Skukuza Rest Camp in Kruger park

TheJock

Location: Dubai
Oct 10, 2013
555
0
Dubai
Hi everyone,

I will be going on a 3 day safari based at the Skukuza Rest Camp in Kruger National Park in mid-September.
It sits on the southern bank of the Sabie River (Crocodiles!!) and although I have my gear all planned out (see below), I just wanted to ask a couple of quick questions about the area, as I find that the members of CR are well travelled and I hope to gain some tips if any of you have been to; or are familiar with this location.
One of my main questions is, is it worth while carrying the 3rd body on the drives with either of the short range zooms in case of close up encounters? Are close encounters even to be expected?
Any other tips or advise (especially regarding birding) would be gratefully appreciated.
I’m so excited about this trip, I don’t want to miss the action due to poor planning/knowledge if at all possible.

Gear
1x 5DIII
1x 7DII
1x 70D
100-400L
70-200L f4
1.4xTCIII
16-35LIII
24-105L
100 USM macro (non L)
600 EX-RT
Z-Pro filter kit with ND's, Circ Pols and Grads
 

edoorn

EOS RP
Apr 1, 2016
338
314
Leave the 70D at home. Unless you really have specific macro plans, I would leave the 100mm at home too and chose to either take the 16-35 or 24-105, not both. During game drives it's easiest to just shoot with 2 camera's with different lens attached and stick to that. You could certainly experience close encounters and for that you need to quickly switch to wider options; just changing camera is easiest. Too much lens changing is not very practical if there's a lot of dust or if space in the vehicle is tight. Enjoy!
 

Vivid Color

EOS RP
CR Pro
Dec 7, 2012
438
2
Unless you will be traveling with someone who is not a photographer, but is willing to hold another camera body and lens, I would only take two camera bodies. Depending on how many people are in the vehicle, space maybe tight and you may not have the space to spread out your equipment to a second seat. In that case, getting stuff in and out of the bag will be difficult at best and you may miss shots trying to juggle all of that equipment. Also, be sure to check on any weight restrictions as what you list is going to weigh quite a bit. I also agree with the previous poster about leaving your macro lens at home, and this comes from someone who loves macro photography. You can always use your 100 to 400 mm lens as a substitute. All of this said, if you wish to take a third camera, I would take some sort of point-and-shoot that you can use in markets in villages and cities and other places in which walking around with large camera gear is not the best idea.
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,265
1,930
Canada
I am somewhat unsure of the wisdom of a macro lens and photographing crocodiles :) but if you are into insects it could be useful......

I would leave the 70D behind.....

I would have a P/S tucked into a pocket for traveling shots where whipping out the DSLRs is impractical (airports, vehicles, walking in crowds)

and don't forget to show us the pictures!
 

kirispupis

EOS RP
Oct 4, 2011
467
35
www.calevphoto.com
Stewart K said:
Hi everyone,

I will be going on a 3 day safari based at the Skukuza Rest Camp in Kruger National Park in mid-September.
It sits on the southern bank of the Sabie River (Crocodiles!!) and although I have my gear all planned out (see below), I just wanted to ask a couple of quick questions about the area, as I find that the members of CR are well travelled and I hope to gain some tips if any of you have been to; or are familiar with this location.
One of my main questions is, is it worth while carrying the 3rd body on the drives with either of the short range zooms in case of close up encounters? Are close encounters even to be expected?
Any other tips or advise (especially regarding birding) would be gratefully appreciated.
I’m so excited about this trip, I don’t want to miss the action due to poor planning/knowledge if at all possible.

Gear
1x 5DIII
1x 7DII
1x 70D
100-400L
70-200L f4
1.4xTCIII
16-35LIII
24-105L
100 USM macro (non L)
600 EX-RT
Z-Pro filter kit with ND's, Circ Pols and Grads
I agree with the others on leaving the 70D at home. You will not have room for more than two bodies. The macro will be useful for photographing insects around your lodge, but will be useless on game drives. Close up encounters can happen - this is wildlife after all - but aren't very likely. Also, any close approaches need to be done by the wildlife - not you - and should not involve doing anything stupid on your part.

I also think you can leave one more lens at home. You'll almost certainly want the 100-400 on your 7D2 because that gives you the most reach. You'll then want another lens on your 5D3 to handle a closer focal length. Either a 24-105 or a 70-200 will work there, but you really don't need both. Personally I'd lean towards the 70-200 due to the better image quality and AF.

You'll use the 16-35 mostly for landscapes, which may be difficult from a jeep. From there you'll probably find that the 70-200 is more useful. You may be able to use the 16-35 for night skies, but you'll have to check with the resort to see if that's possible. It depends on how strong the lights are at the resort. Some resorts will give you armed guards, but this is usually only possible at the private game reserves - Kruger is much more restrictive.

I'm not sure how useful the 600-RT will be. Generally I prefer to not use flash for wildlife. Instead I make sure to get a driver (I usually pay more for a private vehicle) who understands the light. If you do want to use it, then you'll need a Better Beamer.
 
Skukuza is the busiest of the camps along with Satara. There is a nice river at the bottom, so take a portable tripod like a gorillapod (based on weight). I've always done Kruger in my own hire vehicle, but in the arranged vehicles it will be very crowded. You do get closer to wildlife than the DIY vehicles, but I would be surprised if you will use the 24-105mm unless you are trying to get a sweeping vista which you can hopefully cover off with the 16-35mm.

The only reason for considering the 70D would be to avoid changing in the field, where it can be dusty. If you can manage it, you could consider the 16-35 on the 5DIII and the 70-200 would partner with the 70D. You are of course sacrificing the AF of the 5DIII, so maybe the w/a on the 70D would be better (sacrificing some w/a). But you are likely to be wearing the 3rd body around your neck, i would guess, so it wont be the easiest of options to pull off.

IIRC, flash guns are not permitted in the vehicles, but the sanparks site should confirm this.

You've got good opportunity to walk around the restcamp grounds in between the drives, where you will get opportunity for monkies, birds, insects, flowers.

Some of the next stuff is not safari specific, but I'm assuming this is your first safari. Sorry if this is all obvious:

- Make sure you have lots of memory cards, batteries, and a backup capability for offloading. If you think this may be the only safari for a while, dont be afraid to shoot lots (assuming you have the capacity). You can cull shots in between the drives.

- Also ensure you have something to clean lenses & bodies - it can be dusty out there. Make sure you check your equipment in between game drives.

- Make sure you are happy with your kit and your technique, and you've practised anything you want to try out in the field e.g. for birds on take-off you might want to use a side focus point for where the bird will fly from. You should also be happy changing settings with your eyes still on the viewfinder. Sorry if all this is obvious!

- Think about how you will stabilise your kit in the field, or on the vehicle. It needs to be small and light, but should be sufficient to help first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The vehicles are typically open sided, so beanbags dont really work. Depending on who you are going with, I've used everything from a monopod with a gimball head, to resting against bars (but protect your lens), to resting on a person's shoulder to even resting it on my knees! Again it depends on light, ISO and how well you hand-hold.

- Research your wildlife mannerisms, this will help you know when animals might do certain things which may help you get the shots you want.

- get a list of the sort of shots you would like to take, and chat with the drivers. Where possible, if they are not photographers themselves, see if you can show the sort of pictures you want to get, so you can influence what they look for and how the position the vehicle.

- different positions in the vehicle will give you different opportunities. At the front you are closer to eye-level with the animals. Next to the driver you get better camera support and the wide open space in front of the vehcile. At the back, you get unimpeded shots of looking back. When you chose a side of the vehcile, then you will contend with no impedment on your side, and lots from the other.

- Unless your drives are organised, you will get a whole mix of people in the vehicle, with different objectives, so there will always be compromises. Chatting with them and the driver may help you (perhaps offer them some of your shots if they havent got the same kit as you!)

Enjoy yourself - Kruger is amazing. ;D ;D
 

TheJock

Location: Dubai
Oct 10, 2013
555
0
Dubai
Outstanding response, thanks everyone!
I probably should have mentioned it’s me and my wife, so she'll take ownership of the 70D + 70-200L (she has zero DSLR experience), I’ll carry the 5DIII with the 24-105L and the 7DII with the 100-400L.
OK, so the flash unit is out, that gives more space to carry everything together in my backpack, which means the 100mm Macro can stay for walkabout shooting in the camp.
Apparently there are Fruit Bats roosting in the shop eve’s so that’ll be interesting trying to catch them take flight! I’ve also checked on eBird and it would appear that this place is a hotspot with 391 species recorded at my camp, and as birding is my main passion it looks like I’ll be a busy boy!!!
Thanks again everyone, you're awesome 8)
 

scottkinfw

Wildlife photography is my passion
CR Pro
Stewart K said:
Outstanding response, thanks everyone!
I probably should have mentioned it’s me and my wife, so she'll take ownership of the 70D + 70-200L (she has zero DSLR experience), I’ll carry the 5DIII with the 24-105L and the 7DII with the 100-400L.
OK, so the flash unit is out, that gives more space to carry everything together in my backpack, which means the 100mm Macro can stay for walkabout shooting in the camp.
Apparently there are Fruit Bats roosting in the shop eve’s so that’ll be interesting trying to catch them take flight! I’ve also checked on eBird and it would appear that this place is a hotspot with 391 species recorded at my camp, and as birding is my main passion it looks like I’ll be a busy boy!!!
Thanks again everyone, you're awesome 8)
You have been given great advice. I would add that you should use a safari vest so that you can offload weight that may be over that allowed. Be sure to check baggage weight and size restrictions on the international flight and also, if you take flights within Africa.

In The Serengeti, I mostly used the 70-200 F4L IS on my 5DIII and on an earlier trip, 5DII.

I am planning to go again this August/September and will take 5DII, 5DIII and now, 1DXII (after I learn how to use the beast). Find out what the seating arrangements will be. If you can have two seats to yourself, you should consider bringing all that you will want. You should get at least one seat (bench type) to yourself if possible, and this is still workable for loads of kit. Try to avoid lens changes in the bush due to dust.

I obviously agree with the 70-200- F4. I think that the 100-400 will be a must. I don't have experience with the 16-35 but I understand this is an excellent lens which will be great for close in work. I believe that a lot of the animals are acclimated to the vehicles and humans, so it would be helpful for when they move close to the vehicle, and astro (Milky Way will be awesome on clear nights.

Regarding flash, I respectfully disagree. If you go out in the harsh sun many animals will seek shade, and a flash with Better Beamer will open up the harsh shadows. In the right condition, it can be used during daylight for a pleasant fill. If you can get out for a night drive, it is a must. As mentioned above, check to see if they are allowed.

A GoPro may be fun to take too.

By the way, don't forget about your shots etc.

Keep us in touch.

Great trip.

Sek
 

martti

EOS RP
May 11, 2014
692
11
21.1144° S, 55.5325° E
You eat really well in Skukuza. The shop is well equipped as well.
Be sure to try some of the dried the game meats they sell.
They are excellent snacks! The ZA people understand a thing or two about BBQ!

I carried only two lenses for my 5DIII: The Tamron 150-600mm and the 24-70mm.
I had a flash and I used it for the dance show. Be sure not to miss it, the guys are world class.
There was a guy who had a rigged tele flash for birds shots. His pictures were sharp.


Something longer and faster might have been nice but to tell the truth, I had a hard time finding the subject with the 600mm already. I am not used to. The last time in ZA I had a 40D and a Sigma 50-500. Now looking at the pictures there is a difference but not enough to justify the price.

A monopod (Slik+RRS head) was handy. No matter how sturdy your tripod is when people jump around in the car.
Unless you drive and get to play the captain and shut everybody up.
A professional guide spots lots of things we mortals miss and he gets tipped by his colleagues. Experience counts as well...they seem to know some of the felines from their tracks.

You will have a great time. I am jelous!

Oh yes, I forgot: Wear shoes if you go for a walk in the bush. The ants are extremely efficient! Sandals, no-no!
 

TheJock

Location: Dubai
Oct 10, 2013
555
0
Dubai
I'm really glad I took out a policy, my 24-105 and 70-200 were both damaged by the rough handling of a stewardess on the flight on the way home.
The 70-200 lens cap popped off and the lens was scratched, the 24-105 was put under such pressure that the zoom ring is out of alignment and it is very difficult to turn the zoom, I've never seen this type of damage before!!
However, the trip was incredible and I hope you like the images
https://www.flickr.com/photos/126853167@N07/albums/72157670839088044