Posts Tagged ‘Giraffe’

Scenes from a Day Trip to the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, Tanzania

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An elephant in the Ngorogoro Conservation area

During my stay at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge in the Serengeti, the staff arranged for me to take a full day trip to the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation area. The Ngorogoro is one of Tanzania’s great treasures, and a stunning place to see unique landscape and wildlife.

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Red earth, white clouds, and saline lakes in the Ngorogoro Crater

The Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The crater is the centerpiece for the area. It’s the world’s largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera. So the landscape is rather unique.

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Grey Crowned Crane

The Ngorogoro Crater is stark and beautiful, with the vast landscape dotted with wildlife. While I do not consider myself much of a birdwatcher, the birds in the area are stunning. During certain times of the year, flocks of flamingos are present in the saline lakes.

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Rocky roads leading into salt flats and canyons of the Ngorogoro

The Ngorogoro Crater Conservation area is large, and it was a long (and bumpy) three hour drive from the Serengeti Lodge. I found the area interesting enough that I wish I had more time there. On my next trip to Tanzania I hope to stay in the area longer to learn more about it and see more of the interesting and unique ecosystem.

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Zebra were plentiful on the grasslands of the Ngorogoro Crater

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Zebra feeding on the grasslands

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Hippos in a lake in the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area

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Much cleaner Hippos than in the muddy hippo pools of the Serengeti

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Kori Bustard, the largest flying bird native to Africa

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Ostrich in the Ngorogoro grasslands

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Wildebeest

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Wildebeest in the Ngorogoro Crater

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Ponds and trees in the Ngorgorgo Crater

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Superb starling

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Hyena walking 

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Giraffe in the Ngorgoro Crater Conservation Area, Tanzania

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Masked Weaver

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The Ngorogoro’s oddly beautiful landscape

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Giraffe in the bushes

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Obligatory “tourists taking a selfie” pic in the Ngorogoro Conservation area

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Stark landscape + Giraffes in the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area

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On Safari in Namibia: The Wildlife Edition

Local heard of elephants in the Hoanib River Valley, Namibia

When I got back from safari at the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in Nambia, everyone asked about the wildlife. You expect to see a lot of wild animals on safari, but I find Namibia particularly fascinating because of it’s desert ecosystem. Emms, our guide and tracker, said simply, “picky eaters don’t survive in the desert.”

The Oryx, or gemsbok, is the National animal of Namibia

Desert or not, there are lots of wild animals. The Oryx, a type of gazelle, is the animal I most associate with Namibia. Oryx are well adapted to desert life in the Kaokoveld.

Sleepy lion GIF

As much as I adore Token’s song, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, the lyrics “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight” are a factual fail. Lions don’t live in jungles and they are nocturnal. They sleep during the day and hunt at night.

Lions sleeping with their paws up in the Hoanib River Valley

Giraffes are also extremely well adapted to life in the desert. Somehow these tall creatures can blend in and then appear, gracefully walking in parallel about 10 km per day.

A pair of giraffes

Some of the other animals we saw springbok, monkey, steenbok, and scrub hare.

Giraffe Fight Club GIF

Giraffes are incredibly graceful, even when fighting.

Papa G, the elephant

My favorite animals were the elephants.

Left: local elephants eating Right: elephants at magic hour

The elephants learn a lot from the dung of other elephants, including their location and who is ready to mate. Who knew dung is the Tinder of the wild?

Elephant trunk in action eating bushes

Elephant mock charge GIF

Elephants walking a dry river bed during magic hour

Not all the animals we saw were in the desert. One day we flew to the Skeleton Coast and visited a seal colony. Seal colonies have one of the most distinct smells I’ve ever encountered. I lack the words to describe it… but musky, fetid, and overripe give you the general idea.

A young Cape Fur Seal pup on The Skeleton Coast in Namibia

Here’s a little video of the seal colony:

 

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South African Safari: Video Highlights Reel at Kwandwe

Lions

A typical day at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve goes something like this:

5:30 your Ranger calls your room to wake you up. You get dressed and go to Fish River Lodge for a cup of tea or coffee before heading out on your morning game drive in an open top 4 x 4.  It’s still cold, but there are blankets and you’re got a jacket on.

Ready for the morning game driveSunrise at Kwandwe

Self-portrait: ready for the morning game drive at dawn

From 6 am until 9:30 or so (depending on what you view) you’re in your out on a game drive. The sun has just risen and your barely awake until something wakes you right up. It could be a lion’s roar or an elephant crossing the dirt road or flock of blue cranes flying over head.

Elephant crossingElephant walking

Pictures of Elephant Walking. Guess who gets the right of way?

Then you find yourself fully awake and completely fascinated by the skill of your ranger (in my case, Robin) and tracker (Ernie) who can help track animal movements and tell you all about the dynamics of the animals that live on the land. It’s not really a vacation as much as it is travel and education. You leave far more aware of the ecosystem and amazed by the animals who survive there.

Cape BuffaloRangers know all

Rangers know all

You return to camp around 9:30 for breakfast and free time. You avoid the mid-day sun in your room or at the lodge (which is rather comfortable) before heading out at around 3:30 for an afternoon game drive. One of the perks of the afternoon game drives is that you get to stop somewhere scenic for a sundowner- a cocktail in the bush and a snack before heading back to the lodge. While gin & tonic is usually my sundowner adult beverage of choice, this trip I learned that Amarula tastes great mixed in hot chocolate if the weather is a bit nippy.

Fish River Lodge chess librarySafari Chic bath tub at Kwandwe

Fish River Lodge- a luxurious home base to come back to. I loved the bathtub in room 6.

As a photographer, shooting on safari can be problematic. It’s extremely challenging attempting to get video while on bumpy dirt roads and with other people in the vehicle, often blocking your shot. If I do it again, I’ll rent a good 400 mm lens because I felt that my 300 mm was not quite as sharp as it could be and I would have appreciated that extra telephoto oomph. There is so much I didn’t capture on video or stills because I just wanted to be in the moment and enjoy seeing the animals in Africa. That’s not to say I came away empty handed, I got some great stuff. Of the so-called Big Five animals I did not see a leopard or a black rhino on this trip, but I met a charming leopard tortoise and the white rhinos are just as adorable. I hope you enjoy this highlights reel of some of the game spotting from my recent trip to Kwandwe.

 

A Side Note/rant:

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Photo Safari & Philanthropy at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

I am tremendously lucky to be able to have experienced a few luxury safaris in my life. But I am also a Hollywood Liberal, and I feel much better about spending my money at a place that not only provides great guides, excellent game viewing and comfortable surroundings, but at a place with a strong philanthropic bent. Kwandwe is such a place.

At Kwandwe, they are serious about the conservation of the land and the wildlife, and about responsible tourism. They lead by example. More important, Kwandwe is also dedicated to making humans lives better too. In a part of the country where one third of the households survive on an income of less than $25 US per month, poverty is serious. The owners of Kwandwe started a rural development trust, The Angus Gilles Foundation, which aims to help the local rural community living in poverty by helping members create opportunities for themselves and helping them acheive them. They provide real opportunities for rural communities by teaching self-reliance and empowerment. I even bought one of the adorable  Unthando Dolls made by a collective of local women.

Uthandu dolls

Uthandu dolls

Here are some additional safari photos:

First set is animals in Africa:

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A trio of elephants

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Scenes from a safari: Bull elephant eating a pork bush tree (also known as spek boom, a succulent that grows readily at Kwandwe and also has enormous environmental benefits to combat Carbon emissions).

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Black and White Safari Photos at Kwandwe (Part 2)

Here are some more images from my amazing few days at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve. Much thanks to my guides: ex-cricketer turned-excellent Ranger, Robyn; and my tracker, Ernie. They showed me everything from aardvarks to aardwolf (the latter being more rare than the black rhino).

I found myself particular charmed by the grace of a giraffe family and the offbeat cuteness of the warthogs.

All elephants are charming. The babies especially soBaby elephants in black & whiteElephant peeking through a bush

Elephants are one of the most charming animals in Africa. The babies especially so!

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