CUSTOM Photo Safari - MALA MALA, South Africa - July / Aug 2015
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 21st Aug 2015
Here is a trip report from a recent Custom Photo Safari to Mala Mala Private Game Reserve in South Africa.
This time of year is one of the best times to visit the Kruger area. Winter offers clear skies, mild temperatures and the animals are attracted to water. One of the best things about Mala Mala is the fact that they have the beautiful Sand River flowing through their property and it flows all year round. The river acts as a magnet for the local wildlife who need to quench their thirst more than usual as a result of the dry vegetation they feed on. The high use of the riverine area attracts predators and Lions & Leopards spend most of their time here during this time of year.
Our 3 night stay at Rattray's Camp provided excellent Lion, Leopard and Cape Hunting Dog sightings, not to mention excellent Elephant photography.
On our first drive we found members of the Eyrefield pride resting in the shade. An alert Giraffe pointed us in the right direction. Later on we spent time with elephants who enjoyed a splendid mudbath. We also saw one of the Grandmother Leopards of the area, the Dudley female.
On our first full day a blanket of mist covered the bush. A herd of elephants emerged in front of us as we made our way towards the Cape Hunting Dog den. We were lucky to find the pack present at the den as well as all the puppies running around playing. Later in the afternoon we caught up with the new upcoming dominant male Leopard, the “Tree House” Male. At nearly 6 years old he is a massive individual with a great future ahead of him.
On our way back to camp in the evening we watched the full moon rising over the sand river.
The following morning was spent following the Marthly Pride who we first found crossing the Sand River. After this they stalked up on some Impala, one of the young males decided to climb a Jackalberry tree and they then all crossed the sand river a second time before lying up on the bank of the river where they rested for the remainder of the day. Before we caught up with them again in the evening we spent some more time with the “Tree House” male Leopard. The evening was spent watching the Marthly pride stalking and running in on some Cape Buffalo who were just in front of main camp. They were not successful in their pursuit and then decided to take a rest next to the swimming pool at Main Camp.
Our final morning was spent back at the Cape Hunting Dog den, but the dogs were not present and we thought they might have moved the den further down the drainage line. On our way back to camp we caught up with the “Tree House” male leopard for the third time, this time he had stolen a bushbuck kill from a female Leopard and was busy feeding on it in a Sausage Tree. The “Airstrip” male Leopard arrived to investigate. Growling and threat displays ensued and the “Airstrip” male retreated back across the sand river to his territory.
Once again an excellent stay at this piece of paradise. Many thanks to Jonno our ranger who did a great job getting us into all these great sightings, also many thanks to the staff at Mala Mala Rattrays camp for looking after us so well.
Thank you to David and Bernice for deciding to visit Mala Mala with us, we certainly did have a fantastic stay with lots of excellent photographic opportunities.
Here are some photos from the safari.
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For thirty-five years I had dreamed of going on a photographic safari in South Africa. This year I finally realized that dream and it is fair to say that my hopes and expectations were surpassed in every way. I had done extensive research on African photographic safaris on the Internet before settling on Wild 4 photo safaris. What an inspired choice that turned out to be! This family company run by Stu Porter and his wife, Justyna, and aided by Stu’s parents, John and Ann, provides the perfect safari experience for photographers of every skill level. Stu is one South Africa’s finest wild-life photographers and a first-class teacher into the bargain. His knowledge of the habitat and habits of the animals and birds to be found in Kruger National Park is simply encyclopaedic. I was accompanied on the trip by my 25 year-old daughter, Amy, and we eagerly adapted to the early morning wake-up call to go off into the wilds in one of Stu’s specially fitted jeeps to photograph animals at sunrise. Every day brought its special moments whether the spectacle of lions mating just a few metres from the jeep, or leopards lying lazily in the grass digesting a meal, or elephants and hippos frolicking in a river. The days sped by and we returned home with thousands of photographs of birds and animals to sort through and cherish for the memories they bring back. A safari with Wild 4 is more than a photographic experience with a master photographer: it is an initiation into the wonders of South Africa – its wild-life and spectacular landscapes - and, above all, an experience of friendship as everyone aboard the jeep bond in common purpose. Everything about Wild 4 is first class: organization is superb, accommodations excellent, choices of locale perfect. Our safari with Stu and Wild4 was truly the experience of a life-time.
Andrew Oliver, CANADA
Hi Stu, Thank you for a wonderful trip. I have been on a lot of safaris around the world and you are the best in Africa. Your hard work pays off.
Dave Irey, USA