Preparing for the Journey

March 3, 2012
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Since announcing our intentions to go globe-trotting, I’ve had a lot of questions regarding the planning of the trip…since we still haven’t finished that, it’s clearly been a bit challenging!

After we’d narrowed down where we wanted to go – no easy task on its own – we started trying to nail down details.  For Machu Picchu, it made sense to do a tour with G Adventures.  For Galapagos we decided as a group with Sean & Stephinie and my mom & dad.  When it came to Kenya though, I decided it needed to be done a little differently.  I’ve been to Africa three times now, and I’ve learned a little bit about safari tours and the people on them…and I’ve changed what I’m looking for to an extent as well.

On any African safari, it’s best when everyone starts on close to the same footing…we had a sour Aussie guy on our Southern African trip that would sneer any time we saw a springbok.  He’d been in Africa a couple weeks already and was so over them.  However, for people on their first day of a safari trip, any animal sighting is a big one.  Some of your photos from that first day look like this:

Distant eland

It might be distant antelope, seen at full zoom, through a bush…but it’s African wildlife.  Heck, it’s an African bush!  Everyone’s excited and straining to see.  Those with the bigger zooms show those with tiny point-and-shoot cameras the photos and everyone’s fairly impressed.  But a couple days later, people begin to get pickier and the animals, well, at least the antelope, have to work a little harder to impress:

Springbok Parade

Soon enough even the antelope sitting beside the vehicles aren’t really enough to get everyone’s attention and so a photo like this Gemsbok isn’t good enough.

Solitary Gemsbok

Now you need to find something else to make the photo interesting…like if it’s a gemsbok with a tree:
Gemsbok with tree

Or even better, with one of the brilliant African sunsets that you’re guaranteed to return home with hundreds of pictures of anyhow…Gemsbok and sunset?  For a short time, that’s enough to keep people interested.

Gemsbok at Sunset

But soon, even sunsets aren’t enough to keep people looking for the Big 5 interested in antelopes and so the only way they make it in to the photo album after that?  As dinner.

Cheetah with kill

My only problem is that after my first safari, where I went through this exact progression myself, I came home and realized that I didn’t have a lot of great pictures of some antelope I’d seen hundreds of.  The birth of my Animal Catalogue really began with the realization that a good photo of a mundane animal is still a good photo and one I’ll regret not taking later if I skip it.  The sad thing about that is that it probably means I shouldn’t do too many more group tours on safari.  There’s always one or two people on every trip who want to stop and take photos of small birds who basically drive the rest of the crew nuts, slowing the search for lions and elephants to a crawl.  Pity Megan, because that’s slowly becoming me…

Vitelline Masked WeaverYellow-billed HornbillAfrican Sacred Ibis

Solution?  I found an Kenyan tour company to take us on a private trip to Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara.  More bird and antelope photos to follow…

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