South African Photo Safaris

Mission Statement
South African Photo Safaris is an independent Australian based tour operator. Our aim is to offer guided, highly personal small groups (maximum of 10 people), the opportunity to discover and explore one of Africa’s most significant national parks, the Kruger National Park. Our aim is to offer a safari product that is authentic, sensitive to the environment and local culture ,affordable, and offering outstanding value. On our tours, we will stay in the Kruger National Park’s government-owned rest camps, eating in the Kruger National Park’s local cafes and restaurants, purchase supplies in the Kruger National Park’s allocated supply shops and utilize local airlines and rental vehicles. In addition, we will only utilize local guides for our walking, early morning, sunset and night safari drives.

Our passion is to show guests the full diversity of one of Africa's largest natural ecosystems, (Kruger National Park), and provide amateur photographers with the opportunity to see Africa through their camera lenses and produce great images of Africa’s unique flora and fauna. The only other Kruger National Park alternatives are to stay in very expensive private lodges and be guided around the lodges “concession areas” which are luxurious,and usually only allow coverage within a relatively small area compared to the vastness of the whole of the Kruger National Park.

Our product provides our guests with the opportunity to really experience the length and breadth of Kruger National Park, to interact extensively with local people and enjoy the Park at a price that many guests will be able to afford.

Whilst we are an Australian based tour operator, our aim is to invite guests from other locations globally and hence, our strong interest in working with responsible travel as a channel for attracting guests who are seeking an ethical and responsible tour operator to provide them with a unique and authentic travel experience.

We have an extensive knowledge of the Kruger National Park and provide tailored tour itineraries across several hundred kilometres of game reserve in the Kruger National Park. Our tour operators have an extensive knowledge of the region, its animals, birds and reptiles, as well as its fauna. In addition, our tour guides have a passion for South Africa and the Kruger National Park and have visited and taken groups to the Kruger National Park for over 30 years.

South African Photo Safaris can therefore provide a real insight into the Kruger National Park, its history, landscape and genuine opportunity to interact with the local people. At the Kruger National Park, guests will come into contact with locals far more than other tourists. The parks public rest camps are the preferred accommodation for South Africans and all of the Staff and guides come from nearby villages and towns. As an important part of our induction process, we educate our guests on the traditions and cultures of the local people, respect for the environment, safe practices and environmental considerations.

Economic responsibility – e.g. details of: donations to charities, employing local people, etc

Contributions to the Local Economy
All guides utilized are local and therefore their payment is fed directly back into the local economy. One of our directors , Andre Welthagen, is a local who was born and grew up in Witrivier, a small town located close to the Kruger National Park. Both Andre and his fellow director,Bob Lewy are very supportive of developing the local economy and have undertaken at least 3 trips per year to Kruger in the past 3 years. All the agents that are utilized to enable the tour to operate effectively are also local. This includes accommodation, air travel, vehicle hire, equipment rental and local shops and restaurants. We adhere to relevant labour regulations applying to both local and foreign employees.

All guides used by us for specialist safaris and excursions have appropriate South African National Parks accreditation. They are exceptionally well trained, experts in their field, environmentally sensitive and keen to transfer their knowledge to guests. By working with these local guides, our guests learn extensively about the Kruger National Park directly from people who know the area intimately. Utilizing their services certainly boosts local employment and consequently the local economy. The vast majority of our guides and their families are entirely dependent on their profession as bread winners and we support their activities directly by encouraging local tipping after each safari drive or walk.

It is our intention to contribute 3% of our revenue to relevant community activities. Please ref below.er to further details in this regard under the Financial Aid section.

Accommodation
All accommodation will be in comfortable and traditional bungalows in protected game reserve rest camps. These facilities are run by South African National Parks which is a government owned organization. The accommodation provides an authentic experience whilst also providing a basic level of comfort with some accommodation providing bathroom facilities and kitchenettes. Staying in the local rest camps ensures that the revenue provided directly benefits the local community in South Africa, rather than providing revenue for overseas operators.

In addition, all income from local rest camp restaurants and shops supports the local community, particularly from an employment perspective. This provides income directly to other members of the community not directly employed in the Kruger National Park. We also encourage our guests to purchase a wide range of arts and crafts made locally around the Kruger National Park area – this includes stone and wood carvings, beaded products, weaved products local artwork and locally made candles.

A majority of our meals are taken in modest restaurants located inside the rest camps which offer a range of local food. We will often purchase produce from the local shops in the rest camps, particularly to provide barbeque experiences under the African moon to our guests.

Transport Our transport is rented from a local car rental company based in Nelspruit, approximately 50 kilometers from the Kruger National Park. We also utilize Airlink (owned by South African Airways) to transport our guests from Johannesburg to Nelspruit. On specialist tours, local transport in the form of four wheel drives specialist are utilized by local guides.

Our small group allows us generally to use smaller vehicles that have a minimal impact on fauna and flora. There is absolutely no off-road driving allowed on our safaris. Driving in the Kruger National Park requires both knowledge and experience. Safety is paramount, particularly in an environment where large wild animals have right of way. We have had extensive experience driving in the Kruger National Park which provides us with the necessary skills to provide a safe safari experience for the benefit of our guests..

Financial Aid

South African Photo Safaris donates 3% of revenue to community projects.

Typical projects that we will provide financial assistance in the local area include:
- Donations to help finance building schools and libraries
- Donations for sport equipment, clothing, school books and other school utensils
- Our preferred Charity is South African based and is called SALT. This organisation has a diverse range of projects which we have agreed to support including:
- HIV/AIDS (nutrition)
- Education-Preschool with 100 children
- Skills Development and vulnerable women
- Teens mentorship program through soccer

Environmental responsibility – e.g. details of: recycling, protecting wildlife / national parks, etc

Environmental Awareness
We are passionate about the Kruger National Park and consequently determined to play our role in protecting this unique national game reserve. The guides and local professionals we utilize are highly trained and in all of our experiences, extremely sensitive to environmental considerations. Together with our specialist guides, we provide our guests, who are mainly from western civilizations, with instructions on how to play their part in protecting the environment. This relates particularly to ensuring that rubbish, including plastic bags, are not thrown out of vehicles during safaris.

In Africa, and South Africa is no exception, water is a scarce resource. Indeed the Kruger National Park does not have sufficient water to meet its needs and consequently water is brought into the park through major pipelines. We provide our guests with cards specifically outlining procedures for ensuring that water is not wasted. This includes directions relating to drinking water, showering, use of toilet facilities and use of bedding and towels.

Where possible, we minimize our use of paper products and provide full and comprehensive details of our products and services in electronic form through our website and facebook communications. A number of our activities require that we take food with us in the form of morning and afternoon teas, as well as packed lunches. In these instances, we utilize biodegradable materials or reusable plastic containers.

Each time one enters a vehicle in a national park, there is a potential for causing damage to the environment. We adhere to all local laws in relation to vehicle driving and have a strictly “no off road” policy on our safaris. This is also the policy of the Kruger National Park and is quite strictly monitored by park traffic rangers. We report through an official South African National Park website any vehicles that we observe that are not adhering to the “off road” policy.

On our safari we undertake a number of walking tours and prior to these tours, guests are informed of the fragility of the eco system and, unless given permission by a guide, are required not to physically interfere with the environment and to walk only where instructed to by our guides. Our guests are also made aware of potential dangers of walking treks and are provided with clear direction on how to behave if confronted with a potentially dangerous situation. Our guides are fully accredited and are armed in case of an emergency, though we have never been on a walking tour where the use of arms has been necessary. On walking tours, our guests are advised not to throw away any paper or food products until returning to camp. Smoking is strictly prohibited.

South African Photo Safaris and their guests pay a conservation fee of approximately US$300 for overseas visitors. This fee is used for the ongoing conservation of the flora and fauna in South African National Parks and is utilized for research, rehabilitation and more importantly, to provide the funding for anti poaching units. Appropriately, the conservation fee for overseas visitors is approximately four times that of local residents. We gladly adhere to this policy on the grounds that we are guests in the Kruger National Park and happily pay any fees that support its ongoing sustainability and prosperity.

Social responsibility – e.g. details of: preserving local culture, visits to local projects, etc

Social Awareness
To obtain an objective and fully informed view on political security and safety information guests are advised by us to visit their appropriate Foreign Affairs Department which usually have appropriate websites which focus on political and other related travel and security issues relevant to the country being visited.. In Australia for example, the Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs and Trades provides a comprehensive global website with a coded level of travel safety for each country. This is updated regularly, depending on changes to the risk profiles for each country. We have a sound understanding of the political system, stability and security issues in South Africa, Johannesburg, and particularly in the Kruger National Park. Whilst the Kruger National Park itself is relatively safe, we refrain from driving at night, unless with a specialist tour guide. We do spend one night in Johannesburg and advise our guests to remain within the hotel compound where we stay.

Cultural Sensitivity
Guests are provided with documentation detailing appropriate dress requirements whilst in the Kruger National Park and South Africa, paying particular attention to cultural and religious sensitivities. An orientation meeting is organized prior to the start of any trip and appropriate documentation is also sent to all our guests. The sensitive aspects in relation to dress, communications and behaviors, as well as photographing people are addressed prior to departure in our induction program the night before we go to Kruger National Park.

We teach our guests fundamental communications in the local language, though the majority of locals speak at least some English. We encourage our guests to bring along small gifts such as clothing and school utensils to give to local staff who then take it back to their respective villages. As indicated earlier, we donate 3% of our revenue to local projects. As these projects develop, we will take guests to view progress thereby raising local and cultural awareness. We also make regular visits to appropriate craft ,souvenir and food shops. Their products are produced by local artisans and farmers and this activity raises the cultural and social awareness of our guests.

Health
Africa and South Africa have a number of issues in relation to health and disease prevention., Malaria, Yellow Fever, Cholera Tetanus Typhoid Rabies and Hepatitis are health risks.. We ensure that our guests are fully informed of their obligation to receive the appropriate vaccinations and take the appropriate anti-malarial pills prior to departure. We also strongly advise a visit to their local GP and/or a specialist travel doctor prior to their trip

Photography
South African Photo Safaris aim is to give the amateur photographers training in the art of wildlife photography. We will use a hands on approach to the training with a professional photographer assisting each member of the travel group every step of the way. With assisted photography during the day and short “How To” lessons at night. Members of the group will be able to ask questions during the trip as the professional photographer will be on hand 24/7. The emphasis of the photographic tutorial will be on wildlife in their natural habitat and how to best capture their actions in the wild. Cameras will be provided for those who do not own there own equipment

Conclusion
We have attempted to provide detail on our mission and passion for the Kruger National Park and our desire to share our experiences with guests. We believe that South African Photos Safaris is culturally and environmentally sensitive and that we are well aligned in our aims, objectives and values toward responsible tourism in Southern Africa. We believe that in our small way, we actively contribute economically, socially and environmentally to the country and the local community and that our focus on providing good value enables responsible and interested travellers to experience one of the greatest national parks in South Africa in an authentic way.
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