As I have mentioned in numerous previous posts over the years, the Ultimate Big 5 Safari has proven to be the very best introduction to African wildlife for photographers that you can get. Our most recent edition (the 6th one) underlined this with some amazing photo opportunities presenting themselves for our guests. The fact that our 2017 edition is already 50% sold before we even left for the 2016 edition simply reinforces this. It’s one heck of a photo safari. Everybody loves it.
The 2016 Edition was our largest in terms of number so far. We hosted 10 guests, of which 5 were repeat visitors, who brought with them 2 family members who were on safari for the first time, plus we had another family of 3 first timers who have already begun making arrangements for a follow up safari in 2018 with us.
The thing that makes our UB5 safari so unique is that unlike our competitors who focus on selling their guests “education” in the form of workshops, we focus on providing a social experience that you don’t get with other safari planners who do the workshop thing. Our trips are about fun and making sure you are in the best positions for great photos. People who join this trip end up becoming our friends and they then go on to explore other parts of Southern Africa with us later.
This year our UB5 safari was much the same as previous editions but for the first time we used three vehicles instead of the usual two. This made a big difference to the seating arrangements because we were able to spread out a lot more. The third vehicle we used was a specialised photographic safari Land Rover that has two swivel seats as well as two elevated seats in the rear, all with an arm in front of them onto which you can mount your big rigs, such as the popular 200-400mm lenses, or even 600mm f/4 lenses (one of which made its first appearance on this year’s outing).
Also, unlike previous years where the two vehicles would generally stay together on drives, this year we all split up when we left camp and would only meet up on some sightings, but always for our morning coffee stops or evening sundowners. This slight change in the group dynamic meant that we all had different photos to compare later, which was great.
OK, so how did this year’s sightings compare with previous years? Well, it was definitely up there, that’s for sure. It’s never easy to compare safaris because each time we have been to Sabi Sabi we have experienced different things that have made the trips there so special. We’ve had cheetah chases, leopard kills, lion hunts, wild dog hunts and even newborn rhinos, but this year for the first time we got lion cubs that were only 6 weeks old. Seeing as lions are my favourite animals this was for me the ultimate sighting. I could have spent days watching these playful little cats and not bothered about any other sightings. They were amazing to watch and photograph.
On one of the cub sightings we had there was a really comical moment that I managed to get on video. You gotta check this out.
Apart from the incredible sightings we also enjoyed a significant upgrade to Little Bush Camp. The returning guests were all very impressed with the changes to the suites. The changes to the lounge and dining areas were also very nice. However, while we were on this safari we stopped off at Selati Lodge for a bathroom break and I became quite enamoured with that camp. Prior to this trip it was the only one of the 4 Sabi Sabi Lodges I hadn’t seen inside. I like the layout of the camp and also there is a huge watering hole right in front of the lodge, so you can sometimes skip a game drive entirely and just watch the watering hole at sunset as animals come to indulge in sundowners of their own. It’s definitely on my radar as a possible host for UB5 in the future.
Speaking of future UB5 safaris, the 2017 edition is set to happen between 27 August and 3 September. As mentioned we are already half full for that trip, so if you are thinking about joining us please get in touch ASAP. We have space for 5 more people to join. We will also be offering extensions to UB5 2017 and will send out a newsletter from Photographers.travel once we have details for you on that one.
In the meantime please enjoy some of the photos I took on the most recent safari. My equipment was really simple this year. I had two Olympus E-M1 bodies, the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO and the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD. There were also a few other lenses, such as the 75/1.8 and my 7.5mm fisheye, but they didn’t get out much this time around. I would have liked to try out the new Olympus 300mm f/4.0 PRO on this trip but a loan copy wasn’t available. Maybe next time.
Oh yes, if you’d like to see what some of our guests got on this safari head over to our sister site Fotozones using this link and you’ll find a collection of posts including photos from UB5 2016. Also, this link will show you results from the extensions to UB5 (these links may take a while to load, so please be patient).