Daily update attached…..off to bed after a very long day.
23 August 2011
Weather: clear blue skies, cool morning with a slight breeze warming fast as we moved toward the river.
After a wonderful breakfast, we departed 0730 for the Mara River. With four days at Kogakuria, I decided that another day at the river would be worthwhile. Memories still fresh with the excitement from yesterday’s crossing, everyone was amped and ready for a repeat. Our first herd sighting was just east of the Kogatende Air Strip. The light was perfect and we were in an excellent position; however, the herd could not make up its mind and soon moved away from the river and into the woods. Moving a few kilometers eastward along the river, we soon observed a huge herd moving towards us on the other side of the river. We decided to make a quick run for a good position further east. While we were tracking the herd, we lost visual contact with them as they disappeared into a valley between the river and the far hills. We retreated to our camouflaged hiding place for our morning coffee, tea and ginger snaps. Just as we were finishing our morning treats, we spotted a massive herd heading toward the river at a dead run. Kileo and I picked several prime photo positions depending upon which way the herd crossed. Camera settings checked and re-checked, we were ready. Due to ever-changing light conditions and shooting positions, I suggested that everyone use the auto-ISO feature and concentrate on focus and framing. We also decided who would be shooting video versus stills just so everyone knew how others would be shooting. As we watched the “wildebeest ballet,” as Lori called it (up and down the bank, spin, run, walk, back to the water, etc….), one brave beest stuck his nose in the water and it was all over. Before our eyes, out of control chaos erupted again and again as the crossings started. This overall crossing lasted for more than an hour and Kileo estimated the herd to be about 300-400,000 in size. It was the largest crossing that he has seen in some 30 plus years of professional guiding. For me, it was nearly continuous shooting filling up the D3s buffer a number of times, something I have never done before. I will have my work cut our for me in editing when I return, as I shot nearly 800 images today.
We returned to camp for a wonderful hot lunch. Time to write, download and look at the map for our next adventure. Around 4pm, we journeyed deep into the Kogatende kopjes for some wonderful landscape shooting during the golden hours.
What a day it was in the northern Serengeti………a special place that we have decided to rename as the “Kileo Kopjes” in respect for his love of the area. Walking back to our Nyumba after dinner, we were treated to clear skies and a wonderful view of the Milkyway. Tomorrow we are off to the plains to find more Cheetah and hopefully Rhino.
Off to bed…….. afya and lala salama