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Sehlabathebe National Park


  • Sehlabethebe National Park, Lesotho (map)
 The Devil's Knuckles, Sehlabathebe National Park, Lesotho.

The Devil's Knuckles, Sehlabathebe National Park, Lesotho.

Trip at a Glance

  • Duration – 4 nights / 5 days
  • Location – Sehlabathebe National Park, Lesotho
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Start/Finishes – Sehlabathebe NP
  • Lodging – Private Chalet
  • Meals – Self Catering

 

Trip Highlights

  • Spend five days developing your photography skills in the company of photographer Western King.
  • Dusk and dawn photography at one of Lesotho’s most spectacular photography destinations.
  • Private accommodation with en-suite facilities at the rustic Sehlabathebe  National Park Lodge.
  • Tutorials and critique sessions with individual feedback.
  • Workshop limited to 6 participants.

PRICE

  • Photographers – R 7,210 pp
  • Non-Photographic Partners – R 3,110 pp   ( limited to 1 per participant )
 

A cloudburst over the Sehlabathebe National Park, Lesotho.

Description

Our base at the Sehlabathebe Lodge is the best location from which to explore and photograph the Sehlabathebe National Park. Its proximity to the foothills of the famous Devils Knuckles and the nearby tarns make it unsurpassed as a venue from which to explore and photograph the region. During the spring and autumn months, a 5.00 am start is required to catch the rising sun. Waking early allows enough time for an unhurried approach to the morning’s photography. We will return to the lodge for breakfast at around 10.00 am.

After breakfast, Western will conduct group tutorial sessions as well as provide an opportunity for an open critique of participant’s photos. Lunch will be followed by a few hours of private time before a 3.30 pm departure for a new location and sunset photography, returning for dinner at around 7.00 pm. Western will be available throughout the day to answer ad-hoc questions and to provide guidance.

Difficulty Grading: Moderate

All the photography locations used in this workshop are situated in the northern reaches of the Sehlabathebe National Park. Getting to these locations requires ascending to a plateau via a poorly maintained footpath. The plateau lies approximately 1.5 km east and 200 m above the parking area.

Once on top, the individual photography sites are reached by traversing open grasslands and this can make walking moderately strenuous. In addition, the entire reserve is located at an altitude of 2,400 m above sea level. At these elevations, walking of any description can leave one breathless.

It is essential that all workshop participants have moderate walking fitness and are comfortable covering typical mountain terrain.

 Basotho Horses take a drink near Jonathan's Lodge, Sehlabathebe National Park.

Basotho Horses take a drink near Jonathan's Lodge, Sehlabathebe National Park.

Trip Itinerary

Below is a representative itinerary, one that will undoubtedly change to take advantage of the prevailing environmental and weather conditions.

General Description

The overarching approach for each day is to find and photograph a new location with every sunrise and sunset. However, almost all photography at Sehlabathebe requires first driving to the parking area and then ascending to the plateau. In the morning, this journey is undertaken in the predawn darkness making the period unsuitable for scouting.

Instead, to ensure that the time spent in the National Park is as productive as possible, days begin by photographing sunrise from an already established position. Immediately following daybreak, time is taken to look for a new location and composition for the following morning’s effort.

Sunset photography, by contrast, is a significantly more relaxed affair, with ample time available to both locate and photograph a new location each day.

Day 1 – Meet at Sehlabathebe National Park

Western will meet participants at the Sehlabathebe National Park Lodge from 2.00 pm onwards. To accommodate those participants who are travelling great distances to reach the reserve, there is no set meeting time on the first day. 

At 4.00 pm those participants who have assembled at the Lodge are encouraged to join Western for sundowners at the nearby viewpoint. You can expect to return to the lodge at 6.00 pm.

For dinner, Western will light a fire and host a braai (barbeque). All participants are encouraged to partake on a bring-and-share basis. During dinner, details of the following day's photography will be discussed.

 A close-up of the Devil's Knuckles from the upper tarns.

A close-up of the Devil's Knuckles from the upper tarns.

Day 2 – Scouting

The environmental conditions in the Sehlabathebe National Park are changeable, with the river and tarn levels fluctuating wildly throughout the year. Other weather phenomena such as snow and ice are also possible during the winter months, and these also have a significant impact on where the best photos are to be found.

To familiarise ourselves with the current state of the venue, the first half of Day 2 is dedicated to scouting. At 8.00 am we will depart from the lodge, drive to the parking area and, from there, embark on a 5 km circular walk that takes in all the primary photography locations including Sehlabathebe’s famous rock arch. Along with general familiarity, the goal of the excursion will be to discuss and identify the best location for sunrise the following morning. You can expect to return to the lodge at 12.30 pm. 

The period following lunch will be private time during which participants are free to explore the greater Sehlabathebe area unguided. At 4.00 pm we will set out for the central ridge line where interesting rock formations and the remains of ancient Basotho dwellings will provide the foreground subject matter for sunset photos. You can expect to return to the lodge at 7.00 pm.

Day 3 – Main Tarns

As with the previous day, we will begin with a 5.00 am start and proceed back to the plateau to photograph the lower main tarns. We will return to the lodge for breakfast at around 8.00 am.

Between 10.00 am to 12.30 pm, Western will conduct a tutorial and critique session. The aim is to take a step by step walk through the digital developing process using the best image captured by each client. Every participant will have an opportunity to see how their image might be developed using Adobe Lightroom and, to a lesser degree, Adobe Photoshop.

The period following the tutorial session will be private time before a 4.00 pm departure for the Tarn Cave area. This region features views of the Drakensberg heading north as well as off the escarpment back into South Africa. You can expect to return to the lodge at 7.00 pm

Day 4 – Tsoelikane Falls

Following the usual 5.00 am start, we will proceed back to the plateau and on up to the highest northern tarns. The area affords close-up views of the spectacular Devil’s Knuckles. We will return to the lodge for breakfast at around 8.00 am.

Between 10.00 am to 12.30 pm, Western will once more conduct a tutorial and critique session. Every client will have an opportunity to see how their new images might be developed.

The period following the tutorial session will be private time, however, guests have the option to join Western at 13h30 for a hike to the nearby Tsoelikane Falls. The falls are located 4 km from the parking area in the particularly remote southern reaches of the reserve. The walk takes approximately one hour in each direction and will give participants a real sense of just how isolated Sehlabathebe is.

The hiking party will meet up again with those who chose not to join at 4.30 pm at the parking area. From there we will set out for our final sunset shoot. You can expect to return to the lodge at 7.00 pm. 

Day 5 – Final Sunrise

The final day offers one last opportunity to shoot the sunrise. The start will be at the usual 5.00 am. There is no set destination for the final morning, rather it is an opportunity to make the most of the best location from the tour and to have a second go at getting the perfect image. You can expect to return to the lodge at 9.00 am and to depart for home at 10.00 am.

NON-PHOTOGRAPHIC PARTNERS

Non-photographic partners are allowed but kept to a maximum of one per photographic client. The fee for the non-photographic partner is R3,110. Non-photographic partners are allowed to join photo sessions, but will not receive photographic instruction.

How to Book

We accept bookings online, by email and by phone. Before booking, it is important that you read the relevant Trip Brochure and our Terms and Conditions. If you have any doubt regarding your suitability for a tip, please contact us.

To book online, simply click the Book Now button below and complete online booking form. We will provisionally confirm your reservation with an email response that includes a copy of the trip brochure, booking form (for signatures), T&Cs and an invoice for payment. We accept payment by Visa, MasterCard or electronic funds transfer (EFT) and use PayFast as a payment processing service. A signed booking form and a deposit of 50% is required to secure your reservation. If you are booking less than 56 days before the commencement of the workshop, full payment is required.

Earlier Event: April 13
Drakensberg Amphitheatre
Later Event: May 24
Eastern Cape Wild Coast