The Ultimate Big 5 Wildlife Photo Safari

This is undoubtedly the most successful and well loved photographic safari we have ever produced. Our first trip to the prestigious Sabi Sabi Private Game reserve was in 2010 and we have returned there 5 times since, with many of our guests being repeat visitors. This page will provide all the information you need to decide whether you would like to join our small group adventure here. Please click through the various tabs to get more information on the safari.

About This Safari

This is a 7 night photo safari adventure in a single location that will bring you face to face with some of Africa’s most famous and ferocious residents, the Big 5! Our experienced rangers and trackers will get you closer than you have ever been to all of these wild animals, as well as many other species found in the region.

Safari Leaders: Dallas & Pepe
Spaces available: 6 suites accommodating a maximum of 10 persons
2017 Dates: 27 August – 3 September

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This trip is all about Africa’s Big 5 animals. If you don’t know what they are yet, here’s the list:

  • Lion
  • Leopard
  • Buffalo
  • Elephant
  • Rhino

They are known as the “Big 5” because in the old colonial times these were the most dangerous animals to hunt. But they’re not all you’ll see at Sabi Sabi. There’s a good chance you’ll also get to see cheetahs, plus of course many other species, including zebras, giraffe, wildbeest and a large number of antelope. On night drives in the past we have encountered caracal as well as many other nocturnal creatures.

And let’s not forget about the birds. Amongst the birds you’ll see at Sabi Sabi; lilac breasted rollers, eagle owls, green pigeons, eagles, bee-eaters and many more. On our first adventure to this region in 2010 we sighted over 120 different bird species.

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Photographer Skill Level

From novice to expert, all levels of photographers are welcome to join this safari. Even though these safaris are not education based what we’ve found on all our previous trips is that the group shares knowledge freely and organically. We’ve had some very talented people join us before and they have all been keen to help the less experienced photographers get their best shots.

Your tour leaders Dallas & Pepe will also help you out by answering any questions you may have about photography, such as the best settings to use for any particular subject matter found on safari, or how to post process your images using Lightroom. Dallas now shoots with Olympus and Pepe shoots with Canon equipment. Dallas has been using DSLR’s (Canon and Nikon) since 2001 so while he might not know everything there is to know, he will definitely be able to help you figure it out, regardless of the type of camera you are using.

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Suggested Gear

You’re going to get really close to the animals on this safari. More than once or twice on previous trips we’ve had leopards walking right next to our vehicles, so close that you could literally touch their backs with an outstretched arm. This of course would be the last time you’d ever see your arm if you did that, but we hope you get the proximity picture.

Ideally you should bring two cameras on this trip, one for closer stuff and one for stuff that’s not so close. A full sensor DSLR with a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom for the closer stuff is good and a second body with (say) a 200-400mm f/4 zoom or a fast prime with a teleconverter for the stuff that’s further away will have you well covered.

Flashes? Not unless you’re planning on using them at the dinner table. Rather save the weight and bring a wide angle lens because we like to do a bit of star photography at night when we’re at Sabi Sabi. This will of course mean you should bring a small travel tripod.

Sabi Sabi use open Land Rovers for game drives and these have three rows of elevated seats behind the driver. There are swing arms built onto the sides of each vehicle that allow you to clamp your gimbal head to them (if you have one), or alternatively you should use a monopod. Bean bags will be of no use to you in this kind of safari vehicle.

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Getting There

You will fly into Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and be collected by chauffeur at the airport. From there it’s a 30-40 minute drive to the Tladi Lodge where you will rendezvous with fellow Safarians and your hosts Dallas & Pepe. We suggest arriving a day earlier so that you give yourself enough of a gap should there be any delayed flights or problems with luggage arriving on time. We’ve had Safarians or their luggage delayed every time we have run this safari, so please trust us on this one.

If you do arrive a day early there are activities and places to go in Johannesburg that Ian & Sylvia from Tladi Lodge can arrange for you, such as a trip to the Apartheid Museum or a tour of Soweto. Alternatively the massive Sandton City shopping mall is 5 minutes away by cab.

Once we’re all assembled at Tladi Lodge we will have an opening “braai” (BBQ) and then the next day we drive from Johannesburg to the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, leaving at about 8am and arriving at approximately 2pm (approximately 6 hours). We will check in to Little Bush Camp, eat lunch and then our first game drive will happen at approximately 4pm that afternoon.

About The Accommodation

There are four lodges in Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve and we have secured exclusive use of Little Bush Camp, which is the smallest and most secluded of the four. It is made up of 6 thatched luxury suites, each of which has its own private viewing deck overlooking the Msuthlu riverbed, along with a jacuzzi.

There is a filtered swimming pool just on the other side of the river, easily accessible via a footbridge, an outdoor boma where we will be dining each evening, plus there is a centrally positioned lounge and bar where we will be able to relax inbetween game drives, as well as conduct informal photography chats and daily image reviews on a projector.

All suites at Little Bush Camp are equipped with:

  • Air-conditioning
  • Fans
  • Hairdryers
  • In-suite safes
  • Telephone
  • Mini bar
  • Inside and outside shower
  • Jacuzzi

Power sources are (220v) and international adapters are available. Dietary requirements can be accommodated, subject to prior notification. Tap water is perfectly safe to drink and bottled water is also provided in each suite.

littlebushtubUltimate Big 5 Wildlife Safari Basic Itinerary

Day 1 – arrive in Johannesburg and meet up with fellow travellers at the Tladi Lodge in Sandton. In the evening we have a welcome braai (BBQ).

Day 2 – road transfer to Sabi Sabi Little Bush Lodge – check into lodge – lunch – relax – evening game drive – dinner

Days 3 to 7 – morning game drives – breakfast – optional walking safari – lunch – relax or socialise in bar / pool – evening game drives – dinner

Day 8 – morning game drive – breakfast – checkout of Little Bush Camp – transfer to Nelspruit airport – flight to Johannesburg or join official safari extensions

If you are flying in from a long haul flight across many time zones we highly recommend arriving a day early and spending an extra night at the Tladi Lodge. This will give you enough time to recover from jet lag and also possibly deal with any unforeseen eventualities with your luggage not arriving with you (unfortunately this does happen from time to time).

You might also want to do this at the end of the week long trip to Sabi Sabi if you can’t get an evening flight out on the last day of the safari. If you’d like to add extra nights at the beginning or end of the safari (or both) just mention it in your email to us and we will adjust your invoice.

Location

This private game reserve is situated adjacent to the Kruger National Park, within one of the oldest and largest proclaimed private reserves in Africa, namely the Sabi Sands Wildtuin, adjacent to the Kruger Park.

There are no fences between the Kruger Park and Sabi Sands, nor are there any fences around the lodges themselves, so the game is literally allowed to roam freely from place to place.

Sabi Sabi is widely acknowledged as a premier destination for wildlife safaris in South Africa and has been ranked in the top 10 of Travel & Leisure’s World’s Best 100 Hotels for the past five years. It has also received numerous accolades from various publications and marketing associations dealing with world travel. Unlike photo safaris conducted in National Parks throughout parts of Africa where you’re jostling for road and viewing space with hundreds of other travellers and photographers, our Ultimate Big 5 Safari guarantees you an un-crowded vehicle that is allowed to travel off road to get you as close as possible and into the best and safest viewing positions for photography.

Price 

2017 Per person sharing: ZAR72,000
2017 Single supplement: ZAR23,000
Vehicle supplement*: ZAR11,000

* if you are sharing a room but want your own row of seats on the game drives you pay this supplement, but if you are paying the single room supplement you get your own row included in that supplement

Deposits

  • R10,000 space reservation deposit per person (your spot is not guaranteed until this is received and confirmed)
  • 30% of the safari cost is due by end of 2016
  • 100% of the safari cost is due in April 2017

 

Included in the price:

  • 1 Night accommodation at Tladi Lodge in Johannesburg (additional nights can be booked if needed)
  • Welcome BBQ dinner at Tladi Lodge and all meals at Sabi Sabi
  • Selected beverages at Sabi Sabi
  • 2 game drives per day (12 in total)
  • Optional Walking Safari
  • Airport to lodge transfers

 

Excluded from the price:

  • International flights to and from South Africa
  • Telephone calls
  • Laundry
  • Imported and premium brand alcoholic beverages
  • Spa treatments
  • Staff gratuities *

* Whilst they are not mandatory, gratuities for the game rangers, trackers and lodge staff are appreciated. Guidelines on the amounts to tip at the end of your stay are available in the room booklets at the lodge.

Photos from our 2015 Ultimate Big 5 Safari

The following video features some highlights from our 2015 trip to Sabi Sabi.

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