PHOTO TRIP REPORT | Lions & Leopards of Kruger | August 2019
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 7th 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 just returned from the 2017 'Birds of Kruger' safari, and it was a delight. This was by no means my first trip to Kruger, but I don't recall ever sighting so many birds - or other animals - in a single trip. Stefan's ability to spot, track and anticipate the movement of animals is superb - from the smallest LBJ to the Big 5. This allowed him to place the vehicle in the best spot for photography and I can rightly say that this trip produced more 'keepers' than any other safari I have been on. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested in birding or bird photography. Stefan and Sandrine were great company and everything about the safari was well organized and ran smoothly: from the initial contact with Justyna, who answered my emails promptly and made all the arrangements (down to my favourite SA snacks - thanks!), to Sandrine's excellent coffee every morning before sunrise, and Stefan's patience and good humour that never wavered. I am already planning my next trip with WILD4 and would highly recommend them for an unforgettable African experience.
We recently travelled to South Africa for a safari led by Wild 4 African Photographic Safaris. To put things simply, we were completely blown away. I had been on safari before, and had expectations that I thought were reasonable, but Wild 4 completely exceeded those expectations in so many ways. First of all, Justyna handled all of our travel and trip details with exceptional professionalism and always responded to even our most basic questions quickly and in a very detailed manner. Once we had arrived in South Africa, we were met by our guide Stu Porter, who I cannot say enough good things about. He is so organised and cordial. Stu was spotting things that we couldn’t believe that he was spotting, which almost always led to an amazing wildlife experience that we never saw coming. His knowledge and understanding of the wildlife and ecosystem was outstanding, and he went to great lengths to insure that we had the best chance of capturing a great photo, without compromising the rules of the park or the integrity of the animals and ecology within it. His understanding and respect for the wildlife and surroundings made the trip so much more than just a “drive around and look at whatever we see” kind of experience. I know that you can never predict what kind of experience you will have when you go out into the wild, and often it’s up to nature to decide what events you will be a part of, but in all honesty, I can’t imagine a better guide than Stu Porter. We will be doing our future trips to Africa with Wild 4, and cannot recommend them highly enough. Thank you so much for what a lot of people call “the trip of a lifetime”, although we feel that this is only the beginning of many trips of a lifetime. Thank you, Wild 4!!
James Smith, USA