Every now and again a place of exceptional beauty is discovered. It’s a place that must be visited in person to fully appreciate why it's so appealing to the eye — and to the soul. Photographers understand this feeling well, which is why so many of them are drawn to Tiger Canyon Private Game Reserve in the Free State.
This sanctuary is located on the edge of SA's second-largest dam, the Vanderkloof. Alongside this majestic body of water lies a band of rolling hills, which, upon closer inspection, are a geological wonderland of rugged rocky ridges. And in the middle of it all is a deep canyon cut into the countryside — a dramatic feature that comes as quite a surprise amid the golden grasslands for which the region is known.
Tiger Canyon is quite unlike any other game reserve in Africa; it's a photographer’s dream come true, with cheetahs and tigers stalking across the landscape before striking a pose.
In fact, this conservation haven is one of few places where you can see wild tigers roaming free outside their native Asia. Some have said it's possibly the best place in the world to capture images of these endangered striped cats.
The reason is this: you can head out on a game drive to get up close to these magnificent animals and photograph them in a variety of striking natural settings. The shades that characterise the Free State — soft pastels from beige to brown, and the yellows of the grass — set off the tigers' fiery colouring to perfection. Add in the golden photographic hours of the early morning and late afternoon, when the sunlight is soft and warm, and everything falls into place for extraordinarily beautiful photography.
Books have been published, calendars printed, documentaries produced, photographic competitions entered and numerous prints framed, all using images and footage shot at Tiger Canyon.
The reserve's safari vehicles are ideal for photography clubs, and some have been adapted as specialist photographic vehicles for those who prefer to go it alone.
Beyond being extremely knowledgeable about big cats, Tiger Canyon's game rangers are also passionate photographers themselves. So they know the most scenic spots to go and how to position their vehicles to enable you to get the best shots.
Natural prey species roam the grasslands, and there’s plenty of opportunity to see and snap the tigers and cheetahs stalking, hunting, patrolling, interacting, fighting, resting and mating.
That said, you don't even have to leave your luxurious room in Tiger Canyon's eco-lodge to have the chance to spot a wild tiger — simply step out onto the large balcony overlooking the canyon after which the reserve is named.
With only three rooms, it's an exclusive destination that exceeds expectations.
For more information about Tiger Canyon or to book your stay, visit Tigercanyon.com.
This article was paid for by Tiger Canyon Private Game Reserve.