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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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
Thank you again Stu for your trip report of our Botswana trip. It has been very useful to me as I go through my photographs and try to identify the birds especially. It has also given me ideas on how to treat some of my photographs of similar subjects, Also a big thank you in general for the technique guidance you have give me this year and for your fantastic decisions about anticipating animal behavior. My resulting photographs are largely due to your help and to travelling with you. You have had a significant impact on the quality of my photographs and I am very appreciative. Looking forward to hearing about your Tsavo trip. Regards
Sharon Thorp, Canada