Africa – Tanzania 2017

Africa – Tanzania 2017

Normally I take people to Africa on a photographic tour but this time, I’ve decide to take some time out and explore a few areas that I might include on future tours to Africa. The country that I’m exploring is Tanzania and what I’m doing is just micro part as this country is enormous and has a population of 42 Million where as Australia in 24Million.

Like Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania has show much to offer and where does one start? For my first visit to this part of Africa, I’m taking in an area that is a cross section of what this amazing country has to offer. As I mentioned, this is a micro look at the diversity of what Africa has to offer and what Tanzania has to offer.

Had a direct flight from Adelaide to Qatar landing in Doha, which was a 14-hour flight. Then it was another 3-hour wait in Doha and then a 7-hour flight Doha to Kilimanjaro.

Qatar as an airline was awesome, has no faults or complaints and I guess we all have had our good experiences and bad with airlines of the one company. That’s life is it not? This was my first time flying with this airline and I have nothing but praise.

Leaving Adelaide it was soon obvious that the fight was not booked out so once we were up in the air, I went forward and grabbed a row and spread out and tried sleeping. I did say tried !!!! I don’t sleep to well on planes.

Leaving at 10pm from Adelaide was great as there was no getting p at the crack of dawn to make your flight and I had another day to get work up to date and do last minutes things.

Leaving at that time of night you literally flight into the night and you land 14 hour later 4am local time but Adelaide time was roughly midday the following day.

When I travel I take one of the best things along on the journey. It’s called a cube and this replaces those long and bulky power boards. This is small, compact, and great for traveling and it has 4 power points and two usb ports. For Tanzania, you need the British power adaptor. Wouldn’t it be awesome of they could just make it standard across the world?

Landing at Kilimanjaro was a hot reception but then again the day I left Adelaide was 37C. I was staying in Kilimanjaro itself but rather travelled to a town called ….. Later I’ll post some of the things I saw along the way.

The place I’m staying at is a little gem, of the main road and it’s hidden and one would never had known that such a gem of a place was here. I arrived Rivertrees Country Inn at 4pm local time, which was a good 24 hours after I left Adelaide.

This is a wonderful place; lovely gardens, small villas and the pictures tell the story of my room. What more could I ask for?

This is where breakfast is each morning at this wonder place. Seriously the African’s know how to get it right. Every place has its own charm.

Day 02

Today we blazed the trail to  Arusha National Park. This is not far from town and it is one of the smallest parks of 37 square Kilometres. What us amazing about this Park is that you would never know that it is here and so close town- a 30-minute drive and that is it.

There use to be lions, rhinos leopard but as the town grew, they were either hunted out which was the case for many of them and later reallocated to other areas.

This is unique in its own way as the animals like Zebra and giraffes have no predators so they usually live a full life and die either from old age or diseases.

The Park is surrounded by mountains and it is thick with vegetation and the under growth is so thick that I thought we would see very little.

The other thing that hit me here was how green it was. I’m in the on set of the wet season and it is lush and green and these animals here never have to worry about good feed as they are surrounded by it.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again-the two big advantages of doing a photo tour with myself is that if there is something happening, or about to happen that has potential, then I’ll wait until it does happen or until the event has moved on. I can’t stress that enough. I say that because the pictures and these are only a small selection of what was taken on the day, came about because I waited and waited and the results are what you see now.

We came across an open plain and keep I mind the landscape is rolling hills, dense vegetation bank by mountains, so when we came across this small open plain there were zebras there with others bits and pieces thrown in, one had to stop to explore.

We spent a good 3 hours in this one spot and the images that I was able to capture were simply wonderful. We saw other groups come and go and the average time that they stayed was 5 minutes. They never saw the things that I did with the zebras and even Amos commented by saying hat he has never seen as many zebras in this one spot and he has been coming here for 17 years.

Amos is gold and he was more than happy to wait and he was in his own little heaven seeing the animals communicate with each other from playing, to being a little aggressive with each other. The importance of having an outstanding guide who understands what photography is about.

The other advantage is that I always position the car based on where the light is. Yes there are times when that is not possible, but wherever I’m allowed to make it work with the car, I do and this means moving up the track, back down up again and so on. The end result is that you get to see the animals in the best light that is possible.

You don’t have to be a photographer to come along on my tours, you could be a person who loves birds, just loves animals over all and nature and the advantages being with me is that you get to spend a good amount of time observing and taking pictures and you are never rushed.

The advantage is that if you are into photography you will come home with great images and I’m there to help and advise you of your settings.

During the course of the day we came across many animals but what I have highlighted here are the Blue Monkeys, Zebras, the colourless monkeys (which are black and white) and we also came across a rare find and we stayed until we were able to get a good photograph of it- Amos has only seen 2 in 17 years and that was an albino Baboon. This was so special and to see this white haired baboon stand out in the crowd was awesome. Once again, spending time and waiting for the right opportunity to take the picture.

I also need to add my Canon 6D performed so well as some for many of the monkey shots the ISO had to be cranked between 1000 and 5000 ISO and in places the light was fading and you either cranked it up or you missed the shot. The results are awesome and you could not have done this 5 years years ago with good results. More about my camera gear later.

Seeing this white baboon was a real treat and I’m sure I won’t be seeing it again as it is rare and I so so blessed to have had the opportunity to have photographed it. Thanks to my good friend Amos.

This wonderful bird is the Crown Crane. So many wonderful colours on it.

Day 03

Today we are blazed the trail to  National Park. The journey was just under two hours and the things that one sees along the way is totally mind blowing. The best way I can describe it is ordered Chaos. Umm that sounds a bit like my life.

So many people and along the highway and these pics that you are looking at are all snaps from the car. I would love to spend a month on one street and photograph all the coming and goings as it is totally insane.

As iItraveled along the road I noticed many guys riding their motor bikes would be wearing a  helmet and there girlfriends or wives were not. Umm what does that say!! Ill look after ” me ‘ but you’ll be right mate ” without the helmet hahah I found that such a contrast.

The items that people put on the back of their motor bikes is also incredible. There were some items I so wish I could have been able to stopped and spent some time capturing the various things. In many cases what was on the back was three times higher than the rider. How they never fell off their bikes I don’t know, although Amos did they that there are so many motor bike accidents on a daily basis here.

The other aspect was what people put on the back of their bikes. I think one could do an awesome coffee table book just on the things that people over here put on the back of their motor bikes. In some case they were piled up so high that it was three times higher than the rider. I so wish I was able to capture them but the car was simply moving too fast.

Next in line were both men and women who would carry such large items on their head while walking. So in this picture can you picking something a little different. How on earth can you multi task like this.Where there is a will I guess there is a way and the number of people who’d be carrying such massive loads and they would be on their mobile phones and so many people over there have them.

The next few are passing through the towns and as I mentioned before and then I’ll leave you with another observation that I made  and the clue can be found in the next picture posted. The clue is in the collage that I’ve posted after what you are reading now. I with I could have time photographing all the coming and going as it would be sensational .

Did you work from the pictures what the other observation was? Every town that we drove through  and on the corners, there would be guys all just sitting on their motor bikes. They weren’t going anywhere, they were just sitting and talking. No matter what time of day, they are just there sitting on their bikes.A sense of community no doubt and the thing that hit me, they are no women just sitting on their bikes and having chats- well that may be because I haven’t seen a woman riding a motor bike over here at all. I’m not sure of that is a cultural things or not , but it is the men riding them and do they ever take risks on the road.

The other thing is that they take great pride on their motor bikes and cars as they wash them all the time but sadly , they just don’t care about the environment as there is just soooo much liter everywhere. I thought we were bad back home but we are squeaky clean in compassion. I can never understand why certain countries just don’t care about liter and yet they were wash their cars and bikes as they don’t like having them looking dirty. This is just an observation.

Making away to the Tarangire National Park we passed through the Massi country. I have never seen so many cows in one location. As we drove along the highway you had the old and the new. Modern cars, buses and trucks and you have the traditional people walking and walking with their cows guiding them to pastures where they could eat. You couldn’t get more of a contrast.

As we were travelling it wasn’t possible but it was such a contrast to see these people with their lifestyle, resisting change to a point and holding onto their ways (nothing wrong with that) and then you would see them on their mobile phones. Now that is an oxymoron and if you know the correct meaning of that word, you will know that it is not a put down.

Also as we travelled there was a young guy, somewhere between 15 and 17 who was dressed in black and his face was painted black an white. He stood on the road and we didn’t stop but in some ways I wish I had. Maybe I’ll get Amos later to stop if we come across another young fella.

With the Massi people, when their boys are circumcised and that takes place between the ages of 10 to 17, they are banished from their families for 6 months, they live apart from them and they are out wondering. You will know the ones as their faces are all painted black with white stripes and patterns. It’s really striking. They are dressed this way so people know that they have been circumcised and basically are doing their time. There is a more refined way of putting it but this is Pete s basic way.

I asked Amos how do they get on for food. In the real old days, they had to work that out for themselves, these days, ever so often food is dropped out to them, not a lot; they still need to be fend for themselves to a point.

I also learn the small dams that we saw on the road that the cows drink from, wee in and poo in, the Maassia people also drink from and they very rarely get sick. Amos told me that since they have been doing this since from the beginning of time, they have developed a very good immune system that prevents them from getting sick.

That’s amazing when you think of it, it is was me taking water from that dam that has had cows drinking from and pooing in, I’d either die or be every sick.

The men also can have many wives. And check this out, the women do everything including building their homes. The guys sit around and chat. Now that’s got to be very different.

Wide open plains, Massi people walking alongside the road to guide their cows and goats and to prevent them from entering the road. Goats and goats and more goats.

After almost two hours on the road we were at the gate of the Park entrance.

It was very hot, around the 38C and the cloud was building up. I love working with the clouds and when I saw the clouds to start to built up, I was getting excited within myself as it would be different to work with the animals and the landscape with the clouds which I have never done before since visiting this awesome land.

Amos got us checked in to drive into the park, this took some time, about 45 minutes and in the meantime, there was an order in the chaos that appeared to be happening in front of me. So many people wanting to check in.

I was out of the car stretching my legs and I was looking at all the mini buses, troopies with school groups, adults and people from all corners of the globe. What hit me was that ever one of these people are here, as they love of animals, it is that simple. People coming together for a common bond.

It is good to see the joy that the animals bring. You come to Africa to be blessed by the animals and they do this without even knowing it.

On the one hand, there is a section of people that love the animals and without the animals even being aware of which brings immense joy to people. Then on the other hard you have those who wish to harm them for poaching and killing them for senseless trophies!

The clouds were building up and the humidity in the air was causing me to sweat non-stop. I was sweating so much but I just didn’t care.

The first section of the park was dry and I say this now as later on one wouldn’t believe that we were in the same park Throughout the day I shot (photographed) zebras, later elephants, wart-hog, giraffe and I was blessed with seeing my first cheetah. These are just a few of the highlights on this day.

What hot me in this park was the number of foals in the zebra family that I saw and this made it a real treat to look and shoot. What I love about the tours that I run, wherever possible, I always allow time at a place or spot as when you have the time, it is then you’ll be rewarded. I can’t stress that.

The highlight of the day with the animals was seeing my first cheetah in Africa. My shots are nothing special and anyone can take them, but they are special to me as they are the first cheetahs that I have seen and hopefully not the last.

These were three brothers and what I learnt from Amos is that although they are in the cat family, here they don’t regard them as a cat as they don’t climb trees and their claws are like dogs in that they don’t extend, hence the reason that they can’t climb trees.

This is interesting and let me explain how a cheetah finds a mate to mate with. Lets put it in human terms. There’s Jack, Bill and Fred-they see this wonderful lady who steals all of their hearts. Jack, Bill and Fred have a punch up to see that is going to be the one to score with the lady. The winner of the three, lets say jack wins-Jack goes off to have sex with her, she goes off to have the baby, never to be seen again and Jack goes back with Bill and Fred and they are best of mates. The cycle just keeps continuing. Try that with the humans and the response will be ever so different.hahaha

The cloud was building up, and one could hear thunder in the background. Now I wasn’t sure if this was going to hit us or now as the other days the cloud started to build up in the distance and all of a sudden it decide to go another direction. This one did not. It kept coming towards us.

By this stage the park was getting greener and was a far cry form the entrance of the Park.

Down the bottom off the hill there were some elephants and I could see the storm coming our way so I asked my mate Amos if he would travel down the track further, turn the car around so I could shoot the elephants gaint a darkish sky. No problem was the reply from Amos. The rest is history.

As the afternoon progressed the heavens opened up and boy did they open up. It was so heavy that we couldn’t see where we were going. The track was quickly getting so much water over it. It made things just so hard and it was also very humid.

This was sensational and I loved every moment. The track was a river in parts and what I loved about this storm that lasted a good 12 hours, it gave me a chance to shoot the elephants in the rain. The elephant is my favourite animal in Africa.

I shot from the window and it was still hard as the rain was coming into my direction. The elephants were going nuts; they were running here and there so I have no idea if they were dancing in the rain, just having fun, happy the rains had come as it was so hot during the day or if they were in a panic. Either way it was great to see .I think they were dancing in the rain. That’s me being the romantic with the elephants.

That’s the thing about photography. No one day is the same, there is always something to look forward to and I loved it that the rain came as when the weather breaks up, that’s is when it is best to be out there as the skies break, wonderful colours, awesome skies show their character and for me it’s a massive P.O. For those who have done my photo tours and day workshops they will know what a PO is. It’s a term that I made up over 25 years ago and it stands for a Photographic Orgasm. It’s the high point in the picture, there no turning back, it’s the pinnacle to shoot, It’s the wow factor. It’s the bang!!! Tomorrow would bring this as the weather breaks.

We drove back to the Lodge as the rain has set in.

This is my home for two nights – The Africans know how to do it right, although this is coming from a guy who is used to a swag but hey, I could get use to this.:)

 

Day 4

I wont say a lot as this was yet another epic action packed day. I was off at 6.30am with Amos, breakfast at 6am and it was still raining. There were time on the tracks where it was slip sliding away hahaha and it added to the joy of just being here.

As we travelled the rain was light and continued from another couple of hours and what the rain brought was so good. As the rain had stopped it was still heavily overcast, they gave an even light and the green grasses were vivid. It was so refreshing and I was in awe.

The deeper we went into the park it was no longer dry, it was an intense vivid green colour and what was so majestic was that the elephants were a wonderful ochre colour. This was stunning against the vivid green.

 

So how do the elephants go from a grey colour to an ochre colour. When the roans come they love to roll on the termite mounds which are clearly a reflection of the red rich ochre sands and mud.

 

I had never seen this before and today; this gave me images that I would never have been able to have photographed due to the rain. Most people will see rain as a negative when you want to shoot anything but in ever case that I’m aware of, when it rains, there are always wonderful surprises waiting for the photographer. In this case, I had the ochre elephants and them against the vivid green grasses was simply awe inspiring from my perspective.

The clouds parted and I will allow my pictures to tell the story of day 4.

As I have mentioned , the rain, the termite mounds have given the elephant a new look which I think is stunning and visually inspiring.

It wasn’t just the elephants that shone the following day after the rain , but in the morning I came across 3 sets of giraffes and with the even light and the vivid green, it made photographing these graceful creatures even more enjoyable.Remember, what I’m showing you is a snippet of what was taken .The giraffe is such a graceful creature when they walk. Spending time with them, I view them as very cautious and they hit around tress poking their heads up just to check you out. I came across so many funny situations like that. They being so tall, trying to hide from you, it was so funny but then again, you just had to be there to know what I’m talking about.

Rain will always bring about a freshness to your topic. I find the giraffe difficult to photography and for some time I have been looking for the right setting, something that was a little different from the pictures that you normally see and when I saw the three groups today, I knew I had found what I was looking for. The rain brought that about for me as the freshness of colours came with that .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the first time I have seen a leopard turtle here on Africa. They don’t live in water, they live on land and don’t need water to make it throw. The Leopard loves eating this little fella and is very good at cracking the shell open and having a feed, a lion on the other hand is hopeless and gives up. Amos said that it quite a funny show watching the lion trying to get to this one but alas he just gives up.

The Crown Crane, there is something that just keeps drawingme back to this character each time I see it. i loved the even light on it , hence I just had to take one more pic haha

The even light was also good on the ostriches and I love it that there necks never stop moving and if you have a sharp eye you can capture some delightful poses.

” Clare do you think I look good today, I’m checking all my feathers as that guy with the red shirt is coming to take our photos today. You know Clare it’s all about the feathers.”

Every day has its unexpected surprises and this was another. This is a young one, just chilling out and how they can lay there just slumped over the bow of a tree is beyond me, but they do. In the time we had there, it just pretty much didn’t move apart from the odd, ” I need to get my head a little more comfortable.

Day 5-7

I’m combining the next few days as they have been days where I have been going to markets, villages to see a way of life and had an awesome morning to see how the locals make coffee by hand. I was also show by the locals how they make an illegal brew called Moonshine . The next few places will reflect this and I’ll finish up with an awesome market that I went to that is held once a months where the locals come from far and wild and this is market that can’t quite imagine. It is simply gold on so many levels.

In our travels we came across this little kingfisher. These birds are hard to shoot before they are so small  and in order to fill the frame, you need to get close enough. Amos spotted this  and we were fortunate enough that he didn’t fly away and I was able to get a good shot of filling the frame.

The local markets were insane. There was so much colour and smells and it shows you to a point how in our western society were have been so sanitized. I had to highlight ‘the modern butcher’  and  when you look at these this picture below, what the picture doesn’t show you is that its 34C and humidity is around 80%

 Where there is a will there is a way and there were two guy behind pushing as well as these guys has just pushed this tank up the hill and who knows where they had just come from.The people are amazing. they always find a will to make it work . Nothing is too small or too big as they say.

I had the chance to visit a lovely family who made their own coffee. You soon quickly learn that over here a lot is done in community and things are shared. A direct contrast to how things are generally done in Australia.

The coffee plantation belongs to the community and they are free to come and pick, make there own coffee to sell. I totally enjoyed seeing this done. The beans are picked and these are small pods. When they are red, they are ripe for picking and the beans will be nice and strong in flavour. If you love your coffee but you don’t want it strong then you pick the pods when when they are green. The time you pick the pods will determine how strong the coffee is.

I need to stress that what you see is all done by hand from the planting to the final product. Nothing is mass produced by machines, it  is all done by hand.They take great pride in all the things that they do and making coffee is no exception. once the coffee has been pick, the bean is within the pod and they need to get the bean from the pod and this is done by they beating a large stick in the large wooden upright bowl. This takes about 10 minutes of thumping down in the cylinder. Once that has been done  it’s all tipped in a large circle bowl and they simply sift out the beans from the broken pod. This is down by simply throwing the beans into the air and the shells drops to the ground. They make this look easy but I’m sure it is not as they do it with precision.

Once this is done it has to be roasted and these folk have a cylinder that rests over a fire and the coals keep the heat constant and you turn the handle continuously for 40-45 minutes non stop. That’s such a long time to turn the handle for but they do this each and every day. Over time , they have worked out how much they need  for their sales.

After the roasting has taken place, they then grind it into the powder and as the beans are crushed and grounded you can smell the rich coffee smell as its drifts into the air. Once that is done they bag it up as they have these open plastic bags and they fold  the end of the plastic bag, then lean it against the cylinder that has the coffee beans in  and the heat, melts the ends of the plastic bag either end  and you have  a sealed bag .Task is completed.

( Just a reminder, when there is a college if pictures, if you click on the picture, it will enlarge giving you a change to see more detail in the images.)

 

They then give you a cup of coffee to have and you can’t get fresher than that, can you?

They sell the coffee grounded and in the bean form. Its cheaper to buy it in the bean form and many of the locals who come to buy have there own grinders an these are all hand turned.

Moonshine- what is it. I also had the opportunity to seeing Moonshine being made. I won’t go into what they do as I can’t remember all of the detail but basically it is an illegal brew that many of the people make here. The reason that it is illegal is because it’s a deadly spirit that they make.

The ingredients are not always safe and they all cook up all differently. The end result of this is that it can kill the people and make them blind. The people know that it is illegal but they keep doing as it is cheap for them to make and many are addicted to it. The end result on the family life is not good.

Once it has gone through its processes it just looks like clear water. As a result of this,many of the locals walk around with ” moonshine “in water bottles and it just looks like water. They are never questioned. Why would you question a water bottle?

The effect is horrendous as people ride their motor bikes after drinking Moonshine and you can imagine what happens next.

My guide demonstrated how strong this stuff is by throwing a small portion on the open fire and the small explosion of fire it created was insane and this is what they drink.

The locals do have a way around the whole illegal side of things , hence the practice continues on freely without any consequence from the government.

Coming up next are The Sensational markets that I spoke about earlier- this market meets once a month and below is sneak preview……

This is the local butcher at these amazing markets. There is a big shed on the same land, they slaughter the animal on the spot, its quickly cut up and now it is on sale and there are about 5 butchers all in a row selling their meats.You can’t get fresher than that.

The people come from far and wide to be here and whatever means of transport they have whether it be means of a truck, bicycle, carts,vans they come. The loads that they have are enormous and when some of these people come from many kilometres away, it’s s body work out before you even get started.

Just before the market it had rain for 5 hours non stop and only just stopped raining around 5 am hence all of the mud but it still didn’t stop the people from coming as for them, this is one of the events of the month where they have so many people to whom they can expose their wares to.

The selling of cows and bulls is a very important for the locals. They have the native bull and cow and the European ones. The Africa Bulls and cows are tougher and have less issues that can go wrong with them with sickness. They are tough as ” nuts” as the Australian saying goes. As for their counter parts of the European cows, they require more care as they are more things that are likely to make them sick, which means that it requires a cost involved in making sure there investment in that cow is worthwhile.

Cows generally go for more money  as they produce calves which they can sell and they also produce milk. When a cow is about to give birth, the owners are always hoping that it is a cow and not a bull that is born. The cow means a far greater income for them. Clearly they have the milk that they can sell, they also make there own butter which they make an sell and they can on sell their calves s well.

The cost of the animals is determined by not only if it is a cow or bull but the weather conditions as well. While we were there some were negotiating the price in the only way that the Africa’s do.

The African cow or bulls have the hump above their necks and their cousins, the European cows and bulls have no hump at all.

I’m here at the beginning of the wet season and it was delayed and the rains have only just come. A week ago the cows and bulls were much cheaper as the owners didn’t want to hang onto them as there was not enough feed on the land to maintain them. A week later  and the grass is shooting up all over the place and the price is almost double. As the saying goes, get it early while the pickings are good. No matter what field that you are in, there are always risks involved. Do I or dont I?

 

Let me conclude this section on the markets and I could add so much more but time and space prevents this.I hope these pictures chosen for the blog will give you a feel for the place.

I was so taken by the means and how they display it their meat and how they prepare it. One of the things that they do is show the quality of the the meant by inserting bamboo shoots  and these are used to prize the meant open so you can see inside and outside of the meat.

Some meats have a stamp on them and that stamp means that it  totally safe to eat and others don’t have that stamp, so I guess it is at your own ricks or not.

They then have the barbecue that is set up along the path, sticks in the ground on a 45 degree angle and the coals are slowly cooking. As you stroll, by your large kabab on a stick and you are set to go.

I love the elephant for so many different reasons. It’s my favorite animal is Africa. One aspect that I love about the elephants are the semi abstract shots that you can do. On my Pete Dobré Photo Tours we spend time at each place, never in a hurry and that being the case, if you stay long enough, some of the elephants come within 2 metres of the vehicle. That being the case, you have a whole new world open to you with photography. These are just a few I’ll post now to show you a glimpse of that world. Just love the Ele

Photography is not just the overall picture but it is also showing the detail of your subject that would otherwise be missed.

Make sure you click on each of these images of the abstract elephant as you see the finer detail of this wonderful creature.

Lines, shapes, textures and reflective light work so well with the elephant. If you have been reading my blog, you will know why these are a striking orchre colour. just love this colour. For the 48 Hours I had this colour to work with on the elephants, it seemed so strange going back to the grey colour.

The Bush People

Today was a day that is hard to put into words. I spent the best part of 4.5 hours with the bush people who are one of the few truly nomadic people left in Tanzania.

There are 121 tribes that live is Tanzania and with this particular tribe, there are only 1500 of them left.

Travelling there took us over an hour to find them; being nomadic means that they are always in the same place. There were times when the track we were following wasn’t much of a track and this is my type of adventure. Along creek beds, up rocky slops and then along the plains for a short time.

This tribe moves every 3-4 months. They are totally self sufficient and they dig for water and they hunt their food with bow and arrows. These arrows are so deadly and they can hit things with precision. (More about that later)

They speak no English and their language is very difficult to learn. The guide who took us in spent 10 months living with them in order to learn the language and he knows it well. I think people who can speak more than one language are very gifted. This language that the guide had to learn is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn and many of the other tribes have no concept of it.

The tribe will hunt anything that moves apart from Hyena. They don’t hunt hyena because they see them as unclean. The reason being so is that when family member dies, they don’t bury the person or build a hut for them like some do but rather they take them away from camp and leave them out in the open for the animals to eat and that means the hyena is the one who comes and does the eating as they will eat anything. Given the hyena will eat the body of the family member, they will not eat the hyena as they view that animals as unclean due to eating their family members. They grieve for 3 days.

The men and women don’t mix during the day that is taboo; they can see each other from a distance. From the moment they get up, the men go and sit under a tree and the women find their own space, might be under a tree also. They are only 10-20 metres apart from each other and they can’t talk to them at all. They believe that the woman has secret business to talk about; therefore it is not right for them to mix. This is how they spend their entire lives. Nighttime is there time for socialization.

There was no issue with me being their mixing with the women and my guide, as we are males. As for secret woman’s business being talked about, there was none of that to my knowledge, it was more them looking after the kids as I would check with my guide what they were saying every now and again, etc.

They then come back together in the evening and the cycle continues. That’s life for the bush people here.

 

When we arrived at their camp, there was a very large boab tree where the men were sitting down at and on the tree, they hung their bows and arrows and the skulls of baboons, as they will hunt those as well. It was such a strange feeling looking at the tree, seeing the weapons, seeing the skulls as this was a constant reminder how different my word is from there and visa versa. It was like something out of the old movie Indiana Jones. If a large boulder in the rock wall moved to my right I wouldn’t have been surprised at all. It was like stepping back in time and been given a glimpse of life back many years ago. This was what it felt like seeing the bush people living the way they do. It was like a snapshot back in the past but this was no re-enactment, no museum, not Hollywood, this was the real deal.

 

 

There was a small open over head handing rock like structure from where we parked the 4WD and 4 of the men were sitting up there getting a fire going. So I went up there with the Amos to see what they were doing. I think it was just another area to chill out, kick the legs back as there is not much else to do once the hunting has been completed in the morning.

The way they get their fire happening is insane and in no time at all, they have the fire going with the stick that they twirl back and forth until the friction causes the fire. They nurture the small spark and cover it with any dried animal poo, as this is good to burn. In no time at all, the fire is going. No matches, no firelighters, just one smooth round stick and the rest are history

The picture of this tree that you can see now is the tree that they make the poison from to kill the animals that they hunt. They cook and prepare the leaf and when it is done, it looks like a dark putty paste, which they put on the end of the arrow. When they hit the animal it is dead within in 10 minutes from the poison of the arrows.

The huts are amazing as well. As you can imagine, very simple and their mattress is always the hide of an animal. The one pictured here is that of a coudu and if you look carefully there are 7 arrow holes in the skin. It is outside drying and this will become the mattress for one of the members to use each evening. This helps to reduce the cold of the open ground.

 

Some of the huts will have a smaller hut built next door to them. This is either for the young kids to play in order to give the parents a break or it is a permanent home for one for the older kids whose time has come to move out and to become independent. None of this staying with mum and dad as long as you can to have cheap rent!

On the ground within the circle you can see a few plants growing, these are medicine plants and these are grown wherever they end up as if they get sick and depending on what it is, they will prepare these plants and they are as good as ready to get up and go again. They have different plants that will cater for each different illness.

What amazed me was seeing the women smoking their pipes, they all do and they smoke normal tobacco through to marijuana. I was totally blown away and thought to myself” what damage are you doing to yourselves with this and “Kids as young as 10 start.” Yes you read that right 10.There way of life is so different.

Through the guide they asked me if I wanted to go hunting with them. They normally hunt first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon. It’s just too hot during the day and the animals are harder to fine whereas when it is cooler, they are up and about.

 

The tribe are normally naked but they have created clothing for themselves, the guys now wear jeans, shorts ear pants etc. as they now have people from the outside come to see what they are doing , they have gone ot the clothing side of things. As first when they were approached to allow westers in to see what they were doing, they were against the idea. Thy later learnt that they could benefit from this as a fee is paid and they sue this money to buy other things . Beads and craft pieces that they use to make things and so on. They are nomadic but they do have contact with communities near them through the guides that come.

The guys always where animal skins on top of their clothing at all times and they are a little strong on the nose when you are close to them but they do this as it covers their human scent up and this enables them to get closer to the animals that they are hunting. The animals just smell them as another 4-legged animal. Each person I noticed wore a different skin. They do wear sandals on their feet as well

Now before I get onto the hunting, let me take you back an hour. The men and Amos and our other guide got up under the boab tree, set a target up a good distance away and they had some target practice with their bow and arrows. They had to hit this small branch of a tree which they placed on the ground. They lined up behind the line, which was drawn in the sand. I wish I had the video going, I did in other areas, as the sound that these arrows made once released is a sound that sends a chill up your spine.

 

Only did 2 out of the four arrows hit the branch, the others were not far off and of the two that did hit the tree, they went right through and they were lodged out the other end. Oh I wish I could convey the sound. It was so eerie, haunting and it really did send a chill down my spine

Hunting started and off we went. I had no idea what to expect as we were on foot. This was like stepping back in time and yet, for these people, this is life, this is what they do every day of their lives and this is what makes them who they are.

 

As the hunt went on, there was no big game but they did shoot 3 birds, two smalls ones and one semi large on. What amazed me is that they didn’t miss. Two of the three birds were tiny, a, little like budgies and I would not have thought that they would eat those as there doesn’t appear to be enough food on them, but they did

The bush that we walked through ranged from dense to open and when it was dense, it was a little tricky to get through as they were all thorns but they would just glide through without any issue at all.

We did this for some time and the rule with them is that, if they get small game, like the birds they don’t have to take it back with them, they can eat it there on the spot. The bigger game is brought back to be given out evenly. They had just caught coudo two days ago.

 We sat down under the boab tree. The 4 guys threw some rocks up at the tree and I wasn’t sure what they were trying to hit. After a few goes they hit the boab fruit, which fell from the tree and it, wasn’t long before I was sucking on it. They cut it open and it is something to suck on to keep your saliva up. It’s not sweet at all, a little on the sour side but for a novice like myself, it was fine.

The preparation of the fire took know time at all and before you know it, they have pulling feathers off, not all of them mind you. Once the fire is up and running, it’s on the fire and I think these birds took no more than ten minutes.

 

The chief, he was a younger guy as his father had died and the son of the chief automatically gets the job of being in charge. He came up to me and offered me some of his bird which was nice of him given there wasn’t a lot to eat from the bird although it was the bigger of all the birds. His was a Franklin.

 As they sat around the campfire eating, I couldn’t help wonder how much of the outside worlds are they aware of and this to them, is a normal way of life. Their only care is that they have to find food for the extended family

As for water, as I mentioned before, they dig a hole in the ground and they normally go down a metre and there they strike water. They drink straight from that. No purification stuff that we expect back in the western world.

 Last year I was fortunate enough to have spent 6 weeks in the USA and some of the places that I went to over there, I drew comparisons to and you could not get any more two worlds apart than if you tried

They don’t pay taxes, they don’t need money for a deposit for a house, they are never in debt but at the same time, I think what they do is extremely hard. They don’t off course as it is second nature but as an outsider looking inward, I think it is so hard what they do.

This place is so far away from things its insane it really is. I asked my guide about what happened when the women have their periods. What the go with that? When the women can sense that her period is about to start, they have a herb that they pick and grow and they take it with them wherever they go. They cook this brew up and she takes that and they makes it ever so light, in some cases will prevent it from happening altogether.

The women who have heavy flows, and the bush medication doesn’t work for them, they have to spend three days outside the camp until it has complete.

Getting to this place you drive through other villages and there are kids everywhere. They don’t have birth control here and the woman is pretty much pregnant a lot of the time. As the communities grow larger, I think they could run out of an abundance of food to feed them as the kids keep popping out and there are so many kids.

 Back at the camp I went to the women’s section and I was able to sit observe and photograph all the comings and goings. No matter what culture, no matter what background, all kids are the same. Even these bush kids who are brought up so tough in what they do are no different from the kids back home.

 During my time there, there were a few little fights between the, ages 2-4 and one wasn’t sharing and it goes on. These issues that the white people have back home with there own kids, they have the same issues here as well.

On the boa tree they have there skulls and weapons as I mentioned before but they also have these pegs that they have knocked into the tree and this enables them to climb right to the top which they do to collect the honey that is up there from the bees.

Ngorongoro Crater

Day 10

This is an amazing place. The best way I can describe this and the simplest way is to say it’s a massive hole in the ground, with all the animals in it and they can’t get out. Well they can if they go up some pretty steep hills and they chose to stay where they are.

When I saw this tree at sunrise , I just had to get Amos to stop. He ‘such a good friend.

It’s an extinct volcano and it is 168 square kilometres so as you can imagine it is massive. They have wide open plains, lakes and rainforests there so just about all the main animals are there, from Zebras, lions, hyenas, Rhino’s, buffalo, monkeys, impala and the list goes on.

I’ve left the warm weather too much cooler weather although the day gets warm again bit not as warm and the nights are so much cooler.

As we entered the crater just after sunrise, I think there were close to 60 other game drive vehicles. It was a shock to start off with as there were so many but it doesn’t take away from this unique place as being 168 square kilometres, game drive cars soon spread out and there are times when you are on your own.

As we entered the crater we were greeted by a male lion in the stunning early morning light and we stopped there as you do to shoot this wonderful creature against the backlit light of sunrise.

It wasn’t before long and there was a pride of lions coming towards us. This place is stunning as there are so many different eco systems within the one huge landscape down in the crater.

Although this place is extremely popular to go to it still felt was such a special place to see the animals, to see them keep to themselves and at the same time, always on the lookout for their predators. I felt blessed to be here and in fact the whole trip I felt blessed. (More about that later)

As I took in the immense beauty that was before me, I thought how pointless when countries are fighting each other and for what, in the bigger picture of life, war is totally futile and yet I think countries or people, of the people running these countries get stuck in a mind set that they refuse to change and think that war is the only way to solve issues. As I admired the wonder of God’s creatures I reflected on the futility of humanity and humanity’s dark side that really shouldn’t be there as there is no excuse for it.

 

I always encourage my guest to capture the wildlife doing something a little different haha

It is so nice to see the lighter side of life, the side that inspires and uplifts you. Too many people get addicted to their TV.s and believe most of the crap that is on the TV and start believing the news that is fed to them. Then we develop a negative outlook in life. That’s why I love being out in the wide-open spaces and it doesn’t have to be Africa, (that’s why I drive in the country most weekend s when I’m home) it can be anywhere and you will always have a far better outlook on life of life in general.

 

 

What I love about photographing the zebra, it offers so many wonderful semi abstract images. All you have to do is look out for it. Train your eye and you’ll have an awesome time with photographing this stunning animal.

There is so much more that I could say but I’ll let the pictures tell the story for you and I’ll have a few comments under the pics.

 

I love this shot of the two foals as I love working wut the semi abstract as I mentioned before and with zebras I’m always looking for it and when I saw this, I have to be quick as this pose only last for seconds.

When there is a baby elephant, the rest of the elephants will surround the little one to protect it. I only just got this shot in before they close in on it once again.

Hold the tail is also a way of protecting and guiding the little one as to not stray.

This is only a snap shot of what I have taken but this should give you an idea how wonderful this place is.

Day 11

Bush Camp

This was one of my best experiences as it take me back when I’m out in the middle of nowhere back home. I love the wide open spaces, the sweeping plains and I have no words that best can describe this place. I have no idea where to start. What i can say is it was here , that many firsts for myself took place here.The picture that I have posted here with the single tree, represents this place.

It’s a contrast of open spaces, rivers, tree forests and then back to the open spaces. Just love the width and depth to this place. There are so many firsts here and the pictures can tell you the story although, what you see in each section that I put us , is a snap shot only of  what was taken.

Amos my man was amazing.This place so  big and there are tracks going everywhere and then there were hours we drove with no tracks and yet, he still found his way round, I was spell bound at what he was doing and how far we drove with no tracks and yet, he always managed to connect again with tracks if that makes sense. Amos is a gentle soul who is simply gold and his knowledge is outstanding and his eyes sight like that of an eagle.

 

When you are told that you are staying in a tent, the word tent takes on a whole new outlook.Every time I go into one of these I’m am totally blown away.

What do you notice in this picture? Can you see the leopard turtle that doesn’t need water to live? Never forget to also take the overall shot so people can see the landscape that the animal lives in.For a very large turtle, these creatures actually move very fast. They don’t run but those legs are power legs as they get this house on legs cranking along. When I did the ground shots I had to keep getting up and moving back !

This was the very first time that I had seen cheetah in Africa on this Africa trip and here in the bush, this was the first time I had seen cubs  and little did i know at the time of taking this series of pictures, that the following day, I was to see  a mum with four cubs!!

Wildlife is unpredictable and you can never say for certain what you see and how much of it. It is the nature of Africa as these animals are wild and they are free to roam wherever they like. So for me, ti was totally awesome to see this cub. The shot is not brilliant, but for me, it is special as it is the first for me.

While we were there watching these two the mother was watching things in the distance ( I was told the cheetah has pin point vision and can see clearly for 3 kilometres) and we looked to see what she was watching and in the far distance was a hyena.It had spotted the cub and was coming to kill and eat it as the cub would be totally defenseless.

The hyena was gaining ground and it was really making a dash for the cub so Amos put his foot down and in the car to chase the hyena far away which we did do. It was high adventure as Amos was determined to protect the cub as much as he could. We drove so far chasing this hyena to drive it as far away as we could and we could.

We stopped, the hyena was stuffed and didn’t bother to make his way back. So one cub saved but such is life out here. All the animals live on the edge, protecting their young. The only animal who really doesn’t live on the edge , is the lion as the lion really has no predators.

The advantage of doing a photo tour is being able to wait, I asked Amos to just wait where we were as I was waiting for the cheetah to walk into the picture as I wanted it with the lone tree as a very simple shot but sets the setting of what we were seeing and back drop of the landscape that gives context to what you are shooting.

 The the good things about the wildlife that you are photographing, when you think you have seen it all, there is always another surprise waiting for you around then next bush or tree.

Here the landscape changes all the time and Amos is a complete legend and one of the best as his knowledge of the area is priceless. We came across these two giraffes and this is the smallest baby that I have seen thus far and it is the first time I’ve actually been able to capture on camera feeding.

The other thing that I really liked about the feeding shot is the tree that is behind them. This is typical of this area and it is an acacia tree. When I first saw the giraffe feeding of its mum I was in a totally different position and I asked Amos to bring the car around to get the tree in the shot as well. By doing this, it sets the scene very well. The tree and the giraffe compliment each other. Once again, that’s the point of difference in doing a photo tour with myself, as photography is more than pressing the shutter button, its also being aware of  your surroundings and how best to shoot what is in from of you. When I saw the tree I knew straight away what I had to do.

As I mentioned, there are always surprises. This is another first for myself, seeing two lions mating. now what surprises me is how quick he does it! No more than 3 seconds and he is done and dusted! We waited for about 40 minutes for him to get this act together and have his fun time . When he did, we were all amazed how quick it was.

The other things is that when he is about to mate with her, he comes up from behind and growls in her ear , maybe thats his ” dirty talking to her”  hahaha but he really got worked up, a massive snarl came on his face and he nibbled at her ear.

So it took more effort for him to get up, walk around her, snarl, bite her ear and then the deed was done in record time.

The other thing that was interesting, he was able to get up and go again after a 5 minute break from his passion of lust, so twice he mated with her in a short time both lasting no more than 3 seconds.

It worked out well for me  that he was happy to go another time as I was able to get Amos to change the position of the car do I could get a different angle of his passion of love.Once again, a point of difference in doing a photo tour, changing your point of view to add more interest to your theme.

You’ll notice she has a collar on, these are put on a few of the lions to track their movements, the prides whereabouts and they use them for their research on the lion where they learn so much about this majestic creature.

 She is happy to sit there while his 3 second of passion takes over and he is the one who is huffing and a puffing and snarling.

 

Now is all done, he is looking very pleased with himself.

The great thing I loved working with Amos is his cheeky  and humble nature and he knowledge. He we all had a wee break as boys do and on this day we were joined by a delightful chap, called Petro ( Peter) whom Amos was also training him up as a guide. It is so good seeing people pass their knowledge onto the next generation coming up. Often some professions want to keep the knowledge to themselves and not share as some feel threaten that others will pass them by. Amos is a champ and such a fine guy whom will always be welcome at my home.

The following day on the same area we came across a mum and four cubs. I’ve started this series of pics of with a picture that is very ordinary but it is to set the scene as when mum goes hunting, which she did and she was unsuccessful this time as we were watching her, she leaves her cubs and tells them not to move until she gets back.They stayed  and never moved at all. Remarkable it was.

She was gone for about 45 minutes, we could see her in the distance as she was tracking a gazelle  and there was a point where she gave chase and I have never seen an animal run so fast but she couldn’t catch the gazelle which was amazing as the cheetah is the fasted animal over a shortest distance.

The issue I think was that she left the gap between her and her ” potential kill” to large to make up as she got within 3 metres of it and just couldn’t go any further.Amos told told me that they have the highest success rate in capturing their kill, up around the 80% mark.

 

When she goes off to get her cubs dinner, they literally don’t move, don’t disobey and they stay there until she comes back. A little different to human kids, tell them to do something and at times they will do the opposite.

This picture has been posted to this blog simply to show you how vulnerable they are once the mother leaves them. She took them to the longest grass around on the wide open plains  as when they do lie down, you would never have known that they were there.

Returning back to the cubs after a failed attempted of getting food for them.

So far you have been seeing the lighter side of Africa, but there is a dark side  and that is when  they have to kill in order to live. Driving around , you see many of the vulnerable animals living on the edge, all looking out for the lion, cheetah or leopard as they are the main predators that most have to worry about.

The difference between the animals and us, is that they kill only to survive, they kill for food. We as a human race, we kill for lust, power, greed and at times , just because we can. The animal kills never kills what it can’t eat, it never kills to give the animal a sense of joy, they kill for food.

We saw 3 cheetah bring down a body wilderbeast and the time for when it was brought down, within 30 minutes all that remained was the head. It was so surreal watching this  and cars came from all over the place. I’ve put a pic of the cars so you can see how many there were watching.

Before this took place, you would have thought that maybe you and one other game car was is in the area but when the words gets out, they just come from everywhere.

One cheetah had the wilderbeats around the throat so it couldn’t move so the other two had started eating it while it was alive. They would rotate until the animal was clearly dead.The wilderbeats couldn’t move and gave out little yeps and 10 minutes into the eating it was still alive. That’s the nature of Africa . As brutal as it is, one has to keep things into perspective, they kill in order to live.

When you go to your local zoo, they do the same things, an animal is killed somewhere,  and brought to the zoo for the animals to eat, you just don’t see that happening.

As brutal as this may appear, it’s just what they have to do in order to survive.

Unlike the male lion, the cheetah work in partnership with each other and sharing their catch and making sure they are all fed.

 

At the end of their feed, the only part that was left was the skull and spine, although both those parts had a good going over with the cheetah. What is left over is usually finished off by the hyena.

The Cheetah is a fine animal and the contours of the body, its streamline structure make it a delight to photograph. Seeing the cheetah running at top speed is something that I’ll never forget as the speed just leaves you spell bound.

On a lighter note, once the kill was completed, the game drive vehicles began to g on their merry ways and soon, we were driving out what appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t see another game drive vehicle for over 90 minutes and how Amos found this pride of lions I have no idea.

What i can’t convey to you is the isolation of this place and if you ever join me on a Pete Dobré Africa Photo Tour, then you’ll totally understand what I’m talking about.

WE came across four lions at the tree  just chilling in the shade and there were another two not far behind.What I liked about this moment was that we were so close, literally only a few metres from them. The good thing about this, it gave me time to take some close up shots, to show detail and at times the cuteness of the lion.

We stayed for for a good 40 minutes and it was just so good, just observing, waiting for the lions to move with each turn, sitting up, rolling bodies over each other, swinging legs all gave many awesome photographic opportunities.

I see  apic like this and I can’t help but wonder ,what might she be thinking at that moment. If only one could read the minds of these awesome creatures. She could have been thinking,”Umm that guy with the red shirt looks like a hearty meal” haha

Always aware of what is going on around them.

When I see pics like this, you think that you could just hop out of the car and go  and have a cuddle with them but we know the end result if that was the case.

You can’t get any more relax than this lioness. She stayed like that for a good 20 minutes.

What I like about Amos, he is always looking for things to teach me about the land, the animals and anything of interest. Amos stopped the vehicle and I thought to my self, ” why would he stop here as i couldn’t see any animal , but then again, Amos has razor sharp eyes and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there was a creature out there.

Well there was but it was not what I was expecting. Amos found the Africa Dung Beetle and  the video of these little creatures is quite funny. They go about collecting and rolling animal poo looking for the right place to put it and to see them on the top of the ball of poo , rolling the poo to where they want it ,is really amazing. There were times when they had to get up the wheel ruts in the ground and as they were almost at the top, they would roll backwards. Not to be defeated, they were at it again and again until they got it up the top.

Once at the top , they keep rolling the poo and at times they would stop, slightly dig into the earth and if it was soft enough, they would bury it. The African Dung beetle buries 15 ton of poo a day into the ground and this natures way of fertilizing the ground which provides feed for the animals when the rains come for the following year.

The dung beetle also lays its eggs inside the poo before it is put under the ground and the cycle of life and fertilizing the land is repeated each year. That’s totally amazing I think as something as small as a beetle can has such a profound effect on nature and the land.. The bigger creatures do depend on this little fella doing its role for them..

The Hyena

In this area there is so much to see and given the last two days here, nothing surprises me with what we come across. As we were driving slowly along which seemed like in the middle of nowhere, we came across 20 hyenas. I’ve never seen so many in the one spot and all together. The day before by what Amos had told me, a zebra had been killed and the hyenas were having the left overs as they are know as the scavengers of the land out here.

One of the hyenas ran of with the head and part of the spine of the zebra. These are such strong creatures, and in some ways stronger than the male lion which I’ll talk about later.

Up further there were two more hyenas who were eating some more left overs and this was a stand off. In the one corner you had the two hyenas, in the other corner you have the jackals waiting to get there share and in the third corner it was the vultures on stand by.

The hyenas was ripping into the left overs and after 5 minutes one left and as soon as one left the Jackals thought they had a show with just one, There were times when the hyena allowed the jackals in close enough to get a small piece of the action, other times he would growl, snarl and take one step forward towards them and they would scattered but then come back. It was such a funny thing to watch. The brute strength of the hyena was amazing and you could hear it crunching through the bone and in the end, it had enough and decided to go. Once that happened, the three jackals that were on stand by were in there like a flash and so were the vultures. The circle of life.

As I mentioned before, the animals kill for survival unlike the human race.There killing is essential to life, not an after effect.

These images were possible as I spent almost 30 minutes here getting these shots. In all the segments where I have posted pictures it is only a snap shot of what was taken. When you have time in a place, and you are patient, in the end you’ll capture things that you wouldn’t if you are there for 5 minutes.

Spotted hyenas are organized into territorial clans of related individuals that defend their home ranges against intruding clans. The centre of clan activity is the den, where the cubs are raised and individuals meet. The den is usually situated on high ground in the central part of the territory. Its above-ground entrances are connected to a series of underground tunnels.


Hyenas have territories which they mark and patrol by depositing a strong-smelling substance produced by the anal glands on stalks of grass along the boundaries.

The high mineral content of the bones hyenas eat cause their poos to be chalky white.We saw several of these in our travels.

Hyenas are social animals that communicate with one other through certain calls, postures. They quickly make their intentions known to other members of the clan, or to outsiders. When a hyena’s tail is carried straight, for example, it signals attack. When it is held up and forward over the back, the hyena is extremely excited. In contrast, it hangs down when the hyena is standing or walking leisurely. If frightened, the hyena tucks its tail between the legs and flat against the belly and usually skulks away similar to our domestic dogs.

Their main preadors are lions outside that, they have no fear really and are built like tanks.

The time of year I was in Tanzina was through the migration of the Willderbeast as they make there way from Kenya through to Tanzania. There are so many willderbeast, 100,s of thousands if not more. Wherever you look there were these awkward looking animals making there way slowly to the place where they want to give birth, once birth has taken place, they travel another few hundred kilometres to make there way back from where they just came from. They mate in one area and then travel to give birth many of hundreds of kilometres away. Crazy stuff, why not mate and give birth in the same place.

The Lion Trees

There are times when you might think…”Umm how nice would it be to go through a stroll in the bush, it’s peaceful, it’s quiet and all you can hear are the sounds of the birds that you cannot see at times. As the sun gets low in the sun it is so tempting to go for a stroll. The picture below I took for a reason. It’s not a great picture at all, it’s rather awful and blan to say the least. The picture wasn’t taken for the wow factor  but rather for a reality check. In the picture below there are 7 lions up the tree. That’s totally insane.

When we arrived at this stop, there were 7 lions lying under the tree in the shade. As the wind gently increased, the lions one by one, jumped up and climbed the tree. You would never pick this tree as having 7 lions just laying about on the branches.

Later on I’ll post another pic as a reality check of Africa. In this park of the trip, I came across 3 trees with a stack of lions just chilling out. “Umm, you facncy that walk or stroll in the wild areas of Africa now ? “

 

Every time I look through the lens and i see their faces like this, they look so sweet, so innocent and so cuddly.

 

The male lion is an interesting character on so many levels. He doesn’t actually do much of the hunting at all, only when he has to, the lioness does most of it. The girls get together an work as a team. If he is close by and gets wind this happening and that the girls actually brought an animal day, he’ll come over and takes over the eating and will hog the lunch for himself and will only give it up to the girls when he is full. So he is pretty selfish as he doesn’t like sharing at all.

She on the other hand will share with the girls and will also look after her cubs.

As we travelled along we came across this male lion who was struggling carrying the remains of the willderbeast when he wanted get up and walk with it. There was a pride of female lions not far and do you think he would share with them, ” hell no” . It’s all mine as the quote goes.

The male lion is  a majestic creature but I think in the end he has issues as he doesn’t share, doesn’t care, he is number one and that’s about it. Ummm I don’t think he is much different from some males I’ve known in the past.

Maybe one of the reasons that the male lion doesn’t hunt is he is on average 50 kilo heavier and he doesn’t have the same lean body and her and is not as agile in the chase. On average he is 180 kilo and is 150 kilo on average.Maybe he is heavier as he eats more haha!!!

Lions can reach speeds of up to 81 kph but only in short bursts because of a lack of stamina.The cheetah on the other hand is much quicker over a longer period of time as compared to the lion.

Out in the wild the lion lives for approximately 12 years and in captivity toy can add another 8- 10 years on top of that.

The other interesting thing is that the lion will rest for anything up to 20 hours a day. active only when in the mood to hunt or a bit of play fighting with each other. They are a little like the Australian Koala who sleeps for 22 out of the 24 hours in the day.

What was really awesome about this moment with this male lion was the fact that the wind had come up and this was great for the wind blown effect on his mane . The wind would make it blow in all directions and this was a photographers dream. The next lot of images is highlighting that and if I get time, will post one on the blog in black and white as I think given the light, the form and the texture, the black and white would work really well here.

When they eat out here the lion is always closing its eyes as the flies not only annoy us humans, but they also give the cats a pretty hard time as well. How they put up wth the flies I don’t know. Why is it that the flies have to try and get in your eyes, why can’t they just annoy other parts of you body and we would be cool with that. Nope, they just gotta attack the one part that we hate, the eyes!

This is the lion who is trying to get a comb over haha The wind really provided good opportunities to shoot something just a little different.

The flies not just annoy us but the king of the land has to put up with them as well.

 

The roar of a line can be heard up to 8 kilometres away in the stillness of the night.

I’m a sucker for  my favourite animal in Africa, the Elephant.As we drove along and when we came across a herd of elephants I would turn to say to Amos, ” mate I need to stop here” Amos was aware of what the elephant does for me and in the end, he was slowing down as he knew I was going to ask him to stop. Having Amos was so good  as I was able to teach him photography as well and knew part way through how light works and it was so good as Amos would say to me,” Brother we need to be on the other side because of the light….’ Having someone like Amos whom I get along with so well, has really made the trip so good and adds such a level of joy to the trip. Being on the same page as your guide is magic and opens up so many more opportunities.

This little guy was having a ball running all over the place with a sense of innocence. It a so cute seeing him run forward, , then run backwards, sideways and you could see that he was just having fun.

How can you not get sucked into loving these little ones. They just look so playful and cute.

I never get tired of seeing the young feeding off their mums. It’s just one of those special moments and gives you goose bumps- well for myself it does.

 

On this day I had left the tripod back at camp so the camera was just resting on a bean bag that I was using in the car when shooting from it. I just love the wide open spaces in this part of Africa and the skies were rocking today.

Lions in the trees … again!

One of the experiences that really blew me away was coming across trees that had lions in them. I’ve not seen this in other parts of Africa and I’m sure it happens all the time elsewhere in Africa but I haven’t seen it but here, it seems to be the thing that the lions do. This was a magic moment as the sun was going down and it was great to have some nice evening light on the lions.

What I love about this moment is the laid back attitude that they have and the facial expressions which are just gold. As I have mentioned before, I so wonder what these girls are thinking as I look through the camera.

Maybe  it’s” Hey Emma. look at those crazy people with their cameras on us.Anyone would thing that they haven’t seen a lion before.”

What I like about this shot, it shows the context of the lions in the tree so well.Two ladies just hanging  and chilling. They appear not to have a worry in the world.

Can you be anymore relaxed than this?

I think the male lion hanging like this might has position his body a little differently if he doesn’t want to have a high pitched roar 🙂

Every now and again, the eyes pop open to make sure all is well on the horizon, or maybe just checking that tonights tucker might be walking past.

I just love shooting the portraits of these magnificent creatures. How can you not be so moved and touched by these wonderful cats?

Sitting tall and proud and elegant with a sense of legend status.You just gotta love that look don’t you?

 

Have you ever thought how do these majestic climb these trees and some just go straight up. I had the awesome opportunity to just sit, chill and wait to see if 7 lions would take the path up the tree and they did. A photo tour will wait, a safari just cruses for 5 minutes and moved on.They conquered the tree so easily. There was no effort.

The funny thing was when this was taking place and they were going up one at a time. They were like big kids growling at each other ” this is my spot, go find your own” and what blew me away was how they managed to find a spot and to simple chill as they do.I wonder if they have ever fallen out of the trees.

Can you image walking along the the ground and all of a sudden a few lions just dropped out of the tree next to you? hahaha that was be so funny and so scary at the same time.

On the second to last day of my African trip in the morning light we came across these lions on the rocks. They were so still, so quite and it just looked like a scene from The Lion King . they sit, stand so proud full of so much grace.

I also like to post a grounding shot as I call it. It’s a shot to show you the context of the close up shots. Nothing outstanding.The image below shows how far they were from me and the close ups are taken from the same position, hence you can see why the 7d mark 2 and the 100-400 5.6 is the perfect combination for wildlife photography in my opinion.( more about that later-Yes I know I have said that before but it will happen soon)

Its never easy going home after a sensational trip to Africa. The last day saw a few surprises for me as we made our way to the airstrip. The night before I head lions going off and doing their thing in the dark. As the nights are so still and so quiet,the lions sounds seemed as it was just outside my tent door. maybe it was, I don’t know but it was just so loud and so inspiring.

Make our way back to the strip we came across the lions that Amos said would have been the ones that we head on our last night.

There was a male and female sitting and laying in the grasses with flowers around them,. This was such a pretty scene and it just wanted to make you wanna jump out and go for a stroll towards them as it was just a nice sunny morning and with the flowers out, you could be forgiven for wanting a morning walk with the lions. The harsh reality, it was such a different ending if one was to get out of the car and to go for that walk.

The early morning light just made it so inviting to get out and sit down with them.

The third lion a male was resting near  a tree which was close by.It’s so peaceful, so gentle with it’s appearance but reality is a different story.

This male is soaking in the early morning light. It’s always good to be able to shoot the animals in the early morning light, the colors are always golden in this light.

What also blew me away , we came across a small herd of elephants which for me was a fitting goodbye  as I adore them. They are majestic and what I really liked about these, they were spread out and it gave me a chance to show a simplistic shot and how emotive it can be. The single elephant and the single tree I really loved.

I got Amos to back up the car several times as i knew how I wanted to compose the shot  and therefore I needed the vehicle to be moved around  in order to achieve that.

The simply shot is in many ways more emotive than the shot that is full of other things in the picture. For me the simple shot will always be very emotive and will always leave an impression on you.

That’s what my photo tours are all about, where a moment justifies for the car to be moved in the right place to help with the composition, then I’ll do that. As the elephant was always moving, the car had to be moved also to make sure the composition was correct.

What really strikes you about Africa is how different it is. Every time I venture back there, there is always something different to see, to photograph and every image taken will always leave a lasting impression on you.

Being in Africa helps you to stop, reflect on life, it helps you to know the great joy that comes from nature, it also shows you how crazy we are at times when we allow little things to get us down, in the bigger picture of life they are not important. What is important are the things are free in life, the things that come with no hidden agendas and that the moments that inspire you most usually come from nature.

On the last day I had another reminder that was brought home to me how this is a wild land and just when you think there are no animals around, something else just pops up. As we were driving along, Amos said to me,” can you see the lion over there?” I looked and there was no way I could see a lion anywhere. He pointed it out to me and I was blown away. Can you see it in the picture which is the wide shot. The second picture I have zoomed in so you can see how he is just relaxing there. having a lazy rest in the shade of the bush and Amos said’ He’s most likely waiting for lunch to walk by him.

 There was a single moment that was my highlight and this took place about 4 days ago. I have saved it last to post as it is my greatest highlight on this Africa Trip. I have many highlights, many moments that were emotive and yet this one if I had to pick one which stands out alone, then this it.

There was a lioness and her cubs who had taken refuge in a small clump of bushes. Once again , you could walk or drive right past this and not know that this was the home of a lion and her cubs.

Amos was a gem as I had some things on my bucket list with this trip to Africa and this was one of them and I was able to to capture this moment and it brought so much joy. It’s a shot that has been shot many times before and no doubt will continue to be photographed. It’s not always easy to get this shot and when you are able to shoot it for the first time, it will always remains such a special moment.

My capture of this setting is no better than anyone elses but it is my shot if that make sense. When the lioness picked up the cubs in her mouth she did this in a way that she was just so careful and ever so gentle.It was simply amazing to watch this taken place several times.

The act of putting the young one in her mouth is an act that appears to take place in slow motion.

As she approached them as they were outside in the bush den playing between themselves as there were three cubs.

The cubs were jumping on each other, smacking each other around the face with these paws and tumbling and rolling all over each other. Amos said these cubs were roughly 4weeks old.

The mother would be approaching them and very gently should would paw at them, to get them to sit down and once they were seated, she would pick them up ever so carefully and take them back to the den. The funny thing about this process was that the cubs were naughty as as soon as she placed them down in the den, they would come running out from the den to the outside and started smacking each other up.. It was just so funny. She (mum) would get up, go and get them again and until they got the point.

Africa is a stunning land with so much to offer the photographer.This moment as a photographer I’ll never forget and no matter how brutal they are in catching their dinner , in the end all they are doing is caring for their young and giving them the best start that they can in life.

I’m so impressed with the  canon gear that I’m using at the moment. The perfect set up for Africa in my opinion is the Canon 7d mark2 and the 100-400 5,6. This set up covered me for 90% of my shots. That lens never came off the camera at all. The other good thing about the camera is that it is 10 frames a second, that’s awesome for the action shots and wanting to freeze the moment.

I then had the Canon 6D with the 16-35 2.8 for all of the shots when the animals came right up to the car.

The other thing that is outstanding about both cameras is that they are both great in low light. When I took the cubs and mum, this was  very early in the morning. The  light was still coming up as we arrived there before the sun was up and she was out with her cubs. The first series of pictures were taken on ISO 4000 and there was no issue with that at all. As you can see I have posted a screen capture so you can see that I’m not telling fibs about these shots being shot in ISO 4000. It was either do that or lose the shot completely. The ISO 4000 setting is awesome and yes you have some noise but it nothing like what I had with the older cameras. This just looks like a grain on the  film and it is easily passable.

Both cameras were awesome when it came to low light. On my journey in Africa , I saw people with the gigantic lenses, which were a fixed focal length and in most cases, my set up was more versatile, much more practical and you didn’t have the issue that the wildlife was too close for the lens being used as many of these people had issue .

The other pleasing thing is that , although expensive, it is nothing compared to the massive lens set up which costs a lot more money and it’s not as practical.

Thank you for reading this blog for those who have and who have followed my journey in Africa. If this has been on your bucket list for sometime or you are looking at returning, then join me for an awesome and emotive experience where you’ll be able to photograph the animals with people on the same page. You are with people who are patient, they know why we wait for the light, they know why we spend time with the animals , all waiting for ” the Shot”

Love to see you on board and join me , as we explore this amazing land called Africa together.What you have seen in this blog is only a small snap shot of what was taken. Pete:)