Wildlife Photo Safari from Johannesburg

From anxious first-time safari goers to lifelong safari addicts, what is the one universal item that everyone brings with them on a wildlife photo safari from Johannesburg?

Of course….it’s a  camera. Whether it’s professional photographic equipment with multiple lenses and tripods, an adventurous GoPro on a selfie stick or quite simply a smartphone or tablet, every wildlife enthusiast wants to document their safari adventure and get that perfect money shot as a lasting souvenir of their unforgettable time and unbelievable sightings in South Africa.

Who leads the Wildlife Photo Safari tour from Johannesburg?

You will be accompanied on the tour by world renowned photographer Pierre Bassani. He has been South Africa’s leader in innovative wildlife photography and  interactive workshops  since 1985. Our wildlife photo safari tours  are built from the ground up for photographers who want to experience and photograph South Africa’s top wildlife, nature and traditional culture locations. Our well-planned itineraries include lodging in the Pilanesberg National park, meals, ground transportation and thoughtful, world-class professional photographer guides. Travel with congenial, like-minded and enthusiastic photographers, of all levels, whose primary interest is wildlife and safari photography.

Having Pierre on the tour adds extraordinary value to the overall wildlife safari experience. Not only will he reveal photography tips and tricks and share suggestions for capturing the ideal and iconic shots, he can also accompany guests on game drive, should they wish, sharing his expertise, knowledge and advice along the way. Pierre has spent over 20 years with wild animals. Besides his wealth of extensive photography knowledge, he also has a lot to share about the wild animals you encounter. He definitely has a story or two to share about his life. What Pierre likes to teach our clients firstly is to get off the ‘Paparazzi mode’-‘The P mode’ , ‘The programme mode’ or “A” ( the awful mode) and out everyone into manual mode and learn how to use your cameras properly. So you won’t just be taking photos in zombie mode and just wish for the best.

Pierre will explain camera techniques, ideal settings and the rules of composition and, more importantly, he will encourage guests to truly appreciate and savour the essence of a safari:

  • to be patient and observe the wildlife more closely;
  • to capture special moments that other guests may miss as they rush from sighting to sighting;
  • to appreciate the fluctuating degrees of light and the seasonal storm clouds that add bold, striking contrast;
  • and to take the time to really witness the natural beauty and curious creatures, both through the lens and with your own eyes. Photographers often forget to put the camera down and to take a timeout to appreciate the moment using all of the senses.

The venue for the photo safari tour?

This 2 day wildlife photo safari from Johannesburg takes place in the Pilanesberg National Park. Situated just over 2 hours drive from the city, this is the perfect venue for photographers who have limited time and do not want to travel far.

Some of the key highlights of the Pilanesberg include:

  • 570 square kilometres of pure wildlife awesomeness.
  • It is home to the Big 5. ( Lion, Leopard, Rhino, African Elephant and Cape Buffalo).
  • The Pilanesberg is situated within an ancient volcano and includes 3 concentric ridges that rise from the plains.
  • The approximate population of large wild mammals is 10,000 including 50 lion, 30 leopard, 13 Cheetah, 220 elephants, 200 Buffalo, 600 Kudu, 1700 zebra, 3000 impalas, 130 giraffe and a classified number of white and black Rhino.
  • There are over 300 species of bird in the Pilanesberg. Birds have always been a favorite on a wildlife photo safari. 
  • The Pilanesberg offers a unique mix of plant life. Flora that is common to the area includes a variety of acacia tree, and many other herbs and grasses.

The accommodation on the tour?

There are various options when it comes to the accommodation on the tour. You have the choice of a camping safari or a more luxurious option at one of the luxury resorts in the area. The choice is all yours. Please get in contact with us to discuss the various options. Our pricing on this tour includes the camping option. If you wish to upgrade to the luxury safari, please let us know and we will let you know the pricing.

What photography equipment you would need for the safari?

The goal on the  Photo Safari is to take good pictures. You do not need to go and buy a super expensive camera. Most modern digital cameras will do. Taking a good quality wildlife photo is more complex than just clicking away t an animal. Pierre will take you through the correct composition and techniques outlined below:

In general terms, most of the photography is landscape and close up shots. You would need a 24-70mm for the landscape shots. For the close up shots of elephants and the likes, it would be good to have a 70-200 FT.8 or something equivalent. For the big wildlife shots, a nice prime lens (300mm, 500m or 600mm). The older 100-500mm will also work.  We do not advise you to bring cumbersome flash units or tripods but we do advise that at least one member of your group has a video camera available, although many dSLRs now have these built in.  Bring plenty of batteries and a charger so you don’t run out of power!  Cameras get dirty easily on dusty safari drives, so bring plenty of cleaning equipment like cleaning cloths and a blower brush.  Finally bring plenty of memory cards – you will be surprised how many shots you may end up taking.

Wildlife photography is not just about getting the close up shots. What we are trying to achieve on these tours is to capture the scene. We make use of the spectacular Pilanesberg scenery, sand roads and hills. Wide angle lenses are perfect for the landscape shots.

Each person should ideally have their own pair of binoculars as they are essential to see the birds and animals in the distance. The best size is 8/10 x 40 and, again, they don’t need to be the most expensive top of the range binoculars.

Is there an option  to rent a camera for the day?

Yes. Just let us know and we will organise for you. A daily rate will apply

Who is this tour for?

The tour is available for novices and experts alike. If you are a novice, Pierre will take you through all the basics of wildlife photography. If you are a seasoned photographer, we are sure Pierre will add an enromous amount of value to your experience. He has an intimate knowledge of the Pilanesberg and will definitely know the best locations for that perfect shot. He also has a wealth of knowledge to share on the wild animals you encounter on the tour.

Additional information

Number of Tickets1 ticket @ R10150 pp, 2 ticket @ R7550 pp, 3 ticket @ R7250 pp, 4 ticket @ R6850 pp
  • Unique wildlife photography experience in the Pilanesberg National Park
  • Your host is renowned South African wild life photographer, Pierre Bassani
  • Incredible wildlife photo opportunities that include the iconic Big 5 as well as an abundance of other mammal, bird and reptile species.
  • Enjoy a unique safari camping experience-South African Style.
  • All transport, logistics, meals and games drives are taken care of

Day 1:

Our guide will pick you up from your hotel in Johannesburg at 6 am.

We then take the 2.5 hour drive through to the Pilanesberg. We will stop en route for breakfast at the Hartebeespoort Dam. There is an incredible traditional restaurant and coffee shop we like to frequent called ‘Tan Malie se Winkel’.

We should  arrive in the Pilanesbserg by about 9:30am.

Although not the best lighting, we will embark on our first introductory safari game drive. A perfect way to get to see what the Pilanesberg has to offer.

We will stop for lunch at the Pilanesberg Centre at about 12:30. Thereafter we take the 1 hour drive back to the campsite. You will have the rest of the afternoon free to enjoy the camp, go for a swim or take a stroll around the area.

At 4pm, we will embark on our first official wildlife photography safari game drive. Pierre will advice you on the best shots.

We should be back in camp by about 7:30pm where a scrumptious meal around the roaring camp fire awaits.

Day 2:

The best lighting opportunities for photos will be in the early morning as the sun rises. So we are going to be waking you up early. Wake up call is 4:30am in Summer and 5:30am in Winter. We first enjoy a cup of coffee before heading out.

We should be back at camp by about 7:30am (in summer) and 8:30am( in Winter). A delicious breakfast awaits.

You will have time to relax before we embark on our final game drive at 10am. We will spend about 4 hours in the Pilanesberg before heading back to Johannesburg at 2:30pm. We aim to be back in Johannesburg by 5pm.

  • Return transfers from Johannesburg to the Pilanesberg
  • Wildlife Photography expert and guide
  • All Pilanesberg entrance fees
  • 1 nights tented accommodation ( luxury option available-please get in touch to discuss)
  • Breakfast on Day 2
  • Dinner on Day 1
  • Late Afternoon open air game drive
  • Early morning open air game drive
  • 3 hour closed vehicle game drive on day 1 from 10am until 2:30pm
  • 4 hour closed vehicle game drive on day 2 from 10:30am until 2:30pm
  • Bottled Water
  • Breakfast on route on Day 1
  • Lunches on Day 1 and day 2
  • Photography equipment ( available to hire at a daily rate)
  • Upgrading of accommodation to a luxury option
  • Alcoholic drinks ( available to purchase)

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