[email protected] | +230 452 3731

oryx photo tour

South Africa – MalaMala & Tengile Photo Tour with Daniel Bailey

Embarking on a safari adventure is always a thrill, but when it’s to South Africa’s renowned MalaMala Game Reserve and Tengile River Lodge, it becomes an unforgettable journey into the heart of the wild.

oryx photo tour

Welcome to the wild heart of South Africa, where every corner holds the promise of adventure and every moment captures the essence of untamed beauty. Recently, ORYX Photo Tours guests embarked on a tailor-made safari led by the experienced ORYX leader Daniel Bailey.

oryx photo tour

ORYX Photo Tour Leader Daniel Bailey was MalaMala Game Reserve’s specialist photographic ranger for more than 7 years, and his local knowledge of the region, and its wildlife, is key to crafting the ultimate photography tour experience. Delving deep into the wonders of MalaMala Game Reserve and Tengile River Lodge, this journey was nothing short of extraordinary, brimming with unforgettable encounters and breathtaking sights that will linger in memory forever.

oryx photo tour

Nestled on the edge of the Sand River, MalaMala Game Reserve welcomed our group with open arms and luxurious accommodations at the reimagined Rattray’s Camp. From the moment they arrived, they were enveloped in unparalleled hospitality, surrounded by the serenity of the natural world. The days unfolded in a symphony of wildlife sightings, each more captivating than the last.

south africa malamala game reserve photo tour 115

It was the wildlife that stole the show. MalaMala, bordering the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands Game Reserve, proved once again to be a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike. With sightings of the Big Five, including the rare and endangered rhinos, their days were filled with wonder as they encountered leopards, lions, elephants, buffalo, African wild dogs, and more.

oryx photo tour

MalaMala, renowned for offering some of the best leopard viewing in Africa, graced them with their presence as if by magic. These elusive cats seemed to materialize out of thin air, their sleek forms blending seamlessly into the landscape. Far from being elusive ghosts of the bush, they were a common sight, with nine individuals making appearances throughout their stay.

oryx photo tour

It is no small feat to be able to observe nine individuals, with each offering a unique glimpse into their lives. From cubs climbing trees to mothers with newborns bathed in golden light, every moment was a treasure trove of photographic opportunities.

oryx photo tour

The playful antics of the Sibuye female’s cubs provided a delightful spectacle. They watched as the two cubs energetically explored their surroundings, attempting to navigate from one tree to another with youthful enthusiasm. The lighter, more petite sister led the way, effortlessly scaling the branches with grace. However, her adventurous brother encountered a humorous challenge as he slipped and nearly tumbled out of the tree while trying to follow her planned route. It was a heart-warming scene filled with laughter and endearing clumsiness, offering a plethora of fantastic photographic opportunities to capture the joy and innocence of youth in the wild.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

The wonderful presence of the Three Rivers female leopardess brought about a deeply sentimental moment for ORYX Leader, Daniel Bailey. Daniel had the privilege of reuniting with a very special leopardess, whom he first encountered as a tiny cub back in April 2016 at MalaMala Game Reserve. Over the years, he watched her grow and overcome numerous challenges, from surviving the loss of her mother, the Kikilezi female, to establishing her own territory and eventually becoming a mother herself in July 2021. Daniel vividly recalled the heart-warming moment when she introduced him to her first cub, carrying it tenderly in her jaws to a safe den-site at Rattray’s Camp.

In December 2021, Daniel made the decision to transition from full-time guiding at MalaMala Game Reserve to joining ORYX Photo Tours as a specialist Photographic guide. Now, two years later, he found himself returning to this special property, with ORYX guests to reunite with her once again.

As she approached the Land Cruiser, she walked up to his row in the vehicle, stopping just a few feet away and gazing up at him. They locked eyes in a powerful moment, as if sharing a silent acknowledgment. It may sound crazy, but it felt deeply meaningful, a connection between a wild leopard and a human observer, perhaps pondering over the peculiar presence of a long-haired creature atop the car!

Intriguingly, she is pregnant again, and our group observed her as she strolled past Rattray’s Camp, potentially scouting locations for the birth of her next litter of cubs. This experience, viewed through the lens of an ORYX Leader, Daniel Bailey, underscores the profound connections that can be forged between humans and the awe-inspiring wildlife of the African bush.

oryx photo tour

The Piccadilly female and her sub-adult cub provided a stunning display as they lounged in a Leadwood tree forest. The cub, full of youthful energy and curiosity, attempted to play with its mother, but she wasn’t in the mood. With a low growl and a sharp hiss, she communicated her need for space. It was an incredible sighting, offering some of the most stunning leopard photographs of the entire safari.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

The Island female leopardess and her new 3-month-old male cub bathed in the golden light of sunset, their coats shimmering against the backdrop of granite boulders. It was a scene of unparalleled beauty, a perfect leopard den site of granite boulders and a large rock-splitting fig tree. Our guests, aided with the expert guidance of ORYX Leader, Daniel, their vehicle was positioned perfectly to capture the magic. As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the landscape, Daniel ensured that the background created a beautiful creamy bokeh of green and orange hues. With the cub curiously watching our guests’ excitement on the vehicle.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

Our guests were treated to intimate moments between the Island female and her cub as they rested atop the boulders. They watched in awe as the mother tenderly cared for her young, suckling milk, grooming, and playing together. The mother’s tail became the best play toy for her cub, offering valuable lessons in survival skills through playful interaction. Each encounter was a poignant reminder of the deep bond between mother and offspring, a testament to the resilience and beauty of life in the wilderness.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

But the wonders of MalaMala didn’t end there. African Wild Dogs, rare and endangered, danced across the landscape in packs, their vibrant energy igniting the green landscape. We followed their hunts, marvelled at their social dynamics, watched two different packs colliding and fighting, and listened to their nocturnal symphony of “hoo” contact calls echoing through the night. The Toulon pack, in particular, captivated us with their coordinated movements and relentless pursuit of prey, providing ample opportunities for awe-inspiring photographs.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

Encountering a total of five packs of African Wild Dogs during the safari was an extraordinary experience, with close to 50 individuals observed in the wild. This remarkable sighting accounts for nearly 10 percent of the total population of the Greater Kruger National Park, highlighting the significance of the conservation efforts in the area. Observing these endangered predators in action provided invaluable insights into their social dynamics, hunting behaviour, and ecological role within the ecosystem. It was a humbling reminder of the delicate balance of nature and the importance of protecting these enigmatic canines for future generations.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

And then there were the lions, rulers of this sacred land, whose roars resonated in the stillness of the evening. From lion prides to coalitions of males, each encounter offered a glimpse into their world of strength and majesty. Our guests spent hours observing the dynamics of the various prides, from the regal patriarchs patrolling their territory, to the playful antics of lion cubs learning the ways of the wild.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

Our guests, assisted by ORYX leader, Daniel, whose role is to assist, guide, and teach camera settings, they had the incredible opportunity to witness male lions patrolling their territory under the cover of night. With Daniel’s guidance, our guests navigated the challenges of night-time photography, learning how to adjust their camera settings to capture dramatic low-key shots.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

Despite the darkness, Daniel encouraged guests not to put down their cameras, emphasizing the importance of persistence in capturing unforgettable moments. Utilizing the game viewer’s spotlight to illuminate their subjects against the dark backdrop, they were able to overcome the challenges and create stunning images that showcased the raw power and majestic presence of these iconic predators as they moved with purpose through the night. It was a thrilling experience that highlighted the value of expert guidance and perseverance in wildlife photography.

oryx photo tour

Amidst the grandeur of the big cats, the landscape teemed with life. Elephants bathed in the river, Cape buffalo herds grazed in the lush grasslands, and rhinos, moved with a grace that belied their size. Every moment was a testament to the intricate tapestry of life that thrives in this corner of South Africa.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

It was the height of summer, and the river flowed full and vibrant, surrounded by lush greenery. The grass stood tall and verdant, enhancing the stunning wildlife sightings and photographic opportunities. The dense foliage created a beautiful backdrop, with the green bokeh adding an extra layer of allure compared to the dusty browns and oranges of winter.

oryx photo tour

Transitioning to Tengile River Lodge was like stepping into a dream, where luxury seamlessly melded with the untamed beauty of the surroundings. Their stay at Tengile River Lodge spanned two nights, and it was an experience of luxury and comfort. The lodge and accommodations were simply stunning, complemented by world-class food, beverages, and hospitality.

oryx photo tour

The drives along the southern stretch of the Sand River revealed a landscape adorned with granite boulders, a picturesque backdrop for encounters with big cats and other elusive creatures. Here, they encountered a myriad of wildlife, including big cats such as lions and leopards, as well as hyenas and wild dogs. These species could be seen crossing the water course or lounging on sandbanks or picturesque boulders.

oryx photo tour

Here, they witnessed the drama of survival unfold before their eyes. They witnessed a young leopard defending its kill from two hungry hyenas. The large Impala Ram carcass slipped from the tree, plunging to the ground below. With lightning speed and unwavering determination, the young leopard sprang into action, bravely fending off the scavengers and reclaiming its prize. Amidst the chaos of snapping jaws and tearing flesh, the leopard managed to secure a substantial portion of the carcass, dragging it through the darkness to safety in a nearby Tamboti thicket amidst the darkness.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

The following morning, they spent time with the father of this young male as he rested amidst the lush greenery before the arrival of a gentle rainfall. His face bore the marks of a life well-lived, with a deep scar running down the bridge of his nose, adding to his character and allure.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

The Toulon pack of African Wild Dogs in hot pursuit of prey, chasing impala at lightning pace, was a sight to behold. Their coordinated movements, synchronized like a well-choreographed dance, demonstrated the unparalleled teamwork of these remarkable predators. With ears pinned back and tails held high, they moved with breathtaking speed and precision, weaving through the dense bush with effortless agility. As they closed in on their target, their determination was palpable, their focus unwavering. One of the most exciting spectacles to observe and photograph whilst on a safari.

oryx photo tour
oryx photo tour

Our guests were particularly fortunate to encounter a large crash of white rhinos, their prehistoric forms blending seamlessly with the lush greenery of their surroundings. As these gentle giants grazed peacefully, their “sawn off” horns and thick hides spoke of a resilience forged through centuries of evolution. It was a poignant reminder of the challenges these magnificent creatures face in the modern world, from habitat loss to poaching pressures. Yet, in this tranquil moment, they seemed to embody a timeless grace, a symbol of hope for their species’ survival. Observing them in their natural habitat was not just a privilege but also a call to action to protect and preserve these iconic animals for generations to come.

south africa malamala game reserve photo tour 120 2

But perhaps the true magic lay in the smaller details – the intricate patterns of a chameleon’s skin, the luminous green scales of a female Boomslang, the piercing gaze of a African Hawk eagle, or the delicate azure flutter of a Woodland kingfisher’s wings. Each moment, each sighting, was a brushstroke in the masterpiece of nature. Of which our guests willingly tried to capture with their cameras and create their own visuals and storytelling.

oryx photo tour
south africa malamala game reserve photo tour 114
south africa malamala game reserve photo tour 117
oryx photo tour

On their last morning, our guests captured beautiful images of the young male leopard in the lush green grove of a Tamboti thicket. After a refreshing rain shower, they headed back to camp for breakfast. Upon departure to the airport, they received a final sendoff from the Toulon pack of African wild dogs resting on the road. Departing from Skukuza Airport, it was a fitting end to an incredible journey.

south africa malamala game reserve photo tour 119
south africa malamala game reserve photo tour 120

As their journey came to a close, they bid farewell to the Sand River, knowing that its spirit would forever reside within them. For those seeking the ultimate photographic safari experience, MalaMala Game Reserve and Tengile River Lodge stand as beacons of wonder, beckoning you to discover the untamed beauty of South Africa’s wild heart.

oryx photo tour

This destination is undoubtedly one of the most productive photographic spots in South Africa, appealing to both wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike. It’s hard to beat the variety and density of life on offer here. It’s a must-visit destination, and Daniel invites you to join him on either a tailor-made trip or one of his scheduled tours. These tours run annually from 1-6 November in 2024, 2025, and 2026. They are limited to a maximum of three guests per private game vehicle, ensuring the very best photographic opportunities with an entire row to yourself.

Join ORYX Photo Tours on our next adventure, where every moment holds the promise of discovery and every photograph tells a story. With ORYX Photo Tours, the journey of a lifetime awaits.

 

South Africa – MalaMala Photo Tour 2024 is fully booked.

Look to join ORYX Leader Daniel Bailey on the next scheduled South Africa – MalaMala Photo Tour from 1 – 6 November 2025.

For more information, contact us at [email protected] or email [email protected] for inquiries into private or tailor-made trips to suit your timeline and have Daniel Bailey accompany you as your ORYX Leader.

Post a Comment

nine + 16 =

You don't have permission to register