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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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
On arrival we were treated as part of the family by Stu Porter, his wife Justyna, and parents John and Ann. The conditions for finding and photographing everything from small birds to large game was perfect – a 500mm lens on hire from Stu, a specially equipped vehicle, which was referred to as a hide on wheels ( with only 3 photographers) , a dedicated and professional approach to photography and plenty of time. We would set off at sunrise, find a group of lions as they were beginning to yawn and stir from sleep, or a pair of saddle-billed storks building a nest, and quietly move our cameras into position. The initial sighting was accompanied by the rapid firing of shutters, but then we would wait as long as necessary in the hope of getting further shots. Stu was very sensitive to our needs and would only make suggestions about the best camera settings if he thought we needed his advice. His awareness of how animals behave was very useful in planning our shots. Stu’s knowledge of African Wildlife and skill as a wildlife photographer is second to none, and I have learned a lot from his expertise. I am delighted with my photos !! This was the trip of a lifetime, good accommodation, delicious food and great company. It was altogether a wonderful, challenging and thrilling experience and, if you are looking for a photo safari in Africa, I too recommend you contact Stu Porter at Wild4.
David Austwick, UK