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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This was my first photography trip to Africa after a lot of research. Although I spent over 30 days in Africa, my Botswana component was among the most productive and is my favorite country visited. I must say Stu and Justyna's planning and direction for our entire trip is unparalleled and can't thank them enough. Our guides were incredible and the crew that helped us were indispensable. The food during our photo safari was the best for all of the places visited including South Africa. I still don't know how Pula managed to make his wonderful cuisine with so little resources! Our camp crew, Philemon and Ghoms were delightful and truly made me feel cared for and welcome. I have learned much from Stu and only wish I could have had more time learning from him in the field. Stu made our photo safari fun by pairing us with Mark, a like minded gentleman who was a joy to photograph with and talented. The entire experience was amazing with many high quality photo opportunities and think I have captured some magical moments and truly feel enriched by the experience. Thank you so much Stu, Justyna and all involved and I will try to one day do another marvelous adventure with Wild4 African Photographic Safaris !.
Georges McNeil, USA
I am a Molecular Biologist by profession and a serious amateur nature photographer and have been on a number of organized trips over the last 10 years with the dual aims of enjoying nature and getting the best images possible. The organization of a two week trip with Wild 4 Photographic Safaris through Kruger National Park I shared with two other photographers and it was as good as I have ever experienced. The Porter family was friendly, knowledgeable and intuitively supportive. Stu really knows his subjects and spared no effort in getting the photographers into the best situation. He has a very pleasant, calm personality and is an accomplished nature photographer and naturalist which means he knows where the light or action is best and often what is about to happen. His vehicle is also well set-up for discriminating photographers. Justyna was just brilliant in getting things organized in the background. Having our own scout vehicle to report activity in the area while we pursued other subjects, worked well, and on a number of occasions provided photo opportunities we would have missed otherwise. In summary; rating out of 10…….no doubt a 10.
Graeme Guy, NEW ZEALAND