Kirkmans Kamp Photosafari 28-31 August 2016 Part 1

01st January 2017
I hosted Jo,Jill and Philip from the UK on a 4 night Photosafari at Kirkmans Kamp.

After meeting everyone and discussing our plan for the coming days I helped them with Camera focus calibration and wildlife photography settings, after that it was time to set off on our first drive.

We made our way to the Nzilo female Leopard who had a kill not too far from the lodge, she had hoisted the kill into a tree and when we got to her she was getting to the end of her afternoon rest, she slowly started to wake up and move around before heading to the tree where her kill was.

Nzilo climbed the tree and after getting herself into a comfortable position she started to feed, there was not much left on the carcass and after about an hour just after the sun had set she climbed down from the tree and we followed her using the light, it was a perfect opportunity and we switched into manual mode on the camera and used the spotlight to photograph her that yielded some good results.

After leaving Nzilo we headed off to the lodge for a drink and some dinner.

The following morning we set off just before sunrise and photographed a few Impalas with the first rays of the sun, we decided to head off to the river to see if we could follow up on Lions tracks that had been found the afternoon before, it was not long before we spotted the southern pride of Lions, they had just walked up from the river and one of them stopped to sharpen her claws.

It must have been a busy night of hunting as the lions went to the nearest clump of trees and lay down to rest, we managed to get a few nice images of them before they passed out and went to sleep.

The Bicycle crossing male Leopard had been found just on the other side of the Sand River so we headed off to have a look at him, he was lying up against the bank of the river grooming himself and he was awake just long enough for us to photograph him and then he too passed out and went to sleep.

We left the Leopard to go for a coffee break and on the way we photographed a couple of curious Dwarf Mongoose peeping at us from the safety of the termite mound.

Before we could stop we found fresh tracks of a small group of Wild dogs, immediately we decided to skip coffee and try to find the dogs, the tracks headed down to the river and it wasn’t too long before we spotted the dogs in the distance, they were in the river sniffing and scent marking and then they decided it was time to head back into the Kruger park from where they had came, trying to keep up with running dogs is quite challenging and we managed to stay with them for the next 10 minutes as they steadily headed South towards the Kruger Park.

There is a small clearing on the edge of Kirkmans next to the Kruger and the dogs were headed in this direction, we drove around and waited up ahead for the dogs and after a few minutes they came trotting over the clearing, a great opportunity to try some panning images on the fast moving dogs.

It has been a busy morning and after the last Wild dog had crossed back into Kruger we headed back to the lodge for our breakfast.

In the afternoon we headed off to have a look at the local Hyena den, at first there were all in the den and there was not much activity but after waiting for about 20 minutes a few of the youngsters came out and started to wander around the den site, the afternoon light obliging us with a few good images of the Hyena pups.

It was a quiet afternoon compared to the crazy morning we had and not much was found so we headed off to a beautiful spot along the Sand river for a sundowner before heading back to the Lodge for dinner.

The following morning we set off along the Sand River and as the sun started to rise we stopped for a small group of Arrow Marked Babblers sunning themselves in the morning light, they provided the perfect subjects to silhouette against the rising sun.

We had just crossed over the river when we spotted the large pack of Wild dogs, they were crossing over the Sand River from East to West so we turned around and followed them on the Eastern Bank of the river, the dogs had already eaten something that morning as there was blood on their faces but whatever it was had not satisfied their hunger so the majority of the pack set off again and left one adult to take care of the puppies.

It was impossible to follow the running dogs through the thick bush so we decided to wait with the pus until the adults returned, after 10 minutes the adults returned, they had fresh blood on their faces and with excited twittering and yelps they encouraged the pups to follow them, even trying to follow the much slower pups through the bush was challenging and it wasn’t long before they had left us behind, it was only the excited sounds of the dogs feeding that guided us to where they were.

The dogs had caught a Impala in a small ditch and they were quickly finishing off their food and after 10 minutes everything was gone except the head and skin, the dogs had settled down in the shade and proceeded to fall asleep.

After our coffee break we went to help another ranger track down the Southern pride, fresh tracks had been found and we went to help.

After some skill full tracking by the trackers and minutes before we about to give up the Lions were found, by now it was quite late in the morning and the Lions were already laying down to rest, with a final bit of grooming each Lion found a patch of shade and lay down to sleep and we headed off back to the lodge for breakfast.

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