Monday, October 21, 2013

Mashatu Workshop - Mike Dexter

At the end of all safaris there are some sightings or moments which stand out from the rest. The recent Mashatu workshop was a little different in that each instant smudged into the next; a hotchpotch of memorable imagery, a truly extraordinary experience.

The road to Mashatu Tent Camp is long, rocky and hot. More picturesque areas of the reserve will be explored later. For now the promise of four exhilarating days of idyllic game viewing in one of the largest private game reserves in Africa will have to keep you motivated as you pass through the dry mopane veld.
A shepherd tree leans over the road. In the tree is a small leopard cub which changes everything. We are no longer on our way to Mashatu, we have arrived.

24 hours and 2 game drives later we have had another four leopard sightings. In trees, in river beds, walking, sleeping, yawning, stretching and posing, they bared all for our cameras and by brunch on the first morning there were smiles all around.

I have mixed feelings about lions. They can be murderously boring, frighteningly impressive or gracefully regal. The trait you witness comes down to timing and luck. A pride of 11 (2 lionesses and 9 youngsters) caught and killed a wildebeest bull. We arrived only moments after they had begun to devour their prey. Feeding lions provides a full sensory experience. The sounds, guttural, aggressive and primal accompany the powerful visuals that leave nothing to the imagination.

We returned to the wildebeest carcass 24 hours later. The lions had moved on and in their place was a frenzy of jackals heckling for the prime remains and a hyena crushing bones for the nutritious marrow within.

The young of most species are adorable and baby hyenas, although a member of the ‘Ugly 5’, are no exception. At one den we have counted 9 pups of different ages. They are relaxed, curious, bold and playful; a collection of adjectives that add up to wonderful wildlife images and an overall special experience.

Writing up a summary of this trip is very difficult. I can’t cover it all and yet there’s nothing undeserving of mention. I can’t do it justice with words so I hope that the images will do a better job.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We had an incredible photographic safari with Mike as our guide. Thanks for the memories and some great images (which I am close to finished editing). Will post some soon!