August in the Wild – A Camp Jabulani Ranger Reflects…

Camp Jabulani Ranger, Dohan Scheepers, shares insight into his recent adventures in the Kapama wilderness of South Africa.

Read more on Camp Jabulani’s blog >

“The past few weeks have been incredibly busy at the lodge, as we are now entering into some of the busiest months of the year. We are well into our South African winter, which has been extremely mild and pleasant this year, with the daytime average of approximately 26 – 28°Celsius /80°Fahrenheit.”

“I personally love this time of year, as the sun rises a little later than in summer, which allows guests to sleep in a little longer, if they were to consider doing an early morning game drive. One of the unique aspects of the guest experience at Camp Jabulani, is that guests have the freedom to decide when they would prefer to set out to explore the wildlife, but I always try to encourage them to at least do one early morning game drive with me, as it is my favourite time of the day.”

“We would set off just before the sun rises, to be out in the thick of the bush in good time to experience the first light of the day, with the sun peeking out over the horizon, welcoming us to a new and fresh day in Africa. Listening to the birds waking up, and the mammals stirring, as they vocalise between one another. It is a time for guests to feel the moment and truly appreciate their surroundings, and connected to nature rather than to Wi-Fi and electronics.

“Then to top it off, we stop in a safe clearing, to enjoy a much appreciated hot cup of coffee, or a hot chocolate together, with a delicious muffin or biscuit,  and just enjoy the moment together. Some guests take this time to reflect quietly about their surroundings, and other times, guest are buzzing with questions and curiosity about nature.”

“Africa has a way of touching people on a many different levels, and I love witnessing that, every day with my our guests…”

Thank you for sharing, Dohan. Till next our paths cross…

The Sweetness of the Solo Safari

It wasn’t merely that the animals were all out, on this early morning in the Nambiti wilderness. Not simply that we didn’t have to search too hard to find the rhinos and buffalo, the giraffe and lions, the wildebeest and waterbuck. What made the drive something special was what was not there. That is, other people.

I know, sharing is caring. But have you ever been on a game drive through the African bush, alone, just you and your guide?

No voices disturb the peace. No movement interrupts the stillness. And there’s the matter of time… of being in the wild, with its animal life, its birds and plants, sounds and scents, and having no need to leave before you’re ready.

There’s also the fact that I really like to take photographs. Lots of them. From all kinds of angles and with all kinds of lenses. I need time. I photograph best in silence, too, as a ranger tracks best in a quiet of his or her own.

Even with the camera down, resting in my lap, the peace creates a space to properly connect with the surroundings and myself. Space for me to offer the wild my entire attention. Space to see the little things, the details. The details of a lion’s nose or of the unfolding scenes… like the wildebeest elders gathering around their little ones to keep them safe or the alarm spreading across an impala herd as a predator nears.

Sharing can be sweet. But the notion of “the fewer the merrier” has its magic too. It’s what Esiweni Luxury Safari Lodge in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve of South Africa is all about. There are very few staff or rangers, only five suites, only two chefs, and the French owners, Ludovic Caron and Sophie Vaillant, play the role of maitre de maison. It’s a small family. And it creates the feeling of retreating to a villa in the countryside, in the south of France, with your people. Your nearest, dearest, or nobody at all.

Of course this countryside has big cats and great giants roaming its hills and plains, but the sense of nature, of Provençal bliss, is very much there. Dining slowly under the open skies, with fresh breads and pastries, fine cheeses accompanying finer wines, just the crickets chattering and streams trickling, it feels like a moment stolen from the continuance of time. A world apart.

One night, on one of our solo game drives, my guide, Pemba and I watched the sun set from a clearing in the bush, as a lion announced himself only metres away to his approaching brother. His deep gravelly roars seemed to never end. I could feel them echoing inside my very core as night fell over us. As though we were together in a vast ancient cave and not in the open plains.

Another night, we chose to join the owners for sundowners and stories of lions and leopards under a lantern-lit tree, while a giraffe ambled in that slow giraffe way right past us. Even in the company of other souls, sitting around a campfire, the peace of the place held its incantation.

And yes, sharing is sweet, but I felt the real, quite rare charm in being able to return to a big villa on a cliff face looking out over the Sundays River, soaking in the solitude with nothing pulling me away. With no voices to disturb the peace. No movement to interrupt the stillness. And no need to leave it all before I was ready.

An Instagrammer’s Guide to Zanzibar

Photographers travel the world to find the extraordinary, to capture those scenes that make their hearts race. That make them feel alive. They find it in the yawn of a lion and the leap of a leopard, in the soft eyes of the young and the old and in the flash of the perfect moment between two people, caught by being in the right place at the right time. They find it in the blues and whites of the Indian Ocean islands and the remarkable artistry of the world’s great buildings, paintings, sculptures, doors…

Instagrammers are no different. They too are in search of the beautiful, the distinct colours, shapes and tastes of new lands.

When it comes to Zanzibar, there are so many photographic journeys to experience – and share with the world on Instagram – as you move about this island off the coast of Tanzania. But there are a few things you’re going to want to remember, as you set up home at Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa.

Right on the beach in Paje, with the horizon in the distance, a stroll to the left or right opens up the eclectic beauty of life in Zanzibar.

10 Rules For Instagramming in Zanzibar

1. Wake up early to catch the sunrise and make sure you’re ready when the first light shows. Hang around once the sun is up – the light is still changing, and the clouds still offering their role to the canvas. At this time of day you’ll catch the local fishermen and women spreading across the water and shore, making for beautiful and dramatic details in your sunrise.

2. For sunset, set one day aside for enjoying sundowners and another for photography. Doing both at the same time is not easy. Although it’s likely you will be tempted. While photographing the sun, don’t forget to turn around and catch its glow across the land and people.

3. The beach is the best place to start for both point one and two.

4. Visit Stone Town on a morning excursion. The markets (with fresh fish and local fruits and spices), mix of people, winding old alleyways, ruins and doors make for exciting subjects. Be respectful. Ask for permission before photographing anyone or ask your guide for advice if unsure.

Read more > A sense of place in the Spice Islands

5. Don’t be afraid of getting into the water. Take images from the sea – that’s why you packed your costume. The kitesurfing school at the hotel provides some great subjects. Play with angles for unique viewpoints. Place a GoPro / underwater action camera on your kayak and stand-up-paddleboards or carry it in your hand when snorkelling.

6. Go island-hopping on a traditional boat, fishing with locals or for a walk through neighbouring towns, for images of real, local life on the island.

7. This is the land of blue skies and white sand. Have fun playing with your partner, different poses and the beauty of island life.

8. The spa garden is often visited by the red colobus monkeys with their funky white hair-do’s. Look out for them playing in the trees and when you do spot them, remember your calm place before you lose yourself for hours, snapping them from different vantage points.

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9. The grounds at Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa are beautiful and worth exploring with a photographer’s eye – the large gardens, the villas and bougainvillea surrounding them, the Zanzibari influences in the architecture, design and artworks, and the cuisine, inspired by local flavours and spices.

10. Lastly, the night sky is truly magical in Zanzibar. Play with timelapses, reflections and framing. Just play. There is always time to sleep.