A vast expanse of sand, dust and dry riverbeds, where life still goes on despite its difficulties, the Kalahari is a place that even the most experienced of safari-goers will struggle not to love.
One place in the Kalahari that stands out as one of the most photogenic places on earth is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. It’s famous for its predator viewing and diversity of smaller mammals and birdlife.
There are many strategies for maximising your opportunities for photographic success while in the Park:
Make use of the daily sightings boards.
Outside each camp office/shop is a daily sightings board. Be sure to check these each evening and even update the board with any sightings you may have had. Speak to the rangers, camp staff and other park visitors
Prepare your cameras, lenses, memory cards, batteries the night before.
Being prepared is key for successful wildlife photography.
Understand the directions you will be travelling and the side of the vehicle the sun will be favouring.
Plan your outings accordingly. Be prepared to shoot into the light as its often unavoidable and sometimes is completely desirable.
Plan your days strategy. Early out and late in.
Be patient, switch off your engine and listen, watch for signs of activity and/or animal disturbance. Pay attention to the birds. Always scan your surroundings before driving off.
Stay calm and shoot.
The Kgalagadi is an exciting place where intense action is potentially around every bend. Birds are fleeting in their appearances and often only provide a few seconds to indulge a photographer. Animal predations are fast, dusty and intense. A lot will depend on being in the right place at the right time. A little experience helps, but it’s mostly luck.
Stop often. Listen intently. Pay attention.
The Kgalagadi is famous for its animal interactions. Many animals make use of other animals predatory behaviour to catch their own prey. Birds give off distress/warning calls when danger is near. Animals like springbuck, red hartebeest and gemsbuck will alert you to the presence of lion, cheetah and leopards, by their behaviour.
Photograph the small things too.
Don’t focus all your photographic energy on the big and nasties. There is so much to experience in the detailed world around you. Plants, insects, small mammals, reptiles and small birds abound in the Kgalagadi.
There are great sunset spots close to all the main camps. Check these out in the morning or at lunchtime and plan your outing in the afternoon so that you are in position to shoot the sunset and be back in the camp before the gate closing times.