Back To Africa: South Africa And Kenya Await….I’m On My Way!

Taken by my guide Chili when in Tanzania

Taken by my guide Chili when in Tanzania


It’s here! The big moment I’ve been waiting for months. I’m off to visit my beloved Africa.

Over the next two days I’ll be flying to Johannesburg, South Africa via Amsterdam. Twenty plus hours in total but you know what? I don’t care. I’M. GOING. BACK. TO. AFRICA!

The first leg of my trip will take me to the Timbavati Wildlife Park known for its big cat population including the rare white lion. The second half I’ll be in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park where large herds of elephants are found at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.

I am traveling with a photographic safari company called Wild Eye. The team there was kind enough to host me in Kenya last September, and I thought it would be fun to try a couple different trips (on my dime) while getting some extra photographic instruction.

Photo: Christopher Michel

Me and my (rental) 200-400mm! Photo: Christopher Michel

I rented my big lens again (that’s me below with the Canon 200-400mm), and I am bringing my 16-35mm (just got it!), plus Canon was nice enough to loan me a second 5D Mark 3 so that I would have two full-frame cameras. In addition, the Wild Eye team will have a 70-200mm 2.8 lens and a 1.4 teleconverter waiting for me when I arrive. (So nice not to have to lug everything on the plane with me. As it is I already feel like a pack mule.)

Bring on the wildlife!

I will be out of touch for most of my time in South Africa as the accommodations don’t have any wi-fi. In Kenya, the hotel website says that there is wi-fi but who knows how great the connection will be. All that being said, I’ll be posting mainly to my Instagram account and Facebook page during the trip if I am able. You’ll get plenty of images here when I am back home in NYC.


In Timbavati, our leader/photographer extraordinaire is Marlon du Toit.  I’ve followed Marlon’s work for a while now, even before he joined the Wild Eye team.

Photo: Marlon du Toit Facebook

Photo: Marlon du Toit Facebook

Here’s some info from Marlon’s bio on his Facebook page:

An adventurous person by nature, Marlon has been immersed in Africa and its beauty from a young age. Growing up alongside Kruger National Park exposed him to the wonders of nature and has since crafted his passion for photography. He spends most of his day on safari and witnesses incredible events. Being a field guide allows you a glimpse into the secret lives of some of the most amazing creatures. Most of the animals are accustomed to the safari jeeps and this allows Marlon to step into the personal space of lions, leopards and so many more. This is simply the first step to capturing an image.

His worked has been featured on the covers and within magazines such as Africa Geographic and Getaway. He has made appearances on the NBC Today Show and twice on Martha Stewart.

We’re staying at an out-of-the-way lodge called Umlani Bushcamp where animals can easily roam about the property…(love that!). At night we’re not allowed to walk by ourselves in case a predator is nearby. (In case you’re wondering, I’ve never felt in danger. Camps have rules to keep you safe, as long as you abide by them you’ll be golden.)

Today, our small group (six guests in total) received an email from Marlon with this little mention to get our hearts racing:

“I spoke with the Umlani camp manager today. He said they had three leopards on a kill this morning, and lions hunting buffalo in camp last night. Now if ONLY they will hang around a little longer.”
Is it likely that the lions and the leopards will have departed by the time we arrive? Sure, but it’s the anticipation and the promise of daily surprises that make going on safari so exciting—at least for me that is. I’ve never been disappointed. Besides, if it’s not those lions and leopards, it could certainly be others!
Below are a couple of images that Marlon took on earlier stays at Umlani.
Photo: Marlon du Toit

Photo: Marlon du Toit


Photo: Marlon du Toit

Photo: Marlon du Toit



In Amboseli our photographic guru will be Andrew Beck.

Photo: Andrew Beck Facebook

Photo: Andrew Beck Facebook


Here’s what Andrew has to say about his career:

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. I was very fortunate that 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.

Conservation was my first passion and it was during my practical year of studies in Game Ranch Management (NDip, BTech) that I discovered another field which I simply had to explore: photography.

The thrill of witnessing some of natures rarest and most exciting moments is made even better by being able to capture it all on camera one frame at a time and being able to share the experience with others. ~Facebook page

Unfortunately Andrew’s website is under construction and I couldn’t find any Amboseli specific shots of his to feature, but I found two wonderful images from his Facebook page that I love.

Photo: Andrew Beck

Photo: Andrew Beck


Photo: Andrew Beck

Photo: Andrew Beck


Photo: Amboseli Serena Lodge website

Photo: Amboseli Serena Lodge website

We’ll be staying at the Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge, a pretty touristy place from the looks of it, (mainly because it has nearly 100 rooms, I’ve never been in a camp with more than 16 rooms in my previous trips)  but we’ll have our own jeeps and guides enabling use to go where we wish and view game without half the planet viewing with us.

I love that behind the lodge is Mount Kilimanjaro. Not a bad view to wake up to every morning. I can’t wait to see it at sunrise and sunset.

Well, time to go…. See you on the flip side!



For photos and tales from my past trips to Africa:







Categories: Africa, South Africa

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