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Wild4 African Photo Safaris

Specialist small group photo safaris to South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia

African Photographic Safaris since 2003

AUGUST 2014 - NKAYA PAN - Kruger’s Best ?

Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 1st Aug 2014

I first visited the Kruger National Park with my family in 1983 - since then a lot of things have changed as far as the tourist elements are concerned, but the park still remains the flagship of the South African National Parks and a conservation success story. Set aside to conserve ALL the species found within the park, we often complain that we cannot drive off road, there are not enough tourist roads in some areas and the congestion at Cat sightings can be annoying.

However we quickly forget that this park was set up to preserve the different habitats and the animals that call it home. We are visitors to their world and they really can and do what they want to do when they want to.  If the animals have enough of the tourist vehicles they simply walk away from the road for some peace and quiet - I am sure a lot of animals in other parks would love to move to the Kruger and get away from the constant hassle from tourists.

Despite the seemingly strict rules and regulations of the park, it still produces amazing sightings and photo opportunities. You sometimes have to share these with a number of other people, but on many occasions we have been alone at some wonderful sightings. It also depends on where you stay in the park. The southern section is busier, but if you stay on the eastern side at Lower Sabie Camp for example then the early mornings are usually rather quiet.

I have always said that the Kruger National Park is not the greatest place to photograph the cats as you are not able to follow them off road as you can in some of the well controlled private game reserves. However it is not all about the cats !! there are plenty of other animals in the park to keep your camera happy.

A favourite time for me is when the animals are drawn to water during the dry months - from June to October. Sitting at a waterhole and waiting for the animals to come to you is most enjoyable.

Nkaya pan south of Satara Camp in central Kruger is one of the best places to wait for animals during the dry months. Encircled by a forest of Many-stemmed Albizia, this pan offers a surprise factor second to none. On one occasion we sat at the pan enjoying our breakfast with nothing in sight when suddenly we saw a few Cape Buffalo break out from the bush into the open. They were the pathfinders of a mega herd of around 500 animals all hoping to quench their thirst at Nkaya ! Before we knew it we were surrounded and the Buffalo took over the pan like ants on a honey sandwich !

Within a space of a couple of hours we photographed Cape Buffalo, White Rhino, Elephant, Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala, Crocodiles Warthog, Giraffe and a number of water birds.

The light at the pan is very good in both the morning and the afternoon. It is always worth stopping at the pan at anytime.

If the conditions are right and there is still water in the pan during late July, August and September then this place is a mecca for thirsty animals.

Here are a few photos taken at Nkaya Pan - Kruger's best in my opinion...
This was the massive herd of Buffalo that seemingly came from nowhere
Four species in one shot - Crocodile on the rock, Elephant, Impala and Giraffe
The Blue Wildebeest will often follow Zebra to drink
A herd of Zebra arrives at Nkaya Pan
A Warthog forages along the edge of Nkaya Pan looking for fresh roots. A very patient Hammerkop waits to pounce on any frogs that are disturbed by the Warthog
A Grey Heron standing on the back of a Hippo. The Herons have learned to use the back of the Hippo  like a rock where <br>they have a good vantage point over the water surrounding the Hippo which is often full of fish and frogs.<br/>
An Impala Ram jumping. It is often the case when one <br>jumps then the rest will follow, so always be ready if you see this behaviour.<br/>
One afternoon a herd of Elephants melted out of the bush and drank from Nkaya Pan
An angry resident Hippo shows his disapproval towards these unwanted guests
This large male lion with a magnificent mane emerged from the Albizia thicket looking for some intruders in his territory

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Testimonials We couldn’t have enjoyed our trip with Wild 4 more. We were made to feel extremely welcome right from our very first e-mail contact, something which continued throughout our trip and beyond. We’d like to thank Stu, Justyna, Ann, & John for being such wonderful and enthusiastic hosts. Being looked after by such a friendly and caring family was a delight and we were very reluctant to leave after two weeks.  Stu is a very knowledgeable, hard-working and helpful guide, always on hand with useful pointers and offering us plenty of encouragement to experiment with our photography. Having a whole row each of a specially adapted safari vehicle was a real find, ensuring we didn’t miss out on any of the action. Being able to stay out in the bush all day was also a real bonus. While many other vehicles drove off after only a few minutes, we were able to spend hours observing groups of lions and other wildlife. As this was our first African safari, Stu suggested we spend the first few nights at the Big Cats reserve and this proved to be a magical experience, with some great close-up action that resulted in some beautiful shots. It is a great place to hone your existing skills & learn some new ones. Given the opportunity we would go again tomorrow without any hesitation. Simply perfect!

Arnoud & Lynsey Van Foreest, NETHERLANDS

Testimonials The wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm Stu shared was priceless, from identifying birds and pointing out animal behaviors, to stories about Kruger Park past, and of course, answering photography questions day in and day out. You were so patient! I really appreciated the custom photo safari vehicle and thoughtful design and extra space it afforded, and the advantage and flexibility of traveling with such a small number of people. I learnt so much, and I look forward to sorting through the images and enjoying remembering all the things we did during our busy photo safari.

Helen Cruickshank, Australia