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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I recently did a trip with Wild4 which far outweighed any expectations that I had! Wow what a trip. There was a great variety of animals, Stu has extensive knowledge of the animals and their habitat and was always mindful of us getting the best shots possible. My friend and I had our own bench seats in all the vehicles, which was great as we both had 2 DSLRs with numerous lenses, each vehicle is equipped with beanbags to steady your camera / lens, pockets and enough room to take a camera bag. We had fantastic opportunities to watch the cats for a good period of time and learn a little bit about their life, rather than taking a photo and moving on. I loved that we could sit and watch the lions at Mala Mala play in the Sand River, it was a fantastic opportunity. Stu provided us with some great tuition, I certainly learnt a lot of new photo techniques which I look forward to using back home. I hired a Canon 500mm lens from Stu which was great, I think I used that about 85% of the time and used a 70-200mm for the rest. We had many opportunities for night photography, silhouettes, time lapse, low light etc At the end of our trip we did the reptile extension at Khamai Reptile Centre. We went behind the scenes at the centre and had one of Africa's leading reptile specialist spend the day talking about the reptiles, spiders, scorpions we were about to take pictures of. Donald and his team certainly made for a very safe photo shoot, they were extremely patient positioning some of the reptiles for better light or different background. I learnt a lot from Donald, living in Australia we do have some venomous snakes, the day certainly gave me a renewed appreciation for the reptiles. I would highly recommend the Wild4 team for your next photographic safari you will not be disappointed.
Linda Cappello, AUSTRALIA
We couldn’t have enjoyed our trip with Wild 4 more. We were made to feel extremely welcome right from our very first e-mail contact, something which continued throughout our trip and beyond. We’d like to thank Stu, Justyna, Ann, & John for being such wonderful and enthusiastic hosts. Being looked after by such a friendly and caring family was a delight and we were very reluctant to leave after two weeks. Stu is a very knowledgeable, hard-working and helpful guide, always on hand with useful pointers and offering us plenty of encouragement to experiment with our photography. Having a whole row each of a specially adapted safari vehicle was a real find, ensuring we didn’t miss out on any of the action. Being able to stay out in the bush all day was also a real bonus. While many other vehicles drove off after only a few minutes, we were able to spend hours observing groups of lions and other wildlife. As this was our first African safari, Stu suggested we spend the first few nights at the Big Cats reserve and this proved to be a magical experience, with some great close-up action that resulted in some beautiful shots. It is a great place to hone your existing skills & learn some new ones. Given the opportunity we would go again tomorrow without any hesitation. Simply perfect!
Arnoud & Lynsey Van Foreest, NETHERLANDS