"OUT OF AFRICA"  with Geoff & Jill

Take a look at the animal that is said to possibly be responsible for the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan!

Have you ever seen at a SPOTTED zebra?

 

Geoff Annesley-Smith and Gillian Mathew have been visiting Africa for over twenty years and have spent time in fifteen different African countries.

They have a passion for wildlife and have accumulated over 20,000 stunning wildlife photographs.

Last year we highlighted Geoff & Jill's 2018 stunning photo tour of Africa. 

In 2019 they returned to Africa once more and brought back even more photos of some amazing sightings from their latest tour. 

OUR 2019 Safari  - Namibia ,South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania

WHERE WE WENT!

We have been visiting African countries to view wildlife for almost 20 years. For our 2019 safari, we decided to return to some of our favourite places. Initially, we had booked accommodation in Kruger Park in South Africa. We need to do this a year in advance to get bookings in our favourite camps. We also decided to return to Namibia to visit friends and to stay at a couple of our favourite places. 

Travelling to Africa is quite a journey, so to complement this year's African adventure we decided to travel to Tanzania too. From Nairobi, the flight to Arusha in Tanzania is only an hour. We had good contacts for a guided tour with our favourite Masai guide Felix so we arranged a trip to Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire where we could stay at Tarangire Safari Lodge - a delightful camp owned and run by friends. Having completed our 66-day African adventure we reflect on several of the amazing sightings we experienced

NAMIBIA

The unique BLACK IMPALA

This animal is completely black - a result of genetic variation. Usually Impala are reddish-brown.

 

Impala are medium-sized antelope found in great numbers - particularly in Kruger National Park South Africa. Their colour is mid-reddish brown.

 

However, in Namibia, there is a slight variation with the black-faced Impala which we mainly saw in Etosha National Park.

 

We were staying on a Game Hunting Farm where wild animals are kept and bred. The farm is vast and has been in the ownership of a German family for three generations.

 

There are many species kept on the farm and among these is a Black Impala.

 

NAMIBIA

-Pangolin

This is the creature that  may have been responsible for

passing on the coronavirus in Wuhan.

The most poached animal in the world!

 

The pangolin is one of the few animals we had never seen before.  It is a small, scaled creature. We believe there are four species in Africa and four in Asia.

 

They are the most poached animal in the world, with great demand in China for medical cures and, we are told, costs about $5,000 as a meal.

 

This is the creature that has may have passed on the coronavirus in Wuhan.

 

We stayed in a luxury Lodge at Okinjima, which was originally established to support cheetahs that had been trapped by farmers. We learnt that research on pangolins was being carried out, and were given the opportunity to track one down. This was possible as it had a tracking device. 

NAMIBIA -Brown Hyena

Rarest species of hyena!

Out of the blue, we sighted a brown hyaena - only briefly seen once before.

 

This time they ran alongside our safari vehicle providing us with a superb opportunity to get good photos.

 

This was another sighting at 'The Africat Foundation,' Okinjima

SOUTH AFRICA- SABLE

Rare. The male antelope sports a magnificent pair of ringed horns

Staying in Talamati, a small camp in Kruger Park South Africa, we suddenly encountered a small herd of Sable Antelope.

They quickly disappeared but to our delight we sighted a single male making its way to the camp's water hole. 

 

The male antelope sports a magnificent pair of ringed horns. They are so very rare there are only 200 in Kruger.

south africa-Giant Kingfisher

Lunch time!

We visited a bird hide at the lake outside Mopani Camp - there we encountered three species of kingfisher. The giant kingfisher has a large crest and a big straight black beak. Its body is covered with black feathers, tipped with white spots.

This is the giant kingfisher who was dealing with his lunch - by smashing it on the rock before swallowing it whole.

south africa- Rhinoceros

The Big Five in ONE day!!

Our final two nights in Kruger were spent at Berg-en Dal in the western quarter. We knew that we were certain to see Rhino here. On the last day in the park we had seen several rhino, also lion, buffalo, and elephant, and in order to see the Big Five we needed to encounter a leopard.

 

Sighting the big five is a cherished viewing while game viewing. We had a half an hour to return to camp before gates closed at 6 PM. There on a tree branch some 100 meters away we were told we would see a leopard.

So to our delight we managed a rare achievement to sight- the big 5 in one day. We have spoken to many South Africans who have never achieved this, in a lifetime of game viewing. That we should have been so lucky!

kenya-  Spotted Zebra

A very unique spotted zebra!

Flying to Nairobi we spent 3 nights in a lodge in the Nairobi Game Park. We then took an internal flight to the Masai Mara. I have to say that the Mara would have to be our favourite game viewing destination. 

We arrived after a flight from the Nairobi domestic airport early afternoon.  As is traditional we set off on the late afternoon game drive. It is always so exciting to again get out amongst the game but never knowing what we are likely to encounter. After many sightings we came up to the masses of migration wildebest and zebra and then we saw the spotted zebra. This was a very unique foal, and the spots are the result of a  genetic disorder, An absolutely outstanding sighting! We are always so thankful for these amazing wild animal encounters

KENYA- Leopard

A rare leopard sighting!

Our two weeks in the Masai Mara is always a great adventure. The animal sightings are outstanding.

 

The ultimate experience at this time of year is to sight a river crossing by the wildebeest on their annual migration. This we had seen four times in the past, but not this year. 

 

However, the game viewing was still outstanding. We were very fortunate to gain an excellent sighting of a leopard. They are usually solo and rare to see.

TANZANIA- Cobra

Just finished lunch!

A day was spent in the Ngorogoro Crater, a huge area where the contained animals are so easy to see. Here we sighted a flock of crowned cranes.

 

On leaving the Crater, which has a steep ascent to the rim, on the side of the road we spied a large cobra. We were able to watch it for several minutes before it turned around and slithered back into a stream.

 

A huge bulge indicated that the snake had devoured some animal recently.

In the many years that we have been on safari, we have only ever sighted 2 smaller snakes

TANZANIA-Crowned Cranes

With their beautiful plumage & golden crowns!

This was a first time for us to observe so many of these fine birds.

 

Seen in wetlands -they stand out with their golden bonnets. Unfortunately, the background in the photo makes the crowns a little difficult to see. 

tanzania- Cheetah

We returned to the Ndutu Conservation area. It was not a great time to visit but there was

still game to see. 

 

We encountered a cheetah mother with two offspring and were able to spend some time with them observing their interplay including three unsuccessful animal chases.

Giraffe at Ndutu Conservation Area. They are always so interesting to watch.

2018 Photo Tour from the Masai Mara in Kenya

& Kruger National Park in South Africa

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Come on a photo tour of Africa with Geoff Annesley-Smith and Gillian Mathew who have been visiting Africa for over thirty years and have spent time in fifteen different African countries.

They have a passion for wildlife and have accumulated over 20,000 stunning wildlife photographs.

Here is a selection of some of their photos from their 2018 trips to the Masai Mara in Kenya and Kruger National Park in South Africa.

There are also some recommendations and practical tips for those of you who are planning on visiting these areas in the future.

This yawning male lion in the Masai Mara is doing nothing as usual! He sleeps for eighteen  to twenty hours a day while the female lion does most of the hunting and looking after the cubs.

Jill photographed these male kudu with their stunning horns at Kruger National Park. The kudu are a type of antelope. 

Geoff managed to get these shots of a small number of wildebeest crossing the Mara River. The wildebeest had turned around early in 2018 and some had already gone back to Tanzania. The Mara River water level was very low this year and the fear is that with global warming and pollution, the river bed will dry up completely in the future. 

These African Wild Dogs, also known as Painted Dogs are not easily seen these days.They are an endangered species with fewer than 5,000 left living in the wild.

 

They live and hunt very effectively for small antelopes, in packs of up to 40  animals. After the kill the young are given first feeding.  

 

Geoff's favourite animals are elephants and the matriarchal herds do an amazing job of educating and bringing up the young. However, humans need to be very cautious around mother elephants with their babies, as although they usually look very calm, they are fiercely protective of their young.

PLANNING A TRIP TO KRUGER NATIONAL PARK?    Here are some tips.

Firstly, keep in mind that you may need to pre-book your accommodation at the park a year in advance.

 

Fly into Johannesburg and stay overnight at an airport hotel.

Pick up a rental car the next day and drive five to six hours to Kruger National Park. Do not stop for anyone waving you down. There is a "safe" roadside cafe called Milly's Restaurant at Machadodorp en route which has a cafe, petrol station, restaurant and boys to guard your car!

Try to avoid arriving at the Park on a Saturday or Sunday or South African school holidays, as it will be very busy with the locals. 

The park is very well organised with all types of accommodation facilities. Geoff & Jill recommend the bungalows which have all facilities and are air conditioned. Stay for two or three days in different locations and check out the "sighting boards" to see where the action might be!

Remember your good quality binoculars and  malaria tablets. The shops in the park are well stocked and have maps. 

Majestic cheetah checking out the landscape

Buffalo at Masai Mara

Rhino

Elegant giraffes

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