What a superb week's safari we enjoyed in the true soulful wilderness of Northern Kruger. A wild untouched world of wonder awaited us as we followed the ancient elephant paths north of Letaba.
The end of the dry season is the time to be up there as the massive buffalo herds congragate and kick up dust around the last remaining permanent water sources.
Lion sightings were a real highlight, especially in the Shingwedzi area where pressure and competition for food brought different prides into the same area along the river. Consistent roaring every night and even into the day was the sound of war over precious turf.
These images are of a distressed lioness and her surviving cub, her other cubs possibly victims of the dominant males in the area. This little one was not giving up and was growling his young defiance of the situation, with the protection of mom of course!
Protective mother looking back towards the danger, with her cub growling his defiance!
The giant riverine trees lining the Shingwedzi river provided a breathtaking backdrop and created this bright green reflection of one of the lionesses pausing for a drink.
Northern Kruger is so much about the solitude and the feeling of true wilderness as well the unique species that can be found up there in the domain of the Big Tuskers.
A big old boy well and truly caked in mud after his wallow, I don't think he could even see where he was going...not that anything in it's right mind would stand in his path anyway!
A Big Tusker showing off his impressive ivory.
We enjoyed very special sightings of the more unusual animals to be found up in the north, including this shy Sharpe’s Grysbok, suckling Tsessebe calf and Side Striped Jackal.
One the specials of the region north of Letaba, the diminutive Sharpe's Grysbok.
Nursing the next generation of Tsessebe.
The more elusive of Jackal species found in Kruger due to their preference for more dense woodland habitiat.
For the birders there were some phenomenal sightings of the larger predatory birds.
A male ground hornbill proudly carries his "present" of nesting material for the lucky female.
The proud display of a male kori bustard showing off below the Lebombo moutains.
The "houdini" of the bush, a perfectly camouflaged African Scops Owl
We are used to seeing leopards feeding on their kills in trees... a Bateleur is here enjoying the spoils of an impala kill deserted by the spotted cat in an ancient Leadwood. Not the greatest image due to distance and low light but great behaviour to see.
A proud African Hawk Eagle with his Spurfowl kill...again light very low and image is grainy but what an unusual kill to see!
If looks could kill, this Yellow Billed Oxpecker has developed the attitude of his grumpy host.
Finally...no Safari is completed without the spotted cats. They are a little more elusive in the north but with a little work one can be rewarded. This young male cub, probably around 10 months of age gave us a brief view before slinking off. He was most likely waiting for mom to return and take him to one of her kills.