Photographic Safaris and How to Unveil the Luangwa Valley’s Hidden Beauty
By Peter Geraerdts
Have you considered why photographic safaris should be on the top of your list if you are planning a safari holiday?
You’ll get the chance to expand your photographic knowledge and learn how to use your camera more effectively. South Luangwa National Park is beautiful, and the Luangwa Valley is ideal for a safari holiday and wildlife photography. Create lifelong memories and observe majestic wildlife in a more enhanced and intimate way.
The valley has fertile soil, which supports incredible flora and fauna. Most people admire the diversity in the scenery with ebony grooves and ancient leadwood forests, which bring out captivating images of animals in their natural habitat.
The best time for keen photographers to come is between April and December, when South Luangwa offers a wide range of diversity in nature and scenery.
Of course, there are days when the predators remain elusive, however, there is always something interesting to see! Discover photographic opportunities with the chance to focus on various species while learning and brushing up on your photographic techniques.
Peter Geraerdts, a professional guide, photographer and the owner of Track and Trail River Camp in South Luangwa, Zambia, said, “organising an African safari is a great way to see a wide range of wildlife in their natural habitat. At the same time, it’s the perfect opportunity to take beautiful images of that wildlife! However, there are some challenges to taking photos on safari, and some extra guidance can make all the difference in your African adventure.”
Wildlife photography takes knowledge, patience, and lots of luck. Commenting on the experience, Geraerdts said, “Unfortunately, I can’t help with the last two, but if you are interested in nature and wildlife and you are looking to improve your photographic skills and technique, then a photographic safari with Track and Trail River Camp is the right place to begin. With time to concentrate on the wildlife and birds that interest you, you will have a significantly personalised safari in a vehicle adapted explicitly for photography.”
Some of the Track and Trail River Camp vehicles are designed specifically for photographic safaris. An open roof allows a 360-degree viewpoint and beanbag support (beanbags provided by the lodge). They provide 6 seats with space in the central compartment.
South Luangwa is Peter Geraerdt’s “backyard” with his professional training. He recognises the nuances behind it and commented, “I have the knowledge of where to look for the wildlife visitors are hoping to see. It is not always that easy. After all, nothing is more unpredictable than the behaviour of wild animals, but my understanding of the habitat, animal behaviours, and my regular drives in the South Luangwa National Park will ensure the best chance of quality wildlife viewing.”
The knowledge that professionals have helps in predicting what comes next and where. Knowing what to expect is essential in photography because you can prepare yourself from a photographic point of view.
It may mean knowing when to change the settings on your camera. Doing this at the last minute will, more often than not, result in disappointments. So being prepared will help you get the best photographs. You must be quick in wildlife photography to get the desired results!
National parks – and South Luangwa National Park is no exception – are usually huge areas. If you drive at random, you will need a lot of luck to be successful. For example, many visitors want to see lions; they top the list of requests on safaris, together with the leopard. Lions have a territory they patrol, meaning they have a routine of going up and down their home range.
Suppose you know they have been in the top-Northern section of the territory in the evening. In that case, they will most likely be walking towards the Southern area the following day. Finding them still remains a challenge, especially in a place like Luangwa Valley, where the terrain is bushveld with grass and shrubs where the lions can hide.
Part of enjoying a wildlife safari is tracking the animals – it is far more fun and following the signs and clues along the way is essential. An experienced guide will know where predators like to hunt and be able to listen to and understand the alarm calls of resident animals such as Baboons, Impalas and Puku. This will help to increase your chances of finding them.