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Favorite Moments from My May 2016 Safaris

I hosted 2 wonderful photo safari groups in May 2016 .  We had fun and adventure among some really great wildlife sightings.  My guests returned with many great action, predator, and close up shots. One guest told me he had over 3,000 photos to sort through.

Photo safari Group

After each series of safaris, I reflect back on the moments that made the most vivid memories while I sort through my photos. Each moment spent out in the wild spaces of South Africa is special, but I have selected a few to share that stood out for me.

The majority of these images were shot with my Canon 70 – 200 lens on a 5D MK3 – this is my workhorse setup for safaris in South Africa

Burchell’s Coucal in Kruger National Park

coucal

I had had a great and active morning in Kruger, but things were slower in the early afternoon.  This coucal brightened things up by landing on a branch near my vehicle and stayed in a perfect pose.  I was even able to move the truck to get shot from different angles and sun exposure.  This species of cuckoo does not deposit eggs in another species’ nests.

Leopard Cubs at Play

We were lucky enough to find these cubs and their mother on a morning game drive with perfect weather and again on other drives.  They played with each other and often their mother would join in the fun.

leopard siblings

Every so often they would sit to rest and survey their surroundings as young predators in training.

leopard cub fight

Then the fun would erupt again for another round of pouncing and wrestling

Rhino Establishing Rank

Rhino fight

White rhino are usually pretty stoic when we encounter them: they keep at eating or close ranks to stand in an alert defensive position. This group of 3 males and one young (probably) male were agitated and active when we found them.  The 3 older rhinos were engaged in some intense battling with their horns with one male defending his dominance in the herd. The youngster was quite stressed by the whole affair and ran around in panic.

Very Young Hyena Puppies

GS_9976_160601

This is a very large and active den site for spotted hyena.  On this visit there were several adult females around and some adolescent and older pups. Out of the den came 2 very young  pups. These are the youngest I have ever seen. The female in charge (not sure if it was the mother) kept them close to the den by picking them up in her powerful jaws using a gentle touch.

Lions with their Kill

Lion snack

This was one of several very good sightings we had through the two May safaris.  This time the females were resting nearby and the male was there too. The buffalo meal was mostly consumed, the previous night, but this male lion was still hungry and working with the carcass to get all the meat he could. It is hard work for the lions to pull the meat apart and they frequently take a rest in the shade.

 

Mother Leopard Having Fun

Leopard mother

It must be stressful to try to feed, train, and defend two active cubs. This is why it was so delightful to be there to see the mother leopard play with her cubs.  No of them took any notice of our vehicle and cameras and just stalked and mock attacked each other in the open and right in front of us.

Antics in the Mud Bath

elephant humor

elephant mud bath

As the rainy season water drys up and becomes mud, these spots become a favorite place to visit and photograph. When elephants come by it is a funny mud flinging  spectacle with bodies rolling and splashing.  One elephant pushed his younger sister in the mud.  Rubbing follows the mud bath. At this water hole the favorite rubbing tree had become very short and elephants had to contort to funny positions to use it – such as this youngster doing a face plant in order to get a rub.

 

Moving Herds in Kruger

wildebeest herd on the move

Parts of Kruger National Park open up into wide vistas where you can see far into the distance.  This herd of wildebeest was on the move and created a nice sight line and vanishing point for my photo.

Game Drives in the Dark

bush baby

I enjoy the end of our afternoon game drives when we return to the lodge after dark using spot lights.  This time we found a bush baby.  I am still hoping to see a pangolin or aardvark by night.  We also find chameleons , small cats, and hear the night calls of birds and herd animals.

Lions Seeking Shade

lion with a kill

This kill was in a great spot for feeding at night, but as the morning wore on it was getting hot out in the open defending the remains of the meal. The female lion – who was covered head to toe in blood and guts – tried to drag the carcass to a shady spot.  It was a bit too heavy for her and the other lions just watched from the shade.

 

Drama in Kruger – all in the first 10 Minutes

Black Backed Jackal

This was the start of one of our all time best days in Kruger. A hyena chased after a leopard cub while the mother fought to defend it and this black-backed jackal stood at the ready to take advantage no matter who won.  The jackal was probably following either the hyena or leopard to wait for chances of stealing a meal.  We also saw elephant, lion, and rhino all before the welcome center.

We also had beautiful and interesting skies that day.  Sometimes you forget to take some wide shots to illustrate the vastness of the park.

Kruger National Park

 

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My Favorite Lens for a South African Photo Safari: my Canon 70 – 200 mm f2.8

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My Favorite Lens for a South African Photo Safari: my Canon 70 – 200 mm f2.8

While on safari I like to keep my equipment streamlined and light.  Over many years photographing in South Africa, my Canon 70 – 200mm f2.8 has taken the bulk of my wildlife images.

Cinebags on safari
One of my camera bags ready for safari
Lenses for South Africa Safari
My 70 – 200mm lens at work

My next Group Photo Safaris

The 70 – 200 is one of the most poplar lenses on the market. It offers great quality at a good price.  In South Africa the wildlife tends to be closer and many of the subjects will be in range of this lens.  I also add a +1.4x or +2.0x teleconverter.  My 2nd camera body is rigged with a 300mm lens to get those large herds and distance shots in Kruger National Park.   Birding would be the only reason I would consider packing a longer lens.  In fact, if I had to choose just one lens for a safari, it would be my 70 – 200.

I also love working with this lens because of its reasonable weight (1.7 lbs) which together with my medium weight 5D MK3 allows me to hand hold if I need to.  In safari vehicles I a monopod as support.

I have combed through my collection of safari photos and pulled out this range of photos all taken with my beloved Canon 70 – 200mm

 

leopard tail
Detail of a leopard tail
elephant
Mature elephant breaks apart a stick to get tasty bits
zebra fight
zebra fight
leopard in a tree
A leopard bounds up a tree shaking loose leaves
Giraffe in south Africa
Giraffe with typical South African Savannah in the background
Lion photography
lion cub plays in the afternoon light
hyena cubs
Hyena cubs
lion cubs
Lion cubs play while mother and aunt watch
lions
female lions greet each other
lion in the grass
Juvenile lion makes for a nice textured image
white rhino
Baby white rhino with mother
cheetah cubs in south Africa
Cheetah cubs
Kudu
Greater Kudu feeding
Canon 70 - 200 for safari
Elephants in Kruger
Cheetah photo safari
a cheetah turns its back to us in typical cat fashion, but gives a short glance back
safari lens recommendation
Young elephant and mother enjoying the water
Impala
Fleeing impala

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