How would you take an island drone vacation? If you work in the drone industry, you might even be able to write off this Mauritius drone trip as a business expense.
Belgium-based, award-winning aerial photographer Johan Vandenhecke is hosting a six-day long drone photo trip to Mauritius, a stunning, tropical island in the Indian Ocean.
The trip, which will be comprised of a small group of other drone enthusiasts (there are only five spots total per trip), promises to combine both learning, business, and fun and relaxation. Over the course of six days, Vandenhecke will show you the best drone spots on the island of Mauritius, helping you to improve your drone photography through live workshops in the field. Then, you’ll head back to the private villa for composition and editing workshops.
Besides droning, other more vacation-type activities are on the docket, including outdoor adventures like sunset sailing, waterfall trails and incredible mountain peaks, plus a swimming with dolphins tour that involves your drone.
Prices starts at €3,000 (about $3,200 USD) for a 6-day stay, all-inclusive trip. You’ll only need to pay for your own flight there. You can sign up through the form on his website (and do please let him know I sent you!).
And sign up fast. Vandenhecke just informed me that there are only two more spots available in the first week (though there are all five spots still available as of this writing in the second week).
When is the Mauritius drone trip?
The Mauritius drone photo trip is being offered on two separate weeks in 2023: the last week of September and the first week of October.
The first trip (just two spots left) runs September 25 through October 1. The second trip (five spots left) runs October 2 through October 8.
That’s ideal to take advantage of what most experts consider is the best time to visit Mauritius, which is from May to December. During that time, it’s cool, dry and sunny (as opposed to the island’s wet cyclone season from January to March).
And given the fall departure, you’ll also be able to escape what’s expected to be summer travel chaos.
Who is Johan Vandenhecke, and why is he leading a drone vacation?
Johan Vandenhecke, does all things drone photography. He takes aerial photos for hire, he runs an online drone class called Drone Adventurer Masterclass+ (which I happen to consider the best drone photo courses for 2023), and he’s also the author of multiple free drone eBooks. He’s also run similar drone photo trips in Iceland and Azores (an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic that’s an autonomous region of Portugal).
Based in Belgium, Vandenhecke has worked with brands such as DJI, Land Rover, Jaguar, Atlantis Dubai, Four Seasons hotels and is a member of Amazing Aerial Agency.
His courses, books and tips are primarily centered around DJI drones — perhaps unsurprising given his first personal drone was the DJI Mavic Air. He then moved on to the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and in 2023 upgraded to the DJI Mavic 3 Classic drone, which is the cheaper version of the DJI Mavic 3 drone (and my pick for best drone for professional photographers).
Because Vandenhecke works as a freelance photographer himself, he’ll also be able to offer up business tips on the trip. In fact, his own Drone Adventurer Masterclass+ online course covers not just photography itself, but how to work with brands and how to negotiate. He’s also built up a valuable resource library of virtual products like email templates for making drone-specific business contacts.
Where is Mauritius, and is it worth visiting?
You know those stunning resorts with overwater bungalows that offer scuba diving in crystal clear, turquoise waters? Those gorgeous, paradise vacations more often than not occur in the Indian Ocean, which is home to tourist-friendly island nations including the Maldives and Seychelles. While luxury travelers often gravitate toward those two, it’s really Mauritius that’s the hidden gem of the Indian Ocean to many American travelers, who tend to give preference to the other, more-luxury minded ones.
And in fact, Mauritius is the most popular island in the Indian Ocean. Tourists flock to the island because its got luxury resorts that are still affordable, plus plenty of stuff to do including live entertainment, world-class golf courses, and family-friendly activites.
Mauritius also has strong, positive diplomatic relations with the U.S., which were established in 1968, following the country’s independence from the United Kingdom. Mauritius is considered to be one of Africa’s most stable and developed economies, which the U.S. State Departments attributes to it having a multi-party democracy and free market orientation. It’s also considered by the State Department to be an extremely safe country to visit.
The island is just 45 km (28 miles) in width and 65 km (40 miles) in length, so getting around the island is relatively easy with a rental car or by taxis.
Plus, assuming you’re coming from the U.S., it’s not far (relatively speaking) from other destinations in Africa, like Kenya or Tanzania, should you want to combine your Mauritius drone photo vacation with, say, a wildlife safari.
Is the Mauritius drone trip worth it?
Now I haven’t been on the Mauritius drone trip myself (I need $3,200 to book it myself, hint hint! And also need to find time to get off work!). So, I can’t speak from experience if it’s worth it.
And at €3,000 (about $3,200 USD), the Mauritius drone vacation certainly isn’t cheap. But considering it’s all-inclusive (aside from your flight there), it might not turn out to be all that much more than a vacation you’d plan yourself once you add up individual out-of-pocket costs like taxis, food and other incidentals.
The accommodations are stunning. You’ll in a beautiful luxury villa with a pool and ocean view — and there’s a private chef to cook for you. While not a guarantee, expect to see wildlife including plenty of spinner dolphins and — if you get lucky — resident sperm whales or migrating humpback whales.
Plus, he plans everything for you, so it’s stress-free on your end.
If you’re based in the U.S. and fly drones for work, you may be able to take the trip as a tax deduction (though consult with a tax attorney or accountant before you do). Typically though, if your trip is deemed necessary, takes you away from your tax home longer than an ordinary day’s work and you need to sleep away from home, you can qualify to deduct your travel expenses. You can deduct expenses like airfare, train fare, taxis, baggage costs, hotel costs and up to 50% of the cost of your meals.
And even if you can’t afford to go on the Mauritius drone vacation (or just don’t have time in your schedule), here’s another consolation prize. You might sign up for Vandenhecke’s virtual drone class called Drone Adventurer Masterclass+. Vandenhecke is offering Drone Girl readers $50 off the course using promo code SALLY50.
To book the Mauritius drone trip, email Vandenhecke through the contact form on his website, upon which you’ll need to fill out a secondary form and submit your trip deposit (please let him know I sent you, by the way!).
And don’t forget to get going on renewing your passport (or applying for a new passport, if this is the first time out of the country, as U.S. passport processing times are longer than ever)
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