Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Southern Africa Safari - Mashatu, Blyde River and Ngala

Mashatu is home to the laregst herd of Elephant on private land in the world. Some elephant action within the first few minutes of the first Game Drive.
Mashatu Game reserve in Botswana’s Tuli block has certainly established itself firmly as one of southern Africa’s premier wildlife photography hotspots, notably so for its predator photography. 

Relaxed Elephant herd.
Although situated in Botswana it is very easily accessed from South Africa and thus forms part of the South African safari circuit rather than the well known northern Botswana Okavango and Makgadigadi circuit.  The open terrain, relaxed and abundance of wildlife and not least, fantastic local guides make this certainly a worthwhile destination.

Playing around with compositions a subadult cub poses in a spot of light as the sun dips beneath the horizon. 

As mentioned the area is superb for predator photography and as such we focused (excuse the pun) on leopard, cheetah and lion. Leopard was sighted every day and a female Cheetah with four sub-adult cubs provided us with more than enough predator excitement. So much that we actually opted out of a promising Cheetah sighting one afternoon for … BABOONS! Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t have anything against these primates but living in Africa, baboons can often be a problem and cause havoc. As a result most South Africans have a slight warped view of Baboons. But the baboon session turned out very rewarding and I am happy to say I am a converted Baboon fan.  
Surprizingly photogenic, Baboons in great light. 

Remarkable "false" eyes on the back of a Pearl Spotted Owlet. 
Next stop was the Blyde river Canyon. Over the past few years we have developed a great and exclusive product well away from the main tourist route. Although we still visit the well-known sites such along the panorama route (there is a reason why it is word renowned after-all) we make a point to get into the hidden corners of the mountains.

Incredibly dramatic views in the Blyde Canyon. A big bonus was a bush fire that filled the canyon with smoke and created beautiful soft light. 
Photographers have a field day especially when interested in landscape photography. Compared to the fast paced wildlife of Mashatu the more serene pace of landscaping adds great photographic variety to a trip.

Coffee and photography stop at a secret spot along a mountain stream in the forests of the Blyde Canyon. 
Then it was back to the wild again. Ngala Game Reserve, A premier and exclusive concession adjoining Kruger was our last stop. 15 000 unfenced hectares adjoining a 70 000 hectare Kruger wilderness concession with unhindered traversing! Yet as always, the proof is in the wildlife, which did not disappoint. Leopard, White-Rhino and African Wilddog on the first afternoon alone was a prelude to what was coming. 
Ngala means lion in the local Shangaan language, so I suppose it was meant to be that we bumped into this magnificent male before sunrise one morning.

Between Mashatu and Ngala, no less than 6 individual Leopards were seen during our safari. 

Ngala Tented Camp room. 

Some scenes are better captured n motion rather than on a still photograph. Apex action on our final night as a group of around 15 Hyenas surround and mob and an old male lion with deafening sounds. The red color is a result of a filter that is used that limits disturbance to nocturnal animals.

Finally - A word from the guest book: 

We hardly know where to begin to thank you for such an extraordinary experience. We will be home with amazing memories, a decent photo or two, but most of all a new dear friend” D.&A. S. – Santa Barbara, USA.   

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