Simbavati Photo Safari Part 1

I hosted A group of 6 South African Photographers at Simbavati River Lodge on a 5 day Wildlife Photographic Safari.

After meeting everyone and setting up camera menus and getting our vehicle ready we set off on the first Afternoon drive, everyone on the vehicle had previous Wildlife Photographic experience so we all shooting in Manual mode with Auto ISO, a quick and easy way to photograph Wildlife.

The first Afternoon we photographed a herd of Elephant feeding in one of the dry Riverbeds, the late afternoon light was perfect, photographing Elephants is always fun as they are always up to something.

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After the Elephants we headed off to see the Shongile Female Leopard, she had caught a Impala and when we arrived the Leopard was up in a Apple Leaf tree, unfortunately for us she didn’t hang around for too long and after a few minutes she climbed down the tree but not before we had got a few images of her climbing down the tree.

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We then heard of another Leopard close by so we decided to go and have a look, this time it was a Young Male Leopard called Ntima, he was lying perfectly for us on a exposed rock, the sun had set so we used a spotlight in the dusk to get some great images of him, later on Ntima lay behind the rock with only his head showing and he peeped at us from behind the rock, we spent about 25 minutes with the Leopard before we had to leave.

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After a quick drinks break we decided to go and have a look and see if Shongile Female Leopard had returned, when we arrived we saw that the Leopard was up in another Apple Leaf tree and she had hoisted her kill, we spent some time with her as she sat up in the tree, after getting more images of her we headed back to the Lodge, it had been a great start to our Safari with wonderful sightings of Leopard and Elephants.

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The following morning we headed to the Southern parts of the Timbavati near the Kruger National Park searching for any sign of Lions, on the way we stopped and photographed a Spotted Hyena feeding on the ribcage of a dead Giraffe, the Hyena was trying its best to extract as much nutrition from the dry bones, it was amazing to see the immense power the Hyena has in its jaws as it cracked open the ribs.

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The rest of the morning we spent trying to find the Lions but unfortunately they had disappeared so we headed back up North to the Lodge and some breakfast and a session of Lightroom.

For the Afternoon drive we headed back to Shongile Leopard, she was up in her tree feeding on the Impala Kill, the light was not great and we were forced to shoot into the light, after a few minutes the Leopard climbed down the tree and headed down into the riverbed for a drink, unfortunately for us the river is inaccessible by vehicle and we left the Leopard.

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There is a active Hyena den close to Simbavati and we went to have a look and see if anyone was home, unfortunately there was no activity at the den site, after leaving the Hyena den we spent some more time with a small herd of Elephants as they fed in the late afternoon.

After leaving the Elephants and after a welcome sundowner drink we had a brief sighting of a Male Leopard as he moved through the Mopani thickets searching for a meal, we decided to leave the Leopard as it became impossible to follow him and we headed back to camp to have a early dinner as after Dinner we went and did some Star Photography from a river crossing close to the camp, it was a beautifully clear night and we got some great images of the night sky.

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The following morning we got up earlier than usual to see if we could find Shongile Leopard in the tree and try and photograph her with the sunrise, when we got to her she was up in the tree feeding, we used our spotlight to get images of her feeding in the pre dawn light, a little later on when there was some color in the sky we used a bit of fill flash to capture the Leopard with the sunrise colors in the sky, finally the Leopard climbed down the tree and we left her to go and search some Lion Activity.

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Later on that morning we watched and photographed a large herd of Elephants that had come for their morning drink, we watched as the herd came in waves down to the waterhole, there was a lot of opportunity and we used various techniques to capture the herd drinking.

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After the Elephants we photographed a Martial eagle in flight before heading back to the Lodge for a hearty breakfast and another session of Lightroom.

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