Thursday, May 18, 2017

Guest Images - Timbavati Wildlife Photography May 2017

Below follows a selection of images taken by our guests on our Timbavati Wildlife Photography safari and as you will see the quality is incredible! Copyright remains with each individual photographer. Anyone who wish to join one of our safaris please contact us here. For all European photographers please contact Amazing Views our representing agent for more details. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Specialist photographic safari - Greater Kruger.

One of the two leopards we saw on our very first drive.
This was the first of two sell-out safaris Africa Unlocked arranged and hosted for Amazing Views, a specialist photographic safari company based out of Switzerland.

Our first day started, as most safaris does, with guests arriving at Eastgate airport in Hoedspruit  and a short road transfer to Umlani bushcamp in the Greateer Kruger. Once everyone settled into their traditional reed chalets we set off for our first game drive. And one could not ask for a better start to a safari. In addition to numerous species of plains game such as antelope, zebra and giraffe we found our first leopard as the sun set in the west. Hardly had we turned the vehicle off when another one was sighted in a nearby tree!! So young male leopards on the first afternoon!

Just to prove that "dab light" is not always what everything thinks.

But with the bar raised that high, what was the rest of the week going to produce? The days all flowed along the following schedule.

Wake up at 5 o’clock am
Tea of coffee (which is brewed on the open fire in the boma).
Departing for game drive about 45 minutes before the sun pokes it head over the horizon. We need to find a subject well before first light.
Midway through the drive we stop for another coffee break after which we return to the lodge and breakfast.
After breakfast we do a photographic session where subject such as light, composition, post processing are covered as well as critique sessions on participants images.
Then its leisure time and lunch at 1:30.
Afternoon tea is served at 3:30 and then its game drive again.
As is the tradition we stop for sundowners after sunset and rerun back to camp after dark.

Never take life (or photography) too seriously.
The fact that we have a private vehicle and are not set to any routine allows us to search for nighttime creatures at leisure and if we are lucky enough to find something of interest we stay with it until all photographic opportunities are done.

We timed our sighting to ensure maximum time at sightings. This was one of the key moments on the trip. Private safaris also means that we could spend as much time as we require and not be bound by camp schedules. 
One such opportunity came in the form of a large male leopard whose kill was stolen by two Spotted Hyena’s. In the hope of capturing some interaction between the two species we returned to the scene after dark. Unfortunately the leopard went looking for other options but two Hyenas remained finishing off the kill. Always with the aim of getting an interesting angle we positioned the vehicle in such a way to capture the reflection of the feeding Hyenas in the water below.

In addition to seeing the two Leopard on the first drive, within 24 hours of arriving we had also seen Lion, Elephant, Buffalo and White Rhino and thankfully the days were filled with consistently good sighting throughout. We also made time for showing our guests how to capture the night sky and this provided a stunning opportunity to do a group photo.
Nothing like sundowners under an African night sky.
The sightings over the course of the week were 5 individual leopards (that almost a leopard a day), mating lions as well as two large males on an impala kill, herds of Elephant and Buffalo and several sightings of Rhino. Not that the big five is the only attraction. Numerous smaller creatures can be found and we photographed anything from owls to mongoose over the course of the week.

Spotted Hyena walking down the road in beautiful morning light.
Umlani is a great destination offering consistently good opportunities to wildlife photographers. The camp itself steers away from unnecessary opulence that removes its guests from the wild. This traditional bushcamp allows guests to immerse themselves in nature and the sights and sounds of the bush is not held back by a generator growling in the background, nor is the night sky blurred out by electric lights.

Rustic but close to nature. 
For the adventurous - why not a sleepout on a treehouse overlooking an active waterhole. 
For those seeking a close-to-nature experience it is certainly the place to go. A sleep-out deck next to an active waterhole offers the adventurous another unique opportunity to get a deeper insight into the African night.
One cannot really ask for more. A beautifull female leopard in the first golden rays of the morning. 
Additional dates have been set scheduled for 2017 but these are all booked out. Should you wish to join us for a safari in 2018 please get in touch. Alternatively we encourage any European clients to contact Amazing Views directly.

More than enough smaller creatures to fill the gaps "between the big stuff". 
On our last afternoon drive a hippo at our sundowner stop put up a great display, The fact he obliged during some of the most amazing light on the trip was much appreciated.
A very obliging Hippo put up a display for our last sundowner stop
And as we though the best was done a pair of large male lions bode us farewell.

The two brothers on our last mornings game-drive.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Southern Kalahari Wildlife Photography - Part 2

The ochre dust makes for some remarkable landscapes.

Then it was off to the second stop of our Kalahari safari after a wonderful few days in the National Park. Still searching for our rare and seldom seen animals we were very excited to hear that a pair of Cape Foxes were denning right outside the guest rooms. These guys provided great photography over the next five days.
Cape Fox puppies at a den, a southern African endemic mammal. 

Tswalu is the best place in the world to see the very secretive Pangolin.

Even when making the booking it felt silly stating under "Special Requests" we would like to see and photograph pangolin. Remarkable Tswalu have figured out the recipe of tracking these, one of Africa's most tricky mammals to see. Over the five days we were there we saw no less than 4 individuals!!

Black Rhinoceros mom with baby

A Meerkat family warming up at the den before setting off for the days foraging. 
The rare and special animals just kept coming. We saw a few black Rhinos some skittish and some quite relaxed. Whats interesting is that the subspecies found at Tswalu is of the desert or south-western subspecies. One of their distinguishing features being that both horns are the same length.

A Cape Cobra! Probable not going to convince many people to come on safari but a very special sighting indeed. Not often one get to see these guys up close!
A Burchell's Sandsgrouse taking off. 
O yes, of course there were lions. I almost forgot :)
Lioness walking through backlit bushman's Grass looking for a  cub hidden from view. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Southern Kalahari Wildlife Photography - part 1

One of the Kalahari's best exports - A Black-maned male lion.
I believe that there are few parks, if any that have produced more award-winning images that the Kalahari Transfrontier Park in South Africa. This, the first cross border, transfrontier park together with Botswana’s Kalahari National Park encompass more than 3.8 million hectares! That is twice the size of Kruger National Park, or the Serengeti! Camps are situated far from one another and it has a wonderful wilderness feel far away from any civilization. 

Our dedicated photographic safari focused solely on this region and split into two venues. The first being the Transfrontier park itself where we stayed at the wild and unfenced Kalahari Tented Camp after which we moved on to the exquisite 100 000 hectare Tswalu Kalahari Reserve.

The unfenced and wild Kalahari tented Camp
November marks the start of spring in Southern Africa and , provided one can handle a bit if heat is arguably the best time of year to travel to the Kalahari. The Auob fossil river bed is a norrow but beautifully scenic river bed. Riverbed is a misnomer so do not expect a lush riparian forest surrounding its banks. The river only flows every hundred years or so, but the ancient Camelthorns and hight dunes make this a photographers paradise. 

Giraffe in the scenic Auob riverbed. 
In addition to photographing numerous Spotted Eagle-owl chicks, (now half-grown) we also found a tiny Pearl-spotted Owlet nesting in a hole in a Camelthorn Tree.

While our aim was not necessary to focus all our energy on the big cats, close-up sightings were frequent and delivered many a photographic opportunity.

A large KalaharI Lion intently goes for a Black-backed Jackal. 
Babies are of course super little subjects and we found no less than three active Cape Fox dens, all of which having boisterous little ones present and providing endless hours of observation and photography. The best surprise was left for the last night when we located an African Wildcat den with mom and two kittens is attendance. 

Spring, being the time of new life holds the exact same promise for predators and prey alike. Although it saddens one to see a newborn youngster die at the jaws of a carnivore it’s a stern reminder of the reality of making a living in this harsh paradise. 

Making our way back to camp late one afternoon, thinking all photo opportunities have been depleted, an unusual form made a crepuscular appearance. At the edge of our vision where the approaching night meets the last remnant of daylight a Black-backed Jackal was running with a lifeless Ostrich chick dangling from its faintly blooded jaws. Sad as it seems, in all likeliness the jackal has its own pups to feed and the unlucky Ostrich chick will be readily accepted by hungry young jackals waiting at the den.

Kalahari Game Viewing. Positioning and wildlife behavioral knowledge is key to getting great shots. 

A Tawny Eagle scavenging on a Cheetah kill, in this case a Springbok.

Nothing beats a Kalahari sunset dinner. All catering was handled by Africa Unlocked
The five days here flew past way too soon but thankfully there was still Tswalu!!!

Enquire about your own dedicated photographic safari here.

Giraffe Herd in the Auob Riverbed. Image: Jackie Strong
In total we saw 18 different species of birds of prey. This Pearl-spotted Owlet was nesting in a very photogenic spot. Image: Jackie Strong.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Lowveld Wildlife Photography

Africa's holy grail - Pangolin

In June we hosted the first of our dedicated wildlife photography safaris in South Africa. Over the last few years, with the dramatic increase in popularity in wildlife photography there has been a proliferation of photography hides shooting up, many of which have enabled photographers the opportunity of creating dramatic new images. The hides at Indlovu River Lodge being some of the latest editions. Superbly situated within easy reach of other wildlife destinations, Indlovu offers an easily accessible location to some of the countries best designed hides situated within a 9000 hectare big-five reserve. In short Africa Unlocked offers 5 to 10 day itineraries starting at Indlovu. Here we focus on hide photography and should the group require it a wildlife photography workshop in the superbly equipped media room.
A Giraffe makes the first tentative steps towards the waterhole.

The hides (one of which is specifically designed for bird photography) in itself is something to behold. The design includes a solidly constructed concrete structure, spacious and carpeted interiors which dampens any sound and provides photographers with enough space to pack their notoriously bulky gear, comfortable reclining chairs, complimentary Gimpro camera brackets, coffee and tea station, complimentary snacks, sufficient height to stretch ones legs and, very importantly, a wide variety of abundant wildlife. I am sure you get the picture that it doesn’t get more comfortable than this when having to sit and wait for wildlife action. Our safari started out under the verdant riverine vegetation in which the lodge is situated where afternoon coffee and tea was served and then a short drive to the nearby hide. Soon a troop of baboons made an appearance as well as Impala, Nyala, Kudu and a lone giraffe male who obligingly took a drink as a dramatic sky announced the end of the day. We decided to spend the majority of our time in the mammal hide as this proved the more productive of the two. Twice Giraffe came to drink and in addition to the constant flow of antelope, birds such as Oxpecker, Mousebirds and Waxbills also put in an appearance.
And then proceeds to take a drink only meters form photographers at water level.

A female Nyala takes a drink while a baboon investigates in the background
Indlovu's accommodation options consist of a private villas, each with private pool and deck overlooking the bushveld.  
Inside one the suites

The next stop was Umlani in the Timbavati, a large private reserve open to the Kruger National Park and part of an open ecosystem of more than 2 million hectares!! The private reserves adjacent to Kruger offers photographers some of the best opportunities, notable of the big cats. Leopard, which can be notoriously difficult elsewhere are often encountered in the Timbavati and top our wish list. Who would have thought that an animal even more exciting than leopard would make an appearance. Ask any guide or serious safari enthusiast what their most sought after animal is and the name Pangolin starts flying around. Now for those of you who do not know, it superficially resembles a armadillo, just a thousand times more elusive. For me it was only the second one I ever encountered.

The Pangolin came in for a close inspection. 

This is certainly an action-packed safari and at the time of writing, trips scheduled for 2017 are already 60 % booked out. Should you wish to join us for one of the scheduled safaris or arrange a private trip please get in touch here. We only do high quality, low volume safaris. We also have agents in the UK and Europe.  

Incredible sighting as two Spotted Hyena's tackle a young Kudu

This battle-scarred old male glares straight down the camera barrels as he sets off on his nightly rounds. 
The local Spotted Hyena clan at daybreak. 
After lying up and not doing anything for the majority of the day, this young male leopard finished off his Impala kill once the sun had set. 
Out Guests saying goodbye to the lowveld after 7 days magical photography

The active lodge waterhole with the dining deck in the background.
Umlani Bushcamp offers a wonderful, close to nature experience!!