CUSTOM Photo Safari - NGALA & MALA MALA, South Africa - July 2015
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 29th Jul 2015
We have just completed a 6 night custom photographic safari which included 3 nights at Ngala Private Game Reserve followed by another 3 nights at Mala Mala Private Game Reserve.
This was the first ever WILD4 Photo Safari to experience two Wilddog den sites on the same safari. In the Kruger area these dogs number just over 200 individuals making them a highly endangered carnivore. Just to catch a fleeting glimpse of one in the wild is a fantastic priveledge. On this safari we were extremely fortunate to be able to spend time at the den site at Ngala where the Alpha female had given birth to 17 puppies !!! this is an incredible feat and we really hope that they all make it to adulthood.
The second den site at Mala Mala was a real bonus to see. At this den site two female dogs have given birth to puppies. The first set having a couple of weeks head start on the second set. Seeing two sizes of puppies at a wilddog den site is extremely rare. In other instances the Alpha female has been recording killing any other puppies that are not her own.
So it was a Wilddog extravaganza - not only did we see a total of 31 wilddogs at Ngala and 25 at Mala (TOTAL of 56 !!), we also caught the "Half Tail" pack as they are known, hunting along the banks of the Sand River at Mala Mala. The Alpha male chased a fully grown female Kudu right past our vehicle, but the rest of the pack was not there to back him up. They continued their hunt passing the swimming pool at Main Camp. Not much further on they caught a young Bushbuck. It was incredible to see Dogs running in all directions, not to mention the excitement of trying to keep up with them, expertly driven by our ranger, Jonno !!
Other amazing sightings on the tour were witnessing the Skorro pride and the Phelwane Male Lions at Ngala, resting with huge bellies after their latest feast. At night we experieinced how loud a Lions roar really is, we were 10m from one of the Phelwane males when he decided to turn up the volume to the max ! We arrived at a Buffalo carcass that was being dismantled by a group of over 13 Spotted Hyaenas. A Lioness was found at an Elephant carcass in the southern parts of Ngala and that story began to unfold just as we departed for our next destination, Mala Mala.
A huge thank you to Scott our Ngala Ranger and Ernie the expert tracker!! Thanks for all your patieince with us and getting us into some wonderful sightings. Also the the entire staff at Ngala Safari Lodge for looking after us so well.. Moses our butler was always on hand to take excellent care of us, THANK YOU !!
Next stop was Mala Mala, which at this time of year is one of the only areas with fresh flowing water - the Sand River. This river is a magnet for all the wildlife in the area and of course the predators are never far away. Some highlights at Mala Mala were seeing the Styx Lion pride with their 3 small cubs as well as the two Clarendon Male Lions who were enjoying a Buffalo Kill. Hundreds of Elephants lined the river every day. One of the Eyrefield Lioness was mating with one of the Matshipiri Males. A female Cheetah near the airstrip, a Lilac Breasted Roller eating a scorpion and of course those magnificent spotted cats; Leopards - 7 of them in total.
Massive thanks also to Jonno, our Mala Mala ranger and all the Mala Mala camp staff for another enjoyable and very photographically productive stay.
The biggest thanks go out to Doug and Susan who came all the way from California to do this 6 night custom photo safari, it was a long way but it was certainly worth it.
Enjoy some of the photos taken over the 7 days
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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
I am a Molecular Biologist by profession and a serious amateur nature photographer and have been on a number of organized trips over the last 10 years with the dual aims of enjoying nature and getting the best images possible. The organization of a two week trip with Wild 4 Photographic Safaris through Kruger National Park I shared with two other photographers and it was as good as I have ever experienced. The Porter family was friendly, knowledgeable and intuitively supportive. Stu really knows his subjects and spared no effort in getting the photographers into the best situation. He has a very pleasant, calm personality and is an accomplished nature photographer and naturalist which means he knows where the light or action is best and often what is about to happen. His vehicle is also well set-up for discriminating photographers. Justyna was just brilliant in getting things organized in the background. Having our own scout vehicle to report activity in the area while we pursued other subjects, worked well, and on a number of occasions provided photo opportunities we would have missed otherwise. In summary; rating out of 10…….no doubt a 10.
Graeme Guy, NEW ZEALAND