LIONS and LEOPARDS of KRUGER photo safari trip report - Aug / Sept 2018
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 23rd Sep 2018
Here is the trip report from our second Lions & Leopards of Kruger Photo Safari of 2018.
Our stay at Jock Safari Lodge was very productive and we started with spending a full afternoon with the Lions of the Jock Pride complete with the two Thompson Male Lions. They had just finished an Impala and we caught one Lioness drinking from a pool in the Biyamiti River. The rest of the Lions moved off towards the main road and we followed the two Males as they scent marked on their way. We also had a great sighting of the same male Leopard we saw on our first trip in July. Other highlights were a massive herd of African Buffalo, a Verreaux's Eagle Owl, Chacma Baboon, White Rhino, Elephant and Waterbuck.
After 3 great nights at Jock Safari Lodge, we headed towards Satara Camp, located in central Kruger. On our way we stopped in at Nkaya Pan where we were treated to a special sighting of a resident female Leopard who came to drink. On our first morning we came across a dead Rhino at Welverdiend Waterhole on the Sweni road. There was a large pride of Lions (around 20) feeding on the carcass and after taking a few photos we continued to Shimangwaneni Dam where we photographed Giraffe, Zebra, Kudu, Elephant, Warthog and Waterbuck coming down to drink. Our second full day was spent on the S100 road near Satara where we found a small pride of Lions who tried in vain to catch Impala and Wildebeest. Other highlights were Impala, Zebra, a great Tawny Eagle and an African Wildcat in Satara Camp trying to catch little Swifts near the bungalows at Circle A.
Our final three nights in the Kruger National Park were spent at Lower Sabie Camp and in particular at Sunset Dam which is always a great place to photograph. Here we photographed Yellow Billed Storks, Egyptian Geese, Hippos, Great Egrets, Crocodiles and a Giant Kingfisher with a giant fish (too big in fact). We also found a female Leopard with a disfigured nose, an old injury perhaps from an encounter with a Crocodile ? She tried to hunt Impala but was unsuccessful and was last seen heading towards Orpen Dam. We spent some time at a very muddy Slim's Waterhole and also with a troop of Baboons on the main road North of Lower Sabie, they offered some great black & white photo opportunities.
Our final three nights were spent at Mala Mala and we started off with a great sighting of a pair of Saddle Billed Storks followed by a night photo session with the Kambula Lionesses who crossed the Sand River. On our first full morning we had an unbelievabe sighting of the Lookoout female Leopard bringing down a sub adult male Nyala. After this we spent time with the Three Rivers Female Leopard that was right outside Rattrays Camp. In the afternoon we followed up on the Lookout Female with cub and kill, only to watch as some Hyaena stole her kill from her. We did get to photograph her in a tree though at sunset. The following morning was another Leopard treat, we spent time with the Sibuye Female and her two cubs at the site of a Duiker kill. We also got to see the Piccadilli female and cub as well as the beautiful Island female making our total Leopard count at Mala Mala, an amazing 9 in three days !!
Many thanks to all the lodge staff that looked after us at each location and also to our guides and rangers, Jacob at Jock Safari Lodge and Liam at Mala Mala, thank you all for your hard work and patience and for getting us into sightings and spending quality photographic time with the animals. A massive thanks also to the Wild4 backup team (mum & dad !! ) who looked after us so well in the Kruger National Park.
Finally, thank you to the participants, Barbara, Mark and Allen, it was a pleasure to host you all and we really appreciate the long distances you travelled to join us on this Lions & Leopards of Kruger photo safari.
Please enjoy some of the photos below.
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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
The Wild 4 team made my trip to South Africa a truly memorable experience. Photographing some of the orphaned captive animals at the private game reserve on the extension was a great way to start the holiday, and Stu's tuition on techniques, composition and familiarity with your gear was the foundation for the rest of the trip. In Kruger we had some wonderful sightings - including the 'Big 5' all in one day on two consecutive days! The highlights were spending 20 minutes with a leopard cub in a tree no more than 30 metres away, and on the last day watching a pride of 14 lions stalking a herd of zebra for more than an hour - just wonderful experiences! I'm sure the quality of the shots I took was infinitely better than if I'd gone on a regular safari, as the whole focus of the experience is expertly designed to maximise photographic opportunities - including only 3 photographers in the specially designed vehicle. Stu's knowledge, enthusiasm and patience were boundless, and Ann's spotting and catering skills were also priceless! I hope to visit Africa again soon, and without doubt Wild 4 will be my first option.
Greg Morgan, UK