Phinda Private Photo Safari Part 2

25th May 2015
The Second half of our Photographic Safari delivered some great images.

On the Third morning of our Safari we left Mountain lodge early and headed up to the North of Phinda, the wide open spaces of the marsh area.

We were wanting to try and find some more Cheetah and after searching in some of the areas where the Cheetahs are regularly spotted we found a female Cheetah and her two young cubs, they were walking across the clearing with full bellies and they were heading in the direction of a palm thicket, we got ourselves into a good position to photograph the family as they walked over the clearing.

The female Cheetah suddenly froze and went into a stalk mode, we thought she had spotted a small antelope or animal that she wanted to try and catch, we pushed up our ISO to get a faster shutter speed to be ready for the action, the Cheetah took off sprinting and to our surprise a large flock of Red billed Queleas flew up in front of her, the Cheetah was chasing the birds ! what great fun to watch her as she sprinted across the clearing chasing the birds, we managed to get a few great images of her in full flight going after the birds. Shortly after the bird chasing was over the Cheetah family made their way across the remainder of the clearing and they disappeared into the palms, what a great start to our day !

Later on in the morning the North pride Lions were found and we went to go and have a look, it was starting to warm up and the Lions were lethargic and they eventually moved to find a shady spot for the day. We carried on our drive and we found and photographed a young rhino on the clearing, we managed to get a great low angle on him with a wonderful blue sky by using Cam –ranger.

After a quick break and some coffee we started to head back to the lodge but on the way we found 3 Buffalo bulls drinking in a shallow pan of water, we got a number of images of them drinking with their reflections in the water. By now it was quite late and the sun was high so we headed back to the lodge for some brunch. It had been a super morning.

Later that afternoon we headed out again to explore the Southern part of Phinda, we photographed some general game and a big bull giraffe, we even got some great video footage of him as he walked across the clearing.

We later found a young Black rhino bull on a clearing in the afternoon light, he ran towards us in a inquisitive manner stopping about 20 meters away, he looked at us over his nose and then turned and trotted off down into the valley.

Staying in the South that afternoon turned out to be a great plan as shortly after the Rhino we found a female Cheetah with her 3 sub adult cubs, they were exploring the area and investigating all the scents their sensitive noses could find.

As the sun was setting we saw two bull Elephants on the ridge above us, we positioned ourselves so the sun was behind the Elephants creating a Silhouette image of the Elephants as they grazed on the new green grass. After the sun had set and we had our sundowner drink we set off for the Lodge and a great boma dinner.

The Following day was our last full day on Phinda so we decided to look for the Lions in the south, on the way we photographed some water-birds and a Green-backed Heron sitting on a log, the morning light was perfect and the Herons reflection in the water was perfect.

A short while later we found the Lions tracks and we had just stared to follow the tracks when we found them a short distance ahead, their bellies were nice and full and the Lions walked in a very determined manner to get to their destination, we followed them as best we could but eventually we decided to leave them and see what else we could find.

During the rest of the morning we photographed a variety of animals and birds as well as a rather large Leopard tortoise as it slowly walked over the clearing, I even got a short video snippet of it, before we headed back to camp.

The afternoon drive was to be our last drive as Shanel had to leave early the following morning to get her flight back to Johannesburg, we made the decision to go North again and a final opportunity to photograph some Cheetah.

We were in luck and the two Dominant Cheetah of the North had been found, they were on a scent marking mission and we followed them as they moved through the bush and eventually onto the Marsh area, here the Cheetah would walk from one termite mound to another scent marking and surveying the surrounding area.

While scent marking the Cheetah bumped into a female Rhino and her sub-adult calf, while one of the Cheetahs was on the termite mound the Rhino walked over to investigate, at first the Cheetah stood his ground and snarled and hissed at the Rhino but the Rhino kept approaching, eventually the Cheetah decided the beast plan of action was to leave the top of the termite mound and run off to safety, it was a great piece of interaction to photograph.

The situation was perfect for some use of fill flash, the sun was setting and we had great subject matter on a open clearing, we set up our flashes and by watching the Cheetahs movements we would get into position ahead of them and wait for them to walk towards us, this worked perfectly and we got some great images of the Cheetah as they were scent marking with the setting sun in the background, a perfect end to our Safari at Phinda.


Photo comment By Shanel: Reading the blog brings back memories of a fabulous holiday! Thank you so much Andrew, for your wonderful teaching, unending patience, and great company!

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