Etosha & Secrets of the Kalahari photo safari trip report 2 - August 2017
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 10th Sep 2017
Here is this years second trip report from the "Etosha and Secrets of the Kalahari" photo safari.
The dry season in both Etosha and the Kalahari produced a great number of special sightings and photo opportunties, most of the animals seen and photographed on the first trip were again seen and photographed on this trip. These included: 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.
A convenient cold front that pushed inland from the Cape brought the day time temperatures down more so than on the first trip. This helped in a big way in the Kalahari as these colder conditions brought out the Aardvark to feed during daylight hours. We were treated to 5 sightings of this unusual creature and our expert guide, Kosie, managed to walk us to the Aardvark and get some close up photos.
We visited the waterholes in Etosha 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. We also saw an unusual sighting of a Kori Bustard hunting Doves at Chudob waterhole in Eastern Etosha.
We had a very special arrival at Tswalu Kalahari, on our way from the airstrip to the lodge we bumped into our first Aardvark sighting - what a start ! The African Wilddog den site had moved but we still got to spend an afternoon with the dogs.
We had a good daytime sighting of the Cape Fox and spent two sessions with the Meerkats, the more habituated group allowed us to follow them as they went in search of food.
Sable, Roan, Cheetah, Red Hartebeest, Oryx and Eland also presented great photo opportunities at Tswalu.
This second trip was again a great success and we look forward to hosting more trips to these two special dry African Environments.
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, David, and also to Cameron for taking us out on our last morning drive at Tswalu !
Finally thanks so much to David, Francoise, Keith and Sharon for joining us on this photo tour to Etosha and Tswalu, it was a great pleasure travelling with you all again and experiencing the magic of nature.
Enjoy some of the photos from the tour,
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My wife Joanie and I joined Wild4 for the Best of Kruger and Big Cats in August of 2014. It was our very first trip on an African safari. I’m a serious amateur photographer and my wife’s a non-photographer but both of us enjoyed the trip thoroughly ! To this day, we still regularly recall the highlights of sightings and events fondly. True to Wild4’s brand promise, Stu Porter delivers maximum photographic times spent chasing photo opportunities out in the field - out 6am as soon as the camp gate opens and back only 6pm when the gate closes. Having no more than three photographers on each of two jeeps allows every photographer immediate access to both sides of the vehicle. Stu always knows where to position the vehicle for the best vantage points. Every day has its highs – big cat chases and kills, grazers sparring, herds of elephants and buffaloes appearing from nowhere at water holes... Thanks to Stu and the enthusiasm and knowledge of experienced senior guide Mike Lentz. Camps in Kruger are basic (by first world standards) but hey this is a safari ! There’s the important benefit of being only a short drive away from dams, good spots to catch the first light when the sun rises. This is important as the gates do not open till 6am so there’s little margin for being late. I had the opportunity to experience first-hand, the Wild4 team’s dedication and commitment to a successful photo trip for guests, beyond the call of duty. The Wild4 team helped solved a major photographic equipment problem. Early afternoon on Day 5, the lens AF motor on my 400mm telephoto lens failed. This was really a disaster on a trip like this, as (like everyone else) I had a spare camera body but not a spare super telephoto lens ! The other lens I had was a medium telephoto zoom, hardly a lens to use with tele-converters. Murphy’s Law indeed ! This happened with seven more days to go ! I enquired with Stu about hiring a lens from the nearby towns. Stu sprang into action immediately whilst still on the afternoon game drive - got his back-office team to make enquiries back in Nelspruit town. This was something new to the Wild4 team as they never had to hire a lens but they found a lens on the same day, a 200-400mm that’s also ideal for safari. The lens had to be dispatched from almost 200 km away and Mr John Porter helped to drive south to collect the lens sooner. I had the use of this lens by the morning of Day 7, with one-and-half day “downtime” in a remote location. Service excellence lived by as a core value indeed. After eight nights I left Kruger National Park with the feeling that I was just warming up and was leaving too soon. I would have gladly extended a few more days if that was possible. But we were bound for the next destination. I notice Wild4 has not been static. More new trips were added. I see the enterprise is growing fast ! Joanie and I are now looking forward to a trip to Kenya, again with Stu and the Wild4 team.
Steve Seow, Singapore
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