Cold and Bliss

The morning game drive was very quiet. The cold morning air combined with wind had driven most animals into thick bush. But we had an early morning sighting of this juvenile Bateleur (Eagle). His puffed up feathers suggest that he was a bit cold!

He is at the stage where his plumage turns from the brownish colors of the juvenile bird to the black, brown and white design of the the adult. The morning drive ended with a Cheetah sighting on the savanna.

In the afternoon we saw a herd of Buffalo, White Rhinos and an Elephant Bull. This young Rhino bull was part of a crash of seven animals. I enjoyed his facial expression and his groans when he gave himself a good scratch – Pure Bliss.

A working day in the bush!

How does the average working day of a Special Photography Guide, Photography Teacher and Wildlife Photographer at Thanda Private Game Reserve look like?

My (winter-)day starts at 5:00am. I prepare my Land Rover for the day and I leave Thanda House at 5:45am to drive to the Intebane Camp to pick up the African Impact Volunteers. The drive to the camp takes about 25 minutes. In the cool winter month I am fully awake by the time I arrive at the camp (as the car has neither roof nor windows – a chilly affair).

At 6:30am we leave for game drive and return at 9:30am back to the camp for breakfast. After a few pieces of toast I usually drive back to Thanda House. Until lunch time I work in my office on the computer (picture and video editing, email, …). Sometimes I give lessons for guests either at the Thanda Lodge or the Thanda Tented Camp or sometimes I bring my Land Rover to the workshop.

For lunch I go either to the canteen (a 10 minute drive if there are no “Elephant road blocks”) or I have something small at my place at Thanda House.

In the afternoon I either continue my work in the office or I go out to drive on the reserve to take pictures by myself (and am still learning the road system :-). At 3:00pm I have to be back at the Intebane Camp for the evening game drive. We return at 6:00pm just in time for dinner. From time to time I drive to the local pub (called “Baobab”) or to the Mukze Cricket Club for a good steak 🙂

After dinner I return to Thanda House and usually end up back in my office for picture editing and blogging (like for this one :-). After a quick shower I am usually in bed by 9:30pm.

In the summer month the schedule will change a lot as we go out earlier on drive and return later. I probably will have to add a “lunch siesta in the bush” not to end up with sleep depravation.

On the weekends I either drive myself on the reserve for wildlife photography or I go to one of the neighboring Public Game Reserves to take pictures and videos. Occasionally I help out on weekends as guide at the Lodge or at the Tented Camp and teach photography if requested.

If love photogaphy, I love teaching and I love the wildlife in its natural environment. I am home 🙂 and I love my work!

PS: I thought I add one of my favorite Zebra pictures to the blog message for the animal lovers that are not interested in my working day 🙂

Research Volunteers

Today I drove the African Impact Research Volunteers. This group of volunteers works on various animal research projects.

We set out when the morning mist was still lying over Thanda. The morning started well when we saw two Spotted Hyenas in the Thanda hills. We then viewed two Cheetahs and ended the morning with documenting the encounter of four of Thanda’s Elephant bulls.

In the afternoon I wanted to find some White Rhinos and I found them at a small waterhole :-). The waterhole has almost dried up. In a matter of days all the water will have gone from this watering-place.

Afterwards we looked for the collared male lion (see yesterday’s blog). We were able to locate him with telemetry, but he was in very thick bush, so we could not view him. We then took sunset shots at the largest of our waterholes and on the way home we saw a small Black-backed Jackal calling at sunset.

Another beautiful day in the bush!

Battle at Thanda

If you ever have seen the YouTube video “Battle at Kruger” here are images of a similar scenario at Thanda Private Game Reserve.

The actors in the drama were a herd of Buffalo, a Buffalo calf, a male Lion and an Elephant bull.



It all started with the herd of Buffalo drinking at a waterhole. A young Buffalo calf had an injury above its left front leg which seem to have resulted in an infection. The calf could no longer follow the herd when they were ready to leave the waterhole.

Its cries for help attracted a male Lion who came to investigate. When he attacked the calf the Buffalo herd returned to the waterhole to defend the calf. The lion ran off.

The herd tried to leave again, but the calf – now also injured from the lion attack – could not follow. The Lion moved in again without actually making contact with the calf. This is my first picture as I arrived on the scene at this stage – the Assistant Wildlife Manager – Mariana – was already on the scene.

The herd drove the Lion off again.

And now an bull Elephant arrived at the waterhole to have a drink. He first ignored the calf now lying on the ground. At this stage I had to leave, so the following pictures are thanks to Mariana, who continued operating my camera in my absence (Excellent job – thanks!)

The lion tried to move in again, but the Elephant now drove him off. The Buffalo returned and guarded the calf for a while with the Elephant watching.

Only after all Buffalos and the Elephant had left the scene did the Lion return. He then carried away the carcass into thick bush.

The most amazing thing for me was that the small calf faced the lion and did not try to run away – a true Buffalo!

Below is a picture of the calf with its mother, which I took four days ago. At that stage the wound was visible, but the calf was still fully mobile.

A bit sad, but this is nature at work!

No more!

thought a nice title for this picture would be “No more”.

It appears that this young male Lion was hiding his eyes from the world, when in fact he was flicking away some flies from his nose.

I also caught this beautiful Giraffe pose in front of the setting sun.

Have a good week!

My Workplace :-)

No blog yesterday!

I was very busy all day and we had a bush dinner which lasted until late in the evening. So I went straight to bed with no blogging 🙂

This weekend I will be helping out in the Lodge driving guests for tonight and tomorrow. Another bush dinner and another late night!

This morning a did a short drive with two 11-year-old kids, the daughter of one of the Thanda managers and one of her friends. We enjoyed our drive with Buffalos, general game and many birds. The two youngster especially enjoyed the rough ride of the Land Rover through some drainage lines :-).

Quite a few people have asked me about my workplace. So here is a picture of my Land Rover “cockpit” with my cameras, binoculars, GPS navigation system, bean bags and my accessory box between the seats. There is also room for my little notebook in which I take down all important sightings of each game drive.

Jabulani, Drongo and the Sun

Jabulani, one of the large Elephant bulls on Thanda came quite close to the car today. I had positioned the car just off his path when he was walking away from a waterhole, where he had his evening drink.

I love bird photography! When I was having a bit of a rest on the porch of the Intebane Lodge (This is the place where all the volunteers stay), I took this picture of a Fork-tailed Drongo enjoying the aloe fruits. The orange on his beak is pollen from the aloe.

And another beautiful sunset in South Africa 🙂

Crash and Pain

Another day with a lot of beginner’s luck. I set out with my group of volunteers this afternoon and the consent was that they all wanted to see Rhinos. One of my fellow guides suggested to look in an area around a waterhole with quite thick bush.

We found some Rhino middens (piles of dung) along the roads. These usually mark the boundary of a Rhino’s territory. We drove around for about an hour and found no fresh tracks, but we were very lucky and turned around a corner to meet a crash of six White Rhinos. We watched the beautiful creatures for over an hour and followed them to the waterhole, where they had their evening drink.

After we left the sighting we ran into a herd of Buffalo. The two males in the picture were sparring. It looked quite painful!

Another hard day in Africa 🙂


Well, normally it is the Thanda guests that have some nice drinks in the bush at sunset. But today we were very lucky to see an Elephant breeding herd having their drinks at the largest waterhole on Thanda just before the sun set.

This evening’s game drive was excellent. First we saw six Elephant bulls feeding and sparring. Then two male Cheetahs made their appearance – being disturbed by the bulls – and at the end we saw the breeding herd crossing the savanna ending up at the waterhole.

What a day 🙂


No Elephants and a Beautiful Bird

I tried to find Elephants today, but I was not successful (= bush frustration :-). In the evening we found tracks and knew in which block they were, but they did not emerge before we had to leave (as all light was gone).

For my picture collection it was a good day. I added a new bird to my bird list and my picture library. It is of a Common (Greater) Scimitarbill, a beautiful bird with fluorescent colors.