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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On arrival we were treated as part of the family by Stu Porter, his wife Justyna, and parents John and Ann. The conditions for finding and photographing everything from small birds to large game was perfect – a 500mm lens on hire from Stu, a specially equipped vehicle, which was referred to as a hide on wheels ( with only 3 photographers) , a dedicated and professional approach to photography and plenty of time. We would set off at sunrise, find a group of lions as they were beginning to yawn and stir from sleep, or a pair of saddle-billed storks building a nest, and quietly move our cameras into position. The initial sighting was accompanied by the rapid firing of shutters, but then we would wait as long as necessary in the hope of getting further shots. Stu was very sensitive to our needs and would only make suggestions about the best camera settings if he thought we needed his advice. His awareness of how animals behave was very useful in planning our shots. Stu’s knowledge of African Wildlife and skill as a wildlife photographer is second to none, and I have learned a lot from his expertise. I am delighted with my photos !! This was the trip of a lifetime, good accommodation, delicious food and great company. It was altogether a wonderful, challenging and thrilling experience and, if you are looking for a photo safari in Africa, I too recommend you contact Stu Porter at Wild4.
David Austwick, UK
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