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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 I have just returned from a fantastic custom safari to the Kruger with Wild4. This was my second trip in the Kruger with Wild4 and everything from start to finish was absolutely perfect. I absolutely cannot imagine doing this sort of trip there with anyone else. Things were off to a positive from way before we landed. Justyna was as helpful and patient as ever from day 1 and I must say that her suggestions were all spot on. Not only did she sort everything out for us and made it look easy (although I very much doubt it was), but the information she gave us prepared us well for the trip. As soon as we met up with Stefan after we arrived, we had nothing else to "worry" about except take pictures. He was not only great as a guide with his experience, sharp eyes, and genuine interest in wildlife becoming obvious quickly, but he was also excellent as a driver who knows what works and what doesn't photographically and was thus able to position the vehicle perfectly. It was not uncommon for one of us to just say a couple of words about what we wanted to try photographically and he'd immediatelly be on it, getting us in the perfect position while adhering to the rules and keeping the wildlife's interest as a top priority - something all members of the group I was in appreciated immensly. Thank you Stefan, Justyna, and Stu for making this trip happen for us! I look forward to being back with you guys in the future!

Matthew Scerri, Malta

Testimonials Thank you again Stu for your trip report of our Botswana trip. It has been very useful to me as I go through my photographs and try to identify the birds especially. It has also given me ideas on how to treat some of my photographs of similar subjects, Also a big thank you in general for the technique guidance you have give me this year and for your fantastic decisions about anticipating animal behavior. My resulting photographs are largely due to your help and to travelling with you. You have had a significant impact on the quality of my photographs and I am very appreciative. Looking forward to hearing about your Tsavo trip. Regards

Sharon Thorp, Canada