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 did a photo safari in and around Kruger National Park with Wild4. At the end of the trip I could not think of one significant thing that I would have changed to make the experience better. I have travelled to various parts of East and Southern Africa many times to photograph wildlife and I have to say that this was THE most photographically productive trip of them all. Not simply the volume of pictures, but the quality and variety of images that I returned home with was simply awesome. Key to this was Stu’s knowledge, enthusiasm and patience. Most days we were photographing from first light until sunset, and beyond on some occasions. I quickly learned not to worry about getting the vehicle into the best position for background, light, etc. We would see an animal and I'd start to assess where I would like to be for a shot, no sooner would I have done this I would realise that Stu was already getting us into that very position. The man is a first class guide AND an excellent photographer. Perfect. The whole trip, from start to finish, ran like clockwork. The camps were comfortable, the food was great and the company delightful. Going on Safari with Stu and Justyna was like being with friends, I had a truly unforgettable time. Photographic safaris do not come any better than this.
Mike Needham, UK
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