Tag Archives: highlights from photo safari

Favorite Moments from the May 2017 Safaris

My two May 2017 safaris were filled with special wildlife encounters, good weather, good company with some really terrific guests.  I have presented below what I felt were themes present in each safari that made it special.

hyena drinking
A hyena gets a drink after a meal
open safari vehicle
Photographing from the open safari vehicle
Learn about my Photo Safaris in South Africa on my website:  http://www.AfricaWildSafaris.net

The Magic Effects of Africa:

I was delighted to have families and friends traveling together among my photo safari guests.  They were fun and engaging and quickly fell under the spell of the South African bushveld thrilling at  the huge expanse of stars at night, and the way South Africa and the wildlife had a relaxing and healing effect.  Everyone enjoyed the tree houses and the fun and uniquely African touches like outside showers featured at the lodges.

bush babies
Bush Babies often nest in thatch roof and are seen each evening as they leave

Conservation and Education

Our guests are always very interested in learning about wildlife conservation and our rangers, guides, and hosts  tell them the real story behind poaching in our area, wildlife rehabilitation, national parks, and how wildlife reserves operate.  We want our guests to understand the animals they see and their role in a healthy environment.  Also, it is necessary to understand the challenges faced by wildlife in South Africa.  Our guests were so moved by a lion and rhino poaching presentation that we invited the founders of Flying for Rhinos to detail the work they do to help anti-poaching efforts.  They returned with plans to have fundraisers to help this organization. They also were delighted to see several wild white rhinos in Kruger and were able to photograph a very rare encounter with a black rhino.

Black Rhino
A young black rhino bull challenges our vehicle
White Rhino in South Africa
White Rhino
Vulture feeding
At the wildlife rehab centre a guest learns about the role of vultures and gets up close to a bird undergoing treatment for poisoning

Getting Close

Our guests were surprised how close we can get to the animals:  My longest lens is a 400mm,  but I use my 70 – 200mm or 100 – 400mm  for most images.  Our drivers know their reserves very well and can track prides of lions, rhino, and herds of buffalo day to day.  When we find the animals we can get close up and detailed images of elephants, big cats, and giraffes.

wild dogs
A close wild dog encounter
leopard profile
a leopard profile in the late afternoon light

Sometimes we are too close for some of our lenses and have to back off, but we can also get some really great images that isolate different parts of the animal’s anatomy

Lion Paw
Close up of a lion paw
elephant skin
elephant tail and skin texture
elephant and game drive vehicle
getting close to elephants

Behavior and interaction

We highlight the relationships and interactions between species.  When we see buffalo we will also see oxpeckers cleaning parasites off of the buffalo.

buffalo and oxpeckers
oxpeckers remove parasites from the buffalo so they tolerate them even when they clean out the ears.
red billed oxpecker
Oxpeckers also issue warnings when predators approach – they want to protect their food source which are prey animals

We were thrilled to witness an unusual coalition of 5 adult male lions who live, defend territory, and share female pride members.  It was a bit intimidating to be so close to these large and intimidating beasts.

male lions
A coalition of 5 male lions controls this territory

Wildlife Families

We were lucky enough to encounter several prides of lions with cubs.  Most had cubs in a range of ages.  We enjoyed watching and photographing the cubs playing and interacting with their parents.  There were some great moments of a mother’s care and love for her cubs.

lion mother and cub
A mother fakes annoyance at a playful cub
lion cubs playing
A burst of play stops the walk

Young giraffes stayed close to their mothers and baby elephants were kept safely in among the herd by the older females.

Mother and baby giraffe
Mother and young giraffe
baby hyena and mother
A hyena mother brings a meal for the pups


Birds are very prevalent now that the weather has returned to normal and provided abundant food for them.  We always see the spectacular lilac breasted roller. It lights on branches near the dirt roads so we can get images of this colorful bird with shorter lenses.

We also sighted the large predatory birds; Kori Bustard and secretary bird.

Kori Bustard seen on photo safari
The Kori Bustard is the largest flying bird in Africa
secretary bird
A secretary bird “walking eagle”

Hornbills are charismatic to photograph and we found the less common red billed hornbill and the even more rare grey hornbill.

grey hornbill in South Africa
Grey hornbill has just caught a grasshopper


We get great close up portraits of animals, but it is the wide shots that can translate the beauty and mood of South Africa: the sunsetting behind a giraffe as she eats and wildebeest feeding in the early morning fog.

Giraffe at sunset
Giraffe at sunset
wildebeest in the mist
wildebeest moving in the early morning mist

Beauty is also in the small details like dew on a spiderweb.

close up of a spiderweb
Detail of an orb spiderweb

It was a fantastically successful two safari groups with every guest returning with  good images of a huge variety of species: more high quality sightings than they expected .  I want to thank all of the guests who made these trips so much fun with good conversation, nights on the deck watching nocturnal animals, great questions, and most of all  continuing friendships and forming new friendships.  I sincerely hope they can all return again in the future.

Read More on My Blog

Creative Ways to Photograph Elephants

Using the new Lightroom : Dehaze tool on Safari Images

Our 2018 Safari Dates

Safari Diary: First Games Drives with Lions and Rhinos

Best Moments from my Recent Safaris

My two group safaris in Limpopo started just as the season initiated its change from late summer to autumn.  The days were still warm but the nights were cooling slightly and the ample rains and vegetation were finished not to appear again until October.   Conditions were right for some really exceptional game viewing and it was indeed very memorable.  Here are some moments on safari that stood out for me.

Family Moments with a Lion Pride

We had the chance to spend time observing and photographing .  It was a great chance to watch how members interact: greeting each other, lying down together resting, the shared responsibly of leadership of the two brothers.  These were peaceful family moments where they were well fed and cubs were safe.  Contrast may present itself if we find the pride on a kill in the next few days.

photographing lions in South Africa
Female lions greet each other
two male lions in a private big 5 reserve
Lion brothers relax with their female pride members


Subjects a Bit More Rare

Despite many trips to Africa, there are still subjects that elude me.  These species are not the famous and charismatic ones, but they are  key players in the ecosystem and very photogenic.  I was lucky to catch a curious bush baby in a natural pose  – normally they are way up in the trees and lightning fast.

bush baby
A bush baby looks down at us
African hoopoe
Among the drama of the mammals, it is easy to miss the beauty of the bird life

I always see the African Hoopoe when I don’t have the camera with me. This seemed to be their season and was happy to meet up with them 3 times while armed with the camera.

The Beauty  and Grandeur are Still Humbling

I can still be moved by the beauty of landscapes I see daily.

Blyde River Canyon, South Africa
A view of the Blyde River Canyon from the observation platform. The water is home to crocodiles and hippos
Giraffes in Kruger
Sometimes you need a reminder how huge the animals are. I would not have driven so close to them – it is a good way to get kicked.

A dose of perspective and contrast: Our smallness against the huge scale of the African fauna and the clash of the natural world and our manufactured one.   Each animal has a role and is perfectly adapted to that role. I am never bored watching animals living in their perfect niche.

Too Cute

In contrast to the struggle to survive and graphic violence, the babies make you laugh and melt your heart.  No wonder photographers like myself keep coming back.

baby elephant in Sabi Sands
A baby elephant plays in the dust thrilled at his ability to make a cloud
leopard cubs on photo safari in Sabi Sands
A very cute leopard cute out with his mother and sister.

We  Briefly Get to Share Their Lives

The male leopard was just walking down the road at sunset, but he let us follow him.  He had recently had a meal so this was a survey of his territory. We watched him observe the herds moving,  smelled for females and competitors,  and looked for anything new.  Thank you Mr. Leopard for letting us go on rounds with you.

Leopard photographed on safari in Sabi Sands
A large male leopard out for a walk in the evening. It looks like he had a big meal recently.