This trip ran for four nights at each camp. Our group was few in number, and consisted of former guests of mine, all with serious photographic intent. My good friend James Weis did the arrangements for the safari. James is an excellent wildlife photographer, and we led the safari together. Special emphasis was placed on getting the guests into good positions for photos, and anticipating animal behaviour to our advantage.
We began at Mombo, where the game viewing was good from the very beginning. We had two sightings of the lone wild dog at Mombo, and the pack of black-backed jackals that are socializing with that particular dog. One afternoon the female leopard Lekgadima was feeding with her cub on an impala which she had carried high up into a jackalberry tree. There were three lionesses sleeping nearby, and though they seemed to be aware of the leopard, the tree was too tall for them to climb, and they ignored the leopards.
Next morning the Moporota lion pride were resting on a floodplain to the west of camp. This pride is currently around nineteen animals strong. They made a failed but spectacular attempt to hunt a zebra whilst we watched. Late that same morning the leopard and her cub finished off their kill, and we followed them for the afternoon. A picnic lunch was delivered to us and it went down well in the shade of a rain-tree as the leopard slept off her lunch. Our patience was finally rewarded when she woke up just before sunset, and scaled a fallen tree. The leopard posed for us as the sun set.
On our second morning at Mombo there was action right in the camp, with lionesses from the Western Pride resting beneath one of the rooms. One of these lionesses tried to cross the channel in front of the camp, but a resident hippo refused to allow the lioness to enter the water. The hippo repeatedly charged the lion and after a few moments, the cat gave up and walked away.
Other wildlife highlights at Mombo were herds of zebra, impala, giraffe and elephant. We also spent time photographing warthogs, hyena and baboons.
Tubu Tree camp was our next destination. Here we spent some time photographing from an aluminium boat, seeking out kingfishers and egrets. We had some up-close elephant sightings, and got to watch a very young leopard unsuccessfully hunting some birds. After a frustrating day and a half of following only lion tracks, we eventually located the lions lying in the shade, bellies full of a zebra.
Next morning we found the entire Tubu lion pride on the move, and we enjoyed watching the cubs play as they ran alongside the adult lions. The pride came to rest upon the Tubu airfield for a while, giving us a chance to photograph the entire pride. The male lion who dominates this pride is particularly impressive, with a very full, dark mane. When they suddenly headed off without warning, we followed and found the lions chasing a leopard. The big male lion led the chase, and the leopard only got away by climbing a very tall acacia tree. After some minutes the lions lost interest in the leopard, and moved on. We stayed with the leopard, and photographed her as she descended the tree.
In places where the water levels were getting lower, water-birds were congregating to hunt fish. We had great sightings of kingfishers, saddle-billed storks, egrets and herons. I also managed to get the Landrover stuck in the deep water on several occasions, which made for yet more photo opportunities.
We also had a rare chance to photograph a pair of male red lechwe who were so engaged in chasing one another that they ran directly toward our vehicle, water spraying behind them as they dashed past us.