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Ann & Steve Toon Wildlife Photography

  • 11 Reviews

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Workshops

Uniquely Zimanga: Specialist African Safari Photography image £3650

Uniquely Zimanga: Specialist African Safari Photography

Cutting-edge low level hides, including fabulous nocturnal hides, and exclusive game drives on Zimanga, a game reserve designed specifically for photo...

  • 8 Reviews
Uniquely Chobe: Botswana's river of life image £4850

Uniquely Chobe: Botswana's river of life

Join us on an epic Chobe safari: custom-built photo boats on the river, game drives in the national park, and four nights on an exclusive houseboat.

  • 3 Reviews

Reviews

Average Rating

  • 11 Reviews
Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
John

John Macfarlane – August 17, 2019

August 2019. Husband and wife - John and Rosamund - very keen amateur photographers. Our second trip with Ann and Steve Toon and again it greatly exceeded expectations, for diversity of wildlife photographic opportunities, enjoyment and experiences. They are a terrific team to be with - and good fun! - and they work with the best local agents (who are also focused on providing the best hospitality and photographic opportunities), and very knowledgeable , delightful and excellent guides. The combination of river and bush sessions worked really well. The accommodation, service and food both in the very comfortable and spacious house boat, and on land (the new Pangolin lodge is a real treat) is excellent. Steve and Ann are quietly very efficient and organised and use their wealth of experience in Africa to attend to queries and sort any individual concerns without fuss. They also provide very useful photographic advice at both basic and advanced level. The photo requirements of their guests always comes before their own. All in all, a truly excellent trip. Strongly recommended.

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
Keith

Keith Snell – July 27, 2019

I went on the wonderful Uniquely Chobe tour in 2018 and its description as 'unforgettable' is a massive understatement, certainly a Safari trip of a lifetime comes to mind. The range of wildlife was mesmerising, from leopards and elephants at dusk to African skimmers fishing in the dawn light and a host of iconic species at all points in between. Of course it is one thing to see wildlife and another to photograph it and the immense experience and dedication of Ann and Steve Toon to ensure that our photographic experience was perfection is what makes this tour so incredible. Their constant mantra is that your photography is what comes first. This was helped by the experience of our local guide and the flat-bottomed skiff that is customised for photography and which allowed us to get unbelievably close to the animals and to achieve dramatic low-angle shots. All the accommodation, food and facilities were towards the luxury end of provision. This meant that you were always fully relaxed and comfortable for the day's excitement ahead. The architecturally-quirky Pangolin Hotel is very comfortable and, as well as the spacious rooms, the food was exceptional in quality and variety. But for me the Pangolin Voyager houseboat was the high-point. What an amazing and unique experience it was to be moored on the gentle Chobe river surrounded by the sights and sounds of the African wilderness, and knowing that the wildlife was immediately accessible all around you. And what more could you possibly ask for, after a dawn foray to capture unique wildlife activities with no-one else around, than to return to the boat to freshly baked croissants, pancakes or even a bacon roll conjured up by our amazing on-board cook. If this strikes you as completely idyllic then believe me that is precisely what is was! All that and a wildlife experience to die for and tour guides with the empathy, skill and dedication of Ann and Steve who have been coming here for some twenty years, and at a price which few competitors can match, and you will realise why this is a trip not to be missed. I miss it already!

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
Elaine

Elaine Price – July 17, 2019

We did this package in 2018 and were not disappointed. Ann and Steve run the trip with seamless professionalism while creating a relaxed and informal atmosphere among their small group of guests. The Pangolin Chobe Hotel is quirky and a bit different to other Safari lodges. The rooms are comfortable and very roomy with lots of space for luggage/camera equipment and a large working space for laptops plus plenty of plug sockets for the all important battery chargers! There is a photo editing suite for use by guests if you want to do any serious processing while you are there. The staff at the hotel are very friendly and evenings are a relaxed affair with good food to boot. The hotel had only just opened when we were there but they were working on creating a watering hole for animals. I believe they now regularly see elephants and other animals there which would be amazing to watch from your balcony. The Pangolin Houseboat is just wonderful! The cabins aren’t overly large but are well appointed and comfortable. Again, the crew are terrific and do all they can to make your stay enjoyable but beware, you will put on weight as the food is delicious and abundant!! Now to the safaris. Both on land and on the river, the animals and birds do not disappoint. I had thought we may spend time sitting around waiting for animals to put in an appearance, but this was definitely not the case! The Pangolin guides are so good at finding out where the action is. They are constantly in touch with each other to make sure you get to the best spots quickly. There is always something to watch, from large groups of elephants through to small groups of mongoose with just about everything in between...lions, buffalo, crocodiles, impala, baboons and more, plus too many birds to mention but the fish eagles were in abundance and we were even lucky enough to stumble upon 3 leopards together just before sunset one evening.....the icing on the cake for us! The photo boats on the river are fantastic and allow you to swivel around completely with your camera on or off the gimbals provided so you never miss anything. Ann and Steve are always on hand to give advice and offer suggestions on the best camera settings to use, what angle works best, backgrounds to lookout for etc so even if you are a complete amateur you’ll get photos you’ll be happy with. They ‘share’ themselves among their guests so there is always one of them near you if you need further advice. Overall this is an amazing experience which we would do every year if it was feasible! It’s great value for money too. Ann and Steve are professional photographers who have been travelling to Africa for over 20 years so they know what they are doing and can easily deal with any issues that may arise. I think you’d struggle to get the same trip with seasoned professionals anywhere else for the same price.

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
John

John Riding – July 16, 2019

The 10 days spent with Steve and Ann Tool at Zimanga were wonderful. I have been fortunate enough to visit Southern Africa most years over the last 27 years, and can honestly say that the wildlife experience at Zimanga is rather special. During the days I spent with Steve and Ann at Zimanga we had wonderful close experiences with many animals such as elephant, lion, and cheetah. The close attention of Calvin, our ranger and guide for our time at Zimanga was a super experience as he drove off-road, through bush, and across rivers to ensure that we had the best possible views and photographic opportunities of these wonderful animals. I have taken photographs for most of my life, but I cannot really say that I am a photographer. However the days spent with Steve and Ann, their advice, tips, and guidance, may allow me to say that I am well on my way to being an amateur photographer. There were 6 clients on our trip and we were divided into two groups of three, each group being led by either Steve or Ann. This is a pretty good ration of client to professional photographer, and I certainly benefitted from this opportunity. Steve and Ann are both enthusiastic, ready to offer advice, and, importantly, clearly love what they are doing. The hides are well equipped for photography, and the night hides provide a wonderful experience, complete with small kitchen and bunk beds, and importantly the opportunity to see and photograph animals visiting after dark for their nighttime drink. On our trip, in June 2019, we stayed at Doornhoek Homestead in Zimanga. Doornhoek provides super accommodation and was just perfect on all fronts; comfortable,great food, and wonderful friendly staff. I can truly recommend these trips both for the wildlife experience and the photographic opportunities presented.

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
Steve

Steve Ripley – July 15, 2019

It's 30 years since I last went on safari and in the meantime I have been taking my photography a lot more seriously. I saw Ann & Steve Toon give a presentation at the Northern Photography Exhibition in Cumbria and I was immediately hooked. I persuaded a friend to join me (it didn't take much once he'd seen their pictures) and we went in June 2019 to Zimanga. The trip was brilliant. The photographic opportunities were excellent with Ann, Steve and our fantastic driver/guide, Calvin, working hard to ensure we got great photos in great situations. Zimanga is set up with some excellent hides (two of which have facilities for staying comfortably overnight in) set at ground/water level giving access to superlative views of animals and birds in both daytime and night-time settings. Accommodation was in the beautiful Doornhoek Homestead which is well-appointed and operated by lovely staff serving up great food and hospitality. I enjoyed every minute of my trip to Zimanga and, with some valuable input from Ann and Steve, have been able to take my photography to a new level. If you want great photo opportunities, with expert advice on hand if you need it, then join Ann & Steve Toon - you won't be disappointed.

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
PAUL

PAUL TERRY – July 15, 2019

I have visited Zimanga on 3 occasions since 2016, spending about 40 nights there in total. Charl (the owner) is an accomplished, award-winning photographer and has created a very special venue for wildlife photographers to capture their own amazing photographs. He employed Bence Mate to design a number of hides on the reserve which have become better and better as the animals have become more used to their presence. All of the permanent hides contain tripods and use one-way glass which allows close-up shots of even the shyest mammals. reptiles and birds. My personal favourites are the 2 overnight hides which look out onto semi-circular pools of water to attract the wildlife at any time of the day; the sessions normally last from about 2pm to 10 am the following morning. Charl has installed professional lighting systems which means that, with the correct settings, spectacular images are possible for any photographer, no matter the skill-level. I have personally photographed lions, leopards, elephants, giraffe, buffalo, wildebeest, white rhinoceros, warthog, spotted eagle owls and many other birds of all sizes and colours. So far the honey badgers, servals and aadvarks have eluded me! My second favourite location is probably the Scavenger Hide where I have photographed numerous, vultures, tawny eagles, yellow-billed kites, black-backed jackals, spotted hyenas, warthogs, marabou storks, woolly necked storks, pied crows, yellow billed hornbills etc. The Lagoon Hide is largely a bird hide where I have regularly photographed African Fish Eagles, African Jacanas, Pied Kingfishers, African crakes, Great and Little Egrets, Sacred and Haderas Ibis and Black Winged Stilts. I was also fortunate to photograph large crocodiles at close range during an evening session. The other hides are mainly bird hides, although mammals do sometimes make use of the available water, where all manner of small birds can be photographed including white-fronted bee-eaters. The safari drives are also led by expert, friendly guides, who are also experienced photographers themselves. In addition to the animals I've seen at the overnight hides, I've regularly seen cheetah, zebra, various antelopes and black rhinoceros. The accommodation and catering is of a high standard and allows the whole group to stay together whilst not out on safari or in the hides. Ann and Steve Toon are excellent hosts in every way. I have been on numerous safaris with a host that often seems to prioritise capturing their own photographs over assisting their guests; Ann and Steve could not be more different. They do take photographs themselves but only when they are fully satisfied that their guests are in a position to capture their best photographs; this includes advising on camera settings and sorting out any technical issues. They are very professional, friendly and patient and try their best to ensure that every guest obtains the maximum satisfaction from the trip. They have extensive knowledge of safaris/locations in Africa, which they are very willing to share and are very experienced photographers, which enables them to give advice/tuition to guests, regardless of the make of camera being used or the skill level the guests are at. I definitely intend to travel with them again and would advise anyone considering going on a photographic safari to do so also.

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
Rod

Rod Collier – July 14, 2019

I chose to go on this tour because of the beautiful photos I had seen by Ann and Steve and I was thoroughly thrilled with the opportunities we had to get some lovely photos of our own. I have now been on some 10 photo tours and would rate this as the best lead tour of them all. I have found many tours get you to the area and then you are on your own, not this tour. Steve and Ann's knowledge of the animals behaviour helped you get ready for action. When you combine this with the excellent guide (also a great photographer) we had, who would go to great lengths to ensure the vehicle was positioned for the best possible shooting angle and light, you had every opportunity to get great photos. Also, Ann and Steve spent considerable time helping anyone that wanted advice, but equally left people to their own if that is what they wanted. One of the main attractions of Zimanga is the photo hides, these are not little wooden huts out in the bush but very well constructed and comfortable hides ideally positioned for great photo opportunities. Add to this good accommodation, with elephants coming to the swimming pool for a drink, and great food it made for a top rate tour.

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
Malcolm

Malcolm Blackburn – July 14, 2019

I have now done three visits to Zimanga with Steve and Ann Toon. The first was a short visit after time spent in Botswana with them. The time at Zimanaga was really good value with a relatively small number of hides, compared with the greatly increased availability of day and night hides in our recent trip. Like all hides, there is an element of luck in particular animals and birds arriving when you are there, but my wife and I have an amazing collection of high quality images. The second time I went, I stayed in the newly built Doornhoek Homestead and found it comfortable, more convenient than a local hotel and with fantastic food. This year my wife and I enjoyed our time in the Homestead, which is used for groups rather than individual guests. Ann and Steve are dedicated to making the trips, instructive, productive and enjoyable. They and the guide/driver have a knack in getting you to the right place for excellent photography. This is all done in a relaxed and professional style. The only snag is having to be dressed with equipment ready at 05:45 but that gets you to the right place in time for the Golden Light. The gain is that the middle of the day is free to relax and download images, before setting off for sunset and evening golden light shots. If you want to enjoy your first wildlife safari, then look at the Toons first and you will not regret it.

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
Richard

Richard Tadman – July 14, 2019

I've been fortunate enough to photograph wildlife in many unique locations across the world, but Zimanga is in a league of it's own. Not only is it teeming with a vast variety of African wildlife from the largest mammals to the smallest birds but boasts first class facilities and superbly equipped hides together with very close access to some of the world's most iconic animals. The tuition and knowledge of the guides is exceptional and the comfort of the facilities and quality of the food and accommodation could not be better. On both occasions I have been with Ann and Steve whose unique knowledge of this area and familiarity with Zimanga enables them to provide an unparalleled experience, ensuring that guests are always in the optimum locations for shooting images with maximum impact and helping photographers at every level, from beginners to accomplished practitioners and always in a manner that is warm and friendly and suitable to each individual's level of skill. This ensures that your safari will produce a truly memorable experience and more importantly images that will delight you. This facility is not open to the public and so guests are able to enjoy the undisturbed privacy of this unique game reserve. Highly recommended.

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
Carol

Carol Spencer – July 14, 2019

We travelled with Steve and Ann in June 2018 to Zimanga. We are enthusiastic amateur photographers who were keen to improve out photography and loved it. We learnt a lot, others in the group were more experienced and the group worked well, Steve and Ann are great hosts, very helpful with advice when wanted. We stayed in Doornhoek, the accommodation was comfortable and it felt like home from home.

The food was good and the staff helpful and friendly. Craig the ranger was great found us wonderful sightings when on the drives and was able to position the vehicle for great shots. We were privileged to actually be able to get out of the vehicle with a cheetah and get great pictures of her walking along, a very special moment. The elephants were very relaxed and came right up to the vehicle, the baby was happy to leave the protection of its mothers which is unusual and so were able to get good pictures.

We also had great pictures of lions. We got out of the vehicle at the dam and we’re able to take hippo shots from the shore at sunset. There was never more than us at a sighting. The hides were good, our favourites were the lagoon hide and Scavenger hides. They are spectacular and amazing how close you get especially to the birds. I managed to achieve a picture of a kingfisher in flight,a long time aim.

The Scavenger hide is very busy and it would be difficult to leave without some great pictures.We were unlucky at the night hides, but having done much travelling in Southern Africa realise this is all part of safaris.The night hides are well equipped and comfortable. It was so good we plan to return next year with Ann and Steve.

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money
Wendy

Wendy Conway – July 14, 2019

Simply the best! Our experience at Zimanga with Ann and Steve was excellent. They are the go-to team for any photographic trip to South Africa and coupling their expertise with the facilities at Zimanga makes for a very special combination. Ann and Steve are an unbeatable team with a laid back management style but totally professional in every way. Their passion for, and their knowledge of, wildlife behaviour is unbeatable and both have a natural teaching ability that enables photographers of all levels of experience to maximise their potential. Don’t hesitate to book this trip with Steve and Ann!

Yes, I do recommend this workshop

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money