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Birds of KRUGER photo safari - October 2014 SOUTH AFRICA

November 04, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
Yet again this proved to be a very successful photo safari with the focus being slanted towards trying to photograph the amazing bird diversity that the Kruger has to offer.

A total bird count of 178 with a very impressive 144 photos (of different species)

The aim of this safari is not to tick species off, but instead the challenge is to try and get some decent photos of Kruger's birds, with the additional challenge of trying to better existing shots when better opportunities present themselves.

Northern Kruger is the real hotspot as this area has some special species not commonly seen in the rest of Kruger. We did very well with the Crested Guineafowl and Broad-billed Rollers, as well as getting to see the Trumpeter Hornbills again at the exact same nest site as last year ! We also added the rarely seen Crowned Hornbills to our photo list.

Kruger has such a diverse range of habitats which made the trip very enjoyable as we travelled from the North right down to the south over a period of 14 days. The trip was really relaxing, the binoculars and cameras were well used and our safari vehicle acted as the perfect mobile bird hide, this is the best way to get original and different shots of Kruger's birds. We saw a number of the same species as we did last year but they were all in different situations and circumstances which helps to keep the subject matter unique and fresh.

A number of migrants were already back, gearing up for the summer season in South Africa, Yellow Billed Kites, European Bee eaters, Cuckoos, Wahlberg's Eagles and a very rare sighting of a Grey Kestrel, normally only seen in Namibia.

The beautiful African Paradise Flycatchers seemed to be everywhere this year and we had a special sighting of a Black Heron and a Greater Honeyguide.

We did very well on the Owl front, notching up 4 different species (all during the day time)

Other highlights were getting to photograph both of the Helmet Shrikes and the Orange Breasted and Grey headed Bushshrikes.

The waterbirds were fantastic this year, Squacco Herons, Collared Pratincoles, Black Crake, African Jacana and many more. The visits to Lake panic Bird hide near Skukuza proved to be very productive - it is still one of the best places to see and photograph the Malachite Kingfisher !!

Sunbirds, Woodpeckers and the very active Weavers also added some great photo opportunities.

All in all it was a fantastically productive trip and really enjoyable to be able to go at a very different pace to the normal bigger mammal type photo safaris (of which we still got to see and photograph anyway)

Thanks very much to John for coming on the safari, it was a great pleasure to shoot alongside you !

Here are a few photos - enjoy !!!

Warmest regards

Stu



Arrow-marked Babbler - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

Black-collared Barbet - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Crested Barbet - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

White-fronted Bee-eater - Luvuvhu River Bridge, Northern Kruger

European Bee-eater - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Yellow-bellied Greenbul - Punda Maria Camp, Northern Kruger

Dark-capped Bulbul - Letaba Camp, Northern Kruger

Sombre Greenbul - Skukuza Nursery, Southern Kruger

Red-crested Korhaan (Male) - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Kori Bustard - Central Kruger

Great Spotted Cuckoo - Babalala Picnic site, Northern Kruger

Jacobin Cuckoo - Central Kruger

Cape Turtle Dove - Northern Kruger

Red-eyed Dove - Northern Kruger

Mourning Collared Dove - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

Emerald-spotted Wood Dove - Northern Kruger

Laughing Dove - Northern Kruger

African Green Pigeon - Letaba Camp, Northern Kruger

Fork-tailed Drongo - Letaba Camp, Northern Kruger

Wahlberg’s Eagle - Northern Kruger

Grey Kestrel - Northern Kruger

Immature Brown Snake Eagle - Northern Kruger

Tawny Eagle - Northern Kruger

Immature Bateleur Eagle - Northern Kruger

Yellow Billed Kite - Southern Kruger

African Fish Eagle and moon - Northern Kruger

African Fish Eagle - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Martial Eagle - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Immature White Backed Vulture - Northern Kruger

Lappet-faced Vultures - Central Kruger

Spotted Flycatcher - Northern Kruger

African Paradise Flycatcher - Babalala Picnic Site, Northern Kruger

African Paradise Flycatcher (male) - Mopani Camp, Northern Kruger

Southern Black Flycatcher - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Ashy Flycatcher - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Greater Honeyguide - Southern Kruger

Double Banded Sandgrouse (male) - Northern Kruger

Swainson’s Spurfowl - Northern Kruger

Crested Francolin (male) - Northern Kruger

Natal Spurfowl (male) - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

Common Ostrich chick - Northern Kruger

Crested Guineafowl - Punda Maria Camp, Northern Kruger

Helmeted Guineafowl - Northern Kruger

African Hoopoe inspecting a potential nest site - Northern Kruger

African Hoopoe - Northern Kruger

Green Wood-Hoopoe feeding behaviour before nesting - Northern Kruger

Green Wood-Hoopoe  - Northern Kruger

Southern Ground Hornbill (adult Male) - Northern Kruger

Southern Ground Hornbill (juvenile) with skink - Northern Kruger

Trumpeter Hornbill at nest site - Pafuri, Northern Kruger

Trumpeter Hornbill at nest site, Male is passing an Nyala Tree berry to the female inside the nest cavity                  - Pafuri, Northern Kruger

Crowned Hornbill - Northern Kruger

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

Southern Red-billed Hornbill - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

African Grey Hornbill displaying (male) - Northern Kruger

African Grey Hornbill (female) - Northern Kruger

Giant Kingfisher (male) - Luvuvhu River, Northern Kruger

Brown-hooded Kingfisher displaying - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Pied Kingfisher (male) Northern Kruger

Pied Kingfisher (male) with fish - Shingwedzi River, Northern Kruger

Malachite Kingfisher - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

Purple-crested Turaco - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Purple-crested Turaco in flight - Northern Kruger

Grey Go-away-bird - Northern Kruger

Black-headed Oriole - Northern Kruger

Verreaux’s Eagle-owl - Pafuri, Northern Kruger

African Scops Owl - Northern Kruger

African Barred Owlet - Northern Kruger

Pearl-spotted Owlet - Central Kruger

Red-billed Oxpecker - Northern Kruger

Yellow-billed Oxpecker - Northern Kruger

Brown-headed Parrot feeding on the flowers of a Baobab tree - Northern Kruger

White-browed Robin-chat - Northern Kruger

Bearded Scrub Robin at Pafuri Picnic site - Northern Kruger

White-throated Robin-Chat - Lower Sabie Camp, Southern Kruger

White-browed Scrub Robin - Skukuza Golf Course, Southern Kruger

Mocking Cliff Chat (Male) - Mlondozi Picnic Site, Southern Kruger

Lilac-breasted Roller - Central Kruger

Purple Roller - Central Kruger

Broad-billed Roller - Northern Kruger

Broad-billed Rollers displaying - Northern Kruger

Brubru - Northern Kruger

Chinspot Batis (male) - Babalala Picnic site Northern Kruger

Black-backed Puffback (female) - Letaba Camp Northern Kruger

Black-backed Puffback (male) - Letaba Camp Northern Kruger

Black-crowned Tchagra - Northern Kruger

Orange-breasted Bushshrike (Immature) - Bateleur Camp Northern Kruger

Orange-breasted Bushrike - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Grey-headed Bushshrike - Northern Kruger

Burchell’s Coucal - Northern Kruger

Magpie Shrike - Babalala Picnic site Northern Kruger

White-crested Helmet-shrike - Northern Kruger

Retz’s Helmet-shrike - Pafuri Picnic site Northern Kruger

Blue Waxbill - Northern Kruger

Red-billed Firefinch (male) - Northern Kruger

Red-billed Quelea (non-breeding) - Northern Kruger

Green-winged Pytilia (female) - Northern Kruger

African Yellow White-eye - Luvhuvhu River Bridge Northern Kruger

Cape White-eye - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Rattling Cisticola - Northern Kruger

Golden-breasted Bunting - Northern Kruger

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting - Northern Kruger


Tawny-flanked Prinia - Northern Kruger

Sabota Lark - Northern Kruger

Southern Black Tit with insect - Northern Kruger

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow - Northern Kruger

Jameson's Firefinch - Shingwedzi River, Northern Kruger

Yellow-breasted Apalis (male) making use of an abandoned Red-headed Weavers nest - Letaba, Northern Kruger

Bronze Mannikin - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Yellow-fronted Canary - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Speckled Mousebird - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Greater Blue-eared Starling with elephant dung used as nesting material - Northern Kruger

Meves’s Starling - Nyala drive, Northern Kruger

Violet-backed Starling (male) - Shingwedzi river, Northern Kruger

Red-winged Starling (male) - Letaba Camp Northern Kruger

White-bellied Sunbird (male) - Northern Kruger

Marico Sunbird (male) - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Rock Martin - Luvuvhu River Bridge, Northern Kruger

Wire-tailed Swallow - Luvuvhu River bridge, Northern Kruger

Lesser Striped Swallow (male) - Northern Kruger

Kurrichane Thrush - Letaba Camp, Northern Kruger

Saddle-billed Stork (female) - Northern Kruger

Saddle-billed Stork (male) with Platanna (African Clawed frog) - Tshokwane, Central Kruger

Yellow Billed Stork - Sunset Dam, Southern Kruger

Blacksmith Lapwing - Northern Kruger

White-crowned Lapwing - Sunset Dam, Southern Kruger

Three-banded Plover - Northern Kruger

Collared Pratincole - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Common Greenshank - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Wood Sandpiper - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Common Sandpiper - Mazithi Dam, Central Kruger

Little Stint - Mazithi Dam, Central Kruger

Ruff - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Black Crake - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

African Jacana - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

Black Heron - Pioneer Dam, Northern Kruger

Squacco Heron - Northern Kruger

Grey Heron (adult) - Kumana Dam, Central Kruger

Green-backed Heron - Northern Kruger

Great Egret - Northern Kruger

Little Egret - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Western Cattle Egret in breeding plumage - Southern Kruger

Hammerkop - Sabie River, Southern Kruger

Hadeda Ibis - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Water Thick-knee - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

African Spoonbill - Sunset Dam, Southern Kruger

African Pied Wagtail - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

White-faced Whistling Ducks - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Spur-winged Goose & Little Egret - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Egyptian Goose - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

Spectacled Weaver - Southern Kruger

Southern Masked Weaver - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

Lesser Masked Weaver - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

Red-billed Buffalo Weaver with nesting material - Sunset Dam, Southern Kruger

Cardinal Woodpecker (male) - Letaba River, Northern Kruger


Golden-tailed Woodpecker - Letaba Camp, Northern Kruger

Bennett’s Woodpecker (male) - Northern Kruger

Bennett’s Woodpecker (female) - Northern Kruger


Of course birds were not the only animals seen on the safari !! we did take time to photograph some of the other species found in the park. Some highlights included seeing the Leopard Tortoises coming out in big numbers, this usually happens around this time of year to coincide with the first rains, we passed 11 on our way to Northern Kruger on the very first day !!

The Sharpe's Grysbok are rarely seen, but Northern Kruger is a good place to hope to see them, we notched up 5 sightings of this small and elusive antelope.

We watched Lions lying in wait at a pool of water in the Shingwedzi River, but the Impala were too quick for them on this occasion.

Northern Kruger is well know for its large herds of elephants and particularly its big tuskers of which we saw many.

We had an amazingly close sighting of the largest African Rock Python I have seen in the wild, a huge monster in excess of 5 meters, who moved slowly through the undergrowth, a real treat to see.

On our very last day we were treated to a sighting of a pack of Cape Hunting Dogs, right in the middle of the road between the bird hide and Skukuza main camp.

My personal favourite though was getting to see the three Leopards we had seen playing in the Nwatimhiri River on the August trip, this time the mum and two sub adult cubs were close to the road resting up in a tree, what beautiful cats !!


Leopard Tortoise - Northern Kruger

Water Monitor Lizard - Northern Kruger

Nyala Antelope (female) - Northern Kruger

A shy Sharpe's Grysbok - Northern Kruger

Lioness watching Impala approach - Shingwedzi River, Northern Kruger

The unsuccessful charge ! - Northern Kruger

Vervet Monkey - Northern Kruger

Tree Squirrel - Northern Kruger

Male Elephants enjoying a swim - Shingwedzi River, Northern Kruger

Hippos in the Letaba River - Northern Kruger

Elephant herd in the Letaba River - Northern Kruger

Large Crocodile - Luvuvhu River, Northern Kruger

Baby Elephant sheltering - Shingwedzi, Northern Kruger

Moth - Northern Kruger

The 5m + African Rock Python - Northern Kruger

Hippo with Baby - Shingwedzi River, Northern Kruger

A rare and special sighting of African Wilddogs - Southern Kruger

A sub-adult male Lion - Shingwedzi, Northern Kruger

The sub-adult Male Leopard near the Sabie River - Southern Kruger

Brother and sister resting in a tree alongside the Sabie River - Southern Kruger



Big Cats and KRUGER explorer photo safari OCTOBER 2014 - South Africa

October 10, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
The end of the dry season in South Africa's Kruger National Park rarely disappoints as far as action goes. The herbivores are really feeling the pressure from the lack of food and the predators take advantage of the weaker animals.

We had amazing Lion sightings on the trip and were so fortunate to see some amazing behaviour. On our very first day driving down from Orpen Gate to Lower Sabie we stopped briefly at Mazithi Dam just north of Tshokwane picnic site and found a few of the regulars resting in the afternoon sun. A Fish Eagle took off, the Hippos grunted and a single Impala Ram grazed close to the edge of the Southern end of the dam.

From out of nowhere, a Lioness emerged near the Northern end of the dam and proceeded to walk through the long grass towards the Impala. The Lioness showed she was keen on a stalk and before long she had ended up near the Impala, still well concealed by the long grass.

We watched the entire scene and could not believe our luck when she managed to stalk right up to the Impala, charge in and grab it right on the edge of the water. It was all over in 20 mins and we continued on to Lower Sabie where our Lion encounters continued.

Below are a set of images taken by the clients on the safari, everyone had a great view of the entire stalk, chase and kill, on their first day in Kruger they really did not expect this and we were all extremely fortunate to see such a sighting. Well done to everyone for capturing the story, the shots are excellent and not commonly captured.

Enjoy !


The Lioness peeking over the long grass to locate her prey - Photo by James Smith

This wider shot taken by Maria Ricciardi sets the scene - the Lioness is well hidden on the right of the frame - try to spot her !

Everytime the Impala turned its head away from the Lioness she took the opportunity to creep a little bit closer - Photo by James Smith

It is amazing to watch a large cat in stalk mode - here she creeps forward again - 
Photo by Logan Gelik

The Impala was totally unaware the entire time, here the Lioness got ready for the charge
Photo by Maria Ricciardi

Off she went, it was all so quick, camera buffers were straining !!
Photo by Maria Ricciardi

A fast shutter speed of 1/4000 sec was used here to freeze the Cat in full flight
Photo by James Smith

The two Saddlebilled Storks did not panic too much once they realised the Impala was on the Lions menu and not them. Lucky they were not a pair of Egyptian Geese security guards who would have certainly let the Impala know of the impending danger.
Photo by James Smith

It always amazes me how quickly these animals react in these lightning fast situations. Here the Lioness forces the Impala back towards the water which would have been a mental barrier in the Impala's mind
Photo by Maria Ricciardi

One bad move and its all over, the Impala ends up in the deep mud at the edge of the water. Its sharp hooves and skinny legs dig straight into the soft mud and he lost all his speed.
Photo by Ulhas Mayekar

The Lion moves in swiftly and leaps for the doomed Impala
Photo by Ulhas Mayekar

The giant paws fan out to the size of dinner plates and out come the sharp retractable claws, the poor Impala had no chance of getting away at this point.
Photo by James Smith

After a very brief struggle the Lioness dragged the Impala back into the long grass away from the water where a Crocodile had shown interest in the commotion.
Photo by Logan Gelik

From the Northern end of the dam two more Lionesses emerged and ran towards the site of the kill
Photo by Maria Ricciardi

What an amazing sighting this was for all of us to observe - literally once in a lifetime stuff !


5 Members of the Lion pride that we saw every day near Lubyelubye bridge just north of Lower Sabie Camp. Here they are watching a herd of Impala approach the river to drink. The adult Lioness ended up catching one down near the river, just out of our view.

Lions had caught a Zebra near the Duke waterhole south of Lower Sabie. This rare White Headed vulture was one of 4 that responded to the Kill

One of the Lionesses near the Zebra Kill

Lion in a tunnel. This section of the road has a lot of Many Stemmed Albizia growing on either side. Shooting wide open at 2.8 helped to create this tunnel effect

Back with the Lion pride on our final morning just north of Lower Sabie. Another Impala victim

As we headed up to Satara in central Kruger for our final 3 nights, we came across 3 beautiful male Lions following a female. This was taken near the Sweni waterhole.

Kumana Dam provided yet more Lions, here a pride of 11 had taken down a big male Cape Buffalo. Over the next few days we returned to the site and watched at how efficient nature is, there was nothing but a rib cage left after the Lions, Hyaenas and Vultures had finished.

We had a great sighting of a young Pearl Spotted Owlet peeking out of its nest hole. This was on the Nwanetsi Tar road

He did fly out and perch rather nicely on a nearby log for a few quick photos

The S125 had a surprise for us, apparently a young elephant had got his leg caught in a tree and had died. Four large Male Lions had found the carcass and begun to feed. This was another rare sighting - right next to the road

The fourth member of the coalition of male Lions approaches the Elephant carcass. These were some of the most relaxed male Lions I have ever seen in Kruger - feeding on the carcass which was right next to the road without a care in the world for the close onlookers.

A sign that the season is about to change, the return of the migrant birds is well under way, here an African Cuckoo was photographed just north of Kumana Dam


2014 KENYA MIGRATION Photo Safari with Lake Nakuru and Samburu - September

September 25, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
Just back from the annual Kenya Migration photo safari. This safari never disappoints, we had a good deal of action and great photo opportunities and although most of the migration herds had headed south towards Tanzania, we still had one of the best river crossings yet. An hour of drama at the Mara River, crocodiles and crazy wildebeest is a sight you never forget and it was a great way to end our time in the Mara.

We continued North to Lake Nakuru, still rather full at the moment but it did provide some extra photo opportunities and experiences. We still managed to see Black & White Rhino, Rothschild Giraffe and a Leopard !!. Finally we ended up in Samburu where the river was at its lowest that I have seen.   It is still a great location with good elephant, birds and the "unusual" Beisa Oryx, Grevy's Zebra, Gerenuk, Reticulated Giraffe and a special sighting of a Striped Hyaena !!

Thanks very much to all the staff at the Lodges we stayed at, especially Ashnil Camp in the Mara and everyone at Mara Bush Camp.

A huge thanks to our guides, James, Silas and Julius - for being so patient with us photographers and for all the tough driving - it is always greatly appreciated.

And a huge thanks to our participants, Pierre, Martin, Alan, Linda and Marian, thanks for coming on the safari with us, it was a pleasure to have shared the special moments with you..

Here are a few photos from the trip - enjoy

Warm regards

Stu & the Wild4 team....


Male Lion

Topi

Female Cheetah near Rekero

Cape Buffalo with young calf

Young Spotted Hyaena

Hippo and Zebra at the Talek River

Young Black Backed Jackal pup

Grant's Gazelle

Lions greet each other

Male Lion

Cubs play with a female

Cape Buffalo

Lion cub

Malaika with her 5 cubs




The female Leopard near Olare Orok River

The female Leopard near Olare Orok River

Eland Bull

Thompson's Gazelle and baby

Male Cheetah Yawn

Martial Eagle

Elephant with Calf

Reedbuck

Lion cub

Male Lion

Lions resting in the midday heat

"Flehmen response"

Female Elephant

Bat Eared Fox

Zebra get a fright at the Mara River

River Crossing

16 Giraffe near Entim

Elephants and Rainbow

Rothschild Giraffe - Lake Nakuru

Rothschild Giraffe - Lake Nakuru

Cattle Egret - Lake Nakuru

Pelicans - Lake Nakuru

Beisa Oryx - Samburu

Dwarf Mongoose - Samburu

Kori Bustard - Samburu

Young Grevy's Zebra - Samburu

Grevy's Zebra - Samburu

Scrub Hare - Samburu

D'Arnauds Barbets - Samburu

Shining Sunbird - Samburu

Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk - Samburu

Striped Hyaena - Samburu

Reticulated Giraffe - Samburu

Northern Yellowbilled Hornbill

Female Von der Decken's Hornbill

African Silverbills

White-bellied Go-away-bird - Samburu

Kenyan Rock Agamas

Male Gerenuk

Grey Crowned Cranes - Samburu

Golden Breasted Starling - Samburu


2014 KENYA MIGRATION private photo safari - September

September 25, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Here are a few photos from a private photo tour to Kenya's Maasai Mara Reserve. The tour coincided with the great migration which was the focus for the trip. Luckily we had some good crossing action in the first few days which allowed us to venture out away from the river on the remaining days where we managed to photograph some of the other interesting inhabitants of the Mara.

Many thanks to our Guide - James, its always a pleasure to work with you Mr Mande !! and thanks to Andrei for coming on this private safari, it was a pleasure to shoot along side you and witness some magic during the migration in the Masai Mara !!

Enjoy some of the favourites !!



Maasai Giraffe

Maasai Giraffe

Lioness resting with Wildebeest in the Background

Lioness yawning

This is one of the most beautiful Lionesses I have seen in the Mara - still young but full of intent !!

Sunset

A female Thompson's Gazelle with her new baby

Secretary Bird

A line of Wildebeest near the Mara River

Male Impala with ox peckers

Some Wildebeest watch a Ruppells Starling

Wildebeest running away from the river

A mating pair of Lions

Hippo with very small baby at the Mara River

Building up for the crossing

our first Crossing over the Mara River

two Lappet Faced Vultures

The chaos on the exit side of the river

Another crossing

Two Male Lions near Ashnil Camp

The Larger of the two males

Two male Lions

A Vulture arrives at a Wildebeest Carcass

Wildebeest drinking

A line of Eland silhouetted against a stormy sky

Wildebeest running

Marabou Storks

River Crossing seen from Ashnil Camp

Starburst Sunrise

Olive baboon

Mating pair of Lions

Mating pair of Ostriches

Male Ostrich

Giraffe near Ashnil Camp

"Malaika" the female Cheetah with her 5 cubs

Four of the cubs

Cheetahs passing a herd of concerned Wildebeest

Giraffe at Sunrise

Cheetahs


2014 BEST of KRUGER plus Big Cats - SOUTH AFRICA

August 30, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
We have just completed the Best of Kruger plus big cats photo safari for 2014 where we visited the Big Cat Reserve for 3 nights followed by 8 nights inside the Kruger National Park at Lower Sabie and Satara Camps.

This time of year in Southern Africa is a good time for game viewing as the animals are drawn more and more to the last water sources. From this point on it will get progressively more difficult for the herbivores and easier for the carnivores as the weak, old and young animals begin to feel the pressure due to less good grazing and less water.

First up, the big Cat reserve provided some great opportunities with the two young female leopards, in their camp close to the lodge. Ntombi the Cheetah graced us with her presence on the plains near Bush Camp and the Cheetah Boys, Floppy and Hunters made two kills during our stay. Being able to get so close to these adult male Cheetahs is still one of the highlights of the trip. Hippo, porcupine and a Bushbaby called "peanut" were some more highlights.

We then entered into the Kruger National park via Orpen Gate (Vehicle 1) and via Phabeni gate (Vehicle 2) On route to our first camp we came across the Nwaswitsontso Lion pride just north of Tshokwane. They had just finished a Zebra kill and were relaxing on the banks of the river.

Lower Sabie is famous for the great photo opportunities at Sunset Dam, a mere 200m from the camp gate. We spent a whole morning at the dam photographing the residents as well as two male Lions that came to drink on the far side of the dam. Fish Eagles, Giant Kingfishers, Egyptian Geese, Yellow Billed Storks, Hippos and Crocodiles kept our trigger fingers happy.

The afternoon drive took us out to the Mlondozi picnic site area where we stayed with two male Cheetahs who were resting up for the day. It was a lucky day for us and the cheetah but unlucky for a young zebra foal who stumbled right into the resting Cheetah who gave chase. Sadly the Zebra foal was knocked down by a few of the fleeing adults and the Cheetahs grabbed it right in front of us.

We spent a good deal of time at some waterholes in the Kruger which proved to be very successful, Rhino, Giraffe, Kudu, Impala, Warthog, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Zebra and a beautiful male Leopard were photographed.

Apart from the Cheetah and Zebra incident, we were very lucky to see three more chases which ended up in the prey getting away, and perhaps the best chase and catch sequence I have seen and photographed yet in the Kruger. On this occasion a Lioness waited in ambush on the bank of the Sweni River, just south of Satara Camp. A small herd of Zebra came in to drink and the result was an amazing chase through the river where the Lioness managed to catch a young Zebra foal. Such a sighting is really quite rare to see and we were really very lucky and fortunate to have been able to witness, and photograph it.

A few other highlights were a number of small Spotted Hyaena cubs who emerged from their roadside den, approx 700 Buffalo drinking from Girivana waterhole, the two leopard cubs and their mother in the Nwatimhiri River north of Lower Sabie and the 4 young male Lions we met on the road towards Crocodile Bridge.

The randomness and surprise factor in the Kruger is second to none and when the conditions are right it is a really amazing place to spend time in.

Many thanks to our two amazing rangers at the Big Cat Reserve, Deon and Matt, thanks so much for all your hard work getting us the great shots that we did. Thanks also to all the staff at Tshukudu for looking after us so well.

Thanks also to the amazing WILD4 backup team, mum and dad - thanks for all your help, the amazing meals and endless energy you have which make this trip such a great success :)

Finally I want to thank Mike Lentz for guiding the second vehicle in Kruger, it was a privilege to have had Mike on the trip with his amazing knowledge gained during more than 10 years in the bush, Mike I hope we get to have you again on more WILD4 photo safaris :)

Here are some photos from the trip - enjoy

Kind regards from the WILD4 team.

PS - look out for the next trip report from Kenya and the migration photo safari...


Ntombi with her Impala prize near Bush Camp - Big Cat Reserve

One of the young female Leopards at the Big Cat Reserve

A pale coloured female Lioness at the Nwaswitsontso River - Kruger Park

Young Lion - Kruger Park

African Fish Eagle take off - Kruger Park

Giant Kingfisher - sunset dam - Kruger Park

Wood sand piper - Kruger Park

Nile Crocodile - Kruger Park

Yellow Billed Stork - Kruger Park

Grey Heron landing on a Hippo - Kruger Park

The two male Lions that came to drink at Sunset Dam - Kruger Park

Egyptian Goose in flight - Kruger Park

Territorial battle - Kruger Park

The two male Cheetahs watching the approaching Zebra - Kruger Park

The point of impact - photographed by Joanie Liew - Kruger Park - great photo Joanie !!


The two Cheetahs with their Zebra foal kill - Kruger Park

One of the young male Lions next to the road to Crocodile Bridge - Kruger Park

Warthogs drinking near Duke's Waterhole - Kruger Park

Giraffe - Kruger Park

Impala with Oxpeckers - Kruger Park

Young Male Impala - Kruger Park

Elephants arrive at a waterhole on the Nwatimhiri road - Kruger Park

Zebra antics - Kruger Park

Black winged Stilt at sunset - Kruger Park

One of the Lion chases near Kumana Dam where the Kudu managed to escape - Kruger Park

Elephants in the muddy water - Kruger Park

I have an itch !!  - Kruger Park

Giraffe drinking - Kruger Park

Sunset - Kruger Park

Sunset near Satara Camp - Kruger Park

Giraffe - Kruger Park

Elephant herd arriving at Sweni bird hide - Kruger Park

Elephants drinking - Kruger Park

Elephants running - Kruger Park

The beautiful Male leopard with a milky left eye - Girivana waterhole - Kruger Park

Somewhere in Southern Kruger ! - photo by Steve Seow

Elephant crossing - Kruger Park


Morning misty sunrise - Kruger Park

Lion chases an Impala at Nsemani Dam - Kruger Park

Chacma Baboons playing - Kruger Park

What do I do now ?  - Kruger Park

Cape Buffalo just outside Satara camp  - Kruger Park

A Lioness launches onto the rump of a Zebra foal in the Sweni River  - Kruger Park

Beautiful male Greater Kudu - Kruger Park

Two Spotted Hyaenas on our way to Orpen gate - Kruger Park

The 4 year old Male Lion at the Big cat Reserve

One of the young Leopards at the Big Cat Reserve

Porcupine - Big Cat Reserve

Ferassi the Swiss Hippo - Big Cat reserve 

Ntombi the Cheetah - Big Cat Reserve

Star photography at Tamboti Dam - Big Cat Reserve

The magnificent Milkyway - Big Cat Reserve

Team Photo - August 2014 WILD4 Best of Kruger & Big Cats photo safari


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