BIRDS of KRUGER photo safari - October 2015
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 3rd Nov 2015
This years Birds of Kruger Photo Safari offered us fantastic opportunities and great weather too.
A total bird count of 168 with a very impressive 153 photos (of different species)
The aim of this safari is not to tick species off, but instead the challenge is to try and get some decent photos of Kruger's birds, with the additional challenge of trying to improve upon existing shots when better opportunities present themselves.
We began the tour with a drive from Phalaborwa Gate all the way to the northern most National Park Camp, Punda Maria. We stayed for 4 nights here and visited the birding mecca of Pafuri twice. Once again this area proved to be very productive with Broad-billed Rollers, Crested Guineafowl, Crowned Hornbill, Red-headed Weavers and the Purple Crested Turaco.
Our next destination was Shingwedzi Camp where we spent 3 nights. The river drives in this area are spectacular and it proved to be very rewarding on the bird front. Here we picked up White-fronted Bee-eaters, Lilac Breasted Rollers, Saddle Billed Storks and a number of Martial Eagles. On the Cat front we saw a wonderful male Leopard.
We continued our tour south to Letaba Camp, one of the most beautiful camps in the park with magnificent camp grounds and a spectacular view over the Letaba River. Walking around the camp proved very rewarding with Organge Breasted Bushshrikes, Black Collared Barbets, Speckled Mousebirds, Ashy Flycatchers, Puffbacks, African Scops Owl and White-browed Robin-chats.
Our final desitnation on the safari was a 3 night stay at the main camp Skukuza. This camp has wonderful sycamore fig trees which were fruiting at the time of our stay. These trees are magnets for many birds and here we collected some great images of Green Pigeons, Cape White-eye, Violet Backed and Red-winged Starlings, Sunbirds and Yellow Fronted Canaries. Lake Panic Bird hide is still one of the best hides for photography in the park. The Malachite Kingfisher showed up, along with a Squacco Heron, Lesser Masked Weavers and the ever present Egyptian Geese.
All in all it was a fantastically productive trip and really enjoyable to be able to go at a very different pace to the normal bigger mammal type photo safaris (of which we still got to see and photograph anyway) We saw 6 Leopards, a Cheetah, Lions and a pack of Cape Hunting Dogs, as well as Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Giraffe, Kudu, Zebra, Wildebeest and the rarely seen Sharpe's Grysbok.
Thanks very much to Sharron, Mark, Marco snr & jnr and Mathilde for coming on the safari, it was a great pleasure to have had you on the safari.
Thank you also to Stefan, it was a priveledge to guide with you in the Kruger, a true haven for wildlife and a fantastic place to photograph birds !
Here are a few photos taken by Stefan and myself - enjoy !!!
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We recently travelled to South Africa for a safari led by Wild 4 African Photographic Safaris. To put things simply, we were completely blown away. I had been on safari before, and had expectations that I thought were reasonable, but Wild 4 completely exceeded those expectations in so many ways. First of all, Justyna handled all of our travel and trip details with exceptional professionalism and always responded to even our most basic questions quickly and in a very detailed manner. Once we had arrived in South Africa, we were met by our guide Stu Porter, who I cannot say enough good things about. He is so organised and cordial. Stu was spotting things that we couldn’t believe that he was spotting, which almost always led to an amazing wildlife experience that we never saw coming. His knowledge and understanding of the wildlife and ecosystem was outstanding, and he went to great lengths to insure that we had the best chance of capturing a great photo, without compromising the rules of the park or the integrity of the animals and ecology within it. His understanding and respect for the wildlife and surroundings made the trip so much more than just a “drive around and look at whatever we see” kind of experience. I know that you can never predict what kind of experience you will have when you go out into the wild, and often it’s up to nature to decide what events you will be a part of, but in all honesty, I can’t imagine a better guide than Stu Porter. We will be doing our future trips to Africa with Wild 4, and cannot recommend them highly enough. Thank you so much for what a lot of people call “the trip of a lifetime”, although we feel that this is only the beginning of many trips of a lifetime. Thank you, Wild 4!!
James Smith, USA
Shopping for a travel adventure on the Web is somewhat risky, but when I wanted to go on an African photo safari, I really had no choice. I looked around and finally picked Wild4 Photographic Safaris for one reason: the vehicle. It was obvious that this was an outfit that understood photographic details and the needs of serious wildlife photographers. With a capacity for 10 passengers, the vehicle takes just three photographers. The three photographers' benches feature platforms to steady big lenses on both sides of the vehicle, and loads of storage space and pockets for lenses, bodies, accessories, binoculars, field guides, water, etc. I can not imagine a better platform for photography in the bush veldt. What is not as obvious in the on-line description is that the vehicle comes equipped with Stu Porter, the Wild4 owner and guide. Stu, who bears a striking resemblance to movie actor Matt Damon, is a deceptively shy young man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Kruger National Park, its animals, geography, geology, climate, seasons, and, of course, rules. He also has the eyes of an eagle and is the best leopard spotter in South Africa. Stu's knowledge and patience are seemingly infinite, and he somehow manages to be aware both of his passengers' needs and everything around us. He does everything humanly possible to give you the opportunity to get the best shot. And if you need more than just the opportunity, he can instruct even the most seasoned photographer on technique. Stu grew up next to Kruger National Park, and his mother (who does the meal preparation for the safari) started taking him there as soon as he was old enough. He has been accumulating his knowledge of the park and its animals all his life, and that comes in very handy when you need to know something about animal behavior. In short, Wild4 Photographic Safaris is all about the vehicle, with spacious seats, shooting platforms and Stu Porter as standard equipment. You can't do better. Thank you, Stu!
George Cathcart, USA