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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Kruger North to South 16 days of photo safari gone off like a wink of an eye especially when it was fun and memorable. Like an aciton-packed movie, the opening scene at the Skukuza Airport reception by Wild4 Team : Stefan and Sandrine was delightful and the afternoon game drive was filled with excitements with shots of wildlife encountered as we travelled to our first camp in Satara. The numerous sightings we experienced over the next two weeks were nothing less than thrilling and of course capturing the Big 5 was fulfilling. The teamwork of Stefan and Sandrine was excellent giving the traveling photographers absolutely nothing to worry except to be trigger happy. Each day I shot approximately 1,500 images as each day bought new surprises. As a photographer I used the Sony A9 with the 2x teleconverter on the 100-400mm G Master zoom for distant & fast-moving subjects like eagles' flights, lions, leopards, rhinos and the smaller birds in flights while my Leica SL on a APO Vario Elmarit 90-280mm zoom for intermediate distance subjects like elephants, hippos, zebras, Impalas, Kudus and various animals within close quarters of the vehicle, and finally my Leica Q for the panoramic shots of landscape and daily point and shoot. A memorable trip ending with almost 4 TB of mobile hard disk storage. I will re-live my memories when I sort out the images and I look forward to my next trip with Stu on the Tanzania & Elephants of Amboseli and many other trips with Wild4.
Clifford Yap, Singapore
We have a particular affinity for bird photography, but also enjoy the African game animals. I'm pleased to say we are all thrilled with the entire trip. Stu met us at the airport on day 1, and what was to have been a quick couple hour drive to camp, took all afternoon until sunset, we found so many things to shoot. Then we wanted to do something slightly off the itinerary on day 2, and Stu again accommodated us. It was like that throughout the entire trip, the Porter family was very accommodating. Even though we were in a big national park using public facilities, the Porter family made us feel like we were in our own private game reserve, and the animals were there just for us. Stu's local knowledge of the birds and game is just great, he's a walking guide book. And because he's in Kruger so often, he knows where the best spots are. Also he knows all the other guides, and they share information. And most importantly if you are considering a photo safari, Stu is an accomplished nature photographer himself. He knows the light and how to position and approach for the best shot. He knows what photographers want and how to get it. The experience might be quite different if just any guide were to drive you around. And having a spotting vehicle out searching for game really helped us see some extra animals we wouldn't have seen. The results were outstanding. We saw and photographed all the of the big five, and several seldom seen animals totaling 33 mammal species and 164 bird species. All in all, the trip was great!! highly recommended!
Con Foley, USA