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Ruaha March 2015


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Wow, that fish eagle picture! beautiful!

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Grat photos - and I agree - the Bee-eater is beautiful!

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I really like the birds shots not being too tightly cropped! For me I pick the Great Egret and the Hammerkopf, for their composition. Yet they all are beautiful.

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Great bird shots @@Gregor.


I especially like the ground hornbills in the tree...I've never seen actually them off of the ground!

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Great job with the eagle owl, especially in what looks like pretty low light.

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Absolutely stunning picture of the fish eagle

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  • 2 weeks later...



I will add my compliments re your photography. Absolutely stunning!

Giraffes in the rain, the birds, I particularly liked the contrast clouds and sun shot in post nr 3 and the bird photos with greenery/plants in them. The other landscape photos are great. Fantastic lion sequence as well. Basically I like them all!


Ruaha looks beautiful. Very curious to compare this with what it looks like in the dry season. I om off to look at the report from @@FlyTraveler.


Seeing this, Ruaha HAS to be in my list for 2016.....

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  • 3 weeks later...

Great pictures @@Gregor, and a very nice lion sighting indeed. Ruaha is often very rewarding in the wet season, contrary to what a lot of 'experts' will tell you!


@@pault regarding the elephants. I can't say too much but @eglio above is on the right track. Lots of denial around and re-count demands, regardless, one dead elephant is too many. Deafening silence from pretty much everyone.


Theres a video of Ruaha in the wet season on my website for those interested, which I won't post for fear of breaking any advertising taboos!

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Game Warden

@@PauloT If it's something which promotes your professional services, why not start a new topic in the Operators Forum and post the video there?



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Well, now it´s established that 60% of Tanzanias elephants was shot during the last few years. It is just horrible. But let´s continue this trip report.


And thank you all for your nice comments.


Day 5, 25th March


We start of with a couple of Tawny Eagles having a feast of a Thick-knee.




When a third eagle arrived, the first one chose not to share it with his companions..




A Grey Kestrel.




Another Ruaha landscape picture. We did put a lot of kilometers behind us, but not much to write home about.




A hepatic Common (european) Cuckoo.




A nice elephant bull, roaming the landscape and being greeted by his family. This is how we want to see it :)






Another Grey-headed Kingfisher




And then finally we stumbled upon this large and beautiful male lion. After some posing he went back to sleeping, and we left. But we should meet him again :)




In the afternoon, we got some nice light on this group of female Kudus.




A elephant family crossed the Ruaha river, and I had to try out different focal length. I like them both.






We finished the day with our male lion.



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You have left us waiting almost too long, but your fabulous photos more than compensated for that :) !


I really enjoy when the animal(s) is portrayed together with the environment; we need to learn from your approach and give 70-200 more chances. Not to mention your wide angle shots, just exemplary and beautiful.!

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Day 6, 26th March


Next morning we started going to an area I really like close to the camp. This area have a lot of round rocks, as you can see. I could really imaging finding a leopard on one of these rocks, in perfect morning or evening light. But unfortunately, we didn´t see any leopards. But this morning we found a pride of lions, not on the rocks but anyway. They were slowly waking up. After a while one of the lionesses got up and started stalking a Impala. But the impala walked the other way and she joined the others to continue there sleeping mode. Once the sun got up, they moved a few meters to rest under the nearest bush. Lions ... :)






Trio of lions in B&W




Sun up and lions safely tucked in under the bush, we continued. On the road a Blacked-faced Sandgrouse.




We cruised the Mdonya sand river. Also a beautiful area.




And here a elephantscape :)




As always during the day, birds was to be our main object. A Southern Red bishop




A Martial Eagle




And then suddenly a young male lion walked straight through the sand river. Good timing. This young male looked like he had a rough time, with some fresh wounds on his butt.




An Eastern Paradise-Whydah




Down by the Ruaha River we found two Goliath Herons. We did spend some time blasting away pictures on them.






We finished the day where we started it, and the lions were still in the same spot.





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Another set of perfect photos.


I have noticed all of your bird shots are made with f/8. On purpose to get the whole bird within available DOF?

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Hi @@xelas


I routinely shoot with manual settings (aperture, shutter time and exposure compensation) and auto iso. And, yes for birds I often want DOF to cover the whole bird, and then something like f/8 is preferable for bigger birds like raptors (but also with mammals - which gives you mer room for slightly missed focus). With a long tele DOF is so short that you get a smooth background/bokeh no matter which f-stop is used. Most of the time I have set something like 1/1000 ss and f/8, and when something happens I shoot away. My first thought would be about light and composition, then predicting what might happens next. If the opportunity last, I start to adjust settings etc. This is more often the case with mammals than birds. Of course everything is dependent of light.

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That whydah photo is really, really good.

I also like the phrase "blasting away" in reference to photography. :)

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I've been lurking on this report far too long. Like so many others, I am really enjoying your beautiful photography. Your bird photos are enviable. Thanks also for sharing some of your approaches and techniques. That helps beginners like me know what to consider and think about when in the field.


Looking forward to more!

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@@Gregor excellent updates. Sounds like you are a little unlucky - one of those safaris where many things stay out of view for no good reason... like there is a huge animal party going on somewhere else in the park but you weren't invited. But you are making the most of the birds and you have some other beautiful shots from each day too - the greens are sometimes so, so beautiful.

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The photograph of the Wydah is beautiful I love the composition. Also the last lion, as the light is going -lovely colour

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Day 7, 27th March


This morning started of with our friend the male lion. We spotted him swimming/walking through the Ruaha river. And then he walked straight towards us. This was very good, as we had perfect morning light from behind us (and in his face).






This for sure is one of those situations when it all comes together. So once more the term, blasting away, is relevant. And quite difficult to sort out "best pictures". Anyway, he was talking towards us and we backed up, trying to guess which way he might walk. Cause obviously we want to take photos of him face-on, and not from behind. Like jackpot, it just worked. Is this really happening?












Flehmen respons






Some 500 pictures later. Thank you for the show :)




Our last drive, had some nice bird sightings to offer.




I think this picture shows what Ruaha was when we were there, constantly shifting weather.




This was a new for me, a couple of stallions fighting it out. It really seemed serious.






Ruaha really had a great finish for us.

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Final Thoughts


As you know this trip in March is during the wet season. I think the height of the wet season is a bit later, during April. Weather was changing all the time, between sun, rain and cloudy. But it was still pretty dry. The rainfalls was typically short and intense, but didn´t leave more water than that the ground dried up quickly. I guess that Ruaha is a very dry place during the dry season. As you have seen from the pictures, the ”green” is mostly in the form of widespread bushes. The landscape is it self very varied, with the Ruaha river valley, sand rivers, savanna areas, hillside areas , and of course lots of bushes. I like this variety, and it is great to be abel to see and photography the animals in different habitats. Variety and density of animals was limited, or spread out. There is of course more animals around, but they are difficult to find. This was kind of a disappointment. Birdlife was splendid though. I´m not a birder, so I can´t compare to other areas in east Africa. Compared to Europe birds in east Africa is generally much more abundent and less skittish. In Africa it is easy to approach a bird with the car and stay 10-15 meters away and take photographs. In Europe it would have flown away long before. And some of these birds are the same individuals!


Our guide/driver was Hanib from Warthog Adventures, we booked him directly via email. It worked flawless. Warthog also booked cottages on our behalf. I am very pleased with their service. Tanapas cottages is very nice, and I can recommend them. The ”lodge” service to the contrary was very basic. Their ”shop” was closed, and only food was rice/pasta with watery tomatosause. The lodge had no beaverage at all. Luckily we brught much from Iringa, and could stock up at the rangers station. Nothing wrong with the lodge house, but everything else they have a lot to work on. I figure that there is more service during turist high-season.


From a photography point of view, my reason for this trip, I was during the week a bit disappointed. As I earlier in the trip report told you, we where out in the park every day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. We covered a lot ground, but sightings was scarse, except for birds. I do like to have the opportunity to stay out the full day. I prefer this much more then spend several hours every day on the lodge, as otherwise is usual on safaris. Thanks to Habib and Warthogs for this. The only shortcoming with this is that I didn´t have time to do any daily notes, and in this trip report my pictures have to stand for them self. I brought 2 NIkon D4, Nikon 600 mm f/4, Nikon 70-200 mm f/2,8, Nikon 24-70 mm f/2,8 and TC-1,4. During this week I took 3130 pictures. 2150 with the 600 mm, 863 with the 70-200 mm and 117 with the 24-70 mm. The reason why I used the 600 mm so much is because there was so much bird photography/few animals to photograph. In retrospect, now when I am home and work with the pictures, I am much more pleased. I think I got some nice pictures :)


Last picture of the trip. A lonely lioness on the prowl looking for something. But we had to leave..



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Nothing less than very pleased is what you should be. The variety of animals taken in only one week is staggering, for me anyway. Ruaha has been portrayed very detailed in a couple of trip reports, and is surely a place to be visited, being it in the dry or in the wet season. Once more, my preferred photos are those that shows wildlife in their natural environment, and yours are exactly such! Thanks, a lot to be learned from them!

Edited by xelas
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Interesting capture of the zebra behavior. I have enjoyed following along over the last couple of months; thanks for sharing.

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Lion shots and changing weather are great, as is your summing up.


You saw things clearly when you got home - you did get some very good pictures indeed - by any standards. It's a pity you were disappointed at the time, but I think I understand exactly how you felt.


I am quite surprised that you saw no leopards as there are certainly quite a few around - but then again leopards are like that.

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From a reader's perspective the photographs you got were fantastic. I am glad that you appreciate them even if there was some disappointment when you were there. You have a lot of quality but you had to work hard to get it. It is very enjoyable seeing the wildlife and landscapes with green backgrounds.


The sequence of the male lion approaching you, with the light in his eyes was wonderful.


Thank you for a really enjoyable trip report.

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@@Gregor - absolutely amazing photography and trip report. By looking at your photos I wouldn't say that sightings were scarce, but perhaps it feels different when you are out in the field for 13 hours. In any case I enjoyed your report very much and I am sure I will be back many times to enjoy your photos over and over. Thanks for sharing the beauty of green season Ruaha NP with us!

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