PHOTO TRIP REPORT | Big Cats of the Serengeti | Sept-Oct 2019
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 10th Feb 2020
Our very first "Big Cats of the Serengeti" photographic safari was a great success and proved once again that the Serengeti is one of the top places in Africa to photograph Lions and Cheetah.
The trip was split into two different locations with time being spent in the central Serengeti around the Research Kopjes area and from there we moved to the magical "Ndutu" area near Lake Ndutu in the Ngorongoro Conservation area.
The Serengeti is known as a vast place and you always feel very privileged seeing and photographing the Big Cats in this enormous area. We spent a morning making photos of two magnificent male Lions as they patrolled their territory, and also had a good photography session with a Lioness and her two sub-adult cubs up on one of the iconic "Kopjes" or rocky outcrops that are synonymous with the Serengeti National Park.
Along with other Lion sightings we had one of the very best Cheetah sightings I have ever experienced. Our guide, Jeremia spotted a mother with four very small cubs, in that special early morning light. We followed this family as the mother led them from one termite mound to the next, surveying the area for something to eat. Finally, she made a run at a young Thompson's Gazelle and brought it down. Shen then took her prize back to her hungry cubs.
The amazing photographic opportunities we had with some of the Lions and Cheetah in the Serengeti were then taken to the next level, when we came across a very rare Black or Melanistic Serval Cat. wow, what a way to start the trip!
On the following morning, our other amazing guide, Arnold, spotted an African Porcupine! this usually very secretive and nocturnal creature was walking about in the glorious morning. We were very lucky to get a few photos of it before it disappeared down a hole.
With some great shots from the Serengeti under our belt, we headed South via the Gol Kopjes to that very special and magical place, Ndutu. This area lies along the border of the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation area. Here you are permitted to drive off-road which allows you to spend quality time with the animals and have the flexibility to position the vehicle with the best light on your subject.
During February and March, Ndutu is the area where the Great Migration herds of Wildebeest and Zebra give birth to their young. The short grass plains provide excellent grazing and good visibility provides safety from predators. September, however, is the dry season and the mega herds have long departed the area. The remaining resident and territorial animals that call this area “home” are all that are left. Territorial Lion prides lurk around the marshy areas, hoping to catch animals that come down to drink the only remaining water.
Cheetahs also favour the Ndutu area as it has a good resident stock of Gazelle and Impala.
Some Ndutu Highlights included spending time with the Marsh Pride who were up to 17 members, photographing the small marsh pride of two females and a male, Black-Backed Jackal puppies, Bat-Eared Foxes, 4 different Serval Cats, a Caracal hunting Guineafowl and one of Africa’s rarest animals, a Pangolin or Scaly Ant-eater.
The Cheetah encounters were exceptional with three kills and a total count of 12 individuals.
This safari exceeded my expectations, not only was it great for photography, but it also provided a wonderful feeling of the true African wilderness. There were very few other vehicles, and a lot of the time we were totally on our own. We managed to follow up on the Cheetahs and Lions each day and got to know their characters and spent lots of time observing them. It is wonderful to share a part of these animals lives with them and get to understand just a little of what they have to go through to survive in this harsh environment.
There is no other place I have been to that offers such quality Big Cat sightings, observations and photographic opportunities.
We will definitely be adding this location to our photographic safari list of destinations, and I am already looking forward to the 2020 “Big Cats of the Serengeti” Photo Safari.
I would like to thank all the staff at both Mawe Tented Camp in the Serengeti and Ndutu Safari Lodge in Ndutu for looking after us so well.
Then a very big special thanks must go to the two amazing guides that we had for this trip. Arnold & Jeremia !! it is always a great pleasure working with you guys and thank you for getting us into those amazing sightings and for positioning the vehicle so professionally by respecting both the animals comfort levels and the need for a good photograph.
Thank you, Linda, Bernice and Frank for joining us again on another WILD4 Tour and the first “Big Cats of Tanzania” Photographic Safari.
Please enjoy a selection of images from this photo safari.
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Dear Justyna and Stu We had a wonderful time on the photo safari. It was a unique experience, not like anything else we’ve done even though we have travelled to many parts of the world over the last 30 years. It was a thrill to see such a variety of animals and birds and also to see many of them in such large numbers. There can’t be anything better than seeing them in the relatively relaxed setting that Kruger National Park provides. We appreciated all the effort that went into the equipment and the logistics for the photographic safari. The photo vehicle with the bean bags and panning plates was excellent for taking photographs and for enabling us to be close to the animals while staying safe. The catering was great. We enjoyed our breakfasts and lunches and coffee out on the road. We were comfortable in the accommodation at the Satara and Lower Sabie camps. As I mentioned in an email, the Meet & Greet at Johannesburg Airport was perfect after such a long journey from the USA. The flights to and from Skusuza went without a hitch. We really enjoyed meeting and getting to know Mike Lentz. Eleven days together provides a lot of time to talk. He is a great guy. We were very impressed with his knowledge of the animals, birds, and plants in Kruger National Park. His descriptions of animal behavior and other information added immensely to our enjoyment of the photo safari. We also appreciated his efforts to ensure we had a total Kruger Park experience, birds, trees, plants, landscapes as well as the animals. Looking forward to returning on another photographic safari in the future. Best regards,
Jennifer & Jerry Monopolis, USA
Many thanks to Wild 4 for a truly memorable trip . Stu’s guidance and photography skills provided excellent opportunities to get some great shots. His professionalism and commitment to the trip made the safari ‘special’. Having only 3 photographers per vehicle made an incredible difference. Committed time to ‘get the shot’ was very rewarding. Time to just observe animal behaviour was of great joy for me too. Watching the many elephant families in Kruger their social interactions and sometimes zany behaviour….those memories will stay forever. The accommodations and meals were excellent .Many thanks to Justyna for her wonderful help on the admin side making my booking a dream I have been on trips before but none quite so enjoyable as this one. Would I go again ? definitely yes…… spaces allowing ! Would I recommend to friends ? A big yes to that one….. in fact I already have ! Sincere thanks again to you all
Sue Green, UK