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Africa Geographic Travel

Written by Francois van Heerden (photographic guide)

Madikwe is a special place with such a high diversity of animals that one just never knows what’s in store for a group of photographers.

And this Africa Geographic safari was no different! On our very first drive, we set out eagerly to see what the reserve had to offer – and found the elusive wild dogs!

wild dogs, Madikwe, South Africa
“Leopard Rock was excellent, extremely homely and friendly. Francois was brilliant, offering great photographic advice and really doing his best to show us as much as possible. Incredibly knowledgeable.” ~ comment and photograph by Bruce Braithwaite

Earlier that morning the pack managed to corner a big bull kudu, but this kudu did not back down and fought for his life – until the dogs (and the kudu) were so exhausted that there was a stalemate. We thought that the kudu might get away as the dogs moved off later that afternoon, but next morning we found out that the wild dogs’ persistence had paid off and they had managed to overpower the kudu.

kudu, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

On the next two drives, we managed to see two separate male lion coalitions, brown hyena (which is always a highlight), and loads of general game, including herds of elephant at the lodge waterhole – which offered perfect photographic opportunities.

brown hyena, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

Our plan for the second afternoon was to head to the river and see if we could do some bird photography. But any good plan can be turned on its head and we found ourselves watching herd after herd of elephant coming down to the river to drink.

elephant, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

With lovely back-lit conditions, we ended up staying with the elephants, practising our photography skills in the tricky light.

elephant, Madikwe, South Africa
“We had a fantastic time in Madikwe and Francois is an amazing guide. Everything there was absolutely perfect, also our involuntary encounter with a black mamba.”~ comment and photograph by Robert Leder

The next morning as the sun was rising we set out to find the wild dogs again, and luckily we managed to find them! Eventually, we worked out that they were heading back to their kudu kill – which we had heard had attracted spotted hyenas. Realising we might see some predator interaction we followed the wild dogs with anticipation.

We positioned ourselves in a good spot close to the hyenas and waited for the dogs. At first, they stood a distance away, but after a while, they built up the courage and came running in with a high-pitched chattering – trying to intimidate the hyenas off the carcass.

wild dogs, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

The dogs managed to corner one hyena but the rest just stood their ground close to the kill. The hyenas had the upper hand as they had numbers on their side, and eventually, the dogs left the hyenas with the carcass.

wild dogs and hyena, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

After that, we decided to continue following the dogs until we lost sight of them in some very thick bush. In awe and very full memory cards, we stopped for a mug of warm coffee.

As if we couldn’t get any luckier, after coffee we managed to see two cheetah posing nicely on top of a termite mound. We took the opportunity to photograph them from various angles and compositions.

cheetah, Madikwe, South Africa
©Francois van Heerden

The last evening was spent with a lovely braai under a star-lit evening, reminiscing about our exciting week of photography and game viewing, and celebrating the forming of new friendships and creating long-lasting memories.

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