what you will encounter on safari and you will need a bit of luck on your side to get that winning shot. 

3. Light and Composition

Due to the habits of many species, you will find yourself taking pictures in low light conditions at dawn and dusk so a fast lens is essential. Changing the exposure by one stop up and down will also help get the best exposure available. Be careful using the auto-focus on your camera because it will cheerfully focus on a twig or tuft of grass close to your animal subject and spoil your composition.

How to Shoot a Portrait

Getting close to people is an excellent way to get close to a culture and the camera is a good tool for meeting people. Some tips are:

• Take the time to develop relationships with people and the land.

• Focus on common experiences — love, family, friends, death and celebrations — and appreciate the cultural differences.

• Keep your camera discreet, always ask permission and try to photograph people in a natural, typical setting.

• Learn a dozen words of the local language. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are good places to start.

• Learn as much as you can about a place before visiting and always respect local customs.  If you are not wanted, leave and move along to the next photo opportunity.

How to Shoot a Landscape

• To take a good landscape you have to go about it as if you were taking a portrait.

• Mastering light: Light is the most important and tricky element.

• Choose a good vantage point: Move around a bit; switch elevations, kneel on the ground, or walk around.

• Pay attention to everything in the frame; what’s in the corner is as important as what’s in the centre. Be careful not to slip power lines or half a person into the image because you’re not paying attention.

• Use bracket exposure setting for landscape’s

• Have polarizing filter for landscapes

How to Get the Best Light

• Shoot at dawn and continue in late afternoon, into sunset’s warm tones and even half an hour beyond, to capture subtle flickering firelight. Experiment with exposure and film speed to make the most of available light.

• The best light is in the early morning and before sunset. Good light also depends on location and time of year, so plan your day well.

• Don’t be afraid of bad weather.  You can get wonderful light in fog and when the sky is dark and stormy.

• Use lens hood to protect lens and reduce glare

• Consider, one third stop “overexposure” in dark shadowed areas

Don’t Leave Home Without 

• CDs to download pictures as you travel

• Ziploc bags for waterproofing

• Gaffer’s tape – strong, removable and infinitely useful

• A pen and notebook to keep track of where you’ve been

• Beanbag/monopod: easier to carry than a tripod

• Leatherman/multi-purpose tool – for the fix you might get into

• Polarising and warming filters – make your pictures pop in reflective daylight

• Spare battery/ies and a spare memory card – you can never have enough

• Strongly suggest a backup camera as there are no camera stores in the bush!

• Camera gadget bag a must during game drives (Extra lens, battery, cards etc.) Keep closed due to heavy amount of fine dust!

Some Extra Tips from a Pro

• Choose a camera with interchangeable lenses. A standard lens for general photography and a telephoto (ex: 70 to 200 minimum for animal shots)

• Professional option: Pros suggest taking two identical camera bodies. One camera has telephoto and the other a normal lens. This is a great backup and also helps avoiding to change lenses when time and opportunities exist in photographing animals. Your local photo store might be able to rent you the second one.

• Shoot, all animals at minimum of 500 to 1200 of a sec.

• Set ISO  to 200 – 400 early morning and late evening.

• Have extra battery and photo card on person for easy and quick changing.

• Have camera lens brush and a “rocket” blower available at all times

• Avoid using filters during animal shoots.

• Use a “rapid fire” continuous shots on animals.

• Download card on hard drive backup when full

Recommend using multiple high-speed, 8GB – Cards (1200 Photos – Jpeg,) If shooting raw, suggest 16 GB

Minimum of three camera batteries (w/name & #)

Two camera chargers (w/name)

If using batteries, use only 8X lithium batteries

Use flash to fill in for dark skinned subjects

Small compact tri-pod for scenery shots              

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