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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The wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm Stu shared was priceless, from identifying birds and pointing out animal behaviors, to stories about Kruger Park past, and of course, answering photography questions day in and day out. You were so patient! I really appreciated the custom photo safari vehicle and thoughtful design and extra space it afforded, and the advantage and flexibility of traveling with such a small number of people. I learnt so much, and I look forward to sorting through the images and enjoying remembering all the things we did during our busy photo safari.
Helen Cruickshank, 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