South Africa through the Eyes of a Photographer

In 2013, Leigh Woods, Project Manager at Youth Time International Movement quit his job and the comfortable lifestyle that came with it in order to pursue his passion. After spending 3 months living and studying on a private game reserve in South Africa’s eastern cape, he spent the following few travelling along the beautiful mountainous shores of the Garden Route before reaching Cape Town.

South Africa is a truly fascinating country in so many aspects but for the photographer it is simply paradise. With bountiful areas of outstanding natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and an enchanting array of wildlife, the nation had plenty to offer.

Initially, I had travelled to South Africa in order to bulk up my portfolio with wildlife photographs. Taking pictures of animals is my prime area of interest and that which I feel more enthusiastic and excited by than any other. However, it wasn’t until I’d left the wildlife reserve that I realized just how breathtaking the landscapes of South Africa’s southern coast were.

I have been fortunate enough to have travelled to many countries but to this day, South Africa remains my favorite. A combination of spectacular scenery, friendly people and fulfilling some of my lifelong ambitions means the country will always have a special place in my heart.

Figure 1: My second day in South Africa was spent on the stunning Shamwari Game Reserve where I was fortunate enough to capture this shot of the huge alpha male lion.

Figure 2: A typical day in the bush during the three months I spent living and studying at Shamwari Game Reserve.

Figure 3: After leaving the wildlife reserve, I spent the night in Port Elizabeth before moving on to Plettenberg Bay.

Figure 4: During my stay in Plettenberg Bay, I visited Robberg Nature Reserve – a World Heritage Site and a national monument steeped in history, with prehistoric rocks and Stone Age artefacts. 

Figure 5: The reserve is also home to a wide variety of wildlife species including dassies, shore birds and Cape fur seals.

Figure 6: Next en route was Jeffrey’s Bay, a small town on the coast and ranked the second best surfing destination in the world.

Figure 7: I then travelled on to Hermanus, perhaps the most beautiful destination throughout the entire Garden Route. The area is famous for southern right whale watching during the southern winter and spring.

Figure 8: During my stay in Hermanus, I booked a day trip to Gaansbai. It was here that I was able to fulfil my lifelong ambition of diving with the notorious great white shark.

Figure 9: I ventured on to Stellenbosch a town situated in the valleys where grapes were planted in the fertile soils during the 1960s. Stellenbosch is now at the centre of the South African wine industry.

Figure 10: My final stop along the Garden Route was Cape Town. The view from the top of Table Mountain was nothing short of spectacular.

Figure 11: The harbors scattered around the city provided some great photo opportunities.

Figure 12: The view of Cape Town from Robben Island, the island where Nelson Mandela was famously incarcerated for 18 of the 27 years of his sentence.

Figure 13: The very cell in which Nelson Mandela spent his years imprisoned on Robben Island before the fall of Apartheid.

Figure 14: A trip to South Africa wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Boulders Beach, an area home to the endangered African Penguin. Enjoy!

Photos: Leigh Woods

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