Best places in South Africa for wildlife photography: Africa Media’s choice

We know: you can’t visit them all. With so many hidden spots, game reserves and sanctuaries harbouring South African wildlife, it’s difficult to choose only a few that will give you the best photographic experience. Not to worry! We’ve compiled a short list of our favourite places in South Africa to visit for wildlife photography in the Garden Route and Great Karoo areas. Here, you’re sure to have a wonderful time visually capturing Africa’s beautiful wildlife.

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Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve

Various species of wildlife roam the 1400 hectares of Mount Camdeboo. Located near Graaff-Reinet in the Great Karoo region, this reserve probably has some of the best landscape scenery in the country. This is the reason we love sending our photographers and journalists here on a regular basis. Some of the species you’ll find here: various antelope (impala, wildebeest, kudu, nyala, duiker, springbok, eland), zebra, lion, elephant, rhino, cheetah, giraffe and buffalo.

Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jukani

Located in The Crags, near Plettenberg Bay. These three magnificent wildlife sanctuaries are home to various animals that have been rescued from laboratories, zoos and captivity as house pets. This is one of the best places in South Africa for some close-up wildlife photography of these specific species. At Monkeyland, you’ll find monkey species from all over the world, like capuchins, vervets, spider monkeys, lemurs and gibbons. Various exotic and local birds reside at Birds of Eden, including parrots, doves, turacos and flamingos. Jukani is home to larger mammal species such as lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, hyenas, caracals and cheetahs

Indalu Private Game Reserve

An opportunity for ethical and inspiring elephant interaction on the Garden Route, between Mossel Bay and Albertinia. Walk next to a majestic African elephant and get the perfect opportunity for close-up photographs of this member of Africa’s Big 5. The owner of the reserve can guide you through the rest of the reserve’s wildlife as well. Other species you’ll find here: zebra, giraffe, rhino, antelope (impala, kudu, springbok, eland), ostrich and buffalo. 

The water around Seal Island, Mossel Bay

This one is for ocean lovers! Seal Island is the home to Mossel Bay’s seal colony and is also the feeding ground for the bay’s great white sharks. There is more than one way to photograph these ocean dwellers. Firstly, you can do some topside DSLR wildlife photography on White Shark Africa’s shark cage diving boat. The great whites in this bay are curious and there are prime viewing spots on the boat. However, the most exciting part is to get into a wetsuit and into the cage… If you’ve got a GoPro or waterproof camera, this is where you can take some unforgettable shots of the majestic apex predators of the sea. 

Secondly, you can book a spot on one of the many ferry boats at the Mossel Bay harbour. You might not be guaranteed to get shark views, but you can bring your telephoto lens along for some beautiful seal shots on the island. Who knows what else might swim past?

Schotia Safaris Private Game Reserve

An Eastern Cape game reserve, famous for its reputation as being one of the best reserves to see lions up close. In addition, it’s also one of the best places in South Africa for other types of wildlife photography! Most of the animals on this reserve are accustomed to safari vehicles, so the guides are able to get you quite close for the best shots. Some of the species you’ll find here: various antelope (impala, springbok, oryx, sable, wildebeest, eland, waterbuck, red hartebeest, bushbuck, nyala), lion, spring hare, ostrich, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, elephant, rhino, hippopotamus and crocodile.

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve

If you’d like to take some wildlife photos while horseback riding, this reserve is a must-visit. They offer horseback safaris for both amateurs and experienced riders, accompanied by a guide. And yes, you’re allowed to take your camera along (just make sure you don’t drop it!). On horseback, animals aren’t as skittish as they are around a vehicle. Animals you can photograph on horseback include various antelope (springbok, waterbuck, wildebeest, impala), rhinos and giraffes. From a vehicle, during one of their game drives, you can also photograph their lions and elephants. 

If you’d like an opportunity to experience one (or all) of these great places in South Africa for wildlife photography, join one of our wildlife media training programs

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Blogger Profile - Rouxne van der Westhuizen

Rouxne has an Honours degree in journalism and media studies. She is the course director for the Travel and Environmental Journalism and specialises in wildlife conservation writing, travel journalism and blogging.