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"An African Photo Safari - Telling the Story" - Part I


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This program tells the story of a photo safari in Africa, most of which took place in the Okavango Delta at two bush camps, Moremi Crossing and Pom Pom Camp, and on game drives in Chobe National Park. Both areas are in Botswana.
Part I portrays the activities beginning with my flight from Dulles International Airport, outside Washington, DC, via Dakar, Senegal, for refueling, to Johannesburg, South Africa. I arrived a day early and took advantage of some free time by visiting the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve.
One of the trip's highlights was being able to join two young orphan lions, "Vaartjie" and "Medusa," in their open enclosure of perhaps a half-acre at the Reserve outside Joburg. I overcame my profound love of dogs to join up with these kitties! Of course, I did not utter a word of my preferences to these cats.
I took a test image with my camera to check for correct exposure, and then handed my DSLR camera to Emily, a groundskeeper, in the hopes that I would live to get it back! Fortunately, the two lions, while being playful, were great fun to be with. Emily was a fantastic assistant to South Africa's newest lion tamer!
That night, I joined with Paul Renner, a noted wildlife photographer and leader of our group of ten others, for a welcome dinner at the Southern Sun O. R. Tambo International Airport Hotel. These folks not only proved to be excellent traveling companions, but several in our group were superb photographers. It was to be a great sharing experience.
The next morning, after an early breakfast, our group of photographers boarded a flight from Joburg to Maun, Botswana, as that is the gateway to the Okavango Delta. Next up was a charter flight with Air Moremi aboard a Cessna Caravan with a seating capacity of twelve plus two seats for crew, into the Delta.
We landed at Xaxaba Airfield, as the strip that usually serviced Moremi Crossing, our destination, was flooded. The water levels in the Delta were unusually high during out visit in late May and early June 2011.
Once at Xaxaba, we took a hike of about a half-mile to board one of two boats, the other being solely for our luggage. While cruising through the Delta, the solitude and beauty were magnificent! Then we came upon our first elephant up on the bank.
Welcome to the Delta! ... Welcome to Africa!
Then began the adventure of a lifetime. Part I depicts Days 1-6 of a 17-day epic experience.

Published in: Art & Photos, Travel
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"An African Photo Safari - Telling the Story" - Part I

  1. 1. “An African Photo Safari Telling the Story” Copyright © 2014 Don Mercer Rustic 41 Creations
  2. 2. Don Mercer Rustic 41 Creations Virginia Beach, Virginia Copyright © 2014 Don Mercer, Rustic 41 Creations
  3. 3. “An African Photo Safari” “Telling the Story” Africa – The Continent Currently home to 53 nations.
  4. 4. Days 1-2 – May 25-26 Norfolk to Dulles International Airport To Dakar, Senegal: 8 Hours To Johannesburg, South Africa: 8 Hours
  5. 5. Days 2-3 – May 26-27 RON: Southern Sun O. R. Tambo International Airport Hotel Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve Outside Johannesburg, South Africa
  6. 6. “Southern Sun O. R. Tambo International Airport Hotel”
  7. 7. “A Hearty Breakfast before Heading to the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve”
  8. 8. “Tawny Eagle” First Sighting in Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve
  9. 9. “Common Beisa Oryx”
  10. 10. “An Oryx Posing”
  11. 11. “Southern White Rhinoceros”
  12. 12. “Perfect Horns!”
  13. 13. “Horns in the High Grass”
  14. 14. “Ms. Ostrich”
  15. 15. “Mr. Ostrich”
  16. 16. “What a Giraffe Would Look Like with Feathers and a Beak”
  17. 17. “Blue Wildebeest”
  18. 18. “Portrait of a Blue Wildebeest”
  19. 19. “A Wildebeest Out for a Walk”
  20. 20. “A Lioness Resting” One in a pride of albino lions at the Nature Reserve
  21. 21. “Time for a Yawn”
  22. 22. “The Cutest of Kitties”
  23. 23. “Focus on the Eyes, and the Rest Will Follow … Even in Flat Light”
  24. 24. “A Male & His Pride”
  25. 25. “Count the Whiskers!”
  26. 26. “King of the Jungle”
  27. 27. “Spots Walking”
  28. 28. “A Cheetah on the Alert!”
  29. 29. “Watching You Watching Me” A Cheetah: Five feet into the bush and it disappeared!
  30. 30. “Water Buffalo”
  31. 31. “Getting Some Face Time”
  32. 32. “Time to Show Its Teeth!”
  33. 33. “Stripes Galore”
  34. 34. “Giddy Up!”
  35. 35. “A Young Springbok”
  36. 36. “Nice Set of Horns”
  37. 37. “Wild Dog … Best Not to Pet!”
  38. 38. “Horns Resting”
  39. 39. “Marabou Stork”
  40. 40. “Spreading Its Wings”
  41. 41. “I Could Grow to Like Some Kitties!”
  42. 42. “Such a Cute Kitty!”
  43. 43. Welcome to Africa! “Here Kitty, Kitty!” The Bad News: They weren’t sedated! The Good News: I left with all my body parts!
  44. 44. I did not tell them that I’m a dog person … Photo Credit: Emily, a groundskeeper at Rhino & Lion Park, using my camera Outside Johannesburg, South Africa. Property Release: E. A. Hern, Owner, Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve – “Vaartjie” & “Medusa”
  45. 45. Emily – Chief Assistant to Africa’s Newest Lion Tamer!”
  46. 46. “Mr. Croc”
  47. 47. “A Baby Hippo”
  48. 48. Day 4 Air Botswana – Joburg to Maun, Botswana Air Moremi – Maun to Moremi Crossing Our First “Bush” Camp
  49. 49. “Okavango or Bust! – Off to the Airport” Only Soft Luggage Allowed Due to Charter Flights in the Delta
  50. 50. “Airport Gift Shop”
  51. 51. “Johannesburg International Airport – JNB”
  52. 52. Day 4
  53. 53. “Maun, Botswana, International Airport – MUB”
  54. 54. “Our Air Moremi Pilot and Chariot, a Cessna Grand Caravan EX”
  55. 55. “Entering the Okavango Delta”
  56. 56. Map of Botswana Districts Okavango Delta
  57. 57. “A Multitude of Islands with Water Everywhere”
  58. 58. “Descending Out of 1,500 Feet”
  59. 59. “Animal Trails Through the Marshes”
  60. 60. “On Final Approach for Landing at Xaxaba Airfield - FBXB”
  61. 61. “Arriving at Xaxaba – Zero Chance of Lost Luggage”
  62. 62. “Engine Run Up Prior to Takeoff”
  63. 63. Taking the Active Runway – Well, There Was Only One”
  64. 64. “Departing Concourse A for Our Boats to Moremi Crossing”
  65. 65. “Hike Down the Runway to Our Waiting Boats” Vaguely Reminiscent of the Walk from the Marco Polo Airport Terminal in Venice, Italy, to the Boat Dock for My Ride to the Grand Canal … and I Do Mean ‘Vaguely’!”
  66. 66. “Boarding Our Boat”
  67. 67. “Amos – Our Head Guide and Helmsman”
  68. 68. “Delta Lilies”
  69. 69. “Solitude in the Okavango” En route by small boats from Xaxaba Airfield (FBXB: 19.551°S 23.055°E) to Moremi Crossing
  70. 70. “Papyrus Plants Along the Shore”
  71. 71. “Marabou Stork Up a Tree”
  72. 72. “In One of the Larger Channels of the Delta’s Waterways”
  73. 73. “A Close Call – Walking Tusks!” This critter was part of the welcoming committee at Moremi Crossing! Talk about stepping smartly off a trail to give way to the high-heeled “attitude” with tusks moving toward me!
  74. 74. “Home, Sweet Home, in a Tented Cabin at Moremi Crossing”
  75. 75. “View of the Delta from My Cabin’s Deck”
  76. 76. “Sunset in the African Bush”
  77. 77. Day 5 – May 29 Moremi Crossing, Botswana AM Game Drive
  78. 78. “Early Morning Departure by Mokoro for an Island Hike”
  79. 79. “Twilight View of Moremi Crossing’s Lodge”
  80. 80. “Delta Sunrise”
  81. 81. “Making Our Way Across the Delta”
  82. 82. “Arriving at the Island”
  83. 83. “Amos Explaining the Rules of Engagement” Surprise: No firearms allowed in Moremi Game Reserve! Our guides carried CO2 “bang” pen guns. … Time to hobble someone!
  84. 84. “An Island Hike into Jurassic Park Lite”
  85. 85. “First Sighting on the Island – A Giraffe Sampling Breakfast”
  86. 86. “A Warthog Rooting with Dirt Flying”
  87. 87. “Red-Billed Hornbill”
  88. 88. “Looking for Game” Atop a small termite mound, what one guide later called a “snake hotel” – Far right: Paul Renner
  89. 89. “A Giraffe Wandering About”
  90. 90. “A Curious Giraffe”
  91. 91. “A Small Herd of Zebras”
  92. 92. “Warthog and Zebra Herd”
  93. 93. “Red-Billed Hornbill Atop a Termite Mound”
  94. 94. “Mokoros in the Delta”
  95. 95. “Retuning to Moremi Crossing”
  96. 96. “An Elephant Across the Marsh from My Cabin” Time for a Tripod and 300mm Lens Just before Lunch!
  97. 97. “Our Dining Area – Getting Ready for Lunch”
  98. 98. Day 5 – May 29 Moremi Crossing, Botswana PM Game Drive
  99. 99. “Pulling into the Reeds to View an Elephant”
  100. 100. “Elephant and Egrets as Viewed from Our Boat”
  101. 101. African Jacana, or “Lily Hoppers”
  102. 102. “A Jacana that Walked over Just below Our Boat’s Gunwale”
  103. 103. “Walking on Water”
  104. 104. “Yet Another Friendly Jacana”
  105. 105. “Then Over to the Other Side of the Channel for Jacana in the Reeds”
  106. 106. “Lagoon Reflections”
  107. 107. “Well, They’re Not Southern Pines!”
  108. 108. “Our First Hippo Sighting! – Up in the Reeds … Better Shy than Spry!”
  109. 109. “Reeds Blowing Gently in the Breeze”
  110. 110. “Natal Spurfowl atop a Termite Mound”
  111. 111. “Our Wingmen Looking for Game”
  112. 112. “And When There Is No Game, What Do Photographers Do? … Take Photos of Other Photographers!”
  113. 113. “Just Before Rafting Up for Sunset and a Cold Beer”
  114. 114. “Sunset over a Lagoon in the Bush”
  115. 115. “Boat Dock on Return from PM Game Drive”
  116. 116. “An Owl Greeted Us in the Dining Room”
  117. 117. Day 6 – May 30 Moremi Crossing, Botswana and En Route to Xaxaba Airfield by Boat
  118. 118. “Delta Sunrise at Moremi Crossing”
  119. 119. “A Beautiful Sight to Behold”
  120. 120. “A Beautiful Sight to Behold” HDR
  121. 121. “Framing a Delta Sunrise”
  122. 122. “My Cabin’s Front Door” It Remained Locked to Keep the Baboons Out!
  123. 123. “Looking Back on My Cabin When Heading to Breakfast”
  124. 124. “African Beadwork on Display at the Lodge”
  125. 125. “Amos and Paul Renner”
  126. 126. “Vera – Our Hostess at Moremi Crossing” Vera was from Zimbabwe, formerly Southern Rhodesia.
  127. 127. “Hippo Pool!”
  128. 128. “Hiking from the Boat Landing to Terminal One, Concourse A”
  129. 129. “Going Around! – Impala on the Runway!”