Julie, from Bristol, UK, has a passion for Africa’s wildlife and wildlife conservation, and has been a wildlife volunteer on two previous volunteer projects in Namibia and Zambia. On this latest trip, she took the opportunity to combine gaining an intimate knowledge and feel for the African wildlife, with enhancing her photography skills in this spectacular area of South Africa.
Trip extract by Julie, from her time at Thanda’s Wildlife Photography Project:
“Our first game drive this month started at 5.00 a.m. which was a shock to the system for a few of us! 30 seconds out of the lodge, we came across the giraffe family so we all got overexcited and took far too many photos We then spent 3 hours searching for the Cheetah mum and her two cubs, but the only result was a burst tyre in the middle of the bush! The sightings for the week though did include the two cheetah brothers strolling down the road, some hyenas feasting on a carcass, and seeing the elephant herd emerge out of the bush and spend some time at a waterhole.
We’ve had an amazing thunderstorm with a proper downpour. We found an undercover area and practiced long exposures to try to capture the lightening, with varying success! As this is the rainy season, the skies have been cloudy every night with the exception of just two nights where we could see the stars, and I was determined to try and capture my first ever star trails photo. After a few false starts a couple of us finally managed it, much to our delight.
An interesting sighting during our time here was two giraffe who were having a scrap and practicing thumping each other with their necks. They weren’t fully adult males, so it was more like a junior school playground fight than a secondary school one! It was amazing though to watch how flexible and strong their necks are, and we could hear the ‘thwack’ as they laid into each other. We’ve been witness to a life saving event:)
Our guide Richard rescued a leopard tortoise that was stuck underneath an electric fence and being zapped by the current. After pushing it away with a stick and pouring some water over it to cool it down we left it in a shady area, and when we returned later it had revived enough to have wandered off
We also enjoyed seeing an elusive leopard, white rhinos, a very comical lion in a tree, hippos, and flamingos. We’ve been on a birding exercise (when we were able to photograph absolutely no birds!) and on our penultimate game drive we finally tracked down the cheetah mum and her cubs (having spent 2 whole drives searching for them). They are growing fast but still lovely and fluffy
To sum up, despite the rain which meant that a few drives were cancelled, we’ve had a great time and have seen pretty much everything we wanted to – the only exception is a black rhino, but perhaps that will have to wait – for the next time?” Julie, UK.
Have Julie’s adventures whetted your appetite? What skills would you like to enhance in 2014?