Monday, April 23, 2018

Mashatu - Private Wildlife Photographic Safari

We were rewarded with this magnificent male lion on our first game-drive,
Bordered by Mapungubwe National park to the south in South Africa and a wilderness area to the east in Zimbabwe, this vast and unfenced reserve within the greater Northern Tuli Game Reserve remains a firm favorite. Seasonal rivers cut through dry savannah landscapes creating a diverse and scenic stage, all set for an exciting safari.  This would be the third time I have joined the Brown family on one of their photographic safaris and having come to know them over the years it was sure to be a fun trip. 

Africa is about the wildlife though and having spent time at Mala Mala on previous safaris, I was very interested to hear everyone’s thoughts about this destination.

Early morning on drive and ready to shoot!
The first photo opportunity was a herd of elephant out in the open and swathed in beautiful soft evening light. Later on we located the first big cat, a fantastic looking male Lion. Unfortunately he was doing what lions do best and slept in a most un-photographable pose. Only when two females made their appearance from nearby bushes did he het up and stated following them allowing some brief photos.

The first of 6 Cheetah we saw on this safari were a two male coalition.   
It’s not only about the big stuff though and a variety of sightings ranging from Black-backed Jackals to dainty Steenbok ensured that there was never a dull moment. That and the constant flow of jokes from everyone on the back! As could be expected Cheetah was also high on everyone’s wish list. Although Mashatu is one of the bets places to see Cheetah it can never be guaranteed. Our luck was in though. On day three we found a two males stretched out on one of the scenic kopjes of the concession. It got even better when a female who hasn’t been seen in month arrived in the concession with three cubs in tow.
This female cheetah with her 3 cubs moved into the area during our stay.

The last evening light reflects into the deep=set eyes of the young Cheetah. 
Elephant also provided interesting viewing as each morning they made a bee-line mini migration to the east of the concession returning later in the afternoon only to do the same the next day. Nonetheless they provided amazing viewing and superb photo opportunities.
Early morning elephant herd moving past. 
Boisterous baby Elephant in a riverbed. 

Surrounded by a protective shield of adults.
An intimate moment as a mother Spotted Hyena moved her cub to a new den.
Another great morning was spent at a Spotted Hyena den. The mother was in the process of moving the cubs and obligingly moved them within clear view of us. It’s a privilege indeed to be able to catch glimpses of these intimate moments, often hidden from view. 

A young male leopard getting ready for the night.  
Leopards were also on top form and we managed to locate no less that 5 individual animals over the five nights we were there.
Interesting colored Tawny Eagle.
Birds make the bush come alive and we worked our way through the reserves list. I found it particularly of interest as I recently did a dedicated birding safari further down the Limpopo basin in Pafuri. While only a few hundred kilometers away, Mashatu offers a completely different suite of birds such as Namaqua sandgrouse for instance, which reached the limit of their distribution. Eagles and other birds of prey were regularly seen and these included Tawny, African Hawk and African Fish Eagle as well as Pearls Spotted Owlet and White-backed Vulture.

Some fun pics on safari below. 
Wildlife photography of a different kind. 

Mashatu is one of the best places to observe elephant. 
Completely in charge of the safari!!

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