At Shamwari Private Game Reserve, we want all our guests to have a magical, educational and memorable stay. Are you a wildlife photographer or is photography one of your passions? If so, we offer an adventure you will definitely want to experience!

The Eastern Cape: One of South Africa’s Hidden Treasures

Even though the Eastern Cape is often overlooked when planning a visit to South Africa, it is one of the most beautiful provinces this country has to offer. The Eastern Cape has it all: around 800 kilometres of shoreline, untouched sceneries, breath-taking cliffs, rolling hills, clear water, you name it! It is a diverse province, where you can experience different climates and see multiple landscapes.

What is more, this beautiful place is home to the well-known Garden Route, a 300-kilometre scenic route on which you will witness nature unlike ever before. Moreover, Shamwari Private Game Reserve is located on this beautiful route and it boasts a huge wildlife population as well as vegetation diversity. Once inside Shamwari’s grounds, you can find five out of the eight South African biomes.

Photography as an Expression of Life

Photography could be defined as the way each one of us sees life. It is a form of expression – art. One of the great things about photography is its diversity. Different individuals enjoy studying and taking shots of different subjects such as wildlife, art, cities, people and sports – the list goes on and on. If you specifically enjoy wildlife photography, what we are going to tell you now will surely catch your eye.

Whether you are a professional photographer or photography is merely a hobby, a way for you to unwind from the daily grind, Shamwari is your ideal next vacation destination.  Our 25 000 hectare reserve provides guests with a passion for animal or landscape photography with all they need: plentiful, varied wildlife and striking vistas.

Thanks to our two incredible guides, Shamwari has brought to life an amazing safari photography program where you can put your lens to work.

A Shamwari guest taking the picture of a drinking elephant

First Things First: Wildlife Photography

As mentioned before, the Eastern Cape is an incredible destination if wildlife photography is what you are looking for. Shamwari Private Game Reserve shelters a vast wildlife variety, among them, multiple endangered species, such as rhinos. Whether you prefer birds, mammals, vegetation, etc., this place has it all.


Most of the times when we think of South Africa, we automatically associate it with lions, elephants, giraffes and other large animals. Nevertheless, the country is also home to many beautiful bird species that also deserve some recognition. The Eastern Cape itself is home to hundreds of different birds. If you are looking for one of the best bird photography opportunities, Shamwari won’t disappoint.

One of the many bird species found at Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Shamwari’s History With Photography

Conservation might be Shawari’s main focus, but we also cater to various guest needs when it comes to activities and vacation packages. We strive to have something for everyone. Planning your wedding? We’ve got you covered. Safari experience for kids? No problem. And what about wildlife photography? Well, we offer a fully customized experience for those with an interest in nature and wildlife photography.

Our photographic safari includes everything needed for a great adventure behind the lens. Before getting into the finer details, let talk about the guides behind this amazing program.

Our Guides: Iky and Ryan Plakonouris

Iky and Ryan are a father and son duo united by the same passion: photography. It all started in the early 70’s, when Iky was working in Johannesburg as a camera technician for Nikon’s African agency. Even though this was Iky’s source of income, photography was also a way of expressing himself. He enjoyed capturing his passions through a lens: motorsport, street photography, wildlife and media were his main interests.

When Ryan was eight years old, he started accompanying his dad to motocross events and that was when Iky knew photography would become a new bonding activity between father and son.

Even though Ryan did not pursue a career in photography in the beginning, he did have an interest in wildlife conservation. In 2003, after spending a few years in Kenya studying and gaining information about hospitality, Ryan and his wife became part of Shamwari’s family as lodge managers. As a result, in 2009, Ryan decided to combine his environmental knowledge with hospitality and photography. He began to offer his photographic skills in media marketing, shooting interiors as well as tutoring on wildlife and landscapes. All this work lead Ryan to co-found WorldPix, an NGO. As the NGO’s CEO, Ryan curates a gallery of photographic art and, this way, he collaborates with and contributes to many charities all around the world. Eventually, in 2014, Ryan’s combination of experience, passion and creativity made Shamwari come up with “Pro Photo Safaris.”

All About Shamwari’s Pro Photo Safaris

Pro Photo Safari is a two-day program guided by Iky and Ryan, who have 50 years of photography experience between the two of them. What is more, they have been awarded an Agfa Wildlife Photography Award.

What Do I Get When Booking This Photographic Adventure?

When booking the Pro Photo Safari, you will get the amazing insight of two incredible professionals. They will show you around our game reserve, allowing you to capture Africa’s beauty at its very best.

Iky and Ryan wonderfully complement each other. On the one hand, Iky offers photography knowledge and technical skills, whereas, on the other hand, Ryan shares years of experience in wildlife guiding, photography and hospitality with guests.

Are you ready to enjoy this photographic journey hand in hand with our fascinating guides?

Included Amenities

When signing up for this package, guests will gain access to:

  • Game viewing vehicle: Guests will be transported around the reserve in a vehicle specifically rigged for photographic purposes
  • Photographic tuition: Throughout this journey, you will be assisted when it comes to specific equipment selection, image composure, the capture of photographs and post-editing procedures
  • Editing equipment: Guests receive access to editing equipment, as well as selected editing software packages

One of the many big cat species found at Shamwari Private Game Reserve

What Should I Pack for My Safari Experience?

Let us not forget that this adventure is still a safari, so we recommend all our guests pack the following:

  • Binoculars
  • Warm clothing (no matter what season you visit the bush, it can get cold both during the early mornings and late in the afternoons. It is always preferable to have warm clothing at hand)
  • Sunscreen and hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellent

Another Option: Hire Professional Equipment

All of Shamwari’s photography equipment is available for hire. However, they are subject to availability at the time of booking.

Nikon Equipment

For R3 800 per day, we offer 1 body and 1 lens, either:

  • 1 Nikon 200 mm – 400 mm telephoto lens
  • 1 Nikon 300 mm telephoto lens
  • R700 per day for 1 converter
  • R700 per day for 1 flash

If you are an ardent Canon user, we also offer some of their equipment for hire. Pricing is available on request.

Important Information to Take Into Consideration

  • Stay on-site: Shamwari requires all photographic safari guests to stay on-site at one of our luxury lodgings
  • Pre-booking: This is essential since photographic safaris are subject to Iky and Ryan’s availability
  • 2 nights stay: The photographic safari is subject to a minimum 2-night stay
  • Recommended stay: To get the most out of your photographic safari experience, it is recommended to extend your stay to at least 3 nights

Why Should I Choose This Option?

All in all, Shamwari has always worked hard to give guests different activities which suit their needs. Hence, every package has been designed specifically for our guests to go home with an amazing story to tell.

Our Pro Photo Safari was created conjointly with two experienced photographers, which gives this adventure extra value. It means that you will not only be taking astonishing photographs, but you will also be learning from our guides, getting the best out of your time on safari.

If nature and wildlife photography is one of your passions, or even part of your work, you should definitely experience this package for yourself. After going on some incredible safaris, you will also be able to edit your shots with the very best photography programs, all courtesy of Shamwari.

Remember that it is important to pre-book this package! Are you intrigued by this photographic opportunity? Would you like to know even more about it? Do not hesitate to contact us, we will be more than happy to help you.

Two elephants grazing at Shamwari Private Game Reserve