Behind the lens: Sanctuary Kusini, South Serengeti

Image for Behind the lens: Sanctuary Kusini, South Serengeti

Meet our Sanctuary Kusini camp manager Isbjorn Viot, an aspiring photographer, a conservationist and passionate admirer of Africa.

Tell us about you…


© Isbjorn Viot

Together with my partner Charlotte we have been enjoying a life in the wilderness for many years now, managing lodges in many countries. Photography has allowed me to immortalise some extraordinary moments of our unique lifestyle. Sanctuary Kusini has been a childhood dream come true: I remember my younger days in France when I first saw a documentary about Africa and it was about the Serengeti. Now I call it home.

What made you start with photography?

Cheetahs The Bond

Cheetahs: “The Bond“ © Isjorn Viot

It started in South Africa, in the Karoo more precisely (one of the 25 biodiversity hotspot in the world) where I was very interested in documenting the incredible floral diversity of the area. I wanted to know about these fascinating gems of an ancient world so I took pictures of them to identify them. After that I was hooked, through several years of travelling, I knew I just wanted to capture the beauty of our world.

How would you define your photography?

Hornbill The Groom

Hornbill: "The Groom" © Isjorn Viot

I am driven by my emotions, which I believe is crucial in photography. At any sighting I feel content, I am happy to witness this particular moment in the African wilderness and I try to portray what I am feeling at this moment of belonging. My photography shows you what living in one of Africa’s Eden feels like.

What is special about Sanctuary Kusini? 

Cosmic Safari

Maasai Light Painting: “Intergalactic MAASAI” © Isjorn Viot

Sanctuary Kusini is the hidden treasure of the Serengeti. Despite the fantastic spectacle of the calving season (late January to March), Sanctuary Kusini is the only lodge in the whole South. With its endless plains and various different biomes (kopjes, valleys, woodland), its dedicated off-road zone, the Southern Serengeti has a lot to offer. As a photographer I treasure the quality of quiet and respectful sightings. Sanctuary Kusini is never busy and allows for amazing encounters. The dry season brings with it amazing sightings of cheetah and other cats, but for me it is the lighting of the Serengeti that is the ‘highlight’ of this time.

Any advice or tips? 

Lion On Rock Another Day In Paradise

Lion On Rock: “Another Day in Paradise” © Isjorn Viot

Do your homework; know where you are going and what this time of year can offer.
Know your gear and bring your manual, it will help!
Try to capture what you are feeling not what you are seeing.
Know what you want to capture and allow time to find it and furthermore, welcome the unexpected!
Always remember that it is not about the picture it is about the moment: know when to put the camera down and enjoy the ephemeral bliss.
Lastly, PRINT your pictures! Book or canvas it does not matter, bring that moment to life!

What to pack?

Monkeys Breakfast With Mom

Monkeys: “Breakfast with Mom” © Isjorn Viot 

- A Tripod: some are very light and compact you could be very pleased with a few Milky Way shots or long exposures…
- A lens pen: it is important to keep your equipment clean: no one likes those dust spots on that perfect sunset shot you took. An alternative could be a microfiber cloth but to be used carefully.
- An extra memory card: you never know what the bush will offer, so rather have too much than not enough…
- A hard drive and/or computer: smaller archive files are less dreadful to go through. Sanctuary Kusini has a computer and a card reader at your disposal for easy transferring.

What is your favourite subject in wildlife photography?

Leopard Cub The Sweet Warmth Of Summer Days

Leopard Cub: “The Sweet Warmth of Summer Days” © Isjorn Viot

Well that is an easy one, leopards and primates.
- Leopards because of their elusive nature and that one has to treasure the mere sight of such a creature, let alone photographing it correctly!
- Primates because they are full of emotions and always entertaining.

What is the best picture you took?

The one I haven’t taken yet.

Where can we see more of your photographs?

Follow my Facebook page!