Words and Images by Johan Kloppers.
In 2012 the PSSA National Congress was hosted at Club Mykonos, Langebaan. Cameron Ewart-Smith from Getaway very kindly presented a sponsored C4 Images and Safaris, four-day Photographic Workshop Safari to Mashatu as one of the prizes at the congress. I just could not believe my luck when my panel of 5 images won the top prize. I must say that I was overwhelmed with joy. My biggest frustration was the time that I had to wait before taking up the prize.
I was asked to get in touch with C4 Images and Safaris to confirm my booking. From the very first minute I was so impressed with the absolute professional and friendly way in which things were conducted. Minette van den Berg was outstanding in sending all relevant information through and her follow up to make sure that there was nothing missing. It immediately gave one such confidence that one is dealing with a company that knows exactly what they are doing.
The day eventually arrived for us to be met by the very friendly people from Mashatu at the border at Pont Drift. After about a 45 minute drive we arrived at the Mashatu Tented camp and welcomed again by the friendly staff from Mashatu. After a short briefing we were shown to our various tents. The accommodation was absolutely magnificent and made one immediately felt at home. The hospitality experienced was overwhelming and warm. After a short rest and high tea we went on our first game drive and what an experience it was. To have outstanding sightings of lions and leopard on your first game drive was really mind blowing and so it also proved to be on all the game drives that followed. The drivers and game trackers were really amazing, their knowledge of the environment and wildlife was really outstanding. We were taken very close to the subjects we were about to photograph and it was done with such care as not to upset any of the animals. Very important was the positioning of the vehicles for the correct angles of the light.
One of the biggest attractions at Mashatu was the Elephant hide where it is possible to photograph elephants standing just a few meters away. This was maybe one of the most spectacular and exiting experiences in my more than 40 years of photography. Then most important was Isak Pretorius and Mike Dexter. These two gentlemen were absolutely outstanding and also their knowledge and insight were very impressive. As mentioned I have been involved in photography for many years and can regard myself as experienced, and listening to Isak and Mike as they teach and helped the other less experienced photographers getting their exposures and camera settings right showed that they were in good hands.
I have in the past been to many game parks and one could always regard yourself as very lucky if you could after a trip bring back home 4 or maybe 5 real winners, but on this outing I have more than 50 great shots and that due to the fact that we have been with C4 images and Safaris, people who know their trade to the fullest.
It was indeed a sad moment when after 4 very inspiring days we had to say goodbye to all those wonderful people who helped to make this dream of going to Mashatu come true. There was the old saying: “See Venice and die” then came Laurence Green and said: “Not before you have seen Port St Johns” and I will even go further and say: “as a wildlife photographer not before you have experienced the magic of the Elephant Hide at Mashatu”
Again I would like to thank C4 Images and Safaris for hosting such a wonderful and inspiring experience. You have certainly changed my life forever.
Thank You, Johan Kloppers. FPSSA, APSSA(Vers) PSSA Regional Director, Western Cape.