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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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
For thirty-five years I had dreamed of going on a photographic safari in South Africa. This year I finally realized that dream and it is fair to say that my hopes and expectations were surpassed in every way. I had done extensive research on African photographic safaris on the Internet before settling on Wild 4 photo safaris. What an inspired choice that turned out to be! This family company run by Stu Porter and his wife, Justyna, and aided by Stu’s parents, John and Ann, provides the perfect safari experience for photographers of every skill level. Stu is one South Africa’s finest wild-life photographers and a first-class teacher into the bargain. His knowledge of the habitat and habits of the animals and birds to be found in Kruger National Park is simply encyclopaedic. I was accompanied on the trip by my 25 year-old daughter, Amy, and we eagerly adapted to the early morning wake-up call to go off into the wilds in one of Stu’s specially fitted jeeps to photograph animals at sunrise. Every day brought its special moments whether the spectacle of lions mating just a few metres from the jeep, or leopards lying lazily in the grass digesting a meal, or elephants and hippos frolicking in a river. The days sped by and we returned home with thousands of photographs of birds and animals to sort through and cherish for the memories they bring back. A safari with Wild 4 is more than a photographic experience with a master photographer: it is an initiation into the wonders of South Africa – its wild-life and spectacular landscapes - and, above all, an experience of friendship as everyone aboard the jeep bond in common purpose. Everything about Wild 4 is first class: organization is superb, accommodations excellent, choices of locale perfect. Our safari with Stu and Wild4 was truly the experience of a life-time.
Andrew Oliver, CANADA