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About Andy


I am an avid adventurer, conservationist, teacher, and outdoor photographer whose photography celebrates the African landscape and its rich wildlife, people, and culture. My photographic safaris allow my travelers to not only enhance their understanding of photography, lighting, and wildlife, but to develop a life-long admiration for Africa ‘s beauty and culture.

Banana Republic recently used my photographs as the cornerstone of their Urban Safari campaign, and my images were seen in all 750 stores around the globe, as well as in their billboards, catalogs and annual report. I was also the winner of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the ‘Wild Places’ category in 2008 and a highly commended in the ‘Creative Visions of Nature’ category in 2007.

I launched Gura Gear in 2008, in an attempt to deliver lightweight camera bags to the market. I was looking for a lightweight camera bag to hold all of my photographic gear, and there was nothing desirable on the market that suited my needs. After spending 2 years with many prototypes, the Gura Gear Kiboko bag was born. More products are now available on the Gura Gear web site.





Entries in Review (5)


2015 Year in Review

Wow. Another year has passed. Many things changed and many things stayed the same. What stayed the same you ask? Too much travel away from home. I say this every single year, but as a nature photographer and guide there isn’t an easy way to balance income requirements for my family and the travel that’s required to earn it. The only way to travel less is to likely leave the industry that I love so much, but I am not yet ready to make such a move.

Camera Equipment

Just like 2014, 2015 was a year of Phase One medium format equipment, augmented by 35mm camera gear when needed. For example, some trips like my Ultimate Primates safari (where we trek for wild chimpanzees and mountain gorillas) a full frame Canon or Nikon camera and a 70-200mm f/2.8 is all that you need. Nothing else. It’s not that my Phase One gear isn’t appropriate, but rather it isn’t the absolute best tool for the job. Late in 2015 I purchased some Canon 35mm gear from a friend who was selling off his entire system. I picked up a 5Ds camera, 24-70mm f/4, 24mm TSE, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II and a 200-400mm f/4. All I need is a second Canon camera body to round out the system. I did take the Canon to Botswana with me last month, and I compared the files to the Phase One IQ250 (with Sony’s 50mp sensor) and at lower ISO values the files look amazing. I think the Phase One 50mp files are better, like way better at ISO 1600, 3200 and 6400 (perhaps by 1.5 or 2 stops), but at ISO 800 and lower the 5Ds is a killer camera. I may purchase a second one, instead of going with something like a 1Dx or its forthcoming replacement.

Places I visited

I have to go off of memory here, and for a 46-year old man that starts to get challenging. ;-). Let’s see. I guided 5 African safaris (4 listed on my web site and 1 was private) to Tanzania, Botswana, Uganda and Rwanda, a landscape trip to Scotland in the late winter, Moab in Utah for the best 1-2 combination of national parks in the American West (Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park), a wildlife and cultural trip to India and also a trip to the southern Oregon coast in the late summer for some relief from the Texas heat.

Of all of the trips the India trip stood out for me. It was my first trip to India, and we had some amazing wildlife sightings with tigers being at the top of the list. I have now added India to my yearly destination list, and my 2016 trip has already been sold out for a number of months. 2017 is already in the works.

My 2016 Schedule

I am busier than I appear, based on my own travel schedule. Why? I act as a safari consultant / agent for safaris and trips that I don’t personally guide. I get phone calls and emails all of the time, asking for assistance with setting up custom safaris for small groups of people who may not have the budget for one of my published trips or maybe my dates don’t work well for them. I also set up trips for other photographers to guide, and these trips have the Andy Biggs Photo Safaris quality stamp all over them. It is the only way for me to satisfy the demand, stay married and see my kids!

If you are considering going to to any of these places or are thinking of joining me in 2016 or beyond, please contact me and let’s have a dialogue about your needs, wants and desires. I have a tendency to set up trips and tell people about them before they end up on my web site, so often many of my trips are a result of my listening to my customers’ wants and then I set something up and tell them about it. The next thing I know I have a trip that’s mostly filled up before I even get a chance to write anything up for this blog or my main web site.

My Favorite Photos and Memories from 2015 (In Captured Order)


Okavango Delta, Botswana


Lion Pair

Okavango Delta, Botswana


Giraffes and Clouds

Lake Ndutu, Tanzania


Lioness On A Kopje

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania


Incoming Storm

Isle of Skye, Scotland


Water’s Edge

Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebredes, Scotland


Beggar Girl and the Taj Mahal

Agra, India


Jumping Tiger

Bandhavgarh, India


Green Bee-Eater

Bandavgarh, India


Coastal Fog and Sea Stacks

Bandon, Oregon


Contemplating Chimpanzee

Kibale Forest, Uganda


Mother and Child Chimpanzees

Kibale Forest, Uganda


Pre-Trek Dryness and Smiles

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda


Silverback Mountain Gorilla

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda


Silverback Mountain Gorilla

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Post-Trek Wetness and Smiles

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda


Silverback Mountain Gorilla

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda


Imitation Silverback Mountain Gorilla, AKA Francois

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda


Leopard Cub

Okavango Delta, Botswana



Bull Elephant

Okavango Delta, Botswana


A Hunting Pack of Painted Wolves, AKA Wild Dogs

Okavango Delta, Botswana


Drinking Lioness

Okavango Delta, Botswana


Jumping Lion

Okavango Delta, Botswana


Leopard and Cub

Okavango Delta, Botswana


Tswalu Kalahari - My Experiences

At the end of my 2010 Predators of the Sabi Sands safari, I took some time to go and visit a property that I have wanted to visit for quite some time. The property is called Tswalu Kalahari, and is in the Kalahari Desert in the Northern Cape of South Africa. Tswalu is a very large reserve, made up of more than 106,000 hectares, with excellent wildlife for the wildlife photographer and nature lover. Tswalu’s habitat and wildlife are quite amazing: a semi-arid environment of red earth and sand dunes, wide open skies, 230+ species of birds, 90 species of mammals and some of the most breathtaking scenery as a backdrop. Let’s go over some of the mammal species: sable antelope, roan antelope, giraffe, black rhino, Kalahari desert lion (awesome manes!), meerkat, brown hyaena, aardwolf, aardvark, ground squirrel, and tons more to keep one’s attention.

Background and Accommodations

The name Kalahari derives from the Tswana word “Kgala” which means “great thirst”. But the southern Kalahari, where Tswalu is located, is really a “green desert” as the Korannaberg Mountains attract precious rainfall in the summer months. The Kalahari has been the ancestral home of the San people, or Bushmen, for thousands of years. As hunter-gatherers, the Bushmen survived by tracking and hunting wild game with bows and arrow, gathering berries or desert melons and storing scarce water in the blown-out shells of ostrich eggs. The San culture and beliefs are rich and rooted in this land.

Tswalu is located in the southern area of the Kalahari Desert, on the South African side of the border

Historically the area has been both ranch land and hunting land. In 1999 Nicky Oppenheimer purchased Tswalu, extended the amount of land, and began restoring the land back to its original state. Tswalu has two different accommodation options: The Motse and Tarkuni. The Motse is the main location, which means “village” in Tswana, and consists of just eight spacious and secluded suites. Tarkuni is the Oppenheimer’s private home, and can accommodate up to 10 guests. I stayed at The Motse during my visit, and did take the opportunity to visit Tarkuni during some down time. Both are excellent and very comfortable, and I would love to stay at Tarkuni if I bring a handful of travelers with me, due to the more private setting. Regarding The Motse, 2 of their suites have 2 rooms, and myself and one of my guests used one of these rooms during our stay. The 2-bedroom suites have 2 bathrooms and a common area, and would work well for a small family of 2 to 4 people. It should be said that Tswalu is a member of the Relais & Châteaux collection of worldwide properties, which means you know you will receive excellent service, dining and accommodations. Tswalu has their own private airplane, a Pilatus PC-12, which only takes about 90 minutes of flight time to get to and from Johannesburg, and they also have service in and out of Capetown. There are other planes available, depending on need and availability.

The lounge are at Motse

Wildlife Wildlife Wildlife

Well, I am an African wildlife photographer, and I am driven primarily by photography than anything else. Tswalu’s wildlife is not what I would call a ‘big five’ experience, and is more appropriate for people who have been on safari before or who would like to experience species that are not easily seen in other places. I went to Tswalu to photograph meerkats, desert adapted Kalahari lions, black rhino and sable antelope. I did come away with wonderful images and experiences with all of these species, as well as with some other things that I did not expect. Here are just some wildlife experiences we encountered:

  • A crash of 5 white rhinos running a few feet from the side of the vehicle (was difficult to photograph, for sure).
  • Mating Kalahari desert adapted lions, and the male had a huge dark mane that is the most magnificent of any male I have ever seen.
  • Tracking black rhino and finding both mother and young calf together, only 10 meters from us.
  • Numerous visits to meerkat mobs (yes, they are called ‘mobs’ or ‘gangs’) to photograph them from many different angles and lighting situations.
  • Numerous sightings of both sable and roan antelope.
  • Dozens of bird species, and I especially am fond of all of the weaver species on the reserve.


Big Boy, my nickname for one of their magnificent Kalahari desert adapted male lions


Meerkat sunning himself in the morning light


Additional Information and Wrap-up

I visited in mid November, and based on what I know about the area I should plan on coming back during some of the warm(er) months. I am not sure that I will visit during the wintertime, as would like to have the big, puffy clouds on the horizon to contrast the red sand on the ground, and that needs to happen when the days are warm.

My experience at Tswalu was extraordinary, and one of the best combinations of service, dining, accommodations, wildlife and overall experience that I have ever experienced in Africa. This says quite a bit about how I feel about Tswalu, and how much I desire to return in future years.


Sunset over the Kalahari Desert, Tswalu


Setting up for dinner-under-the-stars in the Boma


A crash of five white rhinos, who took a few seconds to stop while I took a photograph. We drove next to them for a few minutes, watching them run parallel to our vehicle. What a blast.


Yawning lioness in the late afternoon light


Meerkats, all sunning themselves in the morning light


2009 in Review, and a look at 2010

As I look back at 2009, I realize that it was a jam-packed year with tons of different types of activities. Here some of the high points:

  • I spent 11 weeks out on safari, splitting my time between Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana. 11 weeks is a significant amount of time to spend away from home, however I did come home with amazing photographs and memories.
  • Hiking and photographing with wild chimpanzees in Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park. Wow. Talk about a fun trip! Mahale Mountains is an extremely remote area of Tanzania, and borders Lake Tanganyika. Lake Tanganyika is the second largest fresh water lake in the world, and borders many different countries. Photographing wild chimpanzees is an experience that I will never forgot, however I am working on returning again in the next few years.
  • John Paul Caponigro and I co-led a trip to Namibia, and it was my first time to visit the Skeleton Coast National Park. Although I had been to Namibia before, it was my first time to visit this very unique park. I also ran another trip in Namibia that same month to some other locations.
  • I had excellent African wild dog sightings in Botswana in July, and witnessing 13 pups was a wonderful experience. I also came home with photos that I am happy with.
  • Michael Clark and I teamed up for a workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico and combined field shooting at the Hot Air Balloon Fiest with indoor lectures on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and fine art digital printing (we are doing another one in October, 2010).
  • I continued my consulting work for Moab by Legion Paper, and had some lectures at places like B&H were I met new friends.
  • Gura Gear really took off in 2009, and we are happy that we have many many happy customers using our first product, the Kiboko bag.
  • I gave the keynote speach this year for the PDN Virtual Trade Show on digital printing, all conducted over the web.
  • Troy Covey started working for Gura Gear and also my photo business, and he is an excellent sidekick and all around great guy.
  • I expanded my offie space to 1,000 square feet, and now the place really looks like a better place to work.
  • I setup a scholarship fund, and have already sent my first recipient to college. His name is Boniface Dallan, and he is attending wildlife management college in Tanzania. He will graduate in 18 months, and I couldn't be more proud of everything he is doing for he and his family.
  • I added new technology to the studio, and now print on Epson, HP and Canon printers.
  • I started offering one-on-one digital printing and workflow sessions in my studio. I had numerous appointments in the first month that I offered it, and I already have repeat customers.
  • I watched our oldest son, Christian, successfully make it through potty training. :-)
  • I watched our youngest son, Will, start walking and talking.
  • I had my 40th birthday. Yes, I am now officially over the hill, even though I don't feel like it.

2009 was an excellent year for me, despite all of the world economy doom and gloom. All of my African photo safaris were completely sold out, my other workshops also had waiting lists and I leave behind a year that I am quite happy with. Gura Gear really surprised me, as we had a difficult time keeping up with demand for our bags. 2010 will be a great year for Gura Gear, as we have been working on some more exciting products that we will be bringing to market.

Here are some specific items that I want to accomplish in 2010:

  • Spend more time with Leslie and the boys. I want to do a better job creating memories that will last a lifetime. I think I do a good job already, but I know that I can always do better.
  • Expand my African photographic safari business to include new destinations. 2011 is already being planned, and I have some new locations on my schedule!
  • Push my print sales business higher and higher and attract more art buyers and interior decorators.
  • Write more, both for the blog and also try to get a few e-books published. I have some great knowledge and experiences that I need to share.
  • Continue to learn new technologies and push myself and my own boundaries.
  • I still need a personal project that I can sink my teeth into. I don't feel like I am creating much these days, and I need to make the time to create something more long-term.

Cool video review of the Gura Gear Kiboko bag

Juan Pons recently created a video overview of our Gura Gear Kiboko bag. Check out the video on Juan's web site. Thanks, Juan!


Sony A900 and lenses - Namibia trip summary

I know it has been a few months since I have returned from my 3-week Namibia trip, and I have even been back on safari in Botswana in the meantime, but I thought I would throw together a quick summar of my feelings of the equipment that I used on the trip. So here goes.

I always travel to Africa with my Gura Gear Kiboko camera bag, as I started Gura Gear precisely because I was tired of all of the same old camera bags on the market. All are too heavy, uncomfortable, overpadded and not well thought out. My Kiboko bag allows me to not only get my gear to my locations in a lighter fashion, but it also allows me to have multiple cameras attached and ready to shoot from. This is accomplished by dividing the center of the camera bag into two separate 'butterfly' sides. In my Gura Gear Kiboko bag I carried the following:

And there was still more room left over. I have to fess up and say that I had an experimental version of the Kiboko bag with me, and it was a different size than the standard Kiboko bag. Was it larger or smaller? Only time will tell!

On this safari I opted for simplicity, and I didn't want to take extra gear with me. In hindsight I think it was a good choice but also a bad choice. Sony graciously loaned me a great set of cameras and lenses, and I had to choose what to take and what to leave at home. Here are the additional lenses that they sent to me that I did not take with me:

So let's dig into the details a little bit. My most used lens on the trip was the 24-70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens. It pretty much sat on one of the A900 bodies for the entire trip. It is built like a tank (a good thing), and performs exceptionally well. I really have nothing but praise to say about the lens, other than some vignetting when approaching 24mm in conjunction with a polarizing filter attached. I tried swapping out my polarizer for another traveler's slim polarizer, and it didn't make much difference, unfortunately.

The second most used lens was the 70-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G. This is a great lens, and is pretty much a blend between the Nikon 80-400mm and the Canon 100-400mm. Let me explain. Canon users pretty much hate the 100-400mm for its push-pull zoom design, as well as its optical quality over about 300mm. However, it does do a good job at autofocusing. The Nikon 80-400mm is optically decent and has a traditional zoom ring for zooming in and out. However, its great downfall is its atrocious autofocusing speed. Well, the Sony 70-400mm takes the good from both of those lenses and combines everything into 1 lens: good autofocusing speed, good optics and a traditional zoom ring. Pretty cool. The one thing that I really love about this lens (and also the 70-200mm f/2.8 G) is its lens shade. The lens shade has a nifty sliding door on the underneath side so the shooter can easily rotate a polarizing filter from underneath. Pretty cool!


The Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 with the slot on the bottom of the lens shade


The one thing that I don't think is necessary is the 70-400mm lens is painted in silver. Not my favorite color for a lens. I think they should match the same white color as the 70-200mm.

When we were shooting in high wind situations I really wish I had brought the 70-200mm. Why? Because the 70-400mm has a long barrell when zoomed out to 200mm or more. This barrel is slightly wobbly, and I ended up with many unusable images in these situations. I should have brought the 70-200mm in addition to the 70-400mm for this reason, as well as the lens is optically superior at equivalent focal lengths and at similar f/stops. The 70-400mm could have been used for wildlife and the long shots and the 70-200mm strictly for landscapes.

The 16-35mm Carl Zeiss lens was mostly used for people grab shots, and also at Kolmanskop ghost town. I found the lens to be every bit as good as its competitors from Nikon and Canon. The lens is also built in a similar way as the 24-70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss, which is a good thing indeed.

And now we get to the Sony A900 camera bodies. I first used the Sony A900 cameras on my polar bear trip this past November. My first impression was that Sony really hit the nail on the head with the product, as it had great specifications at a very competitive price. The A900 reminds me of how I felt about my old Nikon F100 in that it just feels good in my hands. After shooting with the A900 for 3 weeks in the desert, I am very glad that I wasn't carrying around the extra weight of a professional camera from Nikon or Canon. For landscapes the A900 is really about as ideal as a camera can get. The file size and quality is excellent, the ergonomics works well and the lenses cover everything I will ever need. There are some glitches, however, in that some of the buttons are difficult to reach without lifting an entire hand off of the camera. A good example is the ISO selection button is tough to reach with either my thumb or my forefinger. This is a small nit, for sure. One thing I love about the Sony system is the approach to handle image stabilization / vibration reduction in-camera. This means that *all* lenses are image stabilized. Very nice.

Looking forward into a crystal ball I can see reports that Sony is working on a super telephoto lens. This has me very intrigued as to the future of Sony and how it will play a part in wildlife photography, as well as sports photography. I am going to seek out other Sony cameras other than the A900 to see if there are other camera bodies that have better low noise characteristics, as this is something I rely on quite often. ISO 400 is now my starting point, ISO 800 is my late afternoon setting and ISO 1600 is a requirement at the end of the day. Heck, ISO 3200 and 6400 is a joy on my Nikon D3, but I recognize that no other cameras will be able to match this. I also don't shoot that many images at those higher sensitivities, so this isn't really a big deal to me.

I want to again thank Sony for loaning me some great equipment. It is a shame that I didn't take the time to use the 50mm and 135mm lenses, as they seem to be excellent performers as well. The 135mm is the one lens that I would like to try, as the build quality is top notch.