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buddy4344 last won the day on April 14

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About buddy4344

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  1. I forgot my Kori Bustard eating flies in the prior post!
  2. Day 2 - Twee Rivieren We had a 2-bedroom chalet with a small ‘kitchen’. On our arrival night, we ate at the restaurant located at the camp. The menu was actually pretty good and prices reasonable. I’m not sure I was aware that would be the last food prepared by an actual cook before returning to America two weeks later. 😊 As I recall I had a pasta dish with springbok in it, but … my memory is foggy. While I’ve been wanting to go to the KTF for a very long time, I was a little apprehensive in that many of the photos I have seen on the internet in the months prior to this specific trip were bird photos. I do enjoy photographing birds, but as an American who has taken many to Africa, I must state that due to distance and other options such as Costa Rico, it would be hard to make Africa a ‘birding only’ destination for most Americans. Those photos that were not birds, were often of smaller specialty wildlife of the KTF such as jackals and brown hyena. Again, don’t bet me wrong, I find the brown hyena to be a fascinating looking animal – a strange mix long fur and stripes. My first ‘official’ game drive started with …. You guessed it …. Lots of photos of birds. Maybe the most interesting of these was a Kori Bustard chasing insects. I was beginning to have concerns when we found … you guessed it …. Jackels. Nice to shoot. We are having some fun. We move forward to a water hole that Andrew tells me always produces, Kij Kij. It does, but not with my big cats. We see … you guessed it, hyena. Actually, this was a nice double sighting as we had a beautiful brown hyena and then two spotted hyena. One spotted hyena was much smaller than the other and the other hyena was EXTREMELY PREGNANT. We could literally see the babies moving around below the hide of this female. She was covered in mud, I guess to cool off from the near 30 C heat of the day. Moving onward, we spotted oryx … I tried many compositions to vary what I was seeing.springbok and then springbok …. And then more …. And then more birds, including ostrich. I have seen ostrich on several safari trips in the past, most notably in northern Botswana, Madikwe and in Etosha, but at this point, I still don’t have the great ostrich shots I’m hoping for. I’m not sure what a great ostrich shot will be, but I figure I will know it once I have it. Regardless, I liked this shot as this was my first time seeing an ostrich nursery. It was fun watching the babies run about. I smiled thinking, “Patience, you’ve been on safari before. You know it’s not a zoo. Like you tell your clients, be patient!”. With the sun was getting low, I finally found my elusive cats – three cheetah at a waterhole. Not only did we get some nice shots of the cats leaving the water hole, but we were also blessed by golden light shots as the animals moved along a ridge. I just might like this place!
  3. The plan was finalized and I found some inexpensive tickets on South African Airways from New York (JFK) to Jo’burg (JNB). Unfortunately, the deal was not as good for the JNB to Upington leg, but with only one airline serving Upington and only 2 flights there per day, what can one do? The connection in JNB was suppose to be tight, but not terrible – 3 hours. Unfortunately, storms in both Africa and New York delayed our take-off and arrival times by 1 ½ hours. I literally pushed through immigration/customs and ran to my gate. As Upington is served by SA Airlink, one must re-check bags at the domestic check-in kiosk, which is not close to the international baggage claim/customs exit. This haul while running with camera gear and luggage was painful, but at least it increased chances that the luggage made it to Upington. I did make the flight and slept until arrival at Upington. Several things struck me upon arrival: · Amazingly long runway for a small airport – I researched this when I got home. At 16,076 feet in length, it’s the 7th longest runway in the world. One source said Upington Airport's runway was built to accommodate a Boeing 747 with a full load of passengers, cargo and fuel, so that it could take off for Europe without having to stop along the way. Another source said it was an alternate emergency landing site for the U.S. space shuttle. I’m not really sure why it was so long but it was. · The next amazing thing about Upington is the solar power tower. On approaching the airport, I saw this extremely bright light on a tower with a weird luminosity in the sky around it. In talking to a fellow passenger, I learned that this is the Khi Solar One power station.This solar field is made of more than 4,000 heliostats, totaling up to 576,800 m2 (6,209,000 sq ft) of mirror surface, focusing solar energy on a boiler located on top a centralized 205-metre-high (673 ft) tower. Impressive. · Last, but certainly not least, I was amazed at how nice, modern and clean the terminal was. It was hard to believe that this airport was built for just a few flights a day. My friend, Andrew, along with the others of our group, Richard and Josh, were waiting for me upon arrival and having drinks and lunch when I arrived mid-day. We immediately hit the road for the several hour drive up to the park entrance at Twee Rivieren. Andrew had book all of our lodging and campsites and our final plans were as follows: · Feb 11 - 12 Twee Rivieren – 2 room Chalet · Feb 13 – 17 Mata Mata – Camping/tents · Feb 18 – 21 Nossob – Camping/Tents · Feb 22/ 23 Twee Rivieren – 2 room Chalet · Feb 24 – morning photography, then to Upington for flight home The mix of camping and chalets may confuse some. The logic was pretty simple. Upon arrival, we were going to be too tired to set up tents and we would also be eager to have a few sightings – so chalet the first night or two. Once we were more into the Kalahari, we would have more time and we wanted the more rustic and lower cost option of camping. More on that later. On the last days, it would be nice having a chalet to organize gear and relax before departure. Checking into the park was fairly quick as I had emailed Andrew my Wild pass and passport info and he had the required paperwork for the rest of the group also. Within a half hour of arrival, we were unloading at our chalet for night one. Around 4 pm, we headed out for the first game drive. Not a particularly eventful set of sightings, but enough to let us know that the future was bright!
  4. PRELUDE TO THE TRIP My love of Africa and wildlife photography dates back to 2006 and a trip to Chobe National Park with my wildlife safari mentor and friend, Paul Salvado. Paul and his wife, Patsy, organize several trips a year for fellow South Africans. Many of these are self-drive trips. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Paul via his son-in-law and my co-worker, Rob Holmes. Over the years, I’ve been on several self-drive trips with Paul to Chobe NP and also to more traditional safari’s at self-catered lodges in Timbavati. In the last several years, Paul has also taken self-drive groups to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP). Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to fit into these trips due to space and/or timing. During our other trips (to Timbavati), I’ve had the chance to see many of his photos from KTP. Seeing these and having great memories of my prior self-drive trips, I have been eager to visit the KTP. I still hope to travel their with my friend, Paul, but currently that is not scheduled. Some of you may be aware that for the last 7 years, I have also led small groups of photographers to southern Africa a few times each year. Through this activity and my general love of African wildlife, I’ve gotten to know many African photographers and have befriended many others via social media outlets such as FaceBook. One of these photographers is Andrew Aveley. I’ve known him via social media for years, but until mid-2017, I had never met him in person. In July 2017, I led a group traveling to both Chobe NP, Botswana and Jaci’s Tree House Lodge in Madikwe, South Africa. One day at Jaci’s, I was relaxing during the mid-day break at Jaci’s when Andrew Aveley walked up to me and introduced himself. He was teaching photography at jaci’s and had noted I was in camp. We instantly became friends and spent several hours over the next few days talking wildlife and destinations. During those conversations, Andrew noted that he loved photographing in the KTP and was thinking of a trip in Feb. 2018. I jumped at the opportunity and told Andrew once he had finalized plans, I would love to join him on the trip. Time passed and in November, 2017 Andrew contacted me with a schedule for 14 nights in KTP with a mix of stays in chalets as well as camping. The group would be 4 of us with 2 vehicles and spending some time at Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob. This sounded perfect and I immediately started paperwork to get my one year Wild Card for SA National Parks and started shopping for airfares to Upington. The Kalahari was finally going to happen for me!
  5. I had hoped to return in late 2017, but a few travelers had to cancel due to family. My 'other half' is also pressing me for a few alternate destinations later this year. The Far East may be a few years away for us as Susan has not bought into my ideas for that destination. Another tease on the Kgalagadi trip report: I've already scheduled a return there for November!
  6. It is my understanding that at least a day in advance, if not more, is preferred as she works with local farms to know what is in season and what meats are available. Please tell the owners I said 'hello'. Enjoy your trip.
  7. Well folks, I’ve enjoyed re-living my exploratory trip into northern Namibia, but this will be the last chapter to this report. The actual travel portion will be pretty simple. Basically, we left Khowarib and headed south to Otjiwarongo. Along the way, we stopped a few times to photo zebras We also stopped to photograph some locals. For each we donated some of our remaining food supplies in appreciation for modeling for us. and also some large rock formations we had seen between Grootberg Lodge and Kamanjab. We stopped in Otjiwarongo to break up the driving time to Windhoek. In hindsight, the drive was short enough that we could have pushed on through, but I’m really glad we didn’t. Otjiwarongo had it’s moments. We stayed at the Hadassa Guest House B&B. In walking into the lobby. I had selected this lodging because of superior reviews on Trip Advisor. Parking in front of the office and walking in, we were greeted with a gentleman saying in a French accent, “Hey, you were in Etosha last week. I recognize you and your vehicles. You had big lenses!” It was nice to see the owner had a sharp recollection of details and also liked nature. I told him why we had picked his guest house and he responded with “I hate to disappoint you, but those reviews were all about the previous owners. We just bought this place and took over managing less than a month ago.” My thoughts were immediately “Oh my, will the quality be as good as the reviews?” I asked his background. He and his wife and children were from the south of France. They had tired of the hassles of cities and the life they were in and decided to make a clean break and by a small hotel in, of all places, Otjiwarongo! This may have been my worry, but my fellow travelers were more worried about food and asked the new proprietor about local restaurants. He noted a local Italian, a fast food place, maybe something else, but also noted that his wife was organizing the kitchen and they could serve us dinner as long as a plan was made early (as in right now). The Italian and fast food options did not sound like the Namibian experience, so we put our fate in the hands of new head of the kitchen. We also asked if there was a local grocery and a local craft shop. Yes, to both and off we headed. Both were in the same shopping location, so this was easy. The local crafts were nice: carvings, jewelry, some cloth items. Several of the guys bought necklaces made of broken bits of ostrich shell. Meanwhile, I start looking through the Namibia landscape calendars they had there. To my surprise, the rock formation we had just photographed were featured in one of the calendars. I guess our ‘find’ wasn’t as unique as I had thought. Did you catch that they were from France? That should have been a hint. It turns out, the wife had been to culinary school and was really into the ‘farm to table’ movement. She sourced everything locally except the dark chocolate in the dessert as she felt that Africa has not bested Belgium in that department. The appetizer was an amazing. The main course, (backstrap of eland accompanied with a pinotage) was to die for, the desert of warmed pears and dark chocolate was excellent. As we pushed back from this excellent final meal, the owner came out with a bottle of Amarula and 4 small glasses. Perfect ending. The next day was a short drive south to drop off our vehicles, ride to the Windhoek airport and our connecting flights in Jo’burg to home. All stories must come to and end and this is the end of this travel story. It has been a great trip and I am eager to return to Namibia, but first, I visit the Kgalagadi Transfrontier in Feb. 2017 and May and June is a month of visiting lodges in Botswana and South Africa. Looks like 2018 before I get back to Namibia … but I will go back. The Best of the Trip (in no particular order): · Zebra in Etosha · Etosha Pan · Moringa (Halali) Waterhole at night · Late Afternoons at the Okaukuejo Waterhole · Okondeka Waterhole and predators · Nebrownii and the ‘white ghost’ elephants · Mornings at Goas Waterhole · Western side of Etosha to Galton Gate · Grootberg Lodge · Khowarib Lodge · The Himba (I need second chance to photograph them) · The Hoanib Riverbed · The overall landscape · The overall wildlife The not so good: · Check in process at Etosha · Power outages at both Halali and Okaukuejo · Bad experience with other guests on shooting flash at waterholes at night (not the fault of the other guests, but misunderstanding of the protocol at the waterhole. More homework needed) · Himba selling circle to sell trinkets/crafts (I don’t mind paying ‘modeling fee’, but would like to avoid this aspect of a visit to them) · The long driving distances between locations (I know, it’s a big country) I’m really having to dig deep to find very minor things wrong, yet, without blinking, I can rattle off all of the positives from this destination … and that is probably why (I repeat) I will go back! Thanks to all of have taken the time to read and commented on this travel report and a special thanks for the patience as I know I was slow to write some of the chapters. I have already 'kicked off' my trip report on the Kgalagadi. That report can be found at this link. I hope you will also follow that story and add comments. Best Regards, Buddy Eleazer
  8. I've about finished editing a few hundred images from my 15 days in the Kalahari and will shortly begin my trip report. Meanwhile, this video is a short 'tease' of the trip. I hope you enjoy this 3 minute overview. I promise to begin the tale shortly.
  9. The final full day in the Kunene Region we planned a drive up the Hoanib River along the riverbed to see desert elephants. While our Landcruisers would do the job, we did not really know where to go nor what road conditions we would encounter, so we had the Khowarib Lodge arrange a private game drive vehicle for us. Khowarib is south of Sesfontein and the entry into the riverbed is slightly north of Sesfontein. This gave us the added treat of passing through town and seeing a few of the locals. All seemed very friendly and waved to us (except the cows). Technical difficulities led to a start slightly later than expected. Fairly early in the trip, we found elephants, but they were among tall grasses near small pools of water and not particularly photogenic. As we didn't know what was to come, we clicked away. I didn't even post process any of those images as there were so many nicer ones later in the trip. This little 'tour' took us several hours as we progressed up the riverbed - Sometimes in deep valleys, sometimes in wide expanses. Sometimes in dry sand, sometimes along flowing water, sometimes among sheer rock cliffs. This trip was landscape eye candy. If we never saw any wildlife, the Hoanib River would still go in as a highlight on the trip. During the drive, we found quite a few elephants, giraffe and gemsbok. We also saw a few baboons and caught sight of a brown hyena running away from us. We spotted some lion prints in the sand, but lost his track and never saw the animal. This shot was from VERY FAR AWAY, through heat thermals and a big crop, but I loved the dusting bull We drove the riverbed all of the way until we came to a sign painted on a rock stating 'No Entry' and 'Entering Skeleton Coast'. Probably the highlights were the giraffe running down the sand dunes and the elephants reaching high into the trees to pick flowers to eat. The drive definitely has a lot of bumpy sections and we were all quite tired as the trip reached it's in. Would I do it again? Already planning that part of the next trip. Overall a great final full day. Tomorrow morning we head south by southeast to Otjiwarongo for an overnight with a flight the next day.
  10. My favorites are also the monochrome shots. Thanks for the comments.
  11. Definitely not easy for me. I believe that I am much better at capturing the spirit of wildlife. Thanks for the compliment.
  12. I've had clients use as well as other similar sites. Fortunately, none have ever actually submitted a claim, so not sure how hard it is to get a refund. Others who have traveled with me have used the travel insurance that is included with premium credit cards Like Amex Platinum and some of the cards offered by airlines. Read the fine print closely! In general, I've found that it really depends on what events you want covered but travel insurance will run from 5% to 15% of the total trip cost.
  13. We arrived at Khowarib, our next stop about noon. Our initial plan was to photograph in and around the lodge that afternoon and then arrange to visit the Himba settlement near Sesfontein the next day. The lodge is very nice, with a main building and then tented chalets along the Hoanib River (which was just a trickle in October frame). The enm-suite out door bathroom for each chalet was quite unique. It was open to the sky, but surrounded by a wall of stones. Within the bathroom, mopane trees were growing. Yes, there were trees growing in the bathroom! Pretty cool. Sorry, no photos of this. After a refreshing drink, we enquired about the Himba and a possible visit and learned that we could actually make this happen that very afternoon. This could put us ahead of schedule, so we asked the management to set things up. The arrangement included loading some 'gifts' of mealie maize into the transfer vehicle as payment for the trip. We all had beanbags for stabilizing our cameras that we had filled with riced maize and, as our photo trip was nearly over, offered this maize to subsidize the gifts to the settlement. It's been a while, so here is where my memory gets a little blurry. We had a driver take us to the settlement, which was just about 10 km away and also had a translator come along. I cannon recall his name; however, he was raised Himba but converted to western customs and clothing when he was a teenager. When we asked about this, he told a story of how he grew up sleeping in a hut with his grandmother. They both slept naked and some nights were cold and the grandmother would cuddle up close to him. When he would go to school the following day, he was kidded by classmates because he had red ochre on his skin from his grandmother. He said this kidding and subsequent embarrassment led to him leaving the Himba lifestyle. The Himba settlement is a small group of only 3 or 4 buildings. We had complete access to this small village, walking freely among the people. About a dozen Himba ladies came out and set up blankets with crafts in a semi-circle. There were no adult men and a lot of smaller children. While we respected the need for income, we really didn't come for souvenirs but rather to photograph. In spite of this, the Himba ladies sat in the circle unless we asked them to pose in a certain way. This is a tip. The ladies would pose any way we wanted, but without direction, they just sat. If you are a photographer, you need to do your homework before a visit and plan what types of shots you want. You literally need to take sample photos or storyboard out what you want. Luckily, I was somewhat prepared. Before going to Namibia, I had surfed on line for many images of the Himba as well as images of other indigenous peoples and powerful images of people from magazines like National Geographic. To inspire me, I had put these photos into clear plastic sleeves. This became invaluable as I was able to point to a photo and get the Himba to understand what I was wanting from a photo. With that said, I initially lost control of the setting. The first Himba lady that saw my images immediately took them from my hands and started looking at them and speaking loudly in Herero language. Quickly, others gathered around and started looking at my photos. They were excited and amazed. Then, something sort of special occurred. My translator laughed and said, 'This lady knows the woman in the photo. It is her cousin from Purros!", we all had to laugh at the coincidence. After a while, the novelty of my photos was accepted and then we were able to get to our photo session. This photo of a Himba girl beside the hut may be my favorite. Note the 'A E I O U' on the side of the mud structure. This was a ladies home, but apparently also the school. My translator told me that things are changing with the Himba and they recognize that to progress, the children need to learn western languages. When I initially took the photo, I didn't even notice the writing on the wall, but once I noted it, I was very pleased I took the photo. We were also offered a chance to go inside the chief's wife's home and take a few candid shots there. The lighting was difficult and, being a small room, a wide angle lens is needed, but this created a lifetime of memories. Outside of the huts, we took other portraits. After our photo shots, which took about an hour, some of our group bought a few souvenirs mostly as a courtesy and thank you to the Himba. Here are a few of those shots. BTW, As I recall, when the hair is forward on a young girl, that means she is single. Married women wear the hair behind the head. I am told women may be committed to a marriage at a very yound age, perhaps 6 or 8 years old, but that they will live with their family until puberty. I am also told that Himba men can have more than one wife. A dowry of cattle or goats is required to the family of the future wife. I will admit, I still know very little of this culture. To be honest, the visit was stressful for me. I thought I knew what to expect, but it was beyond my comprehension. Throughout the visit, I felt like the situation was out of control. I wanted to shoot these people with dignity and show the pride of who they were. I hope I have captured this, but, again, it was an experience that took me out of my normal element and challenged my skills. Now that I am home, I can't wait to re-visit the Himba. I better understand what I will be seeing and what homework I need to do prior to my visit. I know that these people are letting us into their lifestyle but don't necessarily know what we want; therefore, we cannot expect them to deliver. I need to study their culture. Learn what the day to day activities are and then have the Himba perform these daily activities while I capture those moments with my camera. This may allow me to go beyond portraits though I do like the portraits of these interesting people.
  14. I apologize for the gap between my last post and this final post. We had stopped at Grootberg Lodge because we thought the drive further north to Khowarib would have been too long. The next morning, we took a few photos of the beautiful view and then hit the road north. That drive northward didn't take as long as I had expected. Less than 3 hours; however along the drive we encountered giraffe and enjoyed seeing the landscape and were intrigued to see some of the Herero people walking along the size of the road. This is such a different place than where we come from in the United States It was interesting that many of the folks were carrying water and seemed to be a long way from either a water source or a village or home. It was a reminder to all of us how hard this lifestyle is and also how important water is to everyone in a parched land.

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