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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Big Nine" and more in Botswana and South Africa

Incredible variety on my trip to the South of Africa

As announced in my last blog, in June I have traveled Botswana and South Africa with Greg du Toit.

The "Big Five" is the goal of every safari, where the Rhino unfortunately is increasingly becoming a challenge. On this trip, I am fortunate to see in addition to the Big Five even Cheetahs and African wild dogs. But that's not enough. I can photograph the rare Aardvark and even a Pangolin. The very rare Caracal I am able see for a very brief moment.

The first lodge is Mashatu, a beautiful Game Reserve in northeastern Botswana. Hides at waterholes allow spectacular shots from ground level.

The excessive light pollution in urban areas covers a multitude of stars. The following image shows the starry sky in the darkness of the African wilderness - fantastic.

A leopard in the first morning light, looking for prey. The colors of the winter forest match the pattern of the beautiful animal.

Exciting to see the capture of a Helmeted Guineafowl by a Martial eagle.The chicken tolerates the eagle in its immediate vicinity. A hopper and the eagle has the chicken. So quickly a "Guineafowl" becomes a "Guineafool".

Dramaturgy of the wilderness:
White with black dots - black with white dots
Head forward - head backward
Predator - prey

Sunset at 'Rhodes Baobab Tree". We spend the night in a Kgotla, which is transformed to a "Wilderness Camp" under the open sky. And that at temperatures near freezing point!

The next destination is the Mala Mala Lodge in the north of South Africa. The open border to the Kruger National Park allows the animals to migrate freely. The lodge is the largest private lodge in South Africa and famous for the variety of animalsOn the first day I experience early morning fog. A mystical atmosphere as the Giraffe wanders trough the woodland.


On one day we can see five different Rhinos. But also a Lioness with her cubs and a pack of African wild dogs with puppies delight the photographer's heart. And so I'm already at "Big Seven".


The stay concludes with two Hyena cubs who have absolutely no fear of humans and can be photographed from a distance of two feet. The upcoming darkness sets a challenge - but with incredible results.


Half a day's journey away by plane my next target is the Tswalu-Lodge in the Kalahari Desert. A fantastic, beautiful lodge in a wonderful setting. Quite cold, at least at night.
My guide
Greg, who has lived for twenty years in the bush, was able to photograph an Aardvark! The next three days I see 8 different ones and can photograph six of them! Unbelievable. And this is even surpassed by a Pangolin, that I see on the first day and photograph up close. The "Big Nine" is complete.

But the photographic target is Meerkats. These cute animals are so tame that in certain colonies they even run over photographers lying on the ground!



The trip to Simonstown near the Cape of Good Hope, to photograph White sharks is not successful. First of all the shark activities are exceptionally low, secondly the weather is difficult and thirdly the boat with the many tourists on board is not ideal. But with so much success in the first two weeks I accept that and do some work on the African penguins.

In the coming days I will fly to Brazil with the aim of Pantanal. Jaguar, Tapir, Toucan, Macaws and much more are on the wish list!

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