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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I found Wild4 through an article in Popular Photography magazine about how to choose a photo safari. They were one of five recommended in the article. After checking them all out, I saw that Stu and Wild4 offered the kind of experience that I wanted: 1) Small groups of dedicated photographers 2) Variety in wildlife viewing 3) Tuition on photography and wildlife behavior 4) Good communication and organisation. I can say that Wild4 met and exceeded all expectations on all points (and then some). 1) We used one vehicle for three photographers. Stu is a trained photographer himself, so his goal was always to get us into the best position with the best light. Having only three on the tour meant plenty of room for equipment and the ability to shoot from either side of the vehicle when surrounded by a herd of elephants! It also gave us the flexibility to be patient and wait for the shot. 2) The three places we visited each provided a unique experience and wonderful variety in scenery and wildlife viewing. 3) Stu's tuition was excellent. It was there if we needed it but never pushed. Tips, reminders, anecdotes on wildlife behavior. All given with patience and good humor. 4) From the first email, the communication was timely & clear. Justyna was a joy to work with and handled the back-office part of the tour seamlessly. It can't be as easy as she makes it seem. Wild4 didn't provide the wildlife or the spectacular sunsets that we experienced, but they put us in position to enjoy and capture a little piece of it in our cameras and in our memories. Our Safari was amazing and I would not have changed a thing...well, maybe I would have eaten a little less. If you're looking for a Photo Safari, there is nothing to consider. Just go ahead and contact Wild4 Photographic Safaris. You will not be sorry.
Doug Croft, USA
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