Over the last few years I’ve done a number of wildlife photography trips mostly with the same company. For the most part they’ve been good and without any issues. However the last two trips I did with the company were not so great and therefore this one, Red Foxes Of The Netherlands, was to be my last. When this trip was sold it was sold as a ‘recce’ trip. This meant things might not quite go to plan so the price was cheaper. My advice is never go on a recce trip!
To be fair I wasn’t overly keen on going on this particular trip. I’d recently returned from Alaska – with the same company – and had already decided I’d never pay them another pound. The foxes trip didn’t get off to a good start in that the original guide dropped out. Had that guide been replaced by the owners of the company I’d have walked away from the trip as I couldn’t spend another minute in their company. Thankfully they managed to get someone to cover for them at the last minute.
Where Are The Foxes
Foxes are known to live in the sand dunes of Zandvoort, a town outside Amsterdam. The area is popular with photographers as it offers good accessibility to the foxes, provided you know where you’re going and the best times to go. This does mean some serious walking and during this trip we did a lot of walking. The good news is that the area is quite nice to walk around. There are deer and some birds in the park too so there’s something else to photograph. But we wanted foxes!
Fortunately we did manage to see and photograph a fox. On day one we say it for a very brief moment, but on day two we did manage a little longer – a few minutes longer – and we got some images! Day three was a public holiday in Zandvoort which brought more people to the park and let’s just say not everyone knows how to behave around wild animals. Although the fox did make an appearance it soon vanished after being chased by two ladies with iPhones probably hoping it was going to stop for a selfie.
Sightings Aren’t Guaranteed
Ok wildlife doesn’t have a schedule and on wildlife photography trips you’re not guaranteed sightings but you expect to be in with a good shout. However I’d been told by a photography friend that fox sightings had been quite limited so the odds weren’t on our side. But it was a recce trip so you have to accept some issues. Why there was a second recce trip right after our one didn’t make sense though. Perhaps these weren’t actually recce trips after all? You’d have thought that one trip would be sufficient to determine whether it was good or not.
And it wasn’t good for a lot of reasons. The hotel wasn’t the best and didn’t deliver the bed and breakfast as promised. A good breakfast could have made a big difference to the long days of walking. As is we were kindly budgeted next to nothing to buy breakfast in town. And at 8am there’s not much choice for breakfast in Zandvoort. A coffee and a bun was pretty much all you could get. Why is this a problem? Because once you’re in the dunes there are no food outlets available and spending all day walking on fresh air is not ideal. Basically it was poor organisation from the outset.
Were There Any Highlights?
To give this some kind of perspective I did a landscape trip with another company and they’d missed a meal from the itinery. Did they offer a couple of quid to help us get some food? No! They took us to the pub and made sure we all had a good lunch and were well fed for the activities in the afternoon. That’s the kind of customer service that stands out.
So were their any highlights from this trip? The guide was excellent and given a poor hand especially as they stepped in at the last minute to save the trip. He managed to keep everyone’s spirits up and was encouraging when the mood dropped. The group did, for the most part, had a decent laugh about the situation and thankfully we did see a fox albeit briefly on each day. Finally, Zandvoort is a lovely seaside town too and it’s easily accessible from Amsterdam.
Should You Go?
Would I go back and should you consider going? Maybe is the honest answer for both. If you’re interested in photographing foxes in Zandvoort then in my view you can do this kind of trip without paying a company to take you. Fly into Amsterdam and take the train to Zandvoort. Book a hotel (a nice one with breakfast) in Zandvoort and use it as a base. You can walk from the town to the dunes and once there you just need to figure out where other photographers are congregating – usually around the area that says ‘foxes’ and ‘do not feed the foxes’. Keep an eye on social media too for the times when the foxes have been sighted in the area. This might save you getting up too early and give you time to get snacks and drinks to take with you.
I might not go back! This trip did make me wonder about wildlife photography. Yes it was amazing to see the fox in the wild and unreal how it walked passed me as I lay on the ground photographing it. With a few people close by the fox was comfortable but when the numbers increased and people started making a beeline towards it then it changed the mood. This wild animal was basically chased just so someone could get an iPhone shot. That’s not good and unfair on the foxes that live in the dunes. Perhaps the fox sightings were poor because they’ve learnt they are safer in other areas of the park where human involvement is much more limited.