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

Eight weeks …

This is a selection of pictures documenting my work for the last eight weeks. I has been busy and interesting. I hope you will enjoy this picture collection 🙂

Bheki and I taking a selfie with Elephants …
Afternoon drinks at the waterhole …
Thanda House dam with morning mist …
Vulture take-off …
Thanda Safari’s newest Cheetah lady in front of my home (Thanda House) …
A very pleasant surprise – one of my picture on the title page of the Leading Hotels of the World 2019 Hotel Directory …
A rare sighting – this Lioness killed a Wildebeest right in front of my vehicle …
I love Hyenas – I think they are beautiful …
A second new Cheetah arrived at Thanda Safari and got a full physical exam …
Not really! The small Lion cubs had to give up their ‘hunt’ – the White Rhinos were a bit big for them – The Lion mothers watched the scene bemused from a distant …
The largest antelope on Thanda Safari – Kudus …
What a sighting – this female Leopard posted for a close-up …
Showing our guests a scorpion – Bheki finds them – I ‘host’ them for the show and tell 🙂 …
Having a nap on the dinner while the family is having dinner …
Strong colors – Violet-backed Starling bathing ….
Giraffes after Sunset …
Just too cute – a tiny baby Hyena …
Inspection – A female Village Weaver (left) inspecting the nest of a potential mate …
A bit of drone work – birds eye pictures of Thanda Safari properties from the air …
Funny chicks – Small Ostriches at Pakamisa Private Game Reserve …
Almost a dance – a Zebra fight …
My favorite picture of the last few weeks – A Black -Rhino hosting an Oxpecker …

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

This week in pictures …

Off Time – Pakamisa – Sunbirds – Ndumo – Ostriches – Relax

One picture per day …

Sunday – Ready for another day at Thanda …
Monday – Looking forward to a week at Pakamisa – this heaven for horses – where dogs are spoiled – and humans are tolerated 🙂 www.pakamisa.com
Tuesday – Scarlet-chested Sunbird photography – a birthday treat …
Wednesday – First time at Ndumo Game Reserve – I like it … – Read more at https://sperka.info/2018/06/22/nudomo-game-reserve-a-birders-paradise/
Thursday – Ostriches at the end of the day – and what a day …
Friday – My favorite bird picture of the week – a White-bellied Sunbird having a feast …
Saturday – On the way home – The Aloes are blooming …

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

36 days – 36 pictures!

36 days and 36 pictures! This is a picture record of one of the busiest times I ever had since I came to South Africa.

My very popular Green Mamba 1 (Specialized Luxury Photography Vehicle) and all my other responsibilities on and off  Thanda left me very little time to blog. So here is a nice long update. And as always more pictures than words!

Enjoy your upcoming weekend!

A young bull for the first time in musth – very confused and a bit aggressive …
A rescued young Genet to be released into the wild …
The stride of the North pride …
Impressive tusks on one of Thanda’s oldest bulls …
Bronze Mannikin – a new species for my bird list …
Horses approaching – a Pakamisa Ostrich gets out of the way …
Very shy – I call them the ‘back-side-antelopes’ because that is usually the only picture I can get – Red Duiker …
They love the layer under the bark …
Close to mum …
Elephant parade on Thanda …
About to go hunting …
Close up and personal …
Colorful and cold …
Not one of the big five – but my favorite antelope – Nyala …
Hyena laughter at Thanda Safari Lodge …
Alert …
Leopard stand-in – This young Cheetah male posed on a tree – as I had not seen a Leopard for quite a while he must have thought that someone had to take over the ‘cat in a tree’ job …
A photo shoot at Pakamisa …
The sun was gone as the bulls started fighting …
The little Lioness was very scared when the young male chased her away from ‘his’ kill …
An awesome sighting – Elephants on the move …
Majestic – A Kudu bull …
Full speed along the beach – a special excursion during a Pakamisa holiday …
Little Hippo out of the water during the day – a rare sighting …
Ellies in the evening sun …
One of my favorites – Black Rhino during drizzling rain …
Get the ticks please …
Just after sunrise …
Mating Lions …
A perfect evening for a drink stop …
The Blood Lilys are out – summer is here …
One of my favorite Giraffe shots, ever …
A good hair day …
Incredible skies …
Having a drink…

That is it. I hope you enjoyed the show!

http://www.thanda.com
http://www.pakamisa.com
http://www.sperka.info
http://www.sperka.biz

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!