‘South Africa Weather Warning: Tropical Cyclone Freddy …’ dominated news headlines as the super storm approaches from the distant coast of Australia, breaking records at it charges toward the African continent. Reading the warnings, I knew it would be a wet safari, but nothing could prepare us for the onslaught that would eventually come.

Sunday 26th February was the start of a 4-night safari in the Manyeleti Game Reserve, and after collecting our private guest at Eastgate Airport we set off for the reserve which is situated adjacent to Kruger National Park between the Sabi Sands and Timbavati Reserves. The road to Manyeleti took over an hour longer than normal due to flooding and severe road damage so after picking up at 11:30, we only arrived at North Gate at 13:30.





Five minutes after entering North Gate, my wheels came to a standstill as I watched a sea of water flow across the road, reaching several meters above ground level. A quick U-turn pursued before once again I was blocked off by another powerful river, halting us with incredibly efficiency. Buffelshoek Camp was blocked off from the world, and the only way in was through the flowing waters …



After navigating through deep waters and seemingly impassable roads, we finally entered the South Gate and stopped at Ndzhaka Tented Camp, only to find the shocking reality of a camp completely sunken under water! The usual picturesque little camp on the banks of a dry riverbed was submerged under the mass of murky flood waters, and as we stared in horror, a large snake swam past slowly to further increase the dreadful eeriness of the scene.



Throughout the following 5 days we received no less than 250mm of rain, carving up roads and damaging infrastructure with sinister effect. Manyeleti became a desolate wasteland in front of our eyes, with main roads resembling war-like battle fields, as thick mud swallowed its motorized victims like a bullfrog swallows a canary with gruesome mercilessness.



However, with every heavy cloud there is a silver lining, and we enjoyed great adventure as the elements provided the most challenging conditions I had ever worked in. The rain never dampened our spirits, and we enjoyed several incredible sightings including lions crossing a river, a leopard sighting to ourselves and plenty of hyena and vultures!



The overcast skies and active behavior of the wildlife also presented us with incredible panning opportunities as we slowed the shutter speed down to 1/5 second.





Dramatic skies presented spectacular photographic opportunities as the remains of Cyclone Freddy passed in the background.



In between the sightings, we spent some time rescuing other vehicles including a late-night rescue which was an adventure in itself as we left camp after 8pm!















The last two drives provided open skies and we enjoyed the gentle, warm touch of the sun on our damp cheeks as it finally cut through the dense cloud. It had been an adventure beyond our expectations, and in the end, we enjoyed the insatiable laughter that the storm brought along, all the way from Australia!



Every safari that our guests enjoy, become a part of their legacy; a story book of adventure produced over a lifetime of unforgettable moments. Some safaris are remembered by sightings, others by unusual events and some by adventure. This one will surely go down as the most adventurous safari I had ever been on.



For more about our Manyeleti Photographic and Private Safaris follow the link provided: Big Cats of Kruger Safari and Workshops.

Article and Photography by Armand Grobler [owner of Rhulani Safaris].


During the month of February, I spent a total of 3 weeks in the greater Kalahari region of Botswana, hoping to capture the typical ‘dramatic skies’ and summer rainfall so typical to the African summer. Unfortunately, the Kalahari was exceptionally dry and not once was there an opportunity to capture the image I was hoping for, however it was on the one morning that we had a little bit of rain that I had a once in a lifetime sighting!

With daily temperatures reaching well above 40 degrees Celsius, the early morning rain was welcomed by all the Kalahari’s inhabitants, especially the lions. I came across the pride, playing jubilantly in a dried-out riverbed, chasing each other and showing off their acrobatic skills in a fashionable manner.

My eye suddenly caught a female carrying a strange black thing in her mouth, and at first thought I recognized it as a ‘Badger’ photographic beanbag but on closer inspection I realized she was carrying something else, something small, striped and precious!


Honey badgers are known for their fearsome reputation, often chasing off lions and leopards with a powerful bite and razor like claws that match their formidable and ferocious attitude. Over time predators such as lions and leopards have learnt to respect these cunning creatures, avoiding confrontation as much as possible. However, in the case of a young honey badger, this respect was not awarded.

The lioness scooped up the young badger, carrying it back to the pride in a similar manner she would carry her own young, and presented it to the others as a prized gift, showing off her [false] bravery. The lioness carried the defenseless youngster around for several minutes before laying down to open her present.

It was a gruesome scene that seemingly lasted hours – despite in reality only minutes – as she toyed with the struggling badger, until finally the lifeless body was thrown into the air and snatched by another lion. A game of ‘tag’ followed, as almost every lion took an opportunity to play with the lifeless body in a sinister act that showed retribution of some sort, possibly taking revenge from a previous humiliation?


The sighting continued for just over an hour until every lion had its share and the carcass eventually discarded, still intact. I sat there speechless. Torn between the fact I had seen a tragic end to one of my favorite creatures and the privilege of having witnessed a truly rare event, I left the area with a pang of emptiness.

As a wildlife photographer it is important to understand that nature is always perfect, and its laws must be both understood and appreciated. The intricate system of predator-prey is a balance of power and craft, where the winner today may be the loser tomorrow, and our emotions must never interfere or cloud our perception of these wonderful creatures, who know only one rule: survival.


I have limited the images of this post due to the fact that I am saving the actual photos for my second book publication, however have decided to give you a ‘sneak peak’ into what’s to come!


See a short video here: BADGER BEAN BAG | YOUTUBE 

Discover Botswana: Mobile Safaris

Throughout 2022, I spent nearly 3 moths travelling across Botswana’s vast Kalahari and Okavango Delta regions in an attempt to discover the best locations for both wildlife and raw, exciting African adventure! The quest took me across some of southern Africa’s most inspiring sceneries, deepest waters and driest landscapes in search of the continent’s iconic wildlife, and in essence; its soul.

Botswana is a smorgasbord of photographic potential, and one of the most sought-after safari destinations on the planet. A land of unfathomed beauty and abundance that can never be truly understood by someone who has not experienced it. There seems to be endless photographic opportunities around every corner, and it is easy to get lost in the natural artistry of décor and wildlife, filling up memory cards – or even worse – external hard drives with alarming rate.

However, it wasn’t only the photographic opportunities I was intrigued in, but also their ‘quality over quantity,’ system, providing the traveler with an exclusive experience like no other place in Africa. Botswana has a keen focus on providing a high quality, exclusive and wild experience for guests. Campsites are unfenced and we frequently had elephant, hyena, lion and leopard wonder through camp. On one occasion while making coffee, 2 male lions wondered into our camp, watching me with a confused interest.

While sitting outside reading one afternoon, a herd of elephant passed by, with one individual coming as close as 5m from my camping chair to investigate what I was up to. It truly is a wild Africa experience!

With every pro, there is always a con. Unfortunately for the budget traveler, Botswana is quite an expensive vacation and even a tented camp can bite deeply into one’s budget. It was because of this reason, that I went out to determine the best ‘value for money,’ experience that will truly provide the guest with a memorable, life-changing experience without digging too deeply into the savings account.

There are three main ways of travelling Botswana: lodging, mobile safaris and camping. Lodges and Tented Camps offer a magnificent luxury experience of the highest quality, with fine-dining, quality game viewing in an open 4×4 safari vehicle and luxury accommodation. This however comes at a price, with most lodges averaging approximately USD$ 750.00 – 1 000.00 per person per night.

Camping on the other hand is quite the opposite. Campsites in Botswana provide a unique raw experience, with unfenced campgrounds where travelers share a communal [and very modest] ablution block, usually a short walk or drive from camp. Most campgrounds require travelers to be self-sufficient, and it is essential to carry with your own fuel, water, and food as well as charging facilities (for phones, laptops etc.). The odd ‘tuck shop,’ provides basic supplies such as a can of coke or a packet of chips, however it is recommended to stock up before departure.

Self-driving always provides a degree of challenge in Botswana, and it is important to have the correct navigational tool (such as Tracks4Africa) installed, as well as a satellite phone in case of emergency. Ensure your 4×4 vehicle is also properly kitted out, fit with a snorkel, high lift jack and mud tracks in case of having to drive across deep water or muddy terrain. Beside these challenges, one can drive around for days without seeing much if you don’t know the wildlife movements in the area, and from personal experience it may take about a week to establish the rhythm of the place. For the traveler/ photographer who doesn’t have a great deal of time, this option may not be the best suited.

Then there are mobile safaris. Mobile safaris combine some of the comfort and luxuries of lodging with the wild experiences of camping to give the traveler a truly unique and exhilarating experience. With the tranquility of a private, wilderness campsite and exclusive usage for only your group there are few places in Africa that rival authenticity.

Accommodation is in the form of large meru-styled tents with en-suit bathrooms and bucket showers (warmed to your liking). Comfortable bedding and quality dining is offered to make the experience just that much more enjoyable.

An expert guide and private 4×4 safari vehicle is provided for your group and game drives are conducted based on your specific requirements. With radio assistance, it also increases your chances of quality game viewing, with your guide already well informed on the animal movements in the area.

Another factor that makes mobile safaris particularly enjoyable is the opportunity to explore diverse areas on the same safari. Combing iconic regions such as Khwai and Savuti or an Okavango and Kalahari combo of Khwai and Nxai Pans is a great way for photographers to get the very best out of their safari experience.

Friendly staff ensure that camp is set up on your arrival, with a warm shower, campfire and glass of wine or whiskey as the sun sets across the African horizon. It is this flexibility of travel, coupled with a unique rustic experience and a touch of luxury that made me choose mobile safaris as the best way to experience Botswana.

I was asked to describe Botswana to someone wanting to experience it for the first time, and after much thought I simply couldn’t. However, my simple response was, ‘I have great pity for the person who has lived a life without experiencing this modern day Eden.’

Article by Armand Grobler, Co-Owner and Operator of Rhulani African Tours and Safaris (Rhulani Safaris). For more about our upcoming photo safaris to Botswana’s Okavango and Kalahari regions please visit us at Rhulani Safaris.

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