Africa Day 8

Hi Everyone

Still no internet. Have not had any news from the outside world in seven days. Cannot use WhatsApp to call my family and do not know what is happening. We are with people who do not seem to care about the outside world. There are no newspapers or television. Their world revolves around taking care of us and driving us through the Okavango Delta looking for wildlife. All the Camps are run by local people. There is not cheap labor brought in to run the Camps. Our Camp, Sable Alley, has room for only twenty guests and a staff of forty four take care of us. My laundry was taken last night and brought back today folded and clean. You can have laundry done every day. The meals are fantastic. There is breakfast, midday brunch, afternoon tea and coffee and finally dinner. At night your room is tidied up and the mosquito net is lowered. I have always liked sleeping under a mosquito net. It is like having your own cocoon.

Our day started like it almost always starts on a photography trip. I woke up at 5 AM and a staff member came to my room to escort me to the main area. Everything is open air. There are no windows on the huts and the lobby and dining area are all open. Between sunset and sunrise you must be escorted by a staff member due to hippos roaming around the Camp. Will has already seen one and Alan and myself just heard one near our hut. Coffee and a light breakfast was served before we left for our morning drive. Going on safari is not like going to a wildlife park. You are not guaranteed to see anything. The wildlife is in their natural habitat. You are the intruder in their world. We drove until the sun started to rise and it started to warm up. Our guides periodically stop the vehicles to look on the ground for tracks and they can tell which animals made the tracks and how recent they are. Each vehicle has two guides. One is the driver and the other is the tracker. All the vehicles communicate with each other. Out guides spotted the tracks of a leopard. Seeing a leopard is quite rare. We followed the tracks and then spotted the leopard. He was so beautiful looking in this natural environment. He seemed to be out hunting and walked as if he was stalking something. My camera clicked away. We then saw a large herd of elephants. Giraffes followed and it seemed like all the wildlife had come to life together.

After driving around through bushes and high grass, we returned to Camp around 11 AM tired and weary. As I am writing this blog, I am starting to fall asleep. Don’t forget, I write each blog at the end of the day. How can you be so tired when you drive around all day taking pictures of beautiful wildlife in their natural habitat? To be continued after our morning safari drive

Slept like a log. It was so cold that I even kept my hot water bag in the bed with me. So let’s pick up where we left off

We got back at 11 AM, downloaded our pictures, cleaned our cameras, took a shower and shaved. After brunch, Andy has set up a critique. We would each select five images and then Andy or Will would edit them with us. I love this exercise. I learn so much and watch true masters at their craft. I had Will. I have done this exercise with Andy, but never Will. Will is a world known wildlife photographer and I first met him on the boat in Antarctica. This is his business. He has photographed documentaries on meerkats, hyenas and many other wildlife around the world. Everyone has their own style of editing after they go through the basics. I presented my five images to Will without any of my own editing. We went at it. I immediately learned some more techniques. I had never edited the night shooting the Milky Way nor the black and whites of the male lion. He taught me some of those techniques and the only way you learn is by using them and experimenting. When I first started using Lightroom, I was in awe of the software. It is very complicated and has multiple layers. I then started using something called presets and saw what others were doing. Presets are steps that others have used and they are used by people who do not want to go through the bother of learning the software. I now hardly use any presets, but do my own editing.

We had brunch and left the Camp. The afternoon drive was not very impressive, except for one location. Don’t forget, this is not your typical wildlife park. You need to find the wildlife. We turned a corner and came upon a dead zebra. The guide said the zebra was a young male. He said the cause of death was probably a snake bite by a black mamba. What is a black mamba? The black mamba is the deadliest snake in the world. It grows up to eight feet long and can stand seven feet high. Will said he saw one break the windshield of a truck. If the black mamba bites you, you die within twenty minutes guaranteed. There are also lots of pythons here. Pythons do not use their venom to kill, but wrap themselves around your neck and do it that way. The guide said you could walk up to a bush and get bitten by a black mamba hiding there. Whenever we stop for either refreshments or bathroom time, it is always in the open away from any vegetation. A jackal was eating the underside of the zebra as we arrived. We will be going back them tomorrow morning see what is being done with the zebra carcass if anything.

Got back to the Camp around 8 for our dinner. I have had the best soup I have ever had in Botswana and I am not a soup person.

Onto another dreary day seeing the beauty and magnificence of Botswana and

Love
Larry

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