Before the game drive begins...
In the near distance I could see Field Guide Ben's legs.
He was on his way to wake me and I was already on my way to the coffee.
The early morning drive, depending on the time of year,
means that guides have to be up VERY early
to make certain that all is in order for their guests.
My best time of day...well one of them anyway.
(The other is sunset)
The sun starts to peek over the Eastern horizon, still hidden by these thorn trees.
Settling in with my camera and favourite lens.
I tend to become insular during drives, looking for "that" shot.
Not always easy and I have thousands of images to prove that.
But it is all about patience and being at the right place at the right time.
I am always grateful for whatever presents during a drive.
Even though guides often ask "What are we after today",
my usual response is either "Pangolin"
or "something different".
The latter is usually the easier request to fulfill!
It is amazing how an entire herd of Buffalo can literally vanish before your very eyes.
We spent the best part of two drives looking for this herd
and when we found them it was almost by accident.
We had seen their tracks on several occasions, but without spotting them.
Eventually we were able to get in front of them
and I was able to get these images as they browsed alongside the vehicle.
This is the dominant bull.
Still young, he has an impressive horn spread.
He is going to grow up to be a great sire to the females on the property.
Most times, buffalo look at you as if you owe them money.
This cow just looked sad.
Buffalo have often been rated as the most dangerous
of all African wildlife to find when you are walking in the bush.
Unlike most other species who will warn you of their displeasure,
these will charge for no apparent reason.
It has been more than a decade since I last saw Sable in the wild.
This large male was testing to see if the female was in oestrus.
He does this by smelling her urine and then by placing his leg between hers.
In this case, she was not quite ready to be mounted,
but he did persevere until she walked off with the other females.
I was taking a picture of the monkey and the Impala in the background
when this ewe sprang into shot.
Photo-bombing at its best?
Three strides and she was gone...
A Giraffe has a 45cm tongue!
One of its favourite pastimes seems to be licking its nostril.
I wish I could do that.
The tongue is used to remove foliage while avoiding the thorns.
When you get close to a White Rhino,
you realise how large they actually are.
They do not have great eyesight, but their sharp hearing makes up for that.
Moving at a top speed of about 50km/h that defies their bulk,
they can cover ground faster than a human can run.
Getting into the bush in the early part of a year
usually means that you get to see many youngsters.
These wildebeest are a case in point.
At this age they are still all about play.
An interesting fact is that young wildebeest can be mobile
within 15 minutes of being born.
This Banded Mongoose dived into a burrow are we approached.
But it was curious to see what/who we were,
so it kept popping up to keep a wary eye on our vehicle.
All the while emitting a noise, the sound of which belied its size.
The vocalization would have been scary had I not know
what mammal was actually making the sound.
In retrospect, it was quite comical.
This young rhino calf was being most inquisitive
about us and our vehicle...
With no sign of aggression it approached closer and closer
as we sat quietly and watched its progress.
Mom was being watchful in the background
(just out of shot)
All of a sudden it was seemingly caught off guard
and it turned to run.
However, it had forgotten to engage 4x4 mode and it face planted
before tearing off with mom in tow.
I do not think that it was scared of us...
merely embarrassed by the fact that it had taken a tumble before
finding its feet.
Possibly the smallest crocodile that I have ever seen in the wild.
Not the best of images as it was hidden by reeds and grass.
However, I did want to use it as an example of
when out on a game drive.
We discovered this small Black-backed Jackal on the side of the road.
It did not seem to be stressed by our presence.
It merely glowered at us while I took pictures.
The Hippo has been credited with killing more humans on the African continent
than all of the Big 5 combined.
That being said, that statement is now being challenged
as researchers think that crocs might be responsible
for many of the hippo attributed deaths.
Certainly on of my favourite animals to photograph.
The Zebra is one of the most photogenic of all African wildlife.
Are they black with white stripes or vice versa?
It turns out that black is their dominant colour.
Fun fact #478: What do Zebra and Killer Whales(Orcas) have in common?
Aside from the obvious colour similarities,
they both show their state of health in the same manner.
If a Zebra is ill, the mane will not stand upright but will droop.
In the Orca, their dorsal fin will flop to one side
should the whale be unwell.
Not an animal usually found in this sort of habitat.
This is the Desert Oryx (Gemsbok).
Although more at home in the hot desert conditions,
the herd here seems to have adapted well.
This is the closest I got to an elephant during my stay
at Safari Plains.
To bookend the day...
A truly spectacular sunset.
This lodge is situated before you get to the turnoff to the main Mabula Game reserve.
Keep an eye open for this wall on the left hand side of the road.
And by the way, Google maps still has not rectified their directions.
If you are going to follow Google maps, then use Bela Bela as you destination.
Once there you can enter Safari Plains to get you to the gate.
A big thank you to each of these brands
for coming on board.
This has been my constant travel companion
for the past several years.
It might look a tad worn,
but that represents the kilometers/miles
we have traveled together.
From Kilimanjaro to the beaches of India
and to a variety of game lodges in South and Southern Africa.
BEST SUITCASE EVER!
Check out their Facebook page:
This torch has been turning heads!
The Olight SRS2UT Intimidator.
Marketed locally by:
When it is time to print out my special images,
this is the company that I rely on to do that.
When I get home. I rely on this ISP
to provide me with high speed fibre connectivity
to enable me to get my postings published in record time.
This Powerbank is my constant companion
while I am travelling.
It can do up to 4 full re-charges of my phone before
needing to be charged.
When offered an option...
ALWAYS be Batman.
My constant travelling companion.
To find out more about the collectible Funko range of figurines,
I could not do without this awesome laptop bag from Solo.
Padded for protection and with enough pockets to keep
almost everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink in,
this is definitely an stylish addition to any business presentation.
Be it in the boardroom or the bush.
This bag can also be worn as a backpack.
There are straps in a hidden compartment that can be deployed
when you need both hands for other purposes.
To find out more about the stylish Solo range,
This locally made product was indispensable when using a long lens.
The ball and socket might look simple...and it is,
which is why it should be in the gear bag of every serious photographer.
This locally made, deceptively simple device is ideal
for tracking birds in flight or animals in motion.
The base can be used on a beanbag or a tripod,
with the ball being fitted to the camera.
The simplicity of the device allows to to move from supported
to hand held in a fluid motion.
There is also a version that can be used on a car window.
To see more about the product,
visit their Facebook page:
Or order directly from:
To see who else were winners in 2018, visit: