Albie Venter is the consummate guide and an old friend. He has a wicked sense of humour and doesn’t take himself too seriously, and has every skill required of a safari guide in abundance, plus many more additional interests that mean a safari with him is entirely extraordinary!
He is one of the finest wildlife photographers on the African continent, a fabulous birder (actually, ornithologist), as well as all-round naturalist. Albie knows Southern Africa well (he hails from South Africa), as well as East Africa, (he spends large periods of time in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda) and he can even lead safaris on the Galápagos Islands.
Having a wildlife photographic guide is so beneficial on so many levels. Firstly, from improving your own photographic skills immeasurably - how many of us purchase fancy cameras, only to start reading the instructions on the flight over and then give up because it is too complicated? Then we start to hone our skills on the trip itself which is a recipe for disaster in terms of obtaining quality photographs! Having practical advice and hands-on assistance based on expert knowledge of specific conditions on safari is so helpful!
Secondly, a professional photographer will also record your safari through their own photography, to share with you, and finally, take photographs of you on your holiday, which serves as a wonderful memento once you have returned home.
Albie has two young daughters and so for family safaris he is simply perfect as he understands children and makes each safari fun, interesting and new.
One of the overriding benefits of travelling on safari with a private guide are that you set the timetable yourself which is perfect when taking your family on safari. The day is planned largely around you, your interests, your hobbies and your timeline.
So, if you are thinking that you only plan to depart on your game drive or walk at 09.00am - that is perfectly alright! Or, if you don’t want to return for lunch, but would rather go out exploring further afield with a picnic lunch packed for en route, perhaps to be had beneath an Acacia tree in the midday sun, well that sounds pretty perfect too!
Some of Albie’s favourite places to take clients is on a gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda and Uganda. Good photography here is essential! The gorillas are usually found in dense forests where light is low but flashes are not allowed. Add to this the often humid conditions and one will find that his guidance is invaluable!
Another region in which Albie excels is the southern part of Botswana, in an area on the border of South Africa called the Tuli block. This region is simply magical. It is a private reserve that is absolutely beautiful, with the most stunning rock formations which catch the pink and purple hues of sunset and the sunrise and it has one of the best populations of elephants. With the right expert guidance from Albie, these lead to perfect photography opportunities.
The Okavango Delta is another favourite, with tremendous opportunities of seeing predators, in particular wild dog, lion and leopard. There is even the chance of seeing rhino here which is fast topping most people’s lists of must-sees!
Kenya is another real gem and Albie spends so much time there and knows the region well, in particular, Laikipia (which is particularly renowned for its wild dog populations) and semi-arid species which occur here, north of the equator.
The Masai Mara brings wonderful opportunities to spot and photograph the renowned big cat populations, especially cheetah, and Amboseli for its enormous tusker elephants are two more favourites of Albie’s.
Albie introduces another dimension and depth to what you can see with the naked eye. Layer upon layer of expertise, facts and information trickles through each sentence, enlivening every motion you follow and opening an entirely new world to you, as you delight in your new-found knowledge that you will carry with you for an eternity. And this is what only a private guide can give you.
Well, this is an easy one to answer! The reality is, that when one travels anywhere in the world, not only on safari, one is never entirely sure who one’s fellow travellers might be. They could be an avid bird watcher, an artist, a photographer, or mad about spotting the apex predators (lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog) or even elephant.
These all sound fascinating, until one realises one has jumped on board with a zealot! And this truly can become very arduous indeed if one’s own interests are cast aside. However, with your own private guide just for yourself and your family or group of friends, you can focus on your own interests to truly gain the most possible from your safari.
Secondly, having a private guide invariably enhances and increases one’s enjoyment. It buys one flexibility, freedom and exclusivity. The level of knowledge with private guides invariably is far superior to guides which might not have had such professional training or have had such a wide breadth of experience by comparison.
It also allows for continuity, as your guide quickly comes to know you and they also understand what you have seen previously and you build on your experiences as well as your rapport.
Yes, there is an additional cost, but to be honest, one is investing heavily in a safari in any event. This actually provides a far more qualitative experience culminating in greater value for money.
Over my many years in the safari industry I have been privileged to spend time with the very best guides that Africa has to offer and experience Africa from the point of view of their multitude of specialities. Some are ornithologists, others entomologists, whilst others will focus on wildlife photography or a combination of all these skills.
It takes a lifetime of spending time in the bush or any natural environment to acquire this knowledge. But in addition, these people are fun, interesting and all have their own stories to tell. Nights are spent sitting around a campfire, beneath a bejewelled sky, recounting stories of the past, or discussing the highlights of the day, or even planning the day ahead.
Albie Venter started his career on a private reserve adjacent to the iconic Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa’s lowveld region. He initially worked as a wildlife safari guide in the Greater Kruger and later on in the Cederberg at Bushmanskloof which is world-renowned as a rock art and wildflower destination.
From here he went on to study Nature Conservation in Cape Town. After completing his studies he moved with his wife, Freda, to East Africa where they managed a safari camp in the Maasai Mara.
In 2009 Albie started offering privately guided safaris specialising in general wildlife, bird viewing and nature-based photography. Wildlife photography is a passion and he regularly guides private wildlife photographic safaris for keen photographers looking for decisive wildlife images.
Guiding is Albie’s passion, and it has taken him across the great wildlife areas of southern and East Africa – from the Maasai Mara in Kenya to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, through the wildlife and primate reserves of Uganda to Botswana’s Okavango Delta and the mighty Victoria Falls of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Albie is also at home guiding in South Africa’s game-rich Sabi Sands, Timbavati and Kruger National Park.
When time allows he trains guides for EcoTraining, Africa’s largest guide training company in both South Africa and Kenya.
As a wildlife photographer, he regularly contributes images and articles on a variety of subjects to various nature and wildlife publications, both printed and digital. These publications include Africa Geographic, Wild Planet, Africa Birds and Birding, African Birdlife, WILD, Getaway, South African Country Life and East African Travel News. He also donated a photograph to Remembering Elephants, a beautiful coffee table photo book created by Margot Raggett to raise funds for the Born Free Foundation. Albie also presents talks and lectures on wildlife photography, travel and conservation to audiences in Africa and abroad.
Images kindly provided courtesy of and copyright to Albie Venter.