The Best Places to Photograph Wildlife

Taking photographs of wildlife is a huge passion project for many photographers. And who can blame them? Animals are great subjects. Whether it’s polar bears in the arctic, gorillas in East Africa, or tigers in India, taking pictures of animals is always fun. Here are some of the best places around the world to take photos of wildlife.

Kasane, Botswana
There is a sliver of Africa where four countries almost converge: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. The Chobe River is one of the many separation points between Botswana and Namibia and it’s also where I experienced one of my favorite wildlife adventures of all time. The boat I called home for a few days is permanently moored in the middle of a vast river system of wetlands and river grasses. The marshland is rich in wildlife; hippos, birds of all kinds, Cape Buffalo and hundreds of elephants converge on this one spot. The elephants were perhaps the most impressive, in size as well as sheer numbers. While boating along the river one day the driver shushed us, cut the engine and pointed to the riverbank. There on the shore were two young elephants walking with great purpose towards the water. I had never thought about whether or not elephants could swim , but I soon got my answer. They plunged into the river without fear and began to swim with zeal and power to the coveted river island. They also didn’t seem to care about us as they came within a few feet of our boat. Watching these majestic animals ford the river and then emerge with a great splash was extraordinary. It’s one of the travel moments that makes you feel both alive and incredibly thankful.
Virunga Mountains, Rwanda
I was shaking with excitement and my stomach was in knots as I locked eyes with Agashya, the Silverback of Group 13. This was on the Rwandan side of the Virunga Mountains, where half of the remaining 700 mountain gorillas live. And for over an hour, we had trekked up a volcano, cautiously avoiding steep drop-offs and cutting through dense foliage with machetes, to reach them. Although we were instructed to keep at least 7 meters away, the playful young ones made that rule impossible to follow as they kept running by our legs. Less delightful was when Agashya decided to walk right by me; I was aware he could’ve killed me with one blow. Luckily he ignored my presence like all the others and lay down before giving me a brief stare.
Bonesveien 319, 9360 Bardu, Norway
Fewer than 50 wolves and 100 brown bears live in Norway, mainly along the largely inaccessible Norway-Sweden border, so this is a rare opportunity to see the predators alongside deer, elk and reindeer. This Arctic wildlife park prides itself on letting its animals live in natural surroundings. Very few wildlife parks have more space per animal than Polar Park. Golden eagles also live in close proximity to the park and can be frequently seen swooping over the river. Education is an important aspect of the park’s work, with a center designed to educate Norwegian youth about wild predators.
andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, 3936, South Africa
The landscape surrounding Phinda Private Game Reserve is totally different from what you’ll experience in Kruger, Madikwe, or the Kalahari. Here, moisture from the Indian Ocean breathes life into gently rolling hills; flat, grassy wetlands attract hippos, antelope, and far too many bird species to list; and dense forests house the Big Five and even cheetahs. The 25 rooms at &Beyond’s Phinda Rock Lodge sit atop a granite outcropping, overlooking these lush surroundings. No matter which one you’re in, you’ll feel as if you’re hovering high above the treetops and the valley below.

A stay at Phinda Rock Lodge is all-inclusive, complete with twice-daily safari drives, a Zulu village tour, bush walks, and other conservation experiences. Since the lodge is so close to the Indian Ocean, guests also have the unique opportunity to explore South Africa’s marine life. In the summer, you can join a nighttime excursion to watch leatherback and loggerhead turtles lay their eggs on the beach, or go snorkeling or scuba diving to explore the coral reefs near Sodwana Bay. While Phinda is approximately a two-hour drive from Richards Bay Airport, Airlink flies direct from Nelspruit to the lodge’s private airstrip, making it easy to connect a safari in the Greater Kruger National Park with a visit to Phinda.
South Africa
A three-day safari in Kruger National Park is a must for anyone visiting South Africa. Entering the gates is like Jurassic Park and you feel transported back in time to the creation of Earth where the wild animals, especially the elephants, are dinosaurs filled with ancient knowledge of the land’s beginning. Although you may not see anything like the infamous “Battle at Kruger” YouTube video, you will certainly witness some interesting animal behavior like hippos bathing, monkeys mating, giraffes snacking or even two elephants flirting in the brush.
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