2014 AUGUST - Nkaya Pan - Kruger's Best ?

I first visited the Kruger National Park with my family in 1983 - since then a lot of things have changed as far as the tourist elements are concerned, but the park still remains the flagship of the South African National Parks and a conservation success story. Set aside to conserve ALL the species found within the park, we often complain that we cannot drive off road, there are not enough tourist roads in some areas and the congestion at Cat sightings can be annoying.

However we quickly forget that this park was set up to preserve the different habitats and the animals that call it home. We are visitors to their world and they really can and do what they want to do when they want to.  If the animals have enough of the tourist vehicles they simply walk away from the road for some peace and quiet - I am sure a lot of animals in other parks would love to be able to get away when they wanted to.

Despite the seemingly strict rules and regulations of the park, it still produces amazing sightings and photo opportunities. You sometimes have to share these with a number of other people, but on many occasions we have been alone at some wonderful sightings. It also depends on where you stay in the park. The southern section is busier, but if you stay on the eastern side at Lower Sabie Camp for example then the early mornings are usually rather quiet.

I have always said that the Kruger National Park is not the greatest place to photograph the cats as you are not able to follow them off road as you can in some of the well controlled private game reserves. However it is not all about the cats !! there are plenty of other animals in the park to keep your camera happy.

A favourite time for me is when the animals are drawn to water during the dry months - from June to October. Sitting at a waterhole and waiting for the animals to come to you is most enjoyable.

Nkaya pan south of Satara Camp in central Kruger is one of the best places to wait for animals during the dry months. Encircled by some fairly thick bush, this pan offers a surprise factor second to none. On one occasion last year we sat at the pan enjoying our breakfast with nothing in sight when suddenly we saw a few Cape Buffalo break out from the bush into the open. They were the pathfinders of a mega herd of around 500 animals all hoping to quench their thirst at Nkaya ! Before we knew it we were surrounded and the Buffalo took over the pan like ants on a honey sandwich !

Within a space of a couple of hours we photographed Cape Buffalo, White Rhino, Elephant, Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala, Crocodiles Warthog, Giraffe and a number of water birds.

The light at the pan is very good in the morning and fairly good in the afternoon too. It is always worth stopping at the pan at anytime.

If the conditions are right and there is still water in the pan during late July, August and September then this place is a mecca for thirsty animals.

Here are a few photos taken at Nkaya Pan and I am sure we will be back there this year too.

Photo taken with my iphone on panorama mode.
This was the massive herd of Buffalo that seemingly came from nowhere

When Cape Buffalo are thirsty they wade right into the water with little care or concern about Crocodiles. Other animals do this too. The undisturbed water is better to drink than the churned up muddy water they leave in their wake.

shot info: Canon 5Dmk3 500mm f4 lens
1/500 sec @ f8 ISO 640 - Manual mode
time: 15:28
August 2013

An angry resident Hippo shows his disapproval towards these unwanted guests

shot info: Canon 1Dmk4 70-200mm f2.8 lens
1/640 sec @ f5.6 ISO 800
time: 15:49
August 2013

Cape Buffalo Bulls trying to assert their dominance over each other
shot info: Canon 5Dmk3 500mm f4 lens
1/800 sec @ f8 ISO 320
time: 10:08
August 2013

An Impala Ram jumping. It is often the case when one jumps then the rest will follow, so always be ready if you see this behaviour.

shot info: Canon 1Dmk4 70-200mm f2.8 lens
1/2500 sec @ f5.6 ISO 800
time: 11:11
August 2013

One afternoon a herd of Elephants melted out of the bush and drank from Nkaya Pan

shot info: Canon 5Dmk3 500mm f4 lens
1/400 sec @ f8 ISO 640
time: 15:28
August 2013

An adult female Elephant is not very happy with an adolescent Bull

shot info: Canon 5Dmk3 500mm f4 lens
1/400 sec @ f6.3 ISO 800
time: 15:52
August 2013

A Warthog forages along the edge of Nkaya Pan looking for fresh roots. A very patient Hammerkop waits to pounce on any frogs that are disturbed by the Warthog

shot info: Canon 5Dmk3 500mm f4 lens
1/2000 sec @ f8 ISO 640
time: 10:57
August 2013

A Grey Heron standing on the back of a Hippo. The Herons have learned to use the back of the Hippo  like a rock where they have a good vantage point over the water surrounding the Hippo which is often full of fish and frogs.

shot info: Canon 5Dmk3 500mm f4 lens
1/1600 @ f8 ISO 640
time: 13:29
August 2013

A White Rhino visits Nkaya Pan

The Blue Wildebeest will often follow Zebra to drink

A herd of Zebra arrives at Nkaya Pan

Wading out into the water this Zebra offered a great reflection photo as it drank from the Pan.

Four species in one shot - Crocodile on the rock, Elephant, Impala and Giraffe

Look out for next months post titled "SAMBURU, KENYA - LIONESS CHASES GERENUK"

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Stu, always fun to see my favorite pan...