I recently spent a few days in Kidepo Valley National Park, a remote reserve in the North of Uganda that borders South Sudan and Kenya.
I hadn’t been in the Valley long when I met the resident male lion, a handsome chap known as “Spartacus”. It was late in the afternoon and the light was beautiful, but he was in long grass and I couldn’t get a clear shot. Over to my right was a beautiful kopje (a small hill) and I thought it would be an incredible shot if he sat on top of it. Well, he must have heard my thoughts because the next thing I knew, he was up and heading in that direction.
I willed him to keep going and I was pinching myself as he started to climb. He sat himself down exactly where I had hoped and then looked at me with his regal gaze. I couldn’t believe my luck! It is so rare that a wild animal actually does what you want it to! In front of me was a scene straight out of the Lion King…
After I had the front-lit shot, I moved round to silhouette him as the sun went down behind the distant mountains. It was a thrilling welcome to the Kidepo Valley!
I didn’t see Spartacus again but I did have the opportunity to photograph this younger male with his kill at dusk. I used a slow shutter speed to expose the sky and horizon and a brief flash from an off-camera speedlight to expose the foreground.
At night, I set up a camera trap using my Camtraptions PIR Motion sensor and was able to photograph some of Kidepo’s nocturnal residents, including this side-striped jackal and a white-tailed mongoose.
I also enjoyed photographing some species that I haven’t come across elsewhere in Africa, including this beautiful Abyssinian Roller and Jackson’s Hartebeest.
Kidepo is a beautiful and quiet National Park with much to offer. It is one of those wonderful places that combines abundant wildlife with spectacular scenery. In my opinion, it is one of Africa’s best-kept secrets!