From July 26 - August 21st of 2008 a small group of (8) photographers experienced the trip of a life time traveling to four different countries in Africa. On this trip I personally photographed over 80 wildlife species, this included several endangered species including wild dog, mountain gorilla and golden monkey! On many days especially in South Africa the Big 5 were seen and photographed daily.
We started the trip in Botswana, staying in a mobile tented camp in the famous Okavango. Wildlife was great, especially the wild dog pups at the den and the fantastic bird life. But, my favorite memory has to be of settling into bed each night and finding the hot water bottle which the staff had snuck in waiting for me. It was winter in this part of the world and nights were colder than I had anticipated!!
We stayed in Mala Mala camp (a private game reserve) while in South Africa the second week of the trip. I can't tell you how much I was impressed with the total operation. At this location we stayed in first class lodging and ate each evening in a bomba with fellow guests. Everyday we had leopard sightings, in fact some days, we had as many as five sightings of this elusive animal. Because this is not a national park we were able to drive off road to get into optimal position for photography. There were never more than three safari vehicles together at an animal sighting at any one time. Not only was this a great place for leopard, but, lion, white rhino, giraffe, wild dog, cheetah, cape buffalo, kudu and klipspringer made for a very fun photo shoot.
The third leg of the trip took us to Rwanda and Volcano National Park. This is the home to the mountain gorilla! For five days our group hiked into bamboo stands and lush mountain forest to photograph at close range family groups of this fantastic primate. We were allowed to spend one hour per day with an acclimated family group. It is really amazing how many images can be made in one hour. I also had the opportunity to spend an hour with a family group of golden monkeys (a rare sub-species of blue monkey). Each evening a native dance troupe would perform at our lodge.
The last week of our trip was spent in Kenya at the famous open plains of the Masai Mara National Reserve. Here we had lion, leopard, cheetah, wildebeest, zebra, elephant, vulture and hyena almost everyday. We also took some time to visit a Masai cultural village to photograph these folks in native dress.
I do plan on visiting Africa again in the future. I do not have a trip set up now but if you are interested in a similar trip please add your name to my travel list.
A funny thing happened to me the first day in the Mara. Some monkeys managed to break into the tent I was staying in and stole a small item from within the tent. After giving chase the thief dropped the item, thankfully it wasn't camera gear. While bending down to recover the stolen goodies a monkey in the tree above me decided to pee on my head! Great. On the way back to the tent I thought I heard more noises from within the tent and sure enough another monkey was leaving as I got there, this one left his calling card on the floor. Luckily camp staff was able to repair the damaged tent zipper and we had no more problems!
Need to see more? Check out my favorite photos from the African Safari
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