‘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