2011: Every holiday was a safari!

Well I must say that the true genius of 2011 was my holiday planning!! On that score the year rocked! If anyone questions my planning and organising skills, I’ll just point them to my awesomely planned holiday schedule!! Aside from my annual journey down-under, in 2011 every holiday was a safari!!

I won’t gloat too much, but 2011 allowed me to enjoy safaris in 3 national parks in South Africa, plus a sublime month-long safari which took us through Botswana, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania/Zanzibar!! I simply haven’t had time to edit the 15,000+ photos I took in that month!! What a blast that was…2011 was the ‘year of the safari!’

So, allow me to indulge in a few safari references to illustrate the year that was.

The 6 am rises for the morning game-drives quickly settle into the ‘safari rhythm’ and you start to appreciate the momentum of the morning dawn experienced while bumping across the savannah and the sundowners enjoyed to the fading light of the sunset. [2011 was my 3rd year in Liberia and life had developed a largely dull and unchallenging routine. I can’t say that I like it much, but I am grateful to be here and there are some enticing opportunities emerging on the horizon.]

The anticipation of the chase and the kill are definitely high adrenelin moments of any safari. You have to be alert and ready because even though the hunt can take time, the kill can be over in seconds. But after the kill, you do think of the victim – the sweet baby antelope that just happened to become the leopard’s dinner. [There were moments in 2011, when I felt like I was being hunted by a pack of nasties trying (and failing) to make me their victim! Lesson: stay alert and don’t become anyone’s ‘kill’!]

 

 

 

 

 

The safari experience is best enjoyed with like-minded friends and/or photography buffs. Sharing the vehicle with restless bores is definitely excruciating and I find I don’t have patience any more for difficult and complex people in my social life!  [In 2011, more friends left my social circle than entered it so I have ended up in a deficit of like-minded people around me…except that my new friends are outside my work-life and they’re pretty cool!]

Open spaces, rare opportunities, and splendid skies. Safaris always restore my sense that it is great to be alive and moving in god’s creation, spotting rare wild creatures under an enormous blue canvas sky. [Even though Liberia’s skies are often hazy and grey the wet season can bring some spectacular thunderstorms, enormous clouds, and beautiful sunsets. Whatever the weather, I am grateful to be here: alive, exploring, and ready for more!]

I hope that 2011 was a splendid journey for all my friends and readers.

I wish that 2012 will be a superb safari for you all!

A year of adventure, unexpected surprises, natural beauty, 

and wild possibilities!!!

Life is a safari!

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Top 20 places to visit in sub-saharan Africa – revisited

At the beginning of 2011, I created my list of ‘Top Ten places I want to explore in Africa’ and it evolved into my list of top 20 places to visit in sub-saharan Africa. It includes the best safari destinations, world heritage sites, and the best beach locations, but of course there’s heaps more to see on his vast continent than can be contained in this list. The challenge I set myself was to see how much of the list I could experience by 31 Dec 2011, and after my recent holiday I thought it would be a good time to revisit the list.

My list of top 20 places to visit in sub-saharan Africa (in no particular order) – reviewed October 2011

  1. Kenya – Masai Mara, Samburu, Amboselli, and East & West Tsavo National Parks [DONE] + Mara North Conservancy
  2. Botswana – Okavango Delta, [DONE] Chobe National Park
  3. Namibia – Skeleton Coast, Namib desert, Etosha National Park
  4. Tanzania – Serengeti National Park and Ngorongo Crater [DONE]
  5. Uganda – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and mountain gorillas [DONE] See my Uganda’s mountain gorilla page!
  6. Tanzania – Zanzibar [DONE TWICE]
  7. South Africa – Cape of Good Hope, Rodden Island, Table Mountain [DONE]
  8. Kenya – Lamu Island [DONE]
  9. Zambia and Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls [DONE]
  10. Ghana – Kakum National Park and Cape Coast fort [DONE]  See my Ghana page
  11. South Africa – Krueger National Park [DONE]
  12. Senegal – Goree Island, St Louis Island [DONE]
  13. Tanzania – Mt Kiliminjaro [SEEN IT but never climbed it]
  14. Rwanda – Virguna mountains and the mountain gorillas [DONE]
  15. Zambia – South Luanga National Park [DONE]
  16. Kenya/Tanzania – the great migration [1/2 DONE] We were there but the wilderbeest didn’t cooperate.
  17. Gabon – national park
  18. Malawi – Lake Malawi
  19. Mozambique
  20. Namibia – Fish River Canyon

So, where am I at with all this now? I guess that my last 2011 holiday will be to Ethiopia, so nothing more from the Top 20 list will be conquered this year, unless I change the list! In 2012 I might aim to get to Namibia and Malawi or Mozimbique, but that depends largely on what job opportunities emerge.

The remaining challenge is to document each place with photos and commentary. I have 10,000s of photos from all my travels and safaris; I just need bandwidth and time to post the best of them. The original purpose of the pages at the top of the blog was to write about these destinations and experiences. I have not achieved that and I’m a bit overwhelmed by the task because I would need to re-jig the blog and commit a load of time to it (but I will persist as it is a worthwhile project).

Africa is a brilliantly beautiful continent and yet also tragically difficult place to live in. I hope I’ll get to share my experiences and thoughts but I also love to hear from others who have travelled the same roads and enjoyed the same locations.

On safari

I have just returned from a month on safari!! The recent posts of life in Liberia were prepared before I left Monrovia and have been posted from east Africa thanks to the luxury of fast internet service provision! I wanted to get something on the board for September.

Safari? Yes indeed. We enjoyed the beauty of the Okavango Delta in Botswana; Vic Falls and South Luanga Park in Zambia; Serian Camp in the Mara North Conservancy, Kenya; the mountain gorillas in Rwanda; and then chilled out on the beach in Zanzibar, Tanzania. If you include the 1 day in Zimbabwe then we covered 6 countries in 30 days of wonderful safari bliss seeing the best of African nature and wildlife. What a privilege!

If you have never had the opportunity to go on safari then its very hard to explain the experience, but it is a unique way to spend a holiday. You quickly get into a routine of 5am wake-up calls, early morning game drives, cups of tea sipped in the savannah, afternoon naps, afternoon game drives, sun-downers under the savannah sunset, shared dinners and excited conversations before collapsing in bed thrilled and anticipating more of the same the next day. In the midst of the tea breaks, there is always a sense of anticipation when on a game drive. You never know what you will find around the next corner – wildlife viewing is fascinating and unpredictable. Even in the moments when there are no animals to be seen, there is no boredom because you can breathe in the fresh air, absorb the beautiful landscape and the vastness of the open spaces and blue skies. On top of that, if you love photography you will be in heaven as a safari gives so many photo opportunities. I took close to 16,000 photos in 30 days, so now I’m set to constructively pass my spare time for the next months!

My main mental challenge now is to manage the post-safari blues that have hit me since my return to Monrovia. 😦   I will do that by concentrating on photo editing! Rather than get sucked into commenting on the election dramas underway in Liberia (Tuesday is the day for ‘da voting business’) I can write about ‘my brilliant safari’ and share the best photos in future blogs (ISP gods allowing).

By the way, I passed another milestone recently. 28 September marked my 3 years in Liberia! The only thing I’ll say about that is that it feels like its time to make a ‘go forward’ plan.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Wildlife

in honour of the fact that i’m in Uganda at the moment, i will chose one (or three) fotos for the weekly foto challenge ‘wildlife’ from the wonderful, rare mountain gorillas of eastern Africa. these are my 3 best shots from the awesome day in the bwindi impenetrable forest national park!

if you want to read more about them look at my page ‘Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas’ where i tell the whole story.

i’m heading south to johannesburg

its time to revisit holiday memories! on thursday i’m outta here, heading south! back to the cape of good hope, table mountain, and the vineyards of the Republic of South Africa! yum! and my first time to Jo’burg and krueger national park, and much more! so to whet my appetite, i delved back into my flickr album for a few highlights…

my last trip to RSA was in december 2009 and the gorgeous summer weather will have passed, but still i expect its going to be beautiful. the plan is to meet friends, head straight to krueger national park for 3 days and then drive along the garden route to cape town for a few days and then fly back from there.  it will be fun to be with a friend and i hope i get the chance for a few sweet fotoz which can duly be shared with all!

so i’m going to set myself a holiday photo challenge. 12 days of holiday! 1) i want to take a sharp beautiful landscape photo; 2) i want to take photos with patterns and shadows; 3) i want to improve my portrait shots by capturing some natural poses of my friends; 4) i want to document the holiday with  snappy video; and 5)  i want to photograph a ‘kill’ while on safari – but that one doesn’t depend on me!

Today’s up-date from Liberia’s international airport. I’ve got malaria, for the first time. No wonder I’ve been feeling lousy these last weeks. at least i had the sense to follow up the blood tests becoz the clinic didn’t chase me to let me know! So, in order to post some words today….that’s the latest news….i’m off on my latest blue sky journey!!

life is a safari

just to let you know that we had a fabulous safari – 3 weeks in uganda, kenya and tanzania in september ’09.

the fotos and stories of our gorilla trek can now be found on my ‘fayzfotos – uganda’ page!! check it out! meanwhile i’ll get working on some wordz & fotoz about kenya

‘life is a safari’!
… and if it isn’t we should make it more so.

explore,
make adventures,
capture memories.
observe
thirsty animals panting,
hungry animals hunting,
wild animals playing.
grasp the beautiful dangerous world.

stare at the savannah,
the azure blue skies,
and feel small in all that space.
laugh when u eat dust.
share a whispered ‘wow’ with friendz.
watch for the unexpected.
listen to nature.
breathe it all in!

few people ever have this opportunity

life is a safari!