It has been a while …

It has been a while since I wrote my last blog post. As some of you know I was in Europe for a few weeks – for my dad’s 80th birthday – and when I returned I was very busy with one of my Custom Luxury Tours. On Friday, 28 June 2019, I got the very welcome news that my permanent residence permit for South Africa was granted. The message reached me just as I took this picture of a Kudu bull posing in front of the setting sun. I will never forget that moment!

Now I am home on Thanda and back at blogging …

I thought you might also enjoy some of my favorite pictures I took since my last post in May.

A Madagascar Day Gecko at the Zurich Zoo …
A Jellyfish at the Basel Zoo Aquarium …
Young idiots providing enrichment for the Lions at Basel Zoo …
My American friend’s first ride on Pakamisa …
A Pakamisa baby Giraffe having a drink …
A Thanda Elephant getting the best out of a branch …
Two of my best friends got married at Thanda Safari on 19 June (also my birthday 🙂 – It was a dream wedding on a beautiful winter day.
Imaging you walking down the road and this is your oncoming traffic …
Being part of a Rhino de-horning operation on Thanda as wedding present? It works if the bride is a veterinarian 🙂
A rare daytime sighting at iSimangaliso Wetland Park: A Black Rhino …
Grey-headed Gulls at Cape Vidal …
Beach ride at St.Lucia …
An Indian Ocean sunrise at St.Lucia …
A Livingstone’s Turaco at the broad walk on iSimangaliso West …
Spotted from my dinner table at a restaurant in St.Lucia – Hippos roam the streets for the little two every night …
And last but not least one of my favorite images of the bride and the groom enjoying an African sunset during the creative photo shoot after the wedding ceremony …

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The year in twelve pictures!

It seems that the years go faster the older I get. But my mother tells me that is the ‘modern’ world around me going faster and faster. Be that as it may, this busy year went by very quickly.

Here are 12 pictures. One for each month as a reminder of an interesting and eventful time.

I wish all of you a Happy New Year 2019!

In January I took this picture of a Secretary bird during a visit to Ithala Game Reserve. One of my favourite national parks in KwaZulu Natal.

On 19 February we had over 100 mm of rain and the Thanda House waterhole was full to the rim. In my over six years at Thanda I had never seen so much water!

I call March the month of the Lions. All North pride females presented their litters to the world and all the sudden we had 10 new Lion cubs!

One of my favourite subjects to photograph are White Rhinos on the Thanda Safari savanna. I really like this shot taken in April. The savanna was still quite green at the time.

It is always very existing when a herd of Elephants appears around a corner and one has to practice driving backwards to get out of their way. On this day in May the herd was in a hurry to get to a waterhole. And so was I!

Chewing the cud. This Giraffe was supplementing its body with calcium and phosphorous from an old bone by chewing on it. This picture was taken in June, one of the winter month when this behaviour can often be observed.

I love the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Lake St.Lucia. A boat cruise on a day in July presented many opportunities to take pictures of sparring Hippos.

Thanks again to many of you around the world who help me supporting Inkanyiso Creche in one of our local communities. In August I delivered a first batch of goodies (tables, games, pictures, …). More will follow in the new year!

A visit to Tembe Elephant Park is always worthwhile. In September I had the opportunity to visit again and I got some great Elephant and Buffalo images.

October: A bit of hanky-panky in spring. The most natural thing in the world. Making new Zebras! Note the Buffalo in the background watching with interest.

Baby animals are always cute, but little Hyena puppies win this year’s price for cuteness. Since November we had many sightings of them around their den.

Summer rains have started properly and the savanna is turning green again. Our new Cheetah males love the open areas which they share with many species. In this December image Zebras, Impalas and Rhinos are posing in the background for this Cheetah portrait.

And in case you would like to view more of my 2018 pictures just have a look at my images on Instagram – www.instagram.com/christiansperkaphotography

I will now take a few days off relaxing at Pakamisa Private Game Reserve.

I will be back in 2019 with more pictures from Thanda Safari and many other places in the South African Wild.

www.sperka.com | www.thanda.com

Ten Crazy Weeks

The last ten weeks have been by far the busiest since my arrival in South Africa over six years ago. They were exciting, interesting and exhausting.

But there was no time for blogging. Nevertheless here are my twenty favorite images from this period. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

No kidding – that sign is appropriate! | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28-300mm L
A Cheetah chasing an Impala – taken during a photo shoot game drive at a Thanda Wedding in August | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
An aerial image of a painting session in the bush. Johan Falkman, a painter from Sweden, started his three month residency at Thanda Safari’s Intibane Lodge | Drone DJI Phanton IV Pro
Mariana Venter (Thanda Wildlife Manager) opens the cage for a new Cheetah lady arriving at Thanda | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
A happy day – I delivered my first set of goodies to the Inkanyiso Creche | iPhone 7 Plus
One of many images from a multi-day photo shoot at Thanda Tented Camp | Drone DJI Phanton IV Pro
A most pleasant site inspection – Thonga Beach Lodge – A fabulous place | Drone DJI Phanton IV Pro
An afternoon of relaxation at my favorite hide at Mkuze Game Reserve – Bird, birds, birds … | Canon 1D Mark – f2.8 – 300mm L
Photo shoot at Tembe Elephant Park – one of my favorite National Parks | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28-300mm
My favorite image from a two day safari with friends from Richards Bay | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
Zulu Mamas providing entertainment for a group of guests from The Netherlands – what a rare occasion to be able to take pictures of the ladies at daylight | Canon 1D Mark IV – f2.8 – 70-200mm
A few game drives with a Media Group from South Africa – The male Lions ‘performed’ beautifully | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
With a Pakamisa riding and photo group at the beach in St.Lucia – I love the place | Canon 1D Mark IV – f2.8 – 70- 200mm
The busiest week ever – I was hosting a film team at Thanda for seven days to take footage for a new brand film – these are some of the models – three Humans and a Lion | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
A community visit to my favorite homestead – the ‘master of the house’ explaining his daily schedule to the guests | iPhone 7 Plus
And another Media Group – this time from the UK – our Lions were most impressive | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
Two new male Cheetahs on the reserve – the coalition is doing well | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
Our older Cheetah male vocalizing as he met the new-comers – they went their separate ways – no harm done | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
Rutting in October – these Impala males were sparring and fighting at the wrong time of the year 🙂 | Canon 1D Mark IV – f2.8 – 300mm L
And last my favorite shot of them all – Dung Beetles at work – burrowing their ball in the ground – gone in five minutes – macro photography from a distance 🙂 | Canon 1D Mark IV – f4 – 500mm L

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#christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

This week in pictures …

Bee-Eater | Flight | Sun | Set | Walk | Owl | Moon | Rise

One picture per day …

Monday: White-fronted Bee-Eater | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f4 – 500mm L
Tuesday: Giraffe Males fighting | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f4 – 500mm L
Wednesday: Elephant Male on a sunny day | iPhone 7 Plus
Thursday: Sunset @ Thanda | iPhone 7 Plus
Friday: Lion family walking | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28-300mm L
Saturday: Marsh Owl | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28-300mm L
Sunday: Male Lion under a full moon | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28-300mm L
Extra: Sunrise @ Thanda Canon 1 D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28-300mm L

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

http://www.sperka.com

#christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

This week in pictures …

Luxury – Surfing – Cleopatra – Gourmets – Giants – Tsessebe – Dung – Flowers – Giraffe

One picture per day …

Sunday: Pure luxury on the Indian Ocean – The Oysterbox Hotel in Umhlanga – https://www.oysterboxhotel.com/ | iPhone 7 Plus
Monday: A rooms with a view – Watching surfers from my room at The Oysterbox | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f4 – 500mm L
Tuesday: What a nose 🙂 – Cleopatra Mountain in the Drakensberg | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f4 – 500mm L
Wednesday: A gourmet’s delight – Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse – https://www.cleopatramountain.com/ | iPhone 7 Plus
Thursday: Egyptian Geese in front of the Giants Castle mountain chain | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f4 – 500mm L
Friday: Running Tsesebe at iSimangaliso Wetland Park | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f4 – 500mm L
Saturday: Dung Beetles at work | iPhone 7 Plus
Sunday: A Scarlet-chested Sunbird feeding on a Sausage Tree flower at Pakamisa – http://www.pakamisa.co.za/ | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f4 – 500mm L
Extra: Resting Giraffe at Pakamisa – http://www.pakamisa.co.za/ | Canon 1 D Mark IV – f4 – 500mm L

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

http://www.sperka.com

#christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

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

Amazing Camouflage …

Today I had a great sighting of a Vine Snake at Pakamisa Private Game Reserve. This small specimen was quite relaxed and made for an excellent photo model :-).

Slight excitement …
Getting a taste …
Moving around …
Amazing camouflage …

Pictures 1/2/3 – taken with a Canon 1D Mark IV and a 28-300mm lens
Pictures 4/5 – taken with an iPhone 7Plus

http://www.sperka.com

Not the five!

What a week!

Last weekend I was very busy in the office and teaching photography at Thanda. On Monday I went to Pongola to get my car serviced and for a short visit to Pakamisa. On Tuesday and Wednesday I ran errands in Durban where a met a very cute puppy dog. Yesterday and today I played again catch-up in the office.

But, I still got a bit of photography done. At Pakamisa I took some pictures of Isabella working with one of her horses and at the Thanda House Waterhole (next to my home) I got some good pictures of Elephants, of Giraffes and of a young Lioness. I also shot some good-bye pictures of our young male Lion, who will leave the reserve soon for a new home. And in between I posted one of my favorite Leopard shots (taken in 2006) on Facebook.

So, here is my week in pictures. Enjoy them and the weekend 🙂

PS: As a bonus I added a short Thanda Elephants video – four times the regular speed!