Updated: Aug 21
"What’s the difference between a photographic safari and a traditional safari?"
This is a question I’ve been asked time and time again. And understandably so. At first glance a trip labelled a ‘photographic’ safari can appear somewhat intimidating. They are often expensive and can have an air of elitism surrounding them. They can also often automatically put off those who aren’t inclined towards photography or feel that they need to have the latest gear and an abundance of knowledge in order to join one.
I hope that after reading this, I may be able to quash some of these stigmas and perhaps even spark the curiosity of joining a photographic safari in the future for some of you.
Firstly, let’s address the thought that photographic safaris can only be joined by photographers. This simply isn’t true. Photographic safaris are all about giving you the best possible experience. We aim to get you into the best position with the hope of spending as long as possible with different subjects, not just the big 5, whilst out in the field. It is about appreciating the abundance that nature has to offer and understanding the delicate balance the ecosystem holds by providing a completely immersive experience. I believe this is the best way to do a safari and is only possible by spending these extended time periods at each sighting rather than bouncing from sighting to sighting, “check-listing” off species before moving on. I have found this to be the general focus on ‘traditional’ safaris.
Ultimately it comes down to what you would prefer. Jumping from sighting to sighting and spending a few minutes at each or taking the time at one or two sightings fully experiencing everything that sighting has to offer. Watching as a lion pride socialises with one another; a female nuzzling a male, cubs playing and causing havoc, an adult male yawning, adult females moving off to hunt. You simply cannot experience all of this in a few short minutes. This additional time allows you to understand the behaviours and dynamic of a species, and it is through this that long lasting memories of your experiences are created. And you do not need to be a photographer to create these memories. You might prefer to simply take a few photos on your phone or camera and spend the reminder of your time watching. Either way, how special will this sighting have been? I am sure you will leave with a story to tell.
Another key difference between these two types of safaris is the number of guests. On traditional safaris it is not uncommon to see vehicles of up to 10 guests at any given time. On a photographic safari, numbers are capped. For example, with RAW Photographic we typically cap a trip out at a maximum of 4-6 guests. This is designed to enhance your experience. It provides a more intimate setting, allowing for a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. So much so, many leave these types of trips with new friends, having spent so much time together out in the field and sharing so many wonderful experiences. The additional space on the vehicle is also welcome – meaning you have space to move around a little and bring any equipment you need. It is also easier to communicate with those around you to ensure everyone on the vehicle has the best possible view of a sighting, once again enabling you to enjoy the best experience available.
And this is point of a photographic safari – the unrivalled experience. Our safaris at RAW Photographic are designed for anyone and everyone with an interest in wildlife and nature. Our professional photographer who joins you on your trip is not only there to give you photographic guidance. Yes, they will be incredibly skilled in this and want to help you get the most out of your photography should you want this. But they are also there to guide you through your safari experience – something that may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for you. It is our endeavour to make sure you go home with memories you’ll treasure forever having had your best safari experience.
Photographs by Sophie Brown and Samuel Cox