Event description

This event goes beyond the normal safari where you take pictures of wildlife from the safety and distance of a remote vehicle. Our program brings you one-on-one daily with lion and cheetah cubs, juveniles and adults by combining our usual photo workshop event with an immersive volunteer program.

You are not just working with world class photographers and creating publishable content you can’t produce anywhere else in the world; you’re also providing a much needed volunteer service with the lions and doing something you can truly feel good about.


The Ukutula is a private reserve and research facility dedicated to Lion research and protecting the species. They have a strict “no cruelty” and “no hunting” policy, working with local and international universities to help strengthen and document the Lion’s genetic DNA through selective breeding with facilities and zoos from around the world.  At the appropriate age, juveniles are released in the protected wild areas owned by Ukutula and partners for a safe and protected wild adult life, free from fear of sport hunters!

The lodge area is in an enclosed and safe area in the middle of a 640 acre wild bush reserve with wild roaming wildlife including Antelope, Spring Box, Zebra, and Giraffe’s, approximately 2 hours outside of Johannesburg, South Africa.

You will work directly with trainers each day in smaller groups (you decide how much time you want to volunteer) in a rotating schedule.

Activities include bottle feeding the baby lions and cheetahs, playing with the baby lions and cheetahs, care of the older juvenile and adult lions and cheetahs, preparing food and other daily tasks.  You’ll get extensive interaction and play time with these kings of the jungle!  Did you know the Lion is the only cat that can’t purr?…Learn interesting facts from the trainers and more about the survival issues lions are facing direct from the trainers.  Hold cubs in your hands and bottle feed them before they fall asleep in your arms.  Play with the juveniles and see how they learn survival skills through daily play.  Walk along side adults and explore the wild African bush.  At night, you will hear wild lions in the bush as their roars travel miles!  See the unspoiled night sky and millions of stars above as you sit around the evening campfire retelling your adventures of the day.

Upon arrival and the initial orientation and meet & greet with this limited group of 15, you will meet with each photographer to discuss your goals for your shoots.  Models will plan your dedicated shoots, select outfits and discuss how and where the finished pictures will be used directly with each photographer.

Attending photographers will receive one-on-one coaching from our expert staff photographers throughout the trip and be invited to shadow and/or assist on their shoots to study their style and technique.  In addition to the usual glamour and model shoots in and around the property, you will have opportunities to capture amazing wildlife and landscape photo’s not available anywhere else in the world!

Attendees’ free time will be spent in well-appointed lodges, or around the well-maintained property.  There is ample time to lounge by the private in-ground pool working on your tan or just reading a book.  Multiple off-site excursions are available for guests, and all options will be explained to the group and then booked onsite.  Options include elephant and monkey reserves, private zoos, local shopping zones and villages, lush oasis waterparks and luxury casino, and more.

The entire event will include BTS, group and candid shots to properly document your entire experience.



  • -Camera
  • -Extra memory cards and external storage device
  • -Standard Selection of Lenses with a recommendation for at least 1 telephoto lens for safari trips and capturing distant wildlife
  • -Standard lighting pack consisting of reflector, powered light(s), remote trigger and a battery pack.
  • -Tripod/lightstand
  • -Backpack or easily carried equipment case


  • -Safari themed wear for at least 1 shoot
  • -Bikini and/or lingerie, depending on the type of shooting you are looking for
  • -Any additional luxury, evening, or fashion outfits for shooting against the contrasting African Bush
  • -Personal Hair, make-up and styling products

All Guests:

  • -Comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting a little dusty or dirty, after all, you’re on a Safari!
  • -Long pants and plain shirt (no fringe or mesh)…the lion cubs like to play and their paws and teeth will get caught on loose hanging items
  • -Comfortable closed toe shoes for when working with the animals and walking on the property
  • -Binoculars
  • -Light jacket as it can get chilly at night
  • -Suntan lotion
  • -Bug Spray
  • -Power Converter:  South Africa is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ.
    *Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins. If an adaptor is called for, consider bringing one with you, although they can be purchased locally.
    *US-made appliances may need a transformer.
  • -Personal Point-and-shoot camera or GoPro to document your personal experience
  • -Bathing suit (there is a private pool for guests!)
  • -A back-pack for daily excursions


  • -Roundtrip transfers from Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport (JNB) to the Lodge
  • -Shared Occupancy lodging
  • -3 Professionally prepared meals each day in the main dining lodge (usually by a European chef!)
  • -Drinks
  • -Wifi on property
  • -1 dedicated personal shoot with each staff photographer, 5 edited photos from each shoot
  • -1 dedicated animal based shoot with each staff photographer, 5 edited photos from each shoot
  • -Opportunity to book additional looks or edits onsite direct with each photographer)
  • -Behind The Scenes (BTS) picture and video package of your experiences with the animals as well as the entire group trip
  • -1 offsite group excursion

VIP Experience

  • -1 extra shoot per photographer, your choice of focus.
  • -Single Occupancy lodging
  • -Welcome bottle of champagne and fruit tray
  • -Your choice of bottle of liquor and mixers for your room
  • -Luxury bath linens and pool towel
  • -Luxury bath products package including shampoo, soap, conditioner, lotion, bug spray and suntan lotion and tanning oils.


Black Tape Experience Add-on

Joel London, the founder of The BlackTape Project, will work with you in the evening and will create a unique and custom design on your body through his use of electric tapes.  Your design will be inspired by the local surroundings, and then he will perform a photoshoot in his style to properly document and showcase the finished product.  As an artist, each taping experience is unique and based on what is inspiring him through your body, personality and surroundings.  Examples of his work can be seen at www.blacktapeproject.com.


You will be flying into Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa (JNB).  After clearing customs, you will be met by our staff and transported to the Ukutula Reserve

A valid passport is required for all international travelers!

Visas: US Citizens do not need a Visa.  All other nationalities should consult the South African Consular page for specifics (http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/homeaffairs/visitorsvisa.htm)

Vaccinations: Standard international travel vaccinations are required.  This is a low risk zone for Malaria and is not a concern.  Please see the recommended list at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/south-africa

Share with: