About Africa Wild Safaris and Your Host, Photographer Gregory Sweeney
Our Photo Safaris and Why We Are DifferentAfrica Wild Safaris is owned by photographer Gregory Sweeney and his wife Karen. Together they own a small lodge on a nature conservancy which becomes the home base for their photography safaris. While on safari Gregory is a teacher as well as a host and guide.
As photographers we explore and discover the best places to find and photograph the most exciting animals. We take a maximum of only 6 guests per tour(in special cases 8) and stay at small lodges in order to allow for a personal experience for each guest. We want to keep our safaris affordable while not comprising on the quality of the animal encounters in the reserves and parks we visit.
We use open vehicles with 3 tiers of elevated seats: not a glass enclosed minivan like so many other operators. No popping out the top! Open vehicles allow you to shoot in all directions. Our drivers are skilled in positioning the vehicle and approaching the animal. We stay until everyone gets their shot or the subject exits. Some private reserves allow guests, guides,and tracker to get out of the vehicle if you can safely approach your subject.
You will visit a very special placeSituated in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, 20 minutes from Kruger National Park, you will be staying in an area with several contiguous private game reserves. The varied conservation efforts of the reserves (white rhino, black rhino, elephant, lions, buffalo, etc) and the large combined area with open range in proximity to Kruger greatly increases the quality and likelihood of encountering many of the more elusive species.
Our safaris are personal experiences
While on one of our safaris you will be part of a group of no more than 6 people. We stay at small lodges where it feels more like staying at a local's house. In fact, the Sweeney's own and built the tree house lodge where we stay for part of the trip and you will be the only guests there. The other lodges we frequent are also small and many are family run. You will also meet our neighbors and friends while at the lodge and on game drives giving you a chance to experience the lives of South Africans. When on safari we pace ourselves for photographers and those who like to observe the animals. Your Greg and the local guides and trackers teach you how to read the animal's behavior and anticipate the action shots. We spend time with the animals observing and waiting for that memorable moment rather and rushing off to tick another animal off the list. If a special opportunity arises, we are flexible enough to change our schedule and take advantage. Though large animals are attractive, the birds, trees , and small creatures are not forgotten as we educate you on how all parts of the ecosystem work together. The range and quality of wildlife areas in this region is the best in all South Africa.
Time of year makes a difference to your experience
We visit South Africa in the autumn and spring. This has many advantages for our guests including the fact that this is the off season for travelers in Africa so you will have less crowds and cheaper flights. Autumn is the beginning of the dry season when less grass and undergrowth are present and in spring we visit before the grass grows up. This results in easier viewing of animals. The temperatures in both seasons are lower which will ensure the animals (and the humans) can be more active – no need for closed in vehicles or AC. These drier seasons also means few mosquitoes and bugs to worry about.
What to Expect
Peak Animal Activity
We plan our safaris to coordinate with times when wildlife is most active and easy to find. We also frequent the parks and reserves with diverse wildlife.
Few guests means a more personal experience with personal attention to your photography, more room, and less impact on wildlife.
Our guests enjoy our safaris so much that over 60% of our guests have been on a trip with us previously.
All levels of skill welcome (and non-photography)
You don't need to be a professional or ultra serious photographer to enjoy these safaris or to feel like you fit in with the group. You only need to have the spirit of an explorer and a passion for nature. A spirit of learning, adventure, and curiosity ties our guests together.
We bring you as close as possible to the most exciting animals. You safety and that of the wildlife and environment is essential to us.
About Gregory Sweeney
Also a talented underwater photographer, Gregory leads guests on underwater photography tours to photograph sharks, manatees, sailfish, and whale shark, and other marine species.
Before becoming a full time photographer and safari host, Gregory Sweeney served as a Wildlife Biologist / Park Ranger for the National Park Service for many years and lived in New Zealand and traveled the Pacific, Europe, and North America. His work has won several awards and he is the author of Manatees: The Gentle Giants celebrating the beauty of the endangered Florida Manatee. Gregory has been sharing the wonders of South African wildlife with fellow travelers and photographers for many years.
Follow these links to see Greg's other photo tours, image galleries (look or purchase), and updates from his photo adventures