This week in pictures …

What a week – Crèche – Teach – City – Rhino – Arrival – Meal – Mate

One picture per day …

Monday – Visit to a crèche – create a project …

Tuesday – Teaching students and a very unusual sighting (Pied Kingfisher @ Thanda) …

Wednesday – Korean Dinner in Durban @ The Crazy Korean – what a treat …

Thursday – A Rhino at sunset – so special …

Friday – Two new Cheetah boys arrived at Thanda …

Saturday – The two males’ first meal …

Sunday – Mating Giraffes – a rare sighting …

I hope your like my weekly summary. For many more pictures please subscribe to my Instagram channel (ChristianSperkaPhotography).

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography


This week I visited a crèche for small children in one of Thanda’s neighboring communities.

With the help of some guests’ donations Thanda Safari has built this little school house, provided a water tank, got the material for a fence and the materials to complete the interior.

The crèche is located in one of the poorest areas of Zululand.

I was tasked to take some pictures with camera and drone to document the development progress.

I had not been there before.

At the crèche two volunteer teachers look after around 30 2-4 year old kids every morning for three hours.

When I saw the place in grey with no color, no toys, no teaching materials, no tables , no … I made a decision:

In the next few weeks I will personally get them some materials for teaching, some toys and whatever else I can afford to buy. I will not give them money (as I am afraid that would end in the wrong pockets), but I will buy them things they need.

Some of my friends have already promised me to help with useful materials they got or to help me with money donations to buy stuff.

If any of you – wherever you live in the world – would like to help with a little donation (or not so little 🙂 then please contact me at – I have bank accounts in Europe, USA and South Africa and I also have a PayPal account. So transferring any funds would be simple and would not cost a lot. Even the smallest contribution will be very much appreciated.

Be assured that 100% of whatever is donated will be used to buy things for the crèche.

I will post regularly pictures on my social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) and on my blog.

In the great scheme of things this neither big or important, but I hope it will make a difference to these children, their teachers and their parents.

PS: When I (a huge, bearded white man) stepped into the small classroom most of the children started crying. I was a bit puzzled until one of the teachers told me that some of the kids thought I was a doctor coming with inoculations :-). I had – wisely – bought a little drink, an apple and a small snack for each child which I gave to each of them. That calmed them down immediately.

But I really won them over when I flew the drone. They loved it and demanded many take-offs and landings. There were many friendly shouts of good-bye when I left. Modern technology can help in many ways 🙂

Calcium and Phosphorus please!

Herbivores sometimes consume bone material. This is called Osteophagy. Chewing bones allows animals to supplement phosphorus and calcium.

The body of the Giraffe needs this mineral and this metal to maintain the bone structure and help with many biological processes including energy metabolism, protein synthesis, and lactation.

So if you see a Giraffe chewing a bone it does not mean it has turned into a carnivore, it just takes supplements!

#GiraffeChewing #ThandaGiraffe ##thandasafari @thandasafari ##christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

A charming combination of Dr.Dolittle and Q from James Bond …

Eight of my pictures were used in a 10 page article for the Priority magazine for Singapore Airlines PPS Club, published by NewBase Content.

Travel Writer Rod Mackenzie wrote a great story called ‘Close Encounters’ about Thanda Safari. I especially like his description of me in the story: A charming combination of Dr.Dolittle and Q from James Bond :-).

Click here to read the article |


Smart Phone Safari …

It is often said that one ‘must’ have a decent camera with a reasonable long tele-focus lens, when going on safari.  However, while it is certainly an advantage to have such a camera, today a lot of people have very good smart phones (iPhones or Android-based) and prefer to travel light.

Here are five reasons why a smart phone safari can work …

Smart phones are very good when taking a wide angle picture (no pinching!). Focus on the beautiful scenery with wildlife in it and you will create some great memories. Zooming in on pictures (pinching) should be avoided as most smart phones only provide digital zoom (equivalent to picture cropping). It is best to take the picture ‘un-zoomed’ and crop it later. Some very advanced smartphone (eg iPhone 7+, 8+ and X) have a second tele-focus lens, which do provide optical zoom capability.

Picture: Elephants at Thanda Safari – iPhone 7+

Picture: White Rhino just after sunset at Thanda Safari – iPhone 7+

Picture: Giraffe at Thanda Safari – iPhone 7+

Smart phones are great in difficult light situations such as sunsets, sunrises and interesting cloud formations over beautiful scenery. These are  often easier to capture, than with a regular camera. Combined with a good ‘enhancement app’ like an excellent ‘Camera+ for iPhones’, amazing pictures can be created.

Pictures: Mganhla dam at Thanda Safari – iPhone 7+

Clip-on tele-focus lenses are available at very little cost and having such a lens will make it possible to get a good shot of far away targets (eg Lions, Birds). Binoculars can also serve as a tele-focus lens (make sure there is a small distance between the camera lens and the binoculars ocular, focusing first on the subject with your binos, before using your smartphone camera).

Picture:  iPhone 7+ with 12x telefocus clip-on lens

Picture: iPhone 7+ using binoculars as a telefocus lens

Picture as taken …

Picture once cropped …

This picture was taken with an iPhone 7+ and a 12x telefocus clip-on lens.

Smart phones are excellent at taking macro-shots. Anything from plants to small creatures can be captured very well. Make sure to check with your guide, if it is safe, to get close to any creatures.

Pictures: Splendid Locust – iPhone 7+ help ‘upside-down’ to get on eye-level 🙂

Pictures: Giant Snail- iPhone 7+ help ‘upside-down’ to get on eye-level 🙂

Private game reserves, such as Thanda Safari, are great for smart phone photography as one usually gets much closer to wildlife than in a national park. A professional and experienced guide knows exactly how close he can get safely to animals, to ensure a good picture. Get as close to eye-level with your picture subject and you will create some great shots.

Pictures: African Rock Phyton at Thanda Safari – iPhone 7+

Pictures: Elephants at Thanda Safari Lodge – iPhone 7+

Pictures: Lion at Thanda Safari – iPhone 7+

Pictures: Lion at Thanda Safari – iPhone 7+

If you have any questions about a Smart Phone Safari or Photo Safaris feel free to contact me directly (

For Thanda Safari guests – staying 2 nights or longer – I offer a 30 minute free ‘smart phone photography lesson’ (subject to availability). Session should to be booked well in advance.

All pictures in this post were created with an iPhone 6+ or iPhone 7+ with most being cropped.

#thandasafari #christiansperkaphotography #SmartPhoneSafari #iPhoneSafari

I personally work with Canon DSLRs, Apple iPhones and a DJI Phantom drone. #canonglobal #apple #djiglobal

He hates ducks …

As I was preparing the Green Mamba 1 (my special luxury & photography game drive vehicle – I heard loud trumpeting from the Thanda House waterhole. I grabbed a camera, jumped into the vehicle  and drove to the dam.

A young Elephant bull was busy chasing a bunch of Whistling White-faced Ducks around. He trumpeted very loudly whenever ducks got in his way. He obviously hates ducks! What a show …

What a sight – the Thanda House Dam is full!
The Thanda House Dam and Thanda House – I can see the water from my office window!

After the recent rains the Thanda House dam is full. The Elephants love this deep water hole for bathing and drinking.

A bath, a drink, a mud-bath and a good dusting with sand!
The reason for the loud trumpeting – Whistling White-faced Ducks |



Rain and Green – and lots of other news!

A lot happend since my last blog post. February is very busy at Thanda Safari and for the first time in years we are having a truly rainy season. This is a picture record of the last 30 days. If you would like to see more of my pictures more regularly, then may I suggest you follow me on instagram: Enjoy the pictures!

Shikondlakondla – Thanda Safari’s dominant male having a rest on a late afternoon.
Rhino Monitoring – Occasionally  I get to spend some time with Thanda Safari’s Rhino Monitors Daniel and Kyle – Here I caught them on camera with one of their charges!
Luck – On a rainy day I was very lucky to catch a glimpse of this male Cheetah on my way home to Thanda House.
Golden Hour – Having a late afternoon drink in the perfect light!
Pure Bliss – I got two nights at The Oysterbox Hotel in Umhlanga (Durban) as a present from two guests from the USA. What a pleasure to stay at one of my favorite hotels in the world!
The Clock Room @ The Oysterbox Hotel – This room is a great place to relax in peace and quiet. Just once per hour a lot of clocks wake up a bit!
European Roller – A dime a dozen! We host huge numbers of these beautiful birds on Thanda during the summer. They get so used to vehicles that it is possible to get really close up and personal!
Amur Falcon – They are also summer guests. These small birds of prey will leave soon for their trip up north!
iSimangaliso Wetland Park – I hosted and guided two guests of a cruise ship – the MS Europe 2 – on a tour through iSimangaliso West and through Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. A truly enjoyable day!
Horns – This Kudu male had the most impressive horns!
Make space – We had to back up as this large Elephant bull walked up the road. He was very relaxed but needed a bit of space!
Ellie Selfie – A mirror selfie with Bheki and an Elephant bull.
Zululand – Many of my guests enjoy a visit to a homestead in one of the local Zulu communities.
Unbelievable – This 78 year old Zulu gentleman is still tending his maize fields and garden. He dressed up for us in his Sunday finery.
Joined Herds – The two Elephant herds on Thanda meet and join up from time to time. This is the first time that I got pictures of both herds together.
Nautical Twilight – During this period after sunset everything under the horizon is completely black. I was lucky that the Giraffes were part of the horizon and that they stood still for this long exposure.
Tools of the Trade – My photographic safari vehicle (The Green Mamba 1), my 12.9″ iPad, my safari hat a and one of my cameras.
Cappuccino Time! – Thanda’s Wildlife Coordinator and a Journalist from Singapore were having a lively discussion during a morning coffee stop. They also enjoyed the selection of Nespresso coffee on the Green Mamba 1.
On Top of the World – I took the Green Mamba 1 on top of one of Thanda’s highest peaks. An then I took up the drone to get a picture of the stunning scenery at sunset.
Smell the Trap – Shikondlakondla was very interested in a camera trap which was mounted next to a Buffalo carcass.
The cute ‘Big Five’ – Whenever I have small children on my vehicle I take the Big Five as plush toys along on drive. The little Lion sat quietly next to my camera as I took pictures of the real thing!
Stingy – Bheki found a large scorpion and as always the guests were most impressed to get to see these incredible creatures close up.
Walk on the Wild Side – This small Lion cub walked on top of a Buffalo carcass! There will be a special blog post in the next few days featuring this youngster.
Comfort – Mum provides the needed comfort to the little Lion as a vehicle approached the sighting. Very soon it will ignore the cars the same as all other members of the pride.
Quelea – Thousands of Quelea have settled in the Sickle Bush area next to Thanda House. They are incredibly loud unless I fly my drone over their nesting trees. Then they go quiet for a very short while!
The Power of Water – In the last few days we had huge amount of rain. Three of our dams burst under the huge pressure of the fast swelling water.
Green, Green, Green – The area around Thanda House is as green as never before (at least since I am at Thanda) and the Thanda House is dam fuller than ever – Pure pleasure!

If you enjoyed this little picture diary then please leave a comment or just ‘like’ the post. Thanks | |




My real office!

I was a bit tired of working in the office in front of my PCs so I decided to go on an afternoon photo drive with my Green Mamba 1.

The result was amazing: Lions – Elephants – Rhinos – Buffalo – Zebras – Wildebeests. This is a collection of just one picture for each of these species – I got many more from just one afternoon on Thanda.

That’s my real office!

A young male Lion watching Cape Buffalo in the evening light …
A Cape Buffalo watching me in the evening light 🙂 …
In heavy wind White Rhinos are rather nervous …
An Elephant herd is an impressive sight, especially when seen in the open …
A young Zebra leaving a waterhole with his mum …
And last but not least a very young Wildebeest staying close to its mother …

And a bonus Lion picture of Thanda’s dominant male Lion …  |