Sally Hinton Wildlife Photography

Mashatu Game Reserve 2017
10th May 2017
At Easter 2017 I returned to Mashatu to attend a 5 day photographic workshop with C4-Images. The tutors were Isak Pretorius and Janet Kleyn. They were excellent instructors helping us improve our photography but at the same time enjoy the wildlife.

The elephant hide was brilliant - we had sightings on two mornings with a constant flow of elephants past the water hole. It was brilliant watching the babies interacting with each other and their older family members - sliding in the mud and trying to workout how to use their little trunks!

The vehicle safaris were awesome as well - particularly the cheetah experience. There were four young female cheetahs not long set free from their Mother. We found them late one afternoon as they lay in the grass under a couple of acacia trees. Suddenly they started playing and frolicking like a litter of kittens. Running, chasing and pouncing on each other and then wrestling free and zooming off around the trees and back again. Playing chasey with 4 cheetahs is a fast moving game!

We also had some excellent Leopard sightings - they are usually fairly elusive but we found a young male one morning and followed him for a bit and then late one afternoon we spotted a female as she chased some guinea fowl. As we were heading for the little airfield at the end of the workshop we were lucky to spot another female as she lay under a bush. She had just killed an impala at the river and had dragged it up across the dry river bed to the edge of the bush and was resting quietly when we found her. It was a brilliant workshop and I can't wait to go back!

www.mashatu.com



The Aurora - A Bucket List Adventure in Alaska - 2017
08th May 2017
On top of my Bucket List was to see the beautiful Northern Lights! Home being semi-tropical Australia my understanding of "cold weather" was as limited as my wardrobe for freezing temperatures! So with borrowed kit I headed "North to Alaska" where I joined a small group of fellow adventurers in search of the ever elusive Aurora!

Our adventure started in Fairbanks, a large town situated under the Aurora Belt. Heading out of town to avoid light pollution we experienced two nights of the most amazing Aurora displays. The temperatures were extremely cold - down to -35 degrees centigrade.
The lights started with a green band across the northern horizon - gradually this band started to lift up in the sky and then divided into fingers of glorious green light. Some of these fingers then expanded into curtains and started to dance and shimmer across the sky - this was pure magic! It felt like these amazing particles were dancing all around us! At polar midnight the Aurora seemed to have a final burst of light and colour and lit up the entire landscape! Then the magic was gone and we stood in utter silence left in awe by one of nature's amazing spectacles!

We were lucky to also see the start of the Iditarod - the famous Dog Sled race. Eighty-five Mushers each with 16 dog-teams were racing from Fairbanks to Nome 1700km away. We watched as the first few teams came down the frozen river, the dogs were exuberant with tongues lolling and grins on their faces as the frost and snow settled on their coats - their paws were protected by little leather booties! Dee Dee Jonrawe was a popular Musher in her hot pink outfit. Dee Dee is a breast cancer survivor and competes each year to raise awareness for this dreadful disease.

Our adventure continued as we followed the trans-Alaskan Pipeline and headed further north along the treacherous Dalton Highway into the Brookes Ranges. We crossed the Arctic Circle, and continued a further 120 km to Wiseman. We took a day drive further up the Dalton Highway to the infamous "Atigun Pass" which is prone to white-outs and avalanche. It is steep and slippery and contributes to the Dalton Highway being one of the World's most dangerous roads! We survived the Pass and came out to see the end of the Brookes Range and the start of the Tundra - it was freezing cold here -33 degrees centigrade at midday!

Wiseman is a small mining community founded in 1908 by Gold Miners. The Aurora performed for us again in Wiseman - we just walked outside our little log cabin and looked up and there it was dancing across the skies! - it snowed on our last day and as I had never seen snow falling before I was mesmerized by this winter wonderland!

As the snow continued to fall we left Wiseman and headed back down the notorious Dalton Highway in white-out conditions with zero visibility. It most certainly was an adventure and I count myself so lucky to have seen those elusive amazing dancing lights of the north - a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Link to "Northern Lights Workshop" at First Light Tours with Andy Long:
www.firstlighttours.com

Red Wrens of Caba 2016
28th January 2017
As well as having stunning panoramic views, Cabarita Headland is listed as an "Endangered Ecological Community". It is classified as a "Themeda Grassland" and is rare and fragile. This fragile environment is home to a tiny bird - the gorgeous little Red-backed Fairy Wren. It is the smallest of the fairy-wrens weighing only 8 gms. They are endemic to Australia and spend much of their days foraging for insects. The male is very colourful with his bright red plumage which he uses to attract females. The females, though only brown in colour are very cute and when not foraging they all cuddle up together in the branches under thick cover!

Raptors of Cabarita 2016
28th January 2017
Cabarita Headland is renown for its panoramic scenery and is a favourite place for raptors to ride the thermals. The beautiful Brahminy Kites, also called the Red-backed Sea-eagles, with their white bodies and brilliant copper coloured feathers ride the thermals overhead. They often eat crabs picked off the rocks at low tide and manage to fly perfectly well as they slowly eat their prey. The juvenile Brahminy Kites look so different from their parents, however, they were just as agile in the air and reminded me of the old adage: "No need to teach an eagle how to fly!"

Another frequenter of the headland thermals is the Eastern Osprey, also known as the Fish Eagle or Sea Hawk. Their diet is 99% fish and they have specialized vision for detecting fish under water from the air. They are brilliant to watch in action and make me wish that I too could "Soar like an eagle!"

Whale Watching 2016
28th January 2017
Each year the Humpback whales migrate from the Antarctic up the east coast of Australia to the warmer northern Queensland waters. They travel up from about June to give birth and mate before turning around and heading back south in September/October. We call it their winter migration and the waters off the Tweed Coast become "Humpback Highway" especially in the latter months as the Mum's travel south slowly with tiny calves in tow. Cabarita Headland (Bogangar or Norries Headland) is a perfect spot to watch these beautiful giants of the ocean. It is a stunning spot to watch the waves crashing in often with Dolphins and seabirds aplenty! I spend many winter hours up on the headland and have come to know much of the other wildlife that lives in the vicinity such as the Brahminy Kits, Eastern Osprey's and the tiny little Red-backed Fairy Wrens.

Japan 2016
01st July 2016
In May (late Spring)my Cousin Wendy Biggs and I embarked on my SMH "Big Picture" prize winning holiday to Japan.
Tokyo: Unfortunately our three days in Tokyo were dampened by rain but we still thoroughly enjoyed the Park Hyatt Hotel and a day trip to Nikko. Nikko in the rain was atmospheric as the trees were heavy with moisture and the green mosses were glowing with life. The majesty of the beautiful cedar trees disappearing up into the mist was inspiring! Our visit to Lake Chezenjii in the rain showed us how cloud and fog can envelop an entire lake. We did manage to see a tiny edge of the lake but the highlight here was a couple of tiny Cherry blossoms still attached to their tree! Kegon Falls was hidden from view but we trusted our dedicated guide, Amy, who assured us that the roar of water we could hear was actually the waterfall! We also did a day trip to Hakone especially to see Mt Fuji and sadly the rain increased to torrential and the wind howled around us. The Gondola ride and lake cruise were cancelled due to two foot waves on the lake! On our final morning in Tokyo the sun emerged and from our Hotel window we had a magnificent view of a sparkling clean city, bright blue sky and Mt Fuji in all her glory smiling back at us!

Now the sun had reappeared we packed our bags, conquered the Shinkansen and travelled south to Kyoto!
Kyoto: Kyoto was a fascinating old world city full of ancient wooden houses and narrow soft lit streets. Stunning vermilion coloured temples and Tori Gates drawing in the ancient atmosphere and traditions of days gone by. Beautiful Geisha (Geiko) and Maiko and young girls dressed up in their formal kimonos also added an old world charm and hint at an era long past. The maple trees were alive with new growth and the sunlight sifting through the iconically shaped leaves was just stunning!

Kyoto was full of history, colour and ancient structures. Each had a fascination of their own. The Golden Pavilion (Kenkak-ji) and the Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji) were gorgeous but I think the "Nightingale Floor" at Nijo Castle was the most amazing - it squeaked loudly as you walked on the aged floor boards - specially designed centuries ago to prevent enemies sneaking up on the Shogun! The Fushimi Inari Shrine which sits at the base of the Inari Mountain consists of vermilion coloured Inari Tori Gates trailing up the mountain for about 4 kms with many sub-shrines leading off from the main track - we ran out of time to do this justice!
The famous Bamboo Grove at Arashiyama was intriguing as was the Tenryu-ji Temple and ancient Sogen Pond and Zen Garden. Again we ran out of time to see and appreciate it fully. A gentle stroll down the Philosopher's Walk was quite relaxing. It is a pedestrian path that follows a cherry-tree lined canal with little cafes and shrines sprinkled along the way. One of the highlights of Kyoto was our very own audience with a Maiko. Ichy Koma San was a young first year trainee Geiko and simply gorgeous!

Takyama: Takyama is located in the heart of the Japanese Alps and is renown for expertise in carpentry and wood carving. The "Old Town" has very narrow streets which are lined with wooden merchants' houses dating back centuries. Tucked away in the centre of town is a small Shinto Shrine with a 1200 year old Ginko Tree as its centre piece. It was a magnificent tree and we found it hard to believe it was so ancient - if only it could talk! We visited Shirakawa which is a mountain village on the Sho River at Mount Haku. As a consequence of frequent heavy snow in the winter months, chacteristically thick thatch roofed houses are a cultural heritage of this village - called "Gasso-zukuri" which translates as sloping roofs like hands in prayer.

Hiroshima: Today Hiroshima is a bright bustling colourful city which defies its tragic history. We all leant about the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima at school, however, I was not prepared for the emotion that gripped me when I visited the Peace Park. The Atomic Dome is the ruin of the only building left standing as it was directly beneath the bombs epi-centre. It is a symbol of Hiroshima, conveying to the world the horror of nuclear weapons. The Cenotaph is a saddle shaped monument holding all the names of the people killed. The saddle shape represents a shelter for the souls of the victims.
The Children's Peace Monument commemorates Sadako Sasaki and the thousands of innocent child victims of the bombing. Sadako died 10 years after the bombing of radiation sickness and is immortalized at the top of the statue, where she holds a wire crane above her head. An ancient Japanese legend says that if you fold 1000 paper cranes you will be granted a wish by the Gods. Sadako didn't finish making her cranes before she died and her classmates finished them for her. Beneath the statue is a bell that is rung for remembrance and adds to the haunting atmosphere of the park. Millions of paper cranes from Japanese children and from children from all over the world are offered at the monument, many with messages for world peace and love written in children's handwriting. As I was watching, a group of school children arrived and presented their cranes to the monument. It was very poignant as they prayed, hung their cranes and then rang the bell for Sadako.

Miyajima: Mirajima in Japanese means Shrine island and is often referred to as "An Island of Gods". It is known for its floating Tori gate - the "O-Torii Gate". It is a large vermilion tori gate that appears to float on water at high tide. Because the island is seen as sacred, trees may not be cut for lumber and the deer and monkeys roam free. The deer were a bit cheeky when we visited sticking their noses in our pockets looking for treats! It was a stunningly beautiful island and we were lucky to have perfect weather for our visit!

Winner of the 2015 SMH "The Big Picture" Travel Competition
30th December 2015
Japan trip in 2016
This is just so exciting - a trip for two to Japan compliments of Singapore Airlines, Conrad Tokyo and The Hyatt regency in Kyoto! The competition was run by the Sydney Morning Herald "Traveller" section called "The Big Picture". It was a Travel photography competition. My winning photograph was called "A Leap of Faith" - it is a moment, an impala in flight with a single baboon as a spectator. The judges comments were:

"The image creates a light-hearted scene that is balanced in composition - as though it was contrived, yet we know it could not have been. The frame is panoramic in shape which, if cropped, could have accentuated the moment but we feel that the space on the right balances the jaunty leap. The photographer has captured a great moment of travel"

My cousin Wendy has agreed to travel to Japan with me and we are looking forward to planning a very exciting and very much appreciated trip!

Mashatu
11th December 2015
In June 2015 I joined a videography safari in Mashatu. This safari was run by Dennis Glennon of "Iconic Images". Along with Dennis and Abraham Joffe, our videography tutor, we were also accompanied by Isak Pretorius, a well known South African wildlife photographer. These three very talented and patient gentlemen taught me so much in a very short period of time!

Mashatu is a game reserve situated at the eastern most point of Botswana, at the edge of Zimbabwe and South Africa and is renown for its specially designed photographic hides. We visited these hides early one winters morning and while we waited for the elephants to arrive we were entertained by flocks of red-billed Quelea!

Eventually the star attractions arrived walking slowly and silently towards the water. These magnificent elephants towered above us as they splashed and drank the water as close as 3 metres away. They were so silent - one minute the waterhole was empty and the next it was completely encircled with elephants of all shapes and sizes! They were so close we could hear the water splashing into their tummies as they drank! Experiencing over 200 hundred elephants at such close range was just awesome!

We also followed a family of cheetahs during our week at Mashatu. The family consisted of a very patient mother and her four 12 month old cubs. Watching the cubs playing in the early morning sunshine was amazing and very entertaining. As the cubs were quite big their mother was always on the look out for a feed while the cubs themselves goofed about in the background! We watched bemused as one cub decided to sneak up on a flock of guinea fowl all of which screeched loudly leaping up into the air in a flurry of feathers - the youngster took great delight in causing havoc and the guinea fowl strutted away indignant at the outrage!

Mashatu is a wonderful game reserve to visit and to have sundowners on the top of Mamagwa Hill as the sun goes down silhouetting Rhodes 4,000 year old Baobab tree - life just doesn't get much better than that!

Lady Elliot Island 2015
08th March 2015
Lady Elliot Island is a most amazing place! It is at the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Hervey Bay. It is a haven for turtle hatchlings and bird migrations and therefore a haven for wild life photographers! I joined a group with WPA for both tuition and fun on LEI in February 2015.

In all my life I have never seen so many birds - every branch on every tree had a makeshift nest with White Capped Noddy's in residence! On the ground at the end and beside the small airstrip were the nesting territories of the Lesser Noddy's and the Crested Terns. The chicks were at all stages of development from courting parents, to eggs, to baby chicks and to the adventuresome almost fledged youngsters braving the winds on their first attempts at flight!

The coral beaches provided a wonderful spot to sit and watch all these birds busily hunting fish and delivering to their ever demanding chicks. This of course provided an absolute perfect venue for we photographers!

The Lagoon in front of the resort (about 1 minute walk from your front door) was a coral reef full of corals and fish and most importantly turtles, which had returned home to lay their eggs. We snorkeled every day and swam along side these wonderful creatures! My first attempt with video using a GoPro camera was very amusing but hopefully I will have some decent footage when I get time to edit it!

Of course we all wanted to see some baby turtle hatchlings and as they usually hatch at night and follow the moonlight down to the water and onto the horizon, with cloudy rainy weather our chances were slim! However, after dinner one evening we came out to find the path covered in tiny struggling hatchlings as they mistakenly headed for the resort lights which replaced the missing moon light. It was so exciting to hold these little critters in your hand - they were amazingly strong and the desire to go was very powerful! With the instructions of the staff we gathered all the babies in a large bucket and made for the beach where we made two lines and a staff member with a torch drew the babies down the beach to the water and off they went out into the huge ocean so small and fragile but so determined! They evidently need to walk down the beach to set their internal GPS so they will return to the same place in many years time to lay their own eggs!

We had two instructors on this trip: Pearce Leal and Freeman Patterson. Pearce was very patient and a fantastic tour leader and instructor and we all learned heaps from his ideas and suggestions. Freeman also taught us to think outside the square and that your photography is an extension of you so what ever you think is right - DO IT! He taught us to experiment and PLAY with our cameras. It is not our much your camera cost but what you see that is important! All in all a wonderful week! I can't wait to go back!

Sally Hinton - PhD Graduation
30th December 2013
Finally after six years of sacrifice and study my PhD was awarded. Graduation took place through the Central Queensland University Brisbane campus and was held at the Convention Centre at Southbank in Brisbane on Tuesday 10th December. This was just lovely as my family and friends could attend and cheer me on (and they did!). I was made to feel very special on the day, being the only PhD graduate was surprising but made for quite an occassion! I was introduced by Professor Horsley and was capped (bonnet placed on my head) by Acting Chancellor, Mr Ware who also handed me my testamur. There was lots of pomp and ceremony which I surprisingly thoroughly enjoyed on the day! I usually sidestep personal attention but this was a very special day with my only regret being that Mum and Dad were not there - I know they would have been proud. Parents teach us so much - Mum taught us about love and caring for others and of course laughter - our house was always full of smiles, laughter and giggles - a bit of Irish heritage I believe. Her cup was always half full and she never spoke ill of anyone - a beautiful kind and gentle lady! As a child growing up in the 60's and 70's in Papua New Guinea, Dad taught me many things and I guess he inadvertantly introduced me to the scientific world, at age 8 I was knew the scientific (latin) names of most of the common seashells we found as he was a world expert on cone shell classification writing 3 scientific books on the subject. How many other children earn their pocket money by collecting poisonous cone shells to be sent to Australia for research. I was not the slightest bit interested in venom research at the time but my first Barbie Doll (purchased on the proceeds of venom research) was paramount in my small girl world! Dad also took all his own photographs that illustrated his publications - I can still recall following him around helping (he may have called it something else!) stick the shells into place with our plasticine. I guess again I learn't by default all about ASA ratings, apertures, speed and the importance of light in photography. Dad never spoke to us as children, he always treated us as mini-adults, so we grasped what we could from him as best we could as we went along! To Mum and Dad this thesis is for you - in your memory - thank you!

I started my research Masters in 2007 at CQU, Rockhampton as an external student part-time (I had to work full-time). In 2009 I was upgraded to a PhD on recommendation from my Principal Supervisor. In summary my research was looking at toxin producing blue-green algae in the Tweed catchment raw waters. During my research I found some startling new characheristics of one particular toxin and the species that produced it which is of both national and international significance. I was supported by the Tweed Shire Council Water Unit and in particular the Tweed Laboratory Centre where I have worked for 15 years. The research was directly related to my daily work and has expanded my knowledge in this area extensively. I presented my research at International Algal Conferences in both New Zealand (2008) and Italy (2011) as well as Nationally (Melbourne 2010). Two peer reviewed publications have resulted (2009 and 2011) with a couple more in the pipeline - these are available on the "Publications" page of this website.

It has been an amazing learning experience and the knowledge and tools I have gained are precious indeed! My CQU supervisors (Associate Professor Larelle Fabbro and Dr Susan Kinnear) were brilliant, obviously in areas academic but on a personal level they encouraged and supported way beyond my expectations and I would like to think they will always remain my friends through the years to come!

Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre 2013
15th September 2013
On Anzac Day 2013 (April 25th) on my way home from Africa I made a return visit to the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre near Johannesburg, South Africa. My original adopted Cheetah from 2011 - Ferrari - had moved on to the next stage of her life and my support was needed by a very handsome young cheetah called Achilles who had suffered a serious leg injury. Achilles turned one year old the day before I visited but Linda and Allan Strachan waited for my visit so I could give him his mince "birthday cake"!

I spent a fabulous day at the Cheetah Centre with Linda and Allan and their team of energetic assistants. Liese from Safari Lodge Shuttle drove me down and was included in all our activities. It was a rewarding and emotional visit. The sad news was that the gentle cheetah I spent time with in 2011 and purred so loud - Scarlet - passed away not long before I visited and veryone was still a little sad about losing her.

I just love Cheetah's!




www.dewildt.co.za
http://www.cheetahspot.com/
Namibia 2013
09th September 2013
Sossusvlei.
We started our adventure in Windhoek, heading immediately to Sesriem more commonly known as Sossusvlei. Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. "Vlei" is the Afrikaans word for a shallow depression filled with water (In this case a depression that occassionally fills with water!). "Sossus" is the name for "no return" or "dead end". Sossusvlei owes its name to the fact that it is a drainage basin without outflows for the ephemeral (transitory) Tsauchab River. This particular "Vlei" is actually a more-or-less circular, hard-surfaced depression that is almost entirely surrounded by sharp-edged dunes, beyond which lies a formidable sea of rolling sand, stretching in unbroken immensity all the way to the coast. The spectacular sand dunes at Sossusvlei are best viewed close to sunrise and sunset; the colours are strong and constantly changing, allowing for wonderful photographic opportunities. There are a number of well known dunes:
Dune 45: So called because it lies 45 km past Sesriem on the road to Sossusvlei. It is also known as the most photographed dune in the world because of its unusually simple and fascinating shape, and its proximity to the road.
Big Daddy: This is the highest dune in the area at 325 metres and faces "Big Mama".
Big Mama: Popular to climb and the view is spectacular. At the foot of "Big Mama" is DeadVlei, another clay pan, about 2 km from Sossusvlei. Deadvlei used to be an oasis with many trees but after the river changed its course the trees died and it is now a stark dry pan punctuated by blackened, dead preserved camelthorn threes, some over 800 years old. The vivid contrast between the shiny white of the salty pan floor, the intense orange of the dunes and the blackened skeletons of the dead trees produces a fascinating and eerie landscape! We rose early and watched the sun creep across Deadvlei, the shadows and colours changing by the minute - an amazing experience! A short flight across the dunes to the Atlantic Ocean was also a brilliant experience and put the extensive mass of sand into context. The sea fog that rolls across the dunes from the Atlantic Ocean is a source of water for Sossusvlei vegetation and wildlife.

Those magnificent sand dunes at sunrise was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I hope that the images presented here have captured just a tiny moment of this experience!



Swakopmund
Leaving the sand dunes behind we travelled northwest towards the coastal town of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. At Walvis Bay I saw my first Flamingos - amazing birds in huge flocks all moving in unism and they were spectacuilar as the sun set below the ocean!

Etosha National Park
From the Atlantic coast we headed northeast to Etosha National Park - one of the world's most amazing wildlife regions. We spent 6 days in Etosha at a varity of lodges (Okaukuejo, Halali and Mushara Bush Camp) and saw an abundance of wildlife mostly around the waterholes. Night viewing was spectacular with floodlit waterholes a speciality - Black Rhino guaranteed!

Okonjima - Africat
The Africat Foundation at Okonjima is dedicated to the protection and long-term conservation of all large carnivores in Namibia - however it started off as a sanctuary for Cheetah and Leopard rescued from irate livestock farmers. We saw Cheetah and Leopard up close - they were hand reared and quite tame so it was lovely to enjoy them at our leisure. Beautiful accommodation - well worth a visit!

Twyfelfontein - Himba
We travelled by road from Okonjima to Twyfelfontein in Damaraland and stayed at Mowani Lodge which was truly unique in this wilderness location. Each "hut" has moulded into the amazing natural rock formations and sundowners were sipped on the top of a massive boulder overlooking the entire region - this was a moving end to each day - most of us sat quietly reflecting as the sun slide behind the red, dry African earth.

With Mowani Lodge as our base we explored the surrounding countryside including a visit to the semi-nomadic Himba people. It was a long drive up into the hills and eventually we arrived at our Himba settlement near Grootberg, north east of Palmwag. The Himba men were away with their cattle but the Himba ladies and children made us very welcome. They danced for us and posed endlessly for photos. They are very warm and welcoming people and I have yet to see more beautiful skin - all nature - no cosmetics!
The Himba wear little clothing, but the women are famous for covering themselves with otjize, a mixture of butter fat, ash and ochre, to protect them from the sun. Anklets protects their legs from snakebite and rubbing ground sage around their neck acts as a deodorant as there is no water for washing. The hairstyle of the Himba women indicates age and social status. Children have two plaits of braided hair. From the onset of puberty the girl's plaits are moved to the face over their eyes, and they can have more than two. Married women wear headdresses with many streams of braided hair, coloured and put in shape with otjize.



The entire African trip was organised and coordinated by Julia, Darran and Pierce Leal of World Photo Adventures, an Australian Photographic Tour Company. It was a fabulous tour and everything went like clock work!(Link to their web site is included under "Links"). I made new friends, rekindled old acquaintances, learnt a lot more about photography and saw some fascinating scenery as well as some of the most amazing wildlife in the world in their natural environment - life's good!
Tanzania 2013
09th September 2013
In March 2013 I returned to northern Tanzania with a small group of Photographers. I had never been in Africa in the "green" season and it was so very different. Naturally it rained alot and was much warmer than in the dry cold winter months. The rain and warmth produced lush grasses and dense forests and very contented wildlife - a time of plenty for all! Tarangire National Park was spectacular - a green carpet filled with stunning baobab trees and elephants! We travelled onto the Manyara Conservancy and then to the Ngorongoro rim. Our journey to the rim was certainly an adventure - we spent the morning with a Maasai tribe, and climbed a steep hill behind their village with views down into the famous Rift Valley. After lunch we were heading into the high country when our road was blocked by an overnight bridge wash-out at Mosquito Creek. It is evidently a common occurrance in the wet season but posed little to stop the locals and tourists alike from going about their daily routines. We had to leave our safari vehicles at Mosquito Creek and walk across a raging flooded river via a rather haphazard collection of planks. As we crossed we were accompanied by everything including a kitchen sink. There was a full sized dining table with six chairs carried across via head-top, livestock and just about anything you can imagine! Fashionable ladies in high heals crossed along side us in good sturdy runners and safari cloths! Once across we were met by another team of guides who drove us safely to the Ngorongoro rim. We overnighted at the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge which was divine! An eary start saw us drop down into the world famous Ngorongoro Crater, one of the world's natural wonders. This was my second visit to the crater but this time it was lush and green instead of brown and dry as per the winter high season. It is a magical feeling as you slowly descend down the rim onto the 260 square kilometer crater floor. The grass was thick and full of spring flowers. Magadi Lake (a soda Lake)was full of flamingos and surrounded by zebra and wildebeeste. All the animals appeared relaxed (including a pride of lions that were lying on their backs paws in the air in the lush grass - with very full bellies!). We crossed the crater floor and through a series of rain storms headed north onto the Ndutu Plains. The rain storms made driving tricky but made for very fascinating photo opportunities!

The Ndutu Plains were probably the highlight of the trip. The vast herds of Wildebeeste and zebra were gathering in preparation for the great migration. Their young were 6 to 8 weeks old and needed to grow a little more before the trek started. With the plains full of wildlife the predators were in heaven! We came across a family of five cheetahs out on the plains and spent hours watching them feed and play. we came across them again on the following day as well - as they rested under a large acacia tree. One young male got a bit curious and gave Jo, Ian and Max a bit of a start when he climbed up onto their vehicle and poked his head in through the open top - excellent photo opportunity - nose to nose with a wild cheetah! The most spectacular cheetah experience was again out on the plains when we spotted a lone cheetah obviously hunting gazelle. We waited with baited breathe as a hapless rabbit chose that moment to dart out from the lush grass - the chase was on and it was fantastic to watch that beautiful cat swerve back and forth at full speed after her quarry - she sure could move! She caught, killed and ate the rabbit all very quickly and then moved off. We were all speechless!

Rain storms came across the plains every day - they would dump a huge amount of rain in a very short time and then quickly clear away to bright sunshine. We travelled from Ndutu to the famous Serengeti National Park and arrived at our tented camp in a rather wet and bedraggeled state after one of our vehicles got well and truly bogged to the dif in the thick mud and pouring rain. A few wines and a hot shower does wonders and we were off and ready for our next adventure. It is here that we saw our first tree climbing lions - early on the first day in the Serengeti we spotted a single lioness high up a tree searching the surrounds for food I guess - with the grass so tall it would have been hard to hunt on the ground. The second day we saw another lioness doing just the same thing - we followed her for a few hours and she would climb a tree - check out where the prey was and then head in that direction. On our last day we spotted a giant sausage tree that was literally full of lions - we counted 24 many fully grown lionesses sleeping happily in the branches, legs spread and hanging down just like a leopard does. Their tails were hanging down as well and we could see they had full bellies. There were some well grown younsters fooling around in the lower branches but no sign of any males at all - though we were told that they would be close by in the long grass - well hidden!
The elusive leopard did put in a couple of brief appearances - the best was when one eventually climbed up onto a dead tree and posed for us against the backdrop of an oncoming storm.
We also did a sunrise balloon flight over the Serengeti - which was stunning! We saw giraffe and hippos and lots of gazelle - well worth doing!

This was my second visit to the Serengeti but again this time in the green season - it was a totally different experience. There were less vehicles which was nice and the rain was not really a problem (Our drivers may disagree!) - it certainly is one of the world's magical places! I will just have to return especially to see some more leopard and you can never see enough cheetah!



The entire African trip was organised and coordinated by Julia, Darran and Pierce Leal of World Photo Adventures, an Australian Photographic Tour Company. It was a fabulous tour and everything went like clock work!(Link to their web site is included under "Links"). I made new friends, rekindled old aquaintances, learnt alot more about photography and saw some of the most amazing wildlife in the world in their natural environment - life's good!
Victoria Falls - Zambia - August 2012
13th January 2013
A short car drive from Kasane bought us to the border crossing into Zambia - a short trip in a boat and we were there followed by another short car trip to Livingstone. Our home was The David Livingstone Safari Lodge and was magnificent! We visited Victoria Falls in the afternoon and saw the sun go down on the Zambesi River from a very lovely cruise boat. I walked with Lions and rode a 50 year old Elephant called Bob before ending my 2012 African experience!

The entire African trip was organised and coordinated by Julia, Darran and Pierce Leal of World Photo Adventures, an Australian Photographic Tour Company. It was a fabulous tour and everything went like clock work! I made new friends, rekindled old aquaintances, learnt alot more about photography and saw some of the most amazing wildlife in the world in their natural environment - I am humbled by my own experience!

Chobe National Park - Botswana - August 2012
12th January 2013
On Botswana's far northern border lie the Kwando, Linyati and Chobe River systems that create a mosaic of lakes, islands, channels and flood plains. Part of this system is Chobe National Park, renown for its vast herds of elephant and buffalo, in fact Chobe boasts the largest concentration of Elephant in Africa. Chobe Safari Lodge is situated in Kasane on the banks of the Chobe National Park. This area is the meeting point of four African countries: Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Chobe Safari Lodge was our home for five days as we explored and photographed the amazingly abundant wildlife in the region! Safaris were either by vehicle or by boat and the boat safari experience was truly amazing! Floating quietly down the river watching Elephant, Hippos and Crocodiles to just name a few at almost point blank range was stunning! The birdlife was also beyond description - from the ungainly large storks down to the tiny Malachite Kingfishers and everything in between!

Elephant Crossing: The most amazing experience at Chobe occurred late one afternoon as the light started to fade and the wind dropped which created a rather soft and tranquil scene. A herd of elephants came rushing out of the dry bush down to the waters edge - they didn't drink just played with the water for about 10 minutes and then the large Matriach started across the river and the rest all followed - slowly at first as the water got deeper and deeper until all you could see were the tops of their heads and the tips of their trunks - the little baby elephants in the group dissappeared altogther except for the tiny tips of their trunks - the larger ones assiting the tiny ones as they made their way across to the rich grasses on the other side. As slowly as they entered the water they emerged on the other side, one by one until they were all safely across. Our entire group were very quiet as the Elephants wondered away from us - many were moved to tears by this very special moment!

This tour was organised by Darran, Julia and Piearce Leal of World Photo Adventures, an Australian Photo Adventure Tour Company. It was a spectactular success and I cannot recommend them high enough (Link to their web site is included under "Links")!

Okavango Delta - Botswana - August 2012
11th January 2013
The Okavango Delta is one of the last remaining unspoiled wilderness areas of Africa. The Delta is flooded by the floodwaters of Central Africa and covers an area of some 16,000 square kilometers. These waters fan out into the Okavango Delta forming a wetland system of palm fringed channels, lagoons and islands that support a wealth of wildlife. Our Okavango Delta Adventure started in Maun at Royal Tree Lodge from where we headed out into the Delta. Our first camp in the Delta was Pom Pom Camp, which is located on Pom Pom Island in a private concession situated in the heart of the Okavango Delta and on the headwaters of the Xudum system. Flights in and around the Delta are in very small single engine aircraft using small dusty runways aften compromised by wildlife - all of which added to the adventure and excitement of the trip! The birdlife at Pom Pom was amazing - many varieties I had never heard of let alone seen! One of the highlights of Pom Pom was the abundance of giant Baobab trees, many scarred by the ravages of hungry elephants! Our second camp was Sango Safari camp nestled in the shade of the trees overlooking the Kwai River. The highlights from Sango included lion cubs playing for hours around their sleeping Mother and Aunt, we saw a Leopard and a pack of Wild Dogs amongst the usual, Girraffe, Zebra, Warthogs and Impala!




The Okavango Experience was organised by World Photo Adventures which cannot be faulted - a brilliant tour! The link to WPA can be found under "Links" in my website.
Kepama Private Game Reserve - South Africa - August 2012
10th January 2013
Kepama Private Game Reserve is near Kruger National Park in South Africa. I stayed in Buffalo Camp which included luxurous tents constructed high over an old river bed with wildlife wandering around underneath at their leisure. It was a small camp and one that I very much liked - friendly and accommodating by all staff.

Rhino Search: We had being tracking Rhino for 3 days with no sitings. At the end of the last game drive we headed to an old dam for sundowners and as we came around the corner onto the dam wall, there they were, three magnificent Rhinos quietly drinking in the late afternoon sun. We were the only vehicle there and quielty watched them for about 15 minutes before they ambled away into the bush. This was one of my favourite moments of this trip!

Leopard Tracking: Everyone wants to see the elusive Leopard, myself included! On this outing we had been tracking a Leopard all morning and at this moment both our tracker and guide were out of the vehicle inspecting Leopard tracks on the road as their guests were sitting quietly and expectantly in the game vehicle. A slight movement to my left caused me to glance over and two gorgous male Cheetahs sauntered past our vehicle at quite close range. Our trusty tracker and our slightly embarrassed guide did see the funny side of the situation later that evening over a few drinks. Wildlife is the perennial leveller!

The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre - South Africa - August 2012
09th January 2013
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre is a couple of hours drive from Johannesburg in South Africa. The Centre is managed by Linda Rosenlof and Alan Strachan. I love Cheetahs and last year adopted Ferrari, a Cheetah from this Centre and my aim was to visit Ferrari in the flesh! Linda was away when I visited but I was shown around by her partner Alan - a very hospitable and entertaining guide! I saw King Cheetahs with darker markings than the normal Cheetahs - they were very beautiful but evidently do not suvive well in the wild due to the excessive black in their coats which can cause them to overheat when they run so fast after prey. I met Ferrari with her beautiful orange eyes and was instantly smitten - a very beautiful cat! I was chewed and played with by the Hooligans (a group of 3 month old younsters) who thought I was fair game! I also met "Scarlet" a truly beautiful and regal cat. "Scarlet" is a ambassador cat - she goes to schools and is used to educate children about the beautiful Cheetah. I was able to cuddle "Scarlet" and she purred so loud that her whole body vibrated! This was a truly wonderful experience!

Brown Bears of Katmai National Park - Alaska - July 2012
08th January 2013
The journey to get to Brooks Falls at Katmai National Park was via King Salmon where we boarded our small float planes for the short flight to Brooks Falls. Disembarkation at Brooks Falls was via a plank and a steadying hand from a local (This took me back to my childhood adventures in Papua New Guinea in the 1960's!).

Brooks Falls lies within Katmai National Park at the base of the Alaska Peninsula. The River flows for only a mile and a half draining Brooks Lake into Naknek Lake. Brown Bears (the coastal form of the Grizzly Bear) congregate at Brooks River when the migrating sockeye salmon arrive from late June until the end of July. Midway up Brooks River the salmon meet a six-foot high waterfall, Brooks Falls. As they mass in the pools beneath it and jump the falls, the salmon are vulnerable to bears. The white water scarcely conceals the fins and backs of the densely packed salmon when large schools crowd beneath the falls.

Bear fishing techniques are as many and varied as the bears themselves. The best fishing spots are at Brooks Falls but are few in number and are usually taken by the dominant, large males leaving the rest to adapt as best they can! The plunge pool beneath the lip of the falls is one of the most desirable spots. The large males fish the frothing plunge pool by standing patiently. The occasional twitch of a shoulder indicates that the male is waiting for a fish to brush against his leg before he pins it against the bottom and then lunges his head into the water and comes up with the hapless salmon.

Bears also compete for places on the lip of the falls where the wrong trajectory can land a jumping salmon into waiting jaws. This is the iconic image we have of bears fishing for salmon, however, only a few bears at a time can fish from the lip and it takes a lot of experience and patience to be successful! The record snow fall resulted in a record melt in 2012 making the waterfall stronger than average with few bears taking the risk!

Bears must consume many salmon beyond the maintenance requirements if they are to put enough fat to survive winter, grow and reproduce. At Brooks Falls we were privaleged to see the salmon run and jumping the falls as well as the life and death struggle of the bears of all ages to eat sufficient salmon to survive through the next winter. This was an amazing experience and one that I have looked forward to for the past 30 years - absolutely memorable!

Alaska - Walking with Bears at Silver Salmon Creek. July 2012
07th January 2013
The airstrip at Silver Salmon Creek (Lake Clark National Park) is the beach at low tide with the main danger being bears! The flight in is by very small single engine aircraft and as usual it was raining and we flew very low to keep beneath the clouds for safe visability. Silver Salmon Lodge is typical Alaskan wilderness style - beautiful log cabins and very large fires - the outside temperature ranged between 1 and 10 degrees with constant rain every day - Alaskan summer! Consequently the pastures were vibrant green with masses of wild flowers everywhere including Artic Lupines and Irises!

The Alaskan Brown Bears are the coastal form of the Grizzley Bear - at Silver Salmon Creek they were wild but had got accustomed to people being around. The Bears had right of way and after one look at their teeth and shear size we treated them with a great deal of respect! At low tide the bears wander out onto the mudflats looking for clams - this was a task usually performed by the females (the males preferring not to get their paws muddy!). The clams were about the size of an Aussie Pippy - the bears would smell out the clam and then dig often going deep down to about armpit depth and coming up with a clam - they would then deftly swipe open the clam with a single stroke of their amazing claws and then eat! The clam diet was balanced by pasture grazing during incoming tides. In the Autumn, Salmon would run up Silver Salmon Creek and bears would bulk up on the rich protein ready for the coming winter. The salmon were not running during our visit but we were priviliged to watch them clamming and grazing in the abundant pastures. We got to recognise an experienced old male bear, whom we nicknamed "Scarface". He was a patient and fascinating character whom dominated most of our photographs - my favourite being "Scarface" in Lupines. The Tour was organised by Darran, Julia and Pearce Leal of World Photographic Adventures, an Australian based photographic Tour company (see "Link" page)and was brilliant in all aspects!