South Africa: A Visual Exploration
In this Yahoo Travel series we ask photographers to walk us through a place that inspires them. This week takes photographer Susan Portnoy to the Timbavati Game Reserve in South Africa.
Sated, Rockfig Jr. (not the sexiest name for such a beautiful leopard) relaxes in the grass at twilight.
We sat in the jeep spellbound, cameras clicking away, watching Rockfig Jr., the leopard with the aquamarine eyes, nonchalantly gnaw on her impala kill as if we weren’t 15 feet from where she lay with her prize. Her glossy coat and white underbelly stood out against the looming twilight. Her canines, long and fierce, picked at the flesh but not before she methodically licked off the fur in the area she found most tantalizing. We were hoping she would hoist her kill into the tree a few feet away — what a great image that would be — and dutifully we composed our shots to allow for her to jump into the frame. She never did. Instead she rolled and twisted in the grass, stretching with pleasure like my feline at home after a good meal. She went from ferocious predator to adorable in a nanosecond.
Rockfig Jr. dines on her impala kill.
I was so happy to be back. I was finally in the bush again after coveting other people’s travels for months. I was literally shaking with excitement. Well, maybe not from excitement. I was freezing in the unseasonably cold winter that was blowing through South Africa. Who knew winters there could be so chilly? Thankfully, for a few hours each day it warmed up to T-shirt weather, but at night and in the early morning … yikes!
For eight days, my home was the Timbavati Game Reserve located about six hours northeast of Johannesburg, adjacent to Kruger National Park. Unlike the vast, wide-open landscapes seen in movies such as “Out of Africa" and associated with the Maasai Mara or the Serengeti, Timbavati has a haunting, rugged beauty filled with sandy terrain, thick grasses, and thorny acacia.
A beautiful, foggy sunrise in the Timbavati