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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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Yawning Hippo
Yawning Hippo
The Same Spot to Take a Dump, Feed, Sleep, Conducting Orgies....
The Same Spot to Take a Dump, Feed, Sleep, Conducting Orgies....
Taking a Rest
Taking a Rest
African Sunset
African Sunset
Wildlife Game ala Serengeti
Wildlife Game ala Serengeti
An Irritated Elephant
An Irritated Elephant
African Landscape 5
African Landscape 5
Juvenile Crocodile
Juvenile Crocodile
Pygmy Falcon
Pygmy Falcon
Cardinal Woodpecker
Cardinal Woodpecker
Cardinal Woodpecker 2
Cardinal Woodpecker 2
Watchfull Cheetah
Watchfull Cheetah
Simba and Nala
"Simba and Nala"
African Sunrise
African Sunrise
Proud Secretary Bird
Proud Secretary Bird
Proud Secretary Bird 2
Proud Secretary Bird 2
Seval Cat
Seval Cat
Seval Cat 2
Seval Cat 2
Watchful Lioness
Watchful Lioness
Resting Lioness on Kopje
Resting Lioness on Kopje
The King
The King
Leave Me Alone, I'm Sleeping!
Leave Me Alone, I'm Sleeping!
Lilac-Breasted Roller
Lilac-Breasted Roller
Lilac-Breasted Roller in Flight
Lilac-Breasted Roller in Flight
Still Prefers Mom's Milk
Still Prefers Mom's Milk
Resting Leopard
Resting Leopard
Yummy Acacia
Yummy Acacia
Peeking Over Mom's Shoulder
Peeking Over Mom's Shoulder
Baby Vervet Monkey
Baby Vervet Monkey
Please, Please and How Could You Resist?
Please, Please and How Could You Resist?
Tawny Eagle
Tawny Eagle
Long Crested Eagle
Long Crested Eagle
Barely Landed
Barely Landed
Long Crested Eagle in Flight
Long Crested Eagle in Flight
In Flight 2
In Flight 2
About to Land
About to Land
Hungry Baby Owl Wanting to be Fed
Hungry "Baby" Owl Wanting to be Fed
Hungry Baby Owl
Hungry Baby Owl
Active Volcano Near Arusha
Active Volcano Near Arusha
Cockpit of Chartered Plane Back to Arusha
Cockpit of Chartered Plane Back to Arusha
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