This was followed by two more full day game drives. And this time we hit a
bonanza, we found African wild dogs. (Peter in his previous 39 trips to Africa
only managed to see them once).
Unfortunately, we had to leave them early in the evening to make it out of the
gate by sunset (none of my shots of that evening were usable, drat). But we
found them again the next morning and revisited them in the afternoon.
Interestingly enough, twice we spotted a hyena first and then the wild dogs
We also visited the site of an abandoned camp in Selous. I heard it now has a
new leaseholder that will reopen it again, the location is definitely
fantastic, the lodging there was a bit desolate though...
Not our tent:
Ramadani getting ready to shoot:
This was the first Africa trip for me where I did not see lions on a kill, but
the dead hippo made up for this nicely I think. It was also the first where I
did not drive myself and we could go cross country. Within the camp Elephant
Shrews and Dik-Diks could be seen but were hard to shoot. Still it was fun to
get out at sunrise trying to capture them. And there are Grey Colobus in the
trees above. I think spending a day in camp would have led to interesting shots
as well. The camp is not fenced in, and in the evening a Masai will guide you
to your tent which has a petroleum lamp outside.
A few parting images from the Selous:
Lyca-breasted Roller with water scorpion:
Escaping baby hippo:
And a baby elephant:
On the last day we took a river cruise again and then headed off to Zanzibar by plane.
We left in the afternoon on a small plane to Zanzibar, the relaxing part of the
trip. We explicitly decided on a nice hotel
(Mbweni Ruins) on the west coast,
preferring sunsets to sunrises. From there we ventured into Stone Town (sorry
no images, I am too people shy) and to the Red Colobus Monkeys.
I left the backpack at the hotel and only brought the 80-200 and the 300 on the
monopod. The 300 was not really appropriate here. The 80-200 or a 70-300 are
much more usable when you have the Colobus jumping around you and even touching
I ended up giving the 80-200 to Birgit for most of the time and focused on
trying to do portraits with the 300. It was a bright afternoon, so I had low
light in the bush with very bright light spots between the leaves. Not even
recoverable by underexposure and shooting NEF.
At the hotel restaurant there was a reasonably well lit tree where the staff
placed bananas at dinner time to attract Bushbabies. This was right next to our
table, so we had a visitor every dinner. ISO 1600, 1/15s 2.8 pre-focused (I do
not like using flash on nocturnal animals), not a brilliant shot but a nice
The obligatory spice tour (after all, Zanzibar is the spice island) was also
quite interesting. But do not buy much spices tea there. The freshness is not
something to write home about. If you get to the non touristic parts of Stone
Town, you can buy very nice fabrics for very little money and no need to
haggle. Highly recommended. As our flight home was in the evening we went
swimming with dolphins in the morning (sorry, no underwater camera). Quite an
Ok, winding down here....
White crowned plover with butterfly:
- 2xD200 with AFS 300/2.8, TC14E, TC20E, AFS80-200/2.8, Sigma 28-70/2.8, Tokina 12-24/4, SB800.
- Velbon ProPod CF-8 with Manfrotto 342 tilt head and Kirk clamp
- Manfrotto Carbon-1 with Acratech head and Kirk clamp
- 11GB of CF cards (barely sufficient on busy shooting days)
- LowePro Photo Trekker AW.
Elmar used a 200-400VR and the other usual suspects, a really versatile piece.
Peter shot with his MkIII and 300/2.8 plus converter and a few smaller pieces of glass.
I was the only one without image stabilization.
Useful things & lessons learned
- Monopods are more useful than tripods in this environment.
- High ISO performance is useful even in sunny countries.
- Teleconverters are useful but cost time to attach.
- Do bring along good binoculars if you have non-photographers with you, they will not have the advantage of the long lenses and might get bored quickly.
- Bring an inflatable cushion for the game drive if you have back problems, it can be rather bumpy.
- Bring a good first-aid kit with you (Peter joked about mine and then had none so we
supplied him with Diclofenac and other stuff for his foot).
- Bring power strips and a plug converter to UK standards and plan for power only being available a few ours a day when in the bush camp.
- Test mosquito repellents first, some are not nice to your skin and make you feel hot (the ones we used were DEET based and worked well).
- Bring a strong torch and at least a second as well as batteries.
- Malarone has far less side effects than Lariam.
- Some places charge the customer the credit card fees on top when paying via credit card.
- Keep small change (500&1000 TSH) handy for tips.
- The problem with heavy photo cabin luggage is the weight concentration per piece not the total weight, so use a vest and distribute. Pack any non sensitive gear (chargers etc...) into the checked luggage.
The pictures in this series are all from this gallery which has a few more images.
It was a very interesting trip. I hope the images convey some of my excitement.
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