Londolozi is famed for its leopards, but Londolozi is also a photographic destination. The Sabi Sands is one of the best places in South Africa for wildlife sightings because of the concentration of game and because the animals are extremley relaxed around vehicles. This means that vehicles are able to approach and find a position in fairly close proximity to the animals – a plus for those without lenses in excess of 400mm and any wildlife enthusiast. Photography at Londolozi is unparalleled, not only because of the wildlife viewing but because of the other photographic services offered at the camp.
Many of the rangers at Londolozi receive training on photography basics and are conscious of angles and where the light is coming from when positioning the vehicle at a sighting. Some of the guides also have a camera handy and will offer tips from changing your exposure composition to -1 when the subject is backlit to suggesting that the leopard might descend the tree now so bump-up your ISO because of low light. For those who wants specific photographic instruction, it possible to pre-book a ranger who is also a photographer. This comes at an additional cost, but if you want to learn more about photographing wildlife at night for instance, this is an option to enquire about when booking. The rangers here capture envy-inducing images that appear on the Londolozi blog and any keen photographer or person with an interest in the African bush should follow.
One of the activities I booked upon arrival was an hour long session at the Photography Studio. While I know the basics of Adobe Lightroom (a photo editing software), I used this opportunity to glean a few more pointers. Upon arrival, all of my photos were downloaded and transferred to a Mac where we reviewed images one-by-one. I loved that I did not have to wait until I got home to to see if my photos are super sharp and correctly exposed. Also, I found it interesting to hear how someone else views my images and to learn what speaks to them. After setting aside the images that I wanted to edit, I was walked and talked through a number of suggested edits. We spent a lot of time talking about how to make eyes pop by dodging (lightening) the shadow the lid creates, amongst other hints. Consequently, we only had enough time to edit three images. One of those images turned out quite nicely and I did buy a small canvas print of a lion gorging on a buffalo calf. There is probably no better memento of your safari than going home with an image captured on canvas. Remember to pack a USB memory stick so you can take home your edited images. If you forget, no worries you can buy one on site.
Many amateur or infrequent photographers may not want to spend money on a long lens they will not use after their safari, but they still want to capture a stunning leopard photo. In this case, guests can rent Canon or Nixon equipment, including Sigma lenses. This has the added benefit of saving you from hauling heavy equipment around. Speaking from experience, my camera equipment is heavier than the small duffel I pack with all my clothes.
During my two night stay at Londolozi, we were treated to fantastic lion sightings, including two lioness’ crossing the Sand River, the Matimba males on a kill, and a glimpse of the newest members of Tsalala pride – five small cubs of varying ages. Another amusing sighting was of the Mashaba’s cub who is nearing independence. She decided to chase two kudu large antelope that she had no hope of killing before retreating to a tree.
Nothing beats a weekend in the bush and I cannot wait to return in December for another Londolozi photographic experience. I hope you enjoy a few of these images.