LIONS and LEOPARDS of KRUGER photo safari trip report - August 2016
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 19th Aug 2016
Here are the trip report photos from the second of our 2016 “Lions & Leopards of Kruger” Photo Safari. We also did the 4 night pre-tour extension for Vultures, Reptiles and the photo hides at Ndlovu River Lodge.
The Vulture shoot offered the perfect wind conditions and great light and we photographed two of the 5 vulture species at the feed. We then spent a full day at the Kinyonga Reptile Park where we photographed Green & Black Mambas, Snouted Cobra, Scorpions, Baboon Spiders, Boomslang and Geckos.
Next stop was our 2 night stay at the Indlovu River Lodge in Karongwe Game Reserve. Here we spent 4 sessions in the specially built and very comfortable photo hides. Baboons, Nyala, Kudu and a number of birds were photographed all at eye level with the water and in great lighting conditions. The Baboons were particularly good this time round as well as a nice group of Common Waterbuck.
Ngala Private Reserve was next on the itinerary for a 3 night stay and highlights were seeing the young female Leopard we saw on the first trip as well as the young male we saw on the first trip who had been feeding on the remains of a young Waterbuck. On this trip we were treated to the sighting of a lifetime when we saw this same male Leopard bring down an adult female Warthog right next to our safari vehicle. Other highlights were a great Verreaux's Eagle Owl, a big herd of African Buffalo and a large number of Giraffe.
We met the Wild4 support team at Orpen Gate where we transferred into the Open Safari Vehicle and headed off into the Kruger National Park where we spent 6 nights split between Satara camp in central Kruger and Lower Sabie in the South. Highlights in Kruger were excellent sightings of Zebra, Greater Kudu, Giraffe, Impala, Nyala, Bushbuck, Steenbok, Elephants, 2 male Cheetahs hunting Zebra and Reedbuck, Vultures & Hyaenas on a fresh Buffalo carcass, Southern Ground Hornbills, Lions, 6 different Leopards, a variety of birdlife and 4 different Honey Badgers !!
Final stop on the trip was a 3 night stay at Mala Mala Private Game reserve. On our first game drive we photographed the Male cub of the Kikilezi female Leopard as well as the Kikilezi female herself. The female cub was also present so for now the two cubs are doing well. We then spent some time on our night drive with the Eyrefield Lion Pride.
Over the next two days we spent time with the Styx Lions as well as the Marthly Lions, the “Bike” male Leopard, an unknown Leopard cub, the Wilddog pack with their puppies and a wilddog kill. Elephant numbers were excellent in the Sand River and perhaps one of the main highlights was spending two sessions with a mating pair of Leopards, the “Tamboti” female and the “Tree House” male that were around the airstrip.
Many thanks to all the lodge staff that looked after us at each location and also to our rangers, Bertjan at Moholoholo, Stefan at Indlovu River Lodge, Garth & Thomas at Ngala and Fritz at Mala Mala. Thanks also to the Wild4 back up team who looked after us in the Kruger National Park.
Finally, thank you to the participants, Barbara, Peter and Jody, it was great travelling with Barbara for the 9th time ! and to have met Peter & Jody for the first time :), we certainly did share some great experiences and photographic opportunities.
Enjoy some of the photos below.
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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
Our trip was awesome….made so, in large part, by WILD4. The wildlife at Kruger was terrific. But, it was your teamwork in the field, your uncanny ability to spot wildlife and your willingness to accommodate our EVERY need that made the trip a resounding success. Stu…you are an extremely knowledgeable guide and a superb photographer. You even taught this old dog some new tricks. Justyna…you made a huge contribution to this trip, with your role as super admin guru and Ann, your wonderful meals were a pleasure to enjoy every evening. We could not have asked for a more talented, thoughtful and gracious group of folks to spend our vacation in South Africa with. We wish you the very best success in your endeavor. Please let us know how we can help to market Wild4 to folks who share our love for wildlife and photography.
Rob & Annarie Schallenberger, USA