As many of you know I recently returned from a truly magnificent photographic workshop in Madagascar and Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve.
It was an epic trip including in total 13 flights (I can tell you I was over flying after that).
Our group of 10 (including 2 Professional photographers) left O R Tambo International airport Johannesburg to fly to Antananarivo (Tana) Madagascar on 24 May. Spent the first night getting to know everyone and coming accustom to our new surroundings.
The following morning we were back at Tana airport to pickup our Air Madagascar flight to Morondava. The following day we took 4×4 vehicles to Kirindy reserve where we would observe Madagascar’s biggest predator, the fossa.
Krindy reserve is a dry deciduous reserve in Western Madagascar approximately 50 km from the town of Morondava. It comprises one of the most outstanding and threatened wildlife habitats in Madagascar. The reserve is dominated by majestic baobab trees. This is also the only place where the world’s smallest know primate, the giant jumping rat, resides. Lemur species here include the Red Fronted Lemur, Verreaux’s Lifaka which is commonly called the white lemur and dancing lemur and the nocturnal lemurs – the rear Conquerel’s giant mouse lemur and pygmy mouse-lemur, fork crowned lemur, gray mouse lemur, western fat-tail dwarf lemur and red-tailed sportive lemur. 40 bird, 50 reptile and 15 amphibian species are also found in this magnificent forest.
The following afternoon we visited the famous Baobab Avenue where we were well looked after by the staff from Palissandra Cote Quest with sunset drinks and nibbles while we were all in awe of the setting sun in this location and we all busily went about capturing these 800 year old trees which were a legacy of the dense tropical forests that once thrived there. Over the years, as the country’s population grew, the forests were slowly cut down, leaving only the baobab trees, which the locals preserved for religious reasons.
The next morning we made our way back to Baobab Alley to photograph this region at sunrise. We then made our way back to our hotel for a delicious breakfast.
Another flight back to Tana and to our transport for our 3 hour drive from Tana to Vakona Lodge which is located in the Anasibe-Mantadia National Park in eastern Madagascar – home for the next 3 nights. This park’s elevation ranges from 900-1250 metres, with a humid climate and with a rainfall on 210 days of each year. The rain forest is home of many endangered species including 11 lemur species and also home of the famous Indri lemur.
Here we went on a 3 hour trek through the rain forest with our able guide, Mana. This day was one of the 210 days of the year when it did rain! It was a challenge to keep the cameras dry in this environment but we were all intent in getting that elusive shot of the Indri.
Following day we ventured out to Analamazaotra reserve in search again of the largest lemur, the Indri Indri. This reserve is also a great area for bird watching.
One of the hi lights of this area was our visit to Lemur Island where we got up close and personal with many species of lemur. The little critters didn’t care where they sat, on shoulders, on heads, on arms and on camera lens Ah!!! Despite this none of us wanted to leave, it was an experience that we will all never forget.
On the drive back to Tana the following day we called into a reptile park where we enjoyed the opportunity to photograph many species of chameleons, frogs lizards and all manner of unusual critters. Another great day then came to a close.
Last night in Madagascar where we were all sad to leave and particularly say our goodbyes to our truly amazing guide Mana who knew so much about his country and was very proud of it.
Checked into Madagascar Airport for our flight back to Johannesburg. Upon arrival in O. R. Tambo International airport, Johannesburg all 10 of us discovered we had no luggage, they had forgot to put our luggage onto our flight – just a minor issue!!! We had our all important camera gear with us but no changes of clothes etc. Oh well we will just have to go to our fancy silver service dinner at the 5 star hotel that had been arranged in our smelly safari gear. However there is something to be said for travelling light.
The following day we checked out and after shopping for clean personal items etc as it would be a couple of days before we would see our luggage again, we boarded our plane to Mpumalanga Airport, Kruger National Park. We were picked up at the airport by our driver/guide, Dylan from Sabi Sabi Reserve, who would be our eyes and ears for the next 4 days.
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge is celebrated the world over for its warmth, vibrancy, 5- start luxury and exceptional safaris. Huge wooden viewing decks overlook a busy waterhole where you often see many animals congregate there.
Each 5 star suite features sumptuous linens with beautiful leather and wood furnishings, and an en-suite glass fronted bathroom with indoor and al-fresco shower leading onto a private patio. The lounge, bar, pool area and Boma (place of eating) are all relaxing meeting places after the morning and afternoon safaris, where we were able to boast and brag about that unbelievable photo opportunity that we were able to shoot that no one else did???
Early morning starts were the order of each day so we were able to see and photograph the animals as they were rising from sleep. Our driver Dylan made our drive more comfortable by supplying blankets and can you believe it, hot water bottles, talk about luxury treatment. 2 vehicles went out each with it’s own guide. Each vehicle would converse with each other if they were to find one of the “big five” or any other animal worth our attention.
Morning safaris normally went for approximately 2 hours we would then return and tuck into a most fantastic breakfast. Afternoon safaris would begin around 3.00pm after a scrumptious afternoon tea (not that we would need it after an enormous lunch). These safaris would last for around 3 hours which included a sundown drink with nibbles on some beautiful hill overlooking the incredible Kruger National Park. What more could you ask for.
We were all able to capture the “big five” and one of our hi lights for our vehicle was witnessing a leopard and her cub being taken on by a Hyena. Leopard 1 Hyena 0. A great outcome.
Sabi Sabi sponsor and support a local African community and it’s school we were very privileged to visit the village and most of all the school, where we were very warmly greeted by the children of the school. Two children in particular had a real fascination for the colour of my hair (can’t understand why?). It was very humbling and to see what little they had yet were so happy.
Evening dinner at the Boma were very special with the Chef going all out with a beautiful selection of meals including crocodile, Kudu and Impala which was surprisingly delicious.
Sadly our time in Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge had to come to an end and for some of us our trip had also come to an end. We all flew back to Johannesburg and said our goodbyes and the following day I flew onto Victoria Falls and spent 3 days in magnificent Zimbabwe. I took a helicopter flight over the falls then a very very wet walk around the rim of the falls both spectacular ways to view this wonder of the world.
After 3 wonderful days in Victoria Falls I flew back to Johannesburg to pick up my flight back to Australia. What a truly wonderful experience that will never be forgotten.