Photographing Madikwe


Jon Bryant sings the praises of a new photographic experience in South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve

The popularity of digital photography has grown enormously over the past few years. Whether you are a first-time safari goer or a seasoned traveller to Africa, you will no doubt be taking a camera with you.

As a wildlife photographer, I have two big dilemmas in selecting a destination in Africa. The first is finding a photographer-friendly lodge. The second: packing my bag within airlines’ weight restrictions. The concept of a ‘photographer-friendly lodge’ may seem strange, and I am certainly not implying there are places that are unwelcoming! But the accommodation can really make or break an experience. While the diversity and time spent at a sighting is important, vehicle placement plays a crucial role. It can make the difference between getting just a ‘proof shot’ at a sighting, versus creating a wildlife image.

Jaci’s Lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve has recently expanded its photographic offering, launching a new vehicle with special mounts to assist camera stability. There is also a resident professional photographer: Andrew Aveley is one of Africa’s leading wildlife photographers.

For the international traveller such as myself, it gets even better. Jaci’s has invested in high-end DSLR cameras and lenses. On this trip, I left my own at home and used those provided, so I no longer had the headache of the 10kg carry-on limit for my flight. If you are unfamiliar with this calibre of equipment, you can use it under Andrew’s expert guidance, and at the end of a drive you are given your images digitally to take away with you.

I spent a few days with Andrew and had my own photographic ‘master-class’ with him. The resulting images are testimony of his talent and influence. On top of the twice-daily game drives, Jaci’s offers a superb experience in the new Terrapin Hide, which is constructed in a waterhole just outside the lodge, with 24-hour access. The windows are at water level, giving a 180-degree view of the waterhole. The low angles make for incredible photography and give you a very intimate insight into wildlife at its most vulnerable – when drinking.

With its comfortable rooms, excellent cuisine, top-notch photographic guiding and equipment, as well as the incredible new Terrapin Hide, Jaci’s is hard to beat if you have a serious appetite for wildlife photography.

Photographic safaris are available at Jaci’s Lodges

[Photo credits: Jon Bryant & Justin Glanvill]