Sabi Sands: February 2010 (Part 1)

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Some of you may recall that I have been posting some WAY overdue trip reports on my blog as well. I am still far behind, but I thought it best to get going again…my last report was a series of posts on a trip with my wife to the Kruger National Park in 2009.

Let’s kick this one off then – back in February of 2010, my wife and I were invited to spend 2 nights in the luxurious Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve within the Sabi Sands Game Reserve (part of the Greater Kruger ecosystem). It’s one of the most prolific areas for leopard and lion viewing, and we were pretty excited to visit our friend Marius Coetzee who was at that time a full-time field guide at the lodge.

We decided to latch a few nights in the Kruger National Park to the back-end of this trip, and we also left home VERY early on the morning of 18 February so as to be able to reach the Malelane gate and make our way through the southern section of Kruger before checking in to the Sabi Sands around lunchtime.

It was an overcast morning with a slight drizzle throughout. The animals didn’t look overtly happy either.

Our first find on our short drive through Kruger was a herd of impala rams. These two were nudging closer in the rain.
This white-backed vulture was also looking very sorry for himself…
We came across the remains of a kill. It was too far off to see what the carcass was – but the rain did not deter the spotted hyaenas and the vultures to contest each other for the remains…
Summer is also the time when beautiful migrant birds like the European Roller are “in town”!
The view from this famous lookout “kopje”/inselberg on the road between Malelane and Skukuza is always lovely – and even more so in the lush summer months.
A lovely Malachite Kingfisher was following his fishing pattern despite the drizzle.

It was a quiet drive, but nice nonetheless. There was one more obligatory stop before we would leave the Kruger Park through Kruger Gate and enter the Sabi Sands – the famous Lake Panic bird hide close to Skukuze…despite the rain.

This was my first outing using the Nikon D3s (at that time the top of the range Nikon DSLR and the undisputed king of low light photography). It was this trip that convinced me that somehow I would have to get my hands on one of these cameras on a permanent basis (it was a loan unit from Nikon South Africa).

These photos below were taken at settings like ISO-4000, and they are also significant crops (the longest lens I had to use on this trip was the Nikkor 200-400mm VR which is not ideal for photographing small birds like these).

We arrived at Leopard Hills and checked into our rooms – what opulent luxury!! This was the view from our bath…

After having our lunch and taking a nap, we prepared for our first afternoon drive…which was delayed due to a sudden heavy thunderstorm moving through the area.

When we eventually did get out on our drive, we were met by the most wonderful scene…a herd of Cape Buffalo was lying in an open patch called the Ximungwe Clearing, and above them was a spectacular rainbow!

The rest of the afternoon was eventful – with an enjoyable sighting of the Hlaba N’kunzi leopardess and her cub feasting on a kill, albeit in a dense thicket which made photography nigh impossible.

We eventually enjoyed a lovely sundowner somewhere out in the bush.

What would the next day hold??

Morkel Erasmus


Morkel Erasmus

Morkel Erasmus

Since picking up a DSLR camera for the first time, a little over 3 years ago, Morkel has been invigorated with an unbridled passion for the photographic art form. He has grown at a tremendous pace and put immense energy into the creation of his images.He absolutely loves spending time in the wild places of his native Southern Africa. From a young age he has been visiting legendary wildlife and outdoor locations, including the Kruger Park National Park and the Drakensberg Mountains, with his family. Now that he has found a way to share the natural beauty of his homeland with the rest of the world he is regularly out on photography trips.An Industrial Engineer by profession, and an accomplished artist in genres like music and poetry, Morkel has always enjoyed whatever allows him to express his creativity to the fullest. Photography turned out to be the perfect "marriage" between his engineering brain and artistic soul."I hope that in some way I can raise awareness through my imagery of the plight of not only our wildlife but also the fragility of the last remaining wilderness areas that they call home.”Morkel was recently honoured for his commitment to his craft by receiving a "Highly Commended" for one of his images in the 2010 BBC Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. He is based in Mpumalanga, South Africa and even though he prefers going on safari with his family and friends, Morkel also leads the odd photographic safari and has recently begun presenting workshops in post-processing techniques.

Morkel Erasmus

Morkel Erasmus

Since picking up a DSLR camera for the first time, a little over 3 years ago, Morkel has been invigorated with an unbridled passion for the photographic art form. He has grown at a tremendous pace and put immense energy into the creation of his images.He absolutely loves spending time in the wild places of his native Southern Africa. From a young age he has been visiting legendary wildlife and outdoor locations, including the Kruger Park National Park and the Drakensberg Mountains, with his family. Now that he has found a way to share the natural beauty of his homeland with the rest of the world he is regularly out on photography trips.An Industrial Engineer by profession, and an accomplished artist in genres like music and poetry, Morkel has always enjoyed whatever allows him to express his creativity to the fullest. Photography turned out to be the perfect "marriage" between his engineering brain and artistic soul."I hope that in some way I can raise awareness through my imagery of the plight of not only our wildlife but also the fragility of the last remaining wilderness areas that they call home.”Morkel was recently honoured for his commitment to his craft by receiving a "Highly Commended" for one of his images in the 2010 BBC Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. He is based in Mpumalanga, South Africa and even though he prefers going on safari with his family and friends, Morkel also leads the odd photographic safari and has recently begun presenting workshops in post-processing techniques.

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