Trip Report: Great Migration Photo Safari, 2 to 12 Sept. 2013

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

Towards the end of every safari we take a group shot.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

The group shot confirms two things.

Firstly, it signals the approaching end of the trip.  Secondly, it shows a group of people who started off as strangers but now, through a combination of amazing shared experiences, call each other friends.

Each safari I go on is unique not only because of nature always being unpredictable and you never quite know what you’re going to get but each and every person on the trip adds to the overall experience.

Normally a trip would officially start when all the guests are at camp and myself or one of the other Wild Eye Ambassadors gives a full brief of what to expect how things works and the people then get to meet each other.

On Mark and my trip things worked out a little differently.

The flight that was supposed to take us from South Africa to Kenya was cancelled.  This we found out while sitting at the airport waiting to board the plane so you can just imagine that there were some, let’s call it… mixed emotions.  Not a stress though as we were able to make a plan, pull some strings and in the end everything worked out perfectly with all the guest being offered an extra night at the Wild Eye Mara Camp so that they do not have to miss out on a night in the Mara.

So, while we were spending an unplanned day in Johannesburg the rest of the guests arrived at the Mara Camp on schedule and their adventure kicked off as planned.  On a personal note, I had absolute and complete confidence in Isaac, Dickson and the rest of the team to do what they do best.  Coming from a lodge and hospitality background means that I worry about all the little things but, and I am sure every single guest that has had the pleasure of meeting the team will agree, they are amazing!

When we arrived the next  later we made our way straight from the airstrip to a very dramatic river crossing – something that has become a bit of a Wild Eye trademark on these trips – and then headed to camp to catch up with the rest of the group.

Chris, Susan and Jashika were properly settled in and knew the running of the camp so well that they could have given the pre-trip brief to the rest of the group.

Within the first 30 minutes their was laughter all round, jokes being made and it felt like the group had been together for a few days already.

We could have taken our group shot by the end of day one!

Normally in a trip report  would share a few of my own images and do a day by day type post in which I look at the various sightings we had.

Not this time.

With the amount of amazing moments and laughs we shared during our 10 day trip I thought I would share a list of these moments with you. H ey, don’t get me wrong.  Our wildlife sightings and photo opportunities were out of this world and as good as anybody could have hoped for – we saw and photographed some AMAZING things – but I believe that there is more to a photo safari that just the images.

Less than a week after the trip one of the guests, Susan, created a Facebook Chat Group which included Mark, myself and all the guests, on which we started sharing some of our favourite moments from the trip.

So before I share some of the amazing images captured on this trip by all our guests, here is a list of some of our combined favourite moments from the trip as per our Mara Madness Facebook chat!!

Some of these might not make sense to you but THIS is the stuff that memories are made of!

  • Percy Pig breaks.
  • Thumb wars.
  • The look on Chris’ face when I suggested his light painting should read, “Marry me, Sophia”.
  • Jashika rooting for the leopard AND the momma and baby gazelle.
  • The Maasai schoolhouse.
  • The passing of the Nutella at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Elephant sunset and Kiboko sunrise.
  • Hippos screeching and grunting in the middle of the night.
  • The distant sound of lions roaring.
  • Cubs in a tree.
  • Lion porn.
  • Hippo porn.
  • The “Bulls’” good natured squabbling.
  • Cindy’s “Carry on.”
  • Our camp giraffe Kiboko.
  • The look on all our faces the first time our jeep had a picnic breakfast.
  • Chris’ stories and questions.
  • Chloe’s “Mooooom!”
  • Learning South African lingo.
  • Learning more about South African culture and history.
  • Dennis in the morning with my hot chocolate.
  • Outdoor showers.
  • Lying in the basket before taking off in the balloon.
  • Everyone jumping in a photo except Mark.
  • When the mating lions, after we pulled around to a different spot to get a better look, started up again, backs facing us.
  • Gerry pinch-hitting for an animal or a tree for our last sunrise shot.
  • The Maasai looking at the photos Chris took of them.
  • How I’ll never think of spare tires in the same way again.
  • Dennis behaving like a Jewish mother during dinner. “Oh Susan, I like it when you come back. Eat more.”
  • Evening processing sessions.
  • The Maasai BBQ.
  • Susan calling a cheetah a leopard (and still does).
  • All the Masaai camp staff – Dickson, James and Francis.
  • Our Guide Joseph – a real Kikuyu gentleman.
  • Finding the leopard in the tree the next morning.
  • Lovely fat zebra bums.
  • Hot or cold towels on arrival, dependent on the weather – SO colonial.
  • Ssitting on bum with my feet on the cooler box, 10 hours a day.
  • Andre always having whatever anyone ran out of.
  • Chris telling 50 year old ladies that they look stunning.
  • Sweet Jashika.
  • Lion cub stalking a dove.
  • Chloe’s Masaai name – Cloudy.
  • Our dashing photographic guides.
  • Arend “dissing” Canon cameras.
  • Andre and Arend’s constant display of ‘love’ for each other.
  • The lifesaving “2 Ns” – Nandos and Nutella!
  • Mark’s “Jah” for everything!
  • My Wild Eye and Maasai bracelets.. Thanks, Wild Eye and Chris!
  • First time using a bush toilet and Chris walking with me (so I wouldn’t run into a lion?!)  Thanks Chris!
  • Andre saving me with his flu tablets. Thanks Andre!
  • Meeting all of you.
  • The sound of zippers!
  • My favourite has to be Dickson referring to me and Jashika as “the vegetarians” and all of you as “the other people”.
  • Gerry and Isaac thinking they were the bosses when we all knew who the real boss was = Dickson!
  • Mark and Gerry that couldn’t remove their NIKON 600mm lenses from their cameras!
  • The daily soup call and Dixon’s glare if we didn’t go.
  • How nervous Dixon got when he used to tell is the menu for the night – so cute!
  • The sound of Andre’s shutter as a bird flew past!
  • My life saving crate. Every car should have one for short people!
  • Salt & vinegar chips.
  • Everyone yelling out F-stops and ISOs when we’d all be together shooting something.
  • The nuts in the snack packs!
  • Chris opening a Coke with a water bottle!
  • Savannah dry.
  • The Leica… stunning!!
  • Properly hectic.
  • Me (Mark) breaking the window on Josephs van.
  • ‘Checking the tyres’… all the time!
  • Jashika’s Laptop with a sprinkling of water.
  • Mana manam
  • Mark’s acrobatic skills – falling backwards off his chair!
  • The ‘Find my iPhone’ episode!
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Just reading through this list I find myself laughing out loud in the office!  Thanks for the memories!!

But…

We also did some wildlife photography, and a lot of it!

So, grab yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy some of the amazing sightings and images our group shared on this trip!

Gallery:  Andre

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Gallery:  Arend

[gdl_gallery title=”mara-arend” width=”125″ height=”125″ ]

Gallery:  Chloe

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Gallery:  Chris

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Gallery:  Jashika

[gdl_gallery title=”mara-jashika” width=”125″ height=”125″ ]

Gallery:  Susan

[gdl_gallery title=”mara-susan” width=”125″ height=”125″ ] [space height=”20″]

As you can see, it was an incredible adventure but it doesn’t stop now that the trip is over.

With social media it is possible, and this has most definitely been the case with this group, to keep in touch and keep on sharing images, thoughts and talk of a reunion trip.  It’s a great way to stay on touch and every time someone shares a new image they have just finished processing you recall the sighting and all the moments we shared.

A big shout out has to go to our team in Kenya without who none of this would have been possible.

I could not be more proud to be associated to and work with  you guys!

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

So there you have it.

The end of another photographic adventure but the start of many new friendships.

Asante sana!!

Hadi wakati ujao.

Gerry van der Walt

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