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What could be better than coming face-to-face with a big cat in the wild (especially from the safety of an open-air Range Rover)? Perhaps following that encounter with a world-class dinner and a good night’s rest at the luxurious MalaMala Game Reserve in South Africa.
After waking up before dawn to a steaming cup of rooibos tea and rusks, I ventured off with a ranger and a few fellow guests. We headed into an area of MalaMala that shares a 12-mile unfenced border with South Africa’s Kruger National Park, bouncing along in a dedicated photography vehicle that featured three rows of two seats each.
Although it was my finger that depressed the shutter of my Nikon with a 300mm lens — filling the frame with a leopard — it was the ranger’s expertise that led me into the position to get the shot. During my three days at MalaMala, I was able to check off the Big Five — buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino — from my photography wish list.
MalaMala Game Reserve can be reached by road from Nelspruit, the gateway to Kruger National Park, or by flights that land directly onto MalaMala Game Reserve’s airfield.