Photo Tour: St Lucia, South Africa
The picturesque port town of St Lucia is the heart of Kwazulu – Natal’s north-eastern coastal region, one of the jewels of the Zulu Kingdom and is the gateway to the World Heritage iSimangaliso Wetland Park & Hluhluwe iMfolozi Game Park.
The trip includes lodging in a comfortable guest-house, all food and transportation, and all tours including a local wildlife guide. On all of our game drives we will have our own game vehicles and we will ensure that each attendee has a window seat for uninterrupted views. We will also have local guides who can help us identify the wildlife and give us some insight into their behaviors. We will spend two days in the vast and historic Hluhluwe iMfolozi game park in search of The Big 5. This is the best place on the African continent to see white rhino and other game including elephants, lions, zebras and giraffes are abundant.
We will also spend a day at iSimangaliso Wetland park, where we can search for leopard, warthogs and other big game on our way to stunning estuary and coastline views at Cape Vidal. We will round out the tour with a visit to a cheetah sanctuary, a boat tour to visit hippos and crocodiles up close in the St. Lucia River, and a walking safari to enjoy the abundant and varied bird life in the area. As a bonus, we will visit a Zulu village and learn a bit about both traditional and modern Zulu life.
Drawing on Tonya’s understanding of the culture and the local experience she has gained from previous photographic trips to the area, students won’t have to worry about anything except taking the best safari pictures of their lives!
Dates: November 18 - 23, 2016
Lodging: We will stay in comfortable guest houses in St. Lucia. This small and charming coastal town is perfectly located for our adventures. St. Lucia caters to tourists and offers a choice of delicious restaurants, in addition to a local craft market. Lodge rooms offer private ensuite bathrooms, indoor and outdoor relaxing areas, WiFi and a swimming pool.
Cost per Person: USD 2,700 (Approximately AED 9,950 depending on the conversion rate your Bank offers you) for single occupancy. Contact us if you are planning to travel with a companion and would like to share a room. Please note there will be NO discount for shared accomodation on this Tour.
Accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bottled water, airport transfers to/from Durban, local transport with a window seat in a safari vehicle, game park tickets, Cheetah Sanctuary entrance, river boat tour, Zulu village tour, Beach Braai (BBQ) & Snorkeling session on Day 2.
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
Flights, visas, alcoholic beverages, incidentals
Arrival Day: Durban
Our staff will take Emirates flight EK775 direct from Dubai to Durban, landing at 16:45. If you will be arriving on another flight, please let us know and plan to meet us at the airport at 16:45. Etihad Airlines offers service to Durban via Abu Dhabi. We will all transfer together via car north to St. Lucia, where we will enjoy a group dinner and settle into our lodges.
NB - If you cannot make this arrival time - you will have to make your own way to St Lucia! This is a 2.5 Hr drive...
Day 2: iSmangaliso Wetland Park
We’ll kick off our safari with a sunrise trip to the wetland park, just up the road from our lodging. This park stretches from the St. Lucia estuary to the border of Mozambique, and offers some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the world. This is our best chance to see leopards, plus a variety of other large game and bird life will be on display. We’ll visit the wild and scenic coastline at Cape Vidal for a traditional South African braai lunch (and a snorkel session for those who want to check out the beautiful coral and sea life - our guides will have the gear). After that we’ll head back to town to upload our photos and relax before dinner.
Day 3: Hluhluwe iMfalozi Park
Hluhluwe iMfalozi Park is the oldest game reserve in Africa, established in 1895 to protect the endangered white rhino. The area was originally a royal hunting ground for the Zulu kingdom and it is the only park in KwaZuluNatal that has the Big 5 - lion, elephant, cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. Giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, kudu, hippo, cheetah and many other species can also be seen. We will bring our breakfast and lunch with us so that we can spend the day photographing the wide variety of wildlife. Everyone will have a window seat and there are some waterholes with hides where we can get out of the vehicles and view the animals safely.
Day 4: Hluhluwe iMfalozi Park
We will return to visit the other half of the park at sunrise. If we missed any of the species - or need to retake any photos - this will be our chance. After lunch we will head to the cheetah sanctuary and rehabilitation center to photograph and learn about cheetah, serval, caracal (lynx) and African wildcats. Afterward we will return to our lodge to upload photos and relax before dinner and our night game drive!
Day 5: Zulu Village & Sunset Cruise
We will have a later start this morning, for those who want to rest on their holiday! After breakfast we will visit a Zulu village to learn about traditional and modern Zulu life. We will also have time to explore the town and the local craft market for any souvenirs. In the afternoon we will take a sunset boat cruise on the St. Lucia river to view the crocodiles and hippos that are abundant in the area. We’ll end the evening with our last group dinner in town.
Day 6: Walking Safari and Departure
At dawn we will have an optional sunrise shoot at the local beach, followed by breakfast. We will then take a walking safari at the St Lucia Game Reserve. Expect to see zebra, waterbuck, wildebeest, kudu and impala. Bird species are abundand and varied, and more time can be spent on smaller things often overlooked from vehicles. The terrain is scenic and with easy walking and no hills. After our morning walk we will head back to our lodges to pack and have lunch on our way back to the airport at 13:00. Our staff will fly out on Emirates EK776, departing 18:40. If you’d like to make other departure arrangements please just let us know and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.
*Timings and schedules may be adjusted according to weather or other unforeseen events.
We will connect all registered tour participants in-person or virtually so there will be an opportunity to ask any questions you may have, be introduced to your instructor, and get to know the group. If you have any questions regarding this, please email us at email@example.com with the title “Inform me re: St Lucia Tour Meetup.”
Our staff will arrive in Durban on November 18. We will fly Emirates Airlines EK 775 from DXB to DUR, landing at 16:45. We will then transfer via cars (about 2 hours on highway) to St. Lucia. If you plan to arrive on another flight, please plan to meet us at the Durban international airport at 17:05 on the 18th. Our drivers will meet us outside of baggage claim with a sign that says “GPP”. Please keep us informed of your arrival and departure plans so we can coordinate with you. Etihad Airlines flies from Abu Dhabi to Durban. It is possible to connect via Cape Town or Johannesburg as well.
You will leave St Lucia for the Durban international airport on November 23rd at 13:00. We recommend flying back to Dubai via Emirates Airlines EK 776 departing at 18:40. If you’d like to arrange your own departure, please keep us informed of your travel plans so we can assist you.
Many nationalities are able to get a tourist permit on arrival. Visa exempt passport holders can be found here. If your country is not on the list, you will need to get a visa before you board your flight. South Africa has consular services in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and can assist you. Please click here for more information.
We will stay in South African lodges (guest houses). Each room has a private ensuite bathroom, and the homes have wifi, kitchen, dining, indoor and outdoor living areas and swimming pools. It isn’t unusual to see mongoose or monkeys in the yards, and hippos are known to roam the streets at night.
Currency is in South African Rand (ZAR). Everything will be priced in Rand, so if you want to purchase gifts or souvenirs you may want to exchange money at the airport. Exchange rates vary, and are currently 14.7 ZAR= 1USD. ATMs are widely available where you can withdraw Rand if you prefer.
There are eleven official languages in South Africa. However, English is widely spoken.
Electrical current is 220V, most plugs are three prong or two prong with round pins. Adapters are available.
Tap water in St. Lucia is safe to drink.
Weather: We are expected to have some hot days and mild nights. (23 C to 33 C) In November there may be occasional evening thunderstorms, clearing by morning. The sun is strong in South Africa, consider sunscreen and a hat.
What to Bring
- Of course you will want to bring your camera, lenses, battery and charger, and memory cards!
- The animals in the parks are wild (it is not a zoo) so it is not possible (or safe) to get too close to them in many instances. A telephoto lens can be very helpful- one that zooms to 300mm (or more) would be ideal. If you don't have on consider a 1.4x or 2.0x extender as a cheaper option to buying a new lens.
- A polarizing filter can improve skies and reduce glare from water and tree leaves.
- A photo beanbag is very helpful for resting your lens on the car window to keep it steady. A tripod isn’t useful in the car, but it may come in handy in special situatons.
- Conditions can be dusty, so a cloth or cleaning kit can come in handy.
- If you’d like to review and edit your images while on the trip, please bring your laptop as well.
- Please remember to keep ALL of your camera gear (except your tripod) in your carry-on baggage when you travel.
More than 60 days prior to the start of the Tour : Full refund less 10% admin charge
Between 60 and 30 days prior to the start of the Tour: 50% refund
Later than 30 days prior to the start of the Tour: No refund
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Who Should Attend
You have a sense of adventure, and are confident using your camera in Aperture/Shutter priority or Manual mode. If you would really like to join the tour but don’t have such experience, consider taking our Digital Photography - Level 1 course to bring you up to speed.