What do you do after you have had a shoot at Sun City for a week? Invite friends and go to Pilanesburg for the weekend of course!!
I am incredibly fortunate to have found some friends who enjoy wildlife as much as I do, and even more fortunate that they put up with me when I demand that we be in the park as soon as the gates open, and only leave when the gates are about to close.
I finished up my shoot early on the Friday and wasted no time finding the closest gate and getting inside Pilanesburg. I’ve been told a few times before how I’m such a lucky person, and when it comes to game parks, I have to agree! The first hour or so I took very slow and ambled along a quite sand road along the fence line of the park, besides seeing a few impala and kudu, the drive wasn’t overly exciting. However, once I turned to approach the huge dam things started to get more interesting:
This elephant in the water, in the images below, was such an incredible sighting. He stayed in the water for ages and really looked like he was having a good time. It was such a pleasure to be able to sit and watch him – and envy him for being able to swim in the dam and cool off a bit!
My luck continued when I drove out of the restaurant area and there was a giraffe standing right next to the road – he was so relaxed he had no problem with me driving relatively close to him and then sticking a camera out the window to takes pictures of him.
There is this dried up dam close to the gate where we were staying, and I was adamant that at some point we would drive past that little dam, and we would just happen upon a leopard drinking from one of the small puddles. So of course this little dried up dam became the first spot we visited each morning and the last each evening (unfortunately without happening upon a drinking leopard), on my way to the dam that evening I was lucky enough to see a brown hyena running off into the bushes. I still find brown hyenas such a pleasure to see. I have seen plenty spotted hyena over the years, and as much as I still love seeing the spotted hyenas, the brown hyenas are such a treat to see.
That evening the other guys arrived – along with the beautiful 500mm lens <3 <3
We did eventually get to see my leopard! But he really waited until the very last minute when we had all almost given up hope. We had stopped to eat and had decided to start making our way back to gate to head home. We weren’t far down the road when we were about to stop and look at a random dead zebra lying in the grass, when another car, coming from the opposite direction, stopped us to tell us there is a leopard 3km down the road. We left the zebra and picked up speed a bit hoping we would get to the leopard before he moved off. 3km came and went and we hadn’t spotted any leopard. The guy had told us that there were plenty cars around the leopard and he would be terribly difficult to miss, if he was still there. Another 3km went by, and no leopard. I’m not 100% sure how far off this guys estimation was, but it was frikken far off! By this time we had concluded that the leopard had moved on, I was wrong, we would not see the leopard on this visit, and it was time to just mission on to the gate and home. All of our moods changed, sad to be leaving, and sad to have not seen a leopard, but off we went. Next thing, we rounded a bend and there were just cars everywhere! It took us awhile to get to a decent spot to see the leopard, but eventually we did! 😀