Following up on Part I of Safari 2017, Part II picks up where 1 left off with more photos and also an hour-long video capturing a transfer between 2 Lodges during our trip to South Africa. The video is actually quite good, especially at the 32 minute mark as we entered the Blyde River Canyon with a GoPro suctioned to the belly of the chopper. A big thanks to Jana and her team at Wild Skies Aviation for providing such a fantastic service. If your ever in the Hoedspruit area of South Africa and need/want to take a phenomenal Helicopter tour of the area, do it! You won’t be sorry!
The second batch of photos combines shots taken at 2 of the 3 lodges we visited: Dulini Private Game Reserve (where I will probably want to be interred in one day) in the western sector of the Sabi Sands of South Africa and the wonderful Jaci’s Safari Lodge in the Madikwe Reserve. The reason we chose to visit Jaci’s was the fact that they have a submerged ‘Hide’ for photographers to get to water level at a dam for some amazing photo ops. Jaci’s did not disappoint. In fact we’ve already booked next year’s stay.
As far as gear goes for this trip, I packed my Nikon D800 and D5, along with a Nikon 24-70, Sigma 150-600S, Rokinon 24mm 1.4 (For the star trails), and the ‘toddler’ as my wife calls it, the Nikon 600mm / f4. The D5 did the most of the heavy lifting, but the D800 took lead on anything that needed huge megapixels or situations where the I didn’t want to risk damage to the D5.
Enjoy these for now. More on the way!
Here is the video I referred to earlier. It covers the 1 hour transfer flight between Dulini Private Game Reserve to the Khaya Ndlovu Manor House where we stayed while we visited with the volunteers and staff of the Rhino Revolution. My wife brought a fair amount of medical tools and equipment to them on this trip to help with their efforts to tend to orphaned Rhinos (whose Mothers were poached). Rhino Rev’s mission is to rehabilitate these orphans and then release them into the wild, where they will be monitored closely by private security.
Known as the ‘Dewane’ male Leopard, he is a dominant predator in the Western Sector of the Sabi Sands reserve. Taken at Dulini.
Adolescent male Elephant enjoys a nice swim….Taken at Jaci’s
Elder female accompanies a ‘teenager’ as well as a one year old to the dam….Taken at Jaci’s
A Kudu Bull surprisingly stays around long enough to pose….Taken at Jaci’s.
Male Lion resting at Jaci’s…..
A Tawny Eagle perches on a Marula Tree awaiting a target to come by. Taken at Dulini.
Young Wild Dogs play ‘tug of war’ over an Impala hide. One of the most endangered species on the planet unfortunately. Taken at Jaci’s.
One of my top 5 shots from the trip. A Croc surfaces showing off his successful Tilapia hunt. Taken at Jaci’s.
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as the Ellies crossed between me and setting sun. Taken at Jaci’s.
Heron and Tilapia do not see eye to eye….Taken at Jaci’s.
Bad day for the Tilapia….
A Village Weaver works hard on his nest in the hopes that he can attract a female to call it her home…Taken at Dulini.
‘Dark Mane’ of the Majingilane coalition of Lions takes a moment after stealing the Impala carcass from a Lion Pride that hunted it. Typical behavior of Male Lions who are part of coalitions. Taken at Dulini.
My most favorite critter…..the Lilac Breasted Roller. Taken at Dulini.
Unfortunately these beautiful birds are highly endangered, but for the moment this Saddle Billed Stork enjoys fishing in a river. Taken at Dulini.
Spending the last 2 weeks in Africa visiting three unique Safari camps, I finally now have the time to get caught up and start sorting through over 19,000 photos and hours upon hours of video footage including a dramatic Helicopter run through the Blyde River Canyon in South Africa as seen by a GoPro attached to the belly of the chopper.
For starters, here are some of the early favorites from the cameras. This first batch is taken from my absolute favorite place on the planet, the Dulini Private Game Reserve in the western sector of the Sabi Sands of South Africa. It’s tops on my list because virtually every game drive will have you seeing the ‘Big 5’ as well as a wide variety of smaller mammals and more birds than you can keep track of. Never a risk of a bad or dull game drive and the photos will bear that out.
For this trip, I packed my Nikon D800 and D5, along with a Nikon 24-70, Sigma 150-600S, Rokinon 24mm 1.4 (For the star trails), and the ‘toddler’ as my wife calls it, the Nikon 600mm / f4. The D5 did the most of the heavy lifting, but the D800 took lead on anything that needed huge megapixels. I wound up having luggage far more full with Cameras, Lenses, cables, etc., than clothes and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the way it should be.
Enjoy these for now. Many more posts on the way including a closer look at the SWISS First and Business Class experiences during our travels….
The 2016 edition of our annual Safari Trip came and went all too quickly. As always it was a wonderful 10 days to be immersed in the beauty and savagery of the South African Bushveld. Being addicted to the experience, we once again stayed at our favorite place in the world, the Dulini Private Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand Reserve. We’ve become part of their family so it’s only proper that we visit kin every year!
Over 18,000 photos came home with us and I’ve started the daunting task of sorting through them to see what stays and what goes.
I had taken new equipment with me this year, including Nikon’s brilliant new D5, which shoots off 12 photos per second so it was easy to rack up a high photo count. Especially since it could take 250 photos without taking a break to write the photos to memory and do it with a 20.8MP sensor. Combining the D5 with the D800, I had substantial fire-power when it came to catching the right moment. As far as glass was concerned, my beloved Sigma 150-600mm , Nikon 24-70mm, and a new Rokinon 24mm / f1.4 specifically for Astro-photography rounded out the kit. Enough about the tools.
As I go through my photos, I’ll post my trip reports as quickly as possible.
For the first installment, I’ll share what we observed soon after a beautiful Leopard named ‘Torchwood’ successfully hunted a Warthog. We had just missed the actually ‘strike’ by Torchwood but got there in time to see him catch his breath and begin feeding.
Torchwood has a reputation in the region for being a Warthog specialist and is becoming one of the more dominant male leopards in the area. Warthogs will typically inhabit abandoned termite mounds and will burrow into them for shelter and safety. Torchwood, having figured this out, will stake out active burrows and will attempt to ambush the warthog. These termite mounds can sometimes between over 10 feet tall, so he’ll also stand on top of the mound and surprise the warthog from above when it attempts to leave its burrow. Simply amazing to watch his master hunter at work.
The Sabi Sand region is blessed with a vibrant Leopard population, so it’s wonderful to see these leopards grow up from being cubs to being independent and establishing their own territories. From my own count there are at least 30 leopards in the region, and I might be a bit low on that estimate.
Some of these photos may be a bit graphic for sensitive palettes, especially if you’re not a fan of seeing a bit of flesh or blood. However it is part of the experience and part of the reality that exists in such a wild environment and goes a long way to tell the story of a Leopard and his successful hunt.
You’ll notice that my photos bear the Dulini watermark. As in past years, I’ve shared my photos with Dulini for use on their Facebook page so when I processed my photos I kept it simple by just applying the Dulini watermark instead of re-doing an imagine for my watermark.
I hope these photos bring a sense of what it’s like to be there watching the event in person! Enjoy!
How we found Torchwood minutes after his kill.
Yep, he’s staring my way…..
A few minutes later he went back to the Warthog to hide the carcass from Hyenae or other predators that could challenge him for the Warthog.
Dragging his trophy to ‘safety’. Typically he would pull the Warthog up into a tree, but nothing tall enough was nearby for him to take advantage of.
You can see the exhaustion in his expression.
Hard work, but worth the effort for him.
After another short break, he began to rip into the flesh of the Warthog and enjoyed the fruit of his labor.
Clearly enjoying his success!
Simply a beautiful animal…..