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Africa 2018 – Botswana and Namibia

 

Africa 2018 – Botswana and Namibia blog is a result of a trip that I ran down there in June of 2018. These were two trips that were run back to back.This blog will be added to when I can and its not so much a travel blog but rather the experience of doing Africa with myself and Rosepetal. It will be completed when I’m back home in Oz. When you are running a photo tour to Africa there are so many moments that live with you forever. There are moments that will change you if you are open to that. There are moments when you can see the amazing beauty of the animal kingdom and you see how the circle of life works.

There are magic moments that happen to you that are simply awe inspiring with no explanation and then there is the magic that takes place in Africa. There was one such moment that will be made know a little later.

I never take it for granted when I’m able to take people to Africa. I see it as an honor and a privilege and it is so humbling that these people have confidence in you as a person. Africa 2018 – Botswana and Namibia I hope will inspire you to join me in future trips in Africa where you will be inspired.

Running  a photo tour is no easy matter as you have all different personalities an they all come for the common cause, to see and photograph Africa.As time goes, you are learning all the time and with each trip you make the fine adjustments to improve things. There are times when you do get it wrong  and I wouldn’t be a lone in that.

Before I start as this trip covers Africa 2018 – Botswana and Namibia, the most common question that I get asked is what power plugs do you use in each of the countries. Below is a pic of both plugs. Having said that, there are some places where they will have multiple fittings for both countries including the USA and Oz. To be safe, if you has one each of these as I carry  you will have no issue in charging your batteries.

On this tour we have Doug,Roger, Pam,Helen, Phil, Kylie and my Rosepetal and myself. It was so nice to have Rosepetal there( Vicki ) as she like others was saving for a long time to go to Africa and when we met,  and she knew what I did, it was logical that she would come along one day to Africa to experience it for herself.

The other two guys in this picture are legends and more about Rod and President Clinton later whom I use each time I go to Botswana as they both are not only the nicest guys,but legends in tracking and knowledge. More about these chaps later.

Africa is a moving time  and in my Tours to Africa, you don’t have to be a photographer to join. On this present tour there are two non photographers that joined the tour and the big advantage of doing a photo tour when you are not into taking pictures on the same level as a photographer, is that you get to see the animals in the right light and this will be so much more rewarding and enriching to you as opposed to doing a non photo tour to Africa.

Day 1-3

Photography is all about the light and my role on any of my tours is not only show the importance of the light but where ever possible to have the guest in the best position when it comes to the light. It is not always possible but wherever I can, we achieve that for 95% of the time. In this picture the light plays an important part of the picture.Waiting the the sun to light up the leopards face was the key in making this a wonderful shot. What the picture doesn’t show is the tracking and hard work by our guide to get us there for this outstanding moment and in this case, it was President Clinton who we rolled with and whose skills got us where we needed to be.

This particular tour started off at Victoria Falls and I used this as a good training ground to see where the guests are at and to start guiding them in the right direction with there picture taking  and to get them a  little up to date when it comes to leaving the falls and going on the the animals.

What better way to start the falls to have these awesome kids in the background .

The falls is a wonderful place and an awesome act of Creation and immense beauty and it is a place where depending on what direction that the wind is blowing from, will determine how wet you get. You will get wet at times and this can be from a light drizzle to a tropical downpour and anything in between.My Rosepetal here loves the water, doesn’t mind getting wet as you will see later, she is like a big kid playing in the water.

With the rain or falls spray it can make it a real challenge to photograph it at times but the troops did so well .

The Falls are 1,708 metres wide and 108 metres high.  Victoria Falls has been linked as being the largest falls which is not the case and highest which is not the case (Angel Falls) nor is it the widest set of falls which some have stated in the past(Khone Falls). It does have the largest curtain of falling water on the planet, one and a half times wider than Niagra Falls and twice as high. The roar of the water pounding to the bottom of the river is deafening and stunning.

The falls are one is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world and the local people who live around the falls call it Mosi-oa-Tunya which means “smoke that thunders”.The name of the falls came from David Livingstone who named the falls in honour of Queen Victoria.He discovered the falls in 1855.

Every minute a staggering 5 million cubic metres of water pours over the edge of the falls.

 

Vic falls is such an imposing waterfall and there are 16 viewing areas but not all are possible to photograph effectively as when the spray is blowing towards you, as i mentioned before it is a challenge but it was a perfect introduction to the world of photography and it shows that it not always easy to get that shot that you are hoping for.

What I love about Rosepetal is that she is a woman who loves having a ball, loves adventure and this picture sums that up well. When there are puddles at the waterfalls, then she is in there splashing with her boots on. It’s smalls things like this that take you back to your own childhood.

Once we had completed our time at Vic Falls , it was onto to exploring the Chobe River which has to be one of the most favourite places that I love going to in Africa. The reason for this is that in a short time you see such an arrangement of animals  and on the first day, my group had seen 4 out of the big 5 . That’s unheard of and this is how wildlife is. It’s so unpredictable and so inviting.

This is where you get the see the animals up close from a special boat that is designed for photographers and not only is the boat designed for photographers, it is run by photographers as well.

When I run my tours , I always use where possible people who have a passion for photography as this adds to the photographic experience and it means where possible, the guest is going to gain so more from the trip.

Day 4

This shot of the Pied Kingfisher was taken from the boat. We quickly made our way into the little inlet,  and this bird with her catch was smashing it against the branch to make sure it can get it down its throat.My guides are so good with their eyes and they spot things like this all the time.

The Pied Kingfisher hovers more than any bird in the kingfisher species. They hold their trunk nearly vertical and beat their wings rapidly with their head and bill angled sharply down.They look like a poison dart about to hits its target. It is the only entirely black and white kingfisher on the planet. I just love this little bird, I love the striking colours and love the band that they have around their chest.

 

I love this bird for so many different reasons. It’s a striking bird against the African Landscape and it is always makes well for pictures. When you study the behavior of this bird, you will learn how to photography it quickly and what to look out for.It’s the only kingfisher that is black and white. The Pied Kingfisher is  17cm long and is white with a black mask, a white supercilium and black breast bands. It can’t help itself to stand out in the crowd with other birds. No matter what the background the bird is shot against, it is always striking and stands out.The male has black crest and crown, white stripe above the eye, black larger stripe across the eye extending on nape, and white throat and collar.

The Bill is black and  long which looks like a dagger and when you compared the size of the bill to the rest of the body, it dominates. Eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are blackish.

The Pied Kingfisher has complex behaviour. As like many tropical birds, the breeding pair has several non breeding birds as helpers and this can be up to four. It also can nests alone or in colonies, usually less of 20 nests at any given time.
Female has only one breast band, narrower than male and also broken in the middle.

Day 5

The Chobe River is a place that will inspire you if you do it properly. I love this place and if I could work here and spend the rest of my days here on the River I would. If you love animals, if you love the peace and quietness on the water, then the Chobe River is it.

When we cruise along on our special boat that is designed for photographers, it is like you are sitting in the cinema and you have a 360 degree screen in front of you that is never static. There is always something breath taking happening and what we see in 4 days on this river will leave you in awe.

All of the images that are featured in the Chobe River section are taken from the boat.

 

There are moments that you see on the Chobe River that you can’t put into words. There are things that you see that you could never have imagined that it was possible. I have been to this awesome river many times and I had never see the spotted Otter there. It’s a rare site and did I pick it up on the water line, no! That’s the advantage of  having awesome guides who know where to look and what to look out for. Seeing the otter was awesome and it just goes to show you, that no matter how may times you go to a place , there are always new sightings, new adventures and new photographic rewards.

What I love about the Chobe River is that for me it is the home of the Elephant, my favorite African animal. I can’t post all the elephants shots that I took here but there was a lot.I will be posting more much about the elephant later but don’t be deceived about their size. You can’t out run an elephant in a straight line and they can run up to speeds of 15km per hour and with an elephant the size it is , you wouldn’t want that to hit you at that speed.

Day 6

When you are in the boat you get to observe so much. Time become timeless as it is frozen in time, there is the quietness of the air and all around you. This little fella was struggling to get up the bank, he kept slipping backwards and in the end, mum, dad and the others came around it and gently pushed him up the bank and all was good. It’s little things like that which are priceless and to be able to photography and observe this from the boat is gold.

With the elephant being the largest land animals on the planet, they are the most  expressive of creatures. They display powerful examples joy, anger, grief, compassion and  love.  Scientists through studying the elephant have discovered that this wonder land based creature is capable of complex thought and deep feeling of any other animal on the planet.

Mum is never too far away from the little one.

Feeling safe with mum near by the “Little One,” is content and the series of pics is this little one touching mum’s tail for reassurance and just having fun as the conquest of the small bank is over.

When you are on the water, you also pick up the little things that help make the bigger picture in life on the river. The elephants don’t mind the birds who want to hitch a ride to or simply to just chill out on the back of the elephant.The elephant is the largest animal on earth as it stands today.They are also extremely smart and intelligent. they also have the largest brain of any land based animal and over time they have proved time and time again have demonstrated their impressive mental capabilities.

As you are so close you get to do those detail shots which is awesome as there would be no other way that you could do the detail shots. Everyone session there s something unique and special that you come across to photography.

Day 7

The African Jacana which is a popular bird in Botswana, is so quick in the water as it skims across the water lilies. Here is Australia at the Top End we  call it the Jesus bird as it appears to be walking on water. Being in the boat, we were able to get some awesome shots of the babies looking for food.

When fully grown they are about 30 centimetres in length. They skim across the lily pads in search of food and they mainly eat worms, insects along with Spiders. This bird has many nick names from such as the”lily trotter,” “lotus bird,” and “water walker and Jesus bird.”They eat some plant food as well as the little water animals and insect larva . When you see these birds they are always on the run, they rarely stand still, always on the search of food.The birds can fly but it is not often they do, they tend to walk quickly or run in some cases in search of their food.

Being on the boat you are able to get up close and personal with the animals as i mentioned before  and you are able to see Africa’s number one killer of humans in Africa’s history. Many think of the lion or leopard but in is the Hippo. The Hippo is extremely aggressive and when it attacks it takes no prisoners. They have  a beauty of their own  and yet are just so dangerous.

What amazes me with the hippo is that they are so large and yet  all they graze on land; they do not eat while in the water and aren’t known to graze on aquatic plants. Creeping grass  and small green shoots and reeds is what they prefer to eat.

Unlike other animals the eyes and nostrils are on top of their head. This allows them to breath and look around while the rest of their body is submerged.They are fast for their size  and run as fast as 14 mph (23 km/h) in short burst.

Day 8

The really clever thing about the hippo is that they produce their own sunscreen, in the form of a sticky reddish sweat. It is amazing how nature works as these creatures are out in the sun for much of their lives so it makes sense that they produce their own protection from the sun.

 

From our boat it is not just the big and obvious creatures all great and large that we see, we see the smaller creatures that all play its part in the eco system . There are a number of different bee eaters here, all that are stunning and I’m always in awe how our guides spot the smallest of small creatures. This is not the smallest bird that was spotted and photographed. What do you think may be the smallest bird there that we did come across and we did photograph it but it was a challenge.

This particular Bee Eater is the Southern Carmine. This species of the bee-eaters, is a richly coloured, predominantly carmine in colour.They live on the flood plains  and as there name suggest,bees is their diet along with insects.Nesting is at the end of a 1-2m long burrow in an earthen bank, where they lay from 2-5 eggs. I don’t know the speed that these birds fly at but they are incredible  as they move at lightning speed to catch their prey. What astounds me the most is the pin sharp eye sight that these birds have as they sit on their perch looking for their catch and when they see them, they are off like lightning  and speed to capture their breakfast, dinner and lunch.

As you explore the the river, it is not just the animals that make an impact on you, but also the water lilies hold their own sense of presence and have an elegance that inspires you in different ways.No one lily is ever the same, there form, texture, structure is always different and as they bend and twist, the light will always different on them.

The charm of the river never ceases to amaze and that why I love this part of Africa on the river as every session, every day on the River Chobe reveals jewels that are a delight to photograph.

The Baboons of the Chobe River are something else. What makes it such  a memorial time is that while we are in the boat we can get such close access to them, they are not scared, they don’t go running as we stay in the boat and quietly make our way to the shore line and this gives up priceless moments.

There are so many wonderful pictures that I could share about the Baboons but I’ll leave you with these last pics.. The images that I am sharing with you are not necessarily the best that were taken, they are what I can put my hands on straight away.That’s the magic of Africa, no matter where you look, there is a picture to be taken.I’ve chose these last ones as the depict fun, play and friendship, all which the adult world doesn’t get enough of.

These were not taken in the afternoon light like the above ones were.

Deep down I think we all want to be able to have friendship, acceptance  and to have people that we can depend on, people that we can share our life with and people who share the same interests as ourselves. Having people in your life also makes you aware that it is not always about you, that others exist.

One of the things that I don’t like about social media is that it is turning many people into selfish people and it promotes the whole industry of the self and sadly that is having a negative effect on people. We are control by likes, seeking self acceptance by others and at the same time, being sad when you don’t get those. Don’t you think that life was a little easier without the full on social media.

Regardless of what your thoughts are on this, what I love about Africa being with the animals, you gain a sense of wonder and delight and at the end of the day, the animals lookout for each other, they care for each other and they are there for each other. As I have mentioned so often int he past, the Elephant is  an outstanding example of this.

Day 9

Everyday on the Chobe River brings you so many delights. I hope you are not tired of the images that are from the Chobe and I will in time post from other areas but on this river so much has taken place.Everyone the whole crew were left in awe of what they saw, what they observed and what they photographed.

I can’t stress this enough. What I love about the Chobe River is how close that you can get to the wildlife and you get to see so many of there different skin textures.

As you glide across this amazing river, you never know what lurks below you and this river has a very high concentration of salt water crocodiles. There are so many and all waiting for the right feed to come along.They don’t really have many predators although the odd leopard has taken on the smaller crocodiles and have won but this is not common. So what does the salt water crocodile eat? That’s an easy one to answer. they are not fussy and will eat anything that comes along and crosses it path.

It doesn’t matter time that you are on the river there is always something that is taking place and sometimes it is quiet moments that can give you rewards through your photography. I have said this before and I’ll say it again-as we drift down the river in our boat, it is like you are watching the best nature doco taking place before your eyes and you have the best panoramic experience before you. All you have to do is look and observe. the rewards are endless.

The Fish Eagle had landed on the bank and we were able to take some stunning portraits of the bird but what took place was a little more entertaining with this smaller bird swooping the Fish Eagle. It wouldn’t stop and the Fish Eagle wasn’t too impressed. These are the quiet moments that when you sit back and reflect and observe with what you see. I don’t have space to post the series of pics taken here but if you ever hear people say that birds don’t have facial expressions, don’t believe them.

It is an honor to see cats like this go about their business and in this case, we actually stumbled across this female leopard while we went inland at Chobe National Park. It was good having the different mix as it exposed us to another level of animals and different activities with the animals which you will see later on.

The Lilac Breasted Roller is a stunning bird and this has 13 different colors.Up until recently this was the National Bird of Botswana. Recently this was changed. Why this was done I don’t know as this is a a stunning bird and when it flies, the colours underneath the bird are simply stunning.

They are a small bird and feed of grasshoppers , beetles, crabs and every now again small lizards. Like a lot of the birds in Africa, there eyes are supper sharp and it is not hard for them to pick up their prey.This little but stunning bird will feature again later on in the blog I’m sure.

One of the things that I like to stress to my guest when shooting animals and birds is to wait until you have the catch light in the eyes of the bird or the  animal that you are photographing. For those don’t know what the catch light is , it is when you have the sunlight in the eye of the animal. That sunlight in the eye makes  a massive difference to your picture and it is always worth waiting for the bird to turn, or the animal to turn to face the sunlight. This is a moment that all photographers wait for. If the face is in the shade, then your shot is dead. Be patient and wait for the creature to turn and face the light. The rewards are worth the patience that it takes to capture this moment.

It doesn’t matter where the bird is, the right light will always play a major roll in adding to the image.

Everyday on the boat we do see the Pied Kingfisher and although I have mentioned them before, I can’t get enough of this quaint little bird. Will this be the last posting of this bird, ummm I don’t think so. opps, sorry about that but I just love the textures, the shape and the character of this bird.

often I’m asked, do I ever get tired of Africa. That’s a strange question as Africa is alive, it is full of life and no matter where you are in Africa there is a learning experience to take in.

I love the elephant as many of you know who read my blogs and being on the boat enables me to take detail shots. Photography is about telling the story not just capturing the obvious. Hopefully over time , I will be able to reveal more of the detail shots that I take as it’s important to be able to capture images that give you more information.

 

Day 10-11

One of the animals that doesn’t appeal to me in a big way is the buffalo. I’m not sure as to why, maybe it stems back to when they were in the top end of Australia and then they were culled out totally as they were regarded as a pest in Australia as they were not native to Oz. Having said all of that, while we were on the Chobe River we had a heard of 200 plus make its way down to the waters edge. We stayed there for a while and being so close to them,gave me some wonderful shots that were not possible otherwise.

All of us were clicking away. This is what I love about the tours that I run and Africa is no exception. You are never rushed, we have time and when you have time to look, reflect, compose, you can wait for the picture to happen.With the images that I post with the buffalo, that’s what took place, it was just waiting to see what compositions would take place. Clear the camera is not going to take the picture for you, you still need to be in the driving seat to snap away at the right moment, to be able to visualise what may happen next. When the animals were all down at the waters edge drinking, the compositions were endless  and so rewarding.

One of the most rewarding moments for me with these creatures is how the Buffalo allows the the Oxpecker to get in  and do its thing.The Oxpecker has the most amazing relationship not just with the buffalo but with most of the animal kingdom in Africa.

Oxpeckers role is mutually beneficial to the animals that it decides to hop onto and these can range from the elephants, giraffes, Rhinos, hippos and the list is almost endless. They peck at the open surface of the animal which is  caused by skin parasites. By doing this they may keep wounds open and susceptible to secondary infections.

Oxpeckers have short legs and very sharp claws which help the birds cling to the fur of an animal as they search for parasites. Their tail feathers that are stiffened and act in the manner of a tripod to help prop the bird up against the bodies of their hosts as they feed. Their pointed bill acts like a comb, as they move through the fur to locate their food source and in this case, the parasites.

Oxpeckers nest  in cavities of dead trees and these birds just have free access to what ever animal they wish to. It is not uncommon to have 5-10 birds on one animal doing its thing on them.

I love the facial expression here. The eye is closed to give access  to the Oxpecker and once in the Oxpecker takes on the ear, the expression changes  and that’s what I love about taking people to Africa as nothing is scripted as this is wildlife at its rawest.

This is why I love this river so much as you can see how close we do get. This pic shows Roger in action with the camera and this ele had just walked right past us as we were just resting on the bank.

There are just so many shots from Chobe that I could include in this section but there is another part of Botswana that we blazed the trail to. From here it was time for our quaint bush camp which was awesome and this came with its own en suite as well.

We had to fly in to our campsite in a Caravan as they call the plane, smooth , safe and  and waiting for us was my good friends Rod and President Clinton. Why do I call him President Clinton-it’s an affectionate term to a wonderful guy. Both guys are wonderful people and what I love about Rod and President Clinton is that when I do touch base with them , it is like we take off from where we left each other. You can’t beat that type of friendship.

Day 12

Below are our modes of transport for the next 4 days. Four people per car and I do this as at any one point you always have a good view for the shot that you want to take, you don’t have to squeeze past another to take the shot. All you simple have to do is slide across and the shot is there for you to take.

How can you not like these boys. Around the campfire they have amazing stories that they share, some funny, others you scratch your head and wonder” how can people be so stupid” It doesn’t take you long to warm up to the boys and they both have awesome personalities. there tracking skills are outstanding and they do appreciate photography and know what ” the light ” is all about.

On our way to camp as an introduction to Africa we came across a tower of giraffe. This was a gentle reminder that we were in Africa. As you land on the dirt airstrip you could be anywhere and there is no hint that you are in the middle of the worlds largest wildlife park called Africa. It doesn’t matter how many times that I have been here, I’m always in awe with what I see, when I see it and I never take it for granted.

As we were making our way to camp to get our gear organised, to settle in and have lunch before we head out to the afternoon photography session, we came across a small herd of zebra  and it was here that I was able to take my most favourite zebra shot of all time . When I photograph the zebra, there are many images that I have in my mind as they are such graphic animals to photography due to their outstanding strips. It was here right alongside the dirt track that I was able to take what I see as my classic image of the zebra that I have been wanting to get for a while. It may not be the best image that I have taken but it is the best image in my view that I have taken with the zebra with its strips.

This is an awesome camp spot, right on the river and as you went to sleep you heard the sounds of the hippos, crickets, frogs and the elephants doing their thing in the dark. The stars shown brightly and you had to remind yourself that you were deepest Africa and as I lay on the bed I reflected to myself what an honor and privilege it was to be sleeping under the stars in Africa.

These beds were so comfortable and I have never slept so well. All cuddled up at night and not wanting to get up each morning as it was just so cozy at night. Before I talk about the trip, there is one picture that sets the peacefulness of this area and this is a picture of Doug chilling out before going out in the afternoon and he was just outside of his tent on his laptop looking at the days images with the peacefulness of the surrounds.Doug was a real character and the more the trip went on, his sense of humor shone in the most unexpected ways.

Day 13

This was our main meeting place the dining room and I have to say that the food was simply amazing. All of the food was cooked over the campfire and my regret is that I should have taken some food shots. I don’t take food shots as I think in our western world people have gone over board on that but in this case, I should have to given you an example of how awesome the food is at this place. The food no matter what you had melted in your mouth.

Part of the adventure to cruising around and following the tracks of the animals, learning the identification of the animals. Others are easier than others to track and to identify. Life can be an adventure if you allow it to be and this is just one of those adventures in the cars. Notice that I only have 4 in each car and not 12 or 16. On my tours I don’t do rack em, pack em and stack em.

My Tours may be a little more expensive but you do benefit from that enormously in so many ways. You have your seat to yourself and you can side to the side of the car to where the animals are.

 

The best way to photograph wildlife is to sit still and wait. We live in a world where everything is on the go and when we are asked to sit still , we struggle with that. The best results that you’ll get from photographing wildlife is being prepared to sit quietly and see what comes your way. The next series of pics we were stationary and this wonderful creature came reasonably close to be able to take some detailed shots. Photography is about telling the story and its also about showing the detailed shots that often go neglected by people. What I love about Africa is that we do have time, we are there for one purpose and that is to photograph these awesome creatures.

If your mind set is right, then waiting won’t be an issue. We all have different interests and no matter what your passion is, if you have to wait for things to come about, you will. If something is not your passion then you will struggle with the concept of waiting. I get many people doing my workshops where their partner stays home as they don’t like it when there partner pulls over to wait for something to happen to take place. Often the comment is” are you done now, can we go” or” how much longer do we have to wait”? The list goes on and on. That’s why doing photo tours with myself and being on the right page, you never have to go through that.

Day 14

Never forget the details shots no matter where you are as they will always add interest to your collection of images that tell the story.

When you come to Africa there is never any guarantee that you’ll see all that you want to. Why is that? Wildlife is just that, it’s wild and it can be anyway. My crew were very blessed as on our first day on the bush camp we saw leopard but not only did we see this magnificent creature, it was the setting that we saw it in and the quality of the image with the compositions that was gold. These images will tell the story.

This image of the leopard is not a striking image but this was our first sighting and like all sightings that are your first, it is always exciting and little did we know what laid ahead for us with this lovely creature. Never take what you see, what you photograph for granted as wildlife is never predicable.

Through this time which was a massive highlight and a highlight for myself as well. I was so glad that Rosepetal was able to see this. She is an animal lover and I have never met anyone else who has the same passion for animals and such a big heart for them. It was great to observe her excitement as she look at this wonderful female leopard. All she wanted to do was go and give it a hug but we know that’s not possible. For Rosepetal Africa was an eye opener on so many different levels and Africa to her was everything plus more. She fell in love with the elephant and just adored the animals overall. As the tip progressed there was something Rosepetal did all the time when she saw the animals. I was sitting in the back of the trucks and I observed this all of the time. So what was this? Well you’ll find out later if you keep reading.

What was great with this leopard was that the sun was setting. As the sun was making its way down to go to sleep to light up the other side of the world, the colors were changing all the time.The gold colors were emerging and where she sat, the shadows were moving which meant the light was slowly changing to different parts of her body and from a photographers point of view, this was priceless and a photographers dream. The is the key to any discipline of photography and wildlife photography is no different.

There are so many pictures of this session that I could post and will have to discipline myself what I do post but when you are in two locations of the same leopard and both locations are awesome with magic light it is very hard to choose. As I mentioned before, this wonderful creature made her way to where she wanted to be and just sat there. Also as I have mentioned many times before, we are never in a hurry and we just waited and waited as we had the passing light and as the light and shadows would pass, the photography was going into meltdown.

To have the passing light pass over the face of the leopard is a dream for photographers and I was so glad that this took place.As a teacher you can speak about this sort of things  and to the guest it becomes more real when they are there to see it take place before their eyes.To have the eye highlighted as well was a treat and I love it when you can put photography into practice in real situations. I cannot stress that this series of images was only possible with outstanding guides in Rod and President Clinton and to have time. I can’t stress that enough, to have time in one place and to see everything fall into place.

 

For some time she was content and then she jumped up, and moved to another log.This log was totally out in the evening light and the golden cast over her and the back ground was gold.Literally gold.

Most leopards are light colored with have dark spots on their fur. The spots are known as “rosettes” because their shape is similar to that of a rose. What people may not know also is that there are , black leopards  as well but often these can be confused with panthers as the spots on a black leopard are hard to see as the fur is so dark. have I ever seen a black leopard? No.

The leopard is not just found in Africa but also in Central Asia, India and China.

 Leopards can run as fast as 58km/h  and are  can leap 6metrs forward through the air – that’s an amazing distance when you think about it. They are also loners and solitary creatures and spend much of their life on their own outside of raising their young. They have their own territory and mark their ground with urine and scratches on trees.The only time the male and female will cross from region to another is to mate with a another.

They have a  varied menus  and enjoy  bugs, fish, antelope, monkeys, rodents, deer in fact, pretty much any prey that is available. They are not fussy eaters.

As we know they are awesome climbers and when they kill their prey , most of the time they will drag it up the tree to leave it there out of reach of most .But if they are too slow as we saw on one case, the bigger cats can move in and steal it. We did see this which you’ll see later in this blog and all the leopard could do was watch in frustration.

Leopards are active at night when they venture out in search for food. The days are mostly spent resting and using their  camouflaged in the trees to their advantage.There is no substitute for low evening light on your subject.Female leopards give birth any time of the year and they usually give birth to two or three cubs. She will stay with her young cubs for the first 2 years  and then its out on your own.Like most cats, they communicate through there growls, grunts that they make with their vocal cords.

What I love about wildlife photography you never know what lies behind the next bush, tree, corner, waterhole and so on. That is what makes it so exciting.

At the end of the day we head somewhere for sundowners to reflect on the day and to watch the sun go down.

Day 15 Most people when they come to Africa have their favorite animal that they feel closer to or identify with. Those who know me , know it is the elephant.Rod and President Clinton are crazy over wild dog or otherwise known as Painted Dog. When they get wind of Painted Dog in the area, it’s batten down the hatches and off you go and if you think I’m pulling your leg, think again. It is an adventure that you don;t expect that you are going to take. They are such an unusual creature, very skinny, no fat whatsoever and can they hunt and run They are swift, precise and no fuss type of animal.African wild dogs are certainly some of the most misunderstood. They are  critically endangered, with an estimated 5,000 left in the wild.Sightings are rare outside of specific areas. They are Africa’s most effective predators, boasting an 80% success rate with hunts which out strips the Lion which has a success rate of 30% roughly.

I have been fortunate to be in the chase with the African Wild Dog as it hunts its prey and they move so fast and their communication with each other is amazing and they all know their role, they know what is expected and they all have there role to play in the hunt.Lycaon pictus is there scientific name  and means painted wolf.Like many of the animals in Africa, each painted dog has its own unique pattern on its fur. No pattern is ever duplicated on another wild dog. This is one way that you can identify the dogs over time.

The social structure of a wild dog pack is a fascinating, almost altruistic system. Like other pack animals there is a strict hierarchy, with an alpha breeding pair in charge of the group and the rest of the pack members are all subordinates. When a litter of pups is born, they take priority over even the alphas. At first pups are fed by the dogs regurgitating fresh meat after returning from a hunt, but once old enough, they are taken to the kill and given first choice over the spoils. The other dogs patiently wait on the side lines, standing guard until their turn to feed. They almost never fight amongst themselves over food due to this ranking system.

When a dog becomes ill, injured or elderly restricting or even incapacitating their effectiveness as a hunter, the rest of the pack cares for and feeds them. Recently the alpha female of a pack in Botswana lost one of her forelegs during a hunt. For any other predator, this would be a death sentence. However, she remained the alpha female for a few years afterwards continuing to breed and raise pups while being looked after by the pack.

The dogs are nomadic to a point and can travel up to 50kms in a day and when they are denning , it is then that they will remain in that area.

The key is the communication and that is non stop between the wild dogs who constantly let one another know both their location and that of the prey. Their high intelligence and teamwork allows them to adapt to changing scenarios during a hunt.They are simply stunning in the way they hunt together and it is not uncommon for 12-14 days to be in one pack which means the hunted is not going to have a lot of success is surviving the massive onslaught.

 

The way the wild dog greet each other is a sight to see as the affection that they show to each other is amazing.When they hunt their prey they do it in way that they wear their prey down. Like the Olympic cycling they take it in turns leading in the front and over time, the pray becomes totally exhausted as each time the dogs change the leader giving chase, it is like a fresh pair of legs in the front. Is that not stunning?

Day 16

The last shot of the day with the Painted Dogs came when the sun had set, the light was poor and out of nowhere one of the dogs was chasing a Kudu. There was no time to do anything but hang the camera over at the back of the car. I had cranked the ISO up to 5000 as the action was fast. I couldn’t see the action to focus, so all I could do is hang the camera over the back and click away and that’s what I did and this was the result. All I had to do was straighten the horizon a little as I had non idea where I was shooting but given the situation, I’m over the moon with this shot. Did the Kudu get taken down? No, this one got away and the river saved it. So it lives to see another day and the dogs failed in their attempt to bring it down. If there was no river, this Kudu would not have see the next day.

If there is an animal that is stunning to photograph it is the zebra. Every time we saw Zebra that was reasonable close I would either ask Rod or President Clinton to stop so we could try and get some detail shots.

Keep in mind that the patterns on the zebra are their finger print as every pattern is unique to that individual zebra. I just love it when you can get close enough to take shots like the one above. As I have mentioned before, the power of the photographer is to show what he or she sees through their own eyes. That is a honor to have to bring things to people that they may not have been aware of  and yet they could be standing at the same place at the same time and not see the above.

A feature that really makes an impact on me every time I see the zebra is the mane, its like its been to the barber and its just had its mane cut as they are all the same size, all even unlike the horse.

From a photographic point of view the zebra will give you action shots if you are patient enough. I always tell my guests to be on the look out when you are with these creatures as they are so aggressive towards each other. They are either kicking each other or they are on there hind legs having a go at each other. You will see this when we hit the Namibian section of the trip. So if you are ever in Africa with me, watch these creatures as in my opinion they are the most aggressive animal to their own kind and you will get some amazing action shots. All you have to do is watch and beware .These will feature in greater detail later on in Namibia.That is the wonderful thing about the Africa animals, is that each gives you something unique to photograph. No animal is boring to observe nor photograph.

The zebra portrait is always imposing and stunning and you can’t go wrong as the colors, the stripes demand your attention.

Its just not on the ground but above you as well. Rod pointed out the hawk in the tree, I don’t recall what type of hawk it is. If you are reading this, feel free to contact me to let me know and I will replace it with the correct name. Rod was excellent as he knows animal behavior so well, he alerted us that it was about to fly and to be ready for that moment.I was si glad that we all were able to capture this wonderful bird in flight.

To give you another example how good Rod and Clinton are, Rod spotted this Giant Owl. It’s not a good shot that I have taken but the reason that I’m posting it is that you can never underestimate the value of good and outstanding guides as these two are. If we were doing this on our own, we would have missed this owl and Rod picked it up based on sounds that were being made at the time.

Day 17

When you go to Africa you will have so many highlights and it is hard to isolate just one. In my case I have a bunch of them. The next part of the blog that I’m going to share is one of those bunch of highlights. We left camp early as all the departures are early, around 6am which is a good thing as the animals are most active in the early morning and afternoons.In the early hours we came across a lion who was calling his brother to be able to locate him. We stopped  and listen to him which was just gold.

This fella clearly has been in a fight as his right eye had been injured. He sat down and was in the right position to see the sunlight hit is adorable face. His eye looked so sore and all I wanted to do was to bath it for him but we all know how that would have ended for me.

Later in that morning we also saw him swim to the other side of the river which was lovely as had awesome light on him with glass like reflections. You can never predict wildlife where they are going to be, you just have to run with the flow and in this case , we were blessed with these photographic opportunities that we were given.

There are moments that you just don’t have words for and in fact much of Africa is like that. Africa is wildlife at its best. Yes it can be brutal at times when the animals hunt but one needs to remind ones self that the animals only hunt for food, to survive whereas humans do things for no reason at all in certain areas.

Every picture has a story behind it and every scene that you see in Africa is not in  isolation. In one way or another it is all connected. The next series of pics are of a female leopard who is up in the tree. She was frustrated, in many ways would have felt ripped off . So why was she up in the tree?

What you don’t see in the pic was a male lion who had stolen her kill and was eating it. She was up in the tree looking on and she took too long to take her catch of the day to the tree and to hide it up in the tree  like they normally do. I guess you could say to her-” You snooze , you lose.”It was fascinating watching her: all she could do was to look on and watch in despair while the male lion had a good feed.

He as tucked away in the bushes and it wasn’t possible to get a good photo of him where we were so we stayed  and were able to get some good pics of this very frustrated leopard.We stayed here for a good 40 minutes and this enabled to get such a good cross section of images and all the time , this poor girl was so frustrated  and all she could do was simply watch on.

During the time that we were there, the sun was slowly sinking and we were gradually getting the golden light.The shifting light would pass over different parts of the leopards body. The results can be seen here and as a photographer, its a joy to be able to capture moments like this.

Day 18

Every day brings you the unexpected. The following day while we were traveling the tracks we came across this wonderful elephant. I just loved his colour, loved his shape and loved the textures in his ears. We stopped and photographed this character for a while . While photographing him , I wondered what he would be thinking while we were photographing him.Such massive bodies and brains that they have and they are very intelligent animals.

He was just content to eat and watch us at the same time. maybe they think, “there’s another strange one pointing these strange things at us that make a noise.” Who knows but it would be fascinating to be able to know what they think at times.

I just loved the way he flapped his ears, they look so thin and soft and when you hear them flap around, it is such an awesome  sound. It sounded a bit like material or sheets flapping in the wind. I also love photographing the detail of the back of the ears where you see the veins spreading out to all portions of the ear. Such amazing texture to photograph  and it is unlike what any of the other animals have  in that area.

Being in Africa seeing the elephant quietly going about its business I often reflect how people can inflict such cruelty on these awe inspirational creatures. The only reason that the tasks are valuable is simply the value that man puts on them, that’s it, no other reason.It’s criminal that certain countries are responsible for this meaningless act, all to have a dust collectors made from them and to be placed on someones mantel and for what? That just doesn’t make sense to me at all.

In 2016 when I was in Africa running a Photo Safari here in the same area , my group were blessed to be able to see many elephants playing in the water and we stayed for 3 hours watching them play and I was blown away to be given the same wonderful experience .President Clinton knows that my favorite animal is the elephant and I’m not sure how he organized it but he certainly blew me away when we reached the river to see these two having fun in the water. I keep saying wildlife is unpredictable and when you get moments like this, you just need to soak it in and never take the moment for granted.

The longer that we stayed, we saw the light changing and the golden glows were awesome against the blackish elephants. When I was in Tanzania and you can see this on my Tanzania Blog, March 2017, the elephant was a nice rich orchre color and as I had seen them this color for so long , when I came across the normal elephants color it looked strange. Like wise here, I prefer the elephant black when it is wet, love the richness  of the black as it brings so much detail out of the elephants  skin. They look strange when they are dry. I love the elephant for all of the different skin colors that it turns which is a result of what the elephant is doing at the time.

The reason that I suggest Canons 7Dmark2 for those who want to get a little more out of there photography is that it does 10 frames a second and you are able to freeze motion so well. All of the shots that you see on this blog and other blogs to do with Africa and wildlife are taken with this camera along with  Canons 100-400 f5.6. I find this the great compromise to wildlife photography. The bigger lens are so much heavier and cost significantly a lot more. I always strongly suggest a zoom lens as it gives you more flexibility in zooming in or out depending how close the wildlife is. If you have a fixed lens that can’t zoom, then you are stuck and all you can do it look on.

I took this opportunity shooting Rod’s car with the guests on board all shooting the two elephants that were playing. As you can see I have 4 people per car so you don’t have 9-12 people in the same car which would make getting your shot even harder. My tours might cost a little more and that is because I make sure there is pleny of space in the cars for you to be able to slide from one side to the other, hence only having 4 per car, hence I run 2 cars where ever that is possible.

When you are photographing you are always looking for moments that are a little different  and tell the complete story of what the elephants do. The above shot is just one of these moments.

What the pictures don’t show here are the sounds that these awe inspiring creatures make when they play with each other. the pushes, the tasks clashing together, the rumble of the water and gentle grunts. the sounds are a highlight in themselves.

 

Touch is really important with the elephants it is one of the main ways they communicate and they are one of he most expressive animals and their communication through touch is astounding  and moving at the same time when you get to watch it live.

 

There are moments you capture special images and you have no idea that you did capture something special until you look back at the pictures that you have taken. This is what took place here. I love his eye and the expression it tells as the other elephant was behind him and they were chasing each other, slowly at that and to see his expressive eye like this is gold. That’s why you never delete pictures off your card apart from if the shot is totally out of focus.Wait until you get home and then start the process as  you may delete something that is priceless.

You might think that you have seen enough of elephants here and the reason that I’m posting a lot from this one spot is to show you what is on offer if you are touring with myself to Africa as this is what you get when you spend time at a place. You see the animals doing all sorts of things and if you love photography,if you love taking pictures, if you love animals, then there is no substitute to having time at a place when there are awesome events taking place. My aim is to give you a whole experience through pictures and that is why I post what I do in the blogs.You also need to remember that it is not just myself who gets these pictures, my guests do as well and I’m there giving the best settings for your camera and Rospetal, my awesome partner is in the other car doing the same and we shoot with the same settings and the work that she does with the guests is outstanding .You can’t lose when your teachers who are passionate about what they do.

 

There is so much more that I could post from this region as we now it is time to blaze the trail to Namibia.

Day 19

Etosha National Park is a stark park which allows for so many inspiring photo moments  and what follows next is a sample of what this enormous country has to offer.No trip in Africa no matter where you go is ever complete without your guide. The guide can determine how successful your trip is. In our case we had an outstanding guide who not only was gifted in his work from tracking the animals, knowing their sounds but he also has a passion for photography. Tim is one of the best guides I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Over the many years that I have been going to Africa I have worked with 5 outstanding guides and all have played a major role in making our African tours. Tim is in the same league who is an outstanding young man who knows his craft well and who is very a patient in dealing with the guests and their needs.I can’t stress enough how awesome Tim is and how his nature, outlook and knowledge was a massive highlight in our African Photo Tour of Namibia.

Tim in  putting his skills into action.

Once arriving from Botswana to Namibia at Windoek, we met Tim and he took us through the trip   and we had an awesome map to follow the journey and it wasn’t long before we were on our way  and at our first water upon arriving at Etosha National Park we saw this Rhino. You’ll notice to help protect them from the poaches , they saw down the horn which makes it useless for poaches to kill.The other thing they have tried in the past is to paint the horns pink. It may not be the prettiest thing to do but if it protects the Rhino, then all the better.

We were so excited to see this rhino and we were clicking away and Tim being Tim and a sensitive lad to people needs and as he knew that he had animals lovers on board, at first he didn’t want to concern us but towards to the end he point out the snare at the bottom of his legs. Wrapped in wire. Tim was right onto this, rang the authorities while we were in our excitement in taking pictures and as we were leaving they were already out searching for the Rhino to dart it and to remove the snare. How awesome is that. Can you see the wire wrapped around his back leg.

This is the ugly side of Africa and the poaches although done by locals and even the National Parks people who were corrupted were involved  ( they have since been clean up and removed ). The blame to all of this terrible poaching can be blamed on two main countries  and they bare the blame for this by placing inflated value on the horn along with the elephant tasks. They ought to be ashamed to what they are doing. The fight continues on and fortunately there are much heavier consequences and in some of the Africa countries, the law is to shoot to kill poaches on the spot if they are caught in the act.

As I have mentioned before, there is no substitute for the evening light and the hues that is gives you. As the sun was making its way down, we went back to the water hole where we saw the Rhino and 5 giraffes made their way back and this was our first sighting on the first day in the park on these awesome creatures. So graceful, so elegant in the way they walk.

 

These creatures are fascinating and the Oryx is a largest of the antelope family. I love their color. Eating time for these characters is early morning and late afternoon and they feed off mainly on coarse grasses and thorny shrubs. It is amazing as we were travelling around certain parts of the landscape, you would see them eating and to the naked eye you think to yourself, “what is there for them to eat when it appears to be just dirt and sand.?” They just slowly weave their way around and find the food they need although from an outsider it looks like they are eating nothing.There are six oryx species, the horns of the females are longer than those of the males in each case. There life spand is roughly 15 years and that’s amazing when you think of the countryside that some of these live in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom picture of the Oryx was taken on my previous trip to this wonderful area. The reason that I post it is to show you that this is how they roam and eat and when you think that there is no food there. That is what is happening here. can you see any food for them to eat here? I can’t, but they can.

If I have a favourite place in Africa it is spending time at the many different waterholes. This is where you know where something will take place if you are patient,it’s where the animals come in. Now when they come in there is no certainty of when and how many, that’s wildlife, it is unpredictable and it so important for people to understand that. If you go to Africa expecting ABC is going to happen, you could be very disappointed. I had one group who toured with me and theres was a longer trip and they were in Africa for just over 8 weeks and we didn’t see one single lion!!! We all thought there are no longer lions in Africa. So you just never know .When you get to a water hole you need to have the patience to sit for a while if there is nothing there to see what takes place.

This image may not set the world on fire but it does tell the story. The waterholes are a meeting place not just for  a drink, but a place to come and have a chat and catch up with the ” family” particular when it comes to the elephants.

Day 20

The highlight of day 20 without question were the lioness and her cubs that we came across and the male lion that we spotted just on sunrise.( I should say Tim our awesome guide who spotted. )

Photographing this beautiful male at sunrise was a photographers delight and to have the early morning light on him was such a wonderful moment.

 

These were so cute and adorable and there is not enough space here to post all of the shots so this is a selections. This was such an awesome moment as I keep on saying, nothing is scripted when it comes to what you see and what you don’t in Africa. That is what makes coming to Africa so wonderful as when you do come across something that is totally unexpected, it makes the moment even more special and that teaches you never to day each day for granted . The dawn of a new day can’t ever guarantee you anything and even the breathes that we take, should never be taken for granted.

What is taking place in this picture of mum is that she looking at her 3 lion cubs and watching them. We spent time observing her chasing them, rounding them up, using her feet to round them up and as she was in the act of doing all of this, the little ones would play back, biting there mum on the backside and just being so cheeky to her. She was running from one to the other to try and keep them in check and to prevent them from wondering to far from her. It was such a joy to watch all of this and to capture it with the camera. She had her work out cut out for herself but she did manage to keep them in check but it was an out going effort and it took all of her time and energy to do so.

 

All the mum was trying to do was to get the little one back with the rest but it had other ideas.” Lets have  a play mum”

I would love to be able to read the mind of the both of them here to see what is being said. Can you image the captions that you could come up with  this image?

Just when she has rounded up two out of the three cubs, along comes the second mum who decides, let have a play and so the story went on and it was such a wonderful moment to be able to experience. As I have said many time in this blog and others, you can’t predict what is going to take place but when it does, it always excites and you get a different perspective on life.

The Kori Bustard is Africa’s heaviest flying bird and can weigh up to 19kg. Australia also has its version of the Bustard bird which is mainly found in the northern part of Australia. When doing Namibia and Botswana this bird is common through out as well as  Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.The word Bustard means “bird that walk. They only fly when it is absolutely necessary as they prefer to walk on the land looking for their insects which they eat.

The image below is a nothing shot but it tells the story. What amazes me about these animals, although they are so big they are walk like stealth, no one hears them coming and when it is time to go , it is like he has melted off into the distance and you never hear them come and go. It is one of the big amazing mysteries with the animal kingdom in Africa,.

This beautiful boy appears, from behind the bushes and he makes his way down to the water hole that we were waiting at and for the next 45 minutes he gave us a treat as he washed and played in the waterhole. Hew was the only one there and he had the place to himself. Patience is the key as you never know what is behind that bush and from the bush he came. So this series of pics are simply reflective of our time with him.

Below is a standard shot of the big fella just drinking. Although I have seen this many times, I never get tired of it. The joy that it brings to me deep down is something that I have no words but I know I’m always moved and inspired.

What I love about the elephant is that because the elephants moves are so slow, it gives you ample time to look, observe, plan your next shot. You are never hurried and you can work out your composition so much better as you have time.You are not looking to capture a quick moment and there is little excuse not to walk away with compelling images that best tell the story of where you are and with what the elephant is doing.

Action wildlife photography is one of being so alert, always trying to be one step ahead of the animal and know which way will they go, continually looking at your camera settings to make sure you have it all right. When shooting the elephant it is a much more emotional  camera experience, you are not rushed and you can put into practice very easily your compositions.

This was the beginning of his fun where he would take small amounts of mud and water and to begin splashing himself. What was really awesome from a photographic point of view is that you could see the slow transformation of the various colors  and shades of color that the transformation showed. As I mentioned earlier what is so good about this process is that you have time, you are not rushed. The key is looking around you, to see what might be a good idea to shoot and the good thing is that with the elephant you have time on your side. That’s another big advantage in photographing them as their speed allows more for you to get in depth to your subject.

 

 

As we were there for so long and the elephant takes a while to move about, we had the added advantage to be able to have the sun go down on him which mean the golden colors were slowly emerging and as this took place, this gave us another dimension to the picture as you’ll see as we.

This series of pictures just reminded me of a puppy dog and that is what he looked like, just slowly getting down and testing the water and then it was time to just go for it. This series of pictures reminded me so much of my adorable Golden Retriever whom was called Shadow. I adored my Shadow and seeing this elephant although a totally different animal, there were so many traits that were similar in this series of pictures that were taken and what he did once he was in the water.

 

 

 

 

 

Now this gotta be a bit of fun does it not.

As the elephant is all wet the dark colors emerge and mixed with the setting of the sun we were in for a treat with awesome colors, shimmering browns and the glow was priceless and as a photographer you couldn’t ask for anything more really. As this was the only elephant there, there were not distractions, nothing getting in the way and this enabled us to take some lovely close up and detailed shots of it.

This is the waterhole that this fella had all to himself. Such a delight to be able to witness his fun and to be able to be there in the first place. I never take anything for granted and Africa is such an amazing and inspiring place.

Day 21

On this day , our highlight can spending time with the Zebras .The great thing about Zebras from a photographic point of view, they are always full of action.When you have a group of them, there will always be several having each other. They are so aggressive towards each other. I was always telling my guests what to lookout for.The key to shooting zebras is to be so aware of what is happening around you as with Zebras, there are always photographic opportunities.

This was a place where the light was constantly changing and you had the opportunity to capture great action shots with the zebras having a go at each other and  it was also a place where you were able to do some wonder portraits of the zebs along with detailed shots when they came close enough. There was something for everyone here depending on what it is you like to take pictures off. There are some that just are looking for action shots, others more layback shots and others the whole range of shots. This one waterhole supplied the complete coverage.

As I have mentioned before, the best way to photograph zebras is to keep one eye on the overall scene and one through the camera. At this waterhole we had so many zebras that you had to be always turning your head to see what was happening alongside of you, behind you, in front of you and so on.

One of the things that really strikes you is the sound that the zebra makes. If you have never heard them before, you would may have thought that their sounds would have been similar to a horse .There sound is nothing like a horse but rather that of a donkey. If you closed your eyes, you would have thought you had a herd of donkeys in your presence and not zebras. When you do hear them, that’s a good sign to look up as one of them is voicing their presence.

 

What is wonderful about the Zebra is that you have so many patterns to work with and when there are many Zebras. I’m always trying to place the head in front of another one so you have the stripes blurred in the back ground. The below shot is an example of that, a poor example at that as things were not just lining up the way I was hoping it would but below that, you’ll see where it did work and that came with patience. Do you have patience? If it is important to you, you will have it. I don’t like fishing at all. I can’t see how people can just sit there and wait for a fish to take the bait and yet, many would feel the same way about waiting for the light, waiting for the animals and so on. Where ever your passion is, you will have the patience to do what ever it takes to achieve the end result that you are looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you wait long enough then things will fall into place. At the top, the vertical shot was average but at the same place, we just waiting quietly and the animals are use to you and they will wonder here and there and all you have to do is sit and wait for the right moment. The key is having the vision in your head before it happens and to know what it is that you are looking for and just wait and see what takes place. You can’t direct the animals, they are master to themselves but what you can do is be patient. Patience is your greatest asset.The following pics are a small series where patience paid off. This is what I point out to the guests, that is to look where you can use the stripes, the head shots to your advantage and so on.

Below is another example where being aware, looking for compositions pays off. The shot is not jump of the page type of thing but it’s different and it is working with the stripes and looking ” that different point of view” .

I can’t stress enough and I have said it many times and I’ll keep repeating it, but the success of any wildlife photographer is having the patience to wait for the composition to form right in front of your eyes and in this photo, that’s what took place. Mum and dad and the little fella decides he is hurry and whats a drink. As a photographer when you get moments like this, its  a pure joy to photograph.

 

What happens when we visit another waterhole not far away……? When you have water in front of you in Africa, anything is possible ranging from the amount of animals that may arrive through to the many wonderful compositions that you can achieve, once again, if you are prepared to wait.

We arrived at this waterhole in the afternoon and there was nothing there, it was empty of animals and within 10 minutes from over the rise came a herd of zebras. They slowly made there way to the waterhole and clearly it’s a waterhole that they all know  by he way that they made their way to it.

I could post so many pics from the afternoons shoot here but you may be Zebed out  if that is a word so I’ll post a couple more just to show you what can take place  which offers you another series of pics.

***** News Flash***** Do you back up your images? Do you really ? Should you and if you don’t , why not?*******

The reason I have interrupted this blog for this message and to quickly say why you should back up your images and this is related to this blog. If you do a lot of editing on a daily basis like I do, I have so many windows open and yesterday I gave myself a heart attack as I was tried and got mixed up with drives etc and I deleted by mistake one whole section of Africa which was what I was working on now for you. I went in a shock, horror and said to Rosepetal what I had done. Did I yell scream, smash anything , No I did not, I do do that stuff. Was I devastated , yes, was I hurting inside . Rosepetal bless her socks, she is such an awesome woman and it’s a massive blessing that I have her as my fiance. As I was having a heart attack inside, she calming walks up to me, and says,” Didn’t you back up Africa on a daily basis when we were in Africa? Whooohooo in my panic and shock I forgot that I had and all I had to do was plug in the back up drive where it is all backed up and copy over the massive section that was deleted from the original file and all is fixed!!!! whooohoooo, so glad that I take the effort of backing up my work and Africa is one area where I don’t want to lose what has been taken over the years. So I thought I would pass this reminder on you you!! I had Roseptal to remind me that I had done this and now I’m passing that reminder on to you.

When one zebra gets spooked, that sends a signal around the head and they all go running for cover.Thats the things about the animals in Africa,most are living on the edge all of the time.When it happens it will always make god for a few different shots.

When things settle down they all go back to the water to continue on with their drink.

At the end of the day we were heading back to Camp and saw this little scene on the way home to camp. You just never know what you are going to come across while being out there. These animals are just going about their business as usual.

This is my favourite waterhole in Namibia, it is small but there is always something happening there in the duration of a day. There are quiet times at the waterhole but those quiet times don’t last two long. When we arrived back , we had this lone elephant with the golden light as the sun was setting and this was a fitting end of the day shot and African experience.This fella was juts pottering here and there and taking things slowly and as I mentioned before, the slower they move the easier it is to work out your compositions as you have more time to think.

Day 22

There is so much that I could have posted about this wonderful park that they call Etosha National Park but it is time to leave and embark on the next stage of the journey throughout Africa. It was time to make our way to the worlds tallest Dunes but on the way we had the amazing privilege to stop in for a few hours to visit the Himba People. This village is one of the last remaining truly nomadic tribes people in Africa. I have been here before with my last trip to Namibia and when I do Namibia I always put this on the programe as this is a eye opener on so many levels.Their culture is so different from ours and in parts it is hard to get your head around a few things which I will speak about later on. In the meantime we came across Toyotas latest model which is due to be released later this year. This was the test version for African conditions.

 

The Himba people are an interesting peoples and a tribe that is nomadic and follows the waters. Their culture has aspects to it that we would find hard to understand and even to this day I do find aspects of it hard to understand and I would  go as far as to say that women in this culture come off second best. I know people are going to say that I’m seeing it from western eyes and that this is how it has always been like this and who am I to say the things that I do say.

The girls in the Himba community as soon as they have their periods are they able to have sex and some girls as young as 12 are having babies.When you go to a community you’ll find that it is predominately women there and that the young fellas are told to go tot he townships to gain work and respect but sadly many are seduced by alcohol and all is not what it appears.

The guys in the community can have up to several wives and the girls are not allowed to shower at all, whereas the guys are. I’m not sure how that figures.

The word Himba actually means Begger.

Life is so different to how we see it and when you are there, it is like stepping back into time and if we were thrust inot that culture and asked to spend a month there, I’m sure most of us would not be able to adjust to well.It is just so very different to what we know and accept.

“The Himba live in homesteads of cone shaped structures made from mud, mopane trees and cattle dung with a central kraal and a sacred line leading from the chief’s hut to the main kraal gate. In the centre of this is the “okuruwo,” or holy fire. Kept continuously alight, the holy fire represents the ancestors of the villagers, who acts as intermediaries to the Himba’s god, Mukuru. This is where all male circumcision and teeth are removed before puberty to get them ready for marriage. The Himba are polygamous with the average Himba man being husband to more than 1 wife at a time. The more cattle the man has, the more wives he can have. Throughout the course of a year being semi Nomadic the family will move from one homestead to another in search of grazing for the animals.”

 

The Ochre color that you see on the girls is their version of make up. They put this on each day to make themselves presentable. Underneath the orchre skin they are very black. The ochre comes from certain rocks and goat butter and crushing them together and applying it all over there body. We saw this being done and it is fascinating and as western women put their war paint on each day, so do the women of the Himba people.They do it for the same reasons as well.They also put this on to act as there version of a sun cream to prevent themselves from burning in the intense sun.

Why do the Himba women wear decorative legwear?The various leg decorations shows their puberty level .Hair styles also reflect age  and social status.

Everything that is worn by the Himba women has meaning and significance relating to some aspects of their lives  and there standing in the community. Their clothing worn around their waist is made from goat skin.

Rosepetal was taken by this young woman with her child. She was very moved and for  some time she couldn’t talk. Since being home Rosepetal has written to her and printed a number of pictures of for her and these have been sent to her and in time we will find out when she has received them.Rosepetal has the best heart of any person that I know. She is one amazing woman and I adore her so much and would be lost without her.

Doug is always ready to capture that elusive shot, ready and raring to go is Doug.

The Final Chapter of the Botswana  and Namibia 2018 trips is our time at the famous Sossus Dunes at Sossusviei will leave you in awe.These are the worlds tallest Red dunes with the highest towering at 384 metres.

Sossusvlei is a stunning region of Namibia. It boast of the worlds highest dunes towering around 380 plus metres. This is a photographers paradise and we had 4 nights here and there is good reason as to why we spend so much time here. This place is a salt clay pan surrounded by sensational dunes of which several have there own names to. I wont go and mention all of the names.The name “Sossusvlei” is often used in an extended meaning to refer to the surrounding area (including other neighbouring vleis such as Deadvlei and other high dunes)Deadvlei can be seen below from the air. This is a stunning place to visit and there will be others pics from the ground level that will show what an enchanting area it is.

The name “Sossusvlei” is of mixed origin and roughly means “dead-end marsh”.  Vlei is the   Afrikaans word for “marsh”, while “sossus” means   “no return” or “dead end”. Sossusvlei owes this name to the fact that it is a drainage basin without outflows) for the ephemeral   Tsauchab River.

Many of the dunes are above 200 metres, the highest being the one nicknamed Big Daddy, about 325 metres high, however the highest dune in the Namiban Desert, Dune 7, is about 388 metres high.The long sharp ridge that you can see below is ” Big Daddy”. From the chopper it looks small but when you are at ground level. it is a different story.

 

What I have loved about this African Trip is sharing it with this woman, my Rosepetal. She is the most remarkable woman that I have ever met and has the best heart that I have seen in a person. Love this person so much and it is such a privilege to have her share this adventure with me.

 

Deadvlei is a white clay pan that is stunning  and is located near the more famous salt pan of  Sossusvlei inside the Namib Naukluft Park  in Namiba It can be written as DeadVlei or Dead Vlei,  and the name takes on the meaning of “dead marsh” As a photographer this is a dream to photograph and there are so many possibilities. For those who know me and know my love affair with the clouds, that is one thing that has alluded myself and any of the groups that I have taken here is the lack of clouds. Although I’m happy with what I have taken during the time that I have been there , I have no doubt that I’d be in heaven if I had those awesome and emotive clouds if they were present. Having no clouds at this amazing place, means I need to keep going back to see it clouded in. That’s a good excuse don’t you think.

There are so many more pics that I could post from the ground but the above is just a snap shot and let me conclude this blog with a highlight for the crew when we did a chopper flight with the doors off over this wonderland of dunes. The flights were done in two sections. A sunrise and a sunset flight.One is not better than the other, they just offer different perspectives to shoot with the light being different. I have done these flights both times and in my opinion one is not better than the other. They are both just stunning.

No matter where you look there is a shot to be taken and this is a photographers dream and it is all about the light. Before the flights I went through with the crew what the camera settings should be and how to get the best out of the camera with the settings on the camera.

 

The light brings out the textures  and shapes and the shadows are what enables the dunes to be alive in all of these shots and it wasn’t just myself that captured what was below us, it was all of the guest.

Do you fancy a walk through the dunes? The dunes are impressive and many people do climb them  and you see people climbing them, having fun, rolling down the dunes and so on.

Our awesome guide took Rospetal and myself out on one of the mornings where the crew had time to laze and catch up with the things they needed to do. We webt with Tim to plan the next evenings activities and we went with Tim as he wanted to show us an awesome snake that is hard to see .When he did find it, at first he said, do you see the snake. We looked  and could see no snake and he asked us again, do you see it? He said at the time it is less that a metre from us and we couldn’t see it at all, that is until he pointed it out to us. Absolutely amazing tracking skills by Tim and his knowledge is second to none and that is why I think people should do the tours with u as we use the best of the best guides and it is not just about seeing what is in front of you, it is the education as well that you are taught as we travel.

Can you see it below?

The snake lies below the horizon of the sand, waiting for the rodents to come across its past and the rest is history. Such a stunning find.

 

 

Péringuey’s Adder

These adders are usually nocturnal (Peringuey ‘s Adder) active at night) Fir much of the daylight hours they bury  themselves in the sand with only the eyes and upper part of the head above the surface. They do this to is to protect themselves from the extreme temperature and to await a possible meal in the form of a wandering-by desert lizard or small rodents. The eyes are situated on top of the head.

It is only found in the sands  of the Namibian Desert, except possibly Henties Bay.

They are venomous, however bites rarely result in life or limb threatening symptoms.

Another highlight of this area is seeing Tim getting so excited as we had come across a bird that is rare to see and if only found in this area and no where else in the world. The bird is known as the Dune Lark and Tim has been to this area many times and this was his only third sighting of the Dune Lark.

We had spent some time looking for it as Tim could hear the bird calls from it and then when we were about to call it a day, the bird shot from a bush and literally posed for the shots and walked right between our legs. Now if you are a birdie like Tim is, this was bird heaven. We all felt privileged to see this little character and chances are seeing it again is remote.It is endemic to Namibia where its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland and we were there to see it. I have been to Namibia previously with other groups but never had we come across the Dune Lark. Tim has told us that there are bird watches from all over the world who come here to just look for this bird to see it and here we were with it coming form the bush and standing before us. It was hard getting a good picture as they run so fast and the light was fading and we had t bump the ISO up to get enough light into the camera to be able to capture it .

What you see above is just a brief glimpse into the trip that Africa Running Wild Safaris offers with Botswana and Namibia. I don’t have time to post all of the pics that were taken on the trip, this is just a snap shot of the trip and if you have been with me from the beginning and reading it all, I can’t thank you enough and I know it is long and winded but my aim is to give you a snap shot of what the trip offers. The final picture sums up the awesome beautiful and stunning Rosepetal whom I had the wonderful pleasure of asking her hand in marriage on the Chobe River. I had planned this for some time but had to wait for Africa to happen.Africa will always be a special place for us and the Chobe River will always be in our hearts.

Rosepetal is the most amazing woman whom I have met and her love for the animals is amazing and this picture sums up this special woman  and I’m so glad that she said yes and we start our new adventures together, creating our own memories and life adventures.

Before placing that picture, like said, the Chobe River will always be special to us and we both love the elephant, we love for what the elephant stands for and below are several elephant foot prints that we took and what a fitting shot of Rosepetal placing hand with her ring within the elephant tracks.I love and adore this woman so much and I feel so blessed to have her in my life . “Love ya Rosepetal.”

 

After every elephant we came across Rosepetal would wave them as she wanted them to remember her when she comes back. As she waved to them, the joy on her face was priceless and I love seeing her so happy and at one with Africa and the elephants. Sadly I only have one such pic as I have missed placed the other but when I find them, I will put them up as I have a series of pics of my awesome Rosepetal waving to the elephants and when I find them, I will post them.

This is Roseptal calling to them, she has waved them goodbye with a small chat to them. An elephant never forgets.

These pictures don’t capture the joy on her face and how her entire face would light up. When I find them, this will be replaced.

Thank you for ready the blog and I hope that it will inspire you to join u s again in 2010.

 

🙂

Pete Dobré

Author Pete Dobré

Pete's photography is self taught. As a young child photography was an interest. His passion for the varying landscapes of Oz comes from frequent visits as a youngster, to his Gandparent's sheep farm in Barmera, a small country town in South Australia. Pete Dobré is a Freelance Photographer who blazes the trail for 6 months each year, capturing awe-inspiring images. Pete's work expresses his creative flair, emotions and love for the natural scapes of Australia. He remembers the hot day when he was 8, leaving town for the farm. His parents had an old car. Within about 2 kilometres of reaching the farm gate, they were bogged on a small red sand dune. The flies were buzzing continuously and the heat was beating down. Sticks, leaves and branches were wedged under the back tyres, to get the car moving. His mum was in a panic but Pete thought that it was exciting. From that moment he knew that he loved being out in creation, with the sense of adventure in the wild. This is where Pete's passion began. Photography for Pete is an expressive means for visual communication. He says, 'There is never a boring moment in my work. There is always something to photograph and I love being creative. The only limit to creativity is a lack of creativity.' Pete's aim as a photographer is to present images that provoke and stimulate the mind, to capture God's awesome creation and to share this with others. If Pete can do a little justice to God's creativity, then he is quietly satisfied. As a photographer Pete's inspiration and passion for his work comes from knowing God who created everything in the beginning. Knowing God, the Creator gives more substance and meaning to what he captures on film. Pete sees his role as freezing a moment in time and history which will never be repeated exactly the same again. The light, clouds and seasons will always be different. Pete's love for natural conditions at different times of the day, displaying varying moods and cloud formations makes his work very special and eye catching.

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