LIONS and LEOPARDS of KRUGER photo safari trip report - August 2019
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 18th Jan 2020
The second of our 2019 Lions & Leopards of Kruger photo safaris was a very special and emotional one for us at WILD4. This photo tour will go down in our WILD4 history book as the final tour that involved the whole family. Those of you who have been with us on a photographic safari to the Kruger National Park, will have met my parents, John & Ann. They have been such an amazing and special part of the team and were with us right at the beginning when we ran our very first photo safari to the Kruger in 2002, a camping photo safari with two of my friends and fellow students from Blackpool & the Fylde College in the UK, Mark & Coralie.
Over the past 17 years, my parents have guided, cooked, cleaned, prepared, brainstormed, supported and babysat for us. They have been involved in every aspect of the business and we could not have asked for a better team! Thank you guys for an amazing 17 years!
This final photo safari was our 142nd to the Kruger National Park. A total of 994 days were spent on safari in this very magical place, with the most amazing team in the world. Mum & Dad, we love you!
Now back to the trip report..
Our first three nights were again spent at Jock Safari Lodge on the Biyamiti River in the Southern section of the Kruger National Park.
Some of the highlights were seeing the Jock Pride of Lions and three different Leopards. One male Leopard dragged his Impala kill up into a tree just in time before a group of hungry Spotted Hyaenas arrived.
We were also treated to an up-close encounter with a Black Rhino who approached the vehicle to within a few meters. Lazarus our guide did an amazing job to get us in on this sighting as it looked like the Rhino was headed off in the opposite direction when we first spotted him.
Next location was central Kruger and the open areas around Satara Camp. This is always a very productive area of Kruger Park. During the dry winter season, animals are forced to congregate at the remaining water and so sitting at some of these water holes or pans is always very productive and enjoyable. Nkaya pan, one of my personal favourites had totally dried up, so we spent a number of days at the Shimangwaneni Dam near the Mudzanzeni picnic site. This area was very busy and productive. Elephants, Giraffe, Buffalo, Impala, Kudu, Zebra and Waterbuck all showed up at regular intervals to slake their thirst.
Final destination in the Kruger was Lower Sabie Camp in the South Eastern section of the park. This is always a good area as there is water here all year round. The Sabi River is a permanent river that flows through the Kruger and so animal numbers here are always good. Sunset dam provided a lot of activity and we spent hours photographing Hamerkops, Great Egrets, Little Egrets and Grey Herons, fishing off the backs of Hippos. These birds have learned that fish congregate around the sleepy Hippos and it was wonderful to see them using their special fishing techniques. A very funny moment was watching a Hammerkop flying inches above the water trying to pick out a fish near the surface, when suddenly a Crocodile erupted right in front of him.
We departed Lower Sabie for the last time in a WILD4 Photo Safari Vehicle and headed to Mala Mala.
The highlight of this trip is the final 3-night stay at Mala Mala. It is a great way to end off with luxurious rooms, excellent food and some of the best wildlife photo opportunities in Africa.
As usual, we were not disappointed and we spent time observing and photographing Lions, Leopards, Wild dogs and on our final day we had a bonus sighting of the rarely seen Sable Antelope.
Many thanks to all the lodge staff that looked after us at each location and also to our guides and rangers, Lazarus at Jock Safari Lodge and Liam at Mala Mala, your endless patience with photographers is admirable and thank you for getting us into the sightings, allowing us to spend quality time with these amazing creatures..
A FINAL huge thank you to my parents for looking after us on this trip and for all the previous trips we have done together... it was a fantastic journey!
Thank you to the participants, Rita, Michael and Susan, we could not have asked for more appreciative people to share this final WILD4 Lions & Leopards of Kruger Photo Safari with us.
Please enjoy some photos from the trip.
PS - although we will no longer be running and operating trips inside the Kruger National Park as WILD4, we have partnered with Lawsons Tours and Safaris, who will take over this role for us. If you are interested in visiting the Kruger National Park for a photo safari, we can still arrange this for you and it will be fulfilled by Lawsons Safaris.
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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
This was my third photographic trip to Africa, and I have to say the best! Stu has great knowledge & passion for wildlife and photography that he is willing to share: I certainly learnt a lot. The setup for photography in the vehicles is extremely well thought out. There was an amazing variety of great photographic opportunities and I really enjoyed time spent with the animals, but the unexpected bonus for me was the day spent at the reptile centre (part of the extension). I am very pleased with the results! After coming away with the renewed enthusiasm for photography, I am planning to do another trip with them soon."
Helen Clarke, AUSTRALIA