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The photo safari organised by ORYX to Mashatu, Botswana, included a scheduled tour with Mike Dexter and a private extension. Mike is an excellent wildlife photographer with significant experience in wildlife behaviour. He always pointed out photo composition opportunities and camera settings at every sighting, which made it so easy to get great photos. He shared his photographs back at the camp, and how he edited them in Lightroom; these opened me to possibilities to consider on the next drive or hide session. The hide sessions were exceptional with huge herds of elephants, the giraffes, elands, impalas, warthogs, squirrels and several birds. Mike, having originally built the Mashatu hide, again pointed out compositions as they unfolded. It was an exceptional photo trip with several great images to show. It was a tour that was originally booked pre-Covid, but organised very well and with great communication through-out, thanks to Nicolette. It was a trip I wish never ended because of Mike and Nicolette's fantastic support to making this so good in terms of overall experience and the great photos they helped me get.
Can there be a better way to enjoy an experience like Africa? Maybe, but I'm not convinced. With ORYX Photo Tours every aspect of our trip was coordinated expertly, what a luxury to have so much handled - it really relieves the stresses of travel planning. Marius is the best of the best as a guide - he makes sure everything gets done on travel days and is generally just a great guy to be with during game drives (and the trip as a whole). Africa is filled with amazing beauty and experiences, being under the guidance of people who can not only make travel easy but also help you get the perfect camera shot to capture it all makes the experience all the better.
This was our third safari arranged by ORYX Photo Tours and with Marius. We went to Botswana with our two adult children and their spouses. Honestly, each time even more extraordinary than before. The team’s hard work planning the adventure and communication before and throughout the trip makes it easy to relax and appreciate the experience without any concern. That is very much appreciated with all the difficulties and uncertainties of long distance travel today, especially when off to Africa. And, the safari itself is turned into a meaningful, educational and fun experience by Marius’ knowledge, photo and guide skills and, even more so by his relentless good nature and real sense of friendship. He cared enormously that we had a great time and an experience we all could treasure forever. I would not even think of a photo safari with any other company and always will hope to coordinate so that we can be led by Marius. If I sound biased I admit I am: Completely prejudiced now by three of the greatest trips and adventures of my life, without any difficulties (the bumps are smoothed by ORYX and team before we even learn of them) and crowned by what I feel is a new and sincere friendship.
This was my second private trip with ORYX Photo Tours, combined with my 6th ORYX photo safari group tour. I have two additional ORYX group tours on the horizon. The private trips allow significantly more individual instruction, both in photography and the digital darkroom. In addition, the daily itinerary is totally up to you. Penny Robartes was an exceptional tour leader who constantly gave me invaluable advice on camera settings, animal behavior, composition, and Lightroom processing. While I was very happy with my images and instruction from the group part of the tour, the private tour was a step or two up in quality. I plan to do more private photo tours in the future. I can't say enough about my experiences with Penny, Dale, and Marius. I can't imagine traveling with anyone else.
I had the pleasure of meeting Nicolette for lunch prior to my tour. She has been so helpful over the years answering my many questions and making sure everything was arranged.
Our Botswana photo safari to Savute and Khwai went smoothly and without any problems. Our tour leader did a great job helping us with our photographic needs and offered assistance as well. Penny Robartes is very professional, cheerful and a pleasure to have as a tour leader. The camps were very nice, the staff in the camps were delightful and our drivers/guides were very accommodating. Overall, my experience with ORYX Photo Tours was positive.
This was our third photo safari with ORYX Photo Tours and we have a fourth one booked. The itineraries have been spot-on and the guide quality superb. The groups are small so there's plenty of opportunity for one-on-one feedback and help. The office staff are thoughtful and detail-oriented. This was also our first time traveling with Penny and she was a great tour leader!
Amazing tour with ORYX Photo Tours. Extremely talented and knowledgeable guide, Penny Robartes made this, Mashatu Photo tour, a extremely memorable experience. I spent a week at Mashatu Main Lodge in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve. The small group size, 2 guest to 1 guide, allowed the able to communicate constantly with my guide, Penny, not only gave technical advice but the reasons why certain settings were used along with advice on composition, night photography, etc. Penny was knowledgeable, easy to understand and a joy to be around. You can see how much she loves her job. She took the time between game drives to review my photos and give advice on composition and cropping. On the evening of the 4th day, I injured myself at the lodge and the staff there, as well as Penny and the team at ORYX, took care to make sure that I had the best medical care possible. I was able to get sutured and back on a game drive the following day. Thank you to ORYX Photo Tours for this amazing experience. I will be back!
I spent a week at Mashatu for a Hides and Predators photo tour. The tour was planned for three guests and although one guest cancelled, ORYX ran the tour with only two guests. The small group size offered the opportunity to communicate intensively with the photo tour leader Penny Robartes and so I learned an enormous amount. Penny has immense knowledge and she manages to convey this with her empathetic and good manner. In the run-up to the tour, ORYX took care of all the issues and always made sure that everything went smoothly. The communication was always very transparent and fast. Thanks to the whole ORYX Photo Tours team for letting me enjoy this unique experience!
Marius Coetzee and his team at ORYX Photo Tours never ceases to amaze. They have guided myself and my family to Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya. Marius and his team strike the perfect balance between unprecedented luxury and epic adventure. At no time will you feel your dream trip is anything less than extraordinary. They open your eyes to worlds seen by few and experiences enjoyed by even less. There has not been a single person I have recommended to ORYX Photo Tours to who has not returned and emphatically stated that their trip was the greatest vacation they have ever been on. When you've traveled with ORYX, you cannot help but sing their praises and hope others will be lucky enough to experience the same.
This Botswana photo safari, though short and focused, was amazing in all aspects. What made it so special was Kirsten, who is so creative and passionate about photography. We discussed what I hoped to achieve from this trip when we first met up and he patiently revised the basics of photography with me, as I only use the camera when I have time to take a break from work. Throughout this trip, Kirsten always allowed me time and space to explore and make mistakes, so that learning would be more effective.
The waterhole at Mashatu was magical and it was a wonderful change in pace when we could just sit at the hide and wait for different groups of birds and animals to come in turn to drink. When it became hot, the elephants started frolicking in the water, throwing caution to the wind, as they splashed themselves with wild abandon.
On our final morning, we arrived at the hide before dawn only to find 5 lions climbing on top of the hide, peering and investigating the camera and equipment which Kirsten had left around the hide overnight. It was so thrilling, only to be summed up by my exclamation, “On my goodness!” And the lions returned shortly after to drink from the waterhole when we were actually in the hide, barely meters away, allowing us to photograph them almost with cameras right in their faces! It was surreal.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined taking such animated photos of wild life, star trails or videos, as I did on this trip. Kirsten is just an awesome teacher. Being a teacher myself, I know how special he is in that he understands the fears and challenges his students encounter, explains the solutions in a clear and methodical way, and helps the student achieve his aims. His youthful vigour was inspiring, as the days from the start to the end, were packed and filled with so much interest and enjoyment! In his presence, I couldn’t help feeling young at heart again! This photo tour to Mashatu was priceless and I am ever so grateful to have travelled with Kirsten!
My wife and I had an incredible photo safari experience with ORYX Photo Tours. From booking process to the preparations made by the ORYX team, we were well taken care of. This Botswana photo safari itself was full of unique sightings and great photographic opportunities. Penny Robartes (our ORYX guide) provided expertise in the sightings along with key information to improve capturing the best possible photos. The photo tour itself is brilliantly set up with distinct environments with Savute up first and finishing with Khwai. The Savute location is dryer with game concentrated around watering holes and marsh to the north. The Savute was dominated with lion sightings including the Marsh pride with cubs. The tracker was able to use tracks in the sand to find the lion cubs with an eventual greeting of the cubs and the adults capping off that incredible sighting. Khwai is a lush and green river front with an entirely different back drop and more unique animal sightings. Khwai did not disappoint with wild dogs, hippos, crocs, owls, and lots of great leopard sightings. Even though we had very good leopard sightings in the Savute, the leopard sightings in Khwai were unique. We were able to see a leopard chase down a Lechwe in the marsh splashing its way to knocking down the the Lechwe. Again, the tracker was able to find a leopard from the tracks in the sand. That leopard ended up with a kill and our opportunity to see it climb the tree with its kill right in front of us with the right angle and sun behind us. Penny provided instruction and what to expect from the animal behavior to capture the best possible emotion in the images.
Thanks again ORYX Photo Tours for an incredible photo safari.
How to Win:
Amateurs seek luck. Professional plan. Artists envision. I had a clear vision and set a goal to photograph big cats at night. To accomplish that goal, I hired the best guide and mentor, one with extensive experience capturing night cats and a stellar wildlife record including Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the fantastic Greg du Toit. His outfitter, ORYX Photo Tours, are the best. Photographers only. Prepare to work and only work. Marius Coetzee takes care of everything else. Everything.
Although this trip was my first wildlife photography experience, I accomplished what I set out to do and much more. Greg took me to private, mystical locations and arranged for the most knowledgeable ranger/tracker in each region. Because they were also photographers, they knew where to position their vehicles for the optimum shot. And not just any ordinary tourist-crammed transport, but a custom vehicle modified for photography. Mount camera, lock, load, shoot until you drop. Long days. Night time magic hour. Excellent photography.
The result? I won the wildlife series category for the 10th edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers, a division of the international Gala Awards. My series is “Night Growl.”
A series is a story told with a minimum of five shots, each one able to stand on its on, but part of a cohesive synchronic whole. The secret to success is in the editing. How to shoot a winning series? Envision, plan, hire ORYX Photo Tours, show up, and work.
Penny, I really had a fantastic photo safari in Botswana thanks to you and ORYX Photo Tours for sure! I am still on a bit of a high. Even though this was my third time to Southern Africa and second to Botswana, and each trip has been special, this time having a focus was brilliant and your guidance was invaluable to achieving some excellent photos.
I had an absolutely marvellous trip away with Penny, she taught and guided gently with our new cameras so much. This Botswana photo safari was just right, great lodges, driver guides and the beasties and birds were on show or gently coached into view.
Thank you to ORYX Photo Tours for a terrific tour and to Penny especially for her skills with the camera, and helping me get started with new eyes for the shot.
We were lucky enough to have Mike Dexter as a guide during our recent photo tour to Mashatu. During the five days we were with Mike he shared his great knowledge of animal behaviour and the environment. It was a pleasure to work with someone who understands photographers and who instinctively knows the best place to position the vehicle. He was incredibly patient and was never in a rush to move on or to take his own photographs even when there were incredible sightings. Mike was very generous with his knowledge and if you had a query on anything that he was unsure of, he made sure he found the answer. For us Mike is the best guide we have encountered in several trips to Africa. Knowledgeable, interesting and a really nice guy to spend hours with. Barry and I would have no hesitation in recommending Mike for any guiding experiences.
We looked forward to this Botswana experience for a long time...and it exceeded expectations in every respect and at every step. Well-planned, logistics handled professionally and smoothly. Marius and Vanessa were more than helpful; they were thoughtful and cared to make this truly memorable and personalized. Cannot imagine a better guided adventure and fun to be with them too!
In fact, I already have recommended ORYX Photo Tours and to another friend at the Preserve and expect he will call upon you shortly to discuss a possible Botswana photo safari next year. Kathy and I will be back with our children - perhaps as early as next year -- to see the gorillas and introduce them to safari (the kids, not the gorillas!).
Thanks to Marius, Vanessa and the whole ORYX Photo Tours team. Rocked it!
Dear Marius and Kirsty,
Just wanted to thank both of you for a most wonderful safari in Mombo/Botswana.
Ali and myself did enjoy it tremendously. Game viewing, accommodation, service, you name it, it was all there and at it’s very best. We loved our stay and everybody, including from the airport onwards, couldn’t have been more attentive.
We even were lucky with the weather, as the raining season had finished and it has only started for the water to come from the Delta.
Thank you again for arranging a most memorable trip for us, hope you are all well and that we do get to see you sometimes soon,
Sabine and Ali
Thank you so much for such an amazingly perfect photo safari!!!! Despite our occasional weather difficulties, we were extremely pleased with all. You did an amazing job and have such perfect attention to detail. We felt spoiled and privileged throughout the photo tour. Greg did an amazing job as usual and we are thankful to have had the opportunity to travel with him again. ORYX Photo Tours has a first class operation and we will refer you to the many people who ask us about traveling to Africa. I have already recommended you to two other clients since I returned. Good luck and we hope to travel with you again in the future!
I wanted to let you know that all went well on my Botswana photo safari and we had a fantastic time. I have learnt a lot from Greg, and can already see the improvement in my photography. I am looking forward to Kenya, as I am sure we will have plenty of time to add some of the finer touches. All in all it was a good photo tour with fantastic opportunities, so well done on your organization too, all was brilliant.
Just a few words to say thanks a lot for the wonderful photo tour, that you and your team, organized for Laura and me. This year all worked perfect and in extraordinary timing. Thank you for the wine in the Michelangelo, and all in all, it really was an unforgettable trip in Africa. Laura is very happy and me too. We had very bad weather in Sharks, but ORYX did a perfect work, trying hard to reorganize everything for Laura and me. Greg like always the best in everything, like a person, and like a professional. Nothing...... just thanks again to all.
I thought I needed to drop you a line to inform you of my satisfaction with the high quality service that I have received from Kirsty in the past few days! I am very happy that she has been able to assist me with my changes to my trip. I am very grateful to her for her fantastic attitude and outstanding service!
Thank you so much for organizing our recent photo tours to Botswana and Rwanda. All the arrangements for travel and accommodation were impeccable! Your recommendations worked out perfectly for us and we are very grateful to you all.
Although Botswana was a great experience, Rwanda and the Gorilla trekking was of course the highlight. The fact that you, Marius, were able to join us for this part of the trip added an extra dimension. Your local knowledge and organization ensured we received the best possible attention and that certainly enhanced the quality of our experience. You also provided good company and needless to say your photographic expertise helped to ensure that we returned home with terrific photos as well.
Rwanda is a beautiful country – we had no idea it was as clean and as safe as it is. We enjoyed the short stay at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge where we were very well looked after by the hosts, Nelis and Tracy. The first Gorilla trek was such an exciting experience; it is difficult to describe the exhilaration felt upon meeting a Gorilla in the wild for the first time. We enjoyed fantastic viewing that day with the Gorillas in the open for the most part. The second day was equally, if not even more exciting though and quite a different experience with a different Gorilla group including several active Silverbacks moving around in the bamboo forest. Absolutely fabulous and makes it fully understandable why Gorilla trekking is described as the best wildlife experience in Africa.
Thank you again for all you did to make this photo safari very special and one we will never forget!