April is one of the most fascinating times to experience Mashatu. The remnants of summer lie at waste to the dry winds that transform the wet soils into a thin powder of dust. The contrast of the alluvial green heart of the reserve blend sharply against the open plains of white dying enneapogon grass. The scene is so beautiful that stopping on top of a koppie at sunrise staring at awe across the Limpopo valley seems like the right thing to do, even if we may have missed out on photographing the sunrise itself!
We have just spent 10 days amidst all of this on two back to back Photo Workshops, leopard after leopard and the mass migration of hundreds of elephants to and from there feeding areas. The best thing of it all was to show all of our guests this magical destination and its no surprise that everyone already wants to return next year.
One of Mashatu's most relaxed female leopards rests on a tree, after following her for a while as she walked along the bottom of the Majali river
Watching a herd of over a hundred elephant pour down into the Majali at one of the most commonly used elephant drinking spots and migration routes
Overlooking the alluvial congregation from Cheetah koppie at sunrise
Hyenas at first light at the densite
We where extremely lucky to stumble across this sighting pre-dawn of a mother Hyena relocating her pup to a new den location
The dominant male
We spent a few mornings in the Photo Hides, and being a relatively quieter time of year, we where still lucky and had numerous sightings of elephants and the usual host of birds. The hides become very active as the season dries and our June workshops for 2017 are at the height of the hide season, an absolute must for anyone that wants to spend good time on the hides! The ability to go on game drive and use the photographic hides really adds an extra dimension in a varied portfolio over the course of 4 days.
Elephants 3 metres away from you, a splash of water on your camera, its a difficult thing to justify in words
Even at such close quarters, you can use a 600mm
Sometimes they beat you to it!
A Black faced Waxbill, one of the only bird species that I have seen drink like this at the hide
Sunset, it even makes the Warthogs look good
Red billed Firefinch reflections
The Valley Hide
Fun with a drone
During the course of our Photo Workshops, we spend 4 days photographing and learning about this amazing destination on Game drive and in the Photo hides. Every day we meet to present a series of tutorial slide shows that cover everything from the basics of wildlife photography, camera setup to creativity and use of light. The critique sessions have proven to be one of the very best ways to learn and each guest brings a series of images that we run through and discuss correct composition to basic editing in Lightroom.
Waitng for the sun to set and for the night sky to fall over the reserve
On one of the nights we spend time under the stars and learn how to capture the amazing beauty of the night sky
The magical and ancient Mashatu Trees that charecterize the reserve
... and the Leopards seem to make the trees even more beautful
Dawn across the fields of enneapogon grasses
The surreal beauty of White Cliffs
Charecteristic black soils of the Matabole river
A coffee break interupted by a herd of elephants from Jackalas koppie
We left camp very early to head to the south of the reserve to find this male, luckily for us they hadn't left the Eland kill and the scenes at sunrse where worth it
The all time favourite, Mopane
Dusk for the rut
Can you spot the African Wild Cat?
The incredibly fascinating locomotion of chameleons, rocking back and forth to mimic a leaf in the wind
Spots amidst the riparian forest
The Photo Guide also doubles up as the perfect beanbag support
To end it all off with a sundowner on top of Dissapointment Koppie, the total opposite to the name!