Everything happens in the time it is meant to. Some things just quicker and more immediate than what we anticipated. On Saturday 28 February, this was such a day where things came into play in a swift manner. On Monday the 2nd March, I would be picking up two guests from OR Tambo International Airport and taking them to Madikwe Game Reserve where I would be hosting them on a private guided safari with the focus being on photography. Packing my camera bag with the relevant equipment on Sunday night, I was looking to experiencing the many photographic opportunities with the guests in ways that would not only enable them to capture the essence of the destination they would be experiencing for the first time, but giving them the tools and knowledge to take their photography to a new level and open them to the many different possibilities photography as a medium offers. Having arrived late to Tuningi Safari Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve - which would be our base for the duration of the trip - due to the joys of waiting for luggage at the airport, we quickly dumped our bags, gathered our camera gear, and off we went on the first game drive of the trip! As this was Christina's first time on a safari in South Africa and Lutz's first time in Madikwe Game Reserve, I sat back in silence during the first part of the drive as they soaked up the beauty and atmosphere of the bush they were seeing and experiencing for the first time. The delight at seeing zebra, curious giraffe staring at us with avid focus as we stopped to marvel at their uniqueness and striking beauty further highlighted the fact that I live in a place where we not only have incredibly diverse and dynamic landscapes and ecosystems, but the wildlife that inhabit it are as captivating and mysterious. © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography The next morning we were up bright an early, filled up with coffee and off on the next adventure. Starting off on a quiet food, our sightings suddenly exploded around us! There is nothing to get your blood pumping at a fast pace than to be relaxing and absorbing the area you are in, to suddenly be springing to photographic action as a brown hyena carries a gemsbok’s head parallel to you! Yes, you read right and now you can see it below. A brown hyena carrying a gemsbok’s head. And at a steady pace of a hyena on a mission I tell you! © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography After absorbing the realisation on what was occurring in front of us, we lifted our camera and shutter’s went off to the sound like wringing bubble wrap. This was an incredibly special sighting indeed! And I was thrilled that my guests got to be witness to it and capture something so extraordinary! It was definitely one of those moments where after the hyena disappeared into the bush, we slowly put our cameras down next to us and looked around at each other with beaming smiles. And then we were off to go spend time with a coalition of 4 male cheetahs! Could it get any better? Having hunted that morning (remember the gemsbok? Of course you do), these boys were tired to put it mildly! But as cheetah typically are, they were still alert and would occasionally pose upright for us with their amber eyes agleam with fervour. © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography After those encounters and the photographic opportunities they presented, we headed back to the lodge for breakfast, down-time and then Lightroom sessions to follow after lunch. This however did not go as planned. Let me explain. Madikwe hasn't had much rain at all this season and therefore the waterholes are filled with activity pretty much 24hrs a day, where the dominant participates are elephants. This was mainly achieved by them running after other game that came anywhere close to the waterhole right in front of the lodge, or those that showed any desire to come quench their thirst. So as photographers there was really only one thing we could do... Yes, you guessed it; lie flat on our stomachs on the deck and look for moments and stories to capture. With the lack of rain, the waterholes were getting pretty dry and therefore tensions were high between the elephants, especially when other families came into contact with each other. Males testing each other constantly while females and calves went to quench their thirst. The interactions were wonderful! Lightroom was put on pause until the next day as we spent some good time with the ellies until it was time to hop back on the game vehicle and head out into the Reserve. © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography

Trip Report – Madikwe Private Safari | 2 to 5 March 2015

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Penny 4 Comments

Everything happens in the time it is meant to. Some things just quicker and more immediate than what we anticipated.

On arriving back from Kenya from hosting the Big Cats and Tuskers Photo Safari with me, Gerry not only got stung by a scorpion, but he also got tick bite fever along the way. You know what they say – go big or go home… Clearly Gerry took this quite literally.

So on Saturday 28 February, this was such a day where things came into play for me. As Gerry was meant to be private guiding his guests from the 2nd March to the 5th at Madikwe Game Reserve, I got the great news (for me that is) that I would be taking his place and hosting it as he was unable to.

Although I had just came back from Kenya, I was thoroughly looking forward to this safari, not only because of being able to get to the bush with guests, but also because the landscape is so different from where I had recently been.

We finally arrived at Tuningi Safari Lodge in the late afternoon – due to the joys of waiting for luggage at the airport – where we gathered our camera gear and went straight off on our first game drive of the safari.

As this was Christina’s first time on a safari in South Africa and Lutz’s first time in Madikwe Game Reserve, I gave them the time to just see, smell and experience the area as we started off on our drive. Seeing their enthusiasm and eagerness at sightings of zebra, curious giraffe staring at us with avid focus as we stopped to marvel at their uniqueness and striking beauty was incredibly refreshing to be a part of.

Everything happens in the time it is meant to. Some things just quicker and more immediate than what we anticipated.  On Saturday 28 February, this was such a day where things came into play in a swift manner. On Monday the 2nd March, I would be picking up two guests from OR Tambo International Airport and taking them to Madikwe Game Reserve where I would be hosting them on a private guided safari with the focus being on photography.  Packing my camera bag with the relevant equipment on Sunday night, I was looking to experiencing the many photographic opportunities with the guests in ways that would not only enable them to capture the essence of the destination they would be experiencing for the first time, but giving them the tools and knowledge to take their photography to a new level and open them to the many different possibilities photography as a medium offers.  Having arrived late to Tuningi Safari Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve - which would be our base for the duration of the trip - due to the joys of waiting for luggage at the airport, we quickly dumped our bags, gathered our camera gear, and off we went on the first game drive of the trip!  As this was Christina's first time on a safari in South Africa and Lutz's first time in Madikwe Game Reserve, I sat back in silence during the first part of the drive as they soaked up the beauty and atmosphere of the bush they were seeing and experiencing for the first time. The delight at seeing zebra, curious giraffe staring at us with avid focus as we stopped to marvel at their uniqueness and striking beauty further highlighted the fact that I live in a place where we not only have incredibly diverse and dynamic landscapes and ecosystems, but the wildlife that inhabit it are as captivating and mysterious.  © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography  © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography  The next morning we were up bright an early, filled up with coffee and off on the next adventure. Starting off on a quiet food, our sightings suddenly exploded around us! There is nothing to get your blood pumping at a fast pace than to be relaxing and absorbing the area you are in, to suddenly be springing to photographic action as a brown hyena carries a gemsbok’s head parallel to you!  Yes, you read right and now you can see it below. A brown hyena carrying a gemsbok’s head. And at a steady pace of a hyena on a mission I tell you!  © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography  After absorbing the realisation on what was occurring in front of us, we lifted our camera and shutter’s went off to the sound like wringing bubble wrap. This was an incredibly special sighting indeed! And I was thrilled that my guests got to be witness to it and capture something so extraordinary!  It was definitely one of those moments where after the hyena disappeared into the bush, we slowly put our cameras down next to us and looked around at each other with beaming smiles.  And then we were off to go spend time with a coalition of 4 male cheetahs! Could it get any better? Having hunted that morning (remember the gemsbok? Of course you do), these boys were tired to put it mildly! But as cheetah typically are, they were still alert and would occasionally pose upright for us with their amber eyes agleam with fervour.  © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography  After those encounters and the photographic opportunities they presented, we headed back to the lodge for breakfast, down-time and then Lightroom sessions to follow after lunch.  This however did not go as planned.  Let me explain.  Madikwe hasn't had much rain at all this season and therefore the waterholes are filled with activity pretty much 24hrs a day, where the dominant participates are elephants. This was mainly achieved by them running after other game that came anywhere close to the waterhole right in front of the lodge, or those that showed any desire to come quench their thirst. So as photographers there was really only one thing we could do... Yes, you guessed it; lie flat on our stomachs on the deck and look for moments and stories to capture.  With the lack of rain, the waterholes were getting pretty dry and therefore tensions were high between the elephants, especially when other families came into contact with each other. Males testing each other constantly while females and calves went to quench their thirst. The interactions were wonderful! Lightroom was put on pause until the next day as we spent some good time with the ellies until it was time to hop back on the game vehicle and head out into the Reserve.  © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography

© Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography

Filled up with coffee the next morning, we were off on the next adventure before the sunrise. Although the morning started off quite quietly, our sightings suddenly exploded around us! There is nothing to get your blood pumping at a faster pace than to be relaxing and absorbing the area you are in, to suddenly be springing to photographic action as a brown hyena carries a gemsbok’s head parallel to you!

Yes, you read it right.

Now you can see it below.

A brown hyena carrying a gemsbok’s head.

And one with a mission in mind.

© Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography

This was an incredibly special sighting indeed and although it wasn’t the best photographic sighting,  I was thrilled that my guests got to see to it and capture something so extraordinary!

It was definitely one of those moments where after the hyena disappeared into the bush, we slowly put our cameras down next to us and looked around at each other with beaming smiles.

And then we were off to go spend time with a coalition of 4 male cheetahs! Could it get any better?
Having hunted that morning (remember the gemsbok? Of course you do), these boys were tired to put it mildly! But as cheetah typically are, they were still alert and would occasionally pose upright for us with their amber eyes alight with intensity.

© Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography

After a whirlwind of a morning we headed back to the lodge for breakfast, some down-time and a Lightroom session after lunch.

This however did not go as planned.

Let me explain.

Madikwe hasn’t had much rain at all this season and therefore the waterholes are filled with activity pretty much 24hrs a day. The dominant participates being elephants. This was mainly achieved by them running after other game that came anywhere close to the waterhole right in front of the lodge, or to those that showed any desire to come quench their thirst.

So as photographers there was really only one thing we could do…

Yes, you guessed it; lie flat on our stomachs on the deck and look for moments and stories to capture.

With the lack of rain, the waterholes were getting pretty dry and therefore tensions were high between the elephants, especially when other families came into contact with each other. The interactions were wonderful!

Everything happens in the time it is meant to. Some things just quicker and more immediate than what we anticipated.  On Saturday 28 February, this was such a day where things came into play in a swift manner. On Monday the 2nd March, I would be picking up two guests from OR Tambo International Airport and taking them to Madikwe Game Reserve where I would be hosting them on a private guided safari with the focus being on photography.  Packing my camera bag with the relevant equipment on Sunday night, I was looking to experiencing the many photographic opportunities with the guests in ways that would not only enable them to capture the essence of the destination they would be experiencing for the first time, but giving them the tools and knowledge to take their photography to a new level and open them to the many different possibilities photography as a medium offers.  Having arrived late to Tuningi Safari Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve - which would be our base for the duration of the trip - due to the joys of waiting for luggage at the airport, we quickly dumped our bags, gathered our camera gear, and off we went on the first game drive of the trip!  As this was Christina's first time on a safari in South Africa and Lutz's first time in Madikwe Game Reserve, I sat back in silence during the first part of the drive as they soaked up the beauty and atmosphere of the bush they were seeing and experiencing for the first time. The delight at seeing zebra, curious giraffe staring at us with avid focus as we stopped to marvel at their uniqueness and striking beauty further highlighted the fact that I live in a place where we not only have incredibly diverse and dynamic landscapes and ecosystems, but the wildlife that inhabit it are as captivating and mysterious.  © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography  © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography  The next morning we were up bright an early, filled up with coffee and off on the next adventure. Starting off on a quiet food, our sightings suddenly exploded around us! There is nothing to get your blood pumping at a fast pace than to be relaxing and absorbing the area you are in, to suddenly be springing to photographic action as a brown hyena carries a gemsbok’s head parallel to you!  Yes, you read right and now you can see it below. A brown hyena carrying a gemsbok’s head. And at a steady pace of a hyena on a mission I tell you!  © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography  After absorbing the realisation on what was occurring in front of us, we lifted our camera and shutter’s went off to the sound like wringing bubble wrap. This was an incredibly special sighting indeed! And I was thrilled that my guests got to be witness to it and capture something so extraordinary!  It was definitely one of those moments where after the hyena disappeared into the bush, we slowly put our cameras down next to us and looked around at each other with beaming smiles.  And then we were off to go spend time with a coalition of 4 male cheetahs! Could it get any better? Having hunted that morning (remember the gemsbok? Of course you do), these boys were tired to put it mildly! But as cheetah typically are, they were still alert and would occasionally pose upright for us with their amber eyes agleam with fervour.  © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography  After those encounters and the photographic opportunities they presented, we headed back to the lodge for breakfast, down-time and then Lightroom sessions to follow after lunch.  This however did not go as planned.  Let me explain.  Madikwe hasn't had much rain at all this season and therefore the waterholes are filled with activity pretty much 24hrs a day, where the dominant participates are elephants. This was mainly achieved by them running after other game that came anywhere close to the waterhole right in front of the lodge, or those that showed any desire to come quench their thirst. So as photographers there was really only one thing we could do... Yes, you guessed it; lie flat on our stomachs on the deck and look for moments and stories to capture.  With the lack of rain, the waterholes were getting pretty dry and therefore tensions were high between the elephants, especially when other families came into contact with each other. Males testing each other constantly while females and calves went to quench their thirst. The interactions were wonderful! Lightroom was put on pause until the next day as we spent some good time with the ellies until it was time to hop back on the game vehicle and head out into the Reserve.  © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography © Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photography

Our evening wrapped up at Tlou Dam with a stunning scene that i’m sure neither Christina nor Lutz will forget.

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs…”

© Penny Robartes - Wild Eye

© Penny Robartes - Wild Eye

Ansel Adams got it spot on.

Our time in Madikwe Game Reserve was filled with intimate interactions between some of the animals, moments that forced one to laugh out loud, and others where we sat in appreciative silence of what was in front of us.

This safari was not only about the photographic opportunities, but the experience the guests had at the Reserve. Having a lion walk right past our vehicle – one of the many animals that they had only seen in Zoo’s – was just one of the highlights of this safari.

© Penny Robartes - Wild Eye

This is why we do what we do.

Just witnessing Madikwe as it is now, I am positive that my guests on the Madikwe Wildlife Photography Bootcamp that departs this Friday will have an incredible experience to say the least!

About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at www.gerryvanderwalt.com or follow my journey on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Periscope.  I look forward to changing the way you see the world! Have you checked out The Wildlife Photography Podcast?

Comments 4

  1. Wendy Hawkins

    Thank you Penny these do bring very happy memories of my trip to Madikwe in October last year & saw a Brown Hyena carrying the leg of a dead baby ellie, although sad, was rather comical in the way they lope 🙂 Tlou Dam is my favourite, as it is beautiful even if there is no game drinking, always a surprise. Your pictures are really lovely. Enjoy your Friday trip

    1. Penny Robartes

      Thanks Wendy 🙂

      We had a stunning time and i’m glad that my post brought back happy memories of your time there! Yeah hyena cant be called elegant by any means, but what an incredible sighting you had!

      Especially now that it is hot and dry, try head back to the dam at sunset. You won’t be disappointed 🙂

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