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Thread: Back to Africa...maybe for last time..need advice

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    BPN Member Steve Uffman's Avatar
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    Default Back to Africa...maybe for last time..need advice

    My wife has given me a thumbs up to put together a trip to Tanzania, maybe some Kenya and maybe some Rwanda....We have a big bucket list we are working and this would be our second trip to the continent in the last 4 years.

    First time it was South Africa with Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge and Tinga lodge near Kruger...first class, big 5 every day, lots of photo opps but in a more woodland and river setting.....Also have been to Zimbabwe again first class.... Both were large group '

    We also have been the solo and primitive route via a visit deep into Mozambique where we interacted with the native people in a small village served by my niece in the Peace Corp. Absolutely a life changing experience with the people and learning that we could deal without plumbing, and such....But did not like the logistic challenges so I want those to be handled for me...(from language, airport personnel, law enforcement, directions, driving through hordes of people and masses of animals, I have been there, done that and never wish to do that again)

    This time, we are wide open but are leaning toward a private tour with lots of photography opps..we want to see the can't miss attractions but also want to see much more....the migration, Serengeti, lion prides, cheetahs, circle of life, scenics all are part of what we want....

    Since this might be the last time we get there (its a big planet and so much left to explore), we have allotted plenty of time and plenty of flexibility on when best to go ...even 2013 if that makes the most sense at this late date...

    After reviewing so many wonderful photos from the area, I know there are many experts and hope you will weigh in....Hope to have the trip booked for whenever by tax day in the US...so must get crackin'

    Have interviewed a couple folks that can help assemble but they all want to know where I want to go....so I am all ears and eyes...as we say in Louisiana, "won't you hep me?"

    Many thanks,

    Steve

    and a tip of the hat to Roger Clark who already has provided some wonderful guidance....

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    BPN Member Tom Graham's Avatar
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    Here's a discussion by pro Thom Hogan on safari countries, if you have not seen it -
    http://www.bythom.com/botswanaworkshop2.htm
    About 1/4 way down he discusses photo safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa. Of course your having been safari so you already know some of it.

    For me (I've been all those countries and Zambia on safari) the most important element in a -photo- safari is for the vehicle to go off-road. Many famous areas, e;g, Serengeti, do not allow this.
    Second most important is your guide/ranger.
    Third is number of others in vehicle with you.
    Fourth is type of vehicle.

    Also suggest you have a look at what Andy Biggs, member here, posts here, offers for photo safaris. Andy has been guiding photo safaris for years, I've corresponded with him about safaris, seen him interviewed on TV, all round expert photographer and gentleman. If I were looking for photo group safari, I'd go with Andy.
    Tom

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    BPN Member Steve Uffman's Avatar
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    Thanks Tom for responding...am familiar with Andy Biggs....also have one of his bags...Interestingly, it was a Nik Webinar that he just did on his images from Tanzania that spurred my thinking about going there.....Everything seemed much different from my previous experiences

    And read Thom Hogan's post as well....all useful...some simply reinforce my experiences as you suggested....

    Have done the off road thing on private concessions near Kruger and the on road thing in Kruger.....Actually had terrific experiences both places

    Guide/Ranger being highly important is absolutely correct...as much as my wife and I have traveled, this becomes keenly obvious...my booking will depend on getting a really top flight guide....particularly if I am going to be spending 2 weeks with that individual

    Good thing about Tanzania is I can control the number of people to only my wife and I on the private safaris.....Always had 4 not counting the tracker and driver or one guest in each row in my previous experiences...was not bad since we all had similar interests but going the private route here just "feels" like it will be better...

    And vehicle type does concern me....I have been on Huge Range rovers that were fully open that proved terrific going off road, down stream beds and more.. but not conducive for bean bags and such ( although we never needed them as we were able to get so close, and provided some good POV....have also tried the open sided but covered vehicles and they worked well too even on old dirt roads.....Have no experience with the Toyota Land Cruisers with the custom roof hatches but that must work well with the number of outfitters that use them

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    BPN Member Tom Graham's Avatar
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    The wildebeest migration requires timing, it moves/circles between Tanzania and Kenya. The "traditional" times are in northern TZ in Jan-Mar and Kenya in Aug-Sep. If northern Tanzania, then contact Roy Safaris in Arusha. Tell Sanjay (the boss) that you are photographer and want good photo guide. They have great vehicles designed for them and photgraphy. FWIW, I do a "Trip Report" after every safari on the Fodors travel site. Here is link to my report on Tanzania safari in Feb of 2011 -
    http://www.fodors.com/community/africa-the-middle-east/trip-report-safari-2011-tanzania-.cfm

    That safari was with Roy Safaris with only two photographers per vehicle, six people, three vehicles. Cost was about $450 per person per day, excluding international air. My next safari coming this May. Going to South Africa, private camps in Kruger area, Timbavati or Sabi Sand reserves, but have not made camp reservations yet.

    I'll check out Andy on Nik Webinar (whatever that is??). Like I said, Andy knows where to go in TZ, I would be tempted to simply copy his itinerary
    . (And lengthen it to two weeks you want).
    Tom

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    BPN Member Steve Uffman's Avatar
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    Andy did a webinar for Nik Software . http://www.niksoftware.com/learnmore...ubin/0/0/0/0/0 is the link

    My last safari was two years ago this March at private camps near Kruger....Sabi Sabi Bush... and Tinga....both were top notch and different.....No doubt you will enjoy.

    Roy Safaris is definitely an option and one of two I am currently talking with.....I have heard that traditionally, there are still large numbers of wildebeests that are migrating in late July and early August on the TZ side. I know some folks that got great crossing shots at the border on the river there...

    and will check you blog on Foders

    thanks
    STeve
    Last edited by Steve Uffman; 03-20-2012 at 06:12 PM.

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    Hey Steve,
    As you know I work exclusively with Awaken to Africa. They are a small company but all the drivers they use are photography guides! All are excellent birders too! David is one of the owners and is also a guide who is sought after by the likes of Boyd Norton and Joe McDonald.....considering Roy Safari's size......you don't know who you will get as that is a very busy time.

    When comparing safari's you also need to take accomodations and other factors into account as well. I stay in accomodations that are quite a bit above what other tourd do as that adds to the overall experience in my opinion and I charge substantially less. My cost also includes in country flights, all tips for staff, driver/guides, and beverages! Make sure you compare and factor these things in when doing your homework.

    You can see some images from my August trip to Tanzania by following the link on my blog here as well as here and here. These are all from August 2011.

    I have worked with Grace and David of Awaken to Africa for quite a few years now and their level of service is unmatched and all the drivers cater to photographers needs. Remember, the big outfits often claim to lead photographers......I have personally experienced that claim on one of my earlier tours to Tanzania is 2002 and will now only use Awaken to Africa.

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    BPN Member Steve Uffman's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Roman Kurywczak;784465]Hey Steve,
    As you know I work exclusively with Awaken to Africa. They are a small company but all the drivers they use are photography guides! All are excellent birders too! David is one of the owners and is also a guide who is sought after by the likes of Boyd Norton and Joe McDonald.....considering Roy Safari's size......you don't know who you will get as that is a very busy time.

    When comparing safari's you also need to take accomodations and other factors into account as well. I stay in accomodations that are quite a bit above what other tourd do as that adds to the overall experience in my opinion and I charge substantially less. My cost also includes in country flights, all tips for staff, driver/guides, and beverages! Make sure you compare and factor these things in when doing your homework.

    You can see some images from my August trip to Tanzania by following the link on my blog here as well as here and here. These are all from August 2011.

    I have worked with Grace and David of Awaken to Africa for quite a few years now and their level of service is unmatched and all the drivers cater to photographers needs. Remember, the big outfits often claim to lead photographers......I have personally experienced that claim on one of my earlier tours to Tanzania is 2002 and will now only use Awaken to Africa.[/QUOTE


    Roman, thanks for following up....I clearly am not looking for the commodity "safari in a box" that is so prevalent these days. No doubt those are wonderful, cost effective solutions for 1st time visitors...so I am looking very carefully at our options

    I very much appreciate the intro to Grace and Awaken to Africa..very fine person and I now know that in the past she was a Professional Project Manager... so no wonder she is extraordinary in handling all the details. My former technology business that I founded relied heavily on such individuals for our success.... so when you add that skill to her people and travel knowledge, you have a winning combination. Fyi, I did check David credentials and rep out extensively...clearly he is a 5 star .

    I have looked at your wonderful images and blog...looks like a fantastic trip....I did not realize that the workshop you had posted was for 2013 when I first read it...I assumed 2012. Originally, it looked like we might do an extension to a June/July trip to a Zimbabwe hospital where we were going to do some volunteering. That has been ruled out so this is a separate standalone trip.

    Curious what in country flights are involved in your itinerary...looked like this was purely a land trip...I am trying to think through the "no off road" policy in Tanzania since we did a great deal of off roading on the private reserves around Kruger. Trying to understand the impact on photography as my last trip we even road down river beds and tall grass to find what we were looking for. As such, Grace is also checking out a special "pass" that might be available.


    Anyway, I am looking at a few options outside of Tanzania based on positive feedback that I have recd on them as well.

    Steve

    Also I think I sent you a couple of questions through your website. You were on the west coast when I sent them so with your travel, you may not have seen them.

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    Hey Steve,
    Found the e-mail in spam.....probably due to hotel. Check your inbox as I replied.

    Like I mentioned in e-mail.....flight saves time on driving through s. Serengeti at that time of year. Not off road.....but bumpy hard pack.

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    BPN Member Roger Clark's Avatar
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    Hi Steve,
    To clarify the off road situation in Tanzania, there is no off-roading in Serengeti National Park and none in Ngorongoro crater. There is off-roading in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) (excluding the crater). For example, the Ndutu region. I do have a fear that traffic is increasing so much in the NCA that in a few years off roading may not be allowed.

    A note about guides and off-roading. In my experience all guides I have used or have been in my groups in Tanzania are eager to please and in order to give their passengers the best experience will push the limits and might go off road where it is not allowed. Don't let them. Penalties can be severe, including heaving fines or even losing their license to work in the area, which would mean loss of their career. No image is worth your guide losing their career. And if they get fined, you should pay the fine. I have told my guides if they off road where it is not allowed I will simply put my camera down.

    Roger

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    BPN Member Steve Uffman's Avatar
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    Thanks Roger for the clarification.....I also see that the terrain is quite different in most places in Tanzania...Roman reports that the grass in many places is short as lawn grass...must improve visibility a ton....of course, the adrenaline rush is pretty cool when the tracker tells you there is a leopard standing right next to you and you can't see him at first due the nature's camoflage....then when you first see him, you get a clear idea of how the ambushes can work...

    agree completely about the driver playing by the rules....kind of like catching over the limit when fishing down here in Louisiana...My advice to the judge is simple for the rule breakers..." hang 'em" well maybe not but all should play by the rules.

    I know that the guides that we used in SA were tightly regulated, tested and certified....they had plum jobs and would not think about not adhering to the rules...was real clear when we went inside Kruger...

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    BPN Member Tom Graham's Avatar
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    Off-road in Serengeti. From what I've heard, it is possible to get a permit to drive off-road in Serengeti, called a "Filming Fee".
    http://www.tanzaniaparks.com/parkfee...ed-2011-05.pdf
    (At end of info).
    Cost was/is $100 per day person. But you could not just ask for and pay it, you need a "reason". So I've heard.
    To -not- go off-road you have to be a more "mellow" fellow than I am. To be so close and want to drive just 10 feet off to one side, but can't, is bit hard for me to accept. I understand why the requirement because I've seen a leopard in a tree with 12 vehicles surrounding/trapping the leopard, this in NCA TZ. While in a private reserve the number of vehicles at a sighting and number moving in/out is limited/controlled by mutual consent of guides. You probably saw this vehicle control at Sabi Sabi or Tinga.
    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Graham; 03-22-2012 at 03:33 AM.

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    BPN Member Steve Uffman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Graham View Post
    Off-road in Serengeti. From what I've heard, it is possible to get a permit to drive off-road in Serengeti, called a "Filming Fee".
    http://www.tanzaniaparks.com/parkfee...ed-2011-05.pdf
    (At end of info).
    Cost was/is $100 per day person. But you could not just ask for and pay it, you need a "reason". So I've heard.
    To -not- go off-road you have to be a more "mellow" fellow than I am. To be so close and want to drive just 10 feet off to one side, but can't, is bit hard for me to accept. I understand why the requirement because I've seen a leopard in a tree with 12 vehicles surrounding/trapping the leopard, this in NCA TZ. While in a private reserve the number of vehicles at a sighting and number moving in/out is limited/controlled by mutual consent of guides. You probably saw this vehicle control at Sabi Sabi or Tinga.
    Tom
    Thanks Tom, for the link....will do some more research on it

    Got it...Well at Sabi Sabi Bush and Tinga, the other vehicles were never a problem. Partly due to the controlled number of vehicles that they operate and partly due to the mutual consent of the guides...

    Also at Tinga, we would work their private concession first and then when Kruger closed, they had permission to get on ...so the vehicle congestion is really not an issue that luckily I have had to deal with...

    Frankly, you will need a 24-70 there as much as anything...I never used a tripod once nor did anyone else. At the time I only had the 100-400mm, and it took care of everything long but often the 100 end was still too much...although I was shooting a 7D with its crop factor.

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    Wildlife / Landscape Moderator Morkel Erasmus's Avatar
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    Sounds like you are planning a very enjoyable trip, Steve!

    Do you only foresee going to East Africa on this trip?
    Morkel Erasmus

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    BPN Member Steve Uffman's Avatar
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    Morkel,
    we are looking at Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda now. Will likely cull something so our pace is appropriate. Problem is that it looks like it will be 2013 due to availability of desired locations, The wait will be TOUGH! But good news is I should be further up the learning curve in developing my skills.

    Reality is I can see a future return trip elsewhere as it looks like one of favorite nieces is going to return to Africa for her work in Mozambique and surrounding areas. Love to hear your thoughts

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    Wildlife / Landscape Moderator Morkel Erasmus's Avatar
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    Having never been to East Africa I can only comment on Southern African destinations. I do want to go there someday so I am reading your thread with interest .
    Obviously Botswana is great - you can speak to many of the guys posting here on BPN, Grant Atkinson comes to mind as he worked the area as professional guide for years.
    I have a personal love for the Kgalagadi region, a bit more like Kruger in that it's self-drive and self-catering but the photo opps are awesome even though you can't go off-road.
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    BPN Member Steve Uffman's Avatar
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    BPN is a huge asset to me in so many ways and has been most valuable in my quest to put this trip together. Hilary Hann has been a huge help on Kenya and she told me of safaritalk.net which is also a great asset as I assess differences from our experiences

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    Forum Participant Harshad Barve's Avatar
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    Best of luck Steve , I am sure you will have blast of time

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    BPN Member Steve Uffman's Avatar
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    Thanks Harshad. Looks like a fantastic trip to us.... I am really grateful for all the guidance I have gotten through the networking opportunities developed through BPN. I mentioned Hilary Hann's incredible help....Also Roger Clark has been a tremendous asset ...even to helping us get the vehicles reconfigured optimally for photography

    Have added a tiger trip to the bucket list after seeing all your wonderful work. Looking forward to receiving your book

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