Every time the phrase wildlife photography is mentioned, mother nature smiles, being thrilled that YOU want to get closer to her. She promise to show you all her beauty and even reveal some of her secrets, if she is handled with love and respect.


A Shamwari guest taking the picture of a drinking elephant

Wildlife photography at Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Shamwari Private Game Reserve is situated in the heart of Eastern Cape, South Africa, 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 making it the perfect location to pursue wildlife photography.

We can teach you how to pursue wildlife photography on a Photographic Safari, introduce you to a wide variety of wildlife, recommend equipment and advice on wildlife photography courses.

Being a wildlife photographer is something Shamwari Private Game Reserve promotes. We want all our guests to be on cloud nine – having a magical, educational and memorable experience. Shamwari is truly a glimpse of a so called heaven for all wildlife photographers.

What is wildlife photography?

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. When referring to wildlife photography, wildlife or animal photography is the focus.

Whether you are a professional photographer or photography is merely a hobby, a way for you to unwind from the daily grind, Shamwari is the ideal 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 Private Game Reserve in South Africa has brought an amazing safari photography program to life. Here you will be putting your lens to work.

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. If you are looking to capture some of the best wildlife images, Shamwari’s photography opportunities won’t disappoint.

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

Shamwari’s History With Photography

Conservation might be Shamwari’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, lets talk a bit more about the experience amazing program.

Wildlife Photography Experience

Get yourself in the middle of the bush, with the experienced Shamwari team on your side. They are sure to make your wildlife photography experience worth the time. The guides also contribute to the photography skills photographers already hold.

Shamwari is one of the best locations in South Africa for close-up wildlife photography. Capture in the moment pictures of animals in their natural habitat. On the heartbeat of mother nature experiencing a photographic safari – what a place to be…

What Do I Get When Booking A Photographic Adventure?

When booking the Pro Photo Safari, you will get the amazing insight of two incredible professionals. You will be shown around the game reserve, also 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: Transport around the reserve in a vehicle specifically rigged for photographic purposes
  • Photographic tuition: Throughout this journey, assistance is provided 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 To Pack for the Photographic 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, 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

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.”

How do you become a wildlife photographer?

Good question! Easy answer – Join the 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. This is not a wildlife photography course, bur rather a hands on learning experience from the very best! All rights reserved.

Hire Professional Equipment

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


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, wildlife and 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