The Art in Safari

18 12 2017

Great Migration Safari, FiveZero Safaris

Going on Safari is on many peoples bucket lists, and is one of their ‘one day’ dreams, but what about the people who who have already been on safari? In my nearly twenty years on safari, I have met very few people (less than ten) who weren’t bitten by the safari bug. The large majority of people find that their senses are awakened, their busy city minds truly relax, often for the first time in years, and at the end of each day there is an easy conversation that doesn’t involve politics, crime, or the economy.

It can be very easy to assume you have ‘done’ safari after one visit…

To read more and see the images, CLICK HERE!

 

 

 





Crossing madness

31 05 2013

Every year, over two million wildebeest and zebra make their way around the Serengeti/Masai Mara ecosystem, following the rains and the green grass that follow.  The highlight of this dangerous journey (at least for wildlife photographers) is the crossing of the Mara River in Kenya.  This is probably one of the most documented wildlife spectacles in the world, and with good reason.

 

The wildebeest can gather for days on the banks of the river, plucking up the courage to make the crossing.  There is an ebb and flow; a back and forth as their bravery builds, which is quickly diminished when they get close to the water.  Everyone is waiting for the first wildebeest to jump in.  All this waiting only adds to the excitement.  Eventually, one brave fellow makes the move.  As soon as the first hoof touches the water a stampede begins, and up to twenty thousand wildebeest and a few hundred zebra start panicking and blindly follow the rump in front of them.  When the first wildebeest cross, they choose the best point to enter the river, but a point that also has a good exit (crocodiles aside, most animals perish at the exit).  Once the mega herd has entered the water, the current takes the herd downstream, often to a point in the river that doesn’t have an exit, leaving the animals swimming to their demise.  This is where the crocodiles come in.  They are smart animals, having played this game for many decades.  The crocodiles don’t waste their energy on fit and strong individuals that have just entered the river, they target the poor chaps that are swimming around aimlessly, getting more and more tired.

There are many great individual triumphs through all the commotion.  A very large percentage of the animals that cross the Mara River make it to the other side, and carry on the cycle.  It is extremely uplifting to watch a wildebeest or zebra fight the odds; the crocodiles, the current, the stampede and blocked exit points and make it out the other side, to fight another day.

All of this adds up to an experience that is actually quite difficult to explain, but the same comment keeps coming up when people try to describe it – you have to experience it!

 

To join me on safari click here!





2012 in review

31 12 2012

Thanks to everyone for all the support during 2012!

I have put together a quick collection of highlights from the year for you, and want to wish you an incredible 2013 with plenty of good sightings, all of them in great light!

To join me on one of these amazing safaris, click here





A little teaser

17 10 2012

Having recently come back from Kenya, and having witnessed the most incredible wildlife spectacle first hand, I thought it was only fair to share with you some of the madness!

I will be leading The Great Migration Safari again next year, and am already looking forward to getting back amongst the tens of thousands of wildebeest as they gather on the banks of the Mara River waiting to cross, as well as all the predators that roam those beautiful, wide open plains.  The photographic opportunities are endless, as animals seem to constantly fill the viewfinder of your camera.  It really isn’t fair that one place on earth can have so many animals, with so much diversity!  It is a photographic safari like no other.

It does all come down to the famous crossing of the Mara River though. There is something about that experience which is quite difficult to explain – you can watch it on TV a hundred times, but you will never get the level of panic at each crossing.  The wildebeest herd is extremely sensitive, which seems odd given that they are not the sharpest animals around, and even the slightest disturbance will turn the mega herd around, delaying the crossings.  They seem to do their best not to cross, but the overwhelming instinctive drive eventually pushes them to do it. The tension that emulates from the herd is palpable, as they pluck up the courage to start the crossing. Eventually, one brave/stupid/pushed wildebeest makes the leap of faith, and is rapidly followed but the rest of the herd.  The tension climbs to a maximum in seconds as literally tens of thousands of wildebeest and a few hundred zebra hustle to get across the most daunting challenge that faces them on their yearly migration.  Add a crocodile to the mix, and the panic reaches melting point.  The wildebeest do their best, but many succumb to the strong current, and even stronger crocodiles.  The only way to truly understand what happens each year, and what has happened for millions of years, is to experience it.

Have a look at the little teaser I have posted for you, which should whet your appetite! If you would like to join me on next year’s safari, click here!





A cheetah’s pride

2 10 2012

You would think that in flat grassland, you wouldn’t be in for too many surprises, as you could see everything at a distance, and having spotted a cheetah at a good hundred meters away, I thought as much, until she came closer.

I was out on safari in Kenya, one of the largest grassland ecosystems in the world, when we spotted said cheetah.  The grass wasn’t at its longest but was long enough to hide a couple little secrets that the female cheetah was hiding.  We had stayed with her for a while, hoping she would venture a little closer to the vehicle, which she did, and were rewarded with a great sighting of her two three month old cubs!  It is not every day you see cheetah, and to see a cheetah with such small cubs is a real treat.  The cubs still had their grey mantles on (all cheetah cubs are born with a strong patch of grey hair that grows down their back, the length of their body), which made the photographs even more special.

In classic cheetah fashion, they took to rest on top of a termite mound, and posed beautifully as we clicked away.  The cubs, being cubs, didn’t sit still for very long, which was fantastic, and made for some great images.  We spent a good hour with the young family, until the mother, who was keen on hunting, led her family away out into the grassland.

For more on this sighting, as well as other great images form the safari, check out http://50safaris.wordpress.com, and www.50safaris.com!





Caught between a rock and a hard place

27 09 2012

The famous river crossings in Kenya’s Masai Mara are usually filled with excess drama and action, but every so often, one individual’s story catches your attention. I was taking a photographic safari to witness these magnificent crossings, and found myself engrossed with the plight of one young wildebeest.

The crossing had a normal start to it; hours of back and froth from the mega herd of wildebeest, followed by more waiting. The herd had built up nicely, and we were in for a massive crossing – if, of course, the wildebeest decided to jump in and get started. As it turned out, the zebras, unusually, took the lead, but started crossing a little further downstream than usual. This meant that together with the fear, panic and strong river current, the wildebeest now had to contend with rocks! Most of them dealt with the new obstacle by simply jumping over them. In a fantastic display of athleticism (and action photography), all but one youngster cleared the rocks without any problem.
The young wildebeest had somehow managed to wedge his hips into the rocks underwater. I am not sure how he got that right, but he was firmly wedged in. He struggled bravely for a good half hour, before his struggles got the attention of a passing croc. The monster of a croc came right into the action to see what all the splashing was about, and found himself face to face with the trapped wildebeest. There was a cruel ten second stare down as the croc, with a huge weight advantage, sorted through the options, before it lunged out of the water and grabbed the young wildebeest by the horn. I don’t think the croc was fully aware of the wildebeest’s predicament, because he couldn’t get him out of the rocks. A second reset, and he was better prepared. The wildebeest, understandably panicked, was trying his best to get free from the rocks, but to no avail. The croc had come in for a second attempt at an easy meal, and pulled the wildebeest free from the rocks, and down into the water.

It is not always easy witnessing nature unfold, and I certainly felt for the young wildebeest. The whole situation made for some interesting images, ones that documented an unusual event.

For a day by day look at the safari, check out www.50safaris.wordpress.com!