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  https://christiansperka.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/prq218_30-39-experience.pdf

www.sperka.info | www.sperka.bizwww.thanda.com

THE GREEN MAMBA 1 | EXCLUSIVELY AT THANDA SAFARI

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 …

1
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+

2
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+

3
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.

4
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 🙂

5
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 (info@sperka.com).

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. http://www.thanda.com/en-gb/experience/photography-at-thanda

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 – http://www.sperka.info/gm) 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

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THE GREEN MAMBA 1 | EXCLUSIVELY AT THANDA SAFARI

 

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: www.instagram.com/christiansperkaphotography. 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

www.sperka.info | www.sperka.biz | www.thanda.com

 

 

 

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 …

www.sperka.info  |  www.thanda.com

 

Incredible South African Bush Experiences

In the last few month I had organized some very special safari experiences for overseas guests. I really enjoy arranging and hosting these customized trips with Thanda Safari (my work place and home in South Africa) as the center piece of each program.

It started in September 2017 with a seven day photo safari. A lady from Switzerland wanted to learn wildlife photography properly and we had customized lessons every day using the Green Mamba 1 (my luxury photography vehicle) for the bush sessions. Bheki and I enjoyed this immensely and I am proud to say that my student wants to come back to Thanda Safari this year for additional advanced lessons.

Then followed a nine day program at Pakamisa and Thanda for a couple from Nashville. This was their first safari and they had a fabulous time on both reserves experiencing the African bush and learning about my way of doing wildlife photography. What a pleasure it was to host two people with such passion for wildlife.

In November I was the guide and photographer for a very special group (6 guests) from the USA. I had organized a 12 day trip to Ngala, Sabi Sabi, Pakamisa, Phinda and Thanda. The whole group was amazed about the variation in accommodation and surroundings and this extraordinary way to experience the African Wild.

And over New Year I was hosting a couple from Switzerland experiencing Thanda, Pakamisa and St.Lucia/iSimangaliso at the Serene Estate Boutique Guest House. It was their first safari trip  to some of the most stunning locations KwaZulu Natal has to offer. And I was having a good time taking all the pictures to document their stay.

This is a ‘two-pictures-a-day’ record of the last one of these trips. I  will also post pictures from all the other programs in the next few weeks. I hope you will enjoy the images and the stories. In case anyone is interested in one of my customized programs please send an email to info@sperka.com.


30 December 2017 – 10 January 2018

The first game drive from Thanda Safari Lodge.
An encounter with White Rhino.
Zebras at sunrise in exquisite morning light.
Hard tracking work to find a male Cheetah.
An incredible sunrise on New Year’s morning with the Lebombo Mountains as backdrop.
Observing this little one having a good scratch.
Having a photo session with Thanda Safari’s dominant male Lion.
Arriving at Pakamisa Private Game Reserve for horseback safaris, bush walking, clay pigeon shooting, superb food and relaxation.
Climbing the mountain behind the lodge for an exciting walk ending with drinks at sun down.
An day excursion to Ithala Game Reserve for fabulous scenery.
With some very special species – like this Secretary bird or …
… this Blue-cheeked Bee-eater.
Back at Pakamisa for the first horseback safari.
Exciting close encounters.
Off to St.Lucia to stay at the very unique Serene Estate Boutique Guest House.
Experiencing the iSimangaliso Wetland Park – first the west side with Waterbuck,
… Buffalo. and many other species.
And then the eastern shore with a bull Elephant as the highlight of the morning.
A stop at the beautiful beach at Cape Vidal for a first dip into the Indian Ocean.
With a few Monkeys to observe the picnic lunch near the beach.
Two (morning and an evening) Hippo and Croc tours on the estuary with Hippos, Crocodiles and …
… many bird species. These are mating Broad-billed Weavers.
A midday walk where the estuary meets the ocean with its formidable waves.
An incredible night safari with Chameleons, Porcupine, Hyena and grazing Hippos.
And a Monkey to send us on our way to Durban Airport on the last morning.

http://www.thanda.com

http://www.pakamisa.com

http://www.serene-estate.co.za

http://www.sperka.info

Lake St.Lucia boat tours and iSimangaliso night safari by http://www.shakabarker.co.za

In case you are interested here is the detailed agenda:

Thanda Safari Lodge
Day 1  (Arrival) – 30 Dec
– Evening game drive
– Dinner at the Thanda Safari Lodge
Day 2 – 31 Dec
– Morning game drive with a special Rhino conservation activity
– Evening game drive
– New Year’s Eve dinner at Thanda Safari Lodge
Day 3 – 1 Jan
– Morning game drive
– Thanda luxury spa experience
– Evening game drive
– Dinner at the Thanda Safari Lodge
Day 4 – 2 Jan
– Morning game drive
– Drive to …
Pakamisa Private Game Reserve
– Evening bush walk
– Dinner at the Pakamisa
Day 5 – 3 Jan
– Morning bush walk and stable visit
– Evening bush walk
– Dinner at the Pakamisa
Day 6 – 4 Jan
– Excursion to Ithala Game Reserve
Day 7 – 5 Jan
– Morning horseback safari
– Clay pigeon shooting
– Dinner at the Pakamisa
Day 8 – 6 Jan
– Morning horseback safari
– Drive at iSimangaliso Wetland Park (western shore) to
Serene Estate Boutique Guest House St.Lucia
– Dinner at Reef and Dune, St.Lucia (phone 035 590 1048)
ay 9 – 7 Jan
– Drive at iSimangaliso Wetland Park (eastern shore)
– Picnic lunch at Cape Vidal (Indian Ocean)
– Dinner at Ocean Basket, St.Lucia (phone 035 590 1241)
Day 10 – 8 Jan
– Morning boat cruise on Lake St.Lucia (Estuary)
– Sunset boat cruise on Lake St.Lucia (Estuary)
– Dinner at Reef and Dune St.Lucia
Day 11 – 9 Jan
– Morning to relax
– Lunch at St.Lucia Ski Boat Club (phone 035 590 1376 – 12-6:30pm only)
– Night safari in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Day 12 – 10 Jan (Departure)
– Transfer to Durban King Shaka International Airport

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year 2018

Thanda Safari’s Christmas blog post! Enjoy the pictures – Merry Christmas!

Thanda Safari

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our guests and friends around the world!

As the year 2017 comes to a close we thought we send you a ‘Thanda picture present’. Each of these twelve wildlife images was taken during a different month this year. Pick your favorite!

Thank you very much for following our blog.

Happy Holidays from the Thanda Safari Team

January – Rubbing an eye …

February – Paying attention …

March – Relaxed …

April – On the lookout …

May – Shy and rare …

June – Clean up crew …

July – Warm up in the sun …

August – Evening sun …

September – Tranquility …

October – Gone …

November – African sky …

December – Treats …

Pictures by Christian Sperka , Resident Wildlife Photographer, Thanda Safari

http://www.thanda.com #thandasafari #christiansperkaphotography

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I wish all my friends around the world a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

With my very best wishes from South Africa – Christian

PS: This is my favorite South African flower. It is from a Sickle Bush (Dichrostachys cinerea, known also Bell Mimosa, Chinese Lantern Tree or Kalahari Christmas Tree), which blooms around this time of the year. A true Christmas flower!

 

5 reserves and 30 images!

Another exciting month! It started with a 14 day tour through five game reserves (Timbavati, Sabi Sands, Pakamisa, Phinda and Thanda) and ended with another Art Project on Thanda.

I was extremely busy and my time to photograph wildlife was limited. Nevertheless I hope you will enjoy this collection.

PS: If you enjoy continuous updates about my work I recommend you follow me on Instagram where I post images almost daily! http://instagram.com/christiansperkaphotography

A little Elephant mock-charge was very exciting for my ‘first-time’ safari guests …
White Rhino cuddling …
Chatting up – Leopard style …
Ground Hornbills – a rare treat …
Protecting the kill …
On the move – African Wild Dogs …
A bit of warmth on a cold morning …
On horseback – There is no better way to experience Giraffes …
A visit to Zululand – local architecture …
A visit to Zululand – Local people …
My room at Phinda – with visitors …
With mum …
Just born …
Nest artists …
Having an eye on you …
Dwarf Mongoose – cute and shy …
Turtle and Hippo – The Oxpecker/Buffalo water team …
Vultures fighting over meat …
And Hyenas fighting, too …
Showing off …
Cute, small and fast …
Bateleur – my favorite eagle …
What a view at lunch …
Close up …
Rhino ops …
He is a beauty and he knows it …
The Lebombo Mountains …
On my way to work!
Rolling on …
… and last but not least … Elephants during light rain …

That is it. I hope you enjoyed the show!

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