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...
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This was our second trip with Stu and our first in Tanzania, the sightings exceeded all our expectations including a selection of births, deaths, and marriages with a variety of wildlife. One of many highlights was seeing 22 lions drinking at a stream in the Ngorongoro crater . The accommodation was once again first class, even the tented camps. Stu, together with our African guides James and Jeremiah managed to always have the vehicle in exactly the right position for the best pictures. Can't wait to go again.
John & Lorraine Carnemolla, Australia
My 3rd trip with Wild 4 was one to remember (well, they all are !!). The wildlife in Tanzania put on a show for us from dawn till dusk. Cheetah's, lion prides, leopards, the birth of a gazelle and zebra. Migrating herds of wildebeest and zebra's - this trip had it all !, Superb locations, great accommodation, amazing food and unique scenery. I'll definitely be going back with Wild 4 ! What sets Wild 4 apart is their attention to detail to support photographers and videographers. Small groups, very well selected locations, high quality camps/lodges and well trained guides makes for a very well organised and intimate photographic safari experience. They provide not just a beanbag, but a beanbag 'system' for each photographer !. They provide panning plates, a unique custom designed photo/video support system for their vehicles in South Africa that includes support for Wimberley heads for large lenses and other features designed by an experienced wildlife photographer. The Wild 4 team understand the needs of photographers on safari, I can't recommend them highly enough for your African wildlife photographic experience.
Murray Richards, Australia