Art Safaris

2023 Art Safaris
Kambaku Safari Lodge, Timbavati, South Africa
7 – 13 September.   
The Bush House, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
15 – 21 September.   

“You know a trip has been great when you are sad to see it end and are already thinking about the next one shortly after. Alison’s art safari helped me reconnect with my art in an inspiring and joyful way. With Alison’s expert advice I noticed an improvement in my sketches on day one and learnt how to better observe wildlife to translate what I was seeing onto my page. I’m so glad I signed up for this memorable experience that I will always remember.”
Christine O (Kambaku 2022)

“I had met Alison at a sketching workshop prior to the Art Safari so I knew I was already going to have an awesome time with her and the group sketching wildlife in the Manyeleti! The bush camp and food were amazing and I will never forget the female hyena visiting us at dinner while Alison was telling one of her safari stories. Most importantly, I learned a lot from Alison and the group. I feel like this experience greatly improved my painting and sketching ability. I believe going on this safari has changed me as an artist for the better and I look forward to joining more Art Safaris in the future.”
Deja M (Pungwe 2022)

Kambaku Art Safari with Alison Nicholls

Email me at

In 2011 I began leading Art Safaris for Africa Geographic in South Africa. The safaris are suitable for all skill levels and are designed to teach guests how to sketch wildlife quickly and confidently. We have a maximum of 5 guests on each safari. Non-sketching friends or partners are always very welcome. 

On an Art Safari, much of our sketching is done from an open safari vehicle, giving guests unrestricted views of the numerous wildlife species. I sit in the middle so I can easily communicate with everyone during drives. Game drives take place in the early morning and late afternoon, optimal times for seeing wildlife and sketching. Drives last approximately two and a half to three hours but we stop for refreshments midway.

Back at the lodge, guests can take part in an art workshop during the middle of the day. The workshops cover a variety of topics including watercolor & sketching techniques, how to add animals to a landscape, and how to use your sketches to create finished paintings. The sessions are friendly and informal, and everyone works at their own pace on their own choice of subject. Workshops usually run for 2 hours, to also give guests time to relax by the pool or waterhole before heading out on the afternoon drive.

“This was my first Art Safari, but I have done a few photographic safaris with professional photographers.  I have come to expect a high level of communication, creativity, and teaching skills, as well as personalized individual attention from the instructor.  Alison was amazing!  Besides being an experienced artist, she has great communication skills and presented art exercises in easy-to-understand examples.  She demonstrated simple forms for each animal that were very useful as a place to start when facing a blank page and a moving subject.  The watercolor classes after lunch were fun and informative, with detailed steps to achieve the suggested results, but with her understanding of each student’s skill level and their personal creative vision. She is an inspirational artist, a dedicated and skilled teacher, an experienced guide, and a delightful travel companion.  It was a very fun and creative trip, and I am looking forward to the next Art Safari!”
Susie G (Kambaku & Pungwe 2022)

“The Art Safari far exceeded my expectations. Alison was a patient and versatile teacher. She did a great job of catering to students of different levels. The accommodations were too-notch, and the game drives were truly a lifetime experience.”
Betsy W. (Kambaku 2019)

“Africa Geographic have been amazing to deal with. I love doing art, and the Art Safari with Alison Nicholls seemed a perfect way to blend this with my love of the African continent. I have now done this safari twice – once in 2017 and again in 2019. I loved both safaris and have already booked the next Art Safari for 2020.” 
Ria K. 2017, 2019, 2020.

Kambaku Safari Lodge

Kambaku Safari Lodge

“I have just experienced the adventure of a lifetime. Africa Geographic and Alison Nicholls have put together a trip for Africa rookies and old timers alike. Being a budding artist I stumbled across an offer to go to Kruger park in South Africa on sketching and watercolor safari. I have had Africa on my radar for years and here it is. The opportunity.  I could not have created a better forum for Africa and my art. The unexpected bonus of the human connection on safari was also handed to us. One , and now both, are my passions . I will return to Africa, often. Thank you Alison and Africa Geographic (Christian).”
Kelly G. (Kambaku 2019)

“Art Safari with Alison Nicholls was one of the most amazing experiences I have have ever had! I grew so much as an artist and learned so much about art and African animals and birds. I really appreciated Alison’s approach to teaching art. She is very knowledgable about the animals, birds and plants in South Africa. She was able to easily identify the areas where my sketching needed to improve. She had quick tricks and skills that made my ability to sketch moving animals much better. This is something I have never been good at. I got much better at visualizing an animal in different positions because of her extensive knowledge of anatomy. I also worked on spending less time on details and working on whole animals, which improved my proportions and overall sketching. I filled pages and pages of my sketchbook.
During the workshop time, we worked on new watercolor techniques. Alison has endless patience with all different skill levels and we all produced some wonderful art. The best part of the five days was the friendships and the experiences with the animals that you can’t get anywhere else but on safari in Africa! Now, if we had just seen that African wild dog! I guess I’ll just have to come back. 
Linda M. (Kambaku 2019)

Kambaku Safari Lodge

Email me at

“Thanks for such a wonderful workshop! I gained a lot from it, especially how to sketch with the moving objects. I have more confidence now than before for sure. I also love Alison’s demonstrations on watercolour paintings with her unique style. Now all I need is to practice and apply in all subjects.
Kambaku is a beautiful lodge. The staff were all wonderful and helpful. The safari drives were such amazing experiences and I will cherish those sweet memories forever. But most importantly, during this journey, I met so many new friends from different places. They made my journey very special and hope we can keep in touch for a long time.”
Emily S. (Kambaku 2019)

Kambaku Safari Lodge
Kambaku Safari Lodge is an owner-run lodge that provides a unique personal service and relaxing atmosphere for visitors to absorb the space, sights, sounds and feelings that only the African bush can offer. The chalets and main lodge all overlook a private waterhole, and there is a wonderful shady spot for daytime workshops. Be prepared for some scrumptious bush cuisine and delicious meals served in relaxed and rustic settings. We have stayed at Kambaku for several recent Art Safaris because the location and wildlife sightings make it the perfect location!

Kambaku Safari Lodge

Kambaku Safari Lodge chalet

“I really can’t say enough good about the Art Safari; it was FABULOUS! All that I had hoped and more, and I am still reveling in the memories and reliving it through my sketches. I LOVED the game drives (including the anticipation of early morning outings)! It was wonderful having so much time to sketch wildlife, and your guidance, encouragement, and instruction, Ali, was very helpful for improving my sketching of live, active animals. I also really appreciated your midday workshops and am eager to put what I learned into practice with my sketches from our game drives and with my ongoing sketching here at home (including with all the deer in my yard). In addition to all that, the whole safari experience, including the meals and the lodge was just fabulous and refreshing. I have no suggestions for improvement, because I thought it was perfect. 
Thank you for all you did to make this such a wonderful experience!
Melissa F. (Kambaku 2019)

The Bush House
The Bush House is set in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, and is not your typical safari lodge. It is an old farmhouse that after years of family laughter and happiness has been transformed into an inviting and relaxing residence that encourages guests to kick off their shoes and unwind. We will be driven there from Johannesburg, with the trip taking approximately 4 hours including a brief stop. We have held Art Safaris at The Bush House several times, and we will be the only guests staying there for the duration of the Art Safari. It is a wonderful place, with a very active waterhole which allows for great sketching opportunities from the lawn or from the amazing underground hide. Not to be missed!

“An Art Safari with Alison takes one on a life journey where one becomes a sensitive naturalist, ones drafting skills are honed and one is exposed to mindfulness.  It’s a marvellous package.  Alison not only gently guides one in illustrating mammals as they authentically behave with simple pen or pencil lines, she calmly nudges with ideas on how to compose a satisfying composition.  Within seconds she suggests what will improve a muzzle shape or what will better capture the muscle and bones carried by a subject.  She coaxes one to observe and appreciate animal forms with new clarity and perception.  In the process one begins a deeply intimate engagement with wildlife in the South African bushveld.”
Kirsty T (The Bush House 2018)

The Bush Hosue

The Bush House

“After a wonderful first two legs of our trip (Cape Town and Victoria Falls), I honestly thought that the trip could not get any better.  Boy was I wrong.  The art safari was one of the greatest experiences.  When my plane landed, Ali was there to greet me. On our first Safari drive, I will admit that I was intimidated as the other 3 artists were very accomplished and excellent artists all with unique styles.  I was a beginner and came along with little experience.  However, during the first safari drive Alison made me feel just as important, and really helped me feel confident about my sketching. All it took was this first safari drive to really delve into my sketching and experiment with different techniques.

The next day in between drives, we had our first workshop. It was at this time that I realized the other artists were as supportive of me as Ali was. They all complimented me and we all worked together very very well. Alison asked us each individually what our goals were, and I shared that I really just wanted to try to sketch profiles of the animals and try to master that. However by the end of the Safari, I found myself enjoying sketching from life much more than from pictures, and really trying to sketch the animals from different angles. I really had such a wonderful time attempting this.

During the other workshops, Alison showed us how to use watercolor in different ways. In hindsight, I do not think that I brought the best paper and watercolor, but I made do and was able to create a few things that I was very proud of. I appreciated that Alison allowed me to use some of her supplies, to get some more experience with better brushes and paper.

Other aspects of the Safari were amazing as well. It goes without saying that I saw animals I have never seen in the wild before, and I cannot believe how close I got. The place we stayed was amazing, the food was amazing, and the staff that worked there was amazing.  Our guide and tracker, Gideon and Stanley, were awesome. Not only did they know their jobs very well, but they were very nice and welcoming to me. The other members on the Safari, I now consider friends. I plan to keep in touch with everyone, and look forward to seeing everybody’s art.

I left the art safari very sad that it was over, but also very happy because I now consider myself an artist.  I plan to continue with my sketching, as well as experimenting with watercolor. The art safari is something that I would love to do again, and I would suggest to everybody I know to do something like this.”
Sarah L. (Kambaku 2019)


Kambaku Safari Lodge

Booking and payment details: Once you have decided to join an Art Safari, you will need to email Africa Geographic for a booking formReservations can only be confirmed by the completion of a booking form and the receipt of a deposit. As our groups are small, they can fill up quickly. Please email Christian Boix on for details or telephone: +27 (0)21 762 4974.

Africa Geographic handles all reservations and payments and will be delighted to help you with any other travel arrangements you may require in Africa. They can also arrange private, custom Art Safaris for small groups.

Can’t attend this year?
Our safaris are small and can fill up very quickly, so if you are interested in a future Art Safari, please let me know. I can then ensure that you, along with other interested guests, receive future itineraries before they are made available to the public.