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My Magical Southern African Photography Safari: A Trip Report

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Nov 8th, 2015, 07:42 PM
  #21
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dockland, I didn't see any wild dogs. A pack had just moved off property a few days before I arrived at Mala Mala. However, the rangers had put a go pro video camera in the den and it was delightful an adorable to watch the pups frolic and the mom caring for them.

KayeN, I unfortunately did not see any of the "scarce" animals, although we thought we saw a Honey Badger running off. Mala Mala is very special. I can understand why you love it so. I had some great sightings there and I wish I could have stayed a couple more days.

I'm heading back in September to Kenya for the migration. It is, indeed, an addictive country.

I'm happy everyone is enjoying my images. That's why I take them. Thanks!
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Nov 8th, 2015, 08:06 PM
  #22
 
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Hey BH - good to see you're still peeking in here occasionally. My husband absolutely loved your photos. He's very jealous - I promised him someday he will get to do something like that.

I'm happy to hear people are interested in seeing dogs. In over 100 game drives, I've only seen them once, in the dark, sleeping. But they are very difficult to keep in a private reserve - they need huge areas. My favorite reserve recently released 6, and four are still in the pack. No word on the missing two Hoping for babies soon, though. Wildlife ACT is very involved with dogs and is always looking for volunteers. In national parks, seeing anything is luck of the draw and we have not had dog luck. Our next trip will hopefully be all about dogs and brown hyena. Oh yeah, eles, rhino, giraffe.... Love them all.

Let us know how the Kenya trip goes! We haven't been yet, but we still have a few places in southern Africa on our list.
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Nov 9th, 2015, 02:56 AM
  #23
 
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Hi everyone

Christabir, have been very lucky with many sightings! Have had some wonderful wild dog sightings, and being a dog person, love them! Have seen them both at MM and Mashatu though last saw them at Tswalu in the Kalahari, 9 x 5 weeks old pups! Amazing!
Have seen glimpses of Brown Hyena, but never a good sighting! I went to Tswalu for a few reasons, Sable and Aardvarks were the main reasons, as I love Sable Antelope and had been caught in a vehicle in aardvark holes but never seen one and while they are incredibly nervous animals, finally did get to see two during my week there last year!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Nov 9th, 2015, 05:25 PM
  #24
 
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Hi Kaye -

I am not so fortunate. A relatively new very expensive chronic disease uses up more than my travel budget, so no more upscale private reserves for me. Our very short, dark wild dogs were at Mashatu, but they left a long time ago. Not sure why no packs have stayed there - it's big enough. Maybe too many lions? Looking at Kgalagadi NP soon for brown hyenas - they have many, but they are very timid and still are not seen as often as spotted hyenas, even though there are much fewer. Not sure why no dogs in KTP since they are in Tswalu - maybe the lion problem there, too.

Without a visit to Botswana, wild dog are still very hit and miss. I'm hoping the dogs at ZRR are successful so I can see them often. Even though a fully fenced reserve, they have had neighboring packs visit and move on. I'm so happy that more tourists want to see them - more reserves will encourage (or buy/trade/relocate) more to hang around.

I want to visit Camdeboo and Mountain Zebra NP near Addo, as well as a private reserve nearby, to see aardvark and bat eared fox. Besides pangolin, I think we've been pretty lucky with everything else. Pangolin will keep me going back - only poacher's seem to see them! I'm nuts about all of it, so as long as I see a rhino and ele, I'm good.

The owner of Entabeni feels like you do about sable and brought some to the "protected" area of his reserve around the golf course (where the lions can't get to) and they are doing great. We were there a few years ago for golf (got lucky with very fun safari) and it's just fun to fight with warthogs for a par. We didn't get lucky with the sable, but it's nice to know they're there. We saw one fleetingly in Timbavati on our first trip. A few days after we left entabeni, our guide lovingly let me know he had his best pangolin sighting ever. Pix for proof, too.

Here's to more dogs and aardvark! Cheers. Love the non big five (and big five, too).
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Nov 11th, 2015, 07:27 PM
  #25
 
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hello-- would you mind sharing information on how you made the arrangements-- how did you book everything? who organized your tour and was it better to do photography tour vs regular? approximate cost and what was included? thanks!
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Nov 12th, 2015, 02:58 AM
  #26
 
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Hi Christabir
What a shame about the chronic health issue you have! I have had rheumatoid arthritis for around 25 years now, and finally have it under control and while my drugs are exorbitantly expensive, because I have had it long term with so many joints affected blah blah blah, I now am subsidized by our medicare.
I also love the pangolin and have probably seen around 12 in the wild now, quite a few at MM. At Tswalu, saw another 2 and got up close to one of them. Quite funny as a young leopard had played with him and then moved on. We felt it was ok to get out and take photos before management arrived as they document the pangolin there. The ranger and I were both on the ground when out of nowhere, came stampeding hooves, not sure what it was, but even with my stiff joints I flew into the vehicle, helped by the ranger. We figured it was the leopard chasing some sort of antelope. They are the most poached animal throughout Africa and Vietnam - the numbers killed are staggering! All for greed and stupidity!

Yes I am also a huge fan of the little things, so many say they have seen everything once they have seen 5 animals! Their loss!!!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Nov 12th, 2015, 09:26 AM
  #27
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maltaln, I worked through a group called "C4 Photo Safaris". http://www.c4photosafaris.com They are a South African outfit that focuses solely on photo-intense safari tours. My tour was very expensive as I went solo, had a full time photography guide just for me, and my own vehicle for the entire time. Unless one is obsessive about spending time lying in the grass with Zebras for hours, there is no need to do a tour like mine : ) However, I was thrilled and would suggest it for anyone as obsessive about photographer as I am. My trip included everything with the exception of international airfare and gratuities. My accommodations were lux permanent structures (not tented camps)

The prices for C4 photo tours with very small groups of photographers (3-8) are 50-60% less than what I paid. They are still more expensive than non photography-focused trips because they have world class (and often famous) photography guides on the trip. What I noticed with the other vechicles that might come to a particular siting at the camps where i stayed is that my guide and I would stay much longer than other vehicles would--waiting for the right "gesture" rather than just seeing a leopard or other animal.

I the middle of the day I would get together with my pro and we'd go over my images, get tips and decide what we were going to do that after noon.

I would not be the one to tell you the differences between photography tours and non photography tours as this was my first safari. I am a serious photographer and I would never go any other way as I don't like negotiating with non photographers as to why I need to stay in one place for an inordinate amount of time. I'm sure that non-obsessive photographers don't want to be with me either : )

That being said, all safaris are "photo" safaris--the only difference in the seriousness of the photographers. I'm sure that there are others in the forum who are far better able to describe non photography safaris.

Either way, I don't think you can go wrong with Mala Mala or Mashatu. They are a great combo.
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Nov 12th, 2015, 10:43 AM
  #28
 
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Hi Kaye - I'm collecting autoimmune diseases, RA being one of the easier ones for now. Not sure what environmental trigger started it, but unfortunately it's just expensive. Fortunately I have access to the meds and hope to someday move to South Africa so I can go on game drives very often and do some meaningful volunteer work.

No pangolin yet - I'm concerned like you about pangolin. Poachers find thousands and we struggle to see one. I'm afraid they will all be gone soon. We are thinking about Camdeboo and Mountain Zebra NPs to have a better chance of seeing them and aardvark and bat eared fox. But brown hyena and dogs.....
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Nov 13th, 2015, 11:17 PM
  #29
 
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maltain - I looked into hiring a private guide once. I would have to hire the guide, pay for his travel, pay for all lodging (though many lodges have less expensive lodging for guides if that is ok with your guide), pay for a private game vehicle at each lodge. Except for the guide's pay, you should be able to figure out approximately how much it would be from information online. Some lodges do photography workshops. I know Tembe does one, as well as many others. Others do photo tours. I saw a list on the Eyes on Africa website recently. Might work for you?

Check out Djuma as an alternative - you rent the whole place out so don't have the added expenses of private vehicle and guide lodging. It's surprisingly affordable and a super nice lodge. And all to yourself!!
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Nov 14th, 2015, 01:04 PM
  #30
 
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Ain't that the truth, anyone with specialty interests is better on their own or with others who have similar preferences. We were stuck with twitchers (birders) on a game drive once and it was painful. It taught me that you need to ask about people's interests or be clear about your before you are put into the vehicle.
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Nov 16th, 2015, 01:09 PM
  #31
 
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Great trip report. Good to be back on Fodor's and reading again.
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