Category: Namibi, 2015

Bird’s Eye View of the Trip

Sunday/Monday, April 19-20, 2015.  The trip over to Africa is never easy, but Carol and I have made it so many times (this is our tenth) that we know full well what we’re in for.  We set out from Chicago at about 11AM on April 19 to Washington Dulles and, after a 4-hour stint in the United Club, continue on from there to Johannesburg, South Africa, stopping for an hour in Dakar, Senegal.  Altogether, the trip is 23 hours, from takeoff in Chicago to landing in South Africa.  

On the plane, I read about half of a really good novel called The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, but spend a good part of the time preparing for what’s becoming a new obsession for me, bird photography.  Carol and I really enjoyed the time we spent birding in The Pantanal in Brazil last April.  If it turns out that birding is something we really enjoy doing together, then photography would definitely add to my enjoyment of it.

There will be some birds on this trip, but my real focus is on a birding trip we’ll be taking to Ecuador in June.  The camera I’ve been using, the Sony NEX7, does not really have a long enough lens for bird photography, so I’m trying to decide how interested I am in that and how much time, effort and money I want to expend on finding out.  I think that doing some bird photography would probably be quite fun, but the fact is that what I really like to photograph most is people.  For me, a big issue is lugging around the heavy equipment necessary to really do it right.  And, thus far, anyway, Carol has seemed unwilling to Sherpa for me.

So, while I was down in Sarasota this winter I talked to many different people to get their recommendations on equipment and bird photography.  I also took a 4-hour lesson with a bird photographer down there.  I know this is cheating, but here are a few of the photos I took down in Sarasota with a 200mm lens.  They’re not nearly as good as they might be, with the proper equipment.





So, the plan I’ve come up with is to take my older, much heavier Nikon for which I have a 300mm lens (real bird photographers say that 400mm is the minimum) on this trip, use it along with my Sony, and see what happens.  Spent time on the plane familiarizing myself again with the features and operation of my Nikon D90.  All of these cameras have many more features than I ever use.  The trick, really, is to figure out the ones to concentrate on.  Anyway, things like this keep me off the streets.

Now that you’ve heard much more about photography than you probably care to, I’ll give you an overview of what we (and you) can expect on our trip, here’s a paragraph from the materials Nevada sent out announcing the trip.  

The itinerary has been specially designed for photographers, focusing on the unique cultures in northern Namibia as well as unique and dramatic southwestern desert environments in the Namib. We will have the special opportunity to spend time with the San people at !Nhoma in Bushmanland, and the Himba people at Puros in Kaokoland. In Kaokoland we have the added benefit of access to the unique wildlife in the Hoarusib River that ‘runs’ through Puros – especially the desert elephant and other specialist adapted species. We will also visit the quaint old colonial seaside resort of Swakopmund with its unusual historic architecture, followed by the huge and free standing ‘apricot coloured’ dunes around the Sossusvlei Pan in the Namib, as well as the stunning Deadvlei which is also situated close to the Tsauchab river valley running west from Sesriem, and Sesriem Canyon. This is a full-bodied blend of Namibia best of culture, wildlife, and landscape.

Not hard to see why these trips sell out in a day, eh?  Now let’s see what we actually get.

Two of the folks who will be in our group, Erika and Kathy, are on this flight, so we have a chance to at least meet them briefly.  Turns out that Nevada is on the flight, too, so she came back (yup, we’re in steerage) to chat a bit and to get a chance to meet Carol.  Though I’ve traveled with Nevada to Southwestern China and to Cuba, Carol was not on either of those photography trips so, though they’ve heard a lot about one another, they’d never met.

This just in: we landed in Dakar, Senegal and have an hour layover before going on to Joburg.  As we were not allowed to get off the plane, Carol and I played a friendly game of gin rummy.  Let’s just say that it did not go well for the little lady.  In fact, she didn’t get a point in our game to 100.  She wanted to play two out of three, but, of course, I told her that they didn’t do that in Senegal, which is well known as a “one and done” gin rummy country.  This trip is really starting to gel.  And, remember, this is just the first day!

So, I think I’ll end this here in the hopes of finding wifi at our hotel and being able to post it on arrival.  Some sleep would be nice.  Tomorrow, it’s on to Namibia.

2 comments to Bird’s Eye View of the Trip

  • Rick Trenkmann

    I will have to re-introduce you to my son Chris who lives with his family in Lakeland and works in Tampa. He is into birding and recently won three first prizes in a contest sponsored by the local paper and society for his work. He has taken his skill to many different places on vacation including the expos Costa Rica.

  • Paul Woo

    Arnie – Have an old acquaintance who is a professional photographer in Naples, Florida – see and other portions of his sight as well. He’s been generous sharing his exposure data which helps me get an idea of what he’s doing.

    Just bought a used Nikon D700 from my brother-in-law that’s in first-class shape.

    See you! Paul

    P.S. Jeremy got the job at Sports Illustrated – moving to NYC in July to begin work full-time.

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