In order to get between most camps in South Africa, you either have to fly on scheduled Charters, drive for an unGodly amount of hours over horrible terrain, or take a Helicopter. When it was time to transit between Dulini and Khaya Ndlovu, we decided to hire a Helicopter through Wild Skies Aviation out of Hoedspruit so that we can take in one of South Africa’s most beautiful natural wonders, the Blyde River Canyon. The canyon is set apart from other canyons as it is the only ‘living’ canyon in the world, meaning that vegetation is found in abundance at the bottom of the canyon.
These photos will explain exactly what I mean! 🙂
However, the photos don’t quite do it justice!
As you’ll see in the video (taken with a GoPro mounted on the belly of the chopper), departing from Dulini and heading towards Bushbuckridge and Hoedspruit is fairly uneventful. However as you approach the lush borders that surround the canyon, the world below is transformed into something magical. Pay attention at the 30 minute mark and beyond since it is at that point that we enter the canyon and then weave through the canyon walls following the Blyde River out of the canyon and over a series of citrus orchards as we headed to Khaya Ndlovu.
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.