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Kruger circuit: A South Africa Safari at the "optimum" time, September 2014


Tdgraves

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Marks

Your shots of the lions in the road really emphasize the length of their tails. It's something that I'm not sure I've ever fully appreciated before.

Great photos!

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So, just for @@bettel and anyone else who likes cubs, spotty or otherwise, some more of the leopard cubs   These were taken by my OH, so you have his perspective, there is a longer effective zoom (7

Day 12 Morning Drive, Leopard Hills   There were just three of us on the drive, so we were able to stay longer at sightings if we wanted, which meant I could get this shot:     We had a lovely

Day 11 Morning Drive   The following morning was our last game drive before transferring to Sabi Sands and this time, we did have a private vehicle. We got some rather envious looks, firstly from a

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Tdgraves

@@Tom Kellie As I do not own a prime lens, I take it for granted about having a range in my zoom. I would say that most of the time I have it extended to full zoom, especially for birds. I suppose that the only time I had it pulled back would be when the leopard or lion were walking past the vehicle, or if we were very close to elephants. I wouldn't worry about internal flights as they are used to transporting photographers ....

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graceland

@@Tom Kellie As I do not own a prime lens, I take it for granted about having a range in my zoom. I would say that most of the time I have it extended to full zoom, especially for birds. I suppose that the only time I had it pulled back would be when the leopard or lion were walking past the vehicle, or if we were very close to elephants. I wouldn't worry about internal flights as they are used to transporting photographers ....

 

and @@Tom Kellie, if you have quite a bit of equipment call ahead to the airlines and tell them; if they do not have many pax that day might not be a problem; or buy a 2nd ticket. That is what a good many pros do. Mine fits in my backpack, no worries; but i have seen so many bags of cameras that I'd never know how to operate; but happy others do.

 

@TdGraves; this series has me re-thinking Sabi Sands destination. I love those lions out of the bush and onto the road with you! Just amazing photo ops. Not too far away from your trip to VA! Weather is perfect!

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Tom Kellie

 

@@Tom Kellie As I do not own a prime lens, I take it for granted about having a range in my zoom. I would say that most of the time I have it extended to full zoom, especially for birds. I suppose that the only time I had it pulled back would be when the leopard or lion were walking past the vehicle, or if we were very close to elephants. I wouldn't worry about internal flights as they are used to transporting photographers ....

 

and @@Tom Kellie, if you have quite a bit of equipment call ahead to the airlines and tell them; if they do not have many pax that day might not be a problem; or buy a 2nd ticket. That is what a good many pros do. Mine fits in my backpack, no worries; but i have seen so many bags of cameras that I'd never know how to operate; but happy others do.

 

 

~ @graceland:

 

You're absolutely right!

Despite being a dyed-in-the-wool amateur, I ought to take more cues from the pros. They know what they're doing and do so every month.

The second ticket idea had crossed my mind.

The issue is how much of sticklers the ground staff and pilots may be about loading limits.

I'd be able to measure and weigh in advance so that I was within their posted restrictions. In the end, it's the ground staff's call.

As with so much in travel and in life, a sincere smile and a soft tone might smooth ticklish situations.

An alternative would be to do a Leopard Sands safari with smaller lenses. I'm mulling that over.

It would be an experiment to see firsthand how it goes. If all is relaxed and flexible, then a return visit with the larger lens would be possible.

That gives me an excuse to contemplate two visits, rather than one!

Let's both keep Sabi Sands in mind. @@Tdgraves exceptionally compelling images are testimony enough that Sabi Sands is well worth a visit.

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

Your shots of the lions in the road really emphasize the length of their tails. It's something that I'm not sure I've ever fully appreciated before.

Great photos!

 

~ @Marks:

 

That's exactly what I thought.

It was the first lion series I'd seen that pulled me in with substantial verisimilitude.

Did I feel that way because the lions were running along, rather than in repose after a meal?

The tails were prominent, perhaps because more readily observed than when sprawled out on grass.

In any case, I wholeheartedly agree with you, they are great photos!

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie As I do not own a prime lens, I take it for granted about having a range in my zoom. I would say that most of the time I have it extended to full zoom, especially for birds. I suppose that the only time I had it pulled back would be when the leopard or lion were walking past the vehicle, or if we were very close to elephants. I wouldn't worry about internal flights as they are used to transporting photographers ....

 

~@Tdgraves:

 

Thank you for your comment about internal flights.

Step by step I'm coming around to the idea that as long as I do my part to pack within stated limits of size and weight, they'll accommodate within reason.

What you've kindly explained about using your zoom is exactly what I need to know. Many thanks for that.

As there would be a number of game drives on different days, I've thought of taking a 200mm lens on certain game drives, a 400mm lens on others.

I'm relatively unconcerned about missing out on anything as heretofore there's inevitably plenty to observe and enjoy, camera or no camera.

The final alternative would be to buy a lens like yours!

Choices, choices...what a pleasant dilemma.

Your Sabi Sands visit and superb big cat images are stirring @@graceland, @@Marks and myself. If we ever end up booking a stay in Leopard Sands, you'll deserve credit for a future free night there as a ‘referral bonus’!

Tom K.

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Tdgraves

That'd be nice....

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Tdgraves

We thought that was it for the game viewing, but as we settled in for breakfast on the deck, several birds appeared in the trees, so I grabbed the 7D. This arrow marked babbler posed beautifully

 

gallery_37950_991_4613535.jpg

 

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and then there were a couple of new species for us, a black-backed puffback

 

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and a long-billed crombec

 

gallery_37950_991_473345.jpg

 

On the way back to our room to pack, this hornbill was also very obliging

 

gallery_37950_1164_11185226.jpg

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Tom Kellie

post-49296-0-43085500-1429038160_thumb.jpg

~ @Tdgraves:

 

This hornbill photo is finer than any I've seen. The bits of color on the scattered foliage nicely set off the bird's bill.

Even as I type these words, looking up at the photo, I feel elated that such scenes occur in nature and are recorded for the enjoyment of those who weren't there.

Your 7D photos on the deck are very nice. Seeing new species like that while resting — terrific!

Thank you for sharing these.

Tom K.

Edited by Tom Kellie
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Wow! Your juvenile lions at play series is superb! Such fun!

Edited by KathBC
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Tdgraves

So, 3 nights in Sabi sands and 3 lion and 3 leopard sightings, all of which were actually doing something, so not at all bad. All in all, a pretty good trip, especially with the Mashatu portion at the beginning. We were very pleased with our decision to stray somewhere "less wild" and to see South Africa at the "correct" time of year. So much so, that we are doing a similar trip this year. Partly due to the excellent pound to rand exchange rate (and the terrible pound to dollar exchange rate), partly as we got some flight upgrades with miles, but mostly as we had such an excellent trip

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graceland

So, 3 nights in Sabi sands and 3 lion and 3 leopard sightings, all of which were actually doing something, so not at all bad. All in all, a pretty good trip, especially with the Mashatu portion at the beginning. We were very pleased with our decision to stray somewhere "less wild" and to see South Africa at the "correct" time of year. So much so, that we are doing a similar trip this year. Partly due to the excellent pound to rand exchange rate (and the terrible pound to dollar exchange rate), partly as we got some flight upgrades with miles, but mostly as we had such an excellent trip

And we will all look forward to yet another excellent trip report!

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Tom Kellie

So, 3 nights in Sabi sands and 3 lion and 3 leopard sightings, all of which were actually doing something, so not at all bad. All in all, a pretty good trip, especially with the Mashatu portion at the beginning. We were very pleased with our decision to stray somewhere "less wild" and to see South Africa at the "correct" time of year. So much so, that we are doing a similar trip this year. Partly due to the excellent pound to rand exchange rate (and the terrible pound to dollar exchange rate), partly as we got some flight upgrades with miles, but mostly as we had such an excellent trip

 

~ @Tdgraves:

 

The South African Tourism Commission owes you an upgrade or two.

Your report is certainly stoking my interest in Sabi Sands.

I especially like what you've noted above about going somewhere “less wild”.

The Chinese renminbi remains rock-solid with all currencies, making a Sabi Sands safari feasible.

The round-trip Beijing – Nairobi airfare for the safari in two weeks was the lowest I've ever paid in five years.

Your overall experience was so positive, rhinos, birds, cats, that it sparks dreams...and a few Internet searches.

With Thanks,

Tom K.

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Kitsafari

@@Tdgraves a wonderful sequence of the juveniles playing! i love the expressions on the teenager facing us.

 

when are you heading back to greater Kruger and are you staying at the same lodges again?

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Tdgraves

@@Kitsafari we are going end of August to Mashatu, tswalu and welgevonden, so the only thing we are repeating from this trip is Mashatu

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Kitsafari

@Tdgraves I remember how you fond you were of SA when I was planning my Feb 2015 trip. my OH and I will be heading to timbavati/sabi sands in July so hopefully we will get to see as much you did!

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hannahcat

I'm going to the Sabi Sands for my first safari in late August, and thought I could not have been more exited -- until I saw your fantastic pictures! I absolutely love the spotty cubs series and the playful young lions. Wonderful pictures capturing great action -- they really give a sense of the place. Thanks so much for posting, and fingers crossed I have half as much luck as you did.

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Tdgraves

@@hannahcat hopefully you'll have as much luck as we did. You'll have a great chance for Cubs but also get the chance to get really close to lots of other game. Be aware it can be a bit cold I the morning but warms up nicely in the day

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Alexander33

@@Tdgraves

 

We arrive at Tswalu 31 August for 4 nights. Will we cross paths?

 

@ hannacat

 

We went to Sabi Sands as part of our first safari and had great sightings, especially of leopards. It's a great first safari destination. I know you'll have an unforgettable time.

Edited by Alexander33
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Tdgraves

@@Tdgraves

We arrive at Tswalu 31 August for 4 nights. Will we cross paths

@@Alexander33 absolutely-we arrive 31st, for, you've guessed it, 4 nights!!! see you there :)

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Alexander33

@ Tdgraves

 

What a wonderful coincidence! We'll be coming in on the flight from Cape Town. I look forward to meeting you!

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Tdgraves

We will be coming from joburg, so you'll be fully installed by the pool by the time we get there....warm up the bar for us!

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Tom Kellie

I'm going to the Sabi Sands for my first safari in late August, and thought I could not have been more exited -- until I saw your fantastic pictures! I absolutely love the spotty cubs series and the playful young lions. Wonderful pictures capturing great action -- they really give a sense of the place. Thanks so much for posting, and fingers crossed I have half as much luck as you did.

 

~ @hannahcat:

 

I hope that your first safari will be a truly wonderful experience.

If you take any photos you especially like, it would be a pleasure to see them here in Safaritalk.

Sabi Sands is sure to be a rewarding destination, as the great photos and commentary by @@Tdgraves shows.

Tom K.

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  • 5 weeks later...
Atravelynn

Page 1: I've been away from the South Africa trip reports too long.

 

Trumpeter Hornbill is a great sighting.

 

Oh dear, stuck in the middle. This seems to be a trend lately. I also recall this situation recently. Bad enough, but you had to wait for the group and then the backseater kept asking questions which halted everything.

 

With poisoning becoming an all too common threat, it is nice to see your vulture shots. I would have said flock of vultures but wikipedia advises "wake, committee, venue, kettle, or volt." I am assuming kettle does not refer to some sort of vulture stew.

 

The squirrel and ele tail are some of my favs. Nice job getting the colors of the black crake.

 

Funny how the unusual produces excitement, like those zebras. The buffalo herds and the oxpeckers on individual buffalo give a the whole buffalo experience spectrum.

 

"It was a really noticeable difference between September and January. Although September is supposed to be the better time, I think on balance we prefer the park in the summer. Given that it is dry, you'd expect the game to be grouped together and near water, however this was not the case." Very interesting. Does this statement contribute to the quotations around optimal?

 

You excelled at rhinos!

 

Those fish eagle silhouette photos in the sunset are splendid. I hope the guide follows your advice in the future for similar results with other clients.

 

"We had disturbed a fish eagle" The first several times I read this phrase I thought it said "we had a disturbed fish eagle." I kept looking at your silhouettes to see what was wrong with it. :blink:

Edited by Atravelynn
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