October was not only a very exciting month for me, but it was also one of the most memorable because of my first trip to Africa.
My journey began in Livingston, a southern province of Zambia. The main attraction of Livingston is Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is also a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site. I was lucky enough to take a Huey military helicopter over the falls, with the doors off! Victoria Falls is the largest singular waterfall in the world and seeing it from the air was an amazing privilege.
From Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport I took a short 20 minute flight to my camp in Kruger National Park. The five days that I spent in Kruger was a dream come true. We have all seen dramatic close up photographs of wildlife in the pages of popular outdoor magazines. But my goal as a landscape photographer was to incorporate both wildlife and landscape, making my Linholf panorama camera the ideal tool. Kruger National Park is extremely lush, and not the dry and barren land that I was expecting. I would wake up everyday and enjoy my coffee on the lanai of the Singita Ebony Lodge and for my morning entertainment watch the monkeys try to steal pastries.
Everyday I had two game drives. One in the morning and the other in the evening. The drives were organized in to groups, with each having a driver and one tracker. Most of the drivers were also photographers so they were able to put me in perfect position. It was amazing to see how seamlessly they both worked together. It was quite obvious that they were experts in what they do and very connected to the land and the surroundings.
Seeing first hand the strength, size and power of elephants in their natural surroundings is something I think everyone needs to experience. Driving through the park it was impressive to see huge uprooted trees that the elephants excavated for food. By the way, elephants make horrible landscapers! The last drive was hands down my favorite. I was able to witness lions and their cubs feasting on a huge male Kudu that they just killed. The day before we saw the same impressive animal wandering the area. On this day however, it was killed without a care in the world. Such is the circle of life. In between breakfast the pack of lions wandered to a water hole where the morning light pitched a beautiful reflection of them in the water.
My visit to Africa was totally wild and amazing. Experiencing the animals of Kruger was truly a life changing experience. I am back on Hawaii now sorting through film and recalling memories of the things that I saw and the way that I felt. It is my sincere hope that I was able to successfully capture the relationship between wildlife and landscape in these photographs. Perhaps in doing so you too would be able to see and feel the same experiences.