Malamala/Mashatu Photographic Safari

August 2013 (9 nights)

In August 2013 I will lead a private group of photographers on a photographic safari to the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, which is in South Africa, as well as the Tuli Game Reserve, which is in Botswana.  This safari and workshop combines some of the finest wildlife photography anywhere, together with fine safari camps, and extensive photographic and digital workflow instruction.

Predators occur at high densities throughout the Sabi Sands, and Malamala, our camp, is part of the largest single property within the reserve.  Our game drives will take us to both sides of the Sand River, which is great habitat for leopard.

After our visit to the Sabi Sands, we relocate to the Tuli Game Reserve, in the far east of Botswana.  We will stay at Mashatu Camp.  The Tuli Game Reserve is well-known for high quality game viewing.  It is home to approximately 600 elephants, a high density for the area.  The terrain, which is a mixture of dry riverbeds, rocky outcrops and plains, provides superb habitat for leopards.  Other predators that occur here include lion, spotted hyaena and cheetah.

Safari Highlights

  • High quality leopard and lion viewing, along with all of Africa’s Big Five.
  • All game drives are in open-sided vehicles, at both Malamala and Mashatu.
  • Only 7 participants.
  • I will lead the group throughout the safari.
  • This safari offers exceptional game viewing as well as photographic opportunities in both locations, the Sabi Sand Reserve (some of the best leopard viewing in the world) and Mashatu (great elephant viewing, big cats).
  • This safari is for enthusiasts who want to spend a maximum amount of time out in the wildlife areas – we work hard to get great photos!
  • This itinerary will focus on intimate and authentic wildlife experiences, up-close.
  • All this takes place from the comfortable, high-quality accommodations at both camps.

Is this Safari for You?

Here are some key points to help you decide:

  1. We welcome photographers of ALL levels.  The safari will be conducive to learning from one another and include instruction that will suit everyone’s photographic needs.  No question is off limits, no enquiry too basic.
  2. We are BIG on photographing in the field.  We spend most of our time and effort on safari activity and making images.  However, we do meet daily to review images and discuss techniques.  This includes camera techniques as well as processing techniques.  This is not a ‘classroom-intensive’ trip.  Our “classroom sessions” are completely optional, though the review sessions are valuable.  During non-safari times I will be available to share my own workflow procedures, and to assist photographers with all aspects of image processing.I work with Adobe Photoshop CS6 and also Adobe Lightroom 4.
  3. Non-photographer or videographer spouses/travel companions will enjoy these trips too.  All the safari activities are led by well-qualified guides, and the excursions into these pristine areas will be enjoyed regardless of whether one has a camera or not!


06-07 August 2013: (1 night)

PEERMONT MONDIOR HOTEL – Emperor’s Palace, Johannesburg, South Africa

We will be staying close to the airport, at the Peermont Mondior Hotel.  On your arrival in Johannesburg, you will be met by our local representative.  You will be assisted with your baggage and transported to the hotel for check-in.  Dinner will be at a nearby restaurant (own expense) with the rest of the group.

Emperor’s Palace is a hotel, casino and convention resort conveniently situated alongside Johannesburg International Airport.  The modern 150-key, four-star hotel is furnished in an elegant, contemporary style, and offers wireless high-speed Internet access in all public areas, including the Business Centre and Lounge, and wired high-speed Internet connections in all the rooms.

The next morning enjoy breakfast (included) at Oriana, the delightful breakfast restaurant on the ground floor, overlooking the gardens and Convention Centre.  The restaurant is comprised of 148 seats in the main area, as well as 72 in a separate smoking section.  After breakfast the group will transfer back to O.R. Tambo airport, where we will catch our Federal Air flight to the Malamala airstrip, in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve.  From the airstrip, it is a short drive to the camp.

07-11 August: (4 nights)

Malamala Main Camp – Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

Malamala regularly provides some of the finest game viewing in Southern Africa.  It has been the location for a large number of acclaimed international and local wildlife documentaries (including National Geographic).

It is a near-impossible task to bring to life a MalaMala safari through the written word, but the annual statistics published by the property serve to prove the frequency and consistency of Big 5 sightings experienced by visitors.

Why such phenomenal viewing success? Simply put, it’s due to:

  1. Size and human habitation: 33,000 acres (13,500 hectares) lie undisturbed, but for two safaris which meander through the wild with no more than 6 silent observers per vehicle each day (note – our safari will have just 4 guests per vehicle).  There is a very low number of people actually living within the reserve.  This minimizes the impact on the environment.  Only guests accommodated at one of the MalaMala camps enjoy this privately-owned game land.
  2.  MalaMala has practiced sound environmental management policies for years, well before “responsible tourism became the contemporary catch phrase.
  3. Photographic safaris are conducted in open 4-wheel drive vehicles, allowing for total freedom of movement and the ability to leave the road and track down Africa’s unique animals including the legendary Big Five – Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo. Main Camp is laid out in such a way that it allows us to appreciate and enjoy the view of the surroundings, even when in camp.  Pathways wind their way along the perimeter of the camp to reveal individual ochre colored units tucked into the greenery which flanks the Sand River. Massive trees and rolling green lawns are filled with bird song, with the occasional antelope or elephant which seeks the succulence of greenery.

The camp comprises 18 rooms.  The camp facilities include:

  • The lounge, air-conditioned dining room and historic bar are conducive to good companionship – safari style;
  • Air-conditioned library with satellite television, internet connectivity and DVD player – affectionately referred to as the Monkey Club;
  • A large wooden safari deck, in the shade of an ebony tree – the ideal vantage point from which to observe the steady flow of animal life at the Sand River’s edge;
  • A large filtered infinity pool with magnificent views across the river;
  • A well-appointed safari boutique with quality clothing, jewelry and artefacts;
  • A small fitness facility with stationary bicycle, treadmill, multi gym machine, rowing machine, sit up benches, pull up bar, free weights, mats and a steam room;
  • A massage service is available on request;
  • A fully stocked wine-cellar houses a selection of some of South Africa’s finest wines.

11-15 August 2013: (4 Nights) 

MASHATU MAIN CAMP – Mashatu Game Reserve, Tuli Block, Botswana

After our morning game drive at MalaMala we depart by air from Mala Mala and land at Polokwane Airport (approx. 55-min flight). Here we will clear customs and immigration out of South Africa. Thereafter we depart by air from Polokwane and land at Limpopo Valley Airstrip near Mashatu (approx. 45-min flight). Here we clear customs and immigration into Botswana.

Mashatu Game Reserve, an area of history and legend, offers some of the most exciting game viewing in Africa. It is a place of exceptional beauty where one can explore the rugged, unspoiled African landscapes either in the comfort of open 4-wheel drive vehicles, on a walking safaris, on mountain bicycles, or horse back, guided by expert rangers and experienced trackers. In addition to the game experience, Mashatu offers a view of Africa, unchanged since the days of early visitors such as Kipling, Selous and artist/explorer Sir Thomas Baines. Historic and archaeological sites abound; notable are the Motloutse Ruins and the Pitsani Koppie sites.

The excitement of Mashatu has not changed over time. It is still home to large herds of elephant, leopard, lion and sometimes cheetah. Along the river courses, huge Mashatu trees provide shade for eland, impala, wildebeest, giraffe and zebra, while at night, the bat-eared fox, African Wildcat and the magnificent leopard search for prey. Some 366 species of birds may be seen. Mashatu Game Reserve proudly provides a refuge for the largest, single population of elephant on privately owned land in Africa. Known as the relic herds of Shashe, these elephants are the last living testament to the great herds that once populated the meandering Limpopo valley. Today, the population on Mashatu Game Reserve alone, is estimated to number in excess of 600.

Mashatu Main Camp is the larger and more luxurious of Mashatu’s camps. The camp offers 14 spacious and tastefully decorated suites. Each suite is furnished with two three-quarter beds, a day bed, expansive en-suite bathroom with shower, bath, his and hers basins, and a second W.C.

14 July 2013

Safari Ends

Today after our final morning at Mashatu, we will be transferred by road to Pont Drift (approx. 1-hour drive). Here we clear customs and immigration out of Botswana and cross the Limpopo river into South Africa. After crossing the river we clear customs and immigration into South Africa. Next we transfer by road back to Polokwane (approx. 2.5-hour drive). Upon reaching Polokwane we board our scheduled flight to OR Tambo Airport and Johannesburg.


Customized extensions to this safari, including any additional nights on safari or in Johannesburg and/or add-on days in Botswana, Victoria Falls and other destinations may be arranged.  Ask for further information.


The cost of this all-inclusive safari is $9,850 per person. This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals (except as noted above and in exclusions below). Single rooms are available in Johannesburg and possibly available at MalaMala and Mashatu, each at extra cost.

Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserve the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participant.


  • This safari starts in Johannesburg (Aug 06) and ends in Johannesburg (Aug 15).
  • Gratuities for guides, staff and trip leader are recommended to be paid in cash.
  • Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Johannesburg and the safari camps for any optional expenditures during the trip as needed.


Inclusions and Exclusions

What is included

  • Accommodation on a shared basis (singles are available in Johannesburg and possibly available at MalaMala and Mashatu, each at extra cost).
  • 1x trip leaders ( Grant Atkinson).
  • 2x private safari vehicles and all private safari activities at MalaMala and Mashatu.
  • One row per guest on game drive vehicles (note that the front seat next to the driver is also counted as a row for this purpose).
  • Private charter flights from Johannesburg to MalaMala and MalaMala to Polokwane.
  • Private road transfers between Polokwane and Mashatu.

(Luggage allowance for Johannesburg to MalaMala and MalaMala to Polokwane: 30-35 kgs.)

  • Scheduled flight from Polokwane to Johannesburg-ORT.

(Luggage allowance on commercial flight from Polokwane to JNB-ORT: 20 kgs.)

  • Private transfers to/from the airports and the hotel in Johannesburg.
  • All meals and local drinks at MalaMala and Mashatu.
  • Daily laundry at MalaMala and Mashatu.
  • Breakfast in Johannesburg on Day 1.
  • Meet & Assist service on arrival in Johannesburg.
  • The current Tourism Levies and all relevant Value Added Tax or Government Sales Tax.


What is not included

  • International airfare and/or other transportation between your home and Johannesburg.
  • All meals and drinks in Johannesburg (except as noted in Inclusions above).
  • Laundry and extras at Johannesburg hotel.
  • All gratuities (i.e., safari camp guides and staff, trip leader).
  • Visas.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Personal purchases (including curios, spirit liquors, telephone calls etc.)
  • Pre- and post- safari tours and meals or accommodation before or after the safari.

Please read my Safari Code of Ethics and Conduct.


How do I signup?

The group size is small (maximum of 7 participants), so space is limited. If this exciting safari has your name on it and you’re excited by the thought of joining on this trip, then now is the time to register. Remember, there will be limited space available for this trip.  If you have any questions before registering, please send me an e-mail with any inquiries.


  Enquire Now about this Safari