Guest Post: All Creatures Great and Small

Andrew Beck Guest 3 Comments

Martha Myers is a regular guest of ours and has just returned from our Exclusive Amboseli and Tsavo Safari. Clearly, she not only has the creative skill behind the lens but with words. Here is her wonderfully written recollection of an incredible 10 day journey through two of Kenya’s iconic National Parks!

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For this, my first Wild Eye trip of 2017, I was delighted to join my old safari buddies: photographic guide Andrew Beck, driver and tracker par excellence Jimmy Githua, and Katie, an American who, like me, lives to safari. New to the crew was Kerry, a South African working in Saudi Arabia, who we soon learned also lives to safari.  So, from the onset, I knew the trip would be extraordinary. And it was.

Amboseli

Amboseli was all about elephants: big ones and little ones, lone travelers and large family troupes. Ellies lent their presence to Mount Kilimanjaro, to palm thickets, and to dried lakebeds.  There were elephants slogging knee-deep in mud and elephants flinging dust wherever and whenever they could.

In fact, the dust of Amboseli quickly became our best friend and we seized every opportunity to capture its magic.  Early morning, high noon, late afternoon: where there was dust, we were there!

 

Tsavo West

As we drove to Tsavo West, our affair with dust ended, replaced in short order by dramatic boulder-strewn hills, old volcanoes, and massive lava flows.  The operative words here, though, were patience and vigilance. The size of the park and scarcity of vehicles often made wildlife more skittish and difficult to find.

Of course, great creatures were here as well.  Giraffe nibbled, elephants sported red dust, and the Mzima Springs hippos flung water about at will.

But it was the unexpectedly-appearing small creatures who, like so many little jewels, captured the imagination.

 

At times, dik-dik were literally everywhere, but they were gone before I could even check my camera settings. With patience, vigilance and luck, though, we happened upon one or two who were kind enough to wait until the proper settings were dialed in and the camera positioned just so.  And, on the road ahead one morning, we chanced upon the crowning glory of the small creatures: a flock of vulturine guinea fowl, whose face appears to be a bit at odds with the rest of its body.

In Tsavo West, one must be careful what one wishes for.  Apart from the occasional hyena, predator sightings were quite rare. So, of course, we all wished for leopard [close enough to photograph well, please], cheetah [preferably drinking water], and lion [preferably male]. Our wishes were quite specific.

On our last evening drive, we visited the drainage line, in the hopes of capturing, in good light, the woolly-necked stork, grey heron, and hamerkop that were there every night. Whilst working on the heron, we heard a vocalizing leopard far in the distance. The sound came closer. We continued to work the heron. Eagle-eyed Jimmy searched for a visual. He found it. We abandoned the heron. Captured the leopard. Wish #1 down, two to go.

On our final morning, as I walked through the restaurant on the way to coffee, a waitress touched my arm and whispered “cheetah.” All the staff were silent, transfixed by the water hole in front of Kilaguni Lodge. There it was, drinking water. Too far and too dark for a “good” image, but what did it matter? Wish #2, granted.

On our final drive, all was quiet, until there appeared a lion, sporting the sparse mane characteristic of the male lions of Tsavo.  Wish #3, granted.

I suspect you can imagine some of the emotions I felt on the drive back to “civilization”: blessed for the company, advice, and good cheer of my traveling companions; gratitude toward all the creatures, great and small, that crossed our path as we explored their home; satisfaction that, under Andrew’s guidance, my photographic boundaries expanded farther, yet again; and, finally, a tinge of sadness at having to take leave of Kenya and my friends. But then, I thought to myself: “I’ll be back“.

And I will.

Find out more about our Exclusive Amboseli & Tsavo Safari

Combining 5 nights in Amboseli national Park with 4 nights in Tsavo West National Park this safari provides guests with an incredibly diverse range of subjects and environments to photograph.

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About the Author

Andrew Beck

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Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. My love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. Be sure to check out my my website and instagram account.

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