Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 10th Apr 2018
The 2018 WILD4 photo safari to Amboseli in Kenya and the Serengeti, Ndutu and the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania produced some very different photo opportunities thanks to the unusual amount of rain that fell during the safari.
Amboseli National Park in Kenya was our first stop and mother nature decided to open up the heavens on us !. An incredible amount of rain fell during our stay and the usually dry dust bowl that Amboseli is renowned for, turned into one massive lake. On numerous occasions, the road we were driving on ended abruptly at the edge of a massive expanse of water, forcing us to turn back the way we had come.
As we have witnessed before, whenever there is an unusual occurrence in nature, it always provides the photographer with some special shooting conditions which if taken advantage of, can produce some very different looking photographs. Amboseli certainly provided that for us on this trip. We also had a wonderful view of mount Kilimanjaro with an unusual amount of snow, reflected in the massive pools of rain water.
After our border crossing into Tanzania, we headed for the Ngorongoro Crater for an overnight stop. This proved to be a good change to our usual logistics, as it allowed us to have a great morning photo shoot down in the crater when the animals are usually more active. We got to spend some time with a magnificent male Lion with the biggest mane I have ever seen !. We left the crater in the late morning and headed to the Seronera area of the Serengeti.
Following on from last years trip, we found a big pride of Lions, numbering around 20 members out near the Research Kopjes. The group included 3 big males and from this point on the male Lion sightings on this trip just got better and better. We finally ended up seeing 21 different male Lions.
Some other highlights were finding 3 different Leopards, Lions on an Elephant carcass, Elephants, Zebra and Wildebeest in big numbers, a Cheetah and some fantastic Giraffe at the stunningly beautiful Moru Kopjes.
Next stop was Ndutu, always a favourite for everyone as off road driving is permitted and this allows one to get closer to the wildlife. The rain also decided to follow us to Ndutu as it did in 2017. We got to see a number of different Cheetah, including a mother with two large cubs who hunted in the pouring rain, taking advantage of the wet conditions to sneak up on prey that was trying to take shelter. There was a mating pair of Lions out in the plains and on one occasion the male charged at another male who was lying nearby. We made a trip out to "Hidden Valley" and spent some time with a beautiful young female Cheetah. Ndutu provided us with multiple sightings of the new 4 member strong Lion coalition, one of which has the most magnificent multi coloured mane. Our final afternoon in Ndutu provided a massive rain storm that caused the rivers to swell and flood towards Lake Ndutu. We stayed with the males after the rain had stopped and got some wonderful photos of two of them as they walked alongside the new "Ndutu River"
Other highlights were finding two Lionesses with tiny cubs, who were very well hidden in thickets, a lonely bull Elephant with one massive long tusk, and many Wildebeest with their new borns.
Our final destination was the Ngorongoro Crater. Highlights here were a fantastic sighting of a Black Rhino crossing Lake Magadi, and a multitude of wonderful photographic opportunities of different species in the rain. A clan of around 50 Spotted Hyaenas brought down and devoured an adult Wildebeest. At the end of the day we reached our lodge and experienced one of the most beautiful sunsets over the Crater that I have ever seen.
A huge thanks goes out to our very hard working Guides, Julius & Arnold, we really appreciate all the long hours you put in and how patient you are with us photographers. Your interpretation of behaviour and where to park for great photos are exceptional, it is always a pleasure to work with you both.
A huge thank you must also go to the hard working staff at all the Camps and lodges we stayed at.
Many thanks to our clients, Linda, Bernice and Cliff, it was fantastic to share such a different photo safari with you all, looking forward to the next one already !!
Enjoy some images from the photo tour.
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Everything about my first Safari with Wild4 was so outstanding that I was afraid the second would pale in comparison. I needn't have worried! It was a huge success! Communications, details, accommodations all handled expertly by Justyna. Making sure that we got into the right situations and stayed with them long enough to get the shot handled incredibly by Stu. Susan was not a photographer when we began this journey, but Stu's patient tutoring assured that she came home with some fantastic photographs as well! Our heartfelt thanks to the whole Wild4 family! We'll be back...
Doug & Susan Croft, USA
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