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Found 93 results

  1. I had always wanted to visit Ranthambhor National park, but had never got around to do it. Ranthambhor is situated in Rajasthan, about 10 kms from a town called Sawai Madhopur. RNP is about 685 kms away from my home, here at Ahmedabad and the choices were to either drive down or take a train, since flight connections were not convenient. ( The nearest airport is Jaipur, about 200 kms from the park) June is hot and humid and driving down in the heat would be challenging. Accordingly, my friend and i booked train tickets departing Ahmedabad at 2130 hrs and reaching Sawai Madhopur at 0830 hrs the next morning. Perfect! ​We reached on time and there was a car to take us to our hotel, where we checked in, freshened up and had breakfast. Safari was at 1530 hrs and the sun was blazing away, with the mercury rising up till 45oC ( 113o F). The hotel is a comparatively new structure, made on the lines of the old fort/palaces, but with concrete, cement and bricks (and possibly stone) and not stone and limestone as was used in the olden times. The structure gets heated up and heat pretty much radiates all over the place. There is no greenery inside the walls and this possibly accentuated the heat. We did not dare come out of our air conditioned rooms, just braving the heat to go to the dining area for a spot of lunch. Promptly, at 1530 hrs, we set off for the forest in the blazing sun, with a thin safari cloth hat protecting me from the elements. The hot wind blew at our faces and now we understood why the locals covered their faces with a scarf. It was pretty grim, but the excitement of visiting the jungle overpowered our discomfort. Ranthambhor has 10 zones and the most visited (with better chances of sighting) are from 1 to 4. We were at zone 3 today. One of the advantages of visiting the park during June is that there are comparatively lesser tourists. The Indian families keep away due to schools having reopened as well as the excessive heat and the overseas visitors also find the weather extremely inconvenient. The main advantage is that sightings are quite frequent since the tigers prefer to stay near the water bodies. There are quite a few natural water bodies and some artificial ones, maintained by the forest department. Most of the natural water bodies have crocodiles and it was quite surprising to see some of them in a tiny water body which could dry up possibly in a week. When i mentioned this to our guide, he opined that the crocodiles have been known to move away to a different water body over night. The park takes its name from Ranthambhor fort, said to have been built by Maharaja Jayantha during the fifth century AD. It is a beautiful fort and in good repair even after a millennium and a half. There is a Ganesh temple within the fort and many devotees walk from the nearby villages and visit the temple. Festival days are pretty crowded, i am told. (More about this later) We moved into the park and came upon this lovely specimen. Oriental honey buzzard, probably and a juvenile. Could some one confirm this please? The rest in the gypsy were not happy stopping for this and were eager to proceed to scout out tigers. I had wanted to get a "taking off" shot of this bird, but in the humdrum could not do so . We proceeded ahead and turned the corner and came upon this magnificent sight: to be continued....
  2. In May this year, I took a magical two week cruise in the Galapagos Islands, one of my two favorite holidays I have ever done so far. I loved every second of the trip and did not want to leave - what could be a better reason for writing a trip report and sharing my experiences with you? Imagine snorkelling with lots of turtles in a completely tranquil "amphitheater", diving with playful sea lions, seeing sharks and rays up close, witnessing courtship of albatrosses and blue footed boobies, watching all kinds of animals from close by and just forgetting time, walking through amazing scenery, great conversations with fellow passengers & crew, Pisco Sours on the deck while looking out for whales & dolphins,... A few photos to wet your appetite:
  3. ~ This June, 2017 book excerpt published in India's Swarajya is from the book: “The Vanishing, India's Wildlife Crisis” by Prerna Singh Bindra, published by Penguin Random House India. The excerpt describes being in Panna Tiger Reserve where a proposed dam and river link threatens to submerge the area's forests, which are prime tiger habitat.
  4. I want to open with a 'thank you' to my friends on SafariTalk as your input significantly influenced my trip plans (in a good way) My first trip to Africa was a self-drive trip to Chobe National Park, Botswana in the early 2000’s. I went in with a group of acquaintances from South Africa. On the nights before, I had a lot of discussions about what I would see. Chobe was said to be one of the greatest destination in Africa to see abundant wildlife. That sounded great, but often I would hear ‘the only place where you will see more wildlife is Etosha!”. That trip to Chobe was all I had dreamed it would be and more. Africa was in my blood and I’ve been into the bush more than two dozen times since then; however, I never got to Etosha … and I continued to hear about how great it could be. Today, I lead small groups to Africa locations like Chobe, Timbavati, Sabi Sands, Hwange, Zimanga and Madikwe. I only take folks to places I’ve visited first hand so I really can share with them what to expect. I’m hoping to lead a group to Namibia, including Etosha in 2017, so I decided it was time for a scouting trip. In addition to Etosha, I wanted to check out a few other regions in northern Namibia. In particular, I’ve had great interest from travelers in getting a chance to visit villages, meet indigenous peoples and have a more cultural experience. Since I would be ‘moving quickly’ to check out several locations, I decided to make this a self-drive trip. To share the experience and to have a little ‘back-up’ for the trip, I enlisted 3 friends to go along. We took two vehicles, that way one person could sit up front and shoot left or right and one person could sit in the back and shoot left or right without interference. In addition, the second vehicle would provide a little safety insurance in case of vehicle troubles since we were going rather remote. Just a little more background and I promise to get on with the primary story and some photographs. For my 2017 Namibia trip, we will be with a larger group of photographers via train visiting the Quiver Tree forest for night photography, Kolmanskop for some ghost town taken over by desert shots, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei for the classic sand dune shots. Considering the size of Namibia and the travel times, I am concerned that following the first portion of the trip, travelers will not want to go too far before a stop and to see some wildlife. Basically, I wanted to find one high quality stop between Windhoek and Etosha. The two best options seemed to be Africats (Okinjima) or Erindi. AfriCats is a non-for-profit organization that rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs and hyenas. While I have heard good things, that sounded a bit zoo-like. In my research on Erindi, it sounded a bit like a variant of the private reserves around the Kruger. Write-ups noted that Erindi is known for big cat sightings and has both self-drive regions and also off road tracking. In addition, they have a few animals I know I won’t be seeing elsewhere in northern Namibia such as crocodiles, hippopotamus and wild dog. While I’ve seen these many times, some of my 2017 travelers will be taking their first and possibly only trip to Africa so these are a nice add. I finalized upon an itinerary as follows: · Day 1 - Arrival night in Windhoek with overnight at a Guest House · Day 2 - Drive to Erindi in the mornig, afternoon game drive and overnight. · Day 3 - Morning game drive at Erindi, mid-day drive to Etosha, afternoon drive to Etosha, stay first night at Halali. · Day 4 - Morning and afternoon game drives and 2nd night at Halali · Day 5 & 6 – On the 3rd and 4th nights in Etosha at Okaukuejo Lodge. · Day 7 - Etosha game drive to the western gate (Galton Gate) then proceed to Grootberg Lodge for overnight stay. · Day 8 & 9 - From Grootberg, head north to Khowarib Lodge, just south of Sesfontein for two nights. On one day I wanted to visit a Himba settlement and on another full day I wanted to look for desert elephants along the Hoanib River. · Day 10 - On the last morning, we would drive back south to Otjiwarongo for a night · Day 11 - The next morning, drive to Windhoek to fly out that afternoon to Jo’berg and back to the States That’s a pretty grueling week and a half with 2000 miles of driving including 1500 miles of driving on gravel and dirt. I would never do that schedule with a tour group, but this was a scouting trip and I was taking along some seasoned travelers/photographers. Now, let the story begin! Okay, I have to throw in at least one photo to start things off.
  5. Just a short report on my experience of the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West, South Africa. My apologies if someone else has covered this before. We drove from Cape Town - took the scenic route - gravel roads and rather remote. The distance from Cape Town to Beaufort West is 462km, driving the back roads about the same - but it took us 13 hours as we stopped a lot - and drove quite slow, by choice. Staying over the first night at Kalkfontein Guest Farm, between Fraserburg and Beaufort West - which is totally recommended. We had a proper farm supper for R50 pp. The Karoo National Park is situated in the Karoo proper- with it's desert like conditions - it is very dry - especially at present. I visited from 15 - 18 June, with a friend, and our main aim was photography. A large part of the park is only suitable to drive in 4x4's (as indicated on the map and on the roads in places). You definitely need high clearance - but mostly we did 2x4, only switching to 4x4 twice - and once to Low range as I manage to get stuck in the sand. Seems that is my achilles heel - maybe I should stick to using my 4x4 to drive over pavements. The vistas are truly beautiful - if this is your kind of thing. The silence is absolute. The night-sky pitch black. We saw very few animals - the drought is partly responsible I believe. My only negative experience was that the roads on the 4x4 trails are NOT properly marked - and the map is seriously incorrect. A GPS with "Tracks for Africa" would have solved this problem, but of course I was not aware of this before hand. I expected properly marked roads! Geez what was I thinking! We encountered very few vehicles on the road, and if you broke down - it might have meant spending a loooooong time waiting for help. It's not like you can walk anywhere - lions are about (not that we saw any) - and of course there is no mobile reception on these tracks. We chose to stay in Afsaal Cottage - which is very remote too - 34 km from base camp - great cottage, outside shower. I had a shower - and at the appropriate moment another vehicle drove past. Of course I was in a state of complete undress. Perfect timing. Lucky them. (if you who saw me is reading this - go away - dont say a word! ) . The cottage has no electricity - and no mobile reception. Bliss. Braai, Gas cooking, and solar for the lights. I used my studio light's battery inverter to change batteries. Just across from the cottage - otherside of the riverbed - has a small waterhole. Saw a couple of antelope drinking. Sadly no lions!
  6. Since our first post in 2011, Pack for a Purpose has grown to over 485 accommodations and tour companies across the globe with more than 260 being in Africa. We also have seven accommodations and tour companies in India. All of these accommodations and tour companies offer safari experiences, and each of our participants supports local community projects ranging from schools to anti-poaching projects. Our participants focus on five initiatives: education, health, child welfare, animal welfare, and socioeconomic development. Our newly designed website can be searched by destination alone or by initiative. When you choose to become a Pack for a Purpose traveler, the safari you take goes much farther than the miles you travel. By going to our website, you will find the specific needs list for the projects supported by our participants, How to Pack information, everything you need to make each safari more meaningful. Since our inception, Dec. 17, 2009, generous Pack for a Purpose travelers have taken over 40,600 kilos of supplies meeting essential needs in over 60 countries. PfaP travelers have shared their stories on our website and continue to inspire other travelers. Our newly designed website includes our first shop, which includes high-quality Pack for a Purpose merchandise. From T-shirts to hoodies, we've got you covered. A large portion of the sales directly benefit our mission to positively impact communities around the world by assisting travelers who want to take meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit. We encourage you to share the Pack for a Purpose website across your social media and to check back on our website from time to time as we are continually adding new safari locations. Below is a list of participants in Africa and India, current as of Sept. 18, 2015. Africa BotswanaBush Ways Mobiles Chobe Elephant Camp Foot Steps Across the Delta Jacana Camp Kanana Khwai Tented Camp Linyanti Bush Camp Linyanti Ebony Little Vumbura Meno A Kwena Tented Camp & Safaris Muchenje Safari Lodge Ngoma Safari Lodge Okuti Sango Safari Camp Selinda Camp Selinda Canoe Trail Shinde Shinde Enclave The Kanana Mokoro Trail Vumbura Plains Zarafa Camp CameroonCameroon Experiential Travel and Adventure Centre Cape Verde IslandsMindelo Apartments EgyptHabiba Beach Lodge EthiopiaStrawberry Fields Eco Lodge GhanaAfia Beach Hotel Ankobra Beach Ltd. Pink Hostel KenyaAberdare Country Club Borana Campi ya Kanzi Coral Key Malindi Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp Custom Safaris Delta Dunes Lodge Elephant Pepper Camp Elsa’s Kopje Entim Camp Governors Camp Governors Private Camp Il Moran Ilkeliani Camp Joy’s Camp Kicheche Bush Camp Kicheche Laikipia Camp Kicheche Mara Camp Kicheche Valley Camp Kipalo Hills Kitich Camp Lewa Safari Camp Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Little Governors Camp Loisaba Loldia House Losokwan Camp Maasai Simba Camp Mara Bushtops Camp Mara Explorers Camp Mara Leisure Camp Mara Plains Camp Mara West Ngerende Island Lodge Nyati Hill Cottages ol Donyo Lodge Overland Travel Adventures Sabuk Lodge Safari Joe – East African Adventure Safaris Safarilink Aviation Ltd. Saruni Mara Saruni Samburu Sirikoi Lodge The Ark The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille Tortilis Camp Travel House Tours Tropical Vacations Wildebeest Eco Camp MalawiMvuu Camp Mvuu Lodge Pumulani Tongole Wilderness Lodge Yellow Zebra Safaris MauritiusLUX* Le Morne Merville Beach Hotel – Produced By LUX* Tamassa Produced by LUX* MoroccoKasbah Tamadot Rough Tours Morocco Company World Unite! MozambiqueAzura Nkwichi Lodge Vamizi Island Lodge White Pearl Resorts NamibiaDamaraland Camp Hoanib Camp Naankuse Lodge & Wildlife Sanctuary RwandaAmahoro Tours Virunga Lodge (Volcanoes Safaris) South AfricaAfrican Game Lodge Amakhala Game Reserve Ant’s Nest & Ant’s Hill Blyde River Canyon Lodge Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel Cape Splendour Tours & Safaris Chitwa Chitwa Private Game Lodge Cliff Lodge de Pakhuys Fugitives Drift Lodge Garonga Safari Lodge Giltedge Africa Inyati Game Lodge Isibindi Zulu Lodge Jenman African Safaris JP Kleinhans Safaris Kariega Game Reserve Kwa Maritane Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers Lion Sands Game Reserve Londolozi Game Reserve Madikwe Safari Lodge Makalali Private Game Lodge Mateya Safari Lodge Mimosa Lodge Montagu Country Hotel More Quarters Apartment Hotel Rocktail Camp Samara Private Game Reserve Savanna Private Game Reserve Spier Hotel Tau Game Lodge Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre The Backpack The Cavern The Oyster Box The Peech Hotel The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa Tuningi Safari Lodge Ulusaba Private Game Reserve Wilderness Touring ZuluWaters Game Reserve TanzaniaAfrican View Lodges AJT Tanzania, Ltd. Bristol Cottages Chada Katavi Chem Chem Safari Lodge Deeper Africa Domokuchu Beach Bungalows Fundu Lagoon Gecko Adventure Tanzania Gibb’s Farm Grassroots Traveller Greystoke, Mahale Halisi Expeditions It Started in Africa Karama Lodge & Spa Karanga Adventure Tours & Safaris Kigelia Ruaha Kisampa Lamai Serengeti Machweo Mambo View Point Mangrove Lodge Manyara Ranch Conservancy Mountain Madness Mwagusi Safari Camp Nasikia Luxury Mobile Camps Nature Bound Africa Nduara Loliondo Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge Onsea House Peace Matunda Tours Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel Red Monkey Lodge Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge Samba Treks Savannah Discovery Serengeti Bushtops Camp Serengeti Pride – Safaris & Kilimanjaro Climbs Simba Portfolio Siringit Stella Maris Lodge Stone Town Cafe and Bed & Breakfast Taraji Kilimanjaro The Tides Lodge Tin Tin Tours Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp World Unite! World Unite! UgandaBwindi Lodge Chobe Safari Lodge Golf Course Apartments Instinct Safaris Kyambura Gorge Lodge (Volcanoes Safaris) Mount Gahinga Lodge (Volcanoes Safaris) Mweya Safari Lodge Paraa Safari Lodge Safari Joe – East African Adventure Safaris Safari Wildz: East African Adventures Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp ZambiaBilimungwe Bushcamp Chamilandu Bushcamp Chaminuka Nature Reserve Chiawa Camp Chikoko Trails Camps Chindeni Bushcamp Chinzombo Camp Chongwe River Camp Chundukwa River Lodge Croc Valley Camp Fawlty Towers Flatdogs Camp Island Bush Camp Islands of Siankaba Jollyboys Backpackers & Camp Kafunta River Lodge Kaingo Camp Kakuli Bush Camp Kapamba Bushcamp Kapani Lodge Kuyenda Lilayi Lodge Lion Camp Luangwa River Camp Luwi Bush Camp Marula Lodge Mchenja Bush Camp Mfuwe Lodge Mwaleshi Camp Mwamba Bush Camp Nkwali Camp Nsefu Camp Nsolo Bush Camp Old Mondoro Royal Zambezi Lodge Sanctuary Chichele Presidential Lodge Sanctuary Puku Ridge Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma Sausage Tree Camp Stanley Safari Lodge Tafika Camp Tena Tena Camp The River Club The Victoria Falls Waterfront Toka Leya Camp Tongabezi Lodge Wasa Lodge – Kasanka National Park Wildlife Camp Zungulila Bushcamp ZimbabweBomani Tented Lodge Camp Amalinda Davison’s Camp Ivory Lodge John Stevens Guided Safaris Africa Little Makalolo Camp Lokuthula Lodges Ngoko Safaris Somalisa Camp The Hide Safari Camp Victoria Falls Safari Club Victoria Falls Safari Lodge Victoria Falls Safari Suites
  7. I've recently decided to become a more productive contributor to this wonderful forum so I've already introduced myself on the dedicated section of this forum and now I want to start my first ever trip report! I've been reading a lot of them in recent years so I think it's only fair to share my story of a 4-week trip my girlfriend and I made in August/September 2012 to South Africa and Botswana. As I already mentioned in my introduction I've always wanted to come to Africa ever since I was a little boy and in 2010 me and my girlfriend spend 4 amazing weeks in South Africa. To cut a long story short, it was everything we had hoped for and more... We visited Cape Town, Giant's Castle in the Drakensbergen, St. Lucia, Imfolozi, Mhkuze, Swaziland and Kruger National Park and we loved every minute of it. When we were sitting in the plane on our way back to The Netherlands we were already planning our next trip to the continent! At some later stage I will probably post a trip report of that trip also but since than I have developed my photography and Lightroom skills so I think I will revisit my images before I write a trip report about it... After our first trip we wanted to come back to Southern Africa but first we had to decide which countries we would like to visit. We were ready for a more adventurous trip so we thought about combining South Africa with Namibia or Botswana and after much debate we picked Botswana over Namibia because we then thought that Namibia was more about landscapes and Botswana was more about wildlife and we just wanted to see more wildlife. The people who have read my introduction already know we did the Namibia trip last June and we loved it! But also that trip report will have to wait because I want to focus on the South Africa & Botswana trip for now... In my next post, I will explain the exact itinerary, I hope I got you all interested... Cheers, Michel
  8. This may seem a silly question, but it is something that I have been trying to find out for years..... A hungry Lion / Leopard etc. Open sided Safari vehicle stuffed with delicious Safari goers. If the predators are that hungry, why do they not attack the Safari vehicles / people that are driving through their territory, or do they but we just never get to hear about it?
  9. First time poster from California. Planning a first African Safari trip for my mom and I for 2018. We have traveled to Europe a number of times and China once and I always do my own planning, determining the itinerary, booking hotels (used Trip Advisor reviews to help me decide), figuring out where we may need advance reservations, booking flights and trains (although a few times I have used an agency to help with the in country travel or rail pass prior to leaving the USA). We are fairly laid back, love to see natural beauty, experience different cultures, historical sites, architecture, etc. We like to experience different modes of transportation but we don't want to ride any animals. We try our best to learn customs of the country we are going to so we do not unintentionally offend someone. Planning a trip is half the fun for me. We have a list of must-sees based on what we feel is important to us but we also like to have room to "play it by ear" and do things that we learn about once we are in country. We also like to have some down time to just relax and enjoy being where we are. And while on the trip I take lots of photos (Canon SX280 ) and journal almost every day to capture all the sights and emotions of these new places and experiences and make a digital scrapbook when I get home. Budget is always a concern. I don't select the lowest just because it's the lowest but I go for total value of what I am getting for the $$ spent. While we want our lodging to be safe and comfortable, we prefer fun and quirky (especially if it is a part of the cultural experience) over a standard hotel. We grew up camping for our family vacations but are at an age where we prefer to at least have a soft bed and flush toilets en suite (figuring the permanent camps over the mobile camping for us and are okay with a lodge if it's small). I have had to prioritize and compromise knowing that I cannot afford everything I want to do but am blessed with the traveling I have been able to do. As I have been researching for our trip to Africa, I am feeling a little overwhelmed and very concerned about the costs. Here are some things we do know about what we are looking for and questions we could use some guidance on: 1) Budget is important and we need to be wise in how and where we spend it. Ideally we would like to have 15 nights in Africa and spend no more than $4,000 - 5,000 for lodging/full board/guides/tips assuming it will be another $2,000 or so for international flights and in country travel (total costs around or under 6-7K and the lower the better). We are open to review this if the overall experience is going to be a lot better if we can spend some more. Do we go off season for longer nights or locations that would be out of our budget otherwise? Originally, my thought was 4 nights at 2 reserves, 3 nights at another reserve and 2 or 3 nights at/near Victoria Falls (as we would like to see it - natural beauty). So a total of 14-15 nights as I think we need to stay one night in Johannesburg before heading out on safari. Work-wise, it is better for me to travel either in the month of August or anytime from late September through the end of February but would prefer to avoid being gone over the US Thanksgiving holiday (late November) or over the Christmas holiday. 2) For this trip, wildlife viewing is our number 1 priority with our top 5 being lots of elephants, giraffe, lions, monkeys (any type) and zebra. Next would probably be rhinos, hippos, leopard, cheetah, antelope and buffalo. We enjoy birds too but that is not as big a priority. If we go in the wet season, would we still see a lot of wildlife? Is it just a matter of being more strategic in which locations we stay at? What would you recommend? Originally, I was thinking Botswana and Zimbabwe before I was told that Botswana is very expensive. So, I am trying to decide what's the best places for the viewing and experiences we want. 3) We would like to go to reserves that are not full of large groups of tourists and vehicles. We know these are probably going to be more expensive and eat up our budget both for the full board and the transportation to get there but that is where we could use advice on which ones are worth it and the best time to go to get the wildlife viewing for the best value in costs. 4) We would like some opportunities to get out of the vehicles and be on foot or on the water. We want our camps to be more permanent so not looking to be out all day and overnight camping but want the opportunity to explore the reserves and view wildlife from a vehicle, on foot or from a boat/canoe. 5) We want to sleep in a comfortable bed and want our toilet to be en suite. We don't need fancy or luxury but we do want comfortable and if it has a fun personality or decor, an added bonus. And, great, friendly staff is a huge plus but reading many comments on this site it sounds like that is the norm of the people we will encounter. 6) While my mom will eat most anything offered, I have Celiac and cannot eat anything with gluten or dairy. They make me ill. I will have medications with me to help but would prefer accommodations where they will work with me. 7) We have no problem getting up early or needing to walk a lot as long as we are not trekking uphill for miles. We live near the coast of California so we are used to fairly mild temperatures year round. My home does not have air conditioning as the few days it gets hot enough that you wish you had it, it still cools down at night. Dry heat in the 80s should be fine but hotter or if humid, then I might start wilting. 8) Booking everything - Is it better to use one agency to book everything or try to do it on our own? Or a mixture? We don't want to get in country and have issues that take up time to resolve. For my mom, I think she prefers we use an agency that will handle everything but will that add significantly to our costs? If an agency, would you use one from the USA (where we live) or use one from one of the countries we will be traveling to? Remember, this is our first time to southern Africa (we have been to Marrakech, Morocco but from the airport we had a driver the riad we were staying at arrange to get us to the city center and then we just walked, took a taxi or took a bus). 9) What am I missing? Am I off the mark? Are there other things I should be considering? 10) Itinerary options: Where would you spend 3 nights, where should we try and spend 4 nights? Option A) 1 reserve in Botswana (Chobe?), 1 reserve in Zimbabwe (Huange or Mana Pools?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?), private reserve in Krueger, South Africa Option B ) 1 reserve in Botswana (Chobe?), 2 reserves in Zimbabwe (Huange and Mana Pools or ?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?) Option C) 2 reserves in Zimbabwe (Huange and Mana Pools or ?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?), private reserve in Krueger, South Africa Option D) Other suggestions from those of you who have traveled to southern Africa I know this was a lot so I appreciate you reading through and thank you in advance for your advice based on your experiences and understanding what we are looking for.
  10. Despite the constant headlines about the bleak poaching problem in the continent of Africa, I am always amazed by stories of cryptic wildlife populations being discovered- or rather- re-discovered in some cases. I will give an example of my own experience, but also was hoping to hear from others: While in the eastern Central African Republic, in the Chinko River Basin, I was blown away by the amount of African wild dogs I kept seeing while i lived in the bush from 2008- 2014. It wasn't until 2012, after sharing my photos and stories with a biologist, that I discovered that that particular population of wild dogs was unknown to exist in eastern CAR! Later, after the formation of the Chinko Project and its management by African Parks, the same researcher, Thierry Aebischer, ALSO confirmed the presence of Chimpanzees in the area- which was needless to say, a huge discovery! Does anyone else know of cases like this, where cryptic populations of animals showed up where they were unexpected, or thought to be extinct?
  11. The Eternal Game of Wilderness: Predator vs Prey A visit to any wildlife sanctuary or a national park is always a fascinating experience, and if the destination is a Tiger Reserve, the magnitude of this fascination knows no boundaries. Mother Nature, the lord of surprises, ensures that every time we are surprised with a unique experience that is remarkably different yet, equally enjoyable. Our visit to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in the March of 2015, once again proved to be no less. The journey to the wilderness was an exotic experience in itself as we drove literally across Maharahstra from Pune to Umred, already making the trip a memorable one. The journey was long(over 900kms) but worthwhile and we arrived in Umred with bountiful of expectations riding high on this super start to the trip. The lone safari in Umred was not the best of safaris I have had maybe due to the long journey and the lack of animal activity,however since it was my first visit to Umred, enjoyed this lesser known,gem of a forest and the close association of the locals with the wildlife as the Umred Karhandla forest is still just a sanctuary and not a Tiger Reserve yet. The plan was simple;Pune-Umred-Tadoba-Nagzira, and all this in mere 5 days only to arrive back in Pune on the 6th morning. Sticking to the schedule we left Umred after the morning safari getting some lunch on our way to Tadoba. We were put up at the Kolara gate FDCM dormitory in Tadoba and just like all the FDCM guest houses, this one too was about a km away from the reserve gate. Tadoba is regarded as one of the best places to setup a meeting with our National Animal and we knew that unlike Umred, Tadoba would surely not disappoint. As expected, this dry deciduous forest, dominated by Bamboo(one of Tiger's preferred habitats in this part of the country) showed us why nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts regard this wilderness so highly as we spotted a male leopard and s tigress in the same safari.Cloud nine was the only destination for each individual in the vehicle that day. After all one does not spot 2 of the 3 largest cats in a single day that too in the matter of a few minutes. Still hung over the previous day's heroics(although all we did was hop into the vehicle and soak in the nature's marvel), the next day in Tadoba was spent way too expectant as both the safaris next day were without any significant activity except for those 10 minutes where we waited for a tigress who was in her dreamland deep into the bushes, hoping that she would show up. Too many expectations!!!! With great amount of efforts and some luck we were permitted to enter the reserve from Pangdi gate. Kolsa region was what we wanted to get into as this region boasted of at least 3 tigresses with about 3-4 cubs each at that time in Tadoba and Pangdi gate was the nearest access point to this region. The travel time from Kolara to Pangdi was about 90 minutes and in order to make it in time for the morning safari we started from Kolara literally in the middle of the night at 3.30 am through the nearby villages. Fortunately we made it in time and started the coveted safari. A female tigresses with cubs was all that we had in our mind. So obsessed with this expectant moment, the group almost failed to notice a large herd of Gaurs, the largest wild cattle in the world, that was having a morning graze. An hour into the safari and there was no sign of any predator activity around, let alone a Tiger. We waited at a large lake in the Kolsa region for more than 45 minutes only to hear the melodious chirps and calls of a lot of avifauna. Safaris at such times can get on your nerves. Neither can you enjoy the rest of the fauna as your minds are so preoccupied with the sighting you so dearly want, nor can you dump the thought from your mind. With this mindset and a wait that was getting agonisingly long we decided to move on. We crossed tracks with another safari vehicle and the group in this vehicle broke the news that a tigress was spotted with 4 cubs some 500 yards along the track we were heading on to and that the family entered the thicket some 10 minutes ago. Cursing ourselves for having waited that long at the lake we were gutted to have missed this golden opportunity. Not wanting to accept that the chance was lost we headed in the direction the group had mentioned. With half hearted approach to the above mentioned part of the forest, we saw a lone gypsy stranded close to the left side of the track. Judging by the gestures of the vehicle`s occupants we inferred that it was probably a deer or a bison that they were watching on the left. When reached closer, we were proven right about our inference as in the bushes on the left there stood a lone Gaur possibly a bull, judging by its size, as I have already mentioned about the strength and the muscle of these huge herbivores. The ridge on its back told us he was indeed a bull. The interesting part though was that, he was not in his usual calm demeanour like Gaurs are normally. Swivelling his body from one side to another with volatile movements, his body language seemed odd. "TIGER", came a whisper from the adjacent vehicle and suddenly all the pupils started surveying the bushes around the Gaur. Then suddenly we saw a tail wag and judging the head position of this animal looked intently to get a glimpse only to see of the beast's face partially. It was indeed a Tiger. Adding up all the events witnessed in the last 5 minutes; a lone Gaur being approached by his marauder, explained his nervous body language. The scene was set for what we believed would be a classical show down between the predator and the prey. Every time the bull turned his back on the cat, in came the charge. Then turning towards the Tiger the bull would fend off the charge. This went on for about 10 minutes and suddenly a second head appeared on the other side of the bull, another Tiger! This was mind boggling for the occupants of the 3-4 vehicles witnessing this. The bull in the centre trying to stand up against a two side attack now. Shutters started to clamp even more rapidly as this superlative game started getting intense. The bull now started moving away from us but still in the same parallel line. The attack was still on. Gradually and foot after foot the bull came into the open. Let me reiterate the situation. The vehicles, there were about 8 of them now on the track. The bull directly in front of the vehicles but moving to the opposite direction and the submerged Tigers in the thicket in the same line of the bull and diagonally in front of the vehicles. With the bull moving away the first cat's head started peeping out of the bushes on to the track. Things drastically changed and the bull, with no real logical explanation, started walking towards the vehicle, facing the tiger from time to time as he walked. Still walking towards us and approximately 30 yards from the vehicles, supposedly unaware or rather ignorant of our presence, the gentle giant paused in his tracks only to continue in our direction. The tiger by now was in full view and all three of us were in the same line on the track. The vehicles the bull in front and the tiger following up on his heels. The Gaur, still moving towards us, had by now sensed our presence and stopping once, he gave us a stare. He was probably a tad bit disappointed by our presence and barged into the bushes on the right. Seeing the prey get away the tiger started chasing it and that is when we realised that it was actually a cub, may be 8-10 months old. Our hair stood on its end, as all of us started realising the magnitude of the whole situation. The cub followed the Gaur on the right. The second tiger, which by now we knew was another cub followed its sibling also followed suit. Then another and another. We were flabbergasted with the turn of events. 4 tiger cubs in their most important phase of their lives had just crossed us and the suspicion had come true. It was lesson time for the cubs as the mother, watched intently, still in the thicket to our left, where this battle had begun initially. She must have been the one to instigate the cubs, probably leading from the front when the attack began and on luring the cubs into the attack had stepped off to let the kids get a hang of such situations. The cubs were being trained, a skill was being developed. A skill that would allow each of them to survive when they get older, stronger and most importantly when mum would not be around. We were witness to one Nature's most amazing spectacles. There was no sound, absolutely no sound from the mob of 60 odd people that had this visual treat. However, dreams are very rarely completed in your sleep and as if to testify this we had to back trace our vehicles as time was up for our safari and the cubs had to continue their lessons, maybe without our distraction. With throats dried up and minds filled with this euphoria we returned back to the gates. Later that evening we got the news that the ritual was completed, the Gaur had fallen prey to his predator. Not exactly to the family of Tigers, but to the Nature's sternest rule, " Survival of the fittest". With every prey that falls to the predator in the wilderness, the predator gets to live another day. A spectacle of a lifetime was still being attempted to settle down in our minds and we left Tadoba, thanking the almighty and mother nature for giving us this experience which I am sure would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to re-visualise in the wild.
  12. An inexplicable start of new year it was..! 11 Tigers & a leopard..! In all a dozen of Predator cats of Tadoba accompanied me in the start of this year, as if an indication to stay around them all this year and many more years coming ahead. Besides the hectic schedule, the glimpses of these extremely ROYAL Bengal Tigers helped me to keep up. Haven't expected it to be this amazing..! Excited as ever, Seeing off 2016, welcoming 2017..!!! Once again Wishing you all a very Happy New Year . May this year bring you lots of glory and Happiness....💥💥💥 Keep in touch for more updates.
  13. Hi everyone! I want to share my wildlife watching (mostly mammal watching) safari to South Africa from October, 2016. I had made a list of 20 species I really wanted to see, some of which are considered very rare. But I gathered info on where best to see all of them, and I managed to see about 13 of them, and loads of other species. Enjoy it! It's really long... but I think it has some good information, both for species I saw and for those I missed, for wildlife lovers and mammal watchers :-) Cheers, Tomes Trip Report to South Africa.pdf
  14. 45 Days south India tour This October our team is going to South India wildlife destination. In this tour we will be covering 17 places. Trip details mentioned below - TRIP FACTS Prices from: Rs. 350000/- per person Hop on hop off price: Rs 9000/- Per day per person. Accommodation: Budget resorts/hotels & bush camps (dome tents)/houseboats. Max. Participants: 8 Min. Participants: 4 No. Of crew: 2 (+1 Local guide for few locations) Vehicle type: Adventure maxi-van Duration: Days- 45, Nights- 44 (Approx.) Meals: Breakfast X 44, Lunch X 44, Dinner X 44 (Please note that we will serve lunch only where we are camping/where no eateries are available) Departure: Bhopal End: Kanyakumari Departure date: 13th Oct 2016 Highlight of the trip - Wildlife safaris in game rich jungles Western Ghat mountains Rainforests Sea beaches Gorges Rivers Lakes Grassland Tigers Elephants King cobra Nilgiri thar Lion tailed macaque Black panthers Migratory birds India's diverse culture South Indian cuisine Tribal life Traditional dance & music Traditional shopping Bustling city life Museums Street food Age old forts & monuments Sea beaches Boat cruise in rivers India's finest tea/coffee/spice estates Temples & colonial era churches Backwaters of Kerela Places to visit - Bhopal (Trip departs) Satpura (Wildlife reserve) Pench (Wildlife reserve) Nagpur (Overnight stay) Melghat (wildlife reserve + tribal life) Ellora (Age old caves + other sites of archaeological importance) Bhigwan wetlands (Bird sanctuary) Tarkarli (Sea beach) Goa(beaches + colonial churches + museums + street culture & food) Agumbe(Rainforests + wildlife reserve) Nagarhole(Wildlife reserve) Bandipur(Wildlife reserve) Munnar(Eravikulam national park + tea plantations) Alleppy(beach town + backwater system) Periyar(Wildlife reserve) Thattekad(bird sanctuary) Trivandrum(City)Kanyakumari(Southernmost tip of India trip ends) Itinerary of the trip - Day 1 – 2: ‘City of lakes – Bhopal’ Pickup from Bhopal airport. Accommodation in comfortable hotel/hostel. Trip meeting on day 1 evening. Included: half day city tour Optional: full day city tour Day 3 – 5: Capt. William Forsyth's - Satpura National park Drive to Satpura. Accommodation in dome tents. Wildlife safaris in the national park looking for sloth bears, leopards, gaur, malabar giant squirrel along with other wildlife. Included: 2 X jungle safaris in open jeeps Optional: Elephant safari, canoeing on Denwa river, walking safari Day 6 – 8: Rudyard Kipling's inspiration – Pench National park Drive to Pench National park. Accommodation in dome tents. Wildlife safaris in the national park looking for tigers, leopards, Indian bison, wild dogs and lot of birds. Village safari in an open jeep. Nature walk along the local river. Picnic lunch on the banks of the river. Included: 2 X jungle safaris in open jeeps Optional: village safaris, nature walk Day 9: City of oranges - Nagpur Drive to Nagpur. Accommodation in comfortable hostel/hotel. Evening street walk in the city. Maharastrian delicacy – Saaoji dinner at night. Day 10 – 12: The unexplored – Melghat tiger reserve Drive to Melghat tiger reserve. Accommodation in dome tents. Jungle safaris looking for tigers, leopards, wild dogs etc. Melghat is not very well explored. There is always a chance of bumping into something totally new and unexpected. Included: 2 X jungle safaris Day 13 – 15: Caves & archaeological site of Ellora Drive to the city of Aurangabad. Accommodation in comfortable hostel/hotel. Ellora is a UNESCO world heritage site with temples and cave systems built between 5th and 10th century. We will spend 2 whole days exploring this history rich place. Included: 2 X full day trips to Ellora Day 16 – 17: Bird watching in Bhigwan Drive to our campsite in Bhigwan. Accommodation in dome tents. Full day trip to the wetlands for bird watching and photography. It is one of the best places to see the flamingos in India along with plethora of other resident and migratory waders. Included: 1 X full day boat/walking safari in the wetlands Day 18 – 20: The tranquil - Tarkarli beach Drive to Tarkarli. Accommodation in a beach resort. Relaxing 2 days on the beach. Superb sea food. Visit to the Sindhudurg fort. Included: half day visit to the Sindhudurg fort Day 21 – 24: Goa Drive to Goa. Accommodation in comfortable hostel. No doubt it is one of the most happening places in India. Right from great beaches, churches, bazaars, night life, great sea food to some wildlife and nature, Goa has it all. Included: 2 X full day tours of Goa and around Day 25 – 27: The rainforests of Agumbe Drive to the village of Agumbe. It is one of the most scenic villages in the whole of Western Ghats. Surrounded by steaming jungles, waterfalls, mountains etc. This will be our best chance to get up close with the king cobra. We will be exploring the forests all around on walking trails. Be prepared for a thrilling rainforest experience. Included: 2 X walking trails, 1 X waterfall visit Day 28 – 30: Nagarhole national park Drive to Nagarhole. Accommodation in dome tents. Wildlife safaris on elephant's back/open jeeps looking for tigers, leopards, elephants, gaur, Malabar squirrels, wild dogs (one of the best places to see large packs of wild dogs) and many more. Included: 2 X open jeep safaris in the park Day 31 – 33: Bandipur national park Drive to Bandipur. Accommodation in dome tents. It is one of the most game rich forests in Southern India. With one of the highest densities of Asiatic elephants, it is one of the best places to see some majestic bulls and herds. The forest also has tigers, leopards and all the other wildlife of the Nilgiris. Included: 2 X jungle safaris Day 34 – 36: The Southern jewel of Munnar Drive to Munnar. Accommodation in dome tents/hostels. Visit to the Eravikulam national park. It is home to the highly endemic Nilgiri Tahr. Munnar also has some of the finest tea estates in India. Included: 1 X full day trip to Eravikulam national park, 1 X full day sight seeing Day 37 – 38: Backwaters of Kerela – Alleppy Drive to Alleppy. There are two ways of exploring Alleppy. The simple way is to stay in the town and go sightseeing in a car. This is included in our tour. The other way is to stay in a houseboat and explore the area on a 2 day cruise. This comes with an extra supplement cost. Our tour leader with take the decision based on a voting conducted on/before the trip. Included – 2 days sightseeing trip in a car Day 39 – 41: Periyar national park Drive to Periyar national park. Accommodation in dome tents. Periyar allows the visitors to explore the wildlife in a unique way – boat cruises on river Periyar. Very often one sees herds of elephants, gaur, deer, wild boar and if lucky even big cats on the banks of the river. Included: 2 X boat cruises, 1 X elephant ride Day 42 – 43: The hornbills camp – Thattekad bird sanctuary Hornbill's camp in Thattekad bird sanctuary is definitely of the highlights of the trip. With enough bird diversity to please the twitchers it is a must go destination. We will be staying in the comfortable hornbill's camp. The camp organises kayaking tours in the Periyar river. Included: 2 X kayak tours in the river Day 44 – 45: Kanyakumari Kanyakumari is the southernmost town on the tip of peninsular India. There are several points of interest that we will be covering on the sightseeing trips. Kanyakumari marks the end of the trip. We will have our final trip meeting and gala dinner here. On day 3&4 we will arrange transfers to the airports of Trivandrum & Kochi. Included: 2 X sightseeing tours in Kanyakumari Includes and excludes Meals 3 Meals a day – Breakfast, Lunch, DinnerAccommodation Single sharing dome tents for camping Twin sharing for hotels, hostels and homestays Single sharing for hotels, hostels and homestays (only if extra single supplement charge paid) Includes Fully equipped safari vehicle Camping and cooking equipment National park entries, forts/monuments/heritage building entries, city tours, adventure activities as mentioned in the itinerary All road tolls and vehicle taxes All ground transportation Meals as indicated Services of two crew + 1 local guide (if applicable) Excludes Visas Flights Travel insurance Airport transfers Sleeping bag Sleeping mats Optional activities Drinks, tips Items of a personal nature Kindly follow the website to see the itinerary, for enquiry you can mail us at 45 Days south India tour -
  15. Hey there! I am booked along with 2 other people on a Tanzanian safari, 8 days (7 nights) Its with Agama Tours and Safaris. My friend recommended me and also they have good reviews. If we get more people to join us the price can go more down. It starts June 29 morning in Arusha. Safari details: Day1 Tarangire, overgnight at Panorama Safari Camp Day2 Lake Manyara, overnight at Panorama Inn(hotel in Karatu) Day3 Hadzabe, Datoga tribe, overnight at Coffee Resthouse bordering Ngorongoro Conservation Area Day4 Coffee Plantation Resthouse, cultural day. Coffee Resthouse Day5 Serengeti, camping Day6 Serengeti, camping Day7 Serengeti, camping Day8 Ngorongoro Crater, back to Arusha If anybody's interested to join please let me know! -Tom
  16. 25 pictures from the 40 odd safaris that I went to in Ranthambhore in April 2016. Got another 20 to go in May, starting from tomorrow afternoon.
  17. Hi everyone, Something a little special came to our team at Captured In Africa recently, namely a gentleman by the name of Herbert Brauer. Of course many of you will have heard of Herbert, having filmed Lady Liuwa for the acclaimed documentary The Last Lioness in Liuwa Plain. Herbert is running his own private safari tour to Liuwa, not only to spend time with Lady Liuwa (who is getting on in age now) and her new resident pride, but to spend time with ourselves, to spend time with nature and in appreciation of what special lands we are fortunately enough to travel and what precious wildlife we are privileged to see. My colleague Drew Abrahamson and I feel privileged and honoured to work with Herbert on this tour. Equally so, a pleasure to listen to his words of wisdom from his experience in filming, but also his philosophy on our self, nature and wildlife. The safari to Liuwa plans to be truly special.... personally, I'd love to join this one The below was a quick Q&A I did with Herbert recently, so I hope you enjoy reading Herbert; Lady Liuwa Filmmaker Herbert Brauer Takes You on Safari Every so often, a film comes along which we connect with. A documentary which uncovers and explores not just a story, but a moment in time that is so emotionally driven, that we cannot help but fall in love with nature & wildlife - The Last Lioness, the story of a single lone lioness in Zambia’s Liuwa Plain - is one of those defining moments in wildlife film. Herbert Brauer filmed the Last Lioness on Liuwa Plain when Lady Liuwa was the sole remnant of lions in this area. Wildlife cameraman Herbert Brauer, who filmed THE LAST LIONESS in Liuwa National Park, now offers a unique, fully serviced 7 night safari program in Liuwa National Park in November 2016. He guides participants to authentically expand their awareness, and consciously connect deeply with Nature. This remote wilderness area in western Zambia truly captures one's heart and supports personal growth to those who seek it. Captured In Africa spoke with Herbert in the build up to announcing this one-off itinerary; Q: How did you first become aware of Lady Liuwa and what made you want to film her and the situation in Liuwa? “We were told by the parks manager at the time, Tom Turner, that there was one single lioness in Liuwa National Park who had survived the poaching massacre and that IF we'd see her, could try our luck filming her. The manager preceding Tom has only seen her the first time two days before his two year contract ended.... So it was unexpected that we not only found her on my first day of my very first assignment as professional cameraman, but also filmed her for an extended period which forms part of an important sequence in ‘THE LAST LIONESS’.” Q: Were you ever in serious doubt of Lady Liuwa's (and future lion inhabitants) survival in Liuwa Plain? “African Park Networks' approach, commitment and tenacity has ensured that I never doubted Lady Liuwa's survival on the plains. They are supported by much forward thinking donors and local people who recognise their work. I was and am concerned about lion's future survival, especially in large unfenced wilderness areas. It is in these areas where lions should be able to manifest everything that makes them a truly wild species on every level. This counts for all species that we do not consciously habituate. We as humans became the single largest force on our planet. Most of us don't know that. I guess it's difficult to quantify but it can certainly be experienced consciously. That doesn't mean we have developed into a species that can function disconnected from the natural flow of the forces on our planet, and of the universe. We are in a situation where a critical mass of twenty first century humans needs to consciously recognise that the fundamental building blocks and elements of Nature outside of us are also inside of us, and what we do to Nature we do physically and energetically to ourselves. The stress we put on our environment is the stress we feel inside ourselves. So my view is that as humans we collectively need to once again recognise that BECAUSE we are human, we have a relationship with Nature. We absolutely have to take individual responsibility for that if we don't want to learn lessons much harder than our imaginations can create!!! We cannot leave the wellbeing and conservation of everything we call "wild nature" in the hands of a few concerned citizens acting as conservationists, filmmakers, educators etc. We cannot dump our responsibilities with regards to our environment in the hands of our minister of environmental affairs as little as we'd relinquish our relationships with family and friends in the hands of the minister of social affairs.” The new generation of lions in Liuwa Plain © Will Burrard-Lucas Q: Captured In Africa are deeply involved in conservation efforts and responsible tourism, so respecting boundaries between man and wildlife is important to us when on safari. You yourself showed this in the film when Lady Liuwa seemed to court your attention, yet you kept a respectful distance and didn't cross that boundary - how important is this for you and for responsible safaris/travel in general? “Often our love for nature can overwhelm us. We are feeling the freedom and good energy in the wild to the point that we need to make sure we still recognise and respect everything, including wild nature and her species for WHO THEY REALLY are. I never came across any other lion to whom I felt intuitively connected as deeply as Lady Liuwa. My interaction with her was unique and yet I had to make sure I respect her wild instincts. After all, that's what we wanted for her: To live life as a completely wild predator in Africa. It is really important to allow wild animals their space. How much that distance is, is is a matter of being educated and trained, and one's intuition if well developed.” Q: What has been the highlight for you, following your years in Liuwa and what is your hope for Lions in the wild? “My understanding of what has happened in Liuwa keeps deepening. Right now I must admit that one of my highlights happened when I was interviewed for THE LAST LIONESS. I became emotionally overwhelmed and recognised in that moment how Lady Liuwa is not merely the amazing individual she is. She humbly, strongly and convincingly reveals the essence of our Mother Earth's intelligence. Although much harm was done to her when her pride was killed barbarically by our human species who regard ourselves as the apex of intelligence on this planet, she never retaliated. We witnessed her lying in high grass, never attacking the local children walking past her a few metres away. Instead she followed me around camp at night, like our Mother Earth does each and every moment: forgiving, wanting to reconnect with a human, and to be respected for who she really is if I wanted to fully embrace, if not merely survive our special, profound relationship. That changed my understanding of what we call "Life" or "Nature" and my Vision forever.” Herbert filming Lady Liuwa, careful to not cross that invisible ethical boundary of becoming too close to wild animals Herbert, in partnership with Captured In Africa and Norman Carr Safaris, are offering an amazing opportunity to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime safari and journey of self-discovery to Liuwa Plain. In Herbert's own words: "My fundamental intention for this safari is that we expand our awareness to develop a deeper connection to our natural environment and at the same time, with our true selves. We create a better understanding of who we essentially are. The process is never ending. What is important for me is that our experiences and growth are authentic. We'll search for Lady and her new pride and spend quality time with them. We won't recreate the physical companionship I've had with Lady as documented in THE LAST LIONESS, but connect with her and different kinds of life forms and manifestations in Nature.” View this limited safari and enquire, by clicking below; THE LAST LIONESS SAFARI WITH CAPTURED IN AFRICA Captured In Africa give thanks to Herbert Brauer, Norman Carr Safaris and Will Burrard-Lucas. Any questions, you can drop me an email:
  18. I was talking to a young ranger recently and he said to me that the future of Africa's wildlife was now entirely dependent on private initiatives and private funding. This is a young guy; university educated, highly motivated and passionate about his country's wildlife, yet he could see no other way forward. Thinking about it, there is a certain indisputable logic to what he said. African governments face so many pressing problems; growing populations, unemployment, disease, education, inter tribal tensions, that put severe pressure on their finances that conserving wildlife is rarely high on their list of priorities. Their future in government lies in the hands of their citizens; it is not the wildlife that will keep them in power. The only way they can justify devoting funds to wildlife conservation is if it can be shown to bring in revenues that exceed the expenditure. There are very few countries where this is a possibility. In an ideal world all Africans would care about their continent's wildlife but the reality is that most of them have far more pressing issues to contend with. In the majority of cases the interest in Africa's wildlife comes from foreigners; tourists, conservationists and NGOs, rather than from the continents own citizens, so too the majority of the funds raised for conservation. Africa's parks and reserves are pretty much dependent on philanthropy for their survival. What do you think Safaritalkers?
  19. a short trailer on the world's rarest bear in Gobi desert. a simple video frrom NatGeo but makes me want to watch more of it. Hope the link works. and an article to go with it:
  20. Encouraged by the warm and positive reaction to my Namibia trip report, I have decided to try my luck once more. This was our third trip to Costa Rica; we love this country, so very different than Namibia yet so similar. Friendly locals, great nature, good infrastructure ... self-driving and exploring on your own is easy and rewarding. A recent trip report by @@SafariChick was very detailed, so I will not try to repeat much of what is already known about this country. As always, photos can describe much better than my words. This was our itinerary: 20.6.2013 VCE-FRA-NEW-SJO Alajuela Adventure Inn 21.6.2013 Alajuela - Santa Teresa Santa Teresa Otro Lado Lodge 22.6.2013 Santa Teresa Santa Teresa Otro Lado Lodge 23.6.2013 Santa Teresa Santa Teresa Otro Lado Lodge 24.6.2013 Santa Teresa Santa Teresa Otro Lado Lodge 25.6.2013 Santa Teresa - Tarcoles Tarcoles Cerro Lodge 26.6.2013 Tarcoles Tarcoles Cerro Lodge 27.6.2013 Tarcoles - Cabo Matapalo Cabo Matapalo Bosque del Cabo 28.6.2013 Cabo Matapalo Cabo Matapalo Bosque del Cabo 29.6.2013 Cabo Matapalo Cabo Matapalo Bosque del Cabo 30.6.2013 Cabo Matapalo Cabo Matapalo Bosque del Cabo 1.7.2013 Cabo Matapalo - Uvita Uvita Tiki Villas 2.7.2013 Uvita Uvita Tiki Villas 3.7.2013 Uvita Uvita Tiki Villas 4.7.2013 Uvita Uvita Tiki Villas 5.7.2013 Uvita - Alajuela Alajuela Adventure Inn 6.7.2013 SJO-IAH-FRA-VCE Highlight of the trip was Bosque del Cabo. It is a special place, and this is reflected also in its prices. Luckily we were invited by some Fodor's fans who have their biannual GTG there so we were able to get their special rate also. Driving is a way to explore Costa Rica. We rented from Thorsten at Wild Rider for the third time and again his services were up to his reputation. The car was a Hyundai Tucson. If there are any questions, just ask. I am a DE for Costa Rica on Tripadvisor so I have to be well informed and always willing to share with others !
  21. Hi, Here are some photos from my recent trip to Virunga National Park. Shannon
  22. In spite of hearing lot about Sariska Tiger Reserve, reading many articles & book references since my childhood, I could make my first trip as late as in the year of 2000, when I had no idea about wildlife and had no plans to become a full time wildlife photographer… but now I realize that my destiny was locked to become one… Wild Life Photographer & Writer and will make trips after trips to this place known for elusive Tigers. We were very excited to see the pugmarks of Tiger during the safari on the main route to the famous Hanuman Temple at Pandupol, inside the park, and to our utter surprise our guide informed us that we were fortunate to see the pugmarks of the big cat... that was a treat for the amateurs like us. However the big cat eluded us that time. It was 25th May, 2011, almost a decade later, when I have turned into a full-fledged wildlife photographer and writer despite holding the crucial post of Commissioner of Customs, Airport & Aircargo, New Delhi, I got the golden opportunity to visit Sariska and stay put there for a day. I saw a male Tiger ST6 in the late evening near the forest Chowki Slopka. Vultures at Sariska Tiger Reserve My love affair with Sariska continued. I visited Sariska with my entire family to celebrate New Year eve – 2013. On the 1st January, 2013 early morning, we had glimpses of Tigress ST3 while crossing the road in the temperature of minus (-)3 degree centigrade. Again in November, 2013 we encountered ST6 after a long time, when it allowed us to click memorable shots while moving towards our vehicle and marking the trees with its urine as well as with its paws. Last year, in 2014, Sariska revealed a secret, which every wildlifer would love to click… in the afternoon safari in the Brahmanand area, I was clicking a female Sambar feeding milk to its Fawn & a male Sambar came forward and pressed his mouth between the hind legs to suck milk. It was unique and eye opener for us. when I discussed this with famous wild life film maker Nallamathu and Dr K Shankar from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, both of them were surprised & even were not ready to believe unless until I shared the photographs. Even Dr Faiyaz Khudsar, scientist from Yamuna Biodiversity Park, Delhi too was surprised & termed it a rare event in the natural history. Since, I had been devoting my entire time, money & energy in wildlife photography & writing since my retirement on 31st January, 2015, I thought of visiting the Park at the end of June this year before it is closed down for the rains. It may be worth mentioning that Sariska & many of other parks close down for tourists from 1st July on account of rains every year. This time my itinerary was prepared by the team of Wildnest Travel & Photography, owned by my son Bharat & my nephew Ankit, who have left their respective highly paid software jobs to launch the startup. In fact, Bharat accompanied me to Sariska as he and his team members do with their other clients. We stayed at Sariska Tiger Heaven property earlier owned by Dinesh Durani, founder of Sariska Tiger Foundation, now leased to M/S Sterling Resorts. It was a pleasant stay. Although I was very keen on clicking Peafowls because of the fact that Sariska has the largest population of Peafowls not only in India, but on the entire planet. But, my guide Puran strongly insisted to go in search for a Tiger as we could not see any Tiger in 3 previous safaris. He had already zeroed down to two most probable locations as well. Based on information of Puran and Bharat’s sources, we proceeded to Kundali Anicut on 29th June during the afternoon safari, where a tourist had already spotted Tigress ST2 with grown up cubs in the same afternoon. By the time we reached the spot, the entire Tiger family had moved from the waterbody. We could see the Tigress climbing the hill & I was lucky to photograph the mother as soon as it stopped to look at us. Later, we could see the cubs also as they were moving separately. We saw the entire family together, but could click the mother only. This was my first sighting of a Tiger family in Sariska in 15 years. No doubt Sariska had lost almost all the Tigers due to illegal poaching mastermind by Sansar Chand and gang, but the good news is that it is trying to regain its place again. At present, there are 13 Tigers in the park and the Tiger population is bound to increase provided they are not poached. The population of Tigers is not increasing with the same pace matching another famous Park - Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh due to - problem in relocating number of villages outside the park, passing of a highway through the park. Normally, poaching rate is higher when the park is closed for the rains for a period of three months. In the rest of nine months, guides, drivers, tourists & wild life lovers keep the park busy and leaves no room for the poachers, while there are ample room for the poachers during the closed days. I do suggest, the State Government should think of creating a buffer zone out of the total area of about 1300 sq km and that could be opened to the tourists throughout the year. This would not only reduce poaching, but also give ample employment for the people nearby…and keep our love affair with the park intact for years to come… Click here to read more about Sariska Tiger Resrve, How to reach Sariska and other details
  23. Our daughter moved to Ahmedabad from Chennai recently, and since her car was at Chennai, we decided to bring it back and at the same time visit some of the National Parks along the Western Ghats. Our plan was to cover the following: Silent Valley National Park Bandipur National Park Nagarhole National Park Dandeli National Park Koyna wildlife Sanctuary The idea was to travel through the meandering roads of the western ghats and take in the sights on the way. While we had to make reservations at the National parks, we kept a day or two to spare in between some of them so that we were not rushed and had some leeway. Accordingly, we had earmarked 15 days for the trip starting from 29th November at Chennai. The route planned was as follows: We had just finalised the plan when disaster struck! There was a storm warning at Chennai for 28th and 29th of November. We had planned to reach Chennai on the 27th November by air from Ahmedabad, take a day to pack essentials and check the car, and leave on the 29th morning. Chennai had some extensive rains the week before and we did not want to take the forecast lightly. After rescheduling every thing, the revised plan was to now start on the 1st December from Chennai and hence we planned to reach Chennai on the 29th November. However, as the saying goes, the best laid plans.....
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