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.
Leave a Comment
I found Wild4 through an article in Popular Photography magazine about how to choose a photo safari. They were one of five recommended in the article. After checking them all out, I saw that Stu and Wild4 offered the kind of experience that I wanted: 1) Small groups of dedicated photographers 2) Variety in wildlife viewing 3) Tuition on photography and wildlife behavior 4) Good communication and organisation. I can say that Wild4 met and exceeded all expectations on all points (and then some). 1) We used one vehicle for three photographers. Stu is a trained photographer himself, so his goal was always to get us into the best position with the best light. Having only three on the tour meant plenty of room for equipment and the ability to shoot from either side of the vehicle when surrounded by a herd of elephants! It also gave us the flexibility to be patient and wait for the shot. 2) The three places we visited each provided a unique experience and wonderful variety in scenery and wildlife viewing. 3) Stu's tuition was excellent. It was there if we needed it but never pushed. Tips, reminders, anecdotes on wildlife behavior. All given with patience and good humor. 4) From the first email, the communication was timely & clear. Justyna was a joy to work with and handled the back-office part of the tour seamlessly. It can't be as easy as she makes it seem. Wild4 didn't provide the wildlife or the spectacular sunsets that we experienced, but they put us in position to enjoy and capture a little piece of it in our cameras and in our memories. Our Safari was amazing and I would not have changed a thing...well, maybe I would have eaten a little less. If you're looking for a Photo Safari, there is nothing to consider. Just go ahead and contact Wild4 Photographic Safaris. You will not be sorry.
Doug Croft, USA
Bastian and I enjoyed the Migration photo safari very much. We realize that we have been very fortunate to see so many crossings and animals in such a short period of time. The safari was well organized, all accomondations were first class and the food certainly a nice surprise. One could not have expected such good food in the wilderness! James and Julius took good care of us and were one reason that we saw so much different and exciting wildlife. You picked a great support team for this safari! Bastian and I learned a lot of new photo techniques from you, which we will use in the future to improve our photographic results. Bastian for sure got hooked on time lapse, I'm sure he will be back in touch with you, sharing some of the work I expect he will create soon. Thanks to you and all your preparation, your guidance and support, this was a once in a life time experience. We will never forget these fantastic sights and animals and our photographs will always remind us of you and the great time we spent together. Now we have the difficult task to sort through thousands of images. One day it will be done and I hope my DVD will do justice reflecting the beauty of Masai Mara. Not an easy task but a welcomed challenge.
Bastian & Matthias Freund, USA