LIONS and LEOPARDS of KRUGER photo safari - June 2014
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 15th Jun 2014
The first Lions and Leopards photo safari has just ended. We also did the two night Forest Camp extension for African Reptile and Vulture Photography.
Our three nights at the Big Cat Reserve was very eventful with the Lions on a Buffalo kill and the two Cheetah brothers, Floppy and Hunters bringing down a young Waterbuck. The two seasoned Leopards, Jabula and Bagheera were still on form for the night photo shoot.
Then it was off to the Kruger National Park and 4 nights at Satara in central Kruger.
We spent a lot of time sitting patiently at the remaining waterholes and Girivana and Nkaya pan were both very productive. We spent the entire day at Nkaya pan and animals came and went like clock work. A Saddle Billed Stork kept us entertained in the quiet times as she continuously hunted in the pan for Platanas (african Clawed Frogs) Special treats were a beautiful Male Lion with one of the biggest manes I have seen in the Kruger, Rhino, Elephant, Impala, Zebra, Warthog, Wildebeest and Kudu, to name just a few.
The Sweni Bird hide was productive too with a Goliath Heron that showed off his hunting skills right in front of the hide.
Our final stop was three nights at Mala Mala. We began with a sighting of a Leopard and her cub in a tree with a kill. Later on that evening a male leopard arrived and stole the kill.
The Eyrefield pride successfully caught a young male Nyala on one of the night drives. Great bird photography, a rare Sable Antelope and the Newington and the Airstrip Male leopards were some other highlights.
On our final night we witnessed the Bicycle Crossing Male Leopard chase another male leopard at full speed through the sand river where they briefly fought, the "Bike" was the clear victor and chased his counterpart, off into the night !
On our final morning drive we soon found the Eyrefield pride on the airstrip, we followed them on a brief unsuccessful hunt and then they made their way down to the river and crossed at the perfect place for us to get some Lions in the river photos !! what a great ending to a magical safari..
Many thanks to the staff at Forest Camp, Tshukudu and Mala Mala and to Stefan our guide at Forest Camp, Deon and Matt, our rangers at Tshukudu and to Brendan, our ranger at Mala Mala for looking after us and getting us into great positions for some wonderful photo opportunities.
Thanks also to mum - great food again in the Kruger and a huge thanks to Becky, all the way from Whidbey Island - Washington State - for joining us on this photo safari, it was a fantastic trip !
Here are some of the photos - enjoy !!
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For thirty-five years I had dreamed of going on a photographic safari in South Africa. This year I finally realized that dream and it is fair to say that my hopes and expectations were surpassed in every way. I had done extensive research on African photographic safaris on the Internet before settling on Wild 4 photo safaris. What an inspired choice that turned out to be! This family company run by Stu Porter and his wife, Justyna, and aided by Stu’s parents, John and Ann, provides the perfect safari experience for photographers of every skill level. Stu is one South Africa’s finest wild-life photographers and a first-class teacher into the bargain. His knowledge of the habitat and habits of the animals and birds to be found in Kruger National Park is simply encyclopaedic. I was accompanied on the trip by my 25 year-old daughter, Amy, and we eagerly adapted to the early morning wake-up call to go off into the wilds in one of Stu’s specially fitted jeeps to photograph animals at sunrise. Every day brought its special moments whether the spectacle of lions mating just a few metres from the jeep, or leopards lying lazily in the grass digesting a meal, or elephants and hippos frolicking in a river. The days sped by and we returned home with thousands of photographs of birds and animals to sort through and cherish for the memories they bring back. A safari with Wild 4 is more than a photographic experience with a master photographer: it is an initiation into the wonders of South Africa – its wild-life and spectacular landscapes - and, above all, an experience of friendship as everyone aboard the jeep bond in common purpose. Everything about Wild 4 is first class: organization is superb, accommodations excellent, choices of locale perfect. Our safari with Stu and Wild4 was truly the experience of a life-time.
Andrew Oliver, CANADA
Our 14 days with Wild4 Safaris will always be remembered as the best learning experience we have ever embarked on. Not only for the improvement in photographic skills and knowledge, but also the animal behavioural knowledge that we gained. We were totally immersed in the world of wildlife photography in the best place in the world with one of the best pro photographers around. Stu genuinely enjoys sharing his knowledge and passion for wildlife and photography. More than a holiday, it was an unbelievably rewarding learning experience and has taken our skill level up significantly. Stu and his team were able to help us learn about our equipment and coach us to apply these new skills quickly. Their sharing of knowledge, expertise in photography, and being able to read wildlife behaviour along with the excellent booklet (which became Marie's bible) are world class. This ensured we got to places that others didn't and that we were always in the best position to shoot. We also booked the extension and were most impressed with the "behind the scenes" access we gained at each Reserve. Stu didn't disappoint and was able to put together some memorable opportunities for us to get many excellent shots. The whole package was first class, from the pick up at Nelspruit, accommodation, food and day trips, to the people (now friends) who we met on the trip. This is one of those bucket list adventures that we will be doing again with WILD4.
John and Marie, AUSTRALIA