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


Tdgraves

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Atravelynn

Page 2 - My oh my the leopard cubs. Whatever else may have happened or didn't these made you Kings Camp stay a hit. You're just lucky the ele did not want an orange with his bath. Yikes.

 

Then there were the dogs too! Wild and the hyena in that lovely light.

 

Thanks for all of the Timbavati and King's Camp comments based on your stay.

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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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Atravelynn

The hyena shot turned out well, whatever ISO you used.

 

His and her leopard shots--take that Mr. Australian! You've got some frameables there. Speaking of his and hers do you know the sex of the cubs?

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Tdgraves

@@Atravelynn the quotation marks were a reference to the fact it was supposed to be the best time of year

Thanks for the praise on the photos

We did not know he sex of the Cubs

Kings camp itself was lovely (although the food less so) and the sightings were good, I think it was the scenery, lack of atmosphere and the guides lack of photography knowledge which let it down. Which is surprising really, as we have stayed in many high and lower end lodges in RSA and the guides are usually interested in photography.

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Tdgraves

Ps i'll keep my eye it for disturbed fish eagles.....!!!

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Tdgraves

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.

 

 

@@Atravelynn your comment reminded me. We saw some giraffe in Sabi and it elicited the same response from the guide. They hardly ever see them there, he was so excited!

 

gallery_37950_1164_2711220.jpg

 

Looking back through the TR, I also realised that I forgot to relay the story of us trying to get some night sky pictures. We were on our deck before dinner, trying to set up the tripod and guessing exposures, when we heard crunching noises - coming from these guys!! They were literally 10 metres away

 

gallery_37950_1164_16237335.jpg

 

It was boma night and it seemed that they had stolen something from the kitchen!

 

My OH was battling with the camera (all in vain I might add, as the moon was too bright) while I was on guard with the torch!! :blink:

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Marks

Love that hyena pic...incredibly thick atmosphere.

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Tdgraves

Love that hyena pic...incredibly thick atmosphere.

Thanks @@Marks illuminated by my tiny maglite (taken in case of power outage, not for photographic purposes!)

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  • 4 weeks later...
Tom Kellie

~ @@Tdgraves

 

Your trip report won't let me rest.

Despite all that I've read, your Leopard Hills experience keeps popping into my thoughts.

There's one aspect about which I'm uncertain, concerning birds around Leopard Hills.

Your mammal sightings were nothing short of SUPERB!

Were one to be a guest there, it would seem that a wide variety of mammals might be observed and photographed in fairly favorable circumstances.

What about birds during game drives? Were they noticeable, despite the animals on the ground?

Would one be best advised to bring a bird lens — fast long telephoto — for use there, or would a moderate telephoto, e.g. 200mm, be adequate?

From your experience was it worth it to stay in one of the suites where animals might stop by for a drink from the pool?

Your photographs from Leopard Sands have been a veritable promotional brochure in my mind.

If I ever do arrive there as a guest, a substantial measure of the credit will be owed to you and your trip report photos.

I'm so pleased that you'll be returning to South Africa within a few months!

With Thanks,

Tom K.

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Tdgraves

@@Tom Kellie

Sorry that I am haunting you! Did I not post enough bird photos to convince you that there were birds there? We even saw new species to us (during breakfast, some of them!) What I would say is that quite a lot of birds migrate into South Africa in the summer and so are absent in the winter/spring, which I hadn't appreciated until this trip. We only have a 100-400 lens, so all bird photos were taken with that. I think it was adequate, although if you had a longer lens, things like the crested barbet would take up more of the frame.

 

We were supposed to be in a room overlooking the ridge, but our agent put the wrong number on the form! However, given that you only spend a few hours in the middle of the day in the room, most game viewing is going to be by vehicle, I wouldn't worry too much about this. And we were visited by the hyaenas in our "plains facing" room.

 

Maybe I'll get commission if you book???

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie

Sorry that I am haunting you! Did I not post enough bird photos to convince you that there were birds there? We even saw new species to us (during breakfast, some of them!) What I would say is that quite a lot of birds migrate into South Africa in the summer and so are absent in the winter/spring, which I hadn't appreciated until this trip. We only have a 100-400 lens, so all bird photos were taken with that. I think it was adequate, although if you had a longer lens, things like the crested barbet would take up more of the frame.

 

We were supposed to be in a room overlooking the ridge, but our agent put the wrong number on the form! However, given that you only spend a few hours in the middle of the day in the room, most game viewing is going to be by vehicle, I wouldn't worry too much about this. And we were visited by the hyaenas in our "plains facing" room.

 

Maybe I'll get commission if you book???

 

~ @@Tdgraves

 

Ha! It was those ‘breakfast photo birds’ which stood out to me. I may have misunderstood, as I'd supposed that they were close enough to your table that a long lens wouldn't have been necessary.

What I wasn't as clear on was about birds seen on game drives, away from the lodge, while animals were being observed.

The ‘breakfast birds’ were stunning! If a comparable assortment was to be seen here and there during the game drives, then a bird lens might be worthwhile.

Your 100-400mm lens sounds ideal. I have several each at 100mm, 200mm, 300mm and 400mm, each of which has it's value in the field.

Were I to visit Leopard Hills, I'd likely fly from Johannesburg directly to Leopard Hills. That flight has weight and size limitations on ‘soft-sided’ passenger baggage, which might preclude the larger lenses.

Your advice on room choice is exactly what I needed to know. In short, it sounds like an “any room is fine” property.

You certainly deserve either a fat commission or a healthy discount on your next stay, if I make a booking.

Complications about seat limitations to the Middle East from Beijing are adversely affecting my hopes for a safari in Kenya in early October.

That same situation effectively blocks most destinations in Africa at that time. However, I found that there may be a way to take a long way to Johannesburg without necessitating a layover and change of aircraft in the Middle East.

Therefore I'm once again giving Leopard Hills careful consideration.

Many thanks for the helpful information above and apologies for my feather-brained bird questions.

Tom K.

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Tdgraves

@@Tom Kellie

 

Well, there was the Wahlberg's eagle, crested barbet, purple roller, LBR, hornbill, sunbird, African hawk eagles etc. that I posted

There was the purple-crested turaco, which I didn't get a shot of.... :(

And plenty of other small birds besides.

 

I would say that there was a similar number of birds there to any other southern africa destination I have been to. The good thing about South African guides is that they are usually very good birders also (even if their guests are usually more interested in the big five)

 

As you can tell by my TRs, I thoroughly recommend South Africa as a destination, even more so at the moment. The Rand was 18.7 to the pound today - the highest buying rate I have ever seen. This makes expensive lodges much more affordable (especially with the 5 nights for the price of 4 offer)

 

In terms of small aircraft flights, you wouldn't need many clothes as they do daily (and even twice daily, laundry) and the bathroom is fully equipped with toiletries. So use most of your weight for photo equipment ;)

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie

 

Well, there was the Wahlberg's eagle, crested barbet, purple roller, LBR, hornbill, sunbird, African hawk eagles etc. that I posted

There was the purple-crested turaco, which I didn't get a shot of.... :(

And plenty of other small birds besides.

 

I would say that there was a similar number of birds there to any other southern africa destination I have been to. The good thing about South African guides is that they are usually very good birders also (even if their guests are usually more interested in the big five)

 

As you can tell by my TRs, I thoroughly recommend South Africa as a destination, even more so at the moment. The Rand was 18.7 to the pound today - the highest buying rate I have ever seen. This makes expensive lodges much more affordable (especially with the 5 nights for the price of 4 offer)

 

In terms of small aircraft flights, you wouldn't need many clothes as they do daily (and even twice daily, laundry) and the bathroom is fully equipped with toiletries. So use most of your weight for photo equipment ;)

 

~ @@Tdgraves

 

They owe you a free night, plus a bottle of champagne and a massage.

Seriously.

Your most helpful replies may have pushed me over the precipice.

Ever since it became clear that the flight situation out of Beijing may be problematic in late September, the hitherto unconsidered ‘wild card’ of a long flight to Johannesburg has become an attractive alternative.

My old eyes must be worn out at semester's end from a few dozen too many papers to go over. I ought to have been a more attentive reader to your trip report, instead of overly focusing on your tremendous lion images.

What you've written about the guides/rangers with regard to their bird awareness is especially positive news. About the laundry — excellent!

I've never done this, but it occurs to me that I might wear the larger camera around my neck when boarding the aircraft so as to reduce the luggage weight.

Your trip reports firmly encourage visits to South Africa. Had I not read your resolute support, I might be swayed by others. The combination of your photos, trip report commentary and these e-mails tonight have all been determinative factors in overcoming my hesitancy.

Before going to bed I'll send an inquiry to Ms. Allsopp of the Leopard Hills booking office concerning availability.

If a visit results from this, you'll certainly be credited to them upon my arrival.

With Many Thanks,

Tom-the-Scatterbrained-Reader

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Tdgraves

Glad to hear it @@Tom Kellie

 

Ps is the flight really that long if you take out the time usually spent changing planes in the Middle East?

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Tom Kellie

Glad to hear it @@Tom Kellie

 

Ps is the flight really that long if you take out the time usually spent changing planes in the Middle East?

 

~ @@Tdgraves

 

Yes, in the sense that it's an uninterrupted long haul with less convenient leg stretching than the Middle East layovers.

It's a 13-hour flight.

No worries! I'm adaptable. At 191 cm I've learned how to keep in good shape on a longer flight, e.g. Beijing to Paris.

If it works out, it will be a new experience.

There are said to be red-headed weavers there. That would interest me.

Perhaps my first nyala.

The notion of a guided walk is appealing as I've yet to ever do that in Africa.

And a plunge pool, no less. I've kidded about them but never actually seen one.

Who knows? I might turn out to like it!

I've been all over South Island New Zealand and decades ago lived in southern Argentina, so it may be time to finally visit South Africa.

Thanks to your encouragement, it's very possible.

Tom K.

Edited by Tom Kellie
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Tom Kellie

~ @@Tdgraves

 

Negotiations have commenced.

Within the next 4 to 5 days a final decision will be made.

It's looking positive, but several factors need to be addressed.

If an early October visit is arranged, I'll owe you significant thanks!

Tom K.

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Tdgraves

Fingers crossed....

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Tom Kellie

Fingers crossed....

 

~ @@Tdgraves

 

Done.

1 to 5 October.

I wanted you to be the first to know.

Tom K.

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TravelinTeacherAU

@@Tom Kellie

 

Leopard Hills?

 

Doing anything else in South Africa?

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie

 

Leopard Hills?

 

Doing anything else in South Africa?

 

~ @@TravelinTeacherAU

 

Yes.

I was inspired by @@Tdgraves, as her trip report and photos somehow stuck in my consciousness.

The safari is within an active semester, thus time constraints limited my options.

I've enjoyed mini-safaris, such as last month's visit to Kenya.

It's basically a getaway, albeit on the opposite side of the globe.

The safari in three weeks is a full two-week safari. In late January, 2016 there will very likely be another longer safari.

The October safari will be brief but length will have no adverse effect on my enjoyment!

Tom K.

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Tdgraves

 

Fingers crossed....

 

~ @@Tdgraves

 

Done.

1 to 5 October.

I wanted you to be the first to know.

Tom K.

It'd better be good then @@Tom Kellie or I'll feel really guilty.....

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graceland

 

@@Tom Kellie

 

Leopard Hills?

 

Doing anything else in South Africa?

 

~ @@TravelinTeacherAU

 

Yes.

I was inspired by @@Tdgraves, as her trip report and photos somehow stuck in my consciousness.

The safari is within an active semester, thus time constraints limited my options.

I've enjoyed mini-safaris, such as last month's visit to Kenya.

It's basically a getaway, albeit on the opposite side of the globe.

The safari in three weeks is a full two-week safari. In late January, 2016 there will very likely be another longer safari.

The October safari will be brief but length will have no adverse effect on my enjoyment!

Tom K.

 

 

Good choice to hear @@Tom K...I am sure it will be special for you; cannot wait to hear when you return! S. Africa was my first safari, so of course never forgotten :rolleyes:

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  • 3 months later...
Tom Kellie

Good choice to hear @@Tom K...I am sure it will be special for you; cannot wait to hear when you return! S. Africa was my first safari, so of course never forgotten :rolleyes:

 

~ The oddest event of the Leopard Hills safari was that on the drive into the lodge from the Ulusaba airstrip and on the drive out when I left for Johannesburg, I saw a lilac-breasted roller watching the vehicle, yet never spotted one during any of the game drives.

@@graceland had said that she wanted to come back as a lilac-breasted roller...

How I wish that she was here to read about the safari!

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

It'd better be good then @@Tom Kellie or I'll feel really guilty.....

 

~ @@Tdgraves

 

It was far more than good — I'm in your debt for inspiring me to stay at Leopard Hills.

As one example, the photo below is a small token of my appreciation to you.

Tom K.

post-49296-0-34541800-1444241401_thumb.jpg

Xikavi

Photographed on 5 October, 2015 at 8:51 am in Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa with an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/5.6L super-telephoto lens.

ISO 200, 1/200 sec., f/5.6, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.

****************************************************************************************************

~ The final morning game drive was as productive as those which preceded it. We heard a report that the female leopard, Xikavi, was resting without her cub in a dense thicket near the Dulini Lodge.

She was stretched out under a small bush. Her radiant beauty was a farewell to Leopard Hills, the final predator sighting. Many thanks to @@Tdgraves who inspired the visit there through this trip report.

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