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Safari in Tanzania

No, I wouldn’t consider myself as a wildlife photographer, not even close. But my passion in photography has moved slowly but surely towards capturing nature and wildlife. Where else except in Africa with its abundance in wildlife can one with that passion be richly rewarded? After mulling it over for a brief period, we decided to venture into that neck of the wood. Together with ten other wonderful folks we went on our very first safari in February 2008, led by Randy Hanna.

Capturing wildlife within a limited time frame is pretty much like a crap shoot; you can get lucky and witness some incredible actions from a fairly short distance, just like you can see on Discovery Channel or other nature channels (those folks camp for days or even weeks at a location to capture those actions) or the action is far away, practically out of reach even with your (long) lens or simply, you don’t see any actions at all. Just bring your patience, be ready, and hope/pray for some animal sighting, let alone wildlife in action, I guess.

Tarangire National Park – Approximately 2 hour drive from Arusha, where we spent our first night in Tanzania, it covers an area of approximately 3,000 square kilometers and was my first exposure to the African wildlife. However, the first thing that struck me was the presence of numerous baobab trees with their huge trunks but to my delight, the abundance of wildlife there didn’t disappoint me either.

Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area – As the name indicates, this caldera, which formed when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed on itself approximately 3-million years ago, is now the location of abundant wildlife due to its abundance of food. At an elevation of around 1,800 meter, the area of the crater floor is approximately 260 square kilometers. Within these confines, the lion population is reported to be the densest here. The elevation of crater rim, the location of our campsite, is approximately 2,500 meter and indeed, it did get fairly chilly at night.

Serengeti National Park – Definitely the most well-known of the three, this park covers an area of almost 15,000 square kilometers. This vast plain is dotted by kopjes, granite outcrops that crop out in the grassy plain, where lions like to hang out. Yellow acacia trees, in some cases isolated, further increase the beauty of this national park. The hot-air balloon ride over the Serengeti followed by an elaborate champagne brunch in the middle of nowhere under an acacia tree was an unforgettable experience, regardless the cost (well, kind of).

Other Interesting Spots - In addition to the three game areas mentioned above, we also stayed one night at Gibb’s Farm, formerly the residence of a plantation owner and now converted to comfortable lodges. The food, made from fresh, organically grown ingredients at the farm and prepared from scratch, was incredibly delicious.

The experience at a Maasai village near Serengeti left a deep impression on me. The visit was pre-arranged and these folks were “compensated” by the safari outfitter but their friendliness and willingness to pose in front of the camera are remarkable. We also visited the village school in session while there. Although photographically not remarkable, the Olduvai Gorge and its museum are interesting. Here, hominoids inhabited the area some 2-million years ago, as discovered by the famed Leakeys.

We drove to those places in 4 Land Rovers and spent in total 9 nights. At the end of the safari, we boarded a chartered plane and flew in a little over an hour back to Arusha. The view of an active volcano from the air during the flight is spectacular and not to be missed.

Photographic tidbits:
I took two cameras with me on this trip, a full frame Canon 1Ds Mark III and the much maligned Canon 1D Mark III, three zoom lenses, ranging from 14 to 400mm, and a Canon 500mm f/4.0L IS lens as my prime telephoto lens. Most of the time, I had to use a 1.4X TC with this long lens for even more reach. There were cases where I wished I had my 600mm with me for an even longer reach but the setup I used did not disappoint and the overall weight/bulk was more manageable. Both cameras performed splendidly, as anticipated. Most of the time a flash, outfitted with a “Better Beamer” to help opening up shadows, was used but in several cases, the batteries couldn’t keep up with the burst. Due to the limited opening of the rooftop of the safari vehicles, my flash bracket didn’t get used at all. Bean bags, in our case supplied by the safari outfitter, are your best bet to support your camera gear on the rooftop. In addition, I used a panning clamp to enable me to follow birds in flight and it worked well. This is a list/display of the photographic items I took with me on this trip: http://www.pbase.com/ageojo/image/92220458

Thank you for visiting and please feel free to drop me a line or even vote for this gallery for others to share.

Asante sana,
Joshua

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Not Particularly Quiet
Not Particularly Quiet
Feeding Warthog
Feeding Warthog
Itchy, Itchy, Itchy
Itchy, Itchy, Itchy
Five-Legged Zebra
Five-Legged Zebra
Baby Vervet Monkey
Baby Vervet Monkey
Dancing Flamingos
Dancing Flamingos
View of the Crater Floor
View of the Crater Floor
Rhino with Egret on the Back
Rhino with Egret on the Back
View of the Beautiful Ngorongoro Crater from the Rim
View of the Beautiful Ngorongoro Crater from the Rim
Maasai Warrior Dance
Maasai Warrior Dance
I Can Jump Higher When I Grow Up
I Can Jump Higher When I Grow Up
From A Low Point of View Alright
From A Low Point of View Alright
Maasai Warrior
Maasai Warrior
Maasai Girl
Maasai Girl
Selling Souveniers
Selling Souveniers
Recital at School
Recital at School
Class in Session
Class in Session
Look, Ma, I Can Count.... in English, too
Look, Ma, I Can Count.... in English, too
School Structure with the Village in the Background
School Structure with the Village in the Background
Feeling Safe but Curious
Feeling Safe but Curious
Colorful Maasai Talking Sticks
Colorful Maasai Talking Sticks
One of the Many Kopjes in Serengeti
One of the Many Kopjes in Serengeti
Zebras and Wildebeest Population
Zebras and Wildebeest Population
African Landscape 3
African Landscape 3
Campfire
Campfire
Campsite at Dusk
Campsite at Dusk
Hot Air Balloon Slowly but Surely Lifting
Hot Air Balloon Slowly but Surely Lifting
African Sunrise
African Sunrise
Over Serengeti at Daybreak
Over Serengeti at Daybreak
Hot Air Balloon Over Serengeti 2
Hot Air Balloon Over Serengeti 2
Hot Air Balloon Over Serengeti 3
Hot Air Balloon Over Serengeti 3
Hot Air Balloon Over Serengeti 4
Hot Air Balloon Over Serengeti 4
Yellow Acacia Tree
Yellow Acacia Tree
Hot Air Balloon Over Serengeti 5
Hot Air Balloon Over Serengeti 5
Birdseye View of Hippos
Birdseye View of Hippos
Birds Eye View of Giraffe
Birds Eye View of Giraffe
Preparing Champagne Brunch
Preparing Champagne Brunch
Champagne Brunch Under Acacia Tree in the Wilderness
Champagne Brunch Under Acacia Tree in the Wilderness
Duty Call
Duty Call
Ensuring Future Generation
Ensuring Future Generation
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