Picking the Right Camera for Safari

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Because of the ubiquity of smartphones, virtually everyone is able to take a picture whenever the mood strikes. However, while the camera on your phone is probably good enough for your everyday photography needs, taking pictures on a safari is much different.

On safari, you will see sights that you can’t find anywhere else in the world, and if you want to remember your trip, it’s important that you always have a high-quality camera at the ready. If you’re interested in buying a camera for your safari, there are several factors to consider that will help you pick the device that meets your needs. Here are some tips for purchasing a camera for safari that will let you pick an option that will help you capture the best pictures possible.

Start with Price

When you’re investing in a piece of equipment such as a camera, there are several factors to consider. However, if you’re like the majority of travelers, your biggest concern is probably cost. The great thing about purchasing a camera for safari is that you can easily find a camera that meets your budget as long as you do your research and shop around.

Although you don’t want to spend too much money, you should also make sure that you’re getting a quality option. Look for a mid range camera that will allow you to take excellent pictures without ballooning your travel budget.

Easy to Carry

The main benefit of using your phone to take pictures is that these devices are meant to be ultra-portable, meaning you don’t need to think about how much space they’ll take up in your travel luggage. You should keep this same issue in mind when you’re picking a camera to take with you on your safari.

Packing light is of the utmost importance when going on safari, which means you want to make sure that your camera is portable and doesn’t require excess equipment. For instance, some high-end cameras may require a tripod to be used effectively, which can make it harder for you to pack. When you’re shopping for your camera, try to look for a lightweight option that won’t require you to bring along a large number of accessories.

Ease of Use

When you’re taking photographs on safari, almost nothing is more frustrating than missing the perfect shot because you’re fiddling with the settings of your camera. The ideal camera will allow you to take a high-quality photo at a moment’s notice, which is why you need to think about ease of use when buying your camera.

Although some people prefer to invest in a camera that includes a variety of settings, the much better idea for most is to pick a point in click camera that can be used whenever needed. With an easy to use camera, you’ll never have to worry about missing an animal, sunset, or anything else that you wish to photograph on your trip.

After you’ve done your research, purchasing a camera for safari should be quick and easy. Once you’ve invested in your camera, you should be sure to book a safari that will allow you to photograph some of the world’s most interesting sights.

 

Hacks for Safari Photography

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If you’re like many travelers, then your favorite part of going on vacation is taking photographs that you’ll remember for a lifetime. When you go on an African safari, you’ll able to take pictures of some of the most interesting sights in the world. However, because photographing in Africa can be very different than other environments, you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get your pictures to come out the right way.

Here are a few simple safari photography hacks that you should keep in mind if you want to capture images that you will cherish forever.

Don’t Limit Yourself

When many people go on safari and take photographs, they may spend most of their trip waiting for the perfect shot, potentially causing them to miss out on a great picture. Instead of looking around for a great image, go hog wild and take as many pictures as you possibly can. There is so much gorgeous scenery in Africa that every picture is sure to be a winner, so you should take as many pictures as you possibly can.

Because you’re going to be taking so many pictures while you’re on safari, you want to be certain that you’ll never run out of memory. Invest in multiple memory cards for your camera so that you won’t have to worry about running out of storage while on your trip.

Take Pictures at the Right Time of Day

The trickiest part of taking pictures on safari is getting the lighting right, which is why one of the most useful safari photography hacks is being certain that you’re taking your pictures at the right time of day.

The best time to take your safari photographs is during a period commonly referred to as the Golden Hour, which is either right before sunset or right after sunrise. During these two times of day, the light is perfect for photography, ensuring you’ll be able to take a breathtaking shot that you’ll want to show off to your friends back home.

Don’t Neglect People

While you’re looking through the lens of your camera, it’s likely that most of your attention is going to be focused on the exotic animal and plant life, which is certainly understandable. However, spending too much time trying to get a picture of a lion or elephant can cause you to miss out on one of the most important parts of a safari: Your fellow travelers.

When you go on a safari, it’s a virtual guarantee that you’ll make new friends, and these friendships may end up being the most memorable part of your vacation. Years later, when you’re flipping through your photo album, you’ll definitely want to see pictures of the people that you met on your holiday. Make sure to take a few shots of your fellow travelers so that you can remember every single part of your safari experience.

If you want to take gorgeous pictures of your next African safari, all you need to do is follow these easy safari photography hacks. With this advice, you should be able to take some truly wonderful pictures of your safari vacation.

How to Take Gorgeous Safari Pictures

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A key part of going on vacation is taking enough pictures so that you can remember your trip for years to come. While photography is an crucial part of any trip, it is particularly important when  you’re visiting a breathtakingly gorgeous location like Africa.

While on your African safari, you want to be sure that you take pictures that both look great and are an accurate reflection of your trip. Luckily, with the right tips at your disposal, photographing your African safari can be fun and easy. Here is some quick advice to help you take great safari pictures, and tips for planning the African safari that’s right for you and your family.

Lighting Tips

As any photographer knows, the key to taking a great picture is getting the right lighting. However, this can be especially difficult in Africa, where the light is much harsher and brighter than many people are used to. Instead of trying to adjust to this severe light, you should plan your picture taking for the times of day where the light is gentler. Taking pictures at dusk and dawn, for example, will result in beautiful pictures you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.

Planning your photographs for sunrise and sunset provides several benefits. First, as mentioned, the light is much more conducive to successful photography. Secondly, animals are much more active at these times of day, increasing your chances of a memorable shot.

Choose Your Shots

People going on safari for the first time often want to take as many pictures as possible, filling digital memory cards or rolls of film with thousands of pictures. While it’s understandable that you may want to take a photo of everything you see on safari, constantly taking photos can actually cause you to miss important sights, and may result in blurry, unattractive pictures.

When you’re taking safari pictures, you should be discerning about where and when you photograph. For example, if you see an animal in the shade, either wait for it to move into the light or give your camera time to adjust so that you can take a clear, attractive picture. Limiting the amount of pictures you take will help you stay present on your safari and will increase your chances of a fantastic photo.

Picking Your Equipment

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they’re photographing Africa is choosing the wrong equipment. For instance, if you bring multiple lenses on your safari, then you may spend more time adjusting your camera than enjoying your trip. When it comes to taking pictures on your safari, less is always more.

Choose one lens for your camera so that you aren’t constantly tweaking your equipment. Also, instead of breaking the bank for an expensive camera, invest most of your money in a safari package that will let you experience the sites up close and personal. Not only will this ensure better pictures, but it will give you a more exciting safari.

Photographing Adventures

Another factor you should consider is whether you want to spend your entire safari looking through the viewfinder of your camera. An African safari is a once in a lifetime experience, and getting that perfect picture may not be worth what you missed. Consider reserving one day of your safari for picture taking, and then spend the rest of your trip immersing yourself in the natural beauty you’ll only find in Africa.

By sticking to these simple picture taking tips and making sure you have the right equipment, you can easily photograph your next African safari.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui

What to Expect on an African Riverboat Safari

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An African riverboat safari is a less-often considered adventure option that provides many unique benefits. When staying aboard the riverboat, you have the opportunity to let wildlife quite literally come to you. You can also depart on smaller flat-bottomed boats throughout the day to enjoy a leisurely alternative to the game drives or walking safaris.

Those who want to see elephants, hippos, Cape buffalo, exotic birds and many of the most remarkable African species can enjoy doing so on a riverboat cruise while also partaking in delicious meals throughout the day. Here is just a sample of what you can expect:

Up Close Encounters

Many animals you see on game drives are used to the sounds of cars, but others will be elusive. They have few reasons to stray towards the paved roads and well-trod dirt paths in parks except for to get from point A to B. On walking safaris, you often have a better chance at seeing more elusive creatures like wild dogs but must earn the privilege through some quite literal leg work.

By contrast, a boating safari means that the animals often surround you or come close to you despite the presence of a large riverboat or small craft. Animals like elephants and giraffe come to the river to bathe and drink, while others like Cape buffalo make their crossing.

Then, there are semi-aquatic species like crocodiles and hippopotami, which spend most of their day in the water. While gliding past, you are likely to see plenty of eyeballs poking above the river surface.

This distinction is not to say that you should not book walking safaris and game drive tours at all. They can offer access to important regions of parks to enjoy sights and animals you would not otherwise see. But, on the whole, riverboat safaris are an underappreciated way to enjoy wildlife from a different perspective.

A Relaxed Pace

Staying at a game lodge and going on drives means a small amount of scheduling and going from place to place. You still have an itinerary on riverboat safaris, but you will most often be walking out onto the deck to take part in them. Scheduled activities like lunch can take place on these decks while some of Africa’s most majestic creatures glide by.

Five Star Treatment

Many riverboat safari tours roll out the red carpet for their guests with amenities and gourmet foods that would not feel out of place at a luxury resort. The Zambezi Queen, a popular riverboat lodge, serves up gourmet twists on local favorites, including Namibian beef, fresh fish or even the occasional game food like impala filet.

Book Your African Riverboat Safari Vacation Now

Every safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but an African riverboat safari is even more special. You can take a look at our African safari tour packages to find the riverfront experience you desire or contact us directly to book a specialty tour today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

The famousZambia

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Zambia is home to some of the most spectacular aquatic sites in the world, including its lengthy list of majestic and stunningly unique waterfalls. Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world in terms of sheer size, counts among these.

You will also find all manner of spectacular waterfalls and cascades all throughout the country. Here are our top five we recommend:

Victoria Falls

One of the most iconic natural landmarks in Africa and one of the officially designated “Seven Wonders of the World,” Victoria Falls sits in a league all unto its own. Locals know it as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or “the smoke that thunders” because its spray and thunderous roar can be seen and heard from miles away.

In total, Victoria Falls measures 5,604 ft in width and 354 ft in height, creating the world’s largest single curtain of falling water. During the height of the rainy season, over five hundred million cubic meters of water cascade over its edge. Cutting through zigzagging gorges, the pools that result from the falls draw rare wildlife from all around the region, including Grant’s zebra, Katanga lions, water buffalo, giraffe, elephants, vervet monkeys, baboons and many more.

Kalambo Falls

Located on the border between Zambia and Tanzania, Kalambo Falls is among the tallest waterfalls in Africa. Here, you will not only find rare sights like marabou stork nests but also fascinating anthropological sites. These extensively excavated sites were once home to prehistoric cultures dating back tens of thousands of years.

Ngonye Falls

Next to Victoria Falls, the Ngonye Falls make up some of the most majestic and incredible waterfalls in Zambia. They surround a wide, horseshoe-shaped basin at the transition point between the Zambezi River’s wide Kalahari flatland region and its more tumultuous and narrower path through basalt rock.

On either end of the falls, you can stand on rocks while the water gushes underneath. Below in the gorge, you will frequently find herds of elephants bathing, drinking or taking a rest.

The Kundalila Falls

The Kundalila Falls are not quite as noteworthy for their water flows as they are for the unique ecological habitat they create. Thin veils of water cascade over a wide swathe of rock, carving out deep pools on the bottom while sending sprays throughout the area. These sprays sustain a striking array of wild flowers as well as a richly diverse community of wildlife.

Lumangwe Falls

These falls are like a thunderous version of Victoria Falls writ small. They are found at a sudden drop in the Kalungwishi River in the Northern Province, providing a remote and frequently secluded camping spot for visitors. New lodges and visitor facilities have also been recently built nearby, making this area the perfect getaway spot for those on safari.

Come See Victoria Falls and the Other Famous Waterfalls of Zambia on a Safari Tour

You can book a trip to Victoria Falls, one of Africa’s most famous locations, as well as to any and all of these other gorgeous waterfalls when you enjoy one of our Zambia safari tour packages. Find your perfect safari vacation itinerary, and then book your trip today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Safari in the city: Johannesburg

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Going on a safari in South Africa to most people means seeing big cats, rhinos, elephants and other notable species in Kruger Park. While this is certainly a great way to spend your time, you should make certain that you do not miss out on the other aspects of the region’s beauty.

More specifically, you should take a look at cities like Johannesburg to see the unique sights, sounds and experiences they can offer. While a relatively young city by most standards, “Joburg” as it is known by many locals is still steeped in history and rich culture. Anyone interested in getting the full experience of a South African vacation should therefore spend a few days in Johannesburg in order to catch the following attractions:

Johannesburg Botanical Garden

The Johannesburg Botanical Garden can be found in the Emmarentia suburbs to the north of downtown. Far removed from the densely packed bustle of the inner city, this massive 308 acre complex was founded in 1964 as a large rose garden upon a former farm estate.

The Rose Garden, with over 10,000 roses and dozens of world species, still remains a primary draw for visitors, but the park has also expanded to encompass many other areas and themes. Visitors can find a succulent garden, a prehistoric cycad garden, a preserved bird island, and a rare surviving example of a Shakespeare garden.

Johannesburg’s Botanical Garden lands also includes the adjacent Emmarentia Dam, which creates gorgeous, tranquil reservoirs surrounded by trees, walking trails, braai barbeque pits and more, making the park a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Constitution Hill

Once an example of the oppression that minorities and political dissidents endured in South Africa, Constitution Hill has been transformed into a simultaneous ray of hope for local democracy in addition to a reminder of the mistakes of our past.

This “living museum” was once the site of a political prison as well as the Old Fort first built to protect the Boers from British invaders. These facilities have been transformed into monuments and educational museums, but South Africa’s Constitutional Court also actively operates here, interpreting law and making decisions that it feels are in the general interest of all South African citizens.

Visiting Constitution Hill is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave a lasting impression for years to come.

Johannesburg Zoo

You don’t have to go to Kruger or out in the bush to see wildlife in Johannesburg. Our city zoo has a huge variety of exotic species not just from Africa, but all over the world. It contains the only two polar bears in the entire continent, for instance, as well as one of the few breeding centers for white lions in the world.

African Craft Market of Rosebank

This open market is one of the most colorful and unique of any in the world. You will find all sorts of handmade goods, clothing and crafts here, making it the perfect spot to pick up a souvenir for yourself or someone you care about.

Visiting the market also puts you in the neighborhood of Rosebank, one of the more cosmopolitan and tourist-friendly sections of the city. You can tour famous landmarks, see local architecture and observe our city’s beautiful man-made forest while taking a walking along the city streets.

So Much More to See and Do in Johannesburg During Your South African Safari

These attractions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to enjoying yourself during your South African safari vacation. Take a look at our South Africa safari tour packages to get a taste of Kruger as well as tours of Johannesburg and nearby Cape Town during your trip.

Book your African safari vacation today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya  Chui, Travel Africa

Wildlife Photography Camera Tips – Part 3

In Camera Tips – Part 1 and 2 we discussed the move from analogue to digital photography, basics of camera functions and different formats aka sensor sizes, advantages and disadvantages of modern camera systems and cameras with mirrors versus mirrorless cameras. In Part 3 we will concentrate on video and the importance of image stabilization.

 

Video with Modern Digital Camera Systems

It was around 2008 when the first serious video capabilities were introduced in modern digital cameras. The first to offer full high definition (Full HD) video was the Canon 5Dmark2 introduced in late 2008. This camera should change video and cinematography completely as it allowed not only to shoot high quality video footage but also offered the usage of the complete lens arsenal of Canon EF lenses without any restrictions. That offered many benefits as instant availability of focal length for extreme wide angle to extreme telephoto and allowed to record either camera internal or to an external recorder. You could view the image on the rear LCD and if you wanted to have better than that either use the LCD of the external recorder or even connect an external EVF.

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This started a new trend and today there is no modern digital camera lacking the function of video. But there is one big caveat and this is in a DSLR like the 5D2 you have to lock the mirror up in order to allow the light rays coming through the lens to reach the sensor permanently that is required for video shooting. Soon camera vendors came to a solution with mirrorless cameras, we discussed the differences been mirror based and mirrorless cameras in Part 2 of this series.

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In a mirrorless system light rays coming through the lens can always reach the sensor and on top of that there is the built in EVF that can be used for exact viewing of the scene without the need to connect an external EVF. Everyone who already has worked with external components for a camera like recorders and EVFs that are either directly connected to the camera or all the components are maybe mounted to a rig knows how big and relatively cumbersome this whole setup can easily become. For professional filmmakers that is usually not a problem, but for us who want to take some great footage during safaris or in our leisure time it can definitely be much simpler and convenient to work with a mirrorless system.

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Almost all of the modern digital cameras today support not only full HD video, but also 4K video with different frame rates that delivers 4 times the resolution of full HD but in most cases only uses a part of the image sensor for recording that results in some crop factor of the final footage. That means the focal length of a lens needs to be multiplied with that crop factor that can usually range from 1.1 to 1.7. This leads on one side to more telephoto reach with a certain lens that is in general something welcome for wildlife and telephoto work, but on the downside also each wide-angle lens becomes longer limiting the range on the wide side for what it was designed for.

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If you are really looking to work with 4K you should also consider that you end up with much more data even if there are compression mechanisms and also computing all of these data takes a lot of processing power during recording in camera and during editing. The first is the reason why there are often limitations for the duration of video footage in order to limit overheating and the second means you probably need a faster computer for editing 4K footage.

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Image Stabilization

We so far did not discuss that a video usually looks only good if it is not shaky. There are systems out on the market that are called gimbals and help significantly minimize camera shake resulting in stable footage. Of course you also can use a tripod, but that is rather complicated to handle and not the easiest solution for Safari, especially if you consider taking your videos out of a small and shaky safari vehicle.

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Another solution is to rely on the optical image stabilisation (OIS) that is available today in many lenses, especially telephoto lenses. But be careful because OIS only helps to a certain degree to compensate for camera shake and if camera movement becomes too much you again will finally see camera shake.

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In the recent years there was also the development of in body image stabilisation (IBIS) that in some cases even works together with OIS. IBIS moves the sensor in the camera usually in a magnetic field in order to compensate for any camera movement. There are some DSLRs as well as CSCs available offering this systems and I myself have only the best experiences with IBIS. Another advantage of IBIS is the fact that also un-stabilized lenses can be stabilized, opening this enhancement for many old lenses.

The conclusion is that with most of the available modern camera systems shooting video became a pretty simple thing and one can nicely improve the experience of recording memories by adding video footage to still images.

Learn more about cameras and wildlife photography with our Specialist Safaris.

Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa