The tigers were putting their fantastic camouflage to work, and remained hidden for most of the day, but we did find a young female tiger midway through the afternoon safari. She took a while to emerge from the bushes, but when she did, it was amazing. She walked right up to our jeep, and started drinking and relaxing right in front of us. Needless to say, the cameras had a field day and the photography was fantastic. While we were waiting for a different tiger to come down to a waterhole earlier in the day, we were treated to a spectacle of deer coming down to drink; close to 100 of the packed in around the waters edge.
After the great start we had it was always going to be difficult to beat the first day, but the tigers had something else in store for us. Midway through the morning we found a tigress, and she had a sneaky surprise waiting in the long grass. Her 3 cubs (one-year-olds) came bounding out the grass and joined their mother walking right past us – several times! What a privilege to see and photograph 4 tigers on just the second day of our safari. We spent the rest of the morning with the striped family, and the afternoon trying out some new sections of the reserve, where we were rewarded with a great sighting of a golden jackal.
Starting the Tiger Safari with 3 tigers is always a good thing! We came across a mother tiger and her 2 cubs early in the afternoon, and got to spend a fantastic 3 hours with them. There were ample photographic opportunities, as each one of the tigers were going about their business on their own, this made the only tough decision, ‘which tiger should we photograph?’ We also managed to see most of the regulars, including a majestic blue bull, or nilgai, and finished the day being surprised by a jungle cat, which ran through the camp during dinner. A great start to a great safari!
There was only one way to finish to such a productive safari – more leopards and lions! We managed to find a pride of 7 lions enjoying the morning sun, before coming across a large male leopard feeding on his kudu kill up in a tree, which had its token hyena underneath. Two side-striped jackals were also running the area, giving us even more to photograph. With our sad, end-of-safari-faces on, we left the feeding leopard and started back to camp to get packed up ready to leave, when our misery was rudely interrupted by yet another large male leopard! He was out on his morning patrol when we found him, but stopped when he noticed a herd of impala feeding nearby. He went into full stalk mode, sneaking his way to…sleep. He put his head down, and had a catnap, right next to the impala! We unfortunately had to leave, but what a way to end!
After all the cat action over the previous days we were searching for the big heavies, and we were more than successful. Sightings of elephant, rhino and buffalo were abundant throughout the morning, although we did manage to find 2 large male lions, which was a nice surprise. The cats made a comeback in the afternoon though; we found a female leopard walking close to the camp, followed by a male cheetah. He was on the move, and was quite difficult to keep up with, but we managed to get some good photographs of him as he went about his business – it is always a treat seeing a cheetah in this part of South Africa.