It's not all that often that I am out in the field, being predominantly office based since a change in roles a few years ago. There are however two safari's in particular that I look forward to hosting every year, the first being our Great Migration safari's at our Wild Eye Mara Camp in the Masai Mara, and the second, a privately guided safari to South Africa's Sabi Sabi and MalaMala Private Game Reserve's respectively.
I have recently returned from hosting the latter, having spent 6 nights at Sabi Sabi's Selati Camp, followed by 3 nights at MalaMala Camp, for an exhilarating 9 night, 10 day privately guided safari, the sole focus of which was to spend quality time with the predators that the area is so well known for, leopard and lion in particular.
Despite both reserves being situated within the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, and indeed once both a part of the Sabi Sand, these properties now consider themselves independent of the collection of lodge establishments collectively governed by the Sabi Sand Management, and now formally referred to as the Sabie Game Reserve, and simply MalaMala.
But, the different land ownership and associated politics of it all set aside, the simple truth is that both of these magnificent game reserves occupy vast areas of pristine wilderness, offering keen safari goers the comforts, luxuries and service you'd expect from five-star establishments, and of course game-viewing, of predator species in particular, to a degree that perhaps only a handful of reserves in Southern Africa could replicate.
This is the magic of South Africa's Greater Kruger National Park.
Every year, one of Wild Eye's most loyal clients returns to South Africa for a period of two weeks, visiting the likes of Sabi Sabi, MalaMala, Dulini and Londolozi, with the express intention of seeing, spending time with, and of course photographing lion and leopard.
Having repeated said visits for the past 7 years, this client, now understandly an avid leopard enthusiast, has kept accurate records of all leopard encounters, sightings and photographs, detailing not only the individuals photographed, but also their family lineage, habits and other such interesting information, making for a unique visit each year as we uncover new additions to family trees, observe interesting encounters, enjoy leopard cubs entering the anxious stage of independence, and sometimes, sadly, note the loss of past 'legends'.
Consequently, our time together on safari isn't an 'ordinary' photo safari focusing on predators, and other photographic opportunities, but rather, an exciting journey to uncover what may have transpired in the period between visits.
That being said, and as sentimental as our time on safari is together, the focus, and indeed oftentimes the challenge, remains capturing unique, and striking imagery, of these magnificent animals.
Additionally, being fortunate enough to return to these destinations time and time again, and to spend as much time out in the field as we do, we try to ensure that we are on the lookout for different photographic opportunities. Wider shots showcasing the subject in its natural environment, observing and capturing unique behaviours, tighter portrait type shots to highlight certain expressions or features, and certainly, a good mix of the above in the right moments as the opportunities present themselves.
Over the years, we have captured some great images, and this years trip was certainly no different. All in all, we spent time with 13 different individual leopards, and a handful of different lion prides and coalition males, all of which affording us fantastic photographic opportunities as additions to a now comprehensive portfolio of the lion and leopard of the area.
But, rather than have me explain it, check out the gallery below of some of the highlight sightings from our trip.
I hope you've enjoyed the gallery of images as much as we did making them!
For more information on how to experience the magic of these game reserves, or simply to learn more about our private guiding offerings, be sure to click on the respective button links below.
Until next time,
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