Ask the trade

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HR-Lou-CoetzerYour questions answered by those who really know

Photography
Question: When I take photos from a vehicle at dusk, they appear blurred. What tips do you have for taking the perfect image in poor light?
Answered by Lou Coetzer, CNP Safaris: Virtually all modern autofocus systems cope well with low light, so the problem with so-called blurred pictures rarely has anything to do with the camera’s focus capability but rather too slow a shutter speed. Shoot in Aperture Priority (Av), open up the aperture of the lens as much as possible to allow more light to hit the sensor, thereby increasing the shutter speed. A rule-of-thumb guide is to take the focal length of the lens and multiply by three; for example, 600mm times three equals 1/1800s exposure. Constantly check your images and, if they are still blurred, increase the ISO until your photos are pin sharp. This might result in digital noise/grain in the image, but it’s better to have a clear picture and deal with any potential ‘noise’ in post-processing than not to have one at all.

Older Travellers
Question: My parents are planning to go to Africa for their 50th wedding anniversary in November. Can you suggest a suitable location for older travellers that will not be too hot?
Answered by Bill Adams, Safari Consultants: The higher-altitude regions of Kenya and northern Tanzania are ideal for those looking to minimise the impact of heat on safari. The Aberdares, Mount Kenya, Laikipia, the Masai Mara, the Ngorongoro Highlands and the Serengeti would all be worth considering. Here, daytime temperatures hover around 30ºC, but more importantly, there is little humidity. November is traditionally the time for the ‘short rains’ in East Africa, so they should expect the odd thunderstorm. This should not detract from the amazing wildlife viewing, but it would be better to travel earlier in the month, if possible.

Value for money
Question: I have a limited budget and wondered which country provides the best value-for-money safari?
Answered by Bill Hare, Rhino Africa: South Africa has always offered an affordable option, but now, with the considerable devaluation of the currency, it is definitely the best-value destination in Africa. Though some lodges have increased their rand prices, many haven’t, so the cost is around 25 per cent cheaper than six months ago. Within South Africa, Kruger National Park is the most popular reserve — and with good reason, too. But if you want value, try the northern reserves, such as the Waterberg  and Timbavati, and the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. They still offer high-quality lodges, with an abundance of wildlife, but don’t come with the inherently higher price tag, generally speaking.

Weddings
Question: I’m thinking of getting married in Africa, and wondered what advice you had?
Answered by Lesley Mundy, Thanda Private Game Reserve: First, suss out the local climate. A summer wedding in the bush can be extremely hot, with temperatures soaring above 40ºC. Check rainfall, too: some areas have hot, wet summers, while others have rain in the cooler months. Then there’s the guest list: the smaller it is, the greater the number of possible venues. Approach it as a VVIP list. If your family is large, and your budget, too, then take over a private game reserve for a few days; it doesn’t necessarily work out more expensive and you can ask your guests to contribute to their accommodation and activities. If you enjoy vibrant colours and the pulsating rhythm of African drums, consider a wedding immersed in the rich local culture.

Wine
Question: I’m a bit of a wine buff, and I’d like to tour some of South Africa’s lesser-known vineyards. Where do I start?
Answered by Nicci Lenferna de la Motte, Pulse Africa: While most wine fundis dash off to the Cape and visit the well-established vineyards in Constantia, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, there are plenty more ‘new’ farms under grape. The area around Plettenberg Bay is one of the most successful: with more than 16 estates in the area, including Bramon and Newstead, it now boasts its own wine route. Alternatively, try Orange River Cellars, which uses grapes from around 800 producers in the Northern Cape. Another region to try is the Klein Karoo, which offers a veritable feast of mostly fruity wines; Star Hill Wines’ Sauvignon Blanc in the Tradouw Highlands is certainly worth a taste. There are also a number of small estates making waves, some in areas where grapes aren’t traditionally grown — among these is Abingdon Wine Estate in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

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