Our first Safari of the year came in the form of a private photographic safari to the prestigious Madikwe Private Game Reserve situated in the North West Province of South Africa on the border of Botswana.
Having last been in the bush towards the end of last year it was a nice surprise on arrival at Wonderboom Gate to see how lush and green the area was after such a tough drought that most of the country experienced for the past two years. I found out later on that the area received a whopping 120mm of rain in three days. It is remarkable how quickly an area and the vegetation can transform when provided with the right elements. With all waterholes full and new lush vegetation to feed on, you can only imagine the relief that the animals are feeling.
On reaching our destination, Rhulani Safari Lodge which is a pleasant 15 minute drive from the gate the excitement level was at full tilt. The atmosphere in and around camp is a warm and friendly one, each staff member greets you with a big smile and one gets the feeling that the staff really enjoy what they do and each others company. Rhulani Safari Lodge is situated in the south western section of the reserve with an abundance of wildlife that visit “the local watering hole” infront of the lodge. On a daily basis we got to watch a warthog family come down during the mid day heat to cool off. I think we can all agree that a warthogs having a mud bath provide great entertainment.
Shortly after arriving, I met up with our guests who are South Africans originally from Slovakia. This was their first time visiting Madikwe but they definitely are not strangers to the African bush.
Once the three of us were settled into our luxury chalets (which would be our home for the next few days), we sat down with Riaan who would be our guide for the next few days. It is always great to have a guide who has such a passion for what they do. His local knowledge of the area, passion and understanding of our expectations, gave us great hope for the days ahead.
Our guests had no expectations for the safari, they were just excited to be outdoors, and take whatever the bush had to offer them. So often we look for specific animals or seek a specific moment, which more often than not leads to disappointment. Just opening up and letting nature take the lead, can have a surprising outcome.
Having use of a private vehicle meant that safari times were flexible and allowed our guests to spend as much time photographing and concentrating on the aspects they wanted.
We had perfect weather during our stay. In the mornings we would wake up to a beautiful clear sky, an orange glow on the horizon as the sun starts rising and the morning chorus of birds begin to highlight the new day. During the day, temperatures would reach mid 30 degrees Celsius and by the afternoon as the sun started dipping the temperature would start decreasing as the shadows started swallowing the lush landscape.
There are many reasons why I love what I do, especially meeting new people. I have always enjoyed learning about different cultures and getting to know new individuals. I am always amazed by the kind of relationship you can build in just a couple of days. For myself, sitting down at the end of the day discussing the days events, sharing past experiences and telling stories with my guests is what it is all about.
The following two images were taken on our last morning. We decided to explore an area of the reserve that we had not yet seen after what had been nothing less than an incredible few days on Safari.
No matter how many times you go on safari, the experience is always different. Every day is unique, the thrill of the unknown and mystery behind the natural world, is simply incredible. The safari was jam packed with many unique and exciting moments. The peace that one finds when surrounded by nature is a feeling like no other and keeps us wanting more.
Find out more about joining us in Madikwe: Madikwe Photo Safari
Written and photographed by
Specialist Photographic Guide