Kruger National Park was our last safari of our 5 week trip. Making our journey from the northern reaches of Kenya, all the way down to South Africa, Kruger was more similar to what we would expect back home, sans lions, giraffes, and zebras. Paved roads and many touring vehicles and private cars crowded the roads especially when there was a lion sighting. The result was a 4 lane pile up with cars going both directions in each lane. I thought Yellowstone was bad! However the topography of Kruger was my favorite of all the parks. Rolling hills with high buttes, acacia trees, and golden grass covered the landscape. Not to mention a nightcap of Amarula on our night safari! Here in Kruger, through the viewfinder of my camera and 400mm lens, I locked eyes with a male lion until the goosebumps on my arm persuaded me to look away.
Many of these images are also found in their respective gallery where they were spotted, I thought I would also gather them here. Besides seeing the charismatic megafauna of the elephants, giraffes, zebras, etc...I was very interested and impressed and awed by the abundant bird diversity. The natural world never lets me down, showing me species I never knew even existed and seeing how so well adapted each one was to their specific niche in this world.
After spending the morning exploring the depths of Ngorongoro Crater, we made the long bumpy ride to Serengeti National Park. Truly in the middle of nowhere, the great empty landscapes seemed to be concealing its richness at first. However, making our way further into the heart of the Serengeti where we would camp out in the bush that night serenaded by the wailing of the hyenas, our wildlife sightings would soon pick up. The next day exploring the local watering holes, we found rich diversity of birds and megafauna including two lion prides feasting on their catch. Amazing lion behavior was witnessed here as you can see in the following pictures.
Flying over the Okavango Delta, we were surprised by the starkness of the landscape, as the rains had not yet come to fill in the Delta. The wet and dry seasons of the varied African environs are certainly being affected by climate change. This was a fun adventure as we and all our camping gear were 'poled' into the heart of the Delta while sitting back riding in a mokoro. We then embarked on walking safaris, and a sunset 'cruise' before racing back to camp and hunkering down because the rains were finally here! Once it started it did not stop and we were glad to be on high ground. The next day as we made our way down the river, my warm rain bathing suit attire was no fit for the threatening onset of hypothermia. With numb arms and blue lips, the irony was not lost on me that here in Africa I came closest to being hypothermic, rather than all the winters I've spent in Yellowstone!
Our first introduction to a true African safari, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area certainly made a lasting first impression and therefore will remain my favorite park. As we drove up to the crater's rim through the lush tropical forest, clearing the baboons out of the way, catching a glimpse of the Masaai people living their traditional lifestyles...the best was yet to come. Finally dropping into the crater floor of one of the largest intact volcanic caldera's in the world, my head was spinning in all directions trying to take in the sheer numbers of animals and birds that I was seeing in one area. As my friend said, we were dropped into the set of the Lion King!
Chobe National Park is Botswana's first and most biologically diverse national park. Known for it's large elephant populations (~50,000), it is also rich in birdlife, giraffe, buffalo and sable populations. I had the opportunity to spend the night in the bush, where that evening will be remembered as the most WILD night in my life. We went to sleep with the roaring of lions, trumpeting of elephants, and grunts of buffalo in the background, to be woken up at 3am with a large buffalo herd migrating through and all around our camp. Unforgettable! Our guide also toured us down the Chobe River and pointed out many different bird species. Part of his training was to learn the calls of over 300 birds.
In July of 2016 I had the availability to participate in a Photography Workshop held in Glacier National Park. It was great to be immersed for a few days in the natural beauty of Glacier NP. I even learned a few things while photographing my favorite subjects in Glacier, bear grass and mountain goats!
Just a couple hours south of Yellowstone National Park lies a whole different ecosystem and mountain topography. So grateful for all of our National Parks and public lands and will fight the hard fight to keep them that way forever! The Grand Teton dominates the scene standing at 13,776 ft. I once stood on top of it, and now I enjoy standing below it, admiring the mountain's majesty.
Feeling very grateful to have had the opportunity to be a participant on a trip with the Great Bear Foundation, led by no other than the famous Charles 'Chuck' Jonkel who sadly passed away in April 2016. We took the long way up north crossing the vast landscape on a cold school bus, and then by train on up to Churchill, Manitoba. Here is where we hoped to see a few Polar Bears as they gather on the shores of Hudson Bay each fall waiting for the ice to form so they can go out and find their favorite meal, the Ringed Seal.