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Safari Report by Gregory Sweeney
pack of wild dogs

It is autumn in our area of the bushveld. The leaves have begun to brown and fall and the grass has stopped growing and turned yellow as the nights get progressively cooler. My guests have returned home from two wildlife filled safaris.

The drought has been over for a full year and the herbivores numbers have bounced back and they are healthy and well fed on the grass with some brand new youngsters. The predators who faired so well during the draught had young of their own but have to work harder to catch their now healthy prey. We have seen many large prides of lions and some male cubs all grown up now looking to claim territory of their own. One such male lion was trying to get in our reserve one morning as we drove out!

The Wildlife Always Surprises

We shared great wildlife sightings this season and some really special encounters. On one game drive we were surprised to find a black rhino bull. This young bull had been in many fights and showed some aggression towards our vehicle. It was very special to see since they are notoriously hard to find and even more so now that their numbers have been reduced through poaching. Wild dogs are a more positive story: the population has been recovering in our area: We see them more and more often. We had good luck with big cats and a surprising amount of cheetahs in the area. This is yet unexplained and unusual. More usual are the leopards in Sabi: some we can follow from visit to visit as they raise young and fight for territory.

Conservation and Education

Our guests are always very interested in learning about wildlife conservation. Our rangers, guides, and hosts tell them the real story behind poaching in our area, wildlife rehabilitation, national parks, and how wildlife reserves operate. We want our guests to understand the animals they see and their role in a healthy environment. Also it is necessary to understand the challenges faced by wildlife in South Africa. Our own Guernsey Conservancy is launched several conservation plans this season. One is transitioning to management plans consistant with Kruger Park so that we can progress our application to join The Kruger. Other projects are errosion management and water source management and removal of invasive and non-native trees and shrubs.

safari guests

It was a fantastically successful safari season with wildlife that exceeded expectations and great weather. I have seen reports of many young grazing species being born so we should expect good populations when my next group arrives in May 2019.

See more images of my Favorite Moments from Sept 2018 Safaris
   
Join a Safari in 2019
Safari Schedule
May 2019 (African Autumn)

May 4 - 12 - 1 Single

May 13 - 21 1 Single

September Safaris
September 2019 (African Spring)

Aug 27 - Sept 4 - 4 spaces

Sept 10 - 18 - Sold Out

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Thinking Ahead to 2020
May Safaris
May 2020 (African Autumn)

May 2 - 10

May 15 - 23

May 28 - June 5

September Safaris
September 2020 (African Spring)

Sept 1 - 9

Sept 15 - 23

Sept 29 - Oct 7

2020 at 2019 Prices Now!
African Spring / Autumn What are the Differences?
Mother and bayb giraffe

Since we host safaris in both April/May and September/October we get asked frequenly which is the best choice for a photo and wildlife safari. The short answer is that they are both great times to visit South Africa and see wildlife. Given this, there are differences which I will highlight.

Weather

Dry season starts in May and ends in October so both the April/May and Sept/Oct safaris session are going to be dry and most often with no rain at all. Average daily high temperatures in both season are 70 - 88'F (20 - 30 'C).Overnight and morning temperatures in September will only get down to a low of 55'F (15'C) on the coldest days. April tends to be the same. In May temperatures will get down to the low 50's F (10 - 13 C) during a cold spell, but more typically are around 55'F (15 C)

Animal Behaviour, Changes in Surroundings, Travel

Hot weather makes the animals rest and hide all day which is why we choose the Fall and Spring seasons. At the peak of dry season animals will center and congregate around watering holes. In May the grass and food are dying away and many have their mating season. The scenery at this time is still green with grass flattening and leaves falling. September is awash in a straw color and good visibility with no grass or leaves.

Travel to other African destinations in addition to our region is important to consider. July - November is considered peak travel season and may have higher rates.

Both seasons have excellent wildlife and photography opportunities with comfortable weather. I enjoy them both equally.

See the full article for comparative Images and more details.

More Details with Images
What is in My Safari Camera Bag?
Cheetah sits next to my bag

When I prepare to lead a safari group, I pack my safari photography kit with the minimal amount of equipment. With airline restrictions and limited space for bags in vehicles, I choose a medium sized bag and an assembly of lenses which will give me a good coverage range for the most likely subjects.

My Safari Bag

When I arrive at the lodge, by bag contains everything I need for the whole trip. Each day I reconfigure my bag to hold just what I need for that day and location.

The Bag: Guru Gear Kiboko 22L+ with butterfly closure for quick access either side
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with LensCoat body bag
Canon EOS 5D Mark 3  with LensCoat body bag
Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM Lens with Really Right Stuff LCF-52 foot and lensCoat protective cover.
Canon Extender EF 1.4x III
Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens with Really Right Stuff LCF-54 foot
Canon EF 24-105mm f4 IS USM lens
Nikon 10x42 Monarch 5 Binocular
Black Rapid RS-4 camera strap
Point and Shoot pocket camera
Extra camera batteries and charger
Memory Cards
Head lamp
Hydro Flask water bottle ( 621 ml )

This collection of camera equipment gives me range for all situations on safari without overpacking.

I also bring other items for camera support and night shooting.

In the full article I also present some data to show how often I use each lens.

Read the Whole Article
 
Learn More About our Safaris
Tree House Lodge
Stay in a Tree House While on Safari

Our safari guests will enjoy several nights on our Nature Conservancy in my own lodge, Bona Ntaba Tree House Lodge. Here they will enjoy game viewing and wildlife activities during the day, our resident roaming plains game species while they relax at the tree houses, and delicious meals in our boma under the stars. The thatched roof and wood floors give you a sense of adventure and at night you can hear the lions roar and the haunting sounds of wildlife all around you. Guests comment that Bona Ntaba Lodge and its food were a highlight of their stay.

During our safaris we stay at a small and special lodge in Sabi Sands. It has characteristic South African features, fine meals, and friendly staff. Above all, we choose our lodges for the quality of their wildlife and reserves. Each has excellent rangers who are very tuned into the needs of photographers and they are as commited to education and adventure as we are.

More about our Lodges

Guest Comments
Comments from our Guests

If you want a trip to remember this is it! The tree house lodge is beautiful and the food amazing. It went beyond what I expected on my first trip to South Africa. I have pictures to keep for a lifetime and knowledge about wildlife and culture. A piece of my heart will never forget this fabulous adventure.

More Guest Comments

More Stories from Past Safaris

Stories of Being Young in the Bushveld, Giraffe Battles, Which Vulture Eats Last, every wildlife encounter has a story behind it and I have collected many in photo story blogs.

Compilation of Safari Stories

 
 
Someday is now

Underwater Trips Safaris Image Gallery

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