Etosha & Secrets of the Kalahari photo safari trip report 1 - August 2017
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 14th Aug 2017
We are pleased to release this photo trip report from our very first "Etosha and Secrets of the Kalahari" photo safari.
The main aim of this trip was to spend time in two of Africa's dry environments, namely Etosha National Park in Namibia and the Kalahari in South Africa where a variety of very different species manage to eke out a living for themselves. Along with a number species seen in the other wildlife hotspots of Africa, such as Greater Kudu, Zebra, Ostrich, Elephants, Lions, Blue Wildebeest, Giraffe, Black Backed Jackal, Spotted Hyaena and African Wilddog, these dry environments offer a fantastic collection of less commonly photographed animals. We were very fortunate to see the Damara DikDik, Black faced Impala, Gemsbok (Oryx), Red Hartebeest, Springbok, Tsessebe, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Bat Eared fox, Cape Fox, Black Rhino, Meerkats, Hartman's Mountain Zebra and the endangered Pangolin.
The dry winter season is the perfect time to do this trip as the days are mild and the nights are cold. Animals are thirsty and are dependant on visiting waterholes where the predators often hide and wait.
We spent 6 nights at Etosha National Park visiting a number of very productive waterholes and were treated to a number of sightings of large Elephant herds, Black Rhinos and Lions. There was a staggering amount of general game around which included Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Oryx, Springbok, Impala and Giraffe.
Our next stop on the tour was a 5 night stay at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in South Africa. Each Game drive at Tswalu produced a quality sighting, starting with a pack of African Wilddogs with 5 small pupies at their densite. We also followed a female Cheetah with her two small cubs, spent two sessions at two different habituated Meerkat groups (a real highlight), we had a morning with a beautiful Black Rhino and calf, we tracked down two large Male Lions and the North pride, had two evening sessions with the endangered Pangolin and a final morning drive with three predators, the Wilddogs, two Cheetah brothers and a group of Lions.
The tour was a great success and we certainly achieved our goals of photographing the animals of Etosha in the dry season and we discovered many secrets in the Kalahari !
Thanks so much to Usko, our guide in Namibia, and the Ultimate Safaris team, it was a great pleasure working with this great guide and company again, and also thanks so much to Fireblade Aviation and the extremely helpful and friendly team at Tswalu Motse for taking amazing care of us during our 5 night stay in the Kalahari. Extra special thanks also to our great photographic guide, Kosie and tracker, Jackson !
Finally thanks so much to Paul, Pierre and Martin for joining us on this first ever trip to Etosha and Tswalu, it was a great pleasure travelling with you all and experiencing the magic of these two special environments packed with unique species
Enjoy some of the photos from the tour,
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On arrival we were treated as part of the family by Stu Porter, his wife Justyna, and parents John and Ann. The conditions for finding and photographing everything from small birds to large game was perfect – a 500mm lens on hire from Stu, a specially equipped vehicle, which was referred to as a hide on wheels ( with only 3 photographers) , a dedicated and professional approach to photography and plenty of time. We would set off at sunrise, find a group of lions as they were beginning to yawn and stir from sleep, or a pair of saddle-billed storks building a nest, and quietly move our cameras into position. The initial sighting was accompanied by the rapid firing of shutters, but then we would wait as long as necessary in the hope of getting further shots. Stu was very sensitive to our needs and would only make suggestions about the best camera settings if he thought we needed his advice. His awareness of how animals behave was very useful in planning our shots. Stu’s knowledge of African Wildlife and skill as a wildlife photographer is second to none, and I have learned a lot from his expertise. I am delighted with my photos !! This was the trip of a lifetime, good accommodation, delicious food and great company. It was altogether a wonderful, challenging and thrilling experience and, if you are looking for a photo safari in Africa, I too recommend you contact Stu Porter at Wild4.
David Austwick, UK
This was simply an outstanding photographic safari all round – by far the best that I have been on! As a keen enthusiast photographer, looking to step up a level with view to entering 2 competitions later in the year, I could not have hoped for more. Excellent ! The family based Wild4 team is personable and friendly and went the extra mile all the way through. They are very well organized and their prompt and helpful responses to queries pre-trip ensured they were easy and a pleasure to deal with. Stu Porter can pitch his photographic tuition at any level and his attention to detail and enthusiasm was spot on throughout this trip. I was surprised by just how much I learn’t because I was quite comfortable with my photo technique on arrival. I have easily adopted his full-on manual approach, every bit of which he was able to justify - a revelation! I am quite picky, but I cannot praise these guys enough and I will be back. Very many thanks to the whole team.