Botswana & South Africa wildlife photography vacations

There’s only one method of shooting game in Africa that we’re fully on board with, and that’s through a camera lens. South Africa, most notably the world famous Kruger National Park in the far northeast of the country, has significant populations of all the Big Five: lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo, while neighbouring Botswana is one of the continent’s last great wildernesses, and home to the world’s largest concentration of elephants – some 230,000 of the big grey beauties. So when it comes to wildlife photography vacations in Africa, these two countries would naturally be close to the top of most people’s lists.

But given the sheer numbers of animals to be found in Southern Africa, why join an organised small group tour? Well, perhaps more than anything else it boils down to the people you’ll be traveling with. First, these tours are led by experienced, professional photographers, there to help you maximise your potential with flexible tutoring, tailored to each individual’s interests and personal requirements, and with daily workshops covering subjects such as editing techniques.
Second, it’s the quality of your guides. Game drives are accompanied by highly skilled guides and trackers, not only capable of finding the animals but also of finding you the best vantage points, at the best times of day. They can gauge likely behaviour, taking care to avoid animals that appear stressed, which means your viewings will have fewer other people around.

And lastly, on a small group tour you have likeminded travelers to share the experience with, bouncing ideas and advice around, comparing images, and providing company on long drives or during the hot midday sessions when you will be relaxing around your accommodation.

What will I see?

Staying in a private reserve on the outskirts of Kruger National Park, or a temporary wilderness camp in Botswana, you will set out on twice-daily game drives, each lasting around three hours. Early mornings before breakfast, and dusk when the scenery takes on a sublime golden glow, are both peak wildlife viewing times, with excellent light and active animals.

Around Kruger of course you have the Big Five to track down – a zoom lens is essential. You may see lions tracking herds of Cape buffalo, or great herds of elephants bathing and spraying each other with water in the river. In Botswana’s Tuli Block, a stunning nature reserve with lunar-like landscapes and endless blue skies, you have elephants, zebras, lions and jackals, huge herds of antelope and maybe even cheetahs, as well as around 350 species of bird. This is also a superb place for a walking safari.
Another reason to recommend Botswana is that due to its emphasis on low volume safaris, the animals here are far less used to humans. As a result, their behaviours are a lot more, well, natural. Botswana involves roughing it a little bit, as there is not the same range of accommodation as you will find in South Africa, and journeys can be long and dusty. But for wildlife photography, it must surely rank among the finest destinations in the world.

There may also be opportunities for portraits and other cultural photography as you travel between locations, pausing in townships or community NGOs.

Our top Wildlife photography Vacation

South Africa wildlife photography safari

South Africa wildlife photography safari

Enjoy incredible photography during an exclusive safari

From £2650 7 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2023: 23 Jul
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Wildlife photography or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

When to go

Travel to Southern Africa in May. This is the start of the dry season which means the animals are easier to spot amid the vegetation, but crucially it also means that wildlife begins to gather in large numbers around waterholes. With a little luck you may witness a thrilling encounter between predator and prey and capture a terrific photo, which is certainly the only trophy we think anyone should be bringing home with them.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Claire Gribbin] [Intro: Cristy Zinn] [What will I see?: Matt Artz] [When to go: Tobin Rogers]