Descovery Collection
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South Africa photography workshop safari

Our photo workshop safaris are run in collaboration with International awarding winning wildlife photographer Phil Gould.
We combine the thrill of a wildlife safari with your passion for photography to offer the ultimate wildlife photography experiences.
Phil will lead private groups of six photographers to South Africa in September 2018.
This exclusive safari will start at Black Leopard Camp set within the magnificent Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve, followed by Rukiya Safari Lodge located on the banks of the Blyde River in the Wild Rivers private Nature Reserve. Rukiya is not only our safari base but is also a key location for our leopard research program. Following three days at Rukiya with our team, you will visit the exclusive Thornybush game reserve, which is also in the greater Kruger park.
This safari offers superb opportunities to see and photograph the prolific variety of indigenous wildlife that are found in this area.  As our guest often say “we want to see everything” and that it is that ethos that has made our award winning South African safaris such a success for the last ten years.
Of-course we understand that photographers have a special approach to viewing wildlife, which is why our photo safaris are all about maximising time with the wildlife and giving you personalised tuition each day.
Our South African safaris support local wildlife conservation projects, including our leopard research program funded by our UK charity the On Track Foundation.


Detailed Itinerary:
Day 1
On arrival at OR Tambo International Airport Johannesburg guests are met and transfer by kombi (mini bus) to Black Leopard Camp arriving in time to relax and unwind before a welcome dinner.


Note: The day 1 itinerary above assumes your arrival at Johannesburg Airport before 10:00. The vast majority of international flights arrive between 07:00 - 10:00. If however your preferred flight is scheduled to arrive later in the day, then we can arrange for overnight accommodation before starting your safari.

Day 2-4
Morning and evening bush walks or game drives within the Thaba Tholo Reserve. We can also visit the ancient rock art sites within the reserve, which are thought to have been made by the San people over two thousand years ago.
Phil will be on hand during all game drives and during the day to offer tuition and advice throughout your safari.
Within the Thaba Tholo reserve we have several photography hides for you to utilise as you wish. These hides were installed for film crews to use during the production of several wildlife documentaries that have been set at Thaba Tholo and facilitated by OTS founder Will Fox, including Masters of Mayhem (BBC). Brunch followed by early afternoon relaxation and a evening game drive, perhaps to watch the sun set over the magnificent mountain scene.


Day 5
After breakfast we will transfer to our safari base Rukiya Safari Camp (approx 2 hours). Travelling through the mountainous area known locally as the highveld to the Greater Kruger Park area (lowveld).
Rukiya Safari Camp is an intimate, luxury tented camp situated on the confluence of the Blyde and Olifants Rivers in the heart of Wild Rivers Private Nature Reserve. The development of the camp was done with a least-impact footprint with a variety of green or eco-friendly principles employed during the construction process. A large part of the area comprises of deck and canvass that has a minimal effect in contrast to conventional brick and mortar. The operation of the camp follows the ecological-sensitive philosophy by utilizing environmentally friendly products that does not contain harmful chemicals. Up-cycled drift- and pallet wood were used to furnish and decorate the camp and were sourced from local suppliers in support of the community. Following a holistic approach to contribute to an ultimate nature experience, great care is taken to provide guests with all the special touches, pampering and comforts during their stay. Safaris and bush walks are part of the offering of all-inclusive packages. The iconic tented accommodation fortifies the African experience that allows guests to immerse themselves in the beauty of the magical Lowveld.  Six en-suite luxury tents have been carefully placed underneath the shade of gaint Jackalberry trees with wonderful views to the river.
Rukiya is our safari home and base for much of our work in leopard conservation. It is offers a unique and intimate wildlife experience and the opportunity to take Big Five game drives in the adjacent Balule game reserve (Kruger Park). When entering Wild Rivers Nature Reserve, expect to be immersed in the vista of endless woodland set against the back drop of the majestic Drakensberg mountains that change colour as the day walks on. This 2,600 hectare reserve is bordered by both the Blyde and Olifants Rivers and boasts a diverse landscape with rocky outcrops and savanna where plains game roam freely. Leopard wander and riverbanks are frequented by hippo and crocodiles.


Day 6 & 7
Each morning you will be woken with an invigorating cup of coffee before setting off on a morning game drive.
On your first full day at Rukiya we will include our unique bush senses experience. This is an activity that we have developed over many years and has proven to be very popular with our safari guests. In a fun way it encourages you to use all of your senses when in the bush. Not just sight, but also smell, hearing and touch. Some of our senses are dulled by modern living, but this simple and fun exercise quickly hones one’s bush senses, ideal preparation for any safari.
Brunch is followed by time to relax and enjoy the photographic opportunities from your private deck with river views and some 1-2-1 tuition with Phil, before a late lunch and your afternoon game drive, before returning home for a sumptuous dinner.

Each morning will begin with a sunrise game drive that will take you through the Wild Rivers Reserve and into the adjacent Balule Reserve (part of the Greater Kruger Park). We have exclusive access, so we the flexibility to extend game drive times if we wish and moreover as nature dictates. We can either return to the lodge for a late breakfast or take a packed breakfast.
When the heat of the day has faded a little, we will enjoy a further game dive, stopping for sun downers as the suns sets and returning to the lodge as darkness falls for drinks and dinner.


Day 8-10
After breakfast on day five we will transfer to the Tangala Safari Camp within the Thornybush Game Reserve. Thornybush is a favoured safari location for movie stars and the rich and famous. Even on bush roads it takes only 45 mins to transfer to Thornybush so you will have plenty of time to settle in and relax before afternoon high tea and game drive. Again returning to your lodge for dinner.


Tangala boasts sweeping views overlooking an expansive and active waterhole, with the majestic Drakensberg Mountain Range forming an impressive backdrop. With our eco-friendly camp, great hosting, comfortable accommodation and thrilling game drives, guests are assured an unforgettable experience


Thornybush Game Reserve is approximately 14,000ha of game habitat: open savannah woodland with tangled thicket and thorny scrub. It is a well established reserve and perfect habitat for Africa's famous Big Five as well as a host of other animals (eg. cheetah, African wild dog, hippo, crocodile, giraffe, zebra, various antelope species, porcupine, aardvark).  Thornybush is home to 147 mammal species,  114 types of reptile, more than 500 bird species, dozens of fish and amphibian species and 336 types of trees, as well as  countless grasses, insects, etc. Game viewing in the reserve ranks as some of the best in Southern Africa with a near perfect year round climate. Guests can enjoy off road close-up views of special sightings and once darkness falls, you'll be treated to thrilling spot-lit night drives in search of rare nocturnal creatures and big cats on the move.


Your days in the Thornybush Game Reserve start with an early morning game drive, returning to you lodge in time for a late breakfast/brunch. After which guests may have the option of taking an accompanied big five bush walk. An opportunity to trail in the Thornybush Game Reserve is an experience that will never be forgotten. The trail will return for a well-deserved rest during the heat of the day, where there will be time to relax and enjoying watching animals passing by. The afternoon game drive will start after high tea and will cover previously unseen areas of the reserve, followed by dinner often taken around the fire in an outside boma.


Day 11
On your last morning in ThornyBush your game drive aims to pay a last visit to your favourite spots, offering an opportunity to get those final photographs, or sketches.
After breakfast we will transfer to Johannesburg airport.
Prices are based on a group size of six clients plus Phil Gould.

Price includes:
Road transfers
Accommodation on a sharing basis (twin rooms) single supplements may apply
Tea and Coffee
Guided game drives and or bush walks

International flights
Reserve conservation entry fees (approximately £27)
Tips and souvenirs

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Phil Gould

International and Awarding winning wildlife photographer Phil Gould has over 35 years of experience. Phil brings his wealth of experience and knowledge to our photography workshop safaris, offering you amazing photography opportunities.
Phil was born in Southampton and lived just outside the New Forest. This is where his passion for wildlife was born, watching many birds and mammals in their natural habitat. He learned the art of field craft and animal behaviour from a young age. At 16 he started his love for photography and using these skills helps him bring his images to life.
In 2004 Phil was involved in plane crash whist in Alaska photographing Grizzly Bears. This inspired him in 2008 to travel around the world in 365 days and he wrote the international book 365photographydays sold in 26 countries.


365 Photography Days tells the story of his travels across the globe in search of adventure. At the outset he sets himself the challenge of capturing a definitive image for each day, and these stunning photographs are accompanied by a journal-style commentary of the author s journey. This is also a practical guide to photography techniques with hints and tips from an expert. Each day of the journey includes a photo tip, giving advice about everything from lighting techniques and camera settings, to groupings that work and images that sell.


Phil has worked for the award winning Jessops academy training team as their wildlife expert photography for over ten years, and continues to run wildlife photography courses with them.
Phil is an expert on photography equipment as well as techniques. His photographs have been published in many photography magazines (including Amateur Photographer, Outdoor Photography, Photography Monthly and Practical Photography) and have been used in the guidebook for Marwell Wildlife in Hampshire.
Phil’s philosophy teaches the 4 P’s of wildlife photography: 
Passion, Patience, Perseverance, Practice.
Whether you are just starting out with your camera, need to improve your technique, or simply want to rekindle your passion for photography, Phil welcomes ‘all’ on our photography workshops. Where we offer amazing wildlife experiences that are aimed at improving your skills as a photographer.