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Magic of Africa – 2017 Trip Report

There is nothing quite like photographing wildlife in Africa, in-person and up-close. I am very lucky to be able to lead professional photography safaris to Africa and this year’s trip during Africa’s fall season proved to be absolutely spectacular. Our destinations were Mashatu Private Game Reserve in Botswana and MalaMala Game Reserve in South Africa. One night in Joburg, 4 nights at Mashatu and 3 nights at MalaMala. If you want GREAT wildlife photos, these are must do destinations. Take a look at the photos and experiences we shared.

Mashatu Private Game Reserve, Botswana

Mashatu has underground hides where you can photograph wildlife at the water’s eye level. For those who are not exactly sure what I mean by that, watch these quick videos to see the incredible experience and photographic opportunities we had!


Our first morning in the hide, there were over a hundred elephants of all ages that came to get a drink of water. The second morning in the hide, there were nearly 90 elephants who came. We also had kudu, impala, warthog and a long list of birds that visited the water hole.

In the hide at the water hole at Mashatu before the action started. 

Young elephant chasing off the warthogs from the water hole at Mashatu; no doubt who won!

Impala patterns as they are lined up at the water hole at Mashatu

This elephant was a little agitated with us being at the water hole. We were in the process of leaving the hide at Mashatu when she surprised us with her arrival and she did not want to wait for her drink of water. I was waiting in the hide for my turn to go to the vehicle and was able to fire off a few clicks while she showed off her strength. All was fine after we drove off.

In addition to the underground hides, the wildlife at Mashatu was plentiful and accessible. In total, we saw 19 mammal species and 45 bird species at Mashatu, including cheetah, leopard and lion.

2 male cheetahs relaxing and keeping watch over their territory on Mashatu Reserve

Fall colors at sunrise in Botswana on Mashatu Reserve

Even seeing a leopard in the wild is awesome. But to see a female carrying her cub was very special. When the cub was following behind her, it would pause and cry every few feet. So cute!! While in her mouth, it was completely silent and still. She was relocating this cub after her other cub was killed by a male leopard. Fingers crossed that this cub makes it to adulthood. Mashatu

MalaMala Private Game Reserve, South Africa

On MalaMala, wildlife was literally outside our door. I turned around from locking my door one evening on my way to dinner and standing there eating grass about 100 feet away was a hippo! I found out later that she and her calf were regular evening visitors. We were simply advised to stay off her grass. At MalaMala we saw all of the BIG 7: elephant, cape buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog. A total of 26 mammal species and 27 bird species.

This lioness on MalaMala met up with two males new to the territory and was stalking passing impala as the males kept a close eye on her. We were told the female was from a nearby pride and was intentionally keeping the males distracted from her pride to protect the cubs. Smart girl.

We were very excited that our guides found 3 wild dogs on MalaMala. The dogs had killed and nearly finished eating a bushbuck when we found them.

Lots of stripes on MalaMala

White Rhino on MalaMala with multiple red-billed oxpeckers, even one is his ear!

Highlights and shadows on MalaMala

The wildest of them all… our 2017 photography safari group with the MalaMala guides. We were a great team. We hunted for wildlife and came back with our trophy photos.

I will be traveling back to these destinations during Africa’s spring season in 2018 with a private group and then again in 2019. Would you like to join me in 2019? Contact me to let me know you’re interested.

In the meantime, check out the workshops in your area!

4 thoughts on “Magic of Africa – 2017 Trip Report”

  1. Yes, as Kathleen has said, this was a wonderful trip. Mashatu with the hides, we were able to get up close and personal with the animals. The tent camp was a great experience. Plenty of animals to see.
    On to Mala Mala, great guides and many animal sightings.
    A trip of a lifetime, well organized and plenty of great memories. Didn’t want to go home. Definitely want to do another trip with Kathleen.

  2. Our trip to Africa was really special. I always enjoy joining a workshop of Kathleen’s. Everything is well organized and educational. Also, it’s just plain fun. The hides were a unique opportunity and very exciting. Would love to go again. I would highly recommend the trip or any trip with Kathleen. I’ve been on a few with her.

    • Thanks to Kathleen’s planning and guidance the Mashatu and Mala Mala Photo workshop was greatly enjoyed. The abundance of animals was amazing.

  3. Our trip to Africa was a trip of a lifetime! When I got home and started going through my photos I couldn’t believe just how well they came out! With Kathleen’s instruction I was able to create some beautiful photography. We saw so many animals, it was unbelievable! I would highly recommend this trip and would love to go again myself.