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Choosing a Wildlife Photo Safari

Going on a wildlife photo safari may sound intimidating for an amateur photographer. The thought of sharing a tour with experienced photographers who have top notch gear and years of experience can be overwhelming. But in reality, a wildlife photo safari is not just for the experienced photographer. All levels of photographers are welcomed and encouraged to attend these specialized wildlife tours. And you might just find that photographic safaris are more suited to your type of wildlife travel.

Photographing Cape Fur seals in Namibia
Photographing Cape Fur seals in Namibia

Why You Should Join a Photo Safari

For those of you who are still unsure about taking a photographic safari, these are my reasons why you should:

  • Small group of people.
  • Each tour is focused on a few key animal species. You won’t have to sit around while other people on the tour spend time watching animals you have little interest in. With a photographic safari you choose a tour based around animals you want to see and photograph.
  • Wildlife photo tours are less hectic than a regular wildlife tour where you are on the road almost all the time trying to fit in as many places as possible. Wildlife photo tours normally focus on one or two prime locations.
  • Your tour leader is an experienced wildlife photographer that will help you with new techniques and tricks.
  • This is the place to learn and improve your technique. As you share your time with fellow photographers conversations are focused on the results of that day and how they could be improved. Everybody pitches in and helps each other become better photographers.
Wildlife photo safaris have small group sizes
Photographing black bears on a photo safari

Which Wildlife Photo Safari Should I Choose?

The next question is who to go with? It can be overwhelming trying to figure out which company to choose, especially if it is your first time. To make things easier for you, here are three of my favorite wildlife photo tour providers and why.

Suzi Eszterhas logoSuzi Eszterhas

Multiple award winning photographer Suzi Eszterhas has had her work appear all over the world in magazines, newspapers and books. She is the author (writer and photographer) of the acclaimed Eyes on the Wild books. This children’s book series follows the lives of baby animals into adulthood in the wild. Suzi Eszterhas is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Group size: max 10 people.

Photo Tours available: Wildlife of Brazil, Pantanal wildlife, Wildlife of India, Wildlife of Costa Rica and custom photo tours in Monterey Bay, California.

Why I would choose Suzi Eszterhas:

Which tour I would join: I would definitely join her Wildlife of Brazil photo tour. This is a rare opportunity to see and photograph maned wolves (my favorite), giant anteaters (Hal’s favorite), giant otters and jaguars all in one trip.

I offer small group tours so that I can give people plenty of one-on-one instruction if they need it. The intimate setting of small groups helps me impart photographic advice, but also knowledge about the natural history and behavior of the subjects we are working with.

One of the things that I work very hard to achieve is to create itineraries where my groups visit only the very best places for wildlife photo opportunities and we skip the rest. I also like to ensure that we spend enough time in the best places and avoid wasting too much time traveling between too many destinations.

– Suzie Eszterhas

Visit Suzi Eszterhas website.

Oryx logo

ORYX Worldwide Photographic Expeditions

ORYX offers photo tours to some of the world’s wildest destinations. All of the ORYX guides are award-winning photographers and have been published across the world. ORYX has a sister companies, Rockjumper (specialized in bird tours).

Group size: 2-6 participants. Up to 10 people can join the Antarctica tour.

Photo tours available: India, Antarctica, Finland, Spitsbergen, Brazil, Ecuador, Bostwana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa.

Why I would choose Oryx:

Which tour I would join: With such an array of tours I thought it might be difficult to choose one. It wasn’t. Madagascar is high on my list of amazing places to visit and their Madagascar Endemic Wildlife Photographic Expedition (plus their Morondava and Kirindy Extension) sounds like a once in a lifetime opportunity to photograph the unique wildlife in this amazing place.

ORYX Worldwide Photographic Expeditions was born in response to a rapidly growing passion for photography amongst naturalists worldwide, we have teamed up with the best photographic tour leaders in the industry to provide expeditions geared specifically for both amateur and professional photographers alike. We believe our uniqueness comes out of offering hand-crafted, personal tours for small group departures, guided by our international award winning photographic guides who have immense experience and knowledge of the natural world. Our reputation speaks for itself as the majority of our clients return to us for further adventures.


Visit Oryx website.

Wild Eye

Wild Eye not only provides photo safaris but also regular tours & safaris, tailor-made safaris and specialist safaris. The latter ones include a birding safari, a conservation safari and a mountain bike trail trip. The Wild Eye photography team is passionate about photography and conservation. Wild Eye also provides photography courses and workshops. Don’t have the lens that you’d like to take on a safari? Wild Eye has a rental department where you can rent a lens or even an extra camera body for your trip.

Group size: 2-12 participants

Photo tours available: Chobe (Botswana), Timbavati (South Africa), Mana Pools (Zimbabwe), Great Migration (Kenya), Duba Plains (Okavango Delta-Botswana) and Svalbard.

Why I would choose Wild Eye:

  • The opportunity to rent a lens and an extra camera body is almost priceless.

Which tour I would join: The Chobe tour is one of my favorites. Staying at a river lodge (a house boat on the Chobe river) and using a safari boat specially designed for photographers (with individual chairs that swivel so you can get photographs in all directions!) make the eye-level photo opportunities of elephants bathing, hippos and other wildlife incredible.

Visit Wild Eye website.

Some animals want to have their picture taken. Do them a favor and go on a wildlife photo safari.
Some animals want to have their picture taken. Do them a favor and go on a wildlife photo safari!

Have you ever been on a photo safari? Tell us about your experience!

Cristina Garcia

Zoologist and wildlife photographer. She has worked in the field with jackals, wolves, cheetahs, & leopards. She serves on the Board of Directors of SEE Turtles, a non-profit sea turtle conservation organization.

Read her posts at Travel For Wildlife and see more of her work at Truly Wild, & Our Wild Yard.

Luke Smith

Monday 5th of December 2016

I love your first bit of information about only having small groups of people on a photo safari. I would imagine that the larger the group the less likely you would be to see certain animals. I would also think that it would be good to read some online reviews and find a tour group that you feel is professional and worth your money.

cristina garcia

Wednesday 7th of December 2016

Thanks Luke! Also, by going on a small group tour you get to have more personalized tutoring time with your photography guide. That way you are getting more for your money. I agree completely, find reviews of the tours you are thinking of joining!

Max zu

Tuesday 7th of January 2014

Amazing tours! I wish i could afford it. Thank you, Cristina.


Sunday 1st of December 2013

These sound like such great trips! I would love to go on one of them.

Cristina Garcia

Sunday 1st of December 2013

I know! I want to go on all of them!

Barbara Weibel

Monday 18th of March 2013

Thanks for this review of a selection of wildlife photo safari tour operators. It seems that photographers from amateur to professional could find a good fit.