Sabi Sands Game Reserve
I just got back from a much needed vacation in South Africa. As I head back to the office tomorrow, I have visions of fearsome and not so fearsome animals to keep me company. Part of my vacation was spent in Sabi Sands, a private game reserve near Kruger National Park. We stayed at the Nkorho Bush Lodge which I would highly recommend to anyone.
I’m not a wild life photographer by any means, and it took me most of the first day to get the hang of it. There were a lot of challenges that made things difficult. I don’t shoot outdoors a lot and struggled with the constantly changing light. I was using a 70-200mm lens and I could have really benefited from something longer, like maybe, I dunno, a 600mm. However, I was limited by what I could carry on this trip. The nice thing is that on the game drives, the rangers drive you right up to the animals (something you could never do on foot without getting eaten). Animals in the bush are relatively comfortable with the vehicles, so you’re able to get very close. However the animals are skittish with humans on foot and could just as easily attack you as run away.
The game drives were spectacular. We saw all of the “Big Five” including lions which unfortunately we only saw at night, albeit three feet from me beside the vehicle. There is something really refreshing about spending three hours every morning and evening driving in the open air, in perfect weather, and in some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. I do wish I’d been able to bring along two camera bodies though, because I kept wanting to switch between my zoom lens and my wide angle, and often had to make choices on what shot to get. The other challenge to being in the vehicle is that you’re stuck with the angle where the driver stops. Sometimes this put be in situations where I was shooting directly into the sun. I had to think quickly for ways to make great shots without full freedom of movement.
I’m a terrible vacation photographer. When I’m shooting, I concentrate, but when I’m just relaxing I generally experience the moment rather than spend the whole time behind the camera. I left for the trip feeling a ton of pressure to come back with a ton of amazing shots. Considering I only had three days on the safari (wildlife photogs can easily spend months photographing one animal) I’m very pleased with what I came home with. Plus the experience of shooting outdoors was invaluable experience.