Lion

Photo Safari Highlights: 01-04 July 2018

As a guide, I always enjoyed watching my guest’s excitement grow as their safari experience was about to begin. This case was no different, and it was Jeremy’s and Shauna’s first safari experience which made it even more special. Their safari itinerary consisted of 3 nights, of which 2 nights were spent at Shindzela Tented Camp in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve (Greater Kruger) and 1 night at Notten’s Bush Camp in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin (Greater Kruger). The reason Jeremy opted with 2 different locations was to experience different camps and environments, and also to maximise his chances of seeing and photographing species that are more prevalent in each specific area. For example, visiting the Timbavati for good chances of seeing lions, and going to the Sabi Sands for its great leopard sightings.

When we arrived at Shindzela, we were welcomed by our guide Cameron who sorted out the check-in process and showed us to our tents. The tent’s simplistic and modern design was great, and it provided us with an authentic bush experience. Part of the simplistic and authentic design was to not incorporate electrical sockets (plug points) within the tents, and so devices and so forth had to be charged in the main area. 

Shindzela Tented Camp
A simple yet comfortable design and layout.

After lunch and a quick chat with Jeremy about general camera settings and shooting methods, we were ready to set off on our first safari.

Here are a few highlights from our Shindzela Tented Camp safari. 

Leopard
Our first sighting. A large male leopard up a Marula Tree.
Lion
Not long after the leopard sighting, a pride of 14 lions (3 lions were lying on the other side of the vehicle) were tracked down. 2 large males, 7 females and 5 cubs.
Lion
Positioning the vehicle in the dry riverbed allowed for some relatively low angled shots of the lions.
Lion
When the rest of the pride are asleep, you can rest assured that the cubs will keep your cameras clicking away.
A hippo displaying its impressive set of teeth.
Photo Safari Sunset
Jeremy photographing some hippos while we stopped for a sundowner.
Lion
We returned to the pride of lions at night for some spotlight photography.
Photo Safari Lion Tracks
Fresh lion tracks early in the morning.
Photo Safari Lion Tracks
A closer look at the tracks.
Lion and Spotted Hyaena
The tracking paid off and we found the lions. 4 females and 2 sub-adult males. 2 females eventually came face-to-face with a spotted hyaena.
Lion
The small pride eventually made their way down the road and crossed over into the Kruger National Park.
Pravir Patel
Morning safaris were extremely cold, even when the sun was out!
Lion
Our second pride of lions for the morning safari! 4 females, including one tailless lioness. Just before we had entered the sighting, the females had left their cubs in some thickets not too far away from the dam.
Leopard
A female leopard with a warthog kill hidden in the tall grass. Due to her great camouflage, we had to switch to manual focus to get the shot.
African Rock Python
An Africa Rock Python hybernating. We passed this tree the next day and it was still in the same position.
Southern Giraffe
It's always great to see and photograph giraffes drinking. Even though the light was harsh, we enjoyed snapping away as this male quenched his thirst.
African Barred Owlet
An African Barred Owlet in camp. This owlet is frequently seen in camp.
African Elephant
A large breeding herd of elephants made their way to the waterhole in front of camp during the midday heat.
African Elephant
This little one entertained everyone as it played in the dry riverbed.
Photo Safari African Elephant
Jeremy waiting for the perfect shot.
Cape Buffalo
I expected to see a lot of buffalos on this leg of our photo safari. But this old bull turned out to be the only one we came across in the Timbavati.
Lion
Returning to the pride with cubs just before sunset paid off, and we were rewarded with the sight of 10 cubs in total.
Lion
The sun had just disappeared, forcing us to push our ISO to the limits (no spotlights used due to the small cubs). Even though the photo is quite soft, the moment captured matters more than the sharpness.
Sunset
The beautiful colours of the Belt of Venus.
Greater Kudu
Kudus were another species that I expected to see much more of. This male along with 2 others was the only sighting we had of this species in the Timbavati.
African Elephant
These big boys in musth always demand respect, and so after a few quick shots we left him alone.
Tree Squirrel
A sight I've never seen before. 5 tree squirrels huddled up together basking in the sun.
African Hawk-eagle
An African Hawk-eagle ready to take flight.
Lion
Our last sighting at Shindzela. One of the lionesses from the pride we had seen on our first safari. She was seen with the 5 cubs.

After checking out from Shindzela Tented Camp in the Timbavati, we headed out of the reserve and into the Sabi Sands to our next stop, Notten’s Bush Camp. Our suites here were very different from Shindzela’s tents, which was great because Jeremy and Shauna got to experience different styles of living spaces that different reserves have to offer. A major difference between this camp from many other camps and lodges in the Greater Kruger is that the suites are illuminated by lanterns at night since there are no conventional lights fitted. I found this to be a great feature, and after speaking to numerous guests about it, they also liked the concept of not having lights in their suites. Another great feature of the suite was the additional outdoor shower overlooking a waterhole. Winter meant that it was not the best time to use this facility, but I would imagine that it gets used a lot during  the summer months. 

Notten's Bush Camp
A cosy layout with lanterns placed on the many tables around the suite.
Notten's Bush Camp
Outdoor shower.

Like the accommodation, our safari experience at Notten’s Bush Camp was also different. At Shindzela we had a private vehicle for the 4 game drives, while at Notten’s we shared the vehicle with 4 other guests for the 2 game drives. 

Here are a few highlights from our Notten’s Bush Camp safari. 

African Elephant
As with our first safari at Shindzela, our first sighting at Notten's also turned out to be a Big 5 species.
Bateleur
Bateleur preening.
Cape Buffalo
We finally saw a big herd of buffalo, and as they were all moving along, this calf decided to suckle a few metres away from our vehicle.
Cheetah
One of the main highlights of the entire safari. A male cheetah!
Safari Sundowner
After our cheetah sighting, a celebratory drink was in order!
Leopard and Spotted Hyaena
Majority of our last safari outing was spent with a female leopard on an impala kill. There were also spotted hyaenas (6 in total when we left) waiting below the tree as she fed. This photo is a result of 6 shots taken vertically and merged in Adobe Lightroom.
Leopard Impala Kill
Keeping a close eye on the hyaenas below.
Photo Safari Leopard Selfie
Mandatory leopard selfie!
Impala
An impala ram giving chase to a younger male.

Sharing a vehicle usually has its cons, but to be honest this did not affect our Notten’s leg of the journey. It was great for Jeremy and Shauna to share their experiences with others, and to also have company whilst out on safari. Photographically speaking, sharing a vehicle in this case did not affect us negatively as well. The other guests were very patient in sightings (we all sat in the leopard sighting for well over an hour) and some of the other guests were very keen photographers themselves. 

Overall, the combination of visiting the two reserves worked out really well in terms of seeing and photographing different species. In just 6 game drives, Jeremy and Shauna saw 3 different prides of lions with plenty of cubs, 1 coalition of 2 males lions, 3 leopards, a lot of elephants and buffalos, 5 white rhinos, 1 cheetah, and plenty of other general game species. From photographing elephants on foot at camp, to having a leopard feeding on a kill mere metres away from the safari vehicle, Jeremy and Shauna sure did manage to capture some memorable moments from the African bush!

Photo Safari

I hope you enjoyed my first Safari Highlights blog! I’ll be posting a highlights blog just like this for every Photo Safari that I host from now on. 

If you are interested in a Custom Photo Safari click here to find out more and to contact me directly. 

 

Pravir Patel

8 thoughts on “Photo Safari Highlights: 01-04 July 2018”

  1. Hi Pravir

    Really enjoyed the blog and great photos. Waiting for next blog.
    Well done keep it up

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