Safari Update – Day 8 (3 Oct 2013)

Safari Update Day 8 (3 Oct 2013)
20 degrees C
Sunrise 0618, clear skies with clouds at the horizon.

Today was our full day in the Northern Serengeti.  We had heard of a female rhino and baby in the higher plains area as well as a leopard with cubs.  In talking with the guides from the previous trip (departing the day we arrived), they had not seen a wildeebest crossing at the Mara River, but had good luck with the rhino. With some wildebeests spotted on the far shore of the Mara River, I decided to position the team along the river and fore-go traveling into the plains.  In frustration, we watched the wildebeest herd build and build, running up and down the banks of the river.  With none of them interested in crossing, we decided to take a break for lunch under an acacia treat.  Man, I really wanted this to happen for my clients.

As we began our movement toward our camp, we saw it – the herd on the far side running a break neck speed toward one of the prime crossing points.  At this point, I knew it was going to happen and happen fast.  We took up a position behind some trees in an effort not to scare them away from the shore.  All of a sudden we heard the SPLASH and the crossing was on.  Zooming down to the banks of the river, we were treated to one of the wonders of the world – the great wildebeest migration river crossing of the Mara River.  Lasting only for 10 minutes, we had time to reposition the truck to photograph the crossing with both front lighting and back lighting conditions.  What a show of nature this was!  Following the crossing, we stopped along the way to knock out some landscapes and huge cloud formations.  On way back to camp we witnessed an overturned safari vehicle in the Mara river (not one of ours).  A solemn reminder of how critical it is to travel with experienced guides. I am blessed to have such guides in the Thomson Safari Team.    Another highlight as we closed the day was wishing Alan a happy 70th birthday, complete with a bush birthday cake and friendly dance from the camp staff.  Way to go Alan!  By the way, Rita’s birthday was the day after.  Thanks Rita for tolerating Alan after all of these years.  After the evening meal, a number of us gathered around the campfire to recount the stories of the trip.

A SPECIAL NOTE:  Over my years in working with the bush staff of Thompson Safaris, you come to know just about everyone involved in making our safaris special.  None could be more important than the unsung heroes of the kitchen, the chefs.  I come to know one of these heroes quite well over the years.  A quiet and hard working lady, Joyce was lady who had the gift of making a incredible meal out of very little – a true artist in the kitchen.    Every time I saw Joyce, we always exchanged small gifts with most of her gifts being hand made with Katherine in mind.  Her smile was simple but always genuine and gracious.  As we left the Crater heading to the Serengeti, I received word of her abrupt passing.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t say one word from the Crater to the the gate at the Serengeti as I reflected upon my days working with Joyce.  JOYCE, I will miss you and I know the entire Thompson Team will miss you as well.  Rest in peace JOYCE.

Safari Update – Day 9 (4 Oct 2013)

Safari Update Day 9 (4 Oct 2013) Our Final Day
21 degrees C, clear skies

Today is our departure day from the Serengeti as we begin to wing our way toward home.  As we said our good byes to the camp staff everyone is starting to come to grips with the fact that we are leaving a magical area that has found a special place in our hearts.  Our final goodbyes to expert guides, that have been our eyes and ears for this trip were not without a couple of tears, at least for me, as I hugged them all like the brothers that we are.  Kileo, Casmire, Leonard, and Mustafa, I will miss you greatly and I can’t wait for our next adventure in February 2014.  During our charter flight back to Arusha, we were treated to another marvel of Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro was showing off for all to see as clear as she could be.

The visual and emotional journeys that we have taken together over the past 9 days will be the foundation of stories that will be told for years to come along with outstanding photographs to share with family and friends.  The friendships we made will carry one for a long time as everyone talked of doing another safari together.  Serengeti Reunion  – you gotta love it.

As I said my farewells to everyone at the airport, I looked over my shoulder to see a classic African sunset lighting up Mount Kilimanjaro.  A wonderful reminder of just how blessed I am in getting to experience Africa in the way that I do.

Nikon D4, 70-200 f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 320, 1/320 sec at f/1

Thanks again to Alan, Rita, Jean, Bill, Harry, Raul, Tom, Donna, Nancy, and Ray. I sincerely looking forward to our paths crossing again. My best to all of you in your future travels.

Safari Update Day 7 (2 Oct 2013)

Safari Update Day 7 (2 Oct 2013)
20 degrees C
Sunrise 0615, clear skies with clouds starting to build in the distance.

Today we traversed from Robanda to our new camp in the northern Serengeti. Kogatende is located high atop the rolling hills in the northern Serengeti. The ‘road less traveled’ was full of adventure and showed us a different view of the Tanzania that we had seen before. We arrived at our new camp about 1130 just in time for a much needed travel break. Once again we were greeted with huge building cloudy skies making for a wonderful photographic opportunities. With an altitude of 5600 ft, the air was crisp and free of haze. At 1500, we were off again for our first safari in the northern area. The incredible rocky outcrops, called kojpes, and rolling hills of the northern area are not to be missed. It was not soon into the afternoon that we were presented with a small pride of lions taking it easy under a tree adjacent to a large kojpe formation. On the way back to camp, we stopped to photograph the dung beetle rolling his ball of dung proudly down the road. Another great day in the Serengeti.

Nikon D3X, 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160, ISO 320, 1/250 sec at f/8.0.  This image was taken here

Cheers and happy photo’ing.

Safari Update – Day 6 (1 Oct 2013)

Safari Update Day 6 (1 Oct 2013)
19 degrees C
Sunrise 0600, clear skies

Today was our first full day in the central Serengeti and man did we hit a home run. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, and a horizon of huge thunderous clouds made for some wonderful landscapes toward the end of the day. It was an early return to camp resulting in a mad rush for showers and then it was off the the lounge tent for battery charging and story telling about the wonders of the day. Tomorrow will be our last push to our new and final camp in the northern Serengeti near the Mara River.

NOTE: Due the the remoteness of this camp, there will be no updates from the bush.

Cerval Cat,  Nikon D4, 200-400mm f/4.5 @ 400mm, ISO 320, 1/640 at f/6.

Cheers and happy photo’ing.  Blogging live from the Serengeti.

Safari Update Day 4 (29 Sept 2013) – Ngorongoro Crater

Safari Update Day 4 (29 Sept 2013) – Ngorongoro Crater
16 degrees C rising to nearly 30
Sunrise at 615-ish, partly cloudy clearing mid-day

Today was all about the Crater. With great anticipation, we began our decent from 7450 feet to the Crater floor. We photographed lions mating, cerval cats, buffaloes, landscapes, and all that the Crater had to offer. The highlights just keep coming. Everyone is super pleased and looking forward to more adventures in the coming days.

Nikon D4, 200-400 f/4.5 @ 400, ISO 320, 1/200 sec at f/8.

Cheers and happy photo’ing.  Blogging live from the Serengeti.

Safari Update Day 5 (30 Sept 2013) – Crater to Serengeti Plains

Safari Update Day 5 (30 Sept 2013) – Crater to Serengeti Plains
18 degrees C
Sunrise 615, clear skies

Today we moved from the rim of the Crater to the central Serengeti with a stop at Oldupai Gorge for a little lesson about Lucy in the sky. Soon after crossing the Nobi Hill entrance, we started picking up game almost instantly. Lion cubs next to the road and a great sub-adult leopard. Before you knew it, Wildebeests were all around us. Making our way to our camp at Robanda, we were treated to a classic African thunder storm all around us. After a wonderful dinner, its off to bed for an early rise tomorrow as our journey continues.

Nikon D4, 200-400mm f/4.5, @ 400mm, ISO 250, 1/200 sec at f/8.

Cheers and happy photo’ing.  Blogging live from the Serengeti via AT&T

Safari Day 1 (26 Sept 2013) Arusha to Tarangire National Park

Safari Day 1 ( 26 Sept 2013) – Arusha to Tarangire National Park
Cloudy with light rain, overcast to partial clearing around noon and for the rest of the day.

After our  orientation to just how the safari works, we were off to Tarangire for our first real day of safari. With our lunch completed at the visitor center, may of the guests had there fill of photographing Vervet monkeys. With the speed of lightening, one of the monkeys stole a power bar that was laying next to Thomas. Early into the day we photographed a female lion. Posing for us under a tree, she walked right between the trucks and presented us with some very nice photo ops. Not long after this, we sighted a leopard with a kill climbing up a tree. He was so fast that most of us only captured a tail. Back at camp it was time to look at everyone’s sensors and load a quick photo of the day.

Nikon D3x, 200-400 f/4.5 at 400mm, ISO 400, f/8 at 1/640 se

Blogging live from the bush in Tanzania via AT&T

Cheers and it is great to be on safari once again.

Safari Day 2 (27 Sept 2013) – Tarangire National Park

Morning temp 30 degrees C rising to 33 mid day
Partly cloudly to clearing in the afternoon, 3-4 knott winds

Today was a full day in the park. While our main focus was elephants in the elephant rich park, we were also treated two leopards and simply wonderful elephants, with many of them being up close and personal. Biggest treat was photographing them as they were leaving the swamp. Everyone is very happy and excited for our journey tomorrow as we move across the highlands and onward to the Ngorongoro Crater.

Nikon D3x, 200-400 f/4.5, @ 400mm, ISO 400, f/8.0 at 1/400 sec

Cheers and happy photo’ing.  Blogging live from Tanzania via ATT&T

Time to say goodbye ……..

Time to say goodbye to my wonderful safari crew from my last safari.  I’m wheels up in 6 days for another fall safari into Tanzania.  I am so excited…… Looks like another great bunch of photography enthusiasts are about to start their travels to join me.

Safari Update Day 10

On our final days of our safari in and around Mbaligiti, we spent time working on landscapes and composition.  As we approached our camp for the last time, the the clouds were building in the distance giving us some wonderful landscape opportunities.  In the truck that I was riding in, I demonstrated the importance of having an anchor point in your landscapes.  In the two images below, one has a simple tree in the lower corner and the second image, the tree has been removed.  Which is more pleasing to you?

Cheers and happy photo’ing.