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Favourite Game Reserve Photos from South Africa

Updated on June 29, 2014
Springbuck in Kgalagadi
Springbuck in Kgalagadi | Source
Elephant herd going to water near Crocodile River in Kruger.
Elephant herd going to water near Crocodile River in Kruger. | Source
Cheetah in Kgalagadi
Cheetah in Kgalagadi | Source
Waterbuck in Kruger
Waterbuck in Kruger | Source
Buffalo with Oxpeckers in attendance
Buffalo with Oxpeckers in attendance | Source
Red-hartebeest in Kruger
Red-hartebeest in Kruger | Source
Hippo and Heron at Nsumo Pan, Mkuze Game Reserve
Hippo and Heron at Nsumo Pan, Mkuze Game Reserve | Source
Horn bill - Kgalagadi Game Reserve
Horn bill - Kgalagadi Game Reserve | Source
Namaqualand National Park
Namaqualand National Park | Source
Bat-eared Fox - Kgalagadi
Bat-eared Fox - Kgalagadi | Source

What makes these photos favorites?

South Africa is blessed with great Game Reserves from the huge Kruger National Park in the East bordering on Mozambique to the arid Kgalagadi in the North bordering on Botswana and Namibia. Many smaller reserves are found scattered through the country. Each one has its own appeal and unique ambiance. The country being relatively small means no reserve is further than a day, or at the most two days, drive away. Accommodation ranges from air conditioned units to camping areas and your car provides a hide to take photos from. We love visiting these game reserves. When our work takes us to different areas we try to fit in a day or two in a nearby reserve on the way.

Here are 10 photos that I like because each reminds me of a special occasion that is also imprinted in my memory. A photo is an excellent keepsake as it brings back those memories. I like to print and keep my favorites in an album on my coffee table so that I can browse through them occasionally. Hopefully they will encourage you to visit South Africa and the great game reserves in the country..

A group of Springbuck.

These graceful and beautiful antelope are found in the north/west of South Africa. At one time herds of hundreds of thousands crossed the Kalahari and Namaqualand in search of grazing and water. Today they can be seen in Game Reserves and Game farms in the Kalahari region. This photo was taken in the Kgalagadi National Park and I love their color and grace.They fit into the somewhat drab background and give it some color. They have also been the symbol for our sport teams over the years.

Elephants in river bed near Malelane in Kruger National Park.

In my mind this is an iconic scene from Africa. A herd of Elephants led by the leader (a Matriarch) going across the veldt to the Crocodile River to drink water and bathe. Young Elephants closely attended by Mothers and older siblings.The young Elephants sometimes hold on to the tail of the one ahead and the older ones often gently guide the younger ones with their trunks.

Cheetah in Kgalagadi.

This beautiful animal walked across the dry river bed and crossed the road next to our vehicle. The early morning light gave the patterns and skin a natural light that makes for a lovely photo. This Game Reserve is said to be the best place to see and photograph the large cats in South Africa. like all the animals they have to come into the river beds to find water and food and the roads run next to these river beds that for most of the year are dry and only flow when it rains. Water holes in the rivers are great places to spend some time with your camera.


One of our favorite animal watching places is at the dams on the road between Pretorius Kop rest camp and Skukuza rest camp in the Kruger National Park. Early morning and late evening provides the magic time for lighting up the animals and this day a group of Waterbuck were grazing close to where we parked to have a cup of coffee. I like the back lighting in this photo.

Buffalo with Oxpeckers.

It is always exciting to see the African Buffalo up close and here we also saw Oxpeckers cleaning off ticks on the Buffalo. A double whammy for keen birders! The Buffalo present an image of power and to have a herd cross the road around your car is an exciting experience.


I like this photo of a group of these interesting antelope because of the way the animals are staring up the road as if they are trying to decide what to do or perhaps hearing something up ahead. We always hope for an exciting event like a Lion kill but these antelope did not share our hope.

Grey Heron on Hippo.

One of my favorite places to spend an hour or so is the Nsumo Pan in the Mkuze Game Reserve in Kwa-Zulu Natal. When we get to this small Game Reserve along the North/East Coast of South Africa we pack a lunch and sit under the beautiful Fever Trees at the picnic area. There are always Hippos in the water and we have to watch our food as a group of Vervet monkeys sometimes forages for a snack. This day a Heron decided to use the Hippo as a platform to do some fishing and so we grabbed our cameras for an unusual photo.


The birds in every game reserve are interesting and different. The Hornbills are very confiding and present great opportunities for photographs because they come really close and seem to be very inquisitive.

Flowers in Namaqualand.

Every year in spring the dry semi-desert areas along the West Coast come alive with a wide variety and huge numbers of flowers. This area stretching from Cape Town to the Namibian border is always a surprise and varies from year to year. This means that it can be visited again and again and one would never tire of the glorious spectacle. While they are difficult to capture in a photo this one shows the carpet of flowers in bloom.

Bat-eared Fox.

Sometimes it is the small animals that surprise and delight. This little fellow popped up right next to the road as we followed a dry river bed in the Kgalagadi and presented a perfect opportunity for this shot. The late evening sun helped to provide the lighting that was soft and yet interesting.

These photos are some of my favorites because they bring back memories of special times.


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    • Johan Smulders profile imageAUTHOR

      Johan Smulders 

      6 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Thanks for the comments-it is a great country to visit for Game Reserves! Don't put the trip off!

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I would love to visit South Africa someday. A trip like this has been on my bucket list for years! I am going to have to make lots of money here on HP if I want to go! Great hub, wonderful pictures! Voted up and awesome! :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Fantastic shots! Wow I may have to come back a few times for these! Sharing.

    • Johan Smulders profile imageAUTHOR

      Johan Smulders 

      6 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Plan a trip, don't wait!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Wow, Johan. Great pictures. I would love to come to SA for these great shots one day.


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