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Found 15 results

  1. Here’s a late teaser for my overdue trip report from last October. I had hoped to get on top of this in December but couldn’t find the time. Ethiopia had been on our list for a long long time. Predominantly to see the rock hewn churches but we also had more than a passing interest in the Gelada Baboons and the plight of the Ethiopian Wolf. So we put together a killer of an itinerary that would take us as far north as the Simiens and south as the Bale Mountains. We had planned to travel in March but a last minute booking to get me on a Photo safari to Laikipia meant we had to push the trip back to later in the year. October seemed like a good time to go. In summary the trip went like this; Friday 2nd October flight from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa arrive in Addis the following morning. Saturday was spent recovering from the flight and not doing much at all. Sunday, 4th Oct, we took a morning drive out to the Born Free centre in Ensessakotteh and spent the afternoon taking a few sights in Addis. Monday 5th early flight to Lalibela and spent the next 2 days exploring the rock-hewn churches and monasteries Early morning at Bet Giyorgis (St Georges) Afternoon outside a monastery Wednesday 7th flight to Gondar and drove to the Simien Mountain Lodge for a three night stay where we hoped to, and did, encounter Large groups of Gelada baboons. What a view Also on our list was the Walia Ibex Saturday 9th we drove back down to Gonder and spent the afternoon exploring the cultural sights Fasilides Castle and a couple of churches Saturday 10th long drive from Gondar to Bahir Dar for couple of days R&R by the side of Lake Tana at Kuriftu Resort. We spent a morning on the lake visiting a couple of the monasteries and the late afternoon visiting the local Donkey Sanctuary headquarters and driving out to a neighbouring village to see their good work 1st hand. Sunrise on lake Tana Tuesday 13th flight from Bahir Dar to Addis and then long road journey to the Bale mountains via an overnight stay on Lake Awassa. Sacred Ibis, Lake Ziway Wednesday 14th after a walk along the lakeside and a trip to the local fish market we carried on with our long drive to the Bale Mountains and got to see a few more endemics, including our first Ethiopian wolf. We had 4 nights at the Bale Mountain lodge and got see the following; Mountain Nyla View from our room Bale Monkey Wolf We had 3 days of wolf sightings out of four. Sunday 17th was another day’s long drive to Lake Langano where we stayed at the Bishangari Lodge for 2 nights and visited the Abiata-shala NP Tuesday 20th our final long drive back to Addis, where we had a few hours to rest and prepare for the night flight back to the UK I will try and update with detailed daily encounters over the next month before we head to kenya for this year’s Wild Dog fix. If you can’t wait I do update my flickr album from time to time. https://www.flickr.com/photos/16343559@N04/albums/72157660202134296
  2. Kitekat went to Finland two years ago, and that inspired me. Recently I drove 1500km from Sweden to the same place to take videos of the bears.
  3. I have written a blog about the state of wolves in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia. As far as I believe the information is accurate but I stand corrected if anything is false. I'm not a biologist or a scientist - I'm a lodge owner. But from what I have seen and heard, I believe this to be accurate and somewhat alarming. https://nickcran.wordpress.com/lone-wolf Secondly I have been talking to Adam Welz, a wildlife media expert from SA. I have not yet met Adam but will do at the Conservation Lab later this month. We have been wondering whether any Tora Hartebeest are still alive or whether this species is extinct? There have been no reports for over ten years in Ethiopia. Can anyone shed any light on what has happened to this beautiful species?
  4. I can’t fully recall what the events where that led up to me booking a place on this short safari but they went something like this. Last summer I was waiting impatiently for our trip to Zimbabwe in Sept to happen. I was keen to photograph dogs again and I think Neil Aldridge may have announced a Wild Dog trip in Botswana on Facebook that coincided with another trip we were planning in 2015. So I did a quick internet search for other wild dog photographic opportunities and found this small group trip through Steppes Travel. I showed the link to my wife, Angela, who said I should go, surprisingly, on my own. Something she would start to regret as the departure date grew closer and when I returned with stories of the trip. This is my 1st Trip Report. As the trip was a photo safari, the pictures I have chosen to show here are not the best I took on the trip (I do have a few I am really pleased with) but I hope they help illustrate and document what I experienced. The trip started here on the Sunday, 8th March. With a bottle of Painted Wolf Chenin blanc and a nice chicken dinner. Monday morning was spent packing and I left for the airport after lunch. A trouble free taxi journey from east Essex to Heathrow meant I had plenty of time to relax and wait for the evening flight to Nairobi. I managed to get a few hours sleep during the flight. We landed ahead of schedule at around 6am local time. Visa and immigration sorted, luggage collected and airport finally exited I was met by a local representative and met some of my fellow photographers who had flown in on the same flight. We were heading out to the camp the same morning. The transfer to Wilson was slow, but as the internal flight wasn't until 10:20 and the majority of the passengers were in our group we had plenty of time to get there. As we waited for the flight more members of our small group started to appear. There was 7 of the 8 participants on the internal flight to Nanyuki. The flight was bumpy but I think I dozed off as it didn’t take as long as anticipated, it’s not a long flight anyway. We were met by Steve and the final guest at the airstrip. Steve took our luggage and one guest in his pickup and another local driver Anthony crammed the remaining seven of us into his vehicle. It was 1 and a half to 2 hours to the camp from here. The drive started off fine but eventually we ran out of tarmac and it started to get a bit bumpy and very dusty. We spotted a few giraffe, impala and elephants on the way to the camp. Nothing worth stopping for. Eventually we arrived at Laikipia Wilderness Camp, met Albie and some of the staff. After some drinks and more introductions we were shown our tents and given a brief opportunity to settle in before lunch. During lunch Albie went round the table and asked people about their photography experience and what camera gear they had. There were 7 out of the 8 in the group that were photographers. The group was split into two open side/top vehicles so that almost everyone had a row each or we could at least rotate rows and positions. Steve and Albie were going to rotate vehicles every day so that we could either benefit from Albie’s photography knowledge or Steve’s tracking and local knowledge. We were also joined on most drived by local guides/trackers Mugambo and Adam. In between lunch and afternoon tea there was just about time to get cleaned up, unpacked and ready for the first drive of the day. Tea was at 4:30 and we left shortly after. Bolting down one of the lovely cakes that were baked on a daily basis throughout our stay. Drive 1 - Tuesday 10th March Afternoon As this was a Wild Dog themed safari more effort than usual was made to locate the dogs on a daily basis. There were two packs that had recently been in the area both moving in opposite directions. Our first drive Steve went after one pack and Albie went after the other. I was with Steve’s group this afternoon. Every so often we would stop and Steve would popup through his sun roof and scan the airwaves for the dogs then we would head off in the direction where any hint of a signal was coming from. We had a good afternoon spotting a Bustard (Arabian) A nice little herd of Plains Zebra A few elephants and plenty of Dik dik (aka Dog Food). The signal for the pack we were looking for was getting stronger and it was time to off road. The terrain in this part of Laikipia is rocky with thickets of bush and cacti. Ideal country for dogs to easily disappear. We circled an area until the tell tale sign of a dog’s Mickey Mouse profile gave them away against the backdrop of a cactus. It was a joy to see the 9 or 10, 9 month old pups left with an adult to babysit. Steve positioned the vehicle as best he could, it was a tight spot and we were shooting into the sun. Not ideal but still an opportunity to get some shots and hopefully they might get up and move around. It was getting to that time of the day when they start to hunt. The adults showed up, it wasn't clear if they had just been behind another bush or whether they had come from somewhere else. But I think it’s safe to assume the former, it was too early for them to be returning from a hunt. With the adults back the pack was now up to roughly 19 dogs (we didn't manage a very accurate head count). There was much squealing and we got to watch some of the meet and greet antics that dogs are famous for. Bush was dense people were moving in the vehicles, getting any clear shots in good light were challenging. The youngsters were curious and kept checking us out. After the wake up and re-establishing their bonds the pack started to move. It looked like they were ready to hunt. We followed where we could, using roads to cut them off as they ran through the scrub. It was very interesting and exciting to watch the adults of the pack in action with the youngsters following up behind. We followed while the light was good but as it faded we left them to it. Hopefully we would catch up with them in the morning.
  5. We had to scrap our plans to visit Africa for wildlife this year, but instead we went to Yellowstone and Tetons for wildlife. Here is a long report of our sightings. My father and I recently spent spent 6 nights in Yellowstone and 2 nights in Tetons ( June 15-22). Here is the wildlife we saw.I just want to let you guys know, we are not really scopers, which is why we really didn't spend much time looking for grizzlies or wolves, just because they are always distant. 31 bears, 24 black 7 griz. Most of the black bear action was up from Petrified Tree To Floating Island Lake and on Dunraven right before Antelope Creek. Had pretty bad luck with COY, only two sightings, both poor for photography. One of them was Rosie at Rainy Lake and one of them was another sow with two cubs on Dunraven right before Antelope Creek. One peculiar thing we encountered was two adult bears in Petrified Tree hanging out right next to each other. I am surprised they tolerated each other at such close distance to each other. We had a few close encounters with black bears, but most were distant. One time though, at around 5:30, we witnessed a black bear being chased of by a bull bison cause he was getting to close to him. Also, while watching the two bears at Petrified Tree, we suddenly saw one of them bolt! He was going after a deer, but he didn't really put much effort in to it. The chase ended in like 5 seconds. He seemed like a cocky young bear. Had one encounter with a cinnamon yearling in the Picnic Area. He was very playful and active. Also had an encounter with the Phantom Lake Sow and her yearling. Grizzlies were kind of a disappointment. We only saw seven, 4 in Hayden and 3 Lamar, all to far away for photos with 800mm equivalent. We did have one nice encounter visible with the naked eye. We watched a playful young grizzly run around to let off some steam in Hayden. But suddenly he turned serious. He had seen an elk with a calf and was trying to get it. But the elk kept on chasing him off. It was a great encounter. Lots of Foxes! What we missed in bears we made up in foxes. We had three great encounters with a fox in Hayden Valley. He was active in the same area for a couple of mornings and evenings. Our best sighting happened when the fox started strolling by the side of the river, hunted for voles, and crossed right in front of us. We also had a spectacular encounters with the foxes at the Craig Thomas Visitor Center. We saw the kits playing but they were to deep in the brush for photos. Whenever they stuck their head out, we took photos. Wolves: 2 sightings We spent little time looking for wolves, as we were informed it was almost always through scopes. Whenever we were in the area where they were sighted, we took a look, but that is about it. Our two sightings were of the Wapiti alphas and their 4 pups and one pup at the Junction Den Site. Trumpeter Swan: Had two encounters with these graceful birds. One time we saw two at Swan Lake Flats and 3 at Alum Creek at quite close proximity. Moose: Saw four moose. First sighting was extremely unexpected. While driving in the Petrfied area at around 6:15 in the morning we saw a moose and her calf sprint across the road and up in to the trees near the end of the Blacktail Drive. They were definitely spooked by something as they were sprinting! Also had a good encounter with a moose and her calf in the Tetons. We watched the calf breast feed. Side note: Right past Roosevelt Lodge on the way to Petrified Tree, we saw a pine marten cross the road with dinner in its mouth! To quick for photos though! Personal Thoughts: Overall it was a great trip. A least from this trip I think Hayden is WAY better than Lamar. In Lamar we saw grizzlies so far they looked like dots through scopes. We literally did not snap a single photo in Lamar. In Hayden we had close encounters with foxes and swans. Hayden is also much more scenic and in the morning it is blanketed with a beautiful layer of fog. Some shots
  6. In search of the Grey Ghost- Ladakh and Tadoba, India. Introduction First of all, I should say this was not a trip I was looking forward to. In fact I was, to put it another way, bricking it! It didn't help that we'd heard that sightings had been down and a recently returned group had failed to see our main target species. But it was a trip that I felt I had to do, a trek to look for the Grey Ghost.... the Snow Leopard... that most elusive of cats. I don't like the cold, struggle with altitude, don't do hills and am not that much a fan of camping to be honest and this trek had all of those elements in spades! But I had to try and tick a snow leopard, so off I went... My friend Jo Thomas who runs http://www.wildabouttravel.co.uk/ regularly runs tailor made treks to Ladakh and organised for me to join a group of seven birders on a private tour. As insurance against dipping the leopard, I and one other participant added a week in Tadoba for some much needed R,R and T (rest, recuperation and Tigers). 13th Feb 2016 I arrived in Heathrow and heard from Jo that one of the other participants had been refused boarding on his flight and his mate had decided to stay behind with him for moral support. Jo was busily trying to sort out his issue, which was basically that he's got his e-visa but had applied with an out of date passport and had only brought his replacement passport to the airport with him. Doh! I and one other participant, Peter flew Air India from Heathrow to Delhi on flight AI 112, departing at around 2100 on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I must say it had the clearest in-flight entertainment system I have ever experienced, the sound quality of the provided headphones and visibility of the viewing screens was excellent. I found the air stewards to be particularly generous with the alcoholic beverages, which was nice and the food was okay, but nothing special! The selection of movies was up to date with some recent cinema releases available in both directions (different selection on the way back, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens). 14th February 2016 We arrived into Delhi on time, around 11.20. After collecting our bags we picked up a bottle of JD from duty free for one of Jo's local guys, Praveen and changed money before being met in arrivals by Praveen and our driver. We were taken to Hotel Lohmod to drop our bags and freshen up before we then headed out to Sultanpur Jeel, a local bird sanctuary about 2 hours drive from Delhi. As we were arriving there, the rest of the guys in our group were heading back to the hotel so we missed them. We met our guide and first stopped at the on-site restaurant to have a light lunch of dhal and butter nan. Then we headed out into the park for an afternoon of birding. A good range of birds was seen: Greylag goose bar-headed goose Teal Shoveler Spot-billed duck Gadwall Pintail Ferruginous duck Tufted duck Grey francolin Indian peafowl Little grebe Indian darter Great cormorant Indian cormorant Little cormorant Little egret Intermediate egret Indian pond heron Grey heron Purple heron Black-necked stork Painted Stork Glossy Ibis Eurasian Spoonbill Lesser flamingo Black Kite Indian spotted eagle Imperial eagle Moorhen Coot Purple swamphen Snipe redshank Wood sandpiper Black-winged stilt Red-wattled lapwing White-tailed plover Rock dove Collared dove Ring-necked parakeet Spotted owlet Hoopoe White-throated kingfisher Coppersmith barbet Black-rumped flameback House crow Large-billed crow Rufous treepie Black drongo Long-tailed shrike Bluethroat Black redstart Oriental magpie robin Indian robin Spotted flycatcher Red-breasted flycatcher Bank mynah Common mynah Plain prinia Chiffchaff Hume's leaf warbler Green-crowned warbler (referred to as Whistler's by the guide we had) Whitethroat Large grey babbler Plus Nilgai and Palm squirrels. P2140008 Hoopoe by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140017 red-breasted flycatcher by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140037 Spotted owlet by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140051 coppersmith barbet by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140055 coppersmith barbet by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140073 nilgai by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140075 nilgai by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140077 baby nilgai by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140080 Green-crowned warbler by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140091 bluethroat by Jo Dale, on Flickr We met the rest of the group back at the hotel, had dinner and got a reasonable early night as we had an early flight the following morning to Leh. P2140112 long-tailed shrike by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140122 brown-headed barbet by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140129 brown-headed barbet by Jo Dale, on Flickr P2140137 brown-headed barbet by Jo Dale, on Flickr
  7. If you find a good Ethiopian restaurant in London or New York, then you can be sure that five others will open in the same street. Ethiopians are copy-cats. I guess that after 20 years of communism and donkey's years of feudalism, there is not much credit given for entrepreneurial thinking. So when we heard that there had been 14 applications to build in the national park then we were dismayed. Last year, following pressure from UNESCO, two hundred families were persuaded, with financial incentives, to move from the core area of the park to a local town. The Simiens were the second World Heritage Site to be named in the world. Yellowstone was the first back in 1976. Ethiopians are very proud of this and there are actually 9 heritage sites in the country, the most in Africa. Last month one of the promotors came to receive his land. Building land is given by government in Ethiopia - it is not owned outright. Immediately the people in the local town protested claiming that their families were being moved from the park to allow the developers in. The upshot is that plans have ceased and now nobody is set to destroy the core area of this amazing park. Simien Lodge, whilst having nothing to do with this movement, has worked hard with the local community since its inception. Currently we are building 8 classrooms outside the park to attract the people to live away from the core areas. We work with the local people and encourage them to protect wildlife through meetings and a fair exchange for their support. Maybe our conservation work has paid off in our favour? Certainly we are delighted that these building plans, which would have destroyed the prime area of the park, are not going ahead.
  8. I had in mind a number of different ideas for a short trip this year to Europe. My main goal was to see a wolverine, although other predators were also a draw. I initially got talking to some birders and we tentatively looked at Estonia as a cheaper wildlife destination. I was a little dubious because it meant dropping the idea of seeing wolverine in favour of bears, raccoon dog and possibly Lynx. Problems arose when we couldn't agree on a suitable date and the trip was finally cancelled altogether when we found out that one of the biggest peacetime exercises in NATO's history was happening in the forest where the bear hide was, scaring away the bears in the process! The guys decided to head to Lithuania for some birding instead, and so I decided to revisit my idea of finding a wolverine and began to look in earnest at the available options. Two countries and four locations seemed promising, Finland was traditionally the most reliable for this species but I also looked at Sweden as an alternative. I eventually discounted Sweden as, whilst the sightings had been of multiple animals, the hide location seemed to be a bit far from where the wolverines would be seen and I wasn't convinced I would get the experience I wanted. That left Finland; I looked at three different options, Era Eero, located in Lieksa which probably has the best record for wolverine - mainly because bear and wolf are seldom seen there. Boreal Wildlife Centre, Viiksimo, Kuhmo which seems to attract bears and wolverines and sometimes wolf. The other lodge was Kuikka Base Camp also located near Kuhmo. The hides themselves are located in No Man's Land between Finland and Russia. I was stunned by the quality and number of images on their website of wolves interacting with bears and this, along with the excellent communication from the owner Lassi, swung me to choose this operation. The hides were spread over three locations and seemed to give a decent chance of wolverine at one of these and bears and wolves at the others. This turned out to be an excellent choice! Five nights in the hide including all food and airport transfers came to 1430 Euros. I used some avios for my Heathrow to Helsinki flight.
  9. Simien Lodge is the Highest Hotel in Africa. We are up in the Simien Mountains in Northern Ethiopia. In the past 20 years Ethiopia has become a stable democracy with one of the highest growth rates on the continent. Tourism has followed because of the uniqueness of the wildlife, the stability and the culture. My name is Nick Crane and for the past ten years I have been putting Ethiopian tourism on the world map. In particular I have been promoting the Simiens. I am now interested in developing exchanges with other operators and lodge owners since I note increasingly that tourists want to visit several countries when they come to Africa. I live in France and know many of the European operators well. From my base near to the Swiss border, I talk to a lot of people in Europe. The Simiens was the second world heritage site to be given the status by UNESCO. The first was Yellowstone National Park in the USA. There are now 1061 world heritage sites in the world. We built outside the park but during the construction stage, the boundaries were changed, so now we find ourselves in the unique position of being the only place to stay in this fabulous mountain range. Under UNESCO rules, further construction is not allowed. http://www.simiens.com I'm now invested in developing the Ethiopian market in different directions and I want to meet some safari operators in the southern part of the continent. So I'm planning a trip starting the 8th November starting in Joburg. It will be more of a vacation that a promotional tour (I need a break) but I'm always interested in exchanging when I travel. It makes life more interesting when tourism and african environment is your life. Contact me if your would like to meet me. crane.nick@gmail.com
  10. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/05/wildlife-thriving-around-chernobyl-nuclear-plant-despite-radiation "Wolves, which are commonly hunted in the region because of their impact on livestock, were seven times as abundant with the zone" “What we do, our everyday habitation of an area – agriculture, forestry – they’ve damaged wildlife more than the world’s worst nuclear accident,” said Prof Jim Smith, professor of environmental science, University of Portsmouth, and one of the paper’s authors. http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(15)00988-4?_returnURL=http%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0960982215009884%3Fshowall%3Dtrue "Following the 1986 Chernobyl accident, 116,000 people were permanently evacuated from the 4,200 km2 Chernobyl exclusion zone" "long-term empirical data showed no evidence of a negative influence of radiation on mammal abundance" "data show rising trends in elk, roe deer and wild boar abundances from one to ten years post-accident" "Relative abundances of elk, roe deer, red deer and wild boar within the Chernobyl exclusion zone are similar to those in four (uncontaminated) nature reserves in the region and wolf abundance is more than 7 times higher."
  11. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/call-of-the-wild-how-science-is-learning-to-decode-the-way-animals-communicate-10365407.html This article from the U.K. Independent discusses various forms of animal communication utilizing sound.
  12. I'm hoping I'm putting this post in the right place..... Has anyone heard about or visited the UK Wolf Conservation Trust? we came across this on our research for our trip to England, and wonder if it is a place we should visit when we are in London in December. I read some TA reports, and while a lot of them rave about the place, the mention of "pens" and "walks on leashes" makes me think twice. I can't imagine treating a wolf like a dog, but their argument is that they need the wolves to be raised by humans so that they can medically treat them if necessary. I just wonder if it's a place I should show support for. the thrill of seeing wolves is so high, but seeing them handled like dogs upsets me as well. Not having been there, perhaps i'm being too narrow-minded, prejudicial and judgemental. I know a lot of ST-ers are from the UK, perhaps someone has been. It'll be great to get first-hand info. thanks!
  13. Good afternoon from a less than sunny Addis Ababa. Please forgive me if I am posting this in the wrong part of Safaritalk but as a new member I am still learning the ropes and I wanted, nevertheless, to introduce myself to you. I am Guy Levene, a former British Army Colonel and the owner of a brand new lodge in the 2,200 sq km Bale Mountains National Park (BMNP) of South Central Ethiopia. Bale Mountain Lodge is a conservation project in conjunction with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) and part funded by the African Wildlife Fund. Our intent is to assist Ethiopia in meeting the goals of the BMNP General Management Plan (GMP) in order to help protect this magnificent and little visited National Park and to assist Ethiopia in obtaining UNESCO World Heritage Status for the park.. The BMNP is an amazing place teeming with endemic mammals (16 species), birds (14 species), insects and other plants and amphibians yet to be discovered. According to Birdlife International it ranks as one of the top 5 birding sites in Africa and it is a highland 'island' in the Horn of Africa; most importantly, it acts a a water tower for 12 - 15M downstream water users in the dry valleys far below the mountains. Many of our initiatives are aimed at providing alternative employment to park inhabitants to reduce negative impacts such as over grazing, deforestation and illegal bamboo harvesting. The park management is gradually getting better and is starting to address these real threats to long term water provision. Coupled to these education and work opportunities we have commissioned a research facility in our service quarters so that we can provide 'life support' to EWCA sponsored research teams. The university and conservation teams on site are currently studying the effects of climate change on bird species and behaviour, the amphibian biodiversity in the Park, whether the endemic Bale Monkey can survive the severing of the Bamboo line through diet alteration and whether there are new species of Lepidoptera in the Park (hot off the press - there are. Munich University and the Witt Foundation have discovered 22 brand new species of moth and butterfly in the forest after their first rotation through the lodge facilities. Truly amazing). Visitors to the park are invited to experience a vast array of different habitats from the Gaysay Graslands in the North, home to magnificent endemic Mountain Nyala, to the high rugged and rocky Sanetti Plateau, most of which is over 3800m and which is home to 2/3 of the remaining 550 Ethiopian Wolves and significant numbers of raptors who also feed on the abundant (and endemic) rodents of the Plateau. From there visitors can venture down into the largest remaining cloud forest in Ethiopia which is home to myriad Colobus monkeys and the rare endemic Bale Monkey. In between are the Erica Forests and throughout the park are stunning views and great walking safaris. We escort all our walkers in the forest as we also have Lions, Leopards, Civets, Servals, Genets, Giant Forest Hogs, Jackals and numerous other predator species. Bale is a truly magical and unique place It would be remiss of me not to mention the lodge. We have built it in the Harenna Forest using local materials sourced from outside the national park. Building methods are traditional but the lodge has a contemporary feel. We are trying to keep prices low in order to encourage a wide range of people to engage in our conservation message and, in spite of being 100% eco, we are exceptionally comfortable - not a pit toilet in sight but power comes from our own hydro plant in the mountain stream and our firewood comes from sustainable plantations outside the park. If anyone wants any more then please check out www.balemountainlodge.com or comment on this post and I will try and respond (once I have worked out how the site works). Also, try emailing info@balemountainlodge.com if you want a direct response. Many thanks. Guy
  14. Hi Safaritalkers First post for me. I had a trip last fall to the border between Finland and Russia, that I hope you can enjoy. This was to a place that for years have hides for photographers and they put out food to attract the the wild bears. I wrote this in swedish for my blog, and use google translate here. I´m to lazy to rewrite it all into my bad english. 14 to 18 August 2013 Vartius, Finland Traveling to Wild Brown Bear Lodge DAY 1 I met up with Roland, Petter, Lars and Johan at Arlanda airport in Stockholm. Roland has been twice to Finland and photographed the bears and is our "tour guide". Roland works as a lighting technician, and he mainly film. Petter has he been to this place once before, like Lars. Petter is active in Södertelge photoclub. Lars is John's father. They have for many years been avid ornithologists, and together riding kingdom and around the globe in search of to see and photograph birds. Thus, we are all quite serious in our intent as a hobby nature photographers. We started by taking a coffee break at the airport , waiting for boarding . I started by ordering a sandwich and chai tea . The girl who worked at the diner , asked my name. A little puzzled, I said my name to her. She said: "Would Gregor like to have a dirty chai " ? Surprised , I looked first at her and then at Roland who was standing beside me. We burst out in a big laughter . The girl, a very pretty black girl , laughed and tried lightly blushing declare what "dirty chai " is, this is when you have espresso in chai tea. This then set the level for the trip, very playful and good laughs . After an hour on the flight to Helsinki , one hour to Kajanni and then an hour to where we arrived at Wild Brown Bear in Vartius . This is a few kilometers from the Russian border in roughly the same latitude as Umeå (350 km south of arctic circle). Once we were there we were able to install our stuff in a quite ok, but somewhat spartan accommodations. The lodge is generally characterized by functionalism. A quick meal and then where it directly out to the hides . We walked about 700 meters through a typical Finnish primeval forest , the forest type that is most in Sweden . Nicely anyway. Since we came to an opening with marsh that stretched out as open fields , forest and a pond. Very beautiful and you could immediately see the potential for great photos . Bears coming out of the forest , reflecting in the pond, and sneaks away across the open marsh and into the fog. Dreaming can you do about wolves , lynx, wolverines and eagles. But getting to see any of them (exempt for bear) is very unusual. Me and Roland installed ourselves in a hide, and began to wait. While waiting in a hide is hard to describe. While it is always exciting and at any time can a bear or other animal to appear and present a photo opportunity, it is calm and relaxing. Sitting and doing nothing, really. We sat there and waited and whispered to each other, when suddenly we saw a bear! Targeted quickly up the camera and shot away. Composed and rattled off a new burst. But wait , what's that in the bear ears ? The bear is marked with large red plastic pieces , and has a large satellite transmitter around the neck. Awesome anyway, but it takes away a bit of the impression . Bear came back in the evening moved back and forth in the area. And we could take a lot of pictures. Darkness fell . Outside, we could hear the sound of the bear gnawed on the bone , but we saw nothing anymore. At half past eleven we fell asleep . Next morning at 4 am , we went up . And waited. Dawn thought I must be the best time. But Roland said he had never seen anything in the morning on his previous trips. It was only half an hour to go until 7 am and we were about to prepare to pack up , when a bear appeared on the scene . It took a turn and passed by us and away . Unmarked Bear this time . Could see the camera display that it looked promising and now it was fun to go back to the lodge to see the evening and the morning's pictures in the computer. Pretty cool actually . You can not guarantee to see anything at all. We're talking about relatively rare and elusive animals. And here I had pictures of two bears Lodge-life the days we were there was quite similar. We got there at half past eight, after leaving the hides at seven. Had breakfast, slept a few hours and then had a little "workshop" where we looked at each other's pictures, and gave each other small editing tips. At 19.00 pm it was back to the hides. DAY 2 to be continued...
  15. I thought I started this already..but I guess not. Below are the first videos of Safari Alaska..when you get caught up, then I shall take you into Denali National Park where the bears are The first video takes a look at all the wildlife they help at the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center..part zoo (the ones that can't be returned) and also part rehab. They have a very interesting Bison program that will soon see these animals released, which as we know often programs say they are intending to release animals but it is all talk, where this one seems to be on the up and up, and most likely easier to do since they are bison and not predators. In Seward, we stayed at "The Farm" a very nice B and B just minutes out of town and we did the 8 hour Whale Watching tour through Kenai Fjords Tours which was excellent. All food in Alaska is $$$ (most has to be brought in as well as all prices up there are expensive to the lower 48, but the Whale Watching cruise/dinner was a good price and well worth it. and more Humpback whale action... And then the wife and I just walk around Exit Glacier and drive to Denali..(hence the low views for this video..) If this series doesn't get good views my wife will be fired as really I never needed a co-host anyway * all filmed in Aug 2012 in very good warm weather for Alaska.

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