Tour 1 | MalaMala Photo Safari | Lions & Leopards | 2021
US$ 15,500 Sharing
US$ 16,900 Single
US$ 4,000 Deposit
LOCATION: South Africa
PLACES VISITED: Mala Mala Private Game Reserve
SKILL LEVEL: Any level from beginner to advanced - photo tuition and guidance is offered on this safari.
This 11-day photo safari begins in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is spent exclusively at the best private game reserve in the Kruger area - the world famous MALA MALA.
You will fly into Skukuza Airport where you will be met and transferred directly to Mala Mala Game Reserve where you will meet your photo guide, Stu Porter.
Mala Mala is the oldest private game reserve in South Africa, and the place where numerous award-winning National Geographic wildlife documentaries have been filmed, such as "Beauty and the Beast", “Predators at War", and "Tjololo the Leopard".
At Mala Mala our main aim will be to track down and spend quality time with the reserve's wild Lions and Leopards. This is one of the best places in the world to see these cats and offers unrivalled photographic opportunities. At Mala Mala, we will also have the opportunity to go in search of the predators at night. All of the skills of night photography and how to capture the nocturnal world will be explained by Stu, offering a different set of experiences and photo opportunities.
A long stay of 10 nights will allow plenty of time to relax and settle into a routine, early morning, afternoon and night game drives will be on offer every day and we will get to explore all areas of this amazing reserve. Mala Mala has the most beautiful property with the jewel of the reserve being the beautiful Sand River, which at this time of year acts as a magnet drawing in a variety of thirsty herbivores and of course the predators are there waiting for them. The middle of the dry season is the best time to be at Mala Mala and over our 11 days we will have an incredible experieince filled with amazing photo opportunities.
At Mala Mala we are also allowed to go off road to follow animals or to get a better angle for light. Of course our focus will be on the Cats, but this reserve is full of many other mammals as well as a fantastic collection of birds, which we will also take time to photograph.
This is the ultimate place to experieince a relaxed photographic safari experience, with luxurious accommodation and excellent cuisine.
At the end of the safari you will fly from Skukuza Airport to Johannesburg, where the tour will end.
This is our most exclusive small-group photo safari with a maximum of 3 participants in 1 private vehicle. There is plenty of space for equipment and guaranteed access to both sides of the safari vehicle.
Stu will lead the tour and offer photo tuition and guidance.
Each photographer will have the complimentary use of a Visual Echoes panning plate.
WILD4's specially designed photo bars will attach to the vehicle we use at Mala Mala. These bars offer a very stable shooting platform. (for more information, please see the photos in the "TRANSPORT and LODGING" tab).
Along with an impressive variety of birds, you will also have a good chance to see and photograph the following:
Lion, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, White Rhino, Hippo, Spotted Hyena, Jackal, Crocodile, Giraffe, Waterbuck, Greater Kudu, Bushbuck, Nyala, Zebra, Wildebeest, Chacma Baboon, Vervet Monkey, and Warthog.
Day 1 Depart from Johannesburg's OR Tambo International airport (mid morning) and fly to Skukuza airport arriving around midday. Road transfer to Mala Mala Main Camp where you will be met by Stu. Depart for first afternoon game drive (overnight at Mala Mala for the next 10 nights)
Day 2 Morning & Afternoon & night game drives at Mala Mala
Day 3 Morning & Afternoon & night game drives at Mala Mala
Day 4 Morning & Afternoon & night game drives at Mala Mala
Day 5 Morning & Afternoon & night game drives at Mala Mala
Day 6 Morning & Afternoon & night game drives at Mala Mala
Day 7 Morning & Afternoon & night game drives at Mala Mala
Day 8 Morning & Afternoon & night game drives at Mala Mala
Day 9 Morning & Afternoon & night game drives at Mala Mala
Day 10 Morning & Afternoon & night game drives at Mala Mala
Day 11 Final morning game drive followed by breakfast and then road transfer to Skukuza airport for your flight back to Johannesburg arriving in Johannesburg in the mid afternoon. Connect with your international flights home.
- flight from JHB to Skukuza and from Skukuza back to JHB
- all road transfers as detailed in the itinerary
- 10 nights at Mala Mala Main Camp
- all park entrance fees
- private use of photographic safari vehicles with qualified guides
- all meals
- all local drinks (water, sodas, fruit juice, beer & local wine)
- professional photographic tuition
- tips / gratuities for camp lodge staff and for your ranger / guide at Mala Mala
- personal medical, travel & equipment insurance
- visa fees if applicable
- INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS
- any extra nights of accommodation before or after the safari - we can arrange these for you and add it to your statement
TRANSPORT & LODGING - MALA MALA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE
Accommodation will be at MALA MALA MAIN CAMP which has luxury rooms. Local drinks and Laundry are included. We will have the exclusive use of a 4x4 Landrover safari vehicle with only 3 photographers. Stu will be seated next to the ranger / guide to offer photographic assistance. Our specially made WILD4 photo bars attach to the Mala Mala safari vehicle and allow for a comfortable shooting platform.
The flight from Johannesburg to Skukuza is approx 1hr 15 mins
The flight from Skukuza Airport back to Johannesburg is approx 1hr 15 mins
We have a more detailed kit list which we will send out to you at the time of registration.
All the accommodations you will be staying at on this safari will have electric points for recharging your batteries and laptops. We will send you a detailed plug information document before you start your safari
We usually meet up at around 05:15 for a quick cup of coffee/tea and some cookies/rusks on the main verandah before heading out on our morning drive. We take packed breakfasts with us and will eat these at a suitable time. We then return to camp just before lunch. Lunch is optional (depending on how hungry you might be). We then meet up at 15:00 for another cup of tea/coffee & cakes on the verandah before heading out for the afternoon and evening drive. Our night drive will then begin and we slowly make our way back towards camp arriving at around 7 pm which gives us an hour to get ready for an 8 pm dinner.
We could be back in the rooms by 9 pm.
** Being a private photo safari we can be flexible with these arrangements and adjust to accommodate the needs of the group and what the wildlife sightings are like at the time of our stay.
Photo tuition such as workflow, photoshop or lightroom sessions can be squeezed in at any time that is convenient for you.
MALA MALA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE
Yes, we are allowed off-road but at the discretion of the ranger who will be driving our vehicle. It is not a simple case of crashing off into the bush after wildlife. The ranger has to assess each situation before going off-road. Some areas and vegetation are more sensitive to damage than others. You can be assured that the ranger wants to show you the animals and get you as close as possible but at all times, we will have to respect the rules of the reserve as well as the environment and the comfort levels of the wildlife.
On all our safaris it is preferable to use a duffel type bag for your main luggage (no hard suitcases) as these are easier to pack into vehicles and planes. The normal luggage restriction as far as weight goes are 20 kgs for hold luggage and 8 kgs for Cabin Luggage. We all know that as photographers 8kgs for camera equipment is not enough! However, you will find that the size of the bag is more important.
A normal Think Tank type camera bag (airport accelerator) should carry the amount of equipment you need for your safari. When checking in, politely explain that it is expensive camera equipment and cannot go in the luggage hold. Usually, they allow you on with no problem as long as the bag can fit either in the overhead locker or under the seat in front of you.
If for any reason you are refused to board with your camera bag (this seldom happens) then they will ask you to "sky check" your bag. Here you take your bag to the plane and leave it at the bottom of the stairs where it will be taken to a special storage area for the duration of the flight. When you disembark at the end of the flight, your bag will be waiting for you.
The flight from Johannesburg (JNB) to Skukuza Airport (SZK) takes approximately 1 hr
The flight from Skukuza Airport (SZK) back to Johannesburg (JNB) takes approximately 1 hr
Road transfer from Skukuza airport to Mala Mala is approximately 45 mins
Road transfer from Mala Mala to Skukuza Airport (SZK) is approximately 45 mins
Having a stable shooting platform on safari vehicles is a crucial element to successfully achieve good images. You need to be comfortable when shooting so that you can concentrate on the image. You will often sit and wait patiently for long periods of time for a shot to present itself - being comfortable is paramount.
At Mala Mala, we will make use of our own special WILD4 PLAT4ORMS that attach to the vehicle. Beanbags are provided for your use.
Along with the complimentary use of our beanbags and PHOTO PLAT4ORMS, we also offer each client the complimentary use of one VISUAL ECHOES PANNING PLATE which allows you to pan smoothly from left to right and lifts the focus & zoom rings of your lens off the bean bag enabling better focus and better control of your zoom. (Please view the "TRANSPORT & LODGING" tab for photos)
(for more info please see the photos in the "TRANSPORT & LODGING" tab)
At Mala Mala, we have flexibility with our departure times and we will also be able to do short night drives. We normally depart from camp at around 05:30 in the morning with a packed breakfast. We return to the camp for lunch and a short break. Afternoon Game Drive begins around 15:30 and we usually get back to camp shortly after dark.
Yes, there is a complimentary basic laundry service available at Mala Mala.
There is free wifi internet at Mala Mala although it is not high speed.
Cell phone / Mobile reception is very patchy but there is some coverage.
Tipping is a safari tradition in Africa. We respectfully request that you follow our guidelines regarding tipping as it helps to set a standard across all of our photo safaris.
Any form of gratuity should be earned by the recipient through excellent service and for effort beyond their job description. If for any reason you do not feel comfortable tipping then please let your tour leader know.
We do our utmost to source quality safari companies/lodges/hotels and guides who have a similar work ethic and passion to us. The staff and guides work extremely hard to make sure we have a good time and they are incredibly patient and flexible.
We will send you a detailed recommended tipping policy for this photo tour in your Arrival Information Document, which will be sent to you 2 weeks before the start of your photo safari.
It is best to contact the embassy of the country you will be travelling to, and double-check to see what their latest policies are with regards to Visas and whether you should apply for them before you travel or if you can obtain them at the port of entry.
Smoking is not allowed in the safari vehicle and generally, it is not a very good idea to smoke in the bush as the grass is often tinder dry and bush fires can start easily. We do not take specific breaks for smoking either, but we will stop at relevant times for everyone to have a break and stretch their legs or have a cup of coffee. This would be your opportunity to have a smoke break. We ask you to respect the environment and carry your cigarette ends away with you.
Spending long hours in the safari vehicles will inevitably end up in folks needed a bathroom stop. We have to respect the rules of the different parks when it comes to this and these rules will be explained before the start of each safari. Generally, the safari saying of "any tree is a lavatree (lavatory)" goes. We will make sure we stop in a safe location for the comfort break.
The Kruger National Park is the only location that has proper washroom facilities at designated picnic sites or in the camps, and as per the rules of the park, we are required to stop at these specific places, not anywhere in the bush. Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania have limited facilities, and stopping at an appropriate place in the bush is allowed.
All of our safaris have emergency procedures in place. We will have contact with the office via either radio, cell phone or satellite phone. The office would then dispatch the relevant help - be it medical or otherwise.
In the case of medical assistance, the initial recovery from the field to the most relevant medical facility would be covered by our safari insurance. Your medical insurance would need to cover you for all other expenses.
The type of photo tuition or guidance on offer really depends on which safari you choose to do.
Generally speaking, photographic guidance on camera equipment, settings to be used, post-processing and DSLR Video are on offer during any of the photo safaris that I personally lead myself.
On the trips that I do not personally lead, we only use very experienced local nature guides, who not only know the reserves and where the wildlife hotspots are, but they are also good friends of mine, who I have personally worked with over many years. They have a like-minded outlook and know exactly what photographers need. They are excellent at positioning the vehicle for the best distance and angle for light. They are also very open to your own suggestions and will work hard to get you the photos that you are looking for. Specific detailed photographic tuition is not available on these safaris, so it is recommended that you do have a fairly good knowledge of your own camera and photography in general.
On some of our extensions and Bespoke Photo Safaris we really hit the photo tuition hard and work through as many elements of nature photography as we can in a "workshop" style. This is because it is at the request of the particular clients who have asked for a high level of tuition and because we have a good deal of time available to focus specifically on certain aspects.
On our scheduled photo safaris you will soon find that the days are long and tiring, we get up early, return late and barely have time to download the days images before getting to bed at a sensible time only to do it all over again on the following day. The tuition format is therefore very informal, I like to approach topics as they become relevant and we will do these in the field in front of real live situations - this is the best way to learn. There will be times when we are waiting patiently at a sighting and can discuss any topic that you feel you would like help with. Siesta times at midday are usually well used for that exact reason, but I am personally available at any time of day or night. I have sat up until midnight on many occasions running through workflow, camera technique and doing night photography with those who are keen.
I am on the safari so that you can pick my brain, ask questions, watch my workflow and teach me a new technique that you might like or find useful yourself !- there is always room to learn and I always learn a lot on each trip myself.
I like to pick up on elements that would be relevant to each photographer. I adjust the level of tuition to the needs of each individual, again this is the beauty of having a small group. I like to talk my way through scenarios as they unfold in front of us and let you know what I am trying to achieve.
If you are a more experienced wildlife photographer, this option would suit you better. During the past 14 years I have met and worked with many excellent safari guides who are not necessarily professional photographers. However they know what the needs of photographers are and how to position the vehicle and predict animal behaviour. They are also very keen photographers themselves and I can highly recommend them as specialist photographic guides. If you are a confident & experienced photographer you can confidently book a safari with one of our specialist guides in the knowledge that they will always be looking out for photographic opportunities, and not simply trying to show you african wildlife, which would be the case on a regular safari with a regular safari guide.
In this option you would then not receive any specialist photo tuition or assistance with setting up your camera or which settings to use etc.., but you will be in very capable hands as far as getting photographs would be concerned. These safaris are also better priced compared with the scheduled trips that I personally lead as I do not have to build my own accommodation, travel and personal costs into the safari.
Regardless of which safari you register for, I will also send you my own set of PDF Photo Tuition Documents which include a pre-safari Camera Set-up guide and my "Seven Top Tips". Reading these before the safari begins will help to prepare you for the types of things you will be doing on safari.
Yes, we can cater for special medical dietary requirements, but you need to inform us of these requirements when you register. We will then be able to inform the lodges/camps we will be staying at about your requests well in advance.
Depending on what your special requirements are there may be a surcharge for this service.
Your time on safari is YOURS, you can feel free to use it as you wish. However, I can confidently say that very few people have ever opted to sleep in or spend time at the pool. This is a photo safari after all. Our main reason for being on the safari is to spend every possible minute doing photography so leisure time is not something people normally request.
On occasion people have wanted to sleep in on one day or skip an afternoon game drive, this is entirely up to you. However please note that we will not change our usual schedule to accommodate "leisure time" If for example, you decided to sleep in, you would not have the right to request the vehicle to come back and collect you at a more convenient time.
The photographers who go out with the vehicle can decide when to return. If you have a private vehicle to yourself then you can do as you please.
Credit Cards are by far the most convenient 90% of the time. Bringing along some cash as a backup is also a good idea. US$ are readily accepted in most African Countries and can also be used in some local shops (**Please note that there are some exceptions like South Africa and Namibia - both of these countries DO NOT ALLOW the use of US$ in their economy.
** If you are unsure please ASK us about which option is most suitable for the safari you are doing.
As far as tipping goes (more on the tipping section) you could separate it into the following two scenarios:
1) Your Local Driver / Guide / Ranger: - this can be done in US$ - CASH only
2) Lodge / Camp staff
> Kenya - this can be done in US$ - CASH or CARD
> Tanzania - this can be done in US$ - CASH only
> Botswana - this can be done in US$ - CASH only
> South Africa - this can be done in US$ - CASH or CARD ** this depends on the actual accommodation used - please ask us for clarity **
> Namibia - this can be done in US$ - CASH or CARD ** this depends on the actual accommodation used - please ask us for clarity **
Any other major foreign currency will also be readily accepted (EURO, GBP)
If you have any concerns please contact us and we will clarify it for you further.
All of our scheduled photo safaris (except for Namibia) are vehicle-based for the majority of the time. You will need to be in reasonable health but we will not undergo any long walks or hikes unless you personally choose to do so, or unless it is detailed in the safari description. Our extensions and custom safaris might warrant a different fitness level - please ask us for more details about the fitness level required for your specific custom photo safari or chosen extension.
Our Landscape tours of Namibia do require a fairly good level of fitness to get the most out of them. There is a lot of sand in Namibia and walking in this sand and up sand dunes are part of the trip. If you have more questions about fitness levels PLEASE ask us before signing up on any of our safaris.
On any trip to Africa, there is a risk of getting Malaria. Some areas have a higher risk than others. As we are not medical doctors we cannot advise you about whether or not you should take malaria medication. Our advice is to consult your local doctor or travel clinic and ask them for their opinion based on the most up to date and relevant information regarding malaria as well as any other potential diseases.
This is a topic you would need to consult a doctor or travel clinic about as details of these change on an ongoing basis. Be sure to ask your doctor or clinic about YELLOW FEVER as it is relevant in some of the countries we visit.
We highly recommend that you contact your doctor or clinic as soon as you can after registering to do a photo safari with us.
Yes, we do spend time photographing birds.
On our photo safaris, we will be stopping for "the large and colourful birds". If you would like to try and cover the birds in more detail then we recommend you travel with a like-minded photographer or that you book out a private safari vehicle so that you can go entirely at your own pace.
The pace of a regular photo safari compared with a bird photo safari is very different. If you do stop for every single bird no matter the distance or size, you will fall far behind the other vehicles who might find other sightings that you might not be able to get to in time. You would need to understand this and know that you cannot be everywhere at the same time and you will miss out on other sightings and photo opportunities. Also be aware that if you are sharing a vehicle with other photographers that you do not know, they may not be as interested in stopping for every single bird.
In general, we would recommend that you stick to bottled drinking water on all the safaris. In Kenya and Tanzania, this also includes brushing your teeth with bottled water. In South Africa it is possible to drink the local water and brush your teeth with it, so the risk of getting ill is small, however, we still recommend you drink bottled water.
Yes, the vehicles in our group are in radio contact with each other and we do pass on relevant information about photo opportunities to each other.
Our local guides are also excellent at acquiring any relevant pieces of information from their colleagues and friends. In Kenya, our guides do make use of cell phones to relay relevant information when radio comms are weak.
Each country has its own electrical and plug system. After you have registered to do a photo safari with us, we will send you our "PLUG & VOLTAGE" document which will explain this topic in more detail.
YES, it is possible to add on an extension to any of our safaris if you wanted to stay longer or visit a different place. There are some extension suggestions on the photo safari pages under the "EXTENSIONS" tab. Please ask us if you need help with this.
Alternatively, you can also request a specific extension that you might like to do and we will gladly set this up for you.
Yes this is possible to arrange for you - please ask us at the time of registration
Yes, this is possible to arrange, there will, of course, be a surcharge for the exclusive use of the safari vehicle, please ask us what this would be for the safari you are interested in.
Having worked with many different guides in different locations I have found that it is always nice and refreshing to have a guide with new ideas and suggestions and work together to achieve new images. It is also important though that the basics are understood by all the guides we use on our photo safaris which is why my training manual came to be.
The manual covers the basics of how to guide photographers, looking at the light, the distance from the subject and parking in a position to predict the animals next move. The manual also illustrates "in the field examples" so that guides know what we photographers are talking about when we say "can we move 1 meter forward, my background is not good from this position, etc etc..." !!
The manual has a big section on communication - this is the key to a successful safari. Both guides and photographers need to know what is going on so that they can prepare for potential situations, never assume, always ask, it will allow you to achieve more successful images.
We secure the use of "Private" Photographic vehicles on all of our safaris. This is a very important element of a successful photographic safari. Essentially it means that you will not share the vehicle with other guests staying at the lodge/camp who are not part of our group. Regular safari clients and nature photographers do not mix very well. You will want to stay for extended periods at a sighting waiting for the best photo opportunities.
Many regular safari clients just want to see an animal, take one picture and leave to go and look for more animals to tick off their list. We avoid this by securing private safari vehicles at all locations. Understandably there is a surcharge to hire these vehicles as the lodge or camp has to issue a specific vehicle and guide for our group and the vehicle is not filled with up to 9 people as it often is on regular safaris. In our case, there will only be a maximum of up to 3 photographers per safari vehicle.
Our full booking terms and conditions are found at this link on our website:
Authentic photographic safaris, by their very nature, have to be flexible. We do our utmost to accommodate our client's needs and requests which are very different from regular safari clients. We take each day as it comes and yes we are able to be flexible and stay out all day if a particular situation warrants it.
For example, if we are far from camp and are patiently waiting for a Leopard to descend a tree, a Cheetah to hunt or a group of Wildebeest to cross the Mara River, then we will stay out. It is always a good idea to bring along some extra snack bars for these situations.
However, If there is nothing worthwhile waiting for and no particular need for us to stay out the whole day, we will return to the camp/lodge for lunch and a short break before heading out again once the animals start to become more active and the photographic light improves.
- First contact us to confirm that there are spaces available on the photo safari that you are interested in - (please use the enquiry form on this page)
- Once we confirm with you that there is space available, and you would like to make a booking, these are the steps you would follow:
We will send you a link that will take you to the photo safari that you want to join. Along with the link we will send a detailed PDF document that will guide you though the booking process.
We only accept International Bank Transfer as method of payment / or PayPal **
** PayPal - please note that an additional 4% handling fee will be added to all payments made through PayPal
Please note that ALL bank charges are for your account
Your place on the safari is only guaranteed once we have received your completed booking form/s and deposit payment/s
Once this is complete, will update your "outstanding balance" amount which will be due 90 days before the start date of the safari.
Please note that it is recommended that you take out your own travel insurance to cover unexpected trip cancellation, medical, personal and photographic equipment. WILD4 will not be held responsible in any way for the loss of or damage to any photographic equipment or personal belongings, nor for any medical expenses. Our medical insurance will only cover you for evacuation from the field to the closest most appropriate medical facility, at which point your medical insurance would take over.
Cancellation Fees & Refund Policy
We must receive a formal written notification of your cancellation.
Deposits are non-refundable.
If for any reason a participant ends a tour early or does not make use of a service that has been included in the price of any scheduled tour, tailor-made tour or tour extension, no refund for this unused portion or service will be made.
Tour fees are not transferable.
All Photo Safaris:
The per person non-refundable deposit amount stated on our website is required to secure a place on one of our photo safaris. Full payment of the outstanding tour fee is due 90 days prior to the departure date. In the case of a cancellation, we must receive written notification of your cancellation, at which time the following fees will apply:
- Deposit is non-refundable
- 89 to 60 days before departure: 75% of tour fee
- 59 or fewer days before departure: 100% of the tour fee.
- We highly recommend that you take out travel insurance (including trip cancellation insurance) at the time of booking your tour with us to cover any eventualities relating to having to cancel your safari.
- If due to circumstances out of our control, we are not able to run the photo safari, we are entitled to either cancel the trip, in which case our policy above will apply. Or, with the client's permission and consent, we could look into modifying or postponing the itinerary, which may also mean having to modify the price. Please note that in this case, your deposit would still be non-refundable and non-transferable.
"Lions & Leopards of Mala Mala" Photo Safari Highlights
A few video highlights from previous "Lions & Leopards of Mala Mala" photo safaris.
Safari Vehicle Camera supports
A video of the WILD4 camera supports that we attach to the safari vehicles we use at private lodges on our photo safaris in South Africa
US$ 15,500 Sharing
US$ 16,900 Single
US$ 4,000 Deposit
14th - 24th Aug 2021
- 14th - 24th Aug 2021
- 10 nights / 11 days
Tour Led By
I wanted to thank you so much for the best safari I have ever been on and for your tremendous help both with the photography and Lightroom. I understand more about both in relation to wildlife than I ever have. Everything was brilliant. We were extraordinary lucky with what we saw but being able to take better photo’s and then edit them with more knowledge means I will have memories that will last for ever. Your (Wild4) attention to detail means that things run smoothly in a part of the world not always known for that. I really can’t thank you and Justyna enough for that.
Rita Daubeney, UK
This was the second trip I have booked through Wild4 and one of the most memorable and pleasurable trips I have ever been on in my life. We were blessed with incredible sightings from a frenzy of feeding wild dog to mating black mambas. The list is endless and the memories will linger for ever in the form of some great images shot from the customised vehicles driven by expert drivers. The camps chosen were great and there was a real and genuine feeling of being a part of your surroundings. A truly African experience. Botswana certainly came up trumps when delivering us such great sightings. From the bush to the Chobe river and the specially adapted photographic boats, you could not have asked for more. I must extend an enormous thank you to you Stu, for your endless patience and professionalism in everything you did for us. Thank you. Also a big thank you to Justyna who’s meticulous planning ensured a seamless trip to and in between each of our camps and destinations. Good job!
Stephen Tattersall, UK