Frequently Asked Questions

To help you with your safari planning we’ve gathered together some of the most frequently asked questions and answered them. 
If your particular question is not answered here then please feel free to drop us an email with your query.

Email:  wildlifephotographyafrica

NO. We don’t need one.
An ATOL is only required for the sale of flight inclusive packages from the UK.
We design and sell safaris on a ‘land only’ basis. Our clients come from may different countries so it is simply not practical for us to arrange flights for them all. Therefore an ATOL is neither necessary nor appropriate for us.

Yes.  It is important for you to have peace of mind that any money paid to Wildlife Photography Africa is secure.

Legal Obligation

Wildlife Photography Africa (WPA) is bound by Regulation 16 of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 to make certain arrangements to provide security for the refund of money paid over by consumers and for the repatriation of consumers in the event of insolvency of WPA.

Clients’ Trust Account

Regulation 16 of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 prescribes that those arrangements include a trust as described in Regulation 20 under which all monies paid over by a consumer (the Payment) under or in contemplation of a contract for a holiday with WPA shall be held in the United Kingdom by a person as trustee for the Consumer until

(i)       the contract between WPA and the Consumer has been fully performed;
(ii)      the Payment has been repaid to the Consumer; or
(iii)     the Payment has been forfeited by the Consumer

In plain English

What that means in plain English is that any money paid by you to us is paid directly into a Trust Account. We cannot access that money until we have provided the services we contracted to provide. We don’t get paid until you have completed your travels with us.

If anything happens to Wildlife Photography Africa, your money is still there, held safely in trust for you.

One of the questions we are asked most frequently is “What kind of people book with Wildlife Photography Africa?”
The simple answer is that they are people who want to combine their interest in photography with their desire to discover Africa and its wildlife. But it is actually a bit more complicated than that.

Most of the people who join our group safaris are novice photographers; you’d be amazed how many people buy a new camera to take on safari and who don’t learn how to use it properly before they go. Combining an African safari with photographic tuition means that you’ll enjoy an outstanding safari and you’ll come home with great photos to remember it by.
Our tailor made safaris are a different matter. Here we find ourselves putting together safari itineraries for more experienced photographers who are seeking exceptional wildlife encounters.

Our knowledge of Africa is extensive and we are equally skilled at putting together excellent African wildlife safaris for travellers who are a little bit less fanatical about photography. Either way you’ll still get immense pleasure from the time you spend in the company of some amazing and enchanting animals.

We are small and personal. 
Your safari will be designed specially for you, based on the things you tell us you want to see and do. 

If you prefer not to share your game drives with other travellers we can arrange for you to have your own private guide and vehicle.

Our scheduled photographic groups have a maximum of just 6 persons, which means you’ll always have adequate room in safari vehicles and will always be able to count on plenty of one-to-one time with the guide.
Everyone in the group shares an interest in photography so all our activities will be tailored accordingly.

We’ve used our years of experience to choose camps and lodges in prime game viewing areas where you won’t be overrun by hordes of tourists and will have all the time you need for those special shots.

The specific content of the ‘in camp’ sessions will depend largely on the participants; their preferences and their experience; but photographic ‘coaching’ takes place throughout the safari.

We usually begin with camera and equipment basics then progress on to topics like camera set up, file types, metering, lighting, exposure and composition.

Each day’s sessions are directed to some extent by individual requirements and the day’s wildlife viewing as we will discuss tips and techniques specific to what we are photographing. By limiting the number of participants to no more than 6 we can ensure that each person has access to as much ‘one on one’ tuition as necessary.

Yes you can.
That’s what most people do, and the majority of your photographs will be pretty well exposed, but few of them will be great. Auto mode is great for quick snapshots but if you want to capture the best images a bit of input from you makes all the difference.

Ah, the ‘give a monkey a typewriter approach’.
Yes you almost certainly will, but more by luck than good judgement.
Digital technology is fantastic and it is progressing all the time. The very fact that it is so good has made the majority of photographers complacent. As you say, it costs nothing to fire of a hundred pictures because you can delete the rubbish and use the memory space again. In the dim dark recesses of history, when pictures were captured on film and you only had 24 or 36 images per roll everyone took a lot more care to get it right. Developing films cost money so we would endeavour to get composition and exposure perfect before we pressed the shutter release.

There are still significant rewards for putting the same amount of effort into making sure your digital images are correctly exposed.

Yes, sometimes.
Photoshop and various other image manipulation programs can help you transform a mediocre photograph into something much better. And if you enjoy what is called ‘post processing’ there is nothing wrong with that. But it is time consuming and do you really want to come back from your trip with hundreds (maybe even thousands) of pictures that need to be worked on before they look good?
Wouldn’t it be much better to get it right in the camera to start with?

Wildlife photography is not expensive. You can do it in your own back garden or a nearby wood and it will cost you nothing.
We’re taking you to some of the best wildlife reserves on the African continent and you will enjoy some amazing game viewing experiences. Entry to the National Parks and reserves requires the payment of park entry fees and conservation fees. And because of the exclusivity of the locations the accommodation is not cheap either. However, we believe that our trips still represent excellent value for money and that it would cost you more to try replicate the same itinerary by yourself.

The price of accommodation in Africa’s wildlife reserves is a determined by three main factors: Location, facilities, demand.
We’ve attempted to choose the best locations for viewing and photographing wildlife. By their very nature these locations are in high demand. To give you the best possible experience we want to visit them at the best time of year for wildlife viewing, this further increases the demand. We have selected smaller camps and lodges offering the kind of intimate atmosphere more suited to our needs. There’s also the issue of the number of vehicles that will be encountered during our game drives. We strive to ensure that when we find a worthwhile sighting we will have the space and time to enjoy it.

Of course we believe they do but, ultimately, only you can make that judgement. There are certainly companies that will offer safaris at a lower price; but they do not offer the same standard of accommodation or guiding. There are also companies that charge much higher rates. Whether or not you think your experience with Wildlife Photography Africa represents value for money will depend on whether or not you feel you got from the trip what you wanted. What we can do though is put it in context. How disappointed would you be if you’d spent several hundred pounds on a good DLSR and lenses and thousands of pounds travelling to visit exotic destinations only to discover when you got home that your photographs were flat and dull because you’d neglected to set up your camera properly? Surely it is worth making sure you can get the best from your equipment so that you can bring back images to be proud of.

You can read books and watch DVDs but there is no substitute for field experience.

Probably not. If you have an interest in wildlife photography it is likely you will already have everything you need.
2 or 3 lenses are enough for most photographers, particularly if you have to carry them around. If the lenses in your bag cover the focal range from approximately 20-400mm, you won’t miss many shots.
Basically you need to be able to photograph subjects from very close to far a way and from things as small as a bird to as large as an elephant. You’ll find you use one lens more than all the others. This is likely to be something like a 70-200mm or a 70-300mm zoom lens. Because you will be using this lens the most it is worth making sure it is the best quality you can afford.

You may need to get your hands on some additional memory cards as you’ll be keeping a lot more of the pictures you take. We recommend that you take your photographs using the highest quality setting your camera allows which means that the files sizes will be large.

A spare battery is all but essential. Although you will have the ability to recharge batteries whenever we are in camp, some of the new super zooms really guzzle battery power.

Having said all that though, you can still get great wildlife photos with some of the high end ‘bridge’ cameras, though most don’t give you the same degree of control over the way the photograph is taken. You could even come along just for a great wildlife safari.

As a general rule no. We do not have a supply of equipment for loan or hire. It is important that you work with your own camera and lenses and become familiar with them. However, it is highly likely that others in the group will have equipment that is compatible with yours and they may be willing to let you try it out. No guarantees though. If you have a Canon and everyone else is using Nikons then you won’t be able to share lenses.

No, not at all. Choosing a camera and lenses is a matter of personal preferences. The important thing is that you feel comfortable using your own equipment. What other people are using is largely irrelevant. However, if others in the group have equipment from the same manufacturer then there may be opportunities for you to try out their lenses. To be honest you will still be able to enjoy the trip if you bring a good compact/bridge camera with a 12x or 14x zoom. Some of the stuff we cover in the workshops will not be relevant but most of it will be.

That is entirely up to you. Stability is critical when using longer lenses and a good tripod provides this. But you will need to weigh up the benefits of carrying a sturdy tripod against its weight.
Much of our photography will be done from vehicles where you will be able to rest your equipment on various bits of the vehicle. In such situations a monopod, bean bag or some kind of clamp is preferable to a tripod as it can be manoeuvred more easily.
Many people just bring a small bean bag to use as a rest. On walking safaris a tripod could be useful but you will have to decide whether the advantages of having one outweigh the hassle of carrying it around. A monopod is a good compromise.
Make sure that whatever kind of support you decide to bring works with the lenses you’ll be using.

Our workshops concentrate on still photography.
We do not have the same level of expertise when it comes to video work and prefer to stick to what we know best. However, there will be plenty of opportunities for capturing video and many of our travellers do so. It is quite common amongst couples for one to take still photographs and the other to shoot video.

That depends to a great extent on which countries and parks you visit. 

One of the first things we’ll ask you before we start planning your itinerary is whether there are any animals or places you particularly want to see.

Yes and no. We visit wildlife reserves; by definition they contain wild animals. As a general rule though the animals keep away from humans and you will be quite safe in the custom designed safari vehicles we use. Of course there are dangers to be aware of and in each lodge or camp you will be given guidelines on what to do and what not to do to stay safe. The most basic of which is quite simply do not wander off into the bush alone.

Yes there are snakes in Africa. Some of them are extremely poisonous. However your chances of encountering one are slim. Snakes are not normally confrontational and will almost always move away when they hear/feel you coming. When we are on walking safaris sturdy footwear is recommended as a sensible precaution.

Our itineraries include any internal/domestic flights needed as an integral part of the itinerary but we do not organise international flights.

Our guests come from many different countries and it is simply not practical to arrange everyone’s flights. Far better to use a flight specialist in your home country.

Mobile phone coverage is spreading all the time. As a general rule your phone will work in most towns and cities and also in some of the larger lodges, but it probably will not work when you are out in the game parks. We do recommend that as a courtesy to other travellers you switch off your phone when out on game drives. We recommend that if you can’t live without your phone you try and limit making/receiving calls to the evenings when you are in camp.

Some lodges have it, some don’t. Smaller camps in more remote areas will almost certainly not have internet access.

If Internet access is important to you please let us know at the planning stage and we will do our best to select camps & lodges that have it. 
Even then, signal strength will often be poor and it cannot be guaranteed to be working all the time.

In a word, terrific.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that because some of the places we recommend are referred to as ‘camps’ that the accommodation is going to be basic; it isn’t. All the camps we use are much more than just comfortable and hospitality and service are first rate.
You’ll feel so much at home you won’t want to leave.

Only if you want to. Most lodges/camps offer single, twin or double rooms.
Our prices are based on double occupancy but single rooms are usually available upon payment of a supplement.

It is worth bearing in mind that the time of travel can have a bearing on whether or not a single supplement is charged. A lot of camps do not charge for single occupancy in the green (or low) season.

The quality food that our chefs prepare in their camp kitchens is outstanding. 
Daily meals will usually be as follows: Early morning tea/coffee before our morning game drive. Breakfast on return to camp. Lunch. Afternoon tea/coffee before we set off on our afternoon/evening game drive. Dinner each evening.
On days where we opt to stay out all day in the reserve we will take a picnic lunch with us.

Within game parks we use custom built safari vehicles. In Southern Africa these are usually Land Rovers or Land Cruisers that have been adapted for safari. The customisation involves removing the roof and windows and extending the body length. Depending on the weather there may or may not be a canopy to provide shade. 

In East Africa the same type of vehicles are used by a lot of camps but if you are using the same vehicle for your on-road travel as well it will usually be a converted Land Cruiser with sliding side windows and a large roof hatch.

Longer distances between parks are covered by aeroplane. This blog post might be useful reading

On our group safaris we will have a maximum of 8 persons on board, comprising one driver/guide, one WPA guide and up to 6 group members. The 6 group members will be seated in 3 rows of seats ( 2 people per row) so there is ample room for both you and your camera bag as well as an unimpeded view of the outside. In some parks a tracker sits on a special seat right at the front of the vehicle, above the front bumper. Where there is a tracker the maximum number of persons is 9.

If you are travelling on a private, tailor-made, itinerary then the number of people in the vehicle can vary according to camp policy. As a rule we only work with camps that have a maximum of 6 guests per vehicle. If you prefer to have a vehicle exclusively for yourselves then we can arrange for a private vehicle to be booked at extra cost.

You won’t need one, but you may wish to bring one. Generally speaking the pop-up flash on most cameras is not very powerful and will only illuminate subjects very close to the camera. If you want to take pictures of subjects further away, or perhaps the interior of the lodge, a more powerful flashgun would be needed. Please note that some guides will ask you not to use flash when photographing animals. If you are particularly interested in macro photography then you’ll be much more likely to use a flash.

If your safari itinerary is limited to game reserves and National parks then it will be limited. Of course most of the staff at the lodges will have been drawn from the local population but by their very nature lodges and camps are located away from population centres to maximise the wildlife viewing opportunities.
There are opportunities on some itineraries to visit local villages, communities or schools as many of our camps are involved in local community projects. These visits are entirely optional.

Our family safaris usually include school and village visits as both parents and children find these interesting.

Who knows?
By the end of the trip you should be taking photographs of a standard that will satisfy most magazine editors and photo libraries but there are a lot of photographers out there who make their living from wildlife photography so competition is tough.