Tour Reports & Testimonials

July 23 - August 3, 2016: Southern Africa

2016 Tour Group
2016 Adventurers: Dan, Charlotte, Steve, Pat, Guide Sam,
Guide Thulani, Max and Chris
I was joined by five former clients on a really fun South African safari that included time in both Kruger National Park and MalaMala Game Reserve. For many of these clients, it was their first African photo tour—or first African adventure at all—so it was a real treat to share some of my favorite South African wildlife hot spots with them.

We started in Kruger National Park. Because Kruger is so massive, we concentrated on the southern half of the park, which is generally the best area for varied wildlife. Based at three of my favorite camps over six days, we had numerous fantastic wildlife encounters. Among the highlights: several leopards, a huge pride of lions next to the road, an active hyena den with very young pups next to the road, owls, eagles and multiple honey badgers. We were even charged by an angry bull elephant at one point. Though many people prefer the intimate experience of private game reserves, Kruger always seems to deliver for my tour groups, and that was the case once again this time.

Elephant charge by tour client Chris Shepperd
Elephant charge by tour client Chris Shepperd
From Kruger we headed to my favorite South African destination: MalaMala. After receiving the free upgrade to the ultra exclusive Rattray's Camp, we enjoyed three days of luxury safaris, dining on wonderful food, relaxing in our opulent khayas... and, of course, fitting in lots of wildlife photography! This visit to MalaMala was highlighted by excellent lion sightings. A couple of coalitions of handsome male lions approached our vehicles at close range. We also enjoyed the customary great leopard sightings, including a standoff between two rival males right in front of our camp. It was a fantastic way to bring this wonderful tour to a close, and a couple members of the group are already itching to get back to Africa with me in 2019.

"While the peers of my youth were dreaming of playing Major League Baseball I was thinking of Africa. To be able to go to South Africa on a Max Waugh tour was literally a dream come true. I've been blessed to take a few of Max's tours and each time he reaffirms my belief that there's no better wildlife photography guide in the business.

The South Africa tour was the best yet! I could barely sleep at night because I was so anxious to see what the African bush had in store the next day. It never disappointed. All of my pre-trip expectations were easily surpassed and most of them had been realized in the first few days. MalaMala is now my favorite place on the planet. Thanks Max for another surreal experience in the wilderness!" – Steve S.

Spotted hyena pup by tour client Pat Nowotny
Spotted hyena pup by tour client Pat Nowotny
"Being in South Africa was definitely one of the best trips ever. Other than NatGeo specials showing the grasslands of Africa, my vision of what was to be expected in South Africa was minimal. There were no shortage of wildlife. Being that it was winter made the visibility of the wildlife that much better.

Traveling with a professional photographer like Max made it that much easier to know that where we went, every excursion would lead to an exciting day. From a pride of lions to finding the elusive honey badger—not once but four times in Kruger. MalaMala was for me the highlight of the trip being able to get up close to the wildlife ranging from lions to leopards to rhinos, whereas in Kruger we were limited to sightings only from the roads. I am looking forward to a return trip in 2018 with Max. Can't ask for a more professional and true caring person towards photographers and getting the shot that we all want!" – Pat N.

"Looking back at these pics it's almost hard to believe we saw all this. What a cool trip." – Chris S.

July 19 - August 2, 2014: Southern Africa Private Tour

2014 Tour Group
2014 Adventurers: Max, Reggie, MalaMala ranger Dean & Linda
This was my first African tour, focusing on South Africa with an extension to Botswana. My clients, Linda and Reggie, opted for the full two week trip, hoping to maximize their first ever African experience. And did they ever...

We began the tour in Kruger National Park. I chose Kruger as the first stop since the park can serve as a great introduction to African wildlife. Nearly all of the major bush species of southern Africa's less arid regions can be found in this massive park, so I knew there would be a good chance we'd get a little bit of everything. It turned out even better than expected, starting with an elusive leopard that Reg spotted a mere 20 minutes into our first drive! From there, sightings and photo opportunities steamrolled. We had seen the "Big Five" in the first half day, and eventually saw nearly all of the major species on our wish list.

Yawning lion by tour client Linda Carney
Yawning Lion by tour client Linda Carney
The Kruger itinerary was split between three of the best camps for wildlife viewing. Each camp offered something different, from close location to a great photography hide, to proximity to a wildlife-rich river system, to some of the best roads for cat viewing. Ultimately, we finished the Kruger leg having seen multiple lions, three leopards, four cheetahs, several owls and even a honey badger! It was a great start to the trip.

The next stop on the tour was the famed MalaMala Game Reserve, my favorite place for wildlife photography in South Africa. Though Kruger can often provide great viewing, MalaMala is located on private property, which allowed us to go off-road, instantly improving our photo opportunities. MalaMala may be the best place to see and photograph wild leopards, and it upheld its reputation. We saw seven different leopards, including a pair of 8-month old cubs. Another highlight at MalaMala was the rare opportunity to see a pack of endangered wild dogs, including pups. A visit to MalaMala is always species, and this visit was no exception.

Barred owlet by tour client Linda Carney
Barred Owlet by tour client Linda Carney
Because Linda and Reg were adventurous enough to opt for the trip extension, we spent our final three days at Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. At Mashatu we saw even more cats, including a prolonged close encounter with a trio of cheetahs on our final day. But the real highlight at Mashatu is the famous underground photographic hide. This was the main goal of the visit, so I scheduled two sessions at the hide to maximize our ground-level photo opportunities. Both sessions were tremendous, with several elephants, impala, kudu and even a warthog coming in to drink at the hide's watering hole. We immensely enjoyed photographing these animals at close range with wide angle lenses, and the numerous bird photo opportunities kept us constantly entertained. It ended up being a highly successful trip from a photography standpoint, and Linda and Reg's great spirits during their first African adventure made it a lot of fun!

"For most of my adult life I've dreamed of an African Photo Safari! When my husband Reg and I booked this trip with Max, we had expectations of what it would be like. Well, our expectations were exceeded in the first few days.

Wild dogs by tour client Linda Carney
African Wild Dogs by tour client Linda Carney
The accommodations were both comfortable and unique. There were huts with grass roofs, tent cabins and even a luxury cottage. Each of our three guides were experienced game trackers, constantly checking the bush for sign and prints. Animal sightings began as we entered Kruger National Park. Can you say BIG 5 in the first day!!!!! We traveled comfortable in our private safari vehicles with blankets and HOT water bottles at our fingertips. It was winter in SA, but temps warmed up quickly and soon you were peeling off the layers. The logistics of our trip were expertly planned, no stone was left unturned.

Max, you knocked this one OUT of the park. Fabulous food (gained more than a couple of pounds), many modes of transportation and oh, I can't forget the hides! After viewing playful hippos at Lake Panic, I couldn't wait to see what would appear at the C4 hide in Mashatu. Max scheduled private viewings for two mornings in Botswana. YIKES: elephants at 10 feet, warthogs, eland, impala and dozens of colorful birds, better have that wide angle ready!

Trip highlights:

  • 14 leopards
  • Lions ON the airstrip at MalaMala
  • Dueling bull elephants
  • Following 3 cheetahs for 1 1/2 hours
  • Standoff between juvie warthogs and leopards
  • 14 African wild dogs
  • 41+ species of mammals
  • 70+ species of birds
Thank you so much Max, for such and amazing and special adventure!!" – Linda C.

"Recently I had the pleasure of joining my wife Linda, on a photography adventure. Actually, it was THE bucket list trip! Being an avid golfer and fisherman it was time to kick back and enjoy my bride's big trip. As a non-photographer I anticipated being excited, but possibly bored on some occasions.

Leopard and cub by tour client Linda Carney
Leopard and Cub by tour client Linda Carney
Well, it didn't take long before things started to heat up: a leopard I spotted was the first Big 5 sighting. Soon lion, elephant, rhino and cape buffalo appeared to fill out the Big 5 sighting in our very first day!!! Our adventure was beyond anything I could have imagined. So much for being bored! Incredible sightings from my perch at the top row of the safari vehicle from Day One to Day Twelve. With binoculars in hand my eyes never left the landscape that surrounded us.

I cannot thank Max enough for all the guidance, tutoring, patience and encouragement he gave Linda. He is so engaging and such a pleasure, to say I was included in every aspect of the trip is an understatement!! Max made this MY trip of a lifetime too! Thank you so much." – Reggie C.

Read more client testimonials from my Yellowstone and Costa Rica tours.

Africa Tour Itinerary & Prices