One of the most effective ways of hiving off stress is to be close to water – whether it is the sea, a waterfall or, better still, a peaceful stretch of water that is as still as a pane of glass.
While many choose luxury lodges positioned close to rivers and waterholes or along our beautiful coastlines, we’ve chosen to help you explore the legendary Lake Jozini, one of South Africa’s oldest wildlife havens, from far closer - aboard luxury houseboats, the Shayamanzi 1 and the Shayamanzi 11.
Apart from being a mecca for feisty tiger fishermen and women, this is the perfect place for game enthusiasts and bird watchers to enjoy a special water safari that allows you to capture a host of water friendly creatures – from antelope to rhinos, crocodiles and even hippos – from a whole new vantage point – the water…. and don’t forget the spectacular water birds.
Most beautiful wildlife photographs are taken from vehicles in game reserves – although some more creative wild life photographers are taking to shooting from hides to get as close as possible. Have you ever thought of turning things around and shooting from the water towards the shore as our beautiful wildlife comes down for a drink or a swim along the shores of Lake Jozini?
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Pongola Nature Reserve follows the shores to the north and south and the privately owned Pongola Game Reserve continues on to the west backed by the majestic Lebombo Mountains. That means a wide variety of beautiful wild animals.
Although some of our more photo savvy guests know all about what’s needed to shoot from either the main boats or the tender boats, for those who are just setting out on their photographic journeys, we chatted to both our crew and some photographers to find some tips to help you to capture the very best game pictures.
Equipment – Make sure that you know your equipment, how to get the right settings and how to alter settings to suit the time of day, the light and even the subject that you are trying to photograph.
Being quick and well-practiced means you’ll be able to capture what you need to, remembering that wildlife does not take time out to pose for you like human models but rapidly moves on within seconds.
Aboard the Shayamanzi, you’ll have wonderful opportunities to capture stunning landscape photographs – sunrises, sunsets and even a large array of different animals coming down to enjoy the water. Check times for sunrises and sunsets with your crew to make sure that you are up and ready. Make sure that you have a good wide angle lens to capture the spectacle.
For good bird pictures, you’ll need a longer lens. Before you leave for your trip, read up on things like white balance – you may need to set your camera a little differently so that your background (water or sky) is not over exposed, making your bird no more than a silhouette. Also remember that there are wonderful creative opportunities to capture reflections in the water.
Light – This is probably the next most important thing to consider. Try to shoot when the light is soft – early morning or later afternoon. In Africa, the midday sun is harsh and you will find that this not only bleaches out the colours from your photograph but blots out the finer details (such as the wrinkles on the hide of an elephant) and adds dark distracting shadows.
The best shots are usually back lit or lit from the side. Try not to shoot directly into the harsh sun if you can help it. (If you are taking pictures of people, try not to have them staring directly into the sunlight as they will, most likely, have their eyes shut!) The only time when you can safely shoot at midday is when it is overcast as the cloud cover will mute the harsh light.
Composition – Just like words, photographs are meant to tell stories. If you are close enough, get an animal to make eye contact with you and your camera. Otherwise, capture nature doing what it does best – snap a water bird grabbing a fish or hovering above the water waiting for its breakfast, hit the shutter just as an elephant sprays a trunk full of water over his back or lumbers into the shallows for a swim.
Capturing animal interactions - antelope locking horns or hippos yawning – also makes for great photographs.
Whether you are taking pictures from the tender boats or aboard one of the Shayamanzi mother ships, you can rest assured that you will be capturing special moments.
You can look forward to shooting the stunning scenery as the Pongola River enters Lake Jozini to the north having made its way through the ruggedly beautiful Lebombo mountains or even capturing that unforgettable moment when someone lands their first fish.
Either way, you’ll be capturing special memories that can take you back to one of the most scenic and peaceful places in the blink of an eye.
For more information on how to get on board and to capture that “picture perfect” moment, go to www.shayamanzi.co.za