Capturing your safari in striking images is any photographer’s dream. Jaw-dropping landscapes, active and abundant wildlife, great equipment, and good guidance up your chances of getting ‘that image’. These amazing camps offer the ultimate photographic safari, taking you from the game-rich plains of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, to the banks of the Zambezi River at Mana Pools, then on to the watery channels of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and finally, on terra firma again, still in the Delta, to one of the most spectacular game-viewing destinations in Africa.
Geared toward both amateur and professional photographers, these luxurious, photogenic camps, start with Linkwasha and Ruckomechi in Zimbabwe, followed by Little Vumbura and Mombo in the Okavango. Both land- and water-based game viewing and highly diverse environments mean a field day for you and your camera. On land, whether game drives or walks; on water, in boats, canoes, or traditional mekoro; or from the air, via hot-air balloon or helicopter, you’ll have an endless range of perspectives enriching your shots.
All four camps offer guests the use of state-of-the art Olympus camera units, as well as highly experienced guides, photographically trained; guests are given a complimentary SD card to take their images home with them. The game vehicles guarantee a window seat for all guests; at extra cost, guests can book a private vehicle should they want to stay longer shooting specific sightings.
Linkwasha, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
A contemporary safari camp in an iconic African landscape, Linkwasha sits on the edge of the renowned Ngamo Plains of Hwange, Zimbabwe’s largest national park. A staggering 5 657 square miles of diverse habitat, Kalahari sands seeping into teak woodlands and golden savannah grasslands, Hwange serves up some of the best game viewing on Earth, year-round but especially rewarding during the dry season. Linkwasha has access to the exclusive-use Makalolo and Linkwasha concessions, incorporating the Ngamo Plains, dotted with vleis and ilala palms and home to an ever-changing wildlife parade.
Potential Linkwasha highlights: in winter, particularly, welcoming uncountable numbers of dust-kicking buffalo and many of the park’s 40 000 majestic elephant at a waterhole, perhaps from a walking safari, or spying from a hide; following the herds, and predators in their wake, on a day game drive, and at night searching for the more elusive pangolin, caracal, lesser bushbaby, or honey badger; after the rains start, seeing swirls of raptors fill the skies; witnessing dramatic blood-orange sunsets or summer thunderstorms, sound and light shows flashing across the Plains.
‘Linkwasha brings your senses alive’, says Olympus photographer Joe Hanly. ‘Panoramic views of the Plains allow you to feel immersed in the bush’.
Using one of two Olympus units or your own camera, the camp’s sunken hide is ideal for honing your photography skills. ‘It’s the perfect location to shoot without any pressure of moving on to a different sighting. The animals come so close that you can really put your creative instincts to the test, while also enjoying the unbelievable experience of observing the details of their social interactions, their movement, their textures or coat, and their gaze’.
Ruckomechi, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
One of the pioneer camps of Mana Pools, northern Zimbabwe’s magical World Heritage Site along the famed Zambezi River, Ruckomechi has been thrilling guests for more than two decades. Not just human guests. If you visit this remote, seasonal camp, you’ll be sharing it with a wildlife menagerie: lots of elephants, big cats, hyaenas, buffalos, hippos, crocs, wild dogs and whatever meeker game that might be on the menu. A Grand Central Station of wildlife-in-transit, at the southern tip of the Rift Valley, with distant views of the escarpment and front-row views of the Zambezi.
The photo ops, like the wildlife, are countless.
‘Guests get to be in the midst of wildlife’, says Safari Guide Nyenge Kazingizi, on hand to assist them with their photography and the Olympus camera equipment. ‘Guests love the concentration of animals around camp, especially elephants – roaming around the tents during the middle of the day as they pick the acacia pods, or swimming across to the island to feed. As one guest said, “Just sharing the space with these gentle giants is so amazing”’.
Take to the river by boat, or canoe and find your shot, of elephants swimming; hippos surfacing; hundreds of bird species, including iconic fish-eagles soaring and carmine bee-eaters nesting on the riverbanks; and so much more. Linger amidst the golden light in a forest of ana trees, as elephants come to feast, standing gracefully on their hind legs, then vanishing like giant shadows.
‘Ruckomechi is both magical and mystical’, says Camp Manager Eddie Mudzimu.
Your photos there will likely be the same.
Little Vumbura, Okavango Delta, Botswana
Sited on a lovely island in the far north of the Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta on Earth, Little Vumbura almost seems to float. Surrounded by water, the camp rests in the middle of the melapo, the annually inundated grasslands, and offers both land- and water-based game viewing. Wildlife and landscape change with the ebb and flow of the waters, through the seasons presenting an abundant variety on which to train your lens: elephant; giraffe; impala; sable antelope; kudu; zebra; common waterbuck; reedbuck; tsessebe; wildebeest; red lechwe; Cape buffalo; predators including African wild dog, lion, leopard, cheetah, and African wildcat; hippo and crocodile in the waterways; and more than 400 bird species, affording exceptional birding year round. Intimate wildlife encounters occur regularly on the spectacular floodplains, studded with ilala palms.
The Delta is an ever-changing ecosystem; no season is the same as the next. Water levels change, the flow of water changes, and with all that the animals change. Having the option to get out on water year round makes this concession truly magical. Definitely a highlight for any guest, and a thrill for photographers, is the sight of lions leaping the channels when the water is high, hopping between islands in pursuit of prey.
With add-on options of booking a helicopter and/or hot-air balloon, you and your camera can explore diverse perspectives on the panoramas below. Or, drifting along gently in a mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe, you can focus on smaller flora and fauna, such as the ubiquitous water lilies and tiny reed frogs. Or, on a delta boat, speed up to see more of the wonders around you.
Mombo, Okavango Delta, Botswana
Your photographic journey culminates at our flagship camp, Mombo, the ‘Place of Plenty’ overlooking Delta floodplains teeming with wildlife and offering some of the best game-viewing – and so naturally, fabulous wildlife photography – on the continent. Located in the Moremi Game Reserve in the northeastern corner of Chief’s Island – once a tribal leader’s hunting ground – legendary Mombo is known for its exceptional concentration of game and its predator action.
All told, the holy grail for photographers…
‘Wildlife around Mombo has always been nothing short of spectacular’, says wildlife photographer Sean van der Merwe. ‘The Okavango is one of the prime destinations for game viewing in Africa, and its rich biodiversity attracts regular as well as unique sightings rarely observed on the continent, ranging from leopards seen daily within the camp’s footprint to a glimpse of the rare pangolin. Mombo is your best bet in the Okavango for encountering all the predators and big game. Key bird species around Mombo make this a bird nerd’s paradise’.
The Olympus photography experience at Mombo is extensive, offering guests use of top-notch equipment and private tuition, should they so choose.
‘A sensory overload’ is how Sean describes 24 hours at Mombo. And potentially a profusion of sensational photographs.
Written by Melissa Siebert