Jump to content

Of Heresy, Old Friends and Near Misses


twaffle

Recommended Posts

graceland

Beautiful Twaffle, I came by to see if you had indeed started your TR --and to my delight( & Others) on this cold, rainy day, you have transported me to another world!

Thank you,

Gracie

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 150
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • twaffle

    57

  • Atravelynn

    14

  • pault

    10

  • Game Warden

    8

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

This trip has always been tinged with sadness, no doubt due in part to Karen's death and although I fully intended to finish it at the time I lost the urge and had forgotten all about it.   However,

Back to the cat pen.   I'm sorry that the colours and various adjustments are a bit 'all over the place', I've been distracted and haven't paid much attention to post production.    

Cheetahs were particularly abundant in the Southern Serengeti and I have lost count of the number we saw. Some were too shy to photograph, one female with cub was very thin and one female without cub

Shame you missed the larks (they'll be there next time - I hope), but I can assure you that missing me wouldn't be worth despondency! I always have to wake the guys up at Arusha NP gate too - at leas there's a nice footpath to explore there if they're really slow. And fantastic photos! (It's a brown-hooded KF, btw.) Looking forward to the rest!

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

Thanks TZ, a brown hooded kingfisher is much better than a woodland kf which I already have photos of (unless they are wrongly id'd! :rolleyes: )

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

Migration Madness and the heresy of it all

 

I contemplate the nature of safari and wildlife photography as I sit here by a glowing red fire on our second night at Serian South Serengeti camp. I decide that I am an anomaly and fit neither the camp of the serious lover of safari Africa nor the role of serious wildlife photographer and wonder if there is someone out there who feels the same. Perhaps I haven't met them yet and perhaps there is no comfortable place where I can sit.

 

gallery_5545_572_234804.jpg

 

Camp fires are one of the best places for quiet contemplation, and this camp is so isolated and wild that the day to day distractions of my life fade away. I realise with some surprise that I have little interest in visiting every country offering a wildlife experience, ticking off all the National Parks and Reserves holds no excitement for me and although there are many animal species which I would dearly love to see, I am resigned to the absence of okapi, nyala, bonobo and forest elephant from my life. I understand more about myself than ever before and the true wildlife photographer is not me. I have no desire to spend a day waiting with a cheetah, or leopard or wild dogs, hoping for the magic of that indefinable moment to be imprinted in pixels for eternity. There is too much to explore, even in the self imposed restrictions of my safari world. At last I feel at peace, no more pretence and I can rid myself of the hubris which seems to devour so many people who make wildlife their passion. My African photographic art pieces will continue to do well because they are made from the heart with passion and love, not because they may sell well in stock libraries or will attract people to go on photographic safaris with me (not that I have a problem with either of those goals, they just aren’t for me).

 

So what draws me back?

That is a question I have battled since I was dragged away from Kenya, kicking and screaming, by my parents. It has consumed me and affected many of my decisions in life. When people ask, I can honestly say that I belong in no country and I will continue to be torn between two worlds, the world of my childhood and the world of my adulthood. The two worlds sit rather uncomfortably together, but apart. I walk off the plane in Nairobi and feel a sense of home coming, but it isn’t my home and I no longer belong there. So I am a vicarious visitor and I make friends the best I can so that when I return, I return as a friend not just a tourist, despite being very much a tourist. Perhaps the refugees I meet here in Australia, who have escaped great danger and have been welcomed in a new and strange country, would understand the pull between two totally different cultures. They can no more return to the place of their youth than I can, but for very different reasons. And so I will battle to return to the places I love, and aspire to visit other countries no longer, despite the adventures and attractions they may offer. Like a wayward lover trying to entice you from where you belong, you may be tempted and indeed, may waiver, but it will undoubtedly by short lived and bitter sweet.

 

And what does this philosophical change mean? Well, it means that the nature of my trip reports must change. My 7 nights in this camp will bear little relation to someone else's stay as my personality and the way it interacts with that of my hosts will be a major determining factor. So I can report on tents and beds, comment on food and drinks, describe surrounding landscapes and even touch on wildlife knowing that the wildlife is a changing feast. But what does a potential tourist looking at camps to book really want to know. How can their expectations be adequately met if we don't have a conversation? How can my previous experiences and the reasons I enjoy one place, possibly relate to what another person may value? I only know what I feel, and some will tune in and say "yes, I get it, that's the place I want to visit" and others will think "what on earth is she talking about!"

 

gallery_5545_572_120566.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_38300.jpg

Actually, this is Terry's photo, blast the PS action for my copyright … becomes automatic.

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

As the days here in the far south of Serengeti move past, I notice a few things which I find surprising.

 

You can have too many wildebeest ... Oh yes, heresy number 1 and counting. These vast plains become covered by the creatures, it's true. And quite a sight it is. But how do you adequately photograph them? I ask myself this question each and every morning and having failed to find a satisfactory answer feel that it is better to move on to fresher pastures. And when you have exhausted every means at your disposal, what then? Well. we eventually left the vehicle, and I, clutching my tripod and camera, bravely walked into the mass of beasts. Surrounded by them I thought that surely then I would see a different angle of greater interest, but I felt like a hare caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle, mesmerized by the movement and volume and noise. If that isn't bad enough, the sight of dying animals with only vultures to slowly end their agony is distressing to say the least. Just another wildebeest lost calving, or a youngster with a broken leg, or a calf abandoned by a cow with post natal depression but overwhelming to the soft of heart. A miracle of stupidity, these bovines going around and around.

 

gallery_5545_572_96467.jpg

Definite mocking behaviour

 

gallery_5545_572_162678.jpg

Out among the migrating herd, on foot and more mocking behaviour.

 

Heresy number 2 … I miss the impala. They flit in and out of the edges of the woodlands, almost seen but not quite. I miss the graceful buck, with his lyre shaped horns reaching up and outwards and glistening with the moisture from the early morning shrubs. I miss the extraordinary noise of his warning call, and the way he collects his harem together. I miss the golden, shimmering coats of the doey eyed females as they nurse their young. I miss the chance to immortalize their beauty, when so many pass them by.

 

gallery_5545_572_95252.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

It is almost impossible to recollect the cool forests of Arusha National Park after the dry and dusty day we've spent around Lake Ndutu, but that is really where this safari began 5 nights ago and I must return to the journey where it left off a few days ago, to when we left Arusha with a sense of anticipation. The country of Tanzania differed in one significant way to the Kenyan landscapes. The villages seemed to be more traditional; less iron, less recycled flotsam and jetsam from a disposable world littering their valleys and hillsides and consequently much easier on the eye. The countryside appears able to hold much higher densities of wildlife, even though not in parks or reserves and there is a general feeling of the modern world not intruding so much. As we drive along, I notice a young man walking towards the road. At first I can't make out what he is dressed in, or why. He is black from head to toe and has a white face. He walks alone with a handful of cattle and looks ecstatic. Ken tells me that he is a recently circumcised man and I wished that I had taken a photo as I had never seen such a thing.

 

So we arrive at the gates to Lake Manyara NP, to spend a few hours and break the journey to Ngorongoro. It has been 40 years since I last visited and I can't believe that I've lived enough years to remember a place from 40 years ago. What was I hoping for from a visit to this park? Well, elephants would be good, tree climbing lions? ... I know that no one sees them anymore and besides, lions have been watching documentaries and they all seem to be climbing trees all across Africa. Still, it is an iconic event to see tree climbing lions in LMNP. Monkeys would be good value, any species.

 

My opinions on this park were that TANAPA could do a lot to improve the experience by extending the road network. Impossible to get near the lake, there were some interesting grasslands but with no circuits at all. I don’t wonder that visitors can be disappointed with this place, and yet it is beautiful with cool, dark forests and wide vistas and the great escarpment rising out of the plains. Driving along the road we can see pretty streams and pools glistening in the shadows of the tall forest trees. A troop of Sykes monkeys appear out of the undergrowth and slowly walk down to the water to drink. A shaft of light would have made the scene memorable enough to catch on camera, but despite all my wishing, the shafts come down somewhere else to light someone else’s photo. The hippo pool is an area where you can get out of the car and hopefully watch some water action, but the fence is far from the action on this day and despite two hippos fighting on land over the following 45 mins, our best efforts give us only hazy images from a distance. An 800mm lens would have been handy as the efforts of the two animals gave some dramatic moments. Lunch was almost pleasant, if you like dozens of truck loads of tourists crowding around. We left as soon as we could and I chose not to remember days in the Aberdares or Meru NP, where lunch could be had sitting outside in the bush with the only sounds being that of birds and distant animals.

 

We did manage to see an elephant or two on our way to lunch and so after all the monkey excitement we decided to call it a day and head onwards. On the way to the gate we met someone who had seen lions, so of course we felt that we should look and we turned back. Low and behold, we did see a small pride of lions sleeping in a tree which I felt was a small miracle. Less of a miracle was that they were faaaaar awaaaay and so that although I have photographic proof, it is hardly an image that I would be inclined to share. An extra road or two would have been handy!

 

Driving back towards the gate, again, we saw in the distance on the inaccessible plains, a small herd of elephants slowly grazing their way towards us. So we found a road to sit on and wait. Slowly the herd came closer and closer and from the forests more and more joined their brethren until we were surround by over 100 elephants. Now that was worth all the effort of visiting LMNP, although the harsh light was unkind to photographers, the sight and sounds of the herd were delightful.

 

We left the park not at all dissatisfied with our short visit.

 

gallery_5545_572_172794.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

My apologies for not posting lots of photos, but I am short of time and don't want to delay this more than necessary. When I get a chance, I have lots of birds to post in the hope that TZ will id them accurately for me. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

My apologies for not posting lots of photos, but I am short of time and don't want to delay this more than necessary. When I get a chance, I have lots of birds to post in the hope that TZ will id them accurately for me. :)

 

You really have a nack at capturing the moment and the photos tell a story. They seem to draw me as if I were sitting there next to you.

 

Sigh!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Still referring to the post before last (I'm in no position to hurry) I thought you were going to hit the poor wildebeests with your brolly (well, tripod) for a moment there. I feel your pain with the wildebeests but actually I think your second wildebeest shot is wonderful.

 

I'm glad you decided to go this way - it's very interesting. Would I want to read just another report from Ndutu?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sangeeta

I think many of us here share at least some of your emotions, twaffle, and your words resonate. And they make us think a little more about whatever fuels this quasi-obsession that we all share.

 

Never enough wildies for me, though my heart has a very hard time coping with the bleating of a lost calf too...

 

Your photographs more than do justice to your love for the land, people and wildlife of the places you do visit. Looking forward to seeing many more.

Link to post
Share on other sites

More great pictures - photos and words! All my favourite photos of the migration seem to come from some serious elevation - a tower or at least a movement laid out below a kopjie or the vantange point of a cliff on a river crossing, of course. Though I've seen some taken from grass level, which worked rather well. I've got nothing worth while despite much time among the herds! I find the access in Manyara NP unhelpful too (though again, you did well with those lions. I seem jynxed and have never seen them - others report a 50% success!), but some of the issues are the nature of the lake itself - every few years it fills so far that the hippo pools are swallowed up (that's why you've got those dead trees there, and grassy plains). The only safe way (safe in the sense you'll not sink to your axles and need a day to dig the car out - once you're through the crust that's you stuck!) to get to the lake shore is on foot, and sometimes it's several kms of mud you have to wade through to access the waterline, othertimes its lapping at the grasses. And to go for a walk needs a ranger, etc. Or, better in my mind, access the lake through the village programme just the other side of the hippo pools (they actually mark the edge of the NP), you can walk/cycle on that side no problem - but do be careful of the hippos. And you can get right to the shorelines for birding...

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

Thanks TZ, I think that was one of the disappointing aspects of Manyara, the inability to see much of the bird life which would have been much better closer to the lake. Good points about the access. The added circuits I was thinking about, apart from down to the lake (not viable), were more through the savannah. There was one large area with no access at all and it was on the escarpment side of the hippo pools. I don't mean to carve it all up, but getting to see stuff was quite a challenge.

 

I agree with getting better views of the migration from up higher, which I did do (haven't shown any here yet, but will do) but you still don't get any immediacy with the animals. I had some great ideas, but forgot them totally when standing out on the plains surrounded by the noisy creatures. But I did love being able to get out of the vehicle anytime to take photos, apart from when viewing lions and they were thin on the ground in areas south. Just as well, or we wouldn't have had the same cheetah sightings.

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

 

You really have a nack at capturing the moment and the photos tell a story. They seem to draw me as if I were sitting there next to you.

 

Sigh!

 

Thanks Dikdik, one day you may be sitting there right along side. Alex is working on a special discount rate for Safaritalk members for his Masai Mara camp, but given recent events I'm not hassling him just yet for details. Should be good though.

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

Thanks Paul, Tanya and Sangeeta … we all need encouragement to finish these darned things and keep the absent GW happy! :rolleyes:

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

Icons earn their status.

 

Hard to imagine visiting the Tanzanian north without visiting that great hollowed out hole in the ground, which we like to call THE CRATER. I know, technically a caldera, but since when did technical considerations ever worry me. When I last visited this place there was one place to stay, just the one. I remember it well, it was where my father offered me my first alcoholic drink with dinner. (Don’t rely on my memory though, I have just found out that I wrongly thought that we were in Switzerland skiing when we heard about JFK’s assassination when all along we were driving across the USA … mmmmm, that was a bit of geographical misplacement). I’m a pragmatist, although a rather anxious pragmatist, but one nonetheless, so I determined that we would stay at the mass marketed Sopa lodge because of its ideal location. The room was spacious but smelt rather bad, and stuffy! Those huge glass panels facing towards the crater, which you can’t see of course, made the room a hot house in January’s warm weather. So naturally I defied local convention and opened the windows at night, just a little. All in all, for the price, it was a perfectly adequate solution and the staff were friendly and helpful although I don’t really go much on the singing and dancing teams.

 

We met a New Zealand doctor, (or was he in IT, I always mix the two up) who was on safari with his family. They had seen it all, after a couple of days at Ndutu and one drive in the crater. Lions on a kill, hyaenas chasing lions off a kill, a cheetah under a tree and some wildebeest and zebras. Elephants and rhinos in the crater. He was a lovely chap, but honestly believed he’d seen it all as far as wildlife goes. Still, I met plenty of those types of tourists in small tented lodges, small aeroplanes, exclusive lodges, on the streets … you can’t avoid them and I’ve given up saying the obvious.

 

As we drive along the crater wall towards the lodge we can feel the anticipation rising. Despite it’s well deserved reputation for being akin to Piccadilly Circus, or Grand Central Station (I live in a quiet town, nothing I can compare it with), Ngorongoro Crater also has become a mecca for quality game sightings. The buffalo residing at the bottom have a reputation amongst hunters for carrying the largest remaining horns in the North and the rhino population is increasing steadily. Many times we hear reports of great sightings on these high, narrow roads but it appears quiet in the late afternoon. We slow down as a car has stopped on the road, blocking it, and with some annoyance we wait for them to fix whatever the problem may be. The passenger waves at us frantically, and we wave frantically back (probably from one of those Latin countries, they are very demonstrative). Eventually we realise that they are actually looking at something and we peer into the long grass at the side of the road. Camouflaged rather neatly in the grass, flattened against the damp ground and looking directly at us in some consternation is a semi mature lion. I fire off a couple of sloppy shots with my camera, knowing that focus wasn’t on the eyes, and the lion slinks off into the bushes. We feel ready for the adventure, our first close up lion of the trip as we can’t count the tree lions really.

 

gallery_5545_572_212814.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_239928.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_106133.jpg

 

What were the highlights of the visit and what were the low points? The beautiful Acacia Lehai forests on the road down to the gate were a surprise. The twisted and tortured trunks and branches hide a tranquility which seems untouched by man. Occasional piles of elephant dung stand testiment to the great animals’ use of these corridors and I can imagine their ghostly grey forms gliding through the trees. From above, the canopy looks like a dark green matt, mysterious and slightly forbidding.

 

gallery_5545_572_65744.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_124929.jpg

Augur buzzard in the Lahai forests.

 

The green crater floor with wild flowers was very pretty and had enticed huge quantities of all sorts of animals in to graze. The sheer numbers defied the possibility of such a relatively small area ever supporting them all, and then you hear stories of people visiting when all is dry and dusty and only the determined and foolhardy herbivores hang on and you realise that it is, like all things, a transitory paradise.

 

gallery_5545_572_127289.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_119032.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_162765.jpg

 

Getting to the gate at opening time and having the crater floor much to ourselves for a couple of hours was a bonus, not knowing that the rules have changed so that you can now stay down for the day was a bummer, not that the afternoon would have been much fun as the commuters have, by then, all arrived in their hordes.

 

The picnic spot was a bit hellish with the black kites, but fun in a rough and ready kind of way. The habituated animals made photography a breeze, but the habituated animals took away the wild feel. However, you really can’t have it all and despite everything I enjoyed our time there but probably wouldn’t return in a hurry. When all is said and done, this place deserves its iconic status.

 

gallery_5545_572_207145.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_164001.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_139529.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

And because it was such a photogenic place, here are some more photos taken at Ngorongoro.

 

gallery_5545_572_33632.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_250081.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_21262.jpg

 

gallery_5545_572_108078.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

"... I can imagine their ghostly grey forms gliding through the trees"

 

The first trip that my wife and I took to Africa was to TZ and we visited the crater. I was blown away by seeing an elephant silently glide by us in the forest. We were dilegently stopped looking for rhino and I turned around to look in the oposite direction and there was a huge male elephant cruising along. Having only seen elepants at the zoo or on tv, it had never occured to me at that time that they would be in a forest. It sounds silly but this was one of the moments that hooked me on Africa.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not liking this report because it's making wish I were returning to Tanzania instead of to Kenya.

 

That's the only thing I'm not liking about it, though. Swoon.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What a fabulous set of images, really loving them!

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

Thanks PT, Leely and Kavey, appreciate the encouragement to continue.

Link to post
Share on other sites
madaboutcheetah

Thanks for the report, Twaffle ..... love it!!!

 

Love the scenery amongst all the flora and fauna!!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Love the words amongst all the scenery

Link to post
Share on other sites
twaffle

Thanks Hari and John. :lol:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Atravelynn

"A miracle of stupidity, these bovines going around and around." That wondrous hoof-pounding event, summed up perfectly!

 

Your photo of fire is almost as mesmerizing as the real thing. Great report!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I enjoyed the trip into the crater. You added some details I hadn't heard before (which is not easy!).

 

I'm deciding right now whether to "bother" going there at the end of the dry season... I'm past bothering about any crowds, but I'm wondering what the colours would be like and whether the kites will be a photo op or just a pain..... hmmm

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy