Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 28th Mar 2015
A short three night custom photo safari at the famous MALA MALA Private Game Reserve in South Africa proved once again that this is the best place in Africa to photograph wild Leopards. During our 6 game drives we encountered 10 different Leopards and got to spend a lot of time with some of them where we were treated to some excellent photo opportunities. Along with the Leopard sightings we also got to spend time with some of the Lions that are also found in the reserve.
On our first afternoon we encountered the "Kikelezi" female Leopard who has managed to bring up both of her cubs who are now close to becoming independant.
Our first morning drive produced a great sighting of the "Styx" Pride in the Sand River right in front of main camp. Whilst at the Lions we could see three different Leopards, the "Airstrip Male", the "Island female" and the "Princess Alice Pans Male" or "PAP" who sadly seems to be nearing the end of his reign as one of the dominant Male leopards in the area. He had some serious wounds from a fight with either Lions or another Leopard.
A real highlight was seeing the Matshipiri female and her cub of about 5 weeks.
On a drive to the south of the reserve we encountered an unknown female Leopard excellently spotted by Sean !! we then found the two "Jakkalsdraai" Male Lions resting in the Sand River. On our way back we spent some more time with the newly named "Island" female Leopard (the daughter of the "Tamboti female" Leopard) She is just as beautiful as her mother. We photographed her in a Marula tree where she had been chased by the Kikilezi female Leopard - a territorial dispute !
On our final afternoon it was wonderful to see the two "Styx" male Lions who I have personally not seen for a while. One of the Males has a magnificent mane and in a couple of years time he will be one of the most striking Male Lions in the area.
On our final morning we spent time with the "Kikilezi" female Leopard as she stalked up to a herd of Impala in long grass but was unsuccessful. Just before we had to return to camp we had one last encounter with the "Styx" Pride - expertly tracked and found by Roan, our Ranger.
Thank you to Frank, Martha and Sean for coming on the safari, it was a pleasure to have hosted you.
A massive thank you also to Roan, our Ranger, thanks for all the hard driving and getting us into the best positions for some excellent photographs !!.
Thank you to all the staff at Mala Mala for looking after us so well as always...
Enjoy some of the photos !!
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As a return customer I can't recommend enough the experience of these trips as well as photographic opportunities that surpass all expectations. In addition I have now visited the reptile centre, as part of the extension, twice. Both times I have been delighted with the skill and expertise of the rangers there. The opportunities set up for photography are exceptional and that coupled with Stu's masterclass in close up and macro provides a day to remember. If you get the opportunity to do the extension, take it as it's worth every minute.
Sharron Franks, UK
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