LIONS and LEOPARDS of KRUGER photo safari trip report - July 2016
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 31st Jul 2016
Here are the trip report photos from the Lions & Leopards of Kruger Photo Safari as well as some images from the African Reptile workshop and Photo Hides at Indlovu River Lodge. Altogether we visited 5 different locations on this photo safari which offers the best variety that the Kruger area can offer.
The trip started off with the Vulture photo shoot at Moholoholo and a good number of birds responded despite all the food that is currently available for them in the Kruger National Park as a result of the drought that the park has been experiencing. 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.
Ngala Private Reserve was next on the itinerary for a 3 night stay and highlights were seeing the Wilddog Den and the 11 puppies, two different Leopards, two Honey Badgers and three Lions trailing behind a herd of Buffalo.
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 finding 4 Cheetahs, a Lioness with a freshly killed Wildebeest, a pride of Lions on a Buffalo Kill, a large Male Lion walking in the main road near Lower Sabie, 3 distant leopards and lots of good bird life especially near Lower Sabie.
Final stop on the trip was a 3 night stay at Mala Mala Private Game reserve. On our first game drive we photographed a Pangolin, expertly spotted by our ranger, Roan !, it just got better and better from there on, we spent many hours over the next few days with the Kikelezi female leopard and her two cubs. We also had two sightings of the two Matshipiri Male Lions, as well as an exciting interaction between the Bicycle Crossing Male leopard, a second unknown male Leopard and two Spotted Hyaenas who all wanted a piece of a warthog kill.
We also visited the Hyaena den site and photographed the young cubs.
We spent our final morning with the Leopard cubs and were surprised to see another leopard arrive, the mother of the cubs immediately climbed into the tree to protect her Impala kill, and the young male cub ventured out to investigate the newly arrived Leopard who snarled at it as it approached. However the Leopard turned out to be the older daughter from the same mother who had become independant about a year ago (their step sister).
There was no serious aggression shown but they did keep their distance from each other.
Many thanks to all the lodge staff that looked after us at each location and also to our rangers, Yuko at Moholoholo, Stefan at Indlovu River Lodge, Bernhard & Thomas at Ngala and Roan 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, Marc, Sue and Rita, it was great travelling with you all and sharing many special experiences and photographic opportunities with you.
Enjoy the photos
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'Thank you Stu for such a memorable safari to the Kruger. WILD4 provided a totally professional service, from the pre-safari preparation to the sighting and photographing of so many animals and birds, at all stages your team provided first class support and advice. The package you provide is superb and that is why I am booking another safari with you.
Pete Farmer, UK
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