tailored safari specialists

Art safari with Alison Nicholls – Timbavati 2023

Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa

from ZAR 60,150 / US$ 3,295 per person sharing

Art safari

Big 5

Classic Safari

Art safari with Alison Nicholls – Timbavati 2023

E-mail    +27 (87) 551-8105 (RSA)   |   +44 (23) 9387-7464 (UK)   |   +1 (786) 655-4040 (US)

Indication Price (from): ZAR 60,150 / US$ 3,295 per person sharing *view all prices and dates

Length: 7 days

Group Size: 5 + Alison Nicholls (Guide). 6 in Total

Location: Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa

Departure Dates: 7 - 13 September 2023


Final prices vary, subject to factors such as exchange rates, time of year and availability. Contact us to fine-tune these prices and to tailor-make your dream safari.


Our fee for compiling your dream safari is included in the price that you pay.

Join professional wildlife artist Alison Nicholls on this art safari in the highly-acclaimed Big 5 Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in Greater Kruger. The reserve shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park, and the wildlife roams freely.

Read this post and watch this video explaining what an art safari is all about, and this video to understand Alison’s approach to art.

Wildlife viewing is excellent and Timbavati boasts regular sightings of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo) and other species such as zebra, hippo and giraffe, and predators such as cheetah, hyena and African wild dogs, which are regular visitors to the property.

Morning and afternoon game-viewing activities will be vehicle-based, making use of a private open vehicle with a ranger. No other camp guests will share the drives, allowing our art group to remain at sightings for as long as they wish to – for sketching purposes.

Alison Nicholls, a professional wildlife artist, will share with you her art techniques and teach you how to create your own wildlife field sketches. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned artist, Alison will help you improve by offering advice during game drives and workshops back at the lodge. This safari allows you to experience the African bush in a new way, learning creative skills in a beautiful and relaxed environment. Alison has been guiding art safaris for Africa Geographic clients for many years, and each year her trips sell out.

Africa Geographic client Linda McClue enjoyed this safari in August 2019, and had this to say:

AG’s art safari with Alison Nicholls was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had! I grew so much as an artist and learned so much about art and African animals and birds. I really appreciated Alison’s approach to teaching art. She is very knowledgeable about the animals, birds and plants in South Africa. She was able to easily identify the areas where my sketching needed to improve. She had quick tricks and skills that made my ability to sketch moving animals much better. This is something I have never been good at. I got much better at visualizing an animal in different positions because of her extensive knowledge of anatomy. I also worked on spending less time on details and working on whole animals, which improved my proportions and overall sketching. I filled pages and pages of my sketchbook.

During the workshop time, we worked on new watercolour techniques. Alison has endless patience with all different skill levels, and we all produced some wonderful art.

The best part of the five days was the friendships and the experiences with the animals that you can’t get anywhere else but on safari in Africa! Now, if we had just seen that African wild dog! I guess I’ll just have to come back.

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Day 1: Arrival in Hoedspruit, transfer to lodge

Arrive at Eastgate Airport (Hoedspruit) where you will meet your guide Alison Nicholls and the other members of your group.

Once everyone has arrived, you will transfer to Kambaku Safari Lodge in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. Once here you will check into your room and acquaint yourself with Kambaku’s layout – your home for the next four nights.

After a light lunch Alison will give a short demonstration, showing how she uses simple shapes to begin her wildlife sketches. With your materials in hand and Alison offering advice, you will embark on your first art safari game drive.

Alison will sit in the middle row of the vehicle on drives, allowing her to easily talk to every guest. The main aim of the art safari is to teach guests to sketch wildlife quickly and confidently, and so most sketching on game drives will be done in pencil, pen and other dry materials – with the aim of completing as many sketches as possible. Watercolour and other materials are more suitable for finishing off your artwork back at the lodge, but may be added during game drives if time allows.

During any of the game drives you will enjoy a plethora of game sightings such as elephant, rhino, buffalo, impala, kudu, zebra, giraffe, steenbok, duiker, mongoose, baboon, vervet monkey and hippo. Leopard and lion, Africa’s biggest cats, prowl the bushveld and their calls can be heard in the night while you are falling asleep. The lions are famous in the Timbavati – this is the home of the legendary white lions – and their prides have been followed for years. Other fantastic predators found here include spotted hyena, black-backed and side-striped jackals, caracal, crocodile, cheetah, serval and African wild dog.

After a stop for sundowner drinks, you will slowly return to camp, keeping an eye out for some of the nocturnal species that will likely start emerging as the shadows lengthen.

At around 19h30 dinner is served and the following day’s art safari plan and sketching activities will be discussed.

Overnight at Kambaku Safari Lodge.

Days 2-6: Three full days of game viewing and sketching

Each full day follows a similar routine, subject to weather conditions, chance encounters and what has been seen so far. Usually your daily routine will run as follows:

05h30: Gather for tea, coffee and a light breakfast;

06h15: Depart on the morning art safari game drive to sketch wildlife, followed by a late brunch at the lodge;

12h00 – 15h00: This time will be spent at camp where guests can choose to sleep, relax by the pool or get creative in an informal art workshop with Alison.

The workshops will feature topics chosen by guests. Some examples of past topics are:

  • Colour – how to use it in your wildlife sketches
  • Sketch to studio – using your wildlife sketches to inspire studio paintings
  • Composition of a wildlife sketch

In addition, Alison will be available to give short individual critique sessions.
15h00: Tea and a light lunch
15h30: Depart on the afternoon art safari game drive
19h30: Return to camp for a hearty dinner and a chat about the next day’s art safari activities.

Overnights at Kambaku Safari Lodge

Day 5: Departure from Kambaku Safari Lodge

On your last day at Kambaku Safari Lodge you will certainly be encouraged not to miss out on the morning drive. After braving the early rise for a final time, you will set out again in search of wildlife. And if lady luck shines down, you may even have the chance to focus your lens on the holy grail of the Timbavati – white lions.

After your last drive and brunch the time to bid farewell to your ranger, tracker and staff at Kambaku Safari Lodge will have arrived. After the simplicity and raw beauty of Kambaku you will leave relaxed, content, fulfilled and brimmed with wonderful memories and sketches from this incredible wilderness in the Greater Kruger.

Your driver will help you load your bags and gear and transfer you back to Eastgate (Hoedspruit) Airport in order to board your flight back to Johannesburg. If you intend to depart from Johannesburg on this day, we recommend that you choose an early evening (18h00) or night departure.
Africa Geographic will gladly arrange any extensions or pre-trip accommodation bookings/program you may need in Johannesburg (or elsewhere in Africa).

If it is your first time on safari, you will understandably want to take a lot of photos before settling down to sketch. This is absolutely fine, but if you want to make the most of Alison’s art tuition, we recommend that you schedule your Art Safari after other safari activities rather than as your first destination.

Alison Nicholls and the Africa Geographic team trust that you will enjoy every minute of your travel adventures with us, and hope that you will return to make more African-inspired memories with us!


Indication Price (from): ZAR 60,150 / US$ 3,295 per person sharing (see below for further pricing where relevant)

Solo Rate: ZAR 62,215 / US$ 3,410

Departure Dates: 7 - 13 September 2023

Please note the above price is ex Hoedspruit. Should you need accommodation before or after the trip, or you would like us to arrange a more extensive safari program on either end, please do not hesitate to contact us. Flights from Cape Town or Johannesburg can be arranged, please enquire with us if you would like us to book yours or need to know what flight you need to book to reach Hoedspruit in time to catch our scheduled transfer.

Price includes:
Meet and greet at Eastgate Airport (Hoedspruit), return transfers from Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport to Kambaku Safari Lodge. Six nights’ accommodation in large double rooms (shared) with en-suite bathrooms. All meals (starting with light lunch on arrival day, and ending with brunch on departure day), a light continental breakfast before the morning drive, brunch, high Tea and dinner. Soft drinks, local beers, local spirits and local wines, coffees and teas. Art tuition by Alison Nicholls throughout the safari, including twice daily game drives in a private vehicle and informal sketching workshops. Access to the gym, unlimited Wi-Fi, laundry. All conservation and entrance fees to access the reserve. 24/7 office support.

Price excludes:
International or domestic flights, or road transfers to reach Hoedspruit. Visas, items of personal nature, premium spirits, wine, or champagnetelephone calls, spa, curio shop purchases, travel and medical insurance. Gratuities. Read this article on tipping while on safari. Excess baggage charges, laundry, or any activities not specified in the itinerary.


Final prices vary, subject to factors such as exchange rates, time of year and availability. Contact us to fine-tune these prices and to tailor-make your dream safari.


The price you see includes all services rendered by us and we only generate revenue once and if you book one of our safaris. Going directly to any of the lodges and other suppliers in our safari packages will not save you money because we earn discounts from suppliers based on the volume of business that we generate for them.

About Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is part of the Greater Kruger ecosystem, which offers a unique and extraordinary wildlife experience. All of the coveted Big 5 can be spotted here – leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino. The 53,400 ha / 534 km² game reserve lies at an altitude of 331-538 m / 1086-1765 ft in South Africa’s ‘lowveld’. It is easily accessible from the small town of Hoedspruit, which is less than 30 km from Timbavati’s main gate and has an airfield that has regular scheduled flights from major cities in South Africa.

The main habitats in the reserve are grassy plains, mixed woodland and riverine forest. During the dry season the vegetation is sparse and wildlife congregates around watering holes, making finding them easier than during the summer months.
In addition to the Big 5, animals that are regularly sighted include giraffe, zebra, warthog, spotted hyena, baboon, hippo, impala, kudu, vervet monkey, waterbuck, wildebeest, bushbaby, mongoose, duiker and steenbok. You might also see wild dog, cheetah, honey badger, porcupine, aardvark, civet, caracal, serval and pangolin. Birds that are regularly seen are vultures, owls, bee-eaters, rollers, eagles, bustards, hornbills, starlings and shrikes.

About the Guide

Alison Nicholls is a professional wildlife artist who lived in Botswana and Zimbabwe for nine years. Sketching wildlife in the bush is an essential part of her work and the inspiration for her larger studio paintings comes from these hours of observation and wildlife sketching.

Alison is a signature member of Artists For Conservation, the Society of Animal Artists, and a member of the Explorers Club and Salmagundi Club in New York City. Her work has been featured in wildlife art magazines in the USA and UK. The US Department of State used her work to promote the “Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking” initiative and her work has been exhibited at the Botswana Mission to the United Nations in Manhattan. Her Conservation Sketching Expedition program allows her to visit African conservation projects, and then use exhibitions to raise awareness and funds for the project on her return to the USA. She lectures about Africa, wildlife and conservation issues in the region and donates a percentage from every sale to support African conservation projects.

You can see more of her work by visiting her website: Art Inspired by Africa. To find out more about Alison’s art and travels, read the following art-related blog posts:

About Kambaku Safari Lodge

Kambaku Safari Lodge is an owner-run lodge that provides a unique personal service and relaxed atmosphere for visitors to kick back and absorb the space, scents, sounds and feelings that only the bush offers. The eight thatched chalets at Kambaku accommodate 16 guests. The layout and design of these rooms makes the lodge ideal for hosting small and intimate group safaris.

The chalets and main lodge all overlook a private waterhole where constant wildlife activity can be observed and enjoyed either from the privacy of your chalet or from the main lodge area. The managers have put their experience and special flair for wilderness cooking to good use, so be prepared for some scrumptious bush cuisine – delicious meals served in relaxed and rustic settings.

Environmental consciousness is a high priority and as such the use of solar power and gas, with only minimal electricity aims at minimising the environmental footprint created by the lodge.

More useful information…

Climate: September is springtime in Kruger. The average minimum temperature (usually recorded at night) is 14.0°C (57.2°F) and the average maximum daytime temperature lies around 31.0°C (87.8°F). September is a dry month with an average of 22mm (0.9in) rain.

Difficulty: This art safari is largely vehicle-based and not strenuous. Walks are optional.

Group size: The art safari has been limited to six artists plus your art guide Alison Nicholls.

Game drives: Game drives will be conducted by one of Kambaku’s professional safari guides, using an open safari vehicle with three rows of comfortable bench seats. As we have a maximum of six guests on the safari, there will be only 2 guests per row, so each guest has an outside seat and space for their materials. One seat will be next to the driver and non-artist participants will be seated here. Alison will sit in the middle row, allowing her to teach and talk to every guest during drives.

The main aim of the art safari is to teach guests to sketch wildlife quickly and confidently, so most sketching on game drives will be done in pencil, pen and other dry materials. You will stop frequently to sketch and Alison will assist you with sketching tips, instruction and advice. Her preferred media is graphite pencil or ink, but if circumstances allow, you will be able to use watercolours as well. You will also stop to look at vegetation, tracks and other interesting things that will enrich your sketches with appropriate detail.

All drives include opportunities to stop and stretch your legs and enjoy refreshments.

Art workshops: Daytime art workshops will feature topics chosen by guests depending on their interests. You will be able to assess your sketches, add colour or more detail, practice sketching some commonly seen species, and learn many tips and techniques from Alison. Some topics which can be covered in detail are:

  • Adding colour to your sketches and how to use colour to show distance, heat, dust, light, shadows, etc.
  • How to use a sketch as the basis for a studio painting.
  • Different ways of creating a field sketchbook – by species, by day, etc.

Booking and payment details: Once you have decided to join one of our safaris, email us or download a booking form, which will include details relating to deposit and final payments etc. Our art safari groups are small – they fill up quickly.

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Simon Espley, Africa Geographic CEO