Safari is one of those experiences that is hard to describe. There is something special about the anticipation, the rawness, and the realness of an African safari. Here is a short photo blog of my three days at Londolozi – a special place for a magical safari experience.
We came upon a herd of cape buffalo on an open plain. This large male stared at me for quite a while and the symmetry of the picture made this image special, compared to the others I took of the herd.
After we left the herd of buffalo, Adam Bannister and Solly, our amazing guide and tracker, respectively, spotted the tracks for a pack of wild dogs – a rare carnivore in the Sabi Sands area. Since the dogs move quickly, we did too – and Adam’s excitement about potentially see the dogs raised the level of anticipation. After about 10 minutes of tracking the dogs, we came upon them. They were an extremely hard animal to photograph because they were in almost constant motion. But they stopped for just long enough in the natural afternoon light for me to take this picture of three of the six wild dogs we saw.
We woke up early on the second day and soon after leaving camp, we came upon a large male rhino resting his head on the dirt road. As the sun started to rise over the horizon, he woke up and started to move. The scars on this rhinos head are fascinating.
Within a few minutes, Adam received a call that a large male leopard was in the vicinity, so we moved quickly that location. We came upon the leopard as he was drinking. He is the biggest leopard at Londolozi and is stunning. We were quite far away, so this photo was taken with a 400mm zoom and then cropped so that just the leopard is in the photo.
As the leopard got up from drinking, Adam positioned the jeep perfectly – right in line with where he thought the leopard would move. He was walking right toward me when I caught this picture. The morning light caught his eyes perfectly and the majesty of this leopard can be easily seen in it.
The leopard then walked right up to our vehicle. I took this picture no more than 6 feet from the leopard’s face. He was looking down and for just a split second, he glanced up at me. I took this picture right then. His eyes are amazing. We spent another 45 minutes or so following the leopard before he decided it was time for his daily nap.
As we drove back to camp for lunch, we came upon a small dazzle of zebra. This was one standing directly perpendicular to me and I like the angles of it, combined with the stark black and white stripes.
We also came upon a journey of giraffe on the way back to camp. The tall giraffes head looks stunning against the deep blue sky.
Bruce Hecker and I took the special Londolozi photo truck for our third drive. It is similar to the other safari trucks, but is outfitted with two chairs and various apparatus that make picture taking easier.
We found this huge hippopotamus far from any watering hole in the middle of the day, which is rare. Because of some small bushes, Byron, the driver of the photo truck, pulled the jeep within 15 feet of the hippo, the closest he had ever been to one when it is out of the water. Hippos are among the most dangerous animals in the world and Byron told us that if he turned on the jeep, we should hold on tight. The hippo kept a close eye on us and appeared nervous, but continued to eat as we took photos. At one point, right before we left, he turned his head directly toward us and I snapped this photo. His nostrils – and the hair on them – are amazing, especially for one of the uglier creatures on this earth.
We then set out to find some lions, who had been seen in the southern part of Londolozi’s territory. We found one of the four male brothers, who lead the pride of lions found at Londolozi. He had injured his leg – no one was sure how. He slept for a while before waking up and allowing this picture to be taken.
Again, we set out early in the morning and the first animals we saw were a large herd of elephants. I was using a fisheye lens (10 mm), as these elephants walked past our jeep. The clouds in the sky, combined with the warm morning light, make this picture.
Near the end of our morning drive, we came up the other three male lions at Londolozi and one lioness. They were sleeping in the sun. As one brother woke to look around, I took this picture of his face.
On our fifth drive, this leopard had just made a kill, which she had stored under a thicket. She was a beautiful older leopard. She was resting after her feast and you can still see blood on her nose and on her whiskers. (Sadly, in the early evening, the three male lions and the lioness stole her kill, as she watched from a nearby tree.)
As we drove by an area that had recently been burned, Solly spotted the colorful Lillac-breasted roller. The colors are even more stunning against the black backdrop.
Sixth (and Last) Drive:
Adam and Solly had found lion tracks following a large herd of cape buffalo. We were trying to find the lions when we checked the river bed. We found a large herd of elephant along the waters edge, including these two elephants. I love that you can see their reflection in the water. We were hoping that the elephants would attempt to cross the river, but alas, they decided to stay on the other side of the water.
As we left the river, we found the large herd of cape buffalo who were being stalked by the lions. There were literally hundreds of them and the sounds and experience of watching them interact were incredible. They entered the water to cross the river and at some point decided to turn back. Watching them run across the river was fascinating. I took this photo with the fisheye lens, just before they went down to the riverbed, but it doesn’t do justice to the size of the herd.
Thanks again to Londolozi, Adam, Solly, and the whole Varty family for a terrific safari experience and for making these memories possible. I cannot wait to return some day in the near future.
Written and Photographed by: Jon Orszag (Londolozi Guest)
Amazing!!! Thanks for such a good story, the Elephant shot is my BEST! Hope you guys are enjoying Tswalu…lots of love all at Londolozi
Jon, these are some excellent images. Well done and thank you for generously detailing your technical specs and how you got to the final image. I hope that you get some more great images on the rest of your trip. rich
Nice one Jon. It was great having you and the rest of the team onboard for a couple of days!
Wonderful photos AND commentary. Thanks for the posting.
Jon, thanks for sharing such special memories. My only question…where am I in all these picks. Well written and shot.
Beautiful Pictures…I will be at Londonlozi in November…My first trip overseas & im absoutely Excitied!!….I hope i will be able to get some great pictures & wonderful stories to tell when i get back home….thank you for sharing….:)
Jon, amazing photos and story as well. It is truly amazing!!