You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get a great shot on an African safari. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of being in the right spot at the right time.
When photographing wildlife, professional photographer Mark Harris says it’s less about the camera than the lenses. Long lenses are the name of the game when it comes to wildlife photography.
We know not everyone has invested in long lenses or, if they have, don’t necessarily want to tote them to the African bush. One option you have is renting equipment during your time on safari (we can help with that), or traveling to properties that have equipment available for you to use during your African safari (like Great Plains properties).
At Ker & Downey, our staff have a range of abilities and gear – from beginners with an iPhone, to avid amateur photographers with a DSLR and a variety of lenses. Our years of safari travel have allowed us to capture some stunning images. We asked our staff to submit their favorite safari images. Here are some of their jaw-dropping safari photos.
Our Favorite Safari Photos
“The mother lion and cubs is one of my favorites because it shows a real love between mother and cub. This image was taken in the northern Serengeti on a beautiful day when you could see for miles in any direction. Our guide knew there was a lioness with her cubs in the area but they were proving difficult to find. The guide had a hunch they were bedded down in this little brushy draw so we watched and waited. We were thrilled when the mother appeared followed by her cubs. One of the cubs walked over to its mother warming in the sun and had this marvelous snuggle session. So beautiful to witness.” – David
“This shot was taken on the last drive of my trip to Namibia after a night spent sleeping under the stars. The whole experience in Namibia left me awestruck. I love nothing more than wide open spaces, amazing scenery, and the feeling of being just a tiny part of this world. I can’t wait until I can go back to Africa!” – MJ
“Setting off before sunrise from Jack’s Camp in the Makgadikgadi Pans, we settled in around a meerkat burrow. As the sun began to rise in the sky, the meerkats crawled out of their burrow one-by-one. They stood together basking in the warmth of the sun. We then followed along as they began foraging for their breakfast of bugs and frogs.” – Nicole
This picture was taken in Grumeti Reserve located on the eastern border of the Serengeti. It was late afternoon and the rains had just moved on, leaving behind purplish clouds against a back-drop of pink. The light was almost unreal, illuminating all that was in underneath it. The stark contrast of the zebras against the moody sky held our gaze for longer than normal.
This area of Tanzania is a special place. During a single game drive, we were able to see a pair of male lions, a couple of cheetahs resting under a lone acacia tree, a family of hyenas around their den, and a giraffe stretching its neck to the treetops high above to reach its favorite leaves. Best of all, we had these moments all to ourselves with no other vehicles in sight. A single photograph can transport you back in time conjuring up all the feelings you experienced the moment it was taken. For me, in this photo, it is a sky I will never forget. – Sara
“This image of hammerkop sitting in the water has an interesting story behind it because I was the only one in our vehicle that thought it was worthy of our time to stop. The reflection of green hues from the surrounding trees on the water framed this unique bird perfectly. I used my first “real” camera, a Canon 7d with a 100-400 lens.” – David
“On my very last game drive in South Africa, I was the only person on the vehicle with my guide and tracker. They had heard there were some leopard cubs in the area. I’d seen some adult leopards earlier in the trip but was excited at the prospect of seeing some cubs. We searched for an hour in hopes of spotting them without any luck.
As we were driving back to camp, I continued scanning the area to pick up on anything that looked slightly out of place. Suddenly I spotted something — a pattern that looked unfamiliar in the wild. I tapped my driver and asked him to stop. There, sitting on a fallen tree trunk, was one of the leopard cubs. He was staring right at us and his sister was nearby. My driver and guide congratulated me for the great spot. It was one of the most rewarding games drives I’ve been on and one I’ll remember forever.” – Haley
“The stately elephant is coming off the escarpment just along Angama Mara. Every morning the bull elephants make the trek down the escarpment to the plains below. One morning I chose to follow their path. It was a surreal moment to spend time with these giants. This particular elephant stood as if he was admiring the beautiful view and sharing it with me….as if he was guarding his domain. I will always remember this majestic guy as the sentinel.” – David
“Being this close to a wild silver back was like nothing I had ever experienced. I couldn’t look away, mesmerized by his size, fur, facial expressions, and his complete lack of interest in us. How are we able to get so close?” – Amy
“The picture of this lion cub is one of my favorite images I’ve ever taken. On a game drive in South Africa, we came upon a pride of lions laying in the grass. This little cub was curious. It sat up and yawned, flashing its teeth before looking directly at us. I quickly snapped this photo before it got up to follow its mom. Together they walked to a nearby water hole where we watched them sit side-by-side drinking, periodically glancing up.” – Haley
“The geladas are an unusual species. You have to make a trip to the Semien Mountains in Ethiopia to see them. I was fortunate to walk amongst these wonderful creatures. There were hundreds playing and huddling together near a cliff in the midst of rain. I could not believe I was within a few feet of these fascinating monkeys, better known as the ‘bleeding-heart monkey’. It was truly an amazing experience to observe them in such close proximity.” – Jamie
“This leopard and cub photo was taken in Kenya at Mara Plains Camp. It was our last day of safari. The other guests had decided to try to see another river crossing. I had something else in mind — to locate a leopard and her cub known to be nearby. My efforts were rewarded with an hour and a half glimpse into their relationship. The cub was moving constantly, running after his mom, jumping on her, biting her, climbing a small tree — enjoying his morning playtime. Finally the mother grew tired and laid down while the cub continued to play. This image shows the cub laying upside down with its paw against the mother’s head. The mother looks at me like ‘do you see what I have to put up with’?” – David
“I love photographing people I meet while on safari. I captured this picture of a Samburu woman in 2005 while I was staying at Loisaba Tented Camp in Laikipia, Northern Kenya. Our Samburu guides brought us to their village where they introduced us to their traditional way of living. This beautiful young woman watched the activities with a relaxed, yet regal posture.” – Michelle
“I had been to Botswana before and flown over the vast Okavango Delta on a light aircraft used to transport guests to camps. Nothing had prepared me for the experience of flying over in a helicopter! I captured this photo with my iPhone just after sunrise. It was amazing to view the intricate labyrinth formed by the waters of the delta from this vantage point. I spotted countless buffalo, elephants, hippos and other wildlife from above — all were completely unaware of our presence.” – Tiffany
“My first safari took place at Savanna, a lodge in the Western Sector of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. This four-year-old female leopard called Hlabakunzi had a rough night thanks to a massive Sabi Sand thunderstorm. We happened upon her drip-drying in the low branches of a tree not far off the road. She even embarked on a brief but fruitless impala hunt after deciding she was dry enough. I could have spent weeks with the leopards of Sabi Sand. I hope to be able to return very soon.” – Vanessa
“We pulled up to the water hole in the heat of the day. Zebra, impala, and giraffe trickled down to the dry river bed to get a sip of the last bit of water remaining. Little did they know there was a thirsty threat lurking beneath the murky green water. A sizable crocodile slowly tried to gain a position close to the edge of the water without revealing itself to its prey. We watched for over an hour as the crocodile hunted along the bank. Although his efforts went unrewarded, it was one of the most exciting experiences of my life!” – Christi
“When I was 17 years old, before leaving for college, I joined my friend and her family on a safari in Kenya. This Maasai warrior showed me his seme, the versatile sword he always carries with him. He shared with me his own traditional coming-of-age experience of hunting a lion solo. Due to the dwindling lion populations and hunting restrictions imposed by the government, this rite of passage has shifted to allow youth to earn status by competing in a Maasai Olympic event instead.” – Alexis
“I captured this picture from my room at Olonana at sunset. The skies are incredibly expressive with each minute telling a different story. The vibrant colors and the silhouettes of a stork and Egyptian Geese are a reminder of the beauty all around when on safari.” – Trista
For more safari photography tips, check out this post. For more stunning images, be sure to follow us on Instagram. When you’re ready to try your hand at photographing animals in the wild, we’re here to help you get there. Contact your designer to plan your own African safari.