On Safari in Africa with Travel Photographer, Aggie Dalzotto.

Aggie Dalzotto has been taking photographs since infancy. Her family often joked that she was born with a camera in her hand. Over the years, her hobby turned into a passion. In her early 20s, Aggie started a bustling business, photographing everything from Weddings, to Kindergartens, to food. Her artistic flair and eye for detail, allowed Aggie to capture some of the most awe inspiring and beautiful moments.

Yet, one thing was missing.

Ever since watching Disney’s The Lion King as a very young girl, Aggie loved lions. It was her dream to see one in the wild and, perhaps, even photograph them in their natural environment. When Aggie’s husband, Adam, surprised her with a trip to Africa, Aggie packed her gear and prepared for the opportunity of a lifetime.

zanzibar spice tour8 making fashion.JPG

Aggie Dalzotto at the Spice Tour in Zanzibar

The World’s Herald had a chat with Aggie and she showed off some of her favourite shots from her incredible adventure through Africa.

TWH: So why Africa?

Aggie: It was a location I’d wanted to visit for a very long time, not to mention photography heaven! Its rich culture, stunning ranges of diverse landscapes and, of course, Africa’s famous big 5 were at the top of my list. We spent 5 weeks exploring Kenya and 1 week in Zanzibar just off the coast of Tanzania. Whilst these locations offered us luxury resorts, crystal beaches for relaxation and fine food, it wasn’t quite the reason we went there. It was an opportunity for an adventure, to visit a foreign world different to the one we knew. Our trip delivered far beyond expectation!

TWH: How so?

Aggie: What truly amazed me is that we took our first steps in the country feeling like foreigners but the locals treated us like friends. It was no time at all before we felt at home. Kenyan people truly have the kindest of hearts, it was nothing for strangers to come to our aid, offer friendly conversation and go beyond measure to help us find our way.

What’s more, Kenya is a developing country with a large mass of poverty. I came across many individuals with unfortunate stories far worse off than I could imagine, but these same individuals acted genuinely grateful for what they did have and were more than happy to assist us on our journey.

Aggie said that, prior to her trip, she was warned about travelling to Africa, but she was cautiously excited about the opportunity, and she did her research. She visited the Smart Traveller Website and knew that the Australian Government recommended exercising a high degree of caution when travelling through most parts of Africa. She and her husband ensured that they knew how to keep themselves safe.

Over 30 million people visit Africa every year, just like Aggie, seeking adventure and the chance to see beautiful, natural wildlife.

Aggie: It did take a couple of days to get used to seeing armed guards and officers outside of most shops, banks and restaurants, even marching down streets, but only because it was foreign to my home. That was in Kenya.

TWH: Did you ever feel worried about safety?

Aggie: I never at all felt unsafe. In fact, one of my favourite nights happened to be when we got lost in the streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar. I remember Adam and I had a sudden craving for pizza after we heard of a restaurant that was meant to offer incredible fame-worthy pizza. We excitedly set out racing down the streets letting our stomachs lead the way. The streets of Stone Town are narrow, most buildings are completely white and easily mistaken for each other, especially in the night. It wasn’t long before we were absolutely lost and far from our hotel.

At first we were a little frustrated and “hangry,” but it wasn’t long before strangers emerged from the dim street and offered us a hand. In fact we bounced from person to person as we discovered our way. We stumbled across a night market and decided to eat like the locals instead, it was insane! The atmosphere was colourful, fresh hot grilled food filled the air with waves of sweet fruit followed by the night ocean breeze. Fires were illuminated the market in a golden dome. Honestly I felt like a miniature celebrity as locals wanted to talk to us, many wanted us to test out their produce and some individuals even asked for our photo. If we hadn’t become lost, we probably wouldn’t have experienced Stone Town. We never visited the pizza restaurant.

zanzibar, stonetown4 local market
Zanzibar Stone Town local market

TWH: So communicating with the locals was easy?

Aggie: Very easy! The majority we came across spoke English, or there was always someone nearby that was willing to translate. In fact, the majority of individuals that we came across spoke multiple languages. A friend we still keep in contact with named Kahindi from Malindi, spoke Swahili, English, Italian, French, and both his parents’ tribal languages. Apparently, as he told us, that wasn’t considered much over there!

TWH: Most important question now – did the safari live up to your expectations?

Aggie: Our first day out on game was exciting as ever! Our drive came to a sudden halt after a tour van in front of us was stopped in the middle of the dirt road with tourists poking their heads out to the right of the open roof van, binoculars pointing up at the sky. I looked to see dozens of vultures circling the air near a tall tree. While everyone was watching the motion in the sky, I eagerly looked to the ground to try and spot what they were circling. The long yellowed grass made it difficult, but before long, movement, then another. “A lion!” I called like a maniac.

safari, professionals
Safari professionals

Frantically, while in complete silence, we tried to get the attention of the other van’s passengers as they continued to gaze at the sky. It was rather funny thrashing our arms about dramatically whilst remaining completely silence thinking we’d scare away the lion with any noise. Ironically the lion continued to walk directly towards us without hesitation, passed directly in front of our van within a meter and stopped by a small pond to the left.

It was surreal! Seeing a lion in the zoo simply does not compare to spotting a lion in the wild. They behave and look completely different. The lioness was slim but muscly with speckles of blood around her mouth, dirt all over and her stomach breathing heavily. This advised us that it had just been on a successful hunt, hence the vultures.

TWH: Did you get the photo you hoped for?

Aggie: My favourite photo is of a lioness cleaning and caressing her cub after its feed. The cub was clearly an amateur covered in blood after feeding on a buffalo, while somehow its mother remained perfectly tidy. It was a sweet moment and not one I expected to see.

Lioness and Cub, on Safari

TWH: What was your favourite moment in Africa?

It’s hard to pick a single favourite experience from such a large trip. I loved listening to the stories of the locals and witnessing lifestyles that seem so foreign to the Western world we know. It was fun learning a new language and I know the locals appreciated our efforts just as much as we appreciated those speaking English for us.

safari 2nd resort massai mara
Safari Resort, Massai Mara

I loved waking up to a monkey at the window or running up the stairs in the morning to be the first to spot an African animal from the balcony of our temporary home.  I enjoyed the generous food proportions of new flavours and freshly squeezed fruit juices that had just been plucked from a neighbouring tree.

first accomodation of safari at lions hill resort. lunch time
Lion Hill Resort

Let’s not forget the first moment we entered the Maasai Mara only to be greeted by 360 degree views of beautiful African landscape and hundreds of amazing creatures!

The breaktaking Maasi Mara which, as Aggie said, cannot be done justice in a photograph.

TWH: I’m feeling inspired! Any tips for a would-be traveller to Africa?

Aggie: Try and experience Africa the way a local would. Don’t be afraid to step outside to the commercial zone. We also found that we saved a lot of money on activities and accommodation by booking whilst in Kenya and Zanzibar, instead of travel agents.

Go to Kenya, go to Zanzibar, they will deliver beyond your expectations!

marked as sign of respect when entering massai tribe home
Marked as sign of respect when entering Massai tribe home

Aggie’s “Must Dos” include:

  • Take a Safari for at least 5+ days
  • Visit Nairobi, the capital of Kenya
  • Visit the Animal Nursery and Elephant Sanctuary
  • Check out Local shops and markets
  • Take tours of coffee and tea plantations
  • See Malindi’s stunning beaches, and expereince a cultural shake and friendly faces
  • Visit Zanzibar for tropical surroundings, clear waters, amazing art, delicious food, and infinite sea life
  • Eat at The Rock Restaurant – Literally a restaurant, on a rock, in the ocean
  • Take Zanzibar’s educational and very entertaining spice tour
  • Stay in Stone Town for a whole new culture, stunning Arabic wooden doors, and views of rooftop, the ocean and the city, and fine foods and art.
  • Talk to the locals and get involved!

All photographs featured are the property of Aggie Dalzotto. Aggie lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. To see more of her work:

Follow Aggie on Instagram @aggie_k91

Visit her facebook page www.facebook.com/viziaphotography

Or check out her website www.vizia-photography.com