Our approach mainly consists on focusing on specific animals or locations for entire days or even entire safaris if the situation is highly productive. We want our guests to really enter into the amazing world of the animals of the African plains, to understand them, to see the world through their eyes. We like to wait long hours in the shade of an Acacia for the Cheetah family to hunt, or for the Lion pride to wake up from the afternoon nap and start playing or roaring under the evening sky.
On our photographic safaris in the Masai Mara we followed Caracal families day after day, capturing extraordinary and unique images. We waited for the Wildebeests Migration to unfold before our eyes along the banks of the Mara or Talek rivers, looking for the Lions and Leopards to ambush the approaching herds.
We watched Cheetahs with cubs in the Southern Serengeti, learning how their mother keeps them safe from other predators and well fed until independence. We spent countless hours with Elephant herds on the Amboseli plains, watching majestic bulls guarding females in estrus, and playful calves in the safety of their mothers’ presence.
As we stay with the animals for extended periods of time on our photographic safaris, our main priority will be not to disturb the animals we are watching. Their well being and their life will always be the most important thing, and we will miss good pictures if taking them means altering the animal’s behavior or its environment. I see so many photo safaris vehicles run like mad to anticipate a Cheetah or a Leopard in order to take a photo as it walks towards the vehicle, blocking its view ahead and forcing it to change its course. This disturbs them a lot, especially if they are hunting. I often see vehicles destroying vegetation to enter a bush where a Leopard with cubs is resting. We shall instead wait in the open for the Leopard to come out and come towards us on its own accord. In my experience and in the long run, this approach provides much better photographic opportunities than the ones offered by a more invasive attitude.
Federico Veronesi’s Photo Safaris are designed for very small groups of up to 6 participants per safari, or exclusive and private for you on request, for a maximum of two vehicles per safari. We give each participant a lot of space to photograph comfortably on both sides of the vehicle and to accommodate your photo equipment. Check here for more information on our safari vehicles. Safaris are suitable for participants of all levels of photographic expertise, from beginners to advanced amateurs to professionals. We are sure that partners of participating photographers will also enjoy the safari, will feel the emotions of spending time with wild animals in their environment, in the immense silence of natural landscapes devoid of any human disturbance or interference.
Our days on safari typically start with wake-up call on or before 5.30am. We’ll have a cup of coffee with cookies or a quick early breakfast before boarding our vehicle still in the dark. As the golden light lasts such a short time, we’ll focus our efforts in finding our favorite subject before sunrise. However, out on the plains of Africa you can never know what you will find as you leave camp in the morning. Most of the time we’ll try to find animals on our own, on the basis of previous experience and knowledge of their territories; sometimes we might get some news through phone call from other guides.
When we’ll find our subject we’ll stay with it as long as we wish, especially if it’s an active predator or a potentially interesting situation. We generally have a packed breakfast in mid-morning, either under a tree or in the car while maybe waiting for a Cheetah to hunt or a Leopard return to its kill. When it’s the time of the year for the Wildebeests’ migration we’ll check frequently how the situation is at the crossing sites, by going there personally or through our network of friends on safari at the same time. When the crossings are active we might have to dedicate a long time in order to see this amazing spectacle. Animals often take ages before deciding to finally step into the river, or in the busiest time of the year we might have to go to the crossing sites early to catch one of the best positions to take images.
We can either go back to camp for lunch or carry a pic-nic lunch. There might be a lot happening in the middle of the day, although the light is generally very harsh. Guests will decide whether they want to stay out or go back to camp for a rest in the hottest hours. In Mana Pools NP we generally go back to camp for lunch because in the dry season it gets so hot in the middle of the day that nothing much happens. When we’ll have lunch in camp we generally have a short rest until about 15.30, but we’ll be totally flexible in terms of game drive times according to the preference of our guests.
In the afternoon we’ll stay out with the animals until past sunset. That’s when they often become active and we don’t want to miss these moments. Many times all other vehicles leave and we remain to enjoy the last light on the plains together with our subjects. Modern cameras with high ISO capabilities can be very useful in these situations! We’ll then return to camp in time for a warm shower and to download the images or simply rest before dinner, which generally occurs at 20.00. In Mara and other places we can sit at the campfire with the starry sky above and the calls of the animals echoing in the silence. It’s a magnificent moment to enjoy and remember the sightings of the day. After dinner we’ll have a presentation or a training session on specific aspects of post-processing or photography. We generally go to bed early, before the Hippos come out for grazing around our tents!