Interview with a Professional Wildlife Photographer

We are passionate about wildlife and recently we met someone that shared our enthusiasm – Professional Wildlife Photographer, Nelson Albarran.  We had the privilege to speak to him about his life and career.

Tell us more about yourself?

I’ve always had an immense interest in photography but only in 2008 decided to take the leap of faith into purchasing my first professional DSLR camera. My day to day work back then involved organizing incentive groups and inbound tourism into Southern Africa. Travelling to beautiful locations, meeting interesting people, visiting luxurious Game Lodges and experiencing incredible safari sightings is what inspired me to want to capture and share those moments.

With limited free time to attend a professional photography course, I initially learned the basics through reading, researching techniques, video tutorials and of course networking with other “togs”.  But in photography learning is never over and I’m constantly still learning, even after having attended various courses at ORMS Cape Town School of Photography, new techniques and equipment are emerging on practically a daily basis. Good camera technology has become far more accessible to the average user and competition is strong, but as they say, competition is good. It makes us strive to improve our skills. The beauty of photography is that once you have the basics right, you can then start to experiment, and this is when it becomes its own art form.

I believe that as a photographer, you are constantly seeing things from a totally different perspective, always looking for that award winning captured moment, that one photo that people will stand back and say “Wow”!! This challenge and constant learning are what drives me, and having people appreciate my art, is at the end of the day a truly special sensation.

What made you choose photography as a career?

My career originally started in Hospitality & Event Management, through this I was exposed to many beautiful game lodges & private game reserves with abundant animal sightings and it just felt like I was wasting away an opportunity by not capturing and sharing these moments.

Why are you interested in wildlife photography specifically?

I enjoy capturing both people and wildlife as each is individual and no moment or emotion can be exactly repeated. The uncertainty of wildlife is exhilarating, just when you think you have seen everything, something new happens, best you have your camera ready!

What do you find most challenging about being a wildlife photographer?

In Wildlife Photography, you need to be patient. You can drive around for hours at a time and not necessarily get the animal interaction right away or keep getting “rear end” shots. Many photos come out looking “similar” but it’s up to you as the photographer to try and look for the creative angles & unique moments.

Please describe one of your best moments as a wildlife photographer.

In 2009 I was featured on 8 pages in South African Airways “Sawubona” in-flight magazine. It was an amazing feeling to have my work recognized and exposed to over 600 000 viewers that month.  One of the main photos of that feature was a Leopard drinking water. This cat followed us around for about 45min. We kept losing her in the bushveld and before we knew it she was back again literally following us and very relaxed about the vehicle and our movements.  I have featured again in a few other publications shortly thereafter.

The interest in wildlife photography seems to be growing.  Why do you think that is?

People are starting to realize the importance of conservation in general with many hunting reserves realigning their business ethos with more eco-friendly tourism activities. People are becoming more “tuned-in” to nature and experiencing wildlife in their natural environment is a far better experience than seeing them in captivity. Sharing these moments via social media, on canvas prints or photo books is fast becoming the new trend.

Tell us about one of your favourite photography spots.

The Sabi Sands area has a remarkable number of Leopard sightings and that is due to its elusive nature my favorite animal to capture.

What advice would you give amateur photographers?

My advice would be to attend as many workshops as you can. Hands on learning from a tutor and your peers have a much faster growth curve than just trying things out on your own.

What is one of the most common mistakes wildlife photographers make?

Putting the camera away too soon. Some of my favorite images were shot in almost pure darkness with just the light spill from the ranger’s spotlight touching the animal.

Thank you Nelson, for sharing your passion with us!

Please join us for a Wildlife Photography Course hosted by Nelson Albarran at Wag n Bietjie Lodge in November 2017.

Kgalagadi Photographic Safari

 

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a wonderful setting for your photographic safari, with an abundance of fauna and flora.

Background of the Kgalagadi

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a combination of the former Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Mabuashue Game Reserve in Botswana.  It is an incredibly large area that spans 36000 km² and is also known as the Kalahari.  The term Kalahari was derived from the Kgalagadi word for ‘the land which dried up’, ‘the dry land’ or ‘the thirstland’.

General tips before your trip

Accommodation can fill up months in advance, so remember to book early.  It is also recommended that you use 4X4, as this gives you better height and therefore visibility.  It also handles the road conditions better.   There are a few camps that are recommended for photographic safaris.  If you have your family with you, the Twee Rivieren Camp might be best.  The Nossob camp for bird’s photography seems to be the best.  Furthermore, the Urikaruus Wilderness Camp has a great waterhole that attracts predators.

Photographic tips for your Kgalagadi trip

1.  Make sure you know your way around

It is suggested that you read up on all the waterholes and different viewpoints before your trip.  It is also suggested that you make use of the daily sightings boards at each camp site.  You might find that a cheetah mother and cub likes to hang around a specific waterhole.

2.  Be prepared

Make sure your camera’s, lenses, memory cards, batteries and even food and drinks are all prepared the night before.  Remember the most sightings takes place early mornings and late afternoon.  You don’t want to waste time on the wrong things.  A sighting might happen quickly and you won’t have time to get things in order – you need to be prepared.

3.  Stop and pay attention

You’ll be amazed what you get if you drive slowly.  Small predators and mammals are easily overlooked if you don’t pay attention.  Also, the leopard, lion, and cheetah often look for their pray from an elevated position.  It is therefore recommended that you stop and carefully scan the dune slopes, ridges, and riverbeds.  Be alert for the warning calls of the red hartebeest, wildebeest, and springbuck.

Last thoughts

Remember to focus on the small things too – even in the camp.  Plants, insects, reptiles and birds are waiting and can be special.  Lastly, the cold, dry winter months provide the best light for photography.

 

Last, but not least, remember to sleep over at Wag n Bietjie Lodge.

 

 

The Rich History of South Africa

South Africa has been blessed with a rich history.  It also doesn’t matter where you start your journey, you will always be able to experience the rich history of South Africa.

The centrality of Wag n Bietjie Lodge makes it the perfect stopover between the various rich history filled cities of South Africa.

Brief History of Cape Town

Cape Town is 950 km from Wag n Bietjie Lodge.  Cape Town is best known as ‘The Mother City’ and was founded as a resupply stop for the Dutch East India Company. Even before the arrival of Dutch settlers that was led by Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, the Cape was home to groups of Khoi people. Today, Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa.  It is also a very popular tourist destination and is further known for the beautiful Table Mountain, the beaches, vineyards and majestic landscapes and limitless ocean.

Brief History of Johannesburg

Johannesburg is 528 km from Wag n Bietjie Lodge.  Although the city is still young and it already has an incredible history and legacy.  The first settlement sprang up in 1886 when gold was found in the area of Witwatersrand.  As always when gold was found, thousands flocked in search of their fortune.  Still today, Johannesburg is recognized as the city where dreams and success awaits.  Even the Anglo-Boer war couldn’t stop its growth.

“Through the years, Johannesburg has been the site of many iconic events. It was where the Springboks beat the All Blacks to take the Rugby World Cup in 1995. And, most recently, it was where South Africa showed the world that we can host an event as large as the FIFA Soccer World Cup with style and grace.”

Brief History of Bloemfontein

Bloemfontein is only 220km from Wag n Bietjie lodge.  The city is also known as the ‘City of Roses’, or Mangaung, ‘the place of cheetahs’.  Bloemfontein is further home to the National Women’s Memorial.  The memorial pays homage to those that died in the concentration camps during the war in South Africa.  Bloemfontein has delivered a few legends of their time, including Allan Donald (South African cricketer), Francois Steyn (Springbok rugby player), Hansie Cronje (former captain of the South African cricket team).  More legends of their time include Os du Rant (Springbok rugby player), Ryk Neethling (Olympic gold medalist swimmer), Shaun Morgan (lead vocalist of the band Seether) and also Zola Budd (international long distance athlete).

Sources

http://www.sahistory.org.za/places/cape-town

https://www.rhinoafrica.com/en/south-africa/cape-town/history

http://rwrant.co.za/10-facts-bloemfontein

http://www.sahistory.org.za/places/bloemfontein

http://www.joburgtourism.com/tourist-information/about-johannesburg/brief-history

http://www.sahistory.org.za/places/bloemfontein

 

Mother’s Day Special at Wag n Bietjie Lodge

Mother's Day Special
Mothers are the most important people in our lives. They care selflessly, shower us with love and are always there for us, no matter what. So instead of making Mother’s Day just a day or a meal, let us prolong the celebrations and show the mothers in our lives we really love and appreciate them.

What is on offer?

At Wag n Bietjie Lodge we offer a Saturday (13 May 2017) to Sunday sleepover, with lots of time to relax and enjoy the beautiful surrounds. We will spoil our mothers and their families with a welcoming drink on arrival Saturday morning. After everyone is booked in, a delicious hearty brunch will be served.

With brunch done, it is time to relax on our porch or take a stroll around the lodge. At five the adventure starts with a game drive and sundowner in the veldt. Hopefully, everyone can see the giraffes up close and enjoy the autumn colours of the veldt.

Back at the lodge, dinner will be served. It will be a three-course dinner, with choices for every course so that everyone can have their favourite. We are very proud of our kitchen, where all dishes are prepared from scratch, using only the freshest produce. We like to support the local businesses when sourcing the ingredients for our meals. Any hearty meal is not complete without some good wine, and we will gladly assist you with choosing the perfect wine for your meal, from your wine selection.

On Mother’s Day, the Sunday morning, after morning coffee and rusks, we will serve breakfast before saying goodbye.

Showing our appreciation

This package includes a free welcoming drink, game drive, and sundowner, with half price on all meals for mothers. Accommodation will be charged according to our price list, with an R500 discount for mothers.

Value

A package like this would normally cost R3000 per couple sharing, we offer it for R 2500. That gives you a saving of R500. As well as giving you the opportunity to have a mother’s day celebration of a lifetime, it is also great value for money. Remember children under 6 years stay for free, children between 6 and 16 years old will only be charged R390, bed and breakfast included.

Limited time and space

At Wag n Bietjie lodge we only have seven rooms to offer. Four of these have double beds and 2 rooms have a double and single bed. There is also a family room available with two separate rooms, one with a double bed and the other with two single beds.

With only three weeks to go to Mother’s day, please book early to ensure that you are a part of this Mother’s day celebration.

 

Things to do, places to go and nearby services around Wag-n- Bietjie Lodge

Nearby services, things to do and places to go near Wag-n-Bietjie Lodge

There is a wide variety of nearby services, things to do and places to go, on offer around Wag-n Bietjie lodge that will suit the taste of any visitor.

Here is examples of a few interesting places to see, and things to do in the immediate area around Wag-n-Bietjie lodge.

Nearby services

Wag-n-Bietjie lodge is only 55 km from the Kimberley airport. This is a commercial airport that handles about 132 000 passengers per year. The airport lies about 6 km south of Kimberley and is only 60 km from the Lodge. Take a break on your business trip and visit us.   We can arrange airport transfers for your convenience.

For the sporty, there is a world class golf course at Magersfontein

The golf course is only 25 km from the lodge and an easy drive on the N12, just past Modderrivier.

Magersfontein Memorial Golf Course is a word class 18 hole course, built to international standards. Players can enjoy the course year round. Players of all levels will be challenged by this course with is many waterways and riveted bunkers.

The golf course also sports resident Springbuck and Swans!

We  make reservations for you, or you can contact them directly on: tel: +27 83 399 8668 email: golf@mmge.co.za  http://www.mmge.co.za/

The best-kept secret.

Very few people know that wine is produced right on our doorstep at the Jacobsdal Landzicht Winery. Landzicht and Wilreza Wines are the Free-State’s only wineries.

Landzicht wines pride themselves on their delicate fruity wines. They farm with noble grape cultivars, such as Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and red and white Muscadels. Their Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz also perform surprisingly well.If you’re a fan of good-value red Bordeaux blends and medal-grabbing muscadels, then this cellar is a must visit.

After your cellar tour and wine tasting, buy a couple of chops or wors and take advantage of Landzicht’s barbecue facilities.

Alternatively, Jacobsdal’s other wine cellar, Wilreza, has a restaurant that serves pizza and steaks to complement the region’s award-winning wines.

http://www.openafrica.org/experiences/participant/1132-gwk-landzicht-wines

Book in advance to visit:
Landzicht Wine Cellar: +27 (0)53 591 0164
Wilreza Wine Cellar: +27 (0)53 591 0213

A taste of History & Culture

For our visitors who like history, the Magersfontein war Museum is a must.

The Magersfontein battlefield is  31.5 Km south of Kimberley and 32  km from the Wag-n-Bietjie Lodge.

At the museum, you can see many exhibits as well as an audio-visual presentation of the Magersfontein battle. The battle took place on 11 December 1899, during the second south African war.  The Audio-visual presentation allows visitors to experience the battle as if you were right in the middle of it. Furthermore, there are many displays to enjoy such as the different uniforms and firearms.

At the museum, you can see many exhibits as well as an audio-visual presentation of the Magersfontein battle. The battle took place on 11 December 1899, during the second south African war.  The Audio-visual presentation allows visitors to experience the battle as if you were right in the middle of it. Furthermore, there are many displays to enjoy such as the different uniforms and firearms both forces used.

Experienced guides also offer formal tours of the battlegrounds.

These tours include a trip up the hills and into the trenches. It also includes a visit to some of the graves of those fallen.

You can also visit the memorials in the area, honoring those that lost their lives in this terrible battle.

The museum also offer traditional fare such as ” Afal” . for more information contact Tel: +27-53-8337115 Fax: +27-53-8421433

http://www.thesolomon.co.za/magersfontein-battlefield-museum.html

http://www.airports.co.za/airports/kimberley

Rangers Report

Rangers Report at Wag-n-Bietjie Lodge

With the turning of the seasons and easter coming up, we are bringing you our second rangers report.

New arrivals.

We are happy to report that we were blessed with a lot of new arrivals. The Warthogs have a lot of newborns. The Springbuck are also dropping their lambs at the moment. Some lambs have just been born this past week while others are already strong and enjoying the warm autumn days.

Juveniles

The Giraffe calf, born on January is doing very well at the moment. She is almost as tall as her parents and still growing! We also saw a young Lechwe bull at the Lodge. 

New Kids on the Block.

We are also glad to have received new herds of Oryx, Sable bulls, and Roan bulls. They are all settled in by now, getting ready for the winter to come.

Winter is coming.

We are very thankful, that grass is abundant after the very good rains we had in the beginning of the year. The grass is beginning to turn to the rich golden colour of winter.

The weather is starting to turn as well, wich can not only be seen in the colour changes, but also in the daily routine of the animals.

Rain.

We are also happy to report that the 300+ mm we had so far this season has broken the drought. As I am writing this, it is raining softly. In the past three days, we were blessed with almost 30 mm. As a result of this easter rain, the veldt will have enough energy to carry us through winter. http://www.accuweather.com

Question: Where is Wag-n-Bietjie Lodge?

Questions and answers for Wag-n-Bietjie Lodge

Where is Wag-n-Bietjie Lodge?

 That is an easy answer. You can find Wag-n-Bietjie Lodge almost in the middle of the country. We are on the N12 route between Kimberley and Cape Town.

Wag-n-Bietjie lodge is nestled between stone kopjes, on the border between the Northern Karoo and the Green Kalahari, in the Private Wintershoek Game Reserve.Map

Wag n Bietjie Lodge is the ideal for a break in any journey between the major cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. Our tranquil surroundings, cozy atmosphere and hearty meals, will revive the weariest traveler.

How far are we from major cities?

To Cape town

The shortest route to Cape Town is 898 km.

Motorists can take the N12 to Hopetown. They can drive through Britstown to Victoria west. They can turn off on the N1, and travel through Beaufort west, Leeu Gamka, Kruidfontein, Laingsburg, Touws revier, Worcester, and Bellville to Cape town.

Alternatively, motorists can take the longer route (1012 km).

This route will take you through the Great Karoo area. On this route, you will be able to see the vast, rugged, open spaces of the Karoo. Furthermore, it will give the motorist the opportunity to visit towns like Vosburg, Carnarvon, Williston, and Calvinia.  Food lovers can stock up on juicy Karoo lamb in any of these towns, as well refresh themselves before continuing on their journey south.

To Johannesburg

The shortest route to Johannesburg is 524 Km on the N12

Motorist can take the N12 to Kimberley. From there they can stay on the N12. This route will take you through Warrenton, Christiana Bloemhof, Leeudoringstad to Potchefstroom. In the university town of Potchefstroom,  travelers can enjoy refreshments along the banks of the Mooi Rivier. Afterward,  they can continue their journey to  Johannesburg, trough Carletonville and past Soweto to the CBD.

To Bloemfontein

The shortest route to Bloemfontein is also the most scenic (198km).

Travelers can take te N12 towards Kimberley. At Modder Rivier you can turn right on the R705 and follow the route to the quaint town of Jakobsdal. Afterward, motorists can turn left on the R 48 towards Petrusburg. Here you will join the N8, travel past De Brug and follow the signs to the Bloemfontein CBD.

For the best route in current traffic visit Map

Have a safe journey.