Finding a wild African leopard in nature is very exciting, and also rare. So imagine our excitement when after a few days in the Kruger National Park, we suddenly saw a leopard in the tall grass. We were driving close to Skukuza camp since early that morning and already saw a bit of wildlife (like elephants and rhino’s), when we decided to head back to camp for breakfast.
Spotting the leopard in the grass only a few feet from our vehicle, we were lucky to see movement in the grass before it disappeared into the shrubs. We only had time to take a few photographs (keeping our fingers permanently on the shutter), before it was gone. He was definitely coming back from a night on the hunt as we saw some dry blood on his face.
Safari & Game Drives in South Africa
Let me first explain what it is like going on a safari or wild game drive in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Most people don’t know that you can do the driving in “nearly 2 million hectares of unrivaled nature” that can take up to 3 days to crisscross. And you can either sleep in a secure camp (luxury or no frills) in the Kruger or stay close-by. From sunrise to sunset you can drive around or go on a safari tour – both can be called a wild game drive with their own advantages.
We always enjoy our time photographing wildlife in the Kruger, as I grew up with an uncle as a game ranger, while my husband grew up on the border of the Kruger reserve and we have many fond memories, Holidays at game reserves spotting wildlife in their natural habitats is always a special time for us and very relaxing.
Photographing a Leopard
We have photographed quite a few leopards on a previous trip and discovered that the photographs were a bit blurry, because we forgot to switch off the vehicle. We quickly learn to stop at the right location (for example rivers and water holes) and wait. Consider using more than one camera body and a variety of lenses depending on what you are photographing. For South Africa the best time of the year to go on a safari is during the cooler dry months of May to September, when the temperature during the day varies between 10 to 34 Celsius (53 to 93 Fahrenheit). By midday most animals will seek out shelter underneath the lowveld trees, and with short dry grass it makes it easier to see the Big Five Game.