Wild4 African Photographic Safaris

Wild4 African Photo Safaris

Specialist small group photo safaris to South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia

LIONS and LEOPARDS of KRUGER photo safari trip report - July 2017

Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 29th Jul 2017

The first “Lions & Leopards of Kruger” photo safari began with the clients arrival at Hoedspruit airport. Due to a delay in the flight arrival time, we headed off to Ngala and went straight out on our first afternoon game drive. 

There is no better way to begin a 13 day photo safari than with a visit to one of the resident Ngala Lion prides known as the Birmingham pride. A few adult females with small cubs were in the group. The pride is suffering with a bit of Sarcoptic Mange, but they looked well fed having recently finished off a Buffalo kill. Our two night stay at Ngala offered another sighting of the Lions as well as good general game sightings of Zebra, Wildebeest, Common Waterbuck and Impala. The highlight was spending time with a beautiful young male Leopard known as the Black Dam Male, he was with the last remains of his latest kill that had also attracted the attentions of a few Spotted Hyaenas.

We met the Wild4 support team at the Kruger National Park's Orpen Gate, where we transferred into our own Open Safari Vehicle and headed off into the Kruger National Park where we spent the next 6 nights split between Satara camp in central Kruger and Lower Sabie in the South. Central and Southern Kruger offered wonderful early misty mornings, a great sighting of fighting Zebra, Greater Kudu, Giraffe, Impala, Bushbuck, Steenbok, Elephants, Southern Ground Hornbills, Male Lions, African Scops Owl, Nile Crocodiles, Bateleur Eagles, Wooly Necked Storks, a Male Leopard in a Leadwood Tree, Vervet Monkeys and a Hippo covered in Terrapins !!

The highlight from Kruger was without a doubt the Leopard kill we all witnessed at the N'waswitshaka waterhole (known locally as “Watergat”) As we arrived at “Watergat” we noticed an older female Leopard hiding in a small gully. She was observing Impala as they came down to drink from the waterhole. After a few “almost” moments where the Impala was just not in the right position, the female leopard launched herself at a young male Impala and brought him down in full view of us and the other extremely lucky people that happened to be at the waterhole for that very brief moment in time.

I have been lucky to observe Leopards on many occasions, but this was the very first time that I witnessed and photographed a kill from start to finish, truly a once in a life time opportunity ! It certainly took me many years to see this, but for one client with us, it was his very first safari to Africa, such is the amazing way of mother nature !

Final stop on the trip was a 4 night stay at Mala Mala Private Game Reserve. The Lion dynamics at Mala Mala and surrounding area at the moment are certainly getting a shake up with new males moving in, others trying to avoid being detected and a new group of females known as the Kambula Lionesses. Things are by no means settled and the dynamics change on a daily basis. We did get to spend time with the two Avoca Males, we saw the three Manyeleti Males, as well as the three younger Marthly Males. We were fortunate to find the two Cheetah brothers in the north eastern part of the reserve and spent some time with them.

On our way back to camp one day, we bumped into a fresh Impala kill in a Fig Tree right next to the road. The Senegal Bush Male Leopard was responsible and we watched him first catch his breath, then climb into the tree and open up the Impala carcass. We also got to spend time with the Picadilli female Leopard who had just had her kill stolen by Hyaenas, the Tree House Male Leopard was photographed on patrol one night. The Island female Leopard was seen one morning. She is now thought to have dropped her new litter of cubs, and we followed her to the Sand River and photographed her crossing over to the eastern bank.

Other animals seen and photographed at Mala Mala included a brief late afternoon sighting of some African Wilddogs (this year with no den site as a result of the Alpha female being killed by Hyaenas), African Buffalo, large Elephant & Impala herds at the river, Nyala Antelope, Three banded Plovers, Hammerkop, Tawny Eagles, Greater Kudu, Common Duiker, Klipspringers, Side Striped Jackals and Nile Monitor Lizards.

Many thanks to all the lodge staff that looked after us at each location and also to our rangers, Shaun at Ngala and Theo at Mala Mala, thank you for your hard work and patience and for getting us into sightings and spending quality photographic time with the animals. Thanks also to the Wild4 back up team who looked after us so well in the Kruger National Park.

Finally, thank you to the participants, Andy and Patrick, it was great travelling with you both and we certainly did share some great experiences and photographic opportunities - oh boy that Leopard kill !!!

Enjoy some of the photos below.

Best wishes

Stu

Birmingham Pride Lions, Ngala
Birmingham Pride Lions, Ngala
Young Lion cub, Ngala
Young Lion cub, Ngala
The Birmingham Pride, Ngala
The Birmingham Pride, Ngala
Two young Lions showing symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange, caused by a burrowing mite
Two young Lions showing symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange, caused by a burrowing mite
African Buffalo, Ngala
African Buffalo, Ngala
White Backed Vultures, Ngala
White Backed Vultures, Ngala
Zebra and Wildebeest, Ngala
Zebra and Wildebeest, Ngala
Black Dam male Leopard, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Black Dam male Leopard, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Two Lionesses from the Birmingham Pride greet each other, Ngala
Two Lionesses from the Birmingham Pride greet each other, Ngala
Lioness from the Birmingham Pride, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Patrick Flora
Lioness from the Birmingham Pride, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Patrick Flora
Spotted Hyaena, Ngala
Spotted Hyaena, Ngala
Black Dam male Leopard, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Patrick Flora
Black Dam male Leopard, Ngala Game Reserve, Copyright Patrick Flora
Black Dam Male Leopard, Ngala
Black Dam Male Leopard, Ngala
Male Common Waterbuck, Ngala
Male Common Waterbuck, Ngala
Impala, Ngala
Impala, Ngala
Impala running, Ngala
Impala running, Ngala
Southern Giraffe, Kruger National Park
Southern Giraffe, Kruger National Park
Steenbok, Kruger National Park
Steenbok, Kruger National Park
Lilac Breasted Roller, Kruger National Park
Lilac Breasted Roller, Kruger National Park
Southern Ground Hornbills, adult and sub-adult
Southern Ground Hornbills, adult and sub-adult
African Scops Owl, Satara Camp, Kruger National Park
African Scops Owl, Satara Camp, Kruger National Park
Zebra's fighting, Central Kruger National Park
Zebra's fighting, Central Kruger National Park
Zebras fighting in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Zebras fighting in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Misty morning sunrise, Kruger National Park
Misty morning sunrise, Kruger National Park
Young Spotted Hyaenas, Kruger National Park
Young Spotted Hyaenas, Kruger National Park
Male Lions, Kruger National Park
Male Lions, Kruger National Park
Adult Martial Eagle taking off, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
Adult Martial Eagle taking off, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
Male Leopard near Kumana Dam, Kruger National Park
Male Leopard near Kumana Dam, Kruger National Park
Nile Crocodile, N'waswitsontso River, Kruger National Park
Nile Crocodile, N'waswitsontso River, Kruger National Park
Giraffe and Zebra, Kruger National Park
Giraffe and Zebra, Kruger National Park
Elephant dust bathing, Kruger National Park
Elephant dust bathing, Kruger National Park
Hippos and Elephants in the Sabi River, Kruger National Park
Hippos and Elephants in the Sabi River, Kruger National Park
Bateleur Eagle on the remains of an Impala, Kruger National Park
Bateleur Eagle on the remains of an Impala, Kruger National Park
Hippo in Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Hippo in Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Nile Crocodile, Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Nile Crocodile, Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Egyptian Geese, Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Egyptian Geese, Sunset Dam, Kruger National Park
Southern Giraffe drinking, Kruger National Park
Southern Giraffe drinking, Kruger National Park
Bateleur Eagles, Kruger National Park
Bateleur Eagles, Kruger National Park
Southern Ground Hornbill, Kruger National Park
Southern Ground Hornbill, Kruger National Park
Elephants at a natural water pan, Kruger National Park
Elephants at a natural water pan, Kruger National Park
Elephants mud wallowing, Kruger National Park
Elephants mud wallowing, Kruger National Park
Wooly Necked Stork, Kruger National park
Wooly Necked Stork, Kruger National park
Vervet Monkey, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Vervet Monkey, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Hippo covered in Terrapins at N'waswitshaka waterhole in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Hippo covered in Terrapins at N'waswitshaka waterhole in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Hippo covered in Terrapins at N'waswitshaka waterhole in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
Hippo covered in Terrapins at N'waswitshaka waterhole in the Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
The female Leopard moments before she charged, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
The female Leopard moments before she charged, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Female Leopard chasing after the young male Impala, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
Female Leopard chasing after the young male Impala, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
The female Leopard locking onto the Impala, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
The female Leopard locking onto the Impala, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
The Leopard grabs the Impala by the back of the neck, Copyright Patrick Flora
The Leopard grabs the Impala by the back of the neck, Copyright Patrick Flora
The final struggle begins, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
The final struggle begins, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Final moments before the Leopard pulled the Impala down, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
Final moments before the Leopard pulled the Impala down, Kruger National Park, Copyright Patrick Flora
The Leopard then dragged the Impala off into the bush, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
The Leopard then dragged the Impala off into the bush, Kruger National Park, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Spotted Hyaena Den at Mala Mala
Spotted Hyaena Den at Mala Mala
One of the Avoca Male Lions, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
One of the Avoca Male Lions, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Black Stork, Mala Mala
Black Stork, Mala Mala
Saddle Billed Stork, Mala Mala
Saddle Billed Stork, Mala Mala
A Hammerkop with a piece of meat from the Lion Kill, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
A Hammerkop with a piece of meat from the Lion Kill, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Tawny Eagle, Mala Mala
Tawny Eagle, Mala Mala
Mating pair of Three Banded Plovers, Mala Mala
Mating pair of Three Banded Plovers, Mala Mala
One of the Avoca male lions, Mala Mala
One of the Avoca male lions, Mala Mala
Herd of Elephants in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Herd of Elephants in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Male Nyala Antelope, Mala Mala
Male Nyala Antelope, Mala Mala
Young Klipspringer Antelope, Mala Mala
Young Klipspringer Antelope, Mala Mala
African Wilddogs, Mala Mala
African Wilddogs, Mala Mala
African Wilddog, Mala Mala
African Wilddog, Mala Mala
Male Greater Kudu, Mala Mala
Male Greater Kudu, Mala Mala
Cheetahs, Mala Mala
Cheetahs, Mala Mala
Male Cheetahs, Mala Mala
Male Cheetahs, Mala Mala
As we arrived the Senegal Bush Male Leopard showed his disapproval, Mala Mala, Copyright Patrick Flora
As we arrived the Senegal Bush Male Leopard showed his disapproval, Mala Mala, Copyright Patrick Flora
Senegal Bush Male Leopard yawning, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard yawning, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard below the tree in which he stashed his Impala kill, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard below the tree in which he stashed his Impala kill, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard with his Impala kill, Mala Mala
Senegal Bush Male Leopard with his Impala kill, Mala Mala
The Leopard proceeded to bite the tail off the Impala and then swallowed it whole !!, Mala Mala, Copyright Patrick Flora
The Leopard proceeded to bite the tail off the Impala and then swallowed it whole !!, Mala Mala, Copyright Patrick Flora
Cheetah, Mala Mala
Cheetah, Mala Mala
Male Cheetah, Mala Mala
Male Cheetah, Mala Mala
Picadilli female Leopard, Mala Mala
Picadilli female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Island female Leopard, Mala Mala jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala
African Hawk Eagle being mobbed by a Lilac Breasted Roller
African Hawk Eagle being mobbed by a Lilac Breasted Roller
Side Striped Jackal, Mala Mala
Side Striped Jackal, Mala Mala
Herd of Zebra, Mala Mala
Herd of Zebra, Mala Mala
African Buffalo herd resting, Mala Mala
African Buffalo herd resting, Mala Mala
Female Buffalo with unusual horns, Mala Mala
Female Buffalo with unusual horns, Mala Mala
African Buffalo herd, Mala Mala
African Buffalo herd, Mala Mala
Greater Kudu bull, Mala Mala
Greater Kudu bull, Mala Mala
One of the Marthly Male Lions next to the Sand River, Mala Mala
One of the Marthly Male Lions next to the Sand River, Mala Mala
The three Marthly Male Lions, Mala Mala
The three Marthly Male Lions, Mala Mala
White Headed Vulture, Mala Mala
White Headed Vulture, Mala Mala
Herd of thirsty Impala drinking from the Sand River, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller     www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
Herd of thirsty Impala drinking from the Sand River, Mala Mala, Copyright Andy Miller www.andymillerphoto.co.uk
White Headed Vulture, Mala Mala
White Headed Vulture, Mala Mala
One of the Marthly Male Lions, Mala Mala
One of the Marthly Male Lions, Mala Mala
Giraffe feeding on an early flush of Knob Thorn Tree Flowers, Mala Mala
Giraffe feeding on an early flush of Knob Thorn Tree Flowers, Mala Mala
Common Duiker, Mala Mala
Common Duiker, Mala Mala
The Tree House Male Leopard yawning, Mala Mala
The Tree House Male Leopard yawning, Mala Mala
Tree House male Leopard, Mala Mala
Tree House male Leopard, Mala Mala
Young male Common Waterbuck, Mala Mala
Young male Common Waterbuck, Mala Mala
Vervet Monkey in the tree tops, Mala Mala
Vervet Monkey in the tree tops, Mala Mala
Red Billed Ox Pecker on a Giraffe, Mala Mala
Red Billed Ox Pecker on a Giraffe, Mala Mala
Young Giraffe, Mala Mala
Young Giraffe, Mala Mala
the Senegal Bush male Leopard on patrol, Mala Mala
the Senegal Bush male Leopard on patrol, Mala Mala
Young Leopard cub on an Impala kill, Mala Mala
Young Leopard cub on an Impala kill, Mala Mala
Male Impala in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Male Impala in the Sand River, Mala Mala
Nile Monitor Lizard, Mala Mala
Nile Monitor Lizard, Mala Mala
the Senegal Bush male Leopard on patrol, Mala Mala
the Senegal Bush male Leopard on patrol, Mala Mala

Back to Trip Reports

3 Comments

  • So many of these photos are amazing, I don’t know where to start.  I love the ones in motion, and the wonderful light on Young male Common Waterbuck, Mala Mala, and the set of the Island female Leopard jumping over a watercourse in the Sand River, Mala Mala, the wilddog heading off into the sunset, the misty morning. Bateleur Eagle on the remains of an Impala, Kruger National Park, and many others.  Looking forward to our trip.

    Witta Priester - July 30th, 2017 at 1:57am

  • OMG!  Thank you for sharing these beautiful images!  I can hardly wait to be there myself!

    Carol Susan Sheppard - July 31st, 2017 at 8:50pm

  • Hi Stu—It was a great pleasure to have travelled with you and Patrick—what a trip and so many new experiences—not least the leopard kill at the water hole. Thanks for including some of my attempts in your trip report.

    Andy Miller - August 04th, 2017 at 4:09pm

Leave a Comment

Testimonials 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

Testimonials We have a particular affinity for bird photography, but also enjoy the African game animals. I'm pleased to say we are all thrilled with the entire trip. Stu met us at the airport on day 1, and what was to have been a quick couple hour drive to camp, took all afternoon until sunset, we found so many things to shoot. Then we wanted to do something slightly off the itinerary on day 2, and Stu again accommodated us. It was like that throughout the entire trip, the Porter family was very accommodating. Even though we were in a big national park using public facilities, the Porter family made us feel like we were in our own private game reserve, and the animals were there just for us. Stu's local knowledge of the birds and game is just great, he's a walking guide book. And because he's in Kruger so often, he knows where the best spots are. Also he knows all the other guides, and they share information. And most importantly if you are considering a photo safari, Stu is an accomplished nature photographer himself. He knows the light and how to position and approach for the best shot. He knows what photographers want and how to get it. The experience might be quite different if just any guide were to drive you around. And having a spotting vehicle out searching for game really helped us see some extra animals we wouldn't have seen. The results were outstanding. We saw and photographed all the of the big five, and several seldom seen animals totaling 33 mammal species and 164 bird species. All in all, the trip was great!!  highly recommended!

Con Foley, USA