LIVE UPDATE from our Big Cat Photo Safari to Sabi Sand, South Africa.
By Specialist Photographic Guides Villiers Steyn & Lance van de Vyver.
A new group of guests arrived on #BigCatPhotoSafari yesterday afternoon. After checking in and enjoying a light lunch and short briefing, we headed out on drive in search of Big Cats.
During the morning yesterday, we had heard roaring lions in the north east and decided to follow up on them. It took us an hour just to find the first track of a lioness before finding more tracks, this time of a male lion. While tracking, we had an amazing sighting of three barn owls who emerged from a hole in a marula tree in perfect light and got some great shots of them. We also had a great opportunity to photograph some zebra in gorgeous back-light.
After some decent searching and tracking we finally bumped into a lone lioness, possibly from the Talamati Pride. She was very shy and we followed at a distance until we received a call that a male lion was found sleeping nearby.
We reached the male lion as he was waking and worked together to create beautiful studio lighting of the big boy. He really treated us when he began roaring directly at us. An ethereal experience. He was then joined by another male and female lioness. After spending some time with them, we headed back to camp for dinner.
This morning we had just left camp when we found male leopard Tingana right in front of the lodge. The light was still dim as the sun had not risen and gave our guests a great opportunity to attempt panning shots. The results were fantastic. He then had a drink in front of camp before disappearing into a thick drainage line.
We then decided to follow up on last night’s lions. We soon discovered that the lions had crossed out of the property. A large breeding herd of buffalo was rumoured to be in the area, and, after some searching, we found them. The herd was massive with at least 300 individuals. We enjoyed spending time in the middle of the herd and at a waterhole where they drank.
With buffalo herds of this size, there is always the chance of finding lions nearby. We followed up on some tracks and bumped into the Torchwood pride (14+ individuals in the pride) as they were crossing out of our traverse. They walked through a burnt fire break and the contrast of the burnt veld and tawny cats provided stunning photographic opportunities.
After the lions crossed out we headed east where we bumped into another pride of lions, this time, the Nkuhumas (11 individuals in the pride). They were asleep in the road. A prancing impala stirred them and they got up and walked right past us in the road. Again, the photographic opportunities were fantastic. What a morning!
After all the excitement we headed back to the lodge for brunch and some Lightroom training.