Steve Stockhall has spent most of his life exploring southern Africa. He is an incredibly gifted photographer and has two amazing books to his name. He lives what many of us would consider a dream lifestyle. Read on below to hear about the life of a true African insider in his own words:
You can see some of Steves pictures here:
Please tell us about yourself; background, where you’re from, what you do, how did you end up where you are etc.?
I was born in Zimbabwe and schooled in Cape Town. I spent 2 years in UK and 4 years in Australia but really wanted to work in the African bush. I came to Botswana 15 years ago and work as a specialist photographic guide teaching people about wildlife through their cameras. I believe the medium of photography is an important one for raising awareness for conservation. Outside of guiding, I do photographic assignments, contribute to Discover Botswana and Air Botswana’s in-flight magazine. I also guide film crews doing documentaries. This year I am guiding two film crews – one doing a documentary on the African Wild Dog and the other a documentary on David Livingstone.
In November last year we launched Cameras for Conservation – an initiative that hosts Botswana’s Wildlife Photographer of the year competition. These images are then used to do talks in schools in northern Botswana to raise awareness amongst the younger generations in Botswana. I have also lived in Mozambique for two years and Namibia for a year and am the author of two books – Earth|Ark – a photographic safari through northern Botswana and– Wildlife Photography in Botswana – a practical guide – co-author with James Gifford.
What do you spend your days doing?
In between spending around 6 months in the bush I write articles and work on images. See above.
What do you love most about what you do?
I am one of a few privileged individuals that lead a lifestyle like this. For this I feel a great sense of responsibility toward saving what is left here in Africa. I believe in the utmost importance of preservation not only for mankind but for the sake of all the amazing species that we share planet Earth with.
Can you run us through your ideal day?
Up at 5am usually, coffee around the fire while the stars are still out. Most days we are out all day photographing and observing. In all my time in the bush, I still see new things each and every day. We usually get back to camp after dark and sit around the evening fire going through the day.
Can you share your favourite inside travel tips for us?
Travel with an open mind and an open heart. The people of Africa have an infectious friendliness and a smile and a greeting will get you places. A far as destinations go – I love that I live in the highest concentration of Elephants on Earth. Spending any amount of time with them is humbling. Second to that, one of my favourite destinations is Makgadikadi Pans. This is the largest salt pan system in the world – the size of Switzerland. When you go out there, there is a nothingness that leaves one alone to think and dream.
What do you love about where you live and can you share some of your favourite tips about it?
I live in Maun, Botswana. It is the gateway to the Okavango, Chobe and Kalahari. These are some of the largest and best preserved eco-systems in Southern Africa. Again, a huge privilege!
City, Beach or Safari? Which do you prefer and why?
Cities you may keep. I used to dive in Australia and did lots of snorkelling in Mozambique. The sea is rich with life. My ideal would be a sea and land combo. I recently did a safari to the Skeleton coast in Angola. It was a raw and dramatic experience.
One place in Africa you have never been but would love to go and why?
I would say the Niassa Game Reserve in northern Mozambique. Few travel there. I hitched across the Niassa Province a few years ago but not to the reserve. But I got a feel for the landscape and vow to go back. There are free standing mountains called Inselbergs – each an individual. There are some of Africa’s last big tuskers (bull Elephants) out there and I would love to see them dwarfed by these amazing mountains. The Niassa is one of Africa’s biggest parks and has a viable population of Lion and African Wild Dogs.
Do you have any favourite spots to have a meal, to watch the sun go down, go for a stroll, go to sleep and why?
The sunsets in the Okavango Delta are truly amazing. Dust and dreams washed down with a cold beer!
What advice would you give someone looking to explore Africa?
Invest in good camera equipment. For many it is a lifelong dream to visit Africa and so recording the journey is important to me. And sharing with folk back home means that each individual will inspire others to do the same. Be a traveller not a tourist and have fun.
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes, do it. We have but one life!
Find out more about Steves new initiative at: http://www.camerasforconservation.com