PHOTO TRIP REPORT | Focus on the Kruger | May 2019
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 3rd Jan 2020
Photos & Text by Leon Marais
Guiding in the Kruger is always a privilege, and to have the opportunity to host three keen photographers for 11 days under almost flawless winter weather conditions was a true treat. And the incredible luck we had just made it that much better! This Focus on Kruger itinerary offers the chance to settle down for five nights in each of Kruger’s two best game viewing areas – Lower Sabie in the south-east and Satara in the south/central part of the park (and one of the participants came out a couple of days early and got to experience the Skukuza area as well). With packed breakfasts and lunches we had the flexibility to stay out for long periods, averaging around 10 hours on game drive per day, and this no doubt contributed to our success – the more time one spends looking, the more one finds!
Our luck kicked in not far out of the airport on day 1 with our first leopard find, the first of seven that we found ourselves, out of 8 individuals seen in total. Starting off at Lower Sabie we had a few wonderful photo sessions at Sunset Dam, a superb spot where one can easily rattle off several hundred shots during a morning or afternoon session, with plenty of birds, hippos and crocodiles as subjects. Other highlights in the Lower Sabie area included numerous Lion sightings, including a full hunt and kill sequence when a young male Lion killed a Porcupine – a heart-wrenching experience made all the more so when we realized that there was a baby Porcupine involved, which thankfully made an escape, though the adult Porcupine wasn’t so lucky. We bagged the other big cats too with an unbelievable sighting of four Cheetahs on the S28 south of the camp; a great find of a Leopard pair resting on a rock in the shadow of Muntshe Ridge early one morning; and two other Leopards on one morning drive up to Jones’ Dam.
Up at Satara, we started to shift focus to Wild Dogs, but unfortunately, they eluded us, despite a lot of effort put in. We did, however, see plenty to keep us entertained, with many long sessions spent photographing the more common species such as Zebra (for some of the participants the Zebras were an absolute highlight), Southern Giraffe, Elephant, African Buffalo, Kudu, Impala and so forth. We had a second Cheetah sighting too, with a pair of males that had killed a Zebra foal not long before we arrived in the area. Another guide gave us third-hand info about Cheetah seen along the H6 towards the Nwanetsi Picnic Site, and as luck would have it one popped its head up out of the long grass just as we were passing by. Pretty soon the Vultures began arriving at the kill site, eventually gathering in big enough numbers to push the cats off their kill. The Vultures however also attracted the attention of the local Spotted Hyena clan, and several of them came charging in to claim the remains, sending vultures flying in all directions. They soon picked up on the Cheetahs, which had been resting out of sight under a tree, and harassed them enough that they walked towards us, crossing the road in front of us to give us some great views.
Our last day provided two highlights: Lions killing a Buffalo, although this wasn’t really photographable, taking place behind some thick bushes, but providing an insight into how raw nature can be in the world of big predators; followed soon after by a great sighting of a big male Leopard walking down the road, totally unperturbed by the vehicles following him – a great way to end an incredibly successful Focus on Kruger photo safari!
Many thanks to the participants, Al, Char and Claire, for joining us on this Wild4 Photo Safari and to John and Ann for providing the great food for our packed breakfasts and lunches.
Enjoy some photos from the trip,
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This was the best photo adventure I have ever experienced. My travel partners were great, the food and lodging were wonderful and most of all I learned a tremendous amount about a variety of photography techinques from the amazing Stu Porter. www.imagesbyaggie.com
Aggie Pagnillo, USA
I have just returned from a fantastic custom safari to the Kruger with Wild4. This was my second trip in the Kruger with Wild4 and everything from start to finish was absolutely perfect. I absolutely cannot imagine doing this sort of trip there with anyone else. Things were off to a positive from way before we landed. Justyna was as helpful and patient as ever from day 1 and I must say that her suggestions were all spot on. Not only did she sort everything out for us and made it look easy (although I very much doubt it was), but the information she gave us prepared us well for the trip. As soon as we met up with Stefan after we arrived, we had nothing else to "worry" about except take pictures. He was not only great as a guide with his experience, sharp eyes, and genuine interest in wildlife becoming obvious quickly, but he was also excellent as a driver who knows what works and what doesn't photographically and was thus able to position the vehicle perfectly. It was not uncommon for one of us to just say a couple of words about what we wanted to try photographically and he'd immediatelly be on it, getting us in the perfect position while adhering to the rules and keeping the wildlife's interest as a top priority - something all members of the group I was in appreciated immensly. Thank you Stefan, Justyna, and Stu for making this trip happen for us! I look forward to being back with you guys in the future!
Matthew Scerri, Malta