Category Archives: Africa Travel

African Safari

African Safari

 

I wasn’t even going to do a safari when I went to Tanzania to shoot for a local non-profit.   I mostly need people in my photos.  But a friend, who’d recently done a safari, convinced me to add a week in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater to the end of my trip.   Still thankful to him for that.  Nothing quite like flying low over the Serengeti for the first time and seeing herds of elephants and giraffes.

I customized our safari so that I that I could pick how long we were in each place.  Having just two people in the safari vehicle made animal viewing a lot easier.  A lion’s on the left side and you’re on the right, you can just slide over since you have the whole row to yourself.   I felt for other people I saw on safari who had 4-8 people in their vehicle.   They’d be clamoring over each other trying to see or get a photo of a lion.

I shot all these photos with a Nikon D700 or Nikon D90 and the 17-35 lens or the 70-200mm with a 1.4 converter.    No more Nikons for me these days.  When I go back to Africa year I’ll probably be shooting with the Fuji X-T1 and Fuji 55-200.  Fuji has a 100-400 coming out next year that would be ideal for shooting on a safari.  I’ll probably pick that up before I go back to Africa,

 

Email me if you have any questions on photography or Tanzania.

 

 

Zebras in the Serengeti.

Zebras in the Serengeti.

 

I was struck by how close I was to animals in the Serengeti...lions would walk right beside the vehicle. "keep your hands in the vehicle" took on a whole new urgency.

I was struck by how close I was to animals in the Serengeti…lions would walk right beside the vehicle. “Keep your hands in the vehicle” took on a whole new urgency.

 

I love the symmetry of this image.

I love the symmetry of this image.

 

Leopard in the Serengeti.

Leopard in the Serengeti.

 

Serengeti traffic jam. I loved how folks didn't get stressed when a car stalled. Instead, people got out and help.

Serengeti traffic jam. I loved how folks didn’t get stressed when a car stalled. Instead, people got out and helped.

 

These Tanzanian's found my grasp of Swahili a little funny.

These Tanzanian’s found my grasp of Swahili a little funny.

 

Serengeti photos (7)

 

Monkey and baby in the Serengeti.

Monkey and baby in the Serengeti.

 

Giraffe in the Serengeti.

Giraffe in the Serengeti.

 

A family dispute.

A family dispute.

 

Wildebeest during the migration in the Serengeti.

Wildebeest during the migration in the Serengeti.

 

Masai in the the Serengeti at Shifting Sands.

Masai in the the Serengeti at Shifting Sands.

 

Solitary walk at Shifting Sands in the Serengeti.

Solitary walk at Shifting Sands in the Serengeti.

 

This little deer is the Dik-Dik.

This little deer is the Dik-Dik.

 

I dig how this baboon looks like he's posing for a portrait.

I dig how this baboon looks like he’s posing for a portrait.

 

Sunset in the Serengeti.

Sunset in the Serengeti.

 

 

 

 

Travel Reflections

Travel Reflections

 

Turning 50 seems like a great time to recommend some of my favorite places and share a few travel reflections and some lessons learned from my travels.

 

Here’s my number one travel tip:  travel as light as you possibly can.  Go with just a carryon.  I’m down to 20 liter backpack that weighs less than 8 kilograms when it’s fully loaded that will fit in the small overhead bins of  the regional airlines.    As a good friend told me years ago, all you really need to travel is your passport, a credit card and a little cash.  I’d add that you must have a camera, too.  But I’m a photographer : )    Here is a little known secret: other countries have washing machines and dryers.  Better yet, drop it off at a full service laundry and pick it up the next day.  All you really need is enough clothes for a week or so no matter how long your trip is.   Having a bunch of luggage with you is like carrying a millstone with you on your travels.  Be free!

 

Favorite completely touristy thing I love to do in Paris:

Climbing the Tower of Notre Dame in Paris.   Something amazing climbing up stone steps that are worn down by 500 years of foot falls.   And the view?  Stunning.   I do this every time I'm in Paris.

Climbing the Tower of Notre Dame in Paris. Something amazing about climbing up stone steps that are worn down by 500 years of foot falls. And the view? Stunning. I do this every time I’m in Paris.

 

 

Most Important Travel Lesson Learned…

Don't let the wine run out!

…don’t let the wine run out!

 

 

You can work out anywhere!

Even in the jungle in the middle of nowhere in Haiti!

Even in the jungle in the middle of nowhere in Haiti!

 

 

The best part of the journey is often just relaxing and taking it easy.

My buddy Tim shot this of me relaxing during our backpacking trip in Glacier National Park.

My buddy Tim shot this of me during our backpacking trip in Glacier National Park.

 

 

My favorite place in the world is still the North Shore on Kauai.  

Hanalei Bay, Kauai.  The incredible hiking, snorkeling, awesome beaches, and laid back vibe make the North Shore of Kauai a pretty amazing place.   And no snakes...did I mention no snakes?

Hanalei Bay, Kauai. The incredible hiking, snorkeling, awesome beaches, and laid back vibe make the North Shore of Kauai a pretty amazing place. And no snakes…did I mention no snakes?

 

 

Teenagers are similar the world over.

Hmong girls checking Facebook in Sapa, Vietnam.

Hmong girls checking Facebook in Sapa, Vietnam.

 

 

Havana is the best place to experience a time warp.

All the American cars from the 1950's make for a surreal vibe in Havana.   Cuba is one of my favorite places to visit for the photography, the people, and laid back vibe.

All the American cars from the 1950’s make for a surreal vibe in Havana. Cuba is one of my favorite places to visit for the photography, the people, and laid back vibe.

 

 

Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the most surreal place I’ve visited.

If I had to recommend just one place in SE Asia to visit, it would be Angkor Wat.  The ruins are amazing.

If I had to recommend just one place in SE Asia to visit, it would be Angkor Wat. The ruins are amazing. And if you get started before sunrise, you can beat the crowds to the outlying ruins.

 

 

But if you want to watch the sunrise over the main temple at Angkor Wat, you may have company.

I hate crowds but it was actually kinda cool being with so many people excited to take the same photo.

I hate crowds but it was actually kinda cool being with so many people excited to take the same photo.

 

 

Venice is the best city in the world to get lost in.

Even when Venice is crazy busy with tourists from the cruise ships, you can take a turn off the main streets, take another turn, and it'll just be you and the locals.  Stay lost for a few hours.  And when you're ready to get back to your hotel, just ask a local for directions.  Or better yet, flag down a water taxi.

Even when Venice is crazy busy with tourists from the cruise ships, you can take a turn off the main streets, take another turn, and it’ll just be you and the locals. Stay lost for a few hours. And when you’re ready to get back to your hotel, just ask a local for directions. Or better yet, flag down a water taxi.

 

 

This is what D Day and WWII are about for me…

...a French child flying his kite on one of the D Day beaches.

…a French child flying his kite on one of the D Day beaches.

 

 

The best gift I give myself before I travel is learning just a bit of the local language.

I met these two ladies in Moduli Village in Tanzania.  They got a kick out of my attempts at speaking Swahili.  And I got a cool photo I wouldn't have gotten if I'd been speaking English.

I met these two ladies in Moduli Village in Tanzania. They got a kick out of my attempts at speaking Swahili. And I got a cool photo I wouldn’t have gotten if I’d been speaking English.

 

 

“Strange Days is playing on the jukebox, the Amsterdam bar cat is waiting and the beer is great…where are you?”   This was the message letting me know my kids had arrived in the Netherlands and were inviting me to hang out at a local bar they’d found.   Evenings like that are the reason I travel.  The perfect moment you can’t possibly plan.

The Amsterdam bar cat.

The Amsterdam bar cat.

 

 

And the Honfluer collie…

Not as compelling as the Amsterdam Bar Cat but what a cute collie.

I shot this in Honfleur, France last year.

 

 

Cinque Terra – my fav place in Europe to hike, eat amazing food, drink tasty wine and relax.

Vernazza was my favorite village in Cinque Terra.   It's the perfect base to hike to other villages.

Vernazza was my favorite village in Cinque Terra. It’s the perfect base to hike to other villages. And if you have too much wine with lunch, you can just hop on a train back to Vernazza.

 

 

Hallstatt is the Austrian version of Cinque Terra.    Which means it’s cleaner and more orderly and the beer is awesome.  But the wine and food…well, it’s not Italy.   The train ride from Salzburg to Hallstatt is stunning and the hiking above the village is steep and beautiful.

Hallstatt

Hallstatt

 

 

Favorite National Parks.   Yellowstone and Grand Teton are my favorite national parks.  Killer mountains, grizzly bears, buffalo, wolves…no shortage of reasons to love YNP and GTNP.   YNP can be crazy in the summer but once you’re a few miles into the backcountry there is plenty of solitude.   And as stunning as GTNP is, it gets only a fraction of the visitors as it’s neighbor to the north.

Mustang  in the Grand Tetons.

Mustang in the Grand Tetons.

 

 

Elephants are amazing…

...and volunteering at Elephants World in Kanchanabari, Thailand was a wonderful experience.

…and volunteering at Elephants World in Kanchanabari, Thailand was a wonderful experience.

 

 

An African safari is even more amazing than you might imagine.

I was shooting a non-profit in Tanzania and I almost didn't go on a safari because I was so focused on the work.  I'm glad I did it.  Nothing like flying into the Serengeti and seeing elephants and giraffes below us.  And lions and tigers, oh my!

I was shooting for a non-profit in Tanzania and I almost didn’t go on a safari because I was so focused on the work. I’m glad I did it. Nothing like flying into the Serengeti and seeing elephants and giraffes below us. And lions and tigers, oh my!

 

 

St John is the best Caribbean island for snorkeling, hiking and killer beaches!

Kauai is still my fav island in the world but it's tough to beat St John's combination of perfect powdery sandy beaches, hiking and snorkeling.

Kauai is still my fav island in the world but it’s tough to beat St John’s combination of perfect powdery sandy beaches, hiking and snorkeling.

 

As much as I love to travel, it’s tough to beat Colorado in the summer!

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my fav places in Colorado for hiking!

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my fav places in Colorado for hiking!

 

Also posted in Asia, Caribbean Travel, Europe Travel, Humanitarian, USA Travel

Leopard in the Serengeti.

Leopard in the Serengeti

 

I’m looking forward to getting back to Africa.  I was mostly shooting some pretty heavy emotional stuff while I was in Tanzania but I did a safari the last week I was there.   I almost didn’t.   I was much more into humanitarian photography at the time and a safari didn’t really appeal to me.   But how could I go to Tanzania and not see the Serengeti?

 

A friend who was also on the the project really pushed me to do it, and I’m glad I did.    Seeing the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater with an incredible guide, Salim of Good Earth Tours, and just me and my buddy in the safari vehicle was perfect.    While the other safari vehicles would all congregate in the same place, Salim always seemed to be a step ahead and knew where to head to to be exactly where we could get a good look when the animal emerged from the bush.  A safari whisper, if you will.

 

Being on safari during the great migration was pretty  incredible.  Hard to beat the spectacle of seeing thousands and thousands of wildebeests marching across the Serengeti, accompanied by all the requisite predators looking for a meal, was amazing.

 

I’m going to make it back for another safari but I’m not sure anything will ever reach that high of seeing it all for the first time.   Flying in a bush plane, low over the Serengeti,  for the first time and seeing elephants and giraffes from the window.  Pretty magical.    And the first time I saw a pride of lions stalk at wildebeest was almost surreal.

 

When we booked the safari our first few night’s lodging was going to be in tents at a safari camp in the Serengeti.  I was looking forward to roughing it in the bush.  Out amongst the lions.  Sort of thrilling and scary all at the same time.   Our safari tent turned out be more of a Four Seasons room.  The only thing tent like about it was the canvas walls.

 

I shot this image of the leopard in the Serengeti with a Nikon D700 with a 70-200 2.8 lens with a 1.4 adaptor.   Looking forward to going back the much lighter Fuji X-T1 and Fuji lens.  It’s liberating having camera gear that weighs about a third of my Nikons.

 

Leopard in the Serengeti.

Leopard in the Serengeti.

Monduli Village, Tanzania.

These caregivers were on a break from hospice training and they were pretty stoic looking when I first said good morning in Swahili and started to engage them in conversation.   Unlike the States where you say Hi or something like it and that’s it, in Tanzania it’s expected that there will be a series of greetings in Swahili.  By the time we got to the third level of  greetings, my Swahili was getting shaky and I meant to say something like, “it’s a beautiful morning”  but what came out was probably more like “it’s a beautiful diarrhea.”   (no surprise as you spend a lot of time in Africa either having stomach issues or trying to avoid having stomach issues.)    Anyway, these turned out to be some of my fav images from that day.

 

Also posted in Humanitarian