Any keen photographer who has seen fabulous images of the African bush and the wildlife that live there will have dreamed of capturing their own interpretation of such a scene. But location is everything, says Deon De Villiers, foundering owner and safari planner of boutique tour organisers Safari Guru. Wildlife photography in Africa requires far more than a good camera and a smart photographer to set, aim, and shoot.
According to Deon, finding unimpeded views can be tricky. “Anyone can find lions in the bush, but the question is whether they will be able to photograph them without bushes, leaves, or the landscape obscuring the view. Getting great pictures means choosing the right locations. In Deon’s words: “No trip is GREAT until photography clients get uncluttered views and clear pictures that tell the story. Although, we recommend putting the camera down from time to time; enjoying the experience, presence of magnificent beasts and soaking up the atmosphere.”
As an avid wildlife photographer and former manager of luxury bush camps and safari lodges in the African wilds, Deon has first-hand experience of the places where modern-day “hunters” of the photographic sort will find what they are looking for. His many years in Southern Africa, including South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia, as well as his extensive Africa-wide travels have primed him with the information that sets ecotourists up for the safari of a lifetime.
No “One-Size-Fits All” Photo Safaris
Although it would no doubt be fairly easy for a man of De Villiers’ experience to develop packaged itineraries that would satisfy multiple clients, he’s offering much more than that. “Everybody has their own ideas and interests which affect what they want to see and do when visiting Africa. This coupled with the fact that people are unique; such that, the terrain, temperature, camps and style of travel that will suit one person will not identically transfer to a different group, perhaps of different ages or demographic. So, Safari Guru aims to meet and exceed individual groups and family’s expectations rather than offering packaged tours that may not deliver what they want to experience.”
De Villiers is well-prepared to achieve his aim. Apart from having personal experience of wildlife and safari lodges from Southern to Central Africa, he also knows his primarily-Australian market. After all, Australia is the country he has chosen in which to settle down and raise his children, and as a young professional he also enjoyed several years of an Australian-based executive lifestyle. Nevertheless, he never assumes that he knows what people want.
“Today, people can book a holiday or group package online with ease; yet this leaves the likelihood of fulfilling your own personal interests and brief to chance. There’s a lack of personal service in which you’re a number, not a name, and lacking the ability to listen and decipher what travellers actually want from their journeys,” he explains. “When people work through Safari Guru, they’re getting a personally-tailored experience. We take them to the places where they’re most likely to get good photographs of the animals they want to immortalise in images, and that’s just one aspect of our service.”
“No automated booking engine can do that, because it requires personal interaction and a human being who knows which questions to ask. That information must then be translated into an itinerary that’s all about the memories, and of course, the photographs, that clients want to take home after a safari.”
Backup all the Way
De Villiers and his team go far beyond just preparing an itinerary and making the correct bookings. Some of the camps offer specialised photographic vehicles, while others offer professional photographic equipment. Then there are the camps that offer better guiding services with safari guides which understand photography.
His network of contacts in destination countries, and his dedication to personal service, means that there’s always someone to help, no matter what happens. He is perfectly happy to receive calls from clients at any time of the day or night, and personally monitors the progression of the tour to ensure that everything is going smoothly.
From airport transfers to ensuring that luxury bush camps are prepared to meet his clients’ dietary preferences, he strives to make the entire travel experience a stress-free and memorable adventure. It’s realistic to conclude that all Safari Guru’s clients need to do is sit back, ready their cameras, and enjoy the ride.
For more information contact Safari Guru or call their team of experts on (+61) 0427 782 226.