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This club is for Fotozones members interested in joining wildlife safaris organised by Fotozones in Southern Africa. You will have to join the Zone to post in it.

  1. What's new in this zone
  2. If you all haven't seen the widget on the sidebar, I have designed a new private safari to Phinda Private Game Reserve which is a total of 9 nights and can be booked for any time of the year (and can be flexible too). This trip I have managed to put together for under US$5000. It's currently priced at ZAR69000 which at today's forex rate is about $4760. The Rand seems to be fairly stable these days at about 14:1. This safari has been designed around the new(ish) British Airways London to Durban direct flight that operates three days a week. It leaves London at around 4pm and arrives in Durban just after 5am. The return flight leaves at 7.30am SA time and gets into London about 12 hours later (day flight). Because the incoming flight is coming from London it provides an excellent opportunity for non-UK residents to combine a trip to the English city with a safari adventure. I have also added three nights in Durban so as to make the safari a bit more diverse. Durban offers visitors many interesting things to do and because of its location and good year round weather having a couple of days to explore the region either before or after your Phinda adventure is an added bonus. It is also possible to drop one of the Durban nights in favour of an extra night at Phinda if you'd prefer. Phinda is very similar to our usual safari home of Sabi Sabi, but some of our guests who we sent there on extensions have said that they preferred it because the landscapes are much more diverse (mountains, forest, plains, etc), plus there is a very good chance that you will get to see the elusive cheetah as well as black rhino. I have chosen the Phinda Forest Lodge for this 6 night safari as it is very reasonably priced compared to Sabi Sands private lodges, but doesn't compromise on the guest experience. You will stay in suites that are situated within one of the oldest surviving sand forests in Africa, with floor to ceiling glass windows providing you with a unique immersion into the forest life. Full details of the safari are here, but if you have any questions, please feel free to pop me a PM or email.
  3. Dates have been finalised for 2020. Our safari starts on 15 June and ends on 21 June. Our first night is to be spent in Johannesburg at the Southern Sun Hotel. Full details here.
  4. This booking is proving to be a little tricker than usual. LBC doesn't have the kind of availability that will suit my design, so I am investigating the possibility of using either Selati or Bush Lodge instead. Stay tuned...
  5. I am just wrapping up a few details with a provisional booking, but it looks like we will be back at Little Bush Camp for our weeklong Wildlife Safari in June 2020. Yay! The dates will be confirmed in the next day or two. I have asked to reserve 3 suites at LBC from 8 - 14 June. The trip will be exactly the same as this year's trip logistics wise, but I will add the link to the detail page soon.
  6. I've had some folks ask me about how this safari window system works, so I thought I would explain it here to save having to do it repeatedly. Basically the main problem with organising any group safari is that as soon as I make a booking I have only 2-4 weeks to provide the lodge/reserve with their required deposit (this varies depending on the lodge), otherwise they won't hold the space. Historically co-ordinating this has been very difficult to do because not everybody can make a snap decision to go on safari and then within 2 weeks make the deposit. Typically a SWIFT deposit requires the person to physically go into their bank and do the wire transfer in person. This is obviously not always convenient for busy people and even if they can manage it the deposit still takes a few days to get paid into my bank here in South Africa, which cuts the timing really fine for the booking to be forfeited. All it takes is one person in the group to not follow through on time and the entire plan can be scuppered. This is why we didn't have a safari in 2018. So, what I have decided to do to remedy this situation is create "windows" of opportunity for folks who would like to join any of the safaris I have designed. Each window is 4 weeks wide. Should I get the required interest to fill a small group safari within that window I can co-ordinate the final dates and lodge availability before making the booking, rather than booking first and then risk losing it (which really frustrates everybody). If you are planning on joining one of these small group safaris you should therefore be free to travel at any time during the 4 week window. I have also set windows well into the future, so if you can't make it in 2020, the following year is an option too. Reserving spots on these safaris is possible, but for each spot reservation I will require a non-refundable $250 deposit. The reason for this is because all too often in the past I have reserved spots for folks who backed out at the last minute. And that's how it works! 🤓 If you have any questions or concerns about the new system please just let me know. I will be adding windows for Sabi Sabi and other awesome destinations in the weeks ahead, so if the Phinda trip doesn't float your boat for 2020 keep your inbox and radar clear for those ones. They will be getting published soon.
  7. Check this out! https://www.news24.com/Video/SouthAfrica/News/watch-the-mane-man-lion-hitches-ride-on-car-during-game-drive-20190730
  8. Hey everybody. So, I have a provisional booking and pricing for Phinda Homestead for 4 - 10 May 2020. I had originally intended to do a double leg safari but have run into availability issues at Sabi Sabi, so I am going to limit the group trip to this one week at the beginning of May next year. I will be happy to organise extensions for anybody looking to extend their stay in SA by booking you into any other reserve in the country for however long you'd like. Details: Space for the Phinda Safari is limited to 3 couples sharing. The price below is per couple. If you wish to to have your own room you'll have to pay for the whole suite. Sorry! There will be 2 nights prior to the safari staying in the Beverly Hills Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks, overlooking the Indian Ocean. This is our rendezvous hotel and I have chosen it specifically for the location. If you're flying in from far away you will be able to relax on the beach and also stroll along one of the best coastlines in South Africa. Lots of photography opportunities for landscapes too. The weather in Durban in May is brilliant. Warm ocean for you to swim in too. In Phinda I have organised 2 private vehicles so there will be no more than 4 guests on each one. If you arrive in Johannesburg the price includes a return flight to Durban. There are direct flights from London to Durban on British Airways, usually arriving in the city at around 6am. We will take a roughly 4 hour road transfer from Durban to Phinda. Reason for this is because the flights into Phinda airstrip directly have lots of weight and luggage restrictions. Included: Welcome dinner in Umhlanga Rocks All meals from arrival to departure (excludes drinks and room service at Beverly Hills Hotel) All local spirits, wines and malts at Phinda Homestead All transfers (airport - hotel - lodge - airport) Excluded: Gratuities Gifts Spa treatments Phone calls Room service Cost: R240,400 per couple (roughly $17500 on today's forex rates, or $8,750 per person sharing). To secure your suite on this safari I will need to get a 30% deposit from you by 12 August 2019. The balance will be due 4 months prior to the safari (ie end of Jan 2020). Unfortunately Phinda do not offer me as much of a window as Sabi Sabi for deposits, so this is quite important. At this stage I am making the offer to the Safari Club here first, then I will send it out via email to Photographers.travel and Fotozones as a whole a week from today. This gives those reading this a week's first priority to join. If you want in, please send me an email (info@fotozones.com). PM will work, but I like to keep all my safari related stuff in my mail app.
  9. until
    Our first self-organised, small group safari. Details here. Be sure to join either the Fotozones or Photographers.travel mailing lists to be kept informed about future trips we are planning.
  10. I must apologize for the delay in getting this trip sorted. Inbetween the now full time job of photographing houses and tying up all the bits that needed tying up for our imminent Sabi Sabi safari, I just haven't been able to work through the logistics of this Phinda safari. Yet. It will definitely still happen in 2020, so please bear with me. I did receive a good positive response to my earlier emails about this one and because of the limited nature of all future Fotozones safaris (in terms of personnel and guests) I expect the three available rooms will be snapped up fairly quickly. I'm still aiming for June next year, so if you are interested in more information please pop me a PM or email me.
  11. Pricing for this trip will be ready in the next couple of weeks. It's looking very good!
  12. I have had a pretty good private response to this safari proposal so far and there is a good chance that all three rooms might already be taken. With that in mind, if demand is there I could possibly turn this into a double safari by adding a second week for a second group of people either immediately preceding or following one another. The reason I want to go at this particular time of year is because of the weather. It is the best time to visit my province and photographically the light will be at its best for extended daylight game drives.
  13. A few previous safarians have asked me about Phinda Private Game Reserve, so I'm planning a week long stay there for May/June 2020, maybe even earlier if there is enough interest. This will be an exclusive photographic safari and it will be limited to a maximum of 6 guests at the Phinda Homestead, which is a quite spectacular private villa in the reserve. I will be selling three rooms on the safari, each accommodating 2 guests, so if you are planning to come on your own, you'll have to pay the full room rate as no single supplement is available for this particular establishment. Unfortunately I can't give details of pricing for 2020 yet, but for 2019 the costs will be slightly higher than the Sabi Sabi trip we're doing in June this year, but that is because I am including a second specialist photographic vehicle and a few other things as well. If we were to do a trip this year the rooms will be going for approximately R215,000 each (about US$16k in today's money). This will include a return road transfer between Durban and Phinda, as well as a night to rendezvous at Umhlanga Rocks just north of the city. Safarians will have to find their way to Durban where you will be collected and taken to our rendezvous point. Flying to Durban is very easy and there are now direct flights from London on British Airways. Several other airlines also fly internationally to Durban, but may include a stop in Johannesburg or a connecting flight (1 hour) to my coastal city. One of the biggest challenges with setting up these exclusive safaris is co-ordinating dates and deposits. Unfortunately Phinda do not offer any provisional bookings so a reservation is only confirmed once their deposit is received, which means that I will have to select some dates and then we will need to figure out what timeframe works for everyone before we book. If you are keen on more information please get in touch with me by email (info@photographers.travel) and I can provide more information on the proposed trip. In the meantime here is some visual information on the private villa to feast your eyes on.
  14. Kevin Richardson is a tireless campaigner for lions and other wildlife here in South Africa. He runs a sanctuary for these animals just outside of Johannesburg and next year on the day before our safari to Sabi Sabi begins I will be taking our small group on a day trip to visit this sanctuary (and hopefully meet Kevin himself). Check out this video of the incredible black leopards he has in the sanctuary. I never knew such a creature existed here.
  15. I am just waiting on a price, but I have secured 3 suites at Selati for my small group Wildlife Safari to be held in June 2019. Click here for details. I have received a fair amount of interest for this trip, so if you are among the few insiders here in the Safari Club who would like to grab a suite before I go to the mailing lists in the next couple of days, this is your chance.
  16. Unfortunately the attempt to get a small group going to Earth Lodge was a bit too close to the bone and I had to cancel the reservation. It was always going to be a bit of a stretch to pull off given the proximity to Thanksgiving in the US and the short time to launch. Anyway, we persevere tenaciously in making other trips happen.. I would like to do a small group (also 3 suites, max 5 guests) to Sabi Sabi in June of next year. I haven't selected a lodge yet, but it will be one of the 3 other camps, either Little Bush, Bush Lodge or Selati. Same itinerary as the one I proposed for the Earth Lodge trip; 1 night in JHB and 6 nights in Sabi Sabi. We fly directly from OR Tambo to Skukuza, the transfer to the lodge is a game drive in itself and then at the end we fly back the same way. None of this 6 hour road trip nonsense. From there I can get Pepe (if she is available, which these days is not so likely) to guide you on any extensions or I can arrange stays at any other reserve in SA for you. So, if you guys are interested in making a small group trip like this happen in June 2019 please chip in to the convo here and let's plan this together.
  17. Thanks Chris, it is a very attractive offer. Very kind of them to give me this opportunity. I will also be booking another small group stay at one of the other three lodges (LBC, Bush Lodge or Selati) for May or June next year. I already have pricing for 2019, so now it's just a case of doing the planning and logistics.
  18. Hey Dallas, this is indeed a great offer! Too bad I can't make it due to business dates during that time. Fingers crossed that you find enough guests to make it happen, it will be an amazing trip! Cheers Chris
  19. My very first safari undertaken with the Nikongear group took us on a road trip through three different, government controlled game parks and the experience left me not only exhausted, but somewhat unimpressed with the way national parks are set up for game viewing. They’re not photography friendly at all. I thought it would be better to spend an entire week in one really good, albeit more expensive place, than 2 weeks driving around aimlessly, fighting with fleets of other park visitors to see sleeping lions maybe 200 metres away from the road. I think it might have been an article in a magazine that drew me to Sabi Sabi. I made some inquiries and the next thing I knew we had a week booked for October, 2010 at their Little Bush Camp. Our first visit there was incredible. As was our second, third, fourth, etc. It seemed that every year we would find another reason to return again. Seven times so far we have been back. Word of this special place has spread far and wide via our guests and Sabi Sabi is now one of the most highly occupied private reserves in the country. The role I have played in helping to market Sabi Sabi hasn’t gone unnoticed by their executive team and when I recently interacted with my contact person there, they made me an offer to pass on to my loyal guests that I think you are going to love. Here’s that offer. On each of our safaris we have paid a visit to the amazing Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge to see how the “other” echelon of safari goers experiences the bush. This eco friendly, partly cob constructed lodge is the crown jewel of Sabi Sabi group and it’s priced to appeal to only a certain segment of society, coming in at a cool R21k per person sharing, per night. That’s a shade under $1500 per night on current rates. Sabi Sabi have offered me 3 suites at Earth Lodge for the same price as Little Bush Camp, for the week of 1 - 7 December 2018. What a deal! I have prepared the following package for you guys based on this offer from them: Itinerary 30 Nov 2018 - Arrive in Johannesburg, stay at Tsogo Sun OR Tambo Airport Hotel 01 Dec 2018 - Fly from OR Tambo to Skukuza Aerodrome inside Kruger National Park. 02 - 06 Dec 2018 - daily game drives and optional walks at Earth Lodge. 07 Dec 2018 - Return to Skukuza, fly back to OR Tambo, Johannesburg. Return home or extend your safari. Costs R89,140 per person sharing, or R109,750 for single occupancy (25% single supplement). today's forex rate is R14.36 to $1, but this has been fluctuating wildly over the past few weeks, depending on which politician opens their mouth first. That rate is about 33% off the usual Earth Lodge rates. Included is everything we normally get at Sabi Sabi. I have also included the transfers, park and conservation levies in the total cost. I think staying at the airport hotel makes a lot of logistical sense instead of Tladi Lodge, which while an amazing place, is just too far to travel in the hideous Johannesburg traffic if we are flying to Skukuza. And flying in means we don't have the horrible 6 hour drive to the park from Sandton. Much more convenient. Sabi Sabi will transfer us to and from the aerodrome at no additional cost. Space Availability As I said in my post yesterday, I am hoping to limit this experience to just 4 people, one couple sharing and two singles, which would make it a nice size small group on the Land Cruiser. However, if a second couple does want to join I will be able to drop the single supplement for the person who joins on their own. They will still keep their exclusive use of a row on the vehicle. Booking Time is of the essence here because this safari is only 4 months away. I will require a 50% deposit by the middle of September and the balance will be due in the middle of October. If you would like to book it please email me ASAP and I will send you the booking form as well as my banking details. It will be billed through my business, so you won’t be using previous banking details. This is the first place that the safari details have been posted on, giving club members first option. I can only offer this first option until 1 September, thereafter I will be advertising it to the whole site membership, as well as Photographers.travel’s client base. I really do hope you guys can join me on this one! If you can't, please pass the word on to your friends who might be interested. I know that this is hot on the heels of US Thanksgiving, but hopefully by then my US friends will have had enough of the turkey and could use some of our southern hemisphere warmth.
  20. Hey Safarians! Thank you for signing up to this club which is where I will be publishing details of all my future safaris first. So if you are in here you will always get first option to join. Before I publish the details of my first solo effort in the next couple of days, I just want to touch on why things have changed and why Pepe from Nature Uncut is not involved in this upcoming safari. Firstly, there is no fallout between Pepe and I. We have been working together on safaris since 2009 and as those of you who know her will attest, she is an awesome person and tour organiser. Anybody who doesn't get along with her must have some sort of personality defect. Unfortunately for me, she is so good at what she does that her time and availability to work on her own tours as well as those I commission has become problematic, especially as she is on safari herself for large chunks of the year. As you would have seen our traditional UB5 trip for this year didn't come off because of a number of logistical problems with deposits, vendors and (I think) a general uncertainly that comes with trying to plan things too far in advance for people travelling from afar. I can't expect Pepe to work on trips I commission that don't come off, so this is why I am changing things up. To this end what I have decided to do is make the UB5 trip 50% smaller and occurring in a time frame that I can manage myself. Essentially it means that I will only book 3 suites at a time for Sabi Sabi (and other reserves we visit), allowing for a maximum of 4 guests on any one trip. I will allow only one couple sharing and 2 single travellers to fill those spots. This ensures that our vehicle isn't over crowded. I might consider allowing 2 couples per safari, but I think that 3-4 people is about perfect for the safaris I want to do. Also, these safaris will occur no further than 6 months into the future, which means that they require less forward planning and therefore less risk of unforeseen events derailing bookings. If anybody who wants to join on a safari with me would also like an extension to the safari I am very happy to organise those too, either through Pepe or via one of my other associates in the travel industry. I will be adding more than just Sabi Sabi to the repertoire of places we travel to in 2019. I am currently working on deals with the Nambiti Private Reserve in my province (a very nice place), as well as walking safaris for the more adventurous people who fancy the idea of sleeping under the stars in a Big 5 game reserve. Having done this myself, I can assure you it's quite an experience! Other places in my sights include Zimanga, which is becoming known as a photographers paradise, and then, looking further ahead, as you all know I have been itching to tour North America, so don't be surprised if a Fotozones/Photographers.travel photography tour happens there in 2020. Right, I know you are all waiting eagerly to see what this trip I have planned for this year is all about. I'm really sorry to keep teasing you like this, but for now what I can tell you is that the dates are set for 30 November to 7 December 2018. It's going to be a late-spring safari, coming after Thanksgiving (US) and it will be an incredibly priced deal for those of you who will be able to join me. I am working on the technical details (system invoicing) at the moment and should have that all ready for general consumption in the next couple of days. You may want to hit the "Follow" button on this clubs discussion area to get an email notice when I post the full details.
  21. It's inspiration to return!
  22. Thanks for the pointer Dallas ... but it would probably make me mad to sit on the sofa and not in the vehicle
  23. I don't know if any of you guys have seen this before, but you can go for a live game drive every day with Safari LIVE on YouTube. They used to broadcast this on (I think) the Animal Planet channel, which I no longer receive. Really nice to see it being streamed on the YT though. They even have rangers broadcasting live form the Masai Mara now. Enjoy!
  24. It briefly touched R15:$1 yesterday, which is just crazy. So much for our new president... Anyway, I am going to be making inquiries for a small 1 week, 3 person (plus me) group booking at Sabi Sabi for either October or November. If I can find availability and can work out a deal with them for the small group I will be sending out an email to see if anybody wants to join. Safari Club members are getting the first option, so think about it and let me know if you are interested.
  25. In this club I will be posting about safari opportunities that I am offering for small groups as well as private travellers. In the past the large groups we have done trips for have been very difficult to co-ordinate deposits on, which this year resulted in us losing our Sabi Sabi booking, so for the future my emphasis is going to be on setting up safaris for groups of no more than 6 persons at a time. Over the past 9 years I have built up a very useful network of people working in the safari industry here in South Africa. These range from lodge owners to tour guides who some of you already know from previous trips. Together with these service providers I will be crafting bespoke tours as well as special itineraries designed especially for photographers. If you have any questions or want to share information about places to go on safari in Africa please feel free to post them in here.

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