STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY – 2015 photographic safari wrap up

2015 waS an amazing year for everyone attending one of our safaris, as our website testimonial page testifies to.  We welcomed many first time and returning overseas visitors to our safaris from all parts of the world, all of whom were blown away by the sightings they experienced and the close proximity we were able to view the animals from.  We welcomed both novice photographers going on their maiden safari, as well as, experienced shooters and non photographers also.  All enjoyed themselves tremendously and have promised to take another trip with us in the very near future.  We truly believe that anyone loving the South African bush or those just interested in increasing their photographic knowledge and ability will enjoy our safaris greatly. Although our prices have inevitably increased slightly in 2016, we continue to strive to keep our prices at a minimum and when comparing them to other safari companies offering similar experiences, I am confident that we are more than achieving this goal. So what does 2016 hold in store for everyone?  I am not sure if you are aware, but the exclusive Rock Fig Safari Lodge is a very popular destination in the Timbavati Game Reserve, so much so, that in order to make a booking at this camp, you have to either book a year in advance or already have a booking from a previous year that might be renewable.  Over the years our clients have repeatedly asked us if it would be possible to organise…

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STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY 2015 safari wrap up – Madikwe Game Reserve (part 2)

One thing we were not short of in Madikwe were lion sightings during 2015. The lion population is thriving in the reserve and appears in all forms, from male coalitions, to individual males to the potential formation of new prides.  We had countless sightings of lions throughout the year and more often than not just a couple of meters away from our game vehicle.  There are quite a few Kalahari lions that have been placed in Madikwe and they are a very impressive cat to capture through a lens.  Another cat we spent a great deal of time with was cheetah.  There are four young male cheetah in Madikwe who are very receptive to keen photographers.  They sat and posed for us and stalked gracefully, so  that we could catch their every movement.  They paid no attention to the game vehicles that are always with them, and often made sure that each of our sightings was a memorable one.  In 2015 the reserve attempted to place two female cheetah’s but sadly, these attempts were unsuccessful, but I understand from reliable sources that another attempt to place at least one female again will be made later on this year.  Let us all hope this new project thrives, as there is nothing cuter or more photogenic than young cheetah cubs!     Elephant!!  One of the most loved and also feared animals of the bush!!  Madikwe most certainly gave us all ample opportunity to view its huge elephant population that range across…

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STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY 2015 safari wrap up – MADIKWE GAME RESERVE (part 1)

Madikwe also suffered hugely from a lack of rainfall throughout the year.  I distinctly remember being on one game drive where, unless our game vehicle traversed the bush at 30 kph. we were engulfed by own dust cloud, most unpleasant and not good at all for either camera equipment or game viewing.  I an fact, by the time late October arrived many of the camps in the reserve were having to rely on water being ferried into them via water tankers, as most of their boreholes had dried up completely. Madikwe is very different experience in many ways, not just in sheer numbers of plains game available, but also with the accommodation we use.  Mosetlha Bush Camp has been named the best Eco camp in South Africa several times and not without good reason.  The accommodation is in log cabins and the food cooked is supplied via the traditional fire method, no mod cons available in this camp, but it is extremely welcoming, very well run and encourages new friendships via the sharing of all meals round one central table for all guests.  There is no electricity at Mosetlha and the use of a donkey boiler for hot showers and the private long drop bathroom facilities help to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.  The camp originally started as a rangers training camp when Madikwe was first introduced as a new game reserve in the early 1990’s.  It has come a long way since those days, so please don’t be put…

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STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY – 2015 safari wrap up – TIMBAVATI GAME RESERVE (part 3)

Although there is no resident lion pride in the immediate camp location, hence the reason behind the leopard population expanding so quickly, we did encounter lions on almost every safari.  The whole dynamics of the lion in the area changed throughout the year. At one stage it was hoped that the unusual coalition between a father and son might succeed in making this area their home and the start of a new pride!!  Unfortunately, a huge fight ensued between father and son and the “pipe dream” of a new pride went up in smoke, excuse the pun!!  Once that coalition was over, the son established a relationship with another large male that petered out into nothing. The huge young male finally “hooked up” with one of the females from the old Muchotton pride that used to dominate the area.  This relationship produced 4 cubs, which although we didn’t see them locally for a while, we understand that all are doing well and flourishing.  Other sightings of lion were more often than not sourced from the splinter groups of the large Ross pride, that uses the Klasserie as its base, but often wander into the Timbavati for a change of scenery or new food sources.  

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STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY – 2015 safari wrap up – TIMBAVATI GAME RESERVE (part 2)

Timbavati really suffered badly and continues to suffer from the lack of rainfall that the whole country was experiencing, and whilst Madikwe has since had some decent rainfalls, the same cannot be said for Timbavati.  We find it amazing that somehow nature and wildlife are aware of what lies in the future and this can be demonstrated by the impala population.  In 2014 the “impala rutting season” was in mid April which meant the “impala drop” would be scheduled in mid November, when the grass was already lush from the summer rains so too supplying the much needed nutrients for the babies.  For some reason, and one can only think it is impala intuition/instinct, the 2015 rutting season only commenced in the middle to late May, which meant the “impala drop” would be a month later as well, in December.  This was very fortuitous as had the newly born Impala arrived in November, there was no fresh grass at all.  At least by now scheduling a late arrival in mid December, meant the chances of decent rainfall would be a great deal higher so assisting the young impala survival rate hugely.  The lack of rainfall meant that only those dams that were pumped contained any drinking water, so whilst this drought wasn’t helping the wildlife population at all, it did allow us many close and stunning predictable sightings at the few pumped water holes still in existence.  With the camp itself overlooking two of these pumped waterholes, our photographic opportunities didn’t…

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STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY – 2015 safari wrap up – TIMBAVATI GAME RESERVE (part 1)

Rock Fig Safari Lodge was our home base for all of our visits to Timbavati in 2015 and we would like to take this opportunity of thanking this wonderful camp and all of its superb staff for supplying us comfortable accommodation, outstanding food and stunning service unequalled in this sphere on each of our 12 visits.  Our safaris to this area have always been very special, no doubt assisted by being such a small group of people having exclusive use of the camp.   The combination of this exclusivity and the common bond interest of photography and the bush helped and encouraged us all to form new long lasting friendships and allowed us all to learn new things from each other on each tour. Let us also not forget the game rangers and trackers who take on the responsibility of making a safari and its game drives a success. Martin and Hugo were all instrumental in supplying these sightings and, when coupled with trackers like Isaac and Edwill, stunning photographic opportunities were boundless throughout the year.  Thank you very much each one of you, you are without doubt the best in your own fields and we are so lucky to have you leading and looking after us.   “There is a kill up here somewhere”!!!!!   Without any doubt the highlight throughout 2015 was the huge number of leopard sightings we were able to experience, (sometimes as many as 16 different sightings on just 6 game drives), plus the stunning quality…

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STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY – Welcome to our 2015 year end newsletter!

OVERVIEW OF THE 2015 PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARI SEASON WITH STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY     It hardly seems possible that 2015 has come to an end so quickly and with no apparent warning and 2016 is now in full swing.  From a photographic and safari standpoint last year was outstanding is every way possible allowing us boundless photographic opportunities throughout the year, some examples of which we will detail below.  For those of you who experienced a Stewart Photography safari for the first time, we hope you enjoyed yourselves and that all of your expectations were met fully.  As you know Colin Mead decided at the end of 2014 to slowly take a back seat with the running and organising of the safaris for the following year, which saw the supporting emergence of Stewart Photography.  In our new role we decided to increase the number of safaris  from 10 in 2014 to 16 in 2015, which was a wise move as all safaris were fully subscribed to other than one.  We also made the decision to expand the amount and the quality of the tuition made available to our attending guests, by assisting with not just the taking of pictures and camera settings, but also to include guidance and tuition on the post processing of images once they were captured.  We hope that everyone who attended our safaris in 2015 found both of these extensions to our past service to be both helpful to their photography development and to also allow our clients…

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STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY 2015 safari wrap up – Madikwe Game Reserve (part 3)

One of the rarest sightings we “townies’ could get to see would be the rare black rhino.  Late one evening we were lucky enough to stumble across such an animal.  Being so late in the evening lighting conditions and taking decent pictures were extremely challenging, but my wife Sandy was on this particular safari with me, and she succeeded in capturing the mood perfectly.  What made this sighting even more interesting was that we stayed a very healthy distance away from this particular rhino, primarily as this breed has a reputation for the being the more aggressive of the two rhino species.  When we started to leave, another vehicle took our place, but was in a much closer attendance!!  Yes, you guessed it, the black rhino was not happy and proceeded to chase and challenge the replacement vehicle around the reserve, much to our relief.  Once again thank you Jonny for your experience.   The Black Rhino has a very different jaw to his White Rhino cousin   Our twice daily game drives supplied all with more than enough wonderful sightings on every trip, but the excitement isn’t limited to just the game drives.  Whilst back at the camp, you are almost guaranteed to be paid a visit by the local Dugga boys who take great pleasure in parking themselves at the bird baths within the accommodation area or you will find “Harry” the brown hyena and his close civet buddy hanging around camp at night for security reasons, so…

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TIMBAVATI LEOPARDS

This coming weekend sees the next Stewart Photography wildlife safari into the beautiful Timbavati bush with another full party of 6 very keen photographers.  During the last 12-18 months our tours into this area have given us an almost non stop supply of sightings of one of the most elusive yet prolific cats, the leopard.  Timbavati, known for its high density of leopard population has made 2015 a tremendous year for leopard sightings, from cubs just a few months old to new males/females trying to make their mark in the area.  One trip earlier this year witnessed 8 different leopard in 12 separate sightings on just 6 game drives!! Remarkable opportunities by anyone standards I would suggest!! Leopards are solitary creatures that only spend time with others when they are mating or raising young.  They are mainly nocturnal and thereforeuse most nights hunting for their next meal.  Leopards spend a lot of their time in trees and will often drag their kill into a tree to keep it away from other predatory animals, such as lion and hyena.  Leopards are the smallest of the large cat category, but are well known for their ferocious hunting techniques.  Capable of speeds of up to 35 mph and with a possible single leap of around 20 feet, it is no surprise that leopards are feared as one of the great hunters of the bush. This particular period of time in the Timbavati Game Reserve is an interesting one for the new leopard population,…

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Safari Photography Blog

Hi there everyone 🙂 We are Sandy and John Stewart and we are absolutely thrilled to bring you our first Safari Photography Blog. We are just so fortunate to have the opportunities we have to get out of the city and into the bush. Perhaps it’s something everyone who lives in South Africa just takes for granted? Or perhaps it’s something that isn’t seen as interesting but Africa and South Africa in particular is a wonderful mixture of first world living with huge expanses of open space that have been set aside by generations before us, for us and our future generations to enjoy as well. So what do we want to chat about and share? We are actually not too sure. We are both figuring this all out as we go along. To give you a bit of background, John is an Englishman who visited South Africa once about 22 years ago now and who wondered, on the only drive he did up to Sun City for an insurance conference, why there were so many people selling egg whisks on the side of the road. He very clearly remembers crossing Hartebeespoort Dam, little knowing that he would be married to a South African and they would share a holiday home there just 8 years later. After a single weekend trip to Kruger National Park where John and Sandy saw all of the Big Five twice (including a leopard up a tree with a kill) by 11 am, John declared “if…

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