TANZANIA and ELEPHANTS of AMBOSELI photo safari - February / March 2017
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 21st Mar 2017
This years photo safari to Amboseli in Kenya and the Serengeti, Ndutu and the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania has just ended.
These locations always provide a multitude of photo opportunities and great experiences. An image of snow capped Kilimanjaro with Elephants in the foreground is a classic and iconic photo, sadly, for the first time on our trips to Amboseli, Kilimanjaro was shrouded in a cloudy haze for our entire stay and we were unable to achieve this photo. However the other opportunties we had more than made up for this and on our first game drive, a Lioness chased and caught a baby Wildebeest, only to have it stolen by a male Lion. We had a number of large elephant herds walking in their typical long procession in rank order, this is a sight to see and Amboseli is perhaps the best place in Africa to see this. We also spent a whole morning at the Spotted Hyaena den which proved to be very entertaining as a number of Hyaena were present all trying to get their share of a Zebra carcass.
After our border crossing into Tanzania, we enjoyed a rest at the African Tulip in Arusha.
The following morning we headed straight for the Serengeti. Last year we had Lions in trees (and lots of them) this year the Serengeti offered us Lions on Kopjes and lots and lots of rain !!
Some highlights were finding Lions on the Research Kopjes, 3 different Leopards, one of which was a mother with a small cub who also dragged a large male Reedbuck past all of us in the pouring rain, then she tried to get it up a tree, only to have her prize stolen from her by Hyaenas !! A photo highlight was getting images of two of the big cats in the rain. It is tricky to accomplish such a shot, especially when expensive camera equipment is involved, but just sometimes the angle of the rain allows you too shoot out the window, and we got some great shots of a Male Lion and the Leopard with her kill, in the rain.
Next stop was Ndutu, always a favourite for everyone as off road driving is permitted and this allows one to get closer to the wildlife. The rain also decided to follow us to Ndutu and we experienced what I think was the hardest rain storm I have ever endured, the ground we were parked on turned into a shallow lake within 15 minutes !! I have never seen anything like it ! Photographically we were successful in this torrential down pour as we managed to add the 3rd Big Cat to our list of “Big Cats Photographed in the rain” - we had been following a Cheetah with 4 cubs the whole day, and after two unsuccessful hunts, it was actually one of the cubs that flushed a young Grant's Gazelle from its hiding place in the grass. Shortly after catching their prey, the rain began.
Another huge highlight this year in Ndutu was getting to see and photograph a beautiful female Lioness from the Marsh pride with her three small 5 week old cubs. She had them hidden in a small vegetated island just at the edge of the woodland. I have never known a female to be so relaxed around vehicles with such small cubs and it was a real treat to be able to get some photos of them interacting with each other.
Our final destination was the Ngorongoro Crater. No Black Rhino this year, but we had three beautiful male Lions and the pride numbering around 13, excellent Hippo interactions at the Hippo Pools, big herds of African Buffalo and great scenics of this very special Crater.
A huge thanks goes out to our very hard working Guides, Wilson, Francis & Arnold, we really appreciate all the long hours you put in and how patient you are with us photographers. Your interpretation of behaviour and where to park for great angles are exceptional.
A huge thank you must also go to the hard working staff at all the Camps and lodges we stayed at.
Many thanks to Dick & Mary, Rita and Sharon, it was fantastic to share such special moments with such enthusiastic and appreciative people !
If you are interested in joining us on the 2018 departure then please let us know as we only have 4 spaces left.
Enjoy some images from the photo safari.
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Shopping for a travel adventure on the Web is somewhat risky, but when I wanted to go on an African photo safari, I really had no choice. I looked around and finally picked Wild4 Photographic Safaris for one reason: the vehicle. It was obvious that this was an outfit that understood photographic details and the needs of serious wildlife photographers. With a capacity for 10 passengers, the vehicle takes just three photographers. The three photographers' benches feature platforms to steady big lenses on both sides of the vehicle, and loads of storage space and pockets for lenses, bodies, accessories, binoculars, field guides, water, etc. I can not imagine a better platform for photography in the bush veldt. What is not as obvious in the on-line description is that the vehicle comes equipped with Stu Porter, the Wild4 owner and guide. Stu, who bears a striking resemblance to movie actor Matt Damon, is a deceptively shy young man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Kruger National Park, its animals, geography, geology, climate, seasons, and, of course, rules. He also has the eyes of an eagle and is the best leopard spotter in South Africa. Stu's knowledge and patience are seemingly infinite, and he somehow manages to be aware both of his passengers' needs and everything around us. He does everything humanly possible to give you the opportunity to get the best shot. And if you need more than just the opportunity, he can instruct even the most seasoned photographer on technique. Stu grew up next to Kruger National Park, and his mother (who does the meal preparation for the safari) started taking him there as soon as he was old enough. He has been accumulating his knowledge of the park and its animals all his life, and that comes in very handy when you need to know something about animal behavior. In short, Wild4 Photographic Safaris is all about the vehicle, with spacious seats, shooting platforms and Stu Porter as standard equipment. You can't do better. Thank you, Stu!
George Cathcart, USA
I found Wild4 through an article in Popular Photography magazine about how to choose a photo safari. They were one of five recommended in the article. After checking them all out, I saw that Stu and Wild4 offered the kind of experience that I wanted: 1) Small groups of dedicated photographers 2) Variety in wildlife viewing 3) Tuition on photography and wildlife behavior 4) Good communication and organisation. I can say that Wild4 met and exceeded all expectations on all points (and then some). 1) We used one vehicle for three photographers. Stu is a trained photographer himself, so his goal was always to get us into the best position with the best light. Having only three on the tour meant plenty of room for equipment and the ability to shoot from either side of the vehicle when surrounded by a herd of elephants! It also gave us the flexibility to be patient and wait for the shot. 2) The three places we visited each provided a unique experience and wonderful variety in scenery and wildlife viewing. 3) Stu's tuition was excellent. It was there if we needed it but never pushed. Tips, reminders, anecdotes on wildlife behavior. All given with patience and good humor. 4) From the first email, the communication was timely & clear. Justyna was a joy to work with and handled the back-office part of the tour seamlessly. It can't be as easy as she makes it seem. Wild4 didn't provide the wildlife or the spectacular sunsets that we experienced, but they put us in position to enjoy and capture a little piece of it in our cameras and in our memories. Our Safari was amazing and I would not have changed a thing…well, maybe I would have eaten a little less. If you're looking for a Photo Safari, there is nothing to consider. Just go ahead and contact Wild4 Photographic Safaris. You will not be sorry.
Doug Croft, USA