Photo blog of a gap year safari guide

5th December 2014   •  By Ulrica Vilen-Letts

Ulrica Vilen-Letts shares her second photo blog from her gap year in southern Africa during her studies as a professional safari guide. Whilst there Ulrica studied at four camps, Selati, Karongwe, Mashatu and Makuleke.

Related posts – Memories from an African gap year

Elephant at sunset

We only had a short time at Mashatu, but it was packed with amazing sightings of elephants and amazing fairy-tale like places. This photo was taken on the way to sundowners at the biggest baobab I have ever seen. The sun was beginning to set and we were driving and laughing our way through the bush, when we startled this elephant. The elephant continued to walk across the open land and across the road.

Elephant as the sun goes down in Mashatu

© Ulrica Vilen-Letts

I’m not at all bothered

Although this image is a bit dark and blurry, I just love it because of the body language and expression of the chacma baboon, they’re so similar to us humans and I think this image conveys this very well.

Chacma baboon at Makuleke

© Ulrica Vilen-Letts

The mud boys of Africa

Daggaboy translates literally to mud boy. This is a nickname given to old buffalo bulls as they spend most of their time soaking in muddy wallows. They do so to soothe their cuts and bruises which they have picked up along the way. I didn’t always believe in the nickname until we found this skull on a bushwalk next to a muddy wallow, where the daggaboy took his last steps.

Buffalo bull skull Makuleke

© Ulrica Vilen-Letts


Sunset on the Limpopo

After Graduation it was time for celebrating so we took picnics, cricket and drinks to the Limpopo. What an incredible day, topped with an awesome sunset! I can now say that I have swam in the Limpopo River and what an experience it was.

Sunsetting over the Limpopo River

© Ulrica Vilen-Letts

Zebra amongst the grass

Being a huge fan of horses, I fell in love with the zebra. Such gracious and elegant animals until they turn tail and gallop gassing along the way. Mostly throughout my year in South Africa this was all zebras did every time they saw a vehicle, so I never really got the opportunity to take some shots of them. This picture was taken during one of my experiences when they didn’t.

Zebra in the tall grass at Makuleke

© Ulrica Vilen-Letts

Hey I was eating

My family came down for my graduation having never been to Africa. James Bailey led their first walk where we dipped in and out of the fever tree forest. As if this place wasn’t magical enough we bumped into a young elephant who was grazing quite happily. He flapped his ears a few times and trotted off, great first elephant sighting for my family and another great sighting for me.

Elephant on a walking safari at Makuleke

© Ulrica Vilen-Letts

I said I wasn’t a keen birder

I was never really a keen birder. However, there were a few species that I liked to attempt to photograph. Unfortunately I don’t have a professional camera or lens so it’s very difficult to try and capture birds but here is one of my attempts. I know it’s a bee-eater, but I’m not sure which one [white-fronted bee-eater]…I said I wasn’t a keen birder.

White-fronted bee-eater

© Ulrica Vilen-Letts

Get involved

Interested in doing a safari course yourself? Then visit the Courses and Events page where there are many to choose from. Courses range in length from one week to the eleven month professional safari guide course which Ulrica completed.