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wildlife photography safari south africa

Sabi Sabi Game Reserve with Penny Robartes

After saying farewell to three of the four guests on my Sabi Sands: The Big 5 Photo Tour, so began my remaining guest’s private photo tour where we would spend an additional night at Inyati before getting a transfer the following morning to our next location; Sabi Sabi Game Reserve.

It was quite strange heading back on our afternoon game drive with our local guide, Diff, my guest and I. Having had 3 other people with us, the amount of room and empty seats in the vehicle was felt, although this did not impede on our safari experience and what nature had in store for us!

As always, we had an idea of subjects we would like to see, but are always happy to take what nature provides. We went to an area where we had previously seen the mother Leopard of the two subadults we saw on our first afternoon on the group tour. Driving off-road into the area, we scanned under bushes, in the grass, in the trees, until right there, we saw the two subadult Leopard! Lying in high grass as the light was slowly turning golden, we sat with them and waited for them to move. Patience paid off and the male and female both got up and started walking slowly and casually. The male went to lie somewhere else so we stayed close to the female. She presented us with wonderful moments and photographic opportunities for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening! A gorgeous cat to end the day and begin a new tour with.

wildlife photography safari south africa
wildlife photography safari south africa

From Inyati we took a road transfer to Sabi Sabi Game Reserve where we would spend the next 4 nights at Bush Lodge. Being based at this reserve afforded us more time to explore a different area of the greater Sabi Sand Game Reserve to which the Sabi Sabi Reserve is nestled in. As with the Sabi Sand and Kruger National Park, Sabi Sabi too has no fences so the phenomenal wildlife experience technical still continues from one reserve within the Sabi Sand to the other. The terrain does differ, but this made the safari experience exciting and new as my guest got to see a greater area of this famed reserve.

And it certainly held true for our experience at Sabi Sabi! Our first sighting was of a breeding herd of Elephant. I could spend my whole day amongst them. They were calm and quiet as they moved from the thick trees and into an open grassland area which allowed us to reposition our vehicle and capture the shots we envisioned as they steadily walked to a destination of their choosing.

From here, darkness came swiftly as we were on to our night drive. I love this time; your senses are alive as the only illumination on the world around you is the spotlight and perhaps, the ambient light from the moon. We were seeking a Leopardess that was last seen in the area and just when we thought to call the search off, we found her. Capturing a few spotlight images of her as she walked through long grass, she definitely tested our photographic skills as well as our local guide’s driving skills as she steadily meandered her way. As it looked like she was stalking some Impala that were not too far from her, we sat back patiently and waited but alas, after a good couple of minutes, the Impala sent of a warning bark and moved away from the scene.

wildlife photography safari south africa
wildlife photography safari south africa
wildlife photography safari south africa
wildlife photography safari south africa
wildlife photography safari south africa

The following days brought new sightings to us that we didn’t see on my previous group tour. Some were the same species but different individuals and interactions, as well as a new specie sighting for my guest!

Early one morning we drove to where a sighting of a Cheetah and her sub-adult cub were seen the previous afternoon. It was quite a far drive from where our camp was based, but as we hadn’t seen a Cheetah yet, we knew it was worth it. And it was!

Golden light, Cheetah mother and subadult cub lying in the open short grassland. The were relaxed with the cub often switching between grooming its mother or playing with her. She may have killed something small earlier as there was residue blood on the side of the cubs face if one look close enough. Key to Cheetah, the mother, although lying down, was always alert and looking around for potential threats as well as in this case, their next meal. We watched them climb upon a fallen dead tree to give the female a vantage point. We watched her stalk unsuspecting Impala but she was not successful.

wildlife photography safari south africa
wildlife photography safari south africa

Another memorable sighting came at an unexpected time! The Stix pride, a large Lion pride, was seen on the northern boundary of the the reserve but could not be accessed as they were in the boundary of the neighbouring reserve. We had followed their tracks which led us back and forth, round and about, and we hoped that at one point, these cats would come back into Sabi Sabi’s property for us to finally see them. About an hour or so after my guest and I had returned back to camp and had had breakfast, our local guide Jason knocked on my door and confirmed that members of the Stix pride where gathering at the waterhole outside of Sabi Sabi’s other camp, and would we like to go see them? No questions asked, we collected my guest and off we went!

One must always say yes to these situations as you never know what you will see, or if you will see those individuals again. We came upon a scene of various sized Lion in various stages of play and walking as 3 Lioness were making their way to the waterhole with multi-aged cubs in tow. We had the sighting all to ourselves and we must have spent close to an hour with the pride. Needless to say, it was the second last time we saw them, so it was absolutely worth taking the time out of “siesta” and our editing sessions together to spend it with these cats.

wildlife photography safari south africa
wildlife photography safari south africa
wildlife photography safari south africa

From special sightings of Leopard cubs, to a finding a massive male Leopard in the late afternoon and following him into the night, our time at Sabi Sabi was filled with memorable wildlife sightings, memories and photographic explorations that left my guest with a beautiful portfolio to take home and relive her experiences from!

To join me on a private photo safari, whether it is in South Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa or outside of the African continent, email [email protected] and let us craft your ideal experience together!

For my scheduled group photo tours, email [email protected] for a list, or click on this link.

To join me next year on my Sabi Sand: The Big 5 Photo Tour 2023, please click here which will take you to the photo tour page on the website. You can email Nicolette too if you would like further information and booking documents.

I look forward to welcoming you on an ORYX Photo Tour with me.

Your Senior Photo Tour Leader and host,

Penny Robartes

wildlife photography safari south africa
wildlife photography safari south africa

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