In the digital world we live in, where social media reigns supreme, and Instagram and Facebook become the platforms used to share your life, good photography is a skill worth having. No matter whether it’s your hobby or your career, capturing a beautiful picture is an incredible feeling. Being able to showcase the essence of what you have photographed, immortalised in a single frame, is magical. Africa is a haven for keen photographers and the perfect continent to visit if you’re looking for a range of photographs, from stunning wildlife to breathtaking landscapes. Here are our top places in Africa to visit for photographers.
The Masai Mara National Reserve
The vast Masai Mara is one of the world’s most amazing game reserves. Set in Kenya, the reserve is a popular place for travellers to visit and over 40% of Africa’s larger mammals are found there. Named after the Maasai people of Kenya, the reserve lies in the Great Rift Valley, which stretches across Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and right to Mozambique. The Mara, as it is known, meets up with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and wildlife roam to and from the two national reserves. The Mara has plenty to offer, with the reserve having the highest concentration of predators in the world, including the majestic African lion. Kenya is also a haven for keen bird-watchers and has the largest population of wild ostrich in Africa. The Maasai tribe’s customs, rituals and traditions are also a fascinating draw-card, and many activities offered in the reserve have a Maasai guide. Celebrate this stunning reserve on Mara Day, which takes place every year on 15 September and aims to highlight and applaud conservation efforts conducted in the reserve.
Best shot: The Wildebeest Migration
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, the annual wildebeest migration takes place between the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti. The migration sees millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle travel from the Serengeti to the Mara in search of food after the seasonal rains, before travelling back to the Serengeti. The sight is truly spectacular and one that you simply cannot put into words, so capture it through a lens instead!
The Okavango Delta
Another one of Africa’s gems that finds itself on the list of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa is the Okavango Delta. Located in northern Botswana, the Okavango is one of the world’s largest inland deltas. The delta is unique as it is created by the Okavango River, which, unlike other rivers, does not empty into the ocean, but instead empties onto open land, forming a stunning, yet ever-changing delta. The delta goes through dry periods and periods of immense flooding, which attracts scores of wildlife. Travellers can expect to see a plethora of birdlife, elephant, buffalo, hippo, rhino, various buck species, crocodile and big cats, including the elusive leopard. One of Botswana’s safari jewels, the Okavango Delta was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.
Best shot: Bird’s Eye View
The best time to visit the Okavango would be between March and August. The delta typically swells to three times its size, and grows from 6, 000 square kilometres to an astonishing 15, 000 square kilometres. The flooding coincides with Botswana’s dry season and an abundance of animals can be seen around the delta. The African Elephant is a popular sight and makes for a pretty impressive photograph! Although aerial views of the Okavango Delta will provide a truly stunning shot, drones are strictly prohibited. But, if you are determined to get that perfect shot from above, you can always hire a helicopter and snap away happily!
South Africa’s most iconic natural landmark, Table Mountain is the star of Cape Town. Named Table Mountain because of its flat-top, the mountain overlooks the city and bay and has stunning endemic greenery growing on its slopes. The mountain is part of The Table Mountain National Park, which is home to a number of small wildlife including the rock hyrax, the caracal, the Cape grysbok and klipspringer. The mountain, whether covered in a table cloth of clouds, or bare amongst a blue sky, makes for one of the most remarkable backdrops. Table Mountain is one of the most photographed landmarks in South Africa, and is one of the most famous and beautiful places for travellers to visit.
Best shot: On Top of the mountain or Bloubergstrand Beach
Table Mountain is open to the public with cable cars going up to the top of the mountain daily. The cable cars revolve, which gives travellers a panoramic view as they make their way up the mountain. Once on the mountain, travellers can explore and take some incredible photographs of the bay below, and the peak of Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak, the two mountains which neighbour Table Mountain. A photograph, or a selfie, on top of Table Mountain with the whole of Cape Town down below is a wonderful, Instagram-worthy shot!
However, if you’re looking for a stunning shot of the mountain, in all her imposing beauty, head down to Bloubergstrand Beach, where the perfect snapshot of this incredible landmark awaits.
The magnificent Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke That Thunders), as locals call it, is the largest waterfall in Africa. Situated on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, on the Zambezi River, the waterfall is popular with travellers and one of Africa’s most visited destinations. Surrounding the Falls are stunning bushland which make up two national parks, The Victoria Falls National Park and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Both parks are small but are home to stunning wildlife, some indigenous and some imported from nearby countries such as South Africa.
Best shot: Devil’s Pool
Could you imagine the feeling of sitting on the edge of a waterfall, watching the water cascade down, the African sun illuminating droplets of water, turning the sky around you into a rainbow. Now imagine getting the chance to photograph that. The Livingstone Island is a small patch of land right on the edge of the waterfall that is dry and allows travellers to have a picnic overlooking the rest of the Falls. As the water level rises, pools fill up along the island, and the Angel’s Pool and the Devil’s Pool are both stunning shallow pools of water perfect for swimming. The island tour takes only 24 people at a time, ensuring you have a very personalised experience. Get that perfect snap of the Falls or a quick selfie of you seemingly relaxing on the edge of the world.
Namibia’s most famous attraction, the Sossusvlei, is situated in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, in the southern part of the Namib Desert, and is a large salt and clay pan surrounded by large red dunes that reach to the African sky. Some of the red-sand dunes are said to be the highest in the world, reaching dizzying heights of 400 metres! The name Sossusvlei translates to “dead-end marsh” as the dunes prevent the Tsauchab River from flowing into the pan, although the river very rarely reaches as far as the pan to attempt to fill it. The Namib Desert, calm, dry and serene, with smooth red sand and desert plants makes for the perfect photograph.
Best shot: Dune 45 or The Living Desert
Dune 45 is the standout dune of the Sossusvlei! The dune can be found on the 45th kilometre of the road between the Sesriem gate and the Sossusvlei and is approximately 80m high. The dune’s proximity to the road makes it the most photographed and climbed dune in the Soussusvlei. Dune 45 is at its most beautiful in the early mornings and evenings when half of the dune is in shadow.
Another stunning photograph is the Sossusvlei pan when it is filled. This phenomenon very seldom happens as the harsh dry conditions of the Namib Desert prevent the Tsauchab River from flowing to the pan. But, after a very heavy rainy season, the river exceeds expectations and flows into the pan, forming a crystal-clear lake. When this happens the Sossusvlei is known as The Living Desert. The red dunes reflect clearly in the lake and makes for a special, once-in-a-lifetime photograph. The lake lasts for about four weeks, before drying again, and photographers from all over the world grab the chance to photograph it before it is all over. The last floods took place in 2000, 2006 and 2011, although in 2011 the entire Sossusvlei was flooded and could not be accessed.
Do you have a stunning photograph of Africa to share with us? We would love to see your snapshots of our beautiful continent!