I had the privilege of going out on game drive with both James Tyrrell and his tracker Mike Sithole this past week. I know we have spoken quite a bit about winter in the last few posts but I had forgotten how beautifully crisp winter mornings felt here in the lowveld. After spending the last few weeks amongst bright lights and too much noise in the city it was incredible to get back to the open, quiet expanse of the Sabi Sand Reserve.

We spent time bumbling through the bush taking in the sounds, sights and silence of nature at work, as the sun was just about to rise over the dry dense bush. It was a hazy morning with various raised areas of land popping out above the layers of mist in the distance. This made for some great attempts at catching a giraffe walking in front of the sun.


You can see the sun popping through the misty horizon as a few ox peckers take flight off the back of the giraffe!
f13, ISO 640, 1/125 sec

The giraffe eventually gave in and crossed in front of the sun... f14, ISO 1000, 1/250 sec

The giraffe eventually gave in and crossed in front of the sun…
f14, ISO 1000, 1/250 sec

We were lucky enough to find the Sparta Pride lying in the picturesque morning light, here one of the sub adults had just explored a dried up pan and was now grooming himself while the rest of the pride lay scattered around him.

Sparta sub adult

You cannot beat beautiful morning light.
f2.8, ISO 640, 1/3200 sec

The next morning we set out with the intention of birding all morning, however we just seemed to attract elephant herds wherever we went. Needless to say, not much birding was done as we spent time with these majestic creatures.


I was drawn to this elephant because of its very hairy lower lip.
f5.6, ISO 640, 1/160sec

We eventually left this large herd of elephants and continued on our birding mission. Once again our birding endeavors were put on hold when we heard monkeys alarm calling in the distance, this time Mike Sithole used his incredible eye sight and tracking abilities to track and find the Tamboti female and her two cubs. This was by far one of the most incredible sightings of my life! So naturally I have added a number of pictures from this morning… Enjoy!

Cub closeup

A portrait of one of the cubs with piercing amber eyes
f5.6, ISO 640, 1/250 sec

Cubs playing

The cubs spend many hours playing together.
f5.6, ISO 1250, 1/320 sec


Their play fighting can be quite ferocious, look at the size of those claws already.
f5.6, ISO 1250, 1/320 sec

This thin branch could only just hold the weight of one cub. f5.6, ISO 1250, 1/250 sec

This is not the greatest picture at all but I included it in to put the next picture into perspective.
f5.6, ISO 1250, 1/250 sec

The branch could only hold the weight of one of the cubs until it eventually gave way. f5.6, ISO 1250, 1/250 sec

The branch could only hold the weight of one of the cubs until it eventually gave way and both cubs dropped to the floor.
f5.6, ISO 1250, 1/250 sec

Caught int he moment... f5.6, ISO 1250, 1/320 sec

Caught in the moment…
f5.6, ISO 1250, 1/320 sec

 Written and Photographed by Jacqui Hemphill

About the Author

Jacqui Marais

Head of Sales

Jacqui joined the Londolozi team in December 2007 as a camp manager, a role which she more than ably filled for the next 3 years, before departing for Johannesburg in 2010. Little did she know that over a decade after joining the organization, ...

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on A few days back in the bush

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Great compositions and action sequence of the Tamboti cubs. Really nice post Jax 🙂


Great Stuff Hemp! not just a pretty face 😉

Kate Neill

Great post hemp! Was so good to have you at the lodge for a few days! xx


Love the high-5 in the last shot!
That was indeed a special sighting! 🙂


What a wonderful opportunity with the Tamboti cubs.. My favorite big cat is a leopard and these two are beautiful.
Thank you for sharing your snapshots of your corner of paradise!


Awesome photos and write up…

Typical JT… Always avoiding his birding weaknesses… tut tut tut…

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