It’s a treat to wake up at a true mobile, tented camp in the middle of the Serengeti. We spent three nights here and I think it’s the most authentic way to experience a traditional safari.
On our first day, we took breakfast with us so we could drive to the river early. I was very encouraged by the massive herds of wildebeest that we drove by. It’s impossible to predict exactly when the herds will be in place to make the crossing so it’s a small gamble when you book your airfare. In other years, I might have missed by a couple of weeks.
We drove north to the Kogatende airstrip then east along the southern side of the Mara River, looking for herds massing near the riverbank. Watching the herds cross is a waiting game because they are unpredictable and get spooked easily. You wait some distance back from the river so the herds don’t get scared away and then, once they look like they are starting to cross, you move forward as fast as you can without spooking them (which means pretty slowly). And as much as you want to be alone while doing this, many other people in the area have the same idea so there’s a bit of jockeying for position as well. More ›
The next morning, we awoke to low cloud cover and a beautiful sunrise. After breakfast, we left Natron and drove up through Loliondo towards the northern Serengeti. The light developed beautifully as we drove north up the west side of Lake Natron. More ›
We stayed at Lake Natron Camp, a beautiful camp set next to the flats of Lake Natron and with an outstanding view of Lengai. It’s a desert-style camp, designed with lots of shady places, a swimming hole, the Rift Valley escarpment behind us, spacious tents with great views of the lake from their front door, and the food was outstanding (special diets handled well too: my gluten-free meals were excellent).
For wildlife photographers, Lake Natron is best known for its high density of flamingos – about 2.5 million lesser flamingos. There were also plenty of zebra and wildebeest around who left evidence that they even came through camp while we slept. The camp was sprinkled with plenty of desert rose which I think of as a Bonsai version of a baobab but with pink flowers on top. More ›
I don’t typically travel to Tanzania in July but when I mentioned to my Tanzanian operator that I wanted to see the migration herds when they crossed the Mara River and also that he had some new camps that I hadn’t seen yet, it seemed like a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
One of the camps is in the northernmost part of the Serengeti to allow easy access to the herds when they cross the Mara River. There was a bit of a gamble though since you can’t predict when the herds in the area will actually decide to cross. And in the bigger picture, you can’t predict the weather well enough to even know if the herds will arrive and cross in the weeks before or after you’re there.
Another camp new to me was on the edge of Lake Natron, an area I had wanted to see for a long time. The area is known for high concentrations of flamingos, lots of other wildlife, and stunning landscapes. More ›
A few months ago, I sat down with Nancy McKeithen, Editor and Publisher of Fluent Magazine. Nancy interviewed me about a variety of photography-related topics – everything from my background, what I like to photograph, my frame of mind when I do, and gear that I use. More ›
UPDATE 12/15/2014: I’ve caught some grief in online discussion groups for the images in this post and it made me realize I should have been more clear about my intentions. You can find articles everywhere online that show off the best a camera can do. The images here are not those. My goal was to illustrate challenges the X-T1 has and where Fuji needs to improve the X Series features if they want to better serve certain markets (sports, wildlife, etc.).
The other goal I had for this post was provide an answer to the question I’ve received more than once from my clients: should they bring their mirrorless camera on one of my safaris? Until now, I’ve had to say, “I don’t know.” With this experience, I can give them a more balanced answer.
For my photo safari tours, planning what to pack for photography gear has almost been routine for the last couple of years: I like having two SLRs, one attached to a long lens and one to a medium. This also gives me a backup in case one stops working (the closest Canon service center is probably South Africa: about 2200 miles away). I go a little further than I usually recommend to my clients and I bring a third SLR body because it has been converted for infrared. A couple wide to normal zooms for that and I’m set:
This year I’m trying something a little different. More ›
In my last post I talked about what photo gear I brought to Italy for one month and the reasons behind those plans. So how did reality compare to expectations? Which gear earned another trip and what won’t make the cut next time? The good news is that the planning paid off and most things worked very well. There were a couple exceptions though and an uncertainty that might seem familiar/tiresome to some Fuji fans. Let’s take a look. More ›
This last May, I was lucky enough to spend my honeymoon in Italy. I couldn’t go on a trip of this scale without some serious photography (luckily my wife already knew this) so I put a lot of thought into what gear I wanted to bring. I’ve been enjoying my Fuji X-T1 lately and, although the last trip I did of this length was with my full-frame Canon gear, this time I wanted to bring a much lighter kit.