A Photographer’s Heaven
Published in the Summer 2013 Issue of Canadian World Traveller
By Gloria Price Pickett
From the expansive wilderness of Kruger National Park to the heart-pounding excitement of a safari; from the extreme serenity of the Cape Town coast where the Atlantic and Indian oceans kiss to the expressive majesty of Victoria Falls – South Africa is a photographer’s heaven.
In 2009, I traveled with my husband on his dream trip of a lifetime: a big game safari in South Africa. Two years later, Wilford passed away, unexpectedly. This year, for my 80th birthday, my children surprised me with the gift of a photo safari to the same area Wilford and I had previously traveled with another couple. Our friend and guide, South Africa native Meville du Plessis, organized both trips.
This year, we started our journey by walking among 64 full size bronze wagons at Rorke’s Drift and Blood River, site of a notorious 1879 battle between the Zulus and the British.
Later that afternoon, we arrived at Ezulwini Game Lodge – an architectural blend of indigenous tradition and modern luxury surrounded by deep woods and a lush pineapple grove. On the ground, Ezulwini Lodge is surrounded by land that hosts “the Big Seven” – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, rhino, hippo and crocodile. Above the lodge’s thatched roofs, stars and the moon hang like royal jewels on the black velvet neck of night.
Here, guests dine on farm-to fork gourmet meals and sit around communal campfires after dessert to share stories of the days’ sightings. In our case, we told about a hungry giraffe nibbling leaves plus a trio of the spotted beauties sitting bent-legged close by, as if waiting to be served. Bird watchers reported having spotted over 300 species. Meanwhile, monkeys spying from nearby treetops surprised us by jumping into our laps.
Other stops on our itinerary included:
Hlwhluwe Park Game Reserve
Originally a royal hunting ground for the Zulu kingdom, it is the oldest natural park in South Africa and is home to the largest population of white rhino in the world.
Kruger National Park
Bordering Botswana, this 5 million-acre preserve is home to more than 8,000 animals and 340 species of birds. The legendary Singita Lodges, perched like a collection of eagles’ nest along the rugged cliffs above the N’wanetsi River, offer luxurious serenity after a day of wilderness adventure. Here, zebra graze close enough you can count their eyelashes through a camera lens. Elephants saunter in lazy riverbeds. Lions pop out of the bush like rabbits from a magician’s hat. And a symphony of birds accompanies the wildlife panorama.
Mel du Plessis, owner’ of Antelope for Africa Safaris, is licensed by the South Africa Department of Nature Conservation. A registered tour operator, Du Plessis is a life-member of Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA), and is recipient of the Coonrad Vermaak award for distinguished service to PHASA and the hunting industry.