Safari Update – What Worked Well On My Last Safari

After each safari I consult my travelers and make a list of what went well, as well as those things that need improvement.  For this post, I will highlight what worked well for us or those things that made our lives on safari just a bit better (or a lot in some cases).  Before we get to the list, I would like to share the photo below.  I seldom have my photo taken, but Steve was able to capture my sheer joy of being in the bush.  If I had my way, I often wonder if I could find a way to simply live there.

That Safari Grin

The top fifteen tips or observations of what worked well on the last safari:

  1. Ramadan did not pose a problem while in Dubai.  Before you go, spend time learning to work around cultural events in foreign countries.
  2. While Fairview was nice and always my first choice for lodging in Kenya however, you need to stay in the main building (rooms 3 and 5).
  3. Transfers with additional camera equipment between Kenya and Tanzania with Precision Air, was relatively painless.
  4. All coordinated transfers were painless.
  5. Packing and planning well in advance for differing conditions reduced shooting stress.
  6. Mobile camp at Senera (unit) was really special – fast response by Thomson’s to alter location to better support photography clients (BIG PLUS – these guys are simply the best).
  7. Mobile camp at Kekogona was perfect for northern work and river crossings.
  8. Inverters in the trucks are great support.
  9. Amod tracking device was flawless, and worked well on rechargeable batteries.
  10. Hyperspace worked great, less the combat card issue and having one of the units dropped which fractured the hard drive connection point.
  11. Jerimah Beach Hotel in Dubai is THE place to stay (not cheapest)
  12. The maps that Thomson’s provided was used often buy all of the travelers – great resource.
  13. Difficult but rewarding hike up the side of Mount Meru.  This was an optional trip for some of my travelers.  Great to do if you are in shape.
  14. English-Swahili ‘Useful Phrases, TMP Book Department – TABORA’ – the best book I’ve seen thus far.
  15. A visit to Shangaa, was rewarding as usual.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Tracking Your Journey – Part III (final)

In the first post, I introduced my AMOD GPS tracking device followed by the various settings I used in the second post of this series. In this post, we will pull all of this together and see everything in action.

First off, download and install Google Earth – something everyone should have if you are interested in exploring the world around you. In order for Google Earth to use your file, it must be converted into a format called KML. Connect your AMOD and locate the GPS log file that is of interest to you. Follow this link for one of the best FREE NEMA to KML converters.

Locate your GPS log file using the browse button on the converter page and make the necessary selections from the drop down boxes that fit your application. After a few minutes the converter will return an opportunity for you save your new KML file. Simply save this to your desktop and double click on it. The next thing you know Google Earth will transport you to the exact location that represents your log. 

To make the image easier to see, I un-tick the box in the left hand column called ‘placemark icons’. This will leave only the line segment. In the case of this file, the different colors represent the speed of our travel. You can easily see how we slowed for our approach as well as landing followed by transfer to the jeeps for travel to the camp. I encourage you to zoom around this log and see all of the detail Google Earth will produce for you. Enjoy….

This log file was created on a flight from Windhoek, Namibia to our Skeleton Coast Camp. Namibia was a very special place for me and I place I look for ward returning to. I will write more about that experience in the future.

So what are you waiting for, go grab your logger and record your paths.

I hope to be able to blog live from deep in the Mara Plains, so say close and watch the blog.

Cheers and happy photo’ing.

Tracking Your Journey, Part I

For the past several years, I have always carried a GPS logging device with me on all of my safaris.  This small device records a track and waypoints for my entire trip.  Once home, this becomes a record of the adventure that I can overlay using Google Earth.  My choice device is the AMOD  AGL3080 128 MB GPS logger.  The logger comes with photo geo-tagging software which allows you to write the GPS coordinates to your metadata.  I have read enough articles on metadata corruption that I have become very leery of third party software making changes to metadata contained in my raw files, and therefore opt not us use this software.

So how do I use this device?  I simply turn it every morning, about 5 minutes before we leave our safari camp, and leave it on until we return at the end of the day.  Using lithium batteries, I can usually get three full days, before battery replacement.  During the day, should something come my way that I want to “mark” along our path, I simply push the waypoint button and a manual waypoint is placed on the track.   The AMOD generates a new log every time the unit is turned off and on, which means you will have  a new track for each day.  Although you can assemble these tracks to make one entire trip log, I find the daily separation much better to manage and it corresponds to the daily log that I try to keep from each day.  Next posting on the AMOD will deal with the settings that I use and how they match up to the various NEMA sentences.  The final posting on the AMOD will provide instructions and demos of getting these files into Google Earth for viewing, so stay tuned.