2014 Wrap-Up and Adventure Summary

Ok, it’s time for the annual 2014 wrap up and a glimpse of what’s happening in 2015, so here we go.

2014 had me spending more time in Africa and on the road than I did at home, at least it seemed that way. The year kicked off in February with one of my favorite Thomson Safari adventures in Tanzania – the wildebeest calving. This time of the year is always an exciting because we are able to witness and photograph the births of literally thousands of newborn wildebeests. We also see the numerous predators that follow the herds of newborns and their parents, hoping for an easy meal.

Shortly thereafter I found myself in Namibia with Andy Biggs and Joshua Holko photographing the incredible landscapes in the oldest and tallest dunes in the world. This was my fourth trip to Namibia, and when it comes to desert landscapes, Namibia is absolutely numero uno! I will be returning in March 2015 to lead another Namibian landscape experience.

June found me back in Tanzania for the wildebeest rut safari, again with Thomson Safaris – and if you ask whether I like the calving more than the rutting, well, I just couldn’t say because both are incredible! With predators following the herds as they migrated across the plains to Kenya, we were afforded plenty of photographic opportunities then shared wonderful stories around the campfire as we recounted our daily adventures. I will be repeating this trip again in the May-June time frame of 2015.

August found me leading a photographic expedition to Iceland, the land of fire and ice. Trying to describe the landscapes of this island is simply beyond words. Check back after the first of the year for a new collection of photographs from this adventure. If Iceland is on your bucket list, I will be leading another expedition (or two) to Iceland in 2016 so stay tuned and let me know if you are interested.

In September I returned once again to Tanzania for the incredible great migration. During this trip we witnessed multiple wildebeest river crossings – always a spectacular event – and had numerous opportunities to photograph lions and leopards. The energy that surrounds the chaos of a river crossing must not be underestimated and it is one that must be experienced first-hand. As the wildebeest cross the Mara River, it is truly survival of the fittest as they face rapid river currents, angry hippos, and hungry crocodiles. Many of the wildebeests do not survive the mayhem.

October put me in Ethiopia photographing the tribes of the Omo Valley. This was one of the most humbling experiences of my photographic career because of the challenging roads, logistics, weather, and the people. However, I also am excited to repeat as soon as I can, so again, stay tuned. I can’t begin to describe what it was like to photograph these wonderful and caring tribal people of the Omo as they went about their daily lives. Being given unrestricted access to these people and invited to photograph and take part in their daily rituals made memories that will be with me for a long time. I can’t wait to return to work with these tribal members again, and I need to give special thanks to Piper MacKay for introducing me to these seldom-visited areas.

From October to late November I led two safaris into Botswana and co-led another safari with Grant Atkinson. As always, Eyes on Africa provided expert logistical support for two of the safaris and a new provider, Unlimited Safaris, provided the support for my first private camping safari. All three safaris produced wonderful photographic opportunities for leopards, lions and wild dogs. The highlights of these trips were seeing the gorgeous leopards and the packs of African Painted Dogs in full action as they hunted with the precision of a well-trained military unit. It was intense, high speed photography as we followed the dogs on chase after chase.

My third Botswana safari as co-leader with Grant Atkinson started in Maun with 17 of us taking a bush plane flight and landing at Nxabega. Our two days at Nxabega were filled with dogs and dogs and dogs. The African Painted Dog is a formidable killing machine. Usually hunting in both the morning and evening, they sport an 80 percent success rate in their chase to kill ratio. On our last morning before taking another bush flight to Sandibe, we witnessed the dogs make 7 antelope kills in 2 hours. They only missed once when they tried to chase a large kudu. I will be returning to Botswana next October for another photographic adventure sponsored by Muench Workshops.

A big highlight of the year was being invited to join the team of Muench Workshops, a small collection of very experienced professional photographers that lead workshops throughout the world. I think their tag line “one-of-a kind photography workshops at the coolest places on the planet” says it all. I am honored to be affiliated with David Muench, Mark Muench, and Andy Williams, and their wonderful team of photographers.

2015 will be another full year with highlights that include two safaris to Tanzania and Botswana, the landscapes of the Palouse, and the chimpanzees and mountain gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda. I also will be joining Joshua Holko in July as we journey far north into the Arctic to photograph polar bears. In addition, I am currently planning a very small expedition-type adventure into Ethiopia’s Omo Valley in November, once again to photograph the seldom-photographed Suri Tribe. Details and booking information on all of these trips can be found on my website blog. If you don’t see me leading a trip to an area that interests you, please drop me a line and I will share with you what I have planned for the future. Likewise, if you are interested in one of the trips that are fully booked, I will be happy to place you on a waiting list – you just never know.

As for equipment, I am still shooting Nikon and Hasselblad and recently invested in the Profoto B1 portable flash head for my work in Ethiopia. I also invested in the new Nikon 400 f/2.8 FL series lens and man, what a beauty it is!

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2015.

Randy Hanna

Join me on an adventure of a lifetime as we make incredible photographs along the way.

2015 Workshop / Travel Outlook –

Iceland – By Winter – February 11-18 (private safari)
Namibia – Overland Landscapes – March 12-22
Tasmania and New Zealand – April 2015 (Private Safari)
Tanzania – The Rut Migration – May 27-June 7
Washington State – Muench Workshops Landscapes of the Palouse – June 11-17 (limited openings)
Uganda and Rwanda – Chimpanzees and Mountain Gorillas – June 25 – 4 July 2015
Norway – Polar Bears – July 22 – 4 August
Botswana – Pure Botswana – September 2015 (FULLY BOOKED)
Tanzania – The Great Migration – September 19-30
Botswana – Muench Workshops Botswana Adventures – October 10-20
Ethiopia – Omo Valley Adventure Series – October – November (please inquire if interested – limited to 4 guests only)

2016 Teaser: Italy, Iceland plus many more.

A Final Shot From Sandibe deep in the Okavango Delta

Another safari comes to a wonderful end. As we gather for our final breakfast at Sandibe in preparation for our bush flight to Maun, I am listening to all of the stories around the table. With everyone recounting their favorite image or event that made the safari special for each of them, I look around and see nothing but smiles on everyone’s face. This tells me that Grant and I did well for them and we hope our paths cross again. We were blessed by great weather, great guides and solid game siting.

Special thanks to Eyes on Africa and the entire &Beyond Staff here at Sandibe and at their main office in Maun. A super big thanks to my co-lead on this trip, Grant Atkinson. I always learn so much about animal behavior when I travel with Grant – what a resource.

So I though noting could be more fitting than a photograph of one of our local Leopards process in a classic timeless style.

Nikon D810, Nikon 400 f/2.8 FL, ISO 400, 1/400 sec at f/6.3

Cheers and happy photo’ing from Botswana

Off to Africa Again – Ethiopia and Botswana

Off again for 50 days in Africa. First stop will be Addis Abba, Ethiopia to photograph the tribes of the OMO Valley. Then I jet back to South Africa for three days of recovery, then it is a massive push into Botswana for three back to back Safaris. Grant Atkinson will be co-leading the last safari with me and I am excited to be working with him.

While in Ethiopia, communication will be nonexistent (Coogan and Alexis – if you need me call my Sat Phone), so my posting will be very delayed.

So what is in my kit this time? As much as I wanted to bring my Hasselblad for the tribal work, my weight limit just would not support it, but man did I try hard. Note that I have had to pack for two complexly different shooting conditions and requirements. This will meant leaving some equipment in JNB with Wilderness Safari folks. Having said all of this, I am very excited to be taking my new Profoto B1 with the Nikon TTL module into the Omo Valley. My light modifier of choice is a 3 foot Ocoto (left the magnum and a gird snoot on the packing room floor – darn it). My bodies will be Nikon’s D4 and D810. Again, super excited to use the D810 because of it’s ability to separate the background from the foreground matrix meetering during TTL…..what a wonderful option. Glass will include 24-70, 70-200, and the new 400mm f/2.8 florite series. Big glass for Botswana. I’m also toting my Fuji X-T1 with a 10-24 and a 60mm.

I’ll check in as often as I can so stay tuned…..

SFO below taken from the United International Business Lounge. Thanks United for the Global System Upgrade. Too bad I didn’t have the same luck with Lufthansa (flight was canceled and I was put on a SMASH box of an airplane for some 10.5 hours (Ethiopian).  I have never been in such a cramped position in all of my life.

Gorillas from Victor

As I bring the posting about my recent photo safari to Rwanda, I wanted to share some images with you from one of my clients.  Rwanda represented Victor’s second photo safari with me, the first being Tanzania in Feb 2013.  Victor is an Orthopedic Surgeon by day and a great photographer by night.  Victor travels frequently and and almost always, his travels have photography in mind.  So without additional delay, here are some of his photos from our recent adventure:

Yes, we had some serious mud on one of our days.  My camera setup was a D4, D3s, and a Sony NEX-6.  Glass was 24-70mm and a 70-200mm, with a dual camera black rapid strap.  I also wore my HOG HAT for the fans back in Arkansas

According to our guides, the use of  a flower in the mouth is sign of aggression for the  young ones.

Eating every so carefully to avoid the sharp leaves.  The Gorillas do not drink from running or standing water which means that they must obtain all of their water requirements from plants.  It is amazing how they can obtain enough water for their needs from the plants.

One of the wonderful things about Rwanda, is just how friendly the locals are.  In this situation we were simply walking around the view point near a lodge that was located high atop a series of hills.  While walking, the lady of the house called out to our guide and said “come visit me”.  The next thing we knew, the entire neighbor hood was walking our way.  I guess when new visitors arrive, the whole neighborhood gets involved.  Obviously, there is a new Razorback fan in Rwanda.

This shot was on our last day and shows you just how massive the male Silver Backs are.  In all of my Gorilla Treks, I have yet to witness any aggressive moves by these massive creatures however, there is no doubt in my mind that I will always give them a wide berth.

Thanks Victor so much for sharing some of your images.  I look forward to future travels with you.  If  you want to see more of Victor’s work, jump over to his Smug Mug Site at http://www.vnemeth.com/.

Cheers and that is a wrap for the Rwanda Trip.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:  I will be leading a very special safari next Feb focusing on the Chimpanzees of Uganda and the Gorillas of Rwanda.  Our special permits will allow thee FULL days with the Chimps rather than the limits one hour permit.  Imagine, three 6 hour days with the Chimps……I can’t wait.

Thanks to Eyes on Africa and Thousand Hills for another wonderful Gorilla Adventure.

Cheers and happy photo’ing


During one of my visits to the Serengeti and the Massai Mara Plains, I followed this large male lion around for a while.  While I was in hopes of getting an image with some really harsh back lighting, the sun and camera angles never really worked out.  Just before we decided to depart the area, he turned directly to me and presented me with a simple portrait. Back at the camera tent, I took a look at the image and suddenly I realized just how much pain this fellow must have been in.  Looking closely, you can see a massive amount of ticks on his face and those crazy fairly flies are biting his nose to the point that they are bringing blood.  All the time, he just sits there and takes it in stride.  And we think we have bad days?

Feb 2010  Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8, ISO 250, 1/125 sec at f/10

Cheers and happy photo’ing

The Maasai Legend of the Sun and Moon

Every time I go on safari to Kenya or Tanzania I make a serious effort to spend some quality time with the Maasai, mostly the warriors.  With just a little bit of coaxing and some good ‘ole southern charm, they will open up to you and before you know it, you will soon be learning all sorts of wonderful facts and folk lore about their way of life.  For a quick and fun read giving you a glimpse into a young man’s transition from a Maasai child, to life in the western world, give Facing the Lion: Growing up Maasai on the African Savanna (National Geographic) by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton a read.  It is a rather fast read however it is a truly amazing story about a boy growing up with his Maasai people in Kenya, and later – through incredible twists and turns in his life – comes to the United States for college, all the time never abandoning his African roots.

According to the Maasai, there is a reason why the sun is so bright, which they tell in the following folk tale:

Long ago the sun married the moon but one day they fought and the moon struck the sun on the head. Of course, the sun hit back, and damaged the moon. When they had finished fighting, the sun was so ashamed of his battered face that he became so dazzlingly bright that humans could not regard him without half-closing their eyes. The moon, however, was not in the least bit ashamed and anyone looking at her can clearly see that her mouth is cut and one of her eyes is missing.

More Wild Dog Encounters

On one of our last days with the dogs, we found them lounging around in a small open area surrounded by low brush and trees. I really wanted to walk away with a low angle shot of the dogs; sort of an image taken from a dog’s view.  Steve Carey, our guide (AKA Wild Dog Man), mentioned that he thought I could get closer to the dogs by exiting the vehicle and maintaining a very low profile as I worked my way into the bush and to the edge of the clearing.  When I asked Steve just how close he thought I  could get, he simply answered ‘you will know’  – a man of few words, that Steve.  We repositioned the truck to cover my dismount and down I went into the brush.  Ouch, Ouch I thought as I crawled on my knees to a position just forward of the outermost tree, then it was down into a low crawl position.  Between the pain of the sheeps’ head burs and the acacia thorns,  I was in a great deal of pain with my every move and thought about just  giving it up.  As I made my way to the edge of the grass, I found myself concentrating on the dogs and their interaction with his 6.2  foot guy laying in front of them holding a really large camera and lens.  The pain that was previously killing me, was no longer in my attention span.  On several occasions the inquisitive young dogs would approach me to the point that they were outside of the minimum focus of the zoom that I was using.  Below is one of the up close and personal shots of one of the dogs  taken while in this position.  I used a shallow f-stop in conjunction with minimum focus range  in an attempt to blur theforeground grass that I was shooting through. Steve Kruger is in the background (in the truck) shooting me shooting the dogs.  BTW, I was crawling on my stomach With a D3s -200-400 and a D3x – 70-200.  What a load to crawl around with and maintain a low to the ground profile and not spook the dogs.  It was another great day in the bush with the dogs.

Nikon D3s, 200-400 f/4.0 VR @ 310mm, ISO 720, f/8.0 at 1/400 sec (8:38 am)

This image was taken here.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Safari Time Again

Sitting in Zurich awaiting our flight to Kenya for another wonderful safari.  This safari will focus on two locations, Lewa and Sosian.

Lewa is Lewa Wilderness Trails Lodge is located on a 60, 000 acres Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to the north on the foothill of the snow capped Mount Kenya which is Africa’s second largest Mountain.

Its topography is characteristic of mountains, rocky outcrops, acacia woods, plains and a river valley all in the immediate vicinity. Lewa Conservancy is rich in wildlife and is haven for Black Rhinos, Sitatunga – a spectacular aquatic antelope as well as the Grevy’s Zebra. Our focus at Lewa will be photographing the Rhinos.

Sosian Ranch is set amid stunning scenery and overlooks snowcapped Mount Kenya.  The old ranch house sits within the 24,000 acre working ranch on the Laikipia plateau.  The variety of habitat here, open plains to the north and dense scrublands to the south, supports plenty of game.  However, our focus on this trip is to photograph the wild dogs.  Once thought to be extinct in this area of Africa, the wild dogs have made a great come-back in this area.  Armed with tracking equipment, I am very hopeful that we will have little trouble in photographing these wonderful dogs.

While I am unsure about internet connectivity, I will try to post from the bush as much as I can.  For now, it’s off to Nairobi and the Fairview.  We will overnight at the Fairview, my all time favorite place to stay, where will be reconfigure our bags for the early morning push into bush.

Cheers and happy photo’ing.

45 Days and Counting until Safari time.

It has been a cold snowy past week (actually last week) in the Seattle area.  On the heals of this, the 48 hour flu ht me right between the eyes, just as I was planning to travel to San Diego to do some nature photography.

On my mind these days is my next safari in March.  I’m leading a private safari focusing on Wild Dogs and Rhinos in Kenya.  Operating exclusively in private conversation areas, off-roading and foot tracking will be the order of the day as we strive for outstanding up close and personal photography of these wonderful subjects.  We will also be spending time with a local Samburu Village for some wonderful travel shots.  Below is a shot from my recent trip to the Mara Plains area.  Place this in Google Earth to see where the image was taken at:

1 24.12921S, 35 8.3947E , elev 5182ft.

Drinking in the Mara

Nikon D3s, 200-400 VR @ 200mm, ISO 320, f/8 at 1/320 sec


Cheers and happy photoing.

2014 Photo Safari Schedule

Safaris for 2014:
1. Rwanda – Gorillas in the Mist 1 Jan thru 8 Jan  DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE. Trip completed, full trip report in draft.
2. Tanzania – The Great Migration – Feb 15-25, 2014   TRIP IS FULL
3. Chile – Torres del Paine – March 2014,  Adventure Series Only*
4. Tanzania – The Great Rut – May 31 – June 10, 2014. Some openings remain.
5. Iceland – The Land of Fire and Ice – 10-19 Aug 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE  Strictly limited to 8 participants, 4 openings.
6. Tanzania – Fall Migration – Sept 16-25, 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE
7. Botswana – November 13-22, 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE.

Looking forward to 2015:
Namibia – Landscapes of a Lifetime – April or May 2015- Details will be released in March of 2014.
Tanzania – The Great Rut
Tanzania – Fall Migration
Botswana – Adventure on the River
Lots More to Come So Stay Tuned.

*Adventure Series – Open only to previous clients and those who are willing to travel in conditions that require maximum flexibility as we explore new areas.