As we were planning and the arranging the Safari, I wondered if this would be a trip into the wild and uncontrolled or a Sunday drive through some managed theme park, like African Lion Safari, albeit on a larger scale. The former implies a randomness spawning various dangers; the latter removes that edge of the natural beauty.
The answer was somewhere in between.
The Serengeti is well travelled; at any one time there are usually a couple of safari vehicles in view. But they become invisible to the vastness of the planes and the animals that occupy them and rarely intrude on taking a good photograph. Generally, one is safe as long as they stay inside the vehicle. It is the armour. However, as our guide pointed out, elephants and rhinoceros are able to do severe damage to a car and have been known to do so when provoked.
The jeep is configured with 4 rows of two seats and thus is able to hold 8 people, including the driver. Our group was three people plus the driver which in my mind was a good size. It meant that each of us had a complete row and so when we stood up we could move to either the left or right side of the vehicle. It also meant the limited luggage space was divided among 3 rather than 7 passengers.
The accommodations, excluding one, were all excellent. Good food, good service, clean, well kept and large rooms. The exception was manageable as we were there just one day. Its attraction was its location; in the middle of the Serengeti.
We were advised by several people to camp in a tent. This way one hears the night noises that would be otherwise missed. So we stayed two nights in a tent.
While dark, one is not to go outside. So after dinner in the lodge, we were guided back to our tent by security; a Maasai Warrior in traditional dress and a spear or was it a stick. During the night I saw a hippopotamus and I heard a lion, in addition to the various other things that go bump in the night.
I took four cameras, in addition to my iPhone and iPad: A Leica M (Type 240); Leica M9, Panasonic G1 and Leica DLux 3 Point-and-Shoot. I included the point-and-shoot because I thought there may be occasions where I would be uncomfortable using my "M's". This however did not come to pass. I included the G1 because of the zoom lens and the flexibility I thought that might offer, especially for "action" shots. It turned out to be of limited value. I chose to balance on the side of the sharpness of prime lenses and the bokeh and resolution of full frame over the marginal convenience of a zoom in providing optimal framing and automated focusing.
I carried a range of lenses, including: Canon FD F4.5 400mm; Canon FD F2.8 200mm; Leica Elmarit-M 90mm; Leica Noctilux-M 50mm; Leica Elmarit-M 28mm; Leica Elmar-M 18mm and a 45-200mm for the Panasonic G1 (90-400mm equivalent). I also had a 1.5x extender for the Canon lenses. I kept the 50mm loaded on the M9 for wide-angle shots. I switched between the 200 and 400 on the M (type 240). These three lenses were used for most of my shots on Safari.
On the first day the G1 and M with 200mm saw the most action. On subsequent days I almost completely abandoned the G1 for the M mounted with the 400mm. Of the 2500 picture I took on these 6 days the breakdown was as follows:
- Panasonic G1: 564
- iPad/iPhone: 203
- Leica M: 1568
- Leica M9: 166
While I carried several extra batteries I never really needed to draw down on them. The lodges where we stayed generally had sufficient power, and the safari vehicle itself had a power bar for charging.
The last piece of equipment was the beanbag. No tripods in a car, so the beanbag resting of the sill of the car roof was the way to stabilize the lens. It worked well. I filled it with 2kg of bird seed in Nairobi before our departure.
As we drove east towards Ngorongoro Crater, behind us were the planes of the Serengeti and Olduvai Gorge, where were found the 1.4 million year old bones of our human ancestors. The terrain became increasing hilly; the Rift Valley that extends north into in Kenya. To the East, beyond the crater, is Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Our objective on this day of our safari was Ngorongoro Crater. After that we would spend the night at Ngorongoro Farm House just outside the conservation area. The next day we would drive to Arusha for a 3:30PM flight to Stone Town, Zanzibar. That would mark the end of this Safari.
Our Safari began five days earlier on February 17th with an early-morning departure from Nairobi. Even then the traffic was heavy but after an hour or so we were out of the city. The two-lane highway took us straight to the border between Kenya and Tanzania where we would change cars and drivers. A Kenyan driver can't go into Tanzania without a work permit so tour companies prefer to switch cars and drivers at the boarder crossing.
At the boarder we were met by our drive-guide, Simon, and his Toyota 4-wheel-drive Land cruiser. Simon is a Maasai, although he now lives in Arusha, is married to a non-Maasai woman and guides in preference to herding goats and cattle. Yet deep down he still has pride in his heritage.
This trip to Africa was different than others we have taken. I don't know exactly where to start so I have started in the middle. The middle is a transition point; an edge.
The video I published in December, aptly named Ice, has become the subject of copyright disputes. In question is the background music.
As I understand it, when content is submitted to YouTube an automated process--a robot--is activated to assess if there are any copyright violations. Should it find any, the submitter and the owner of the matched content are informed. The robot offers to the submitter the option to either acknowledge or dispute the claim. The owner may then take action accordingly.
In my case I disputed the claim as the material is in the public domain, in terms of both content and the performance. As a result the claim was released.
However, I find now there is a second claimant. This makes me wonder how many of these claims I might receive? Is this it or could there be more? Will the Robot go amok sending me be tens, hundreds or even thousands of notification? Obviously concerning.
As a first step I have provided the same explanation to the second claimant but also taken the additional step and I have submitted feedback to Google recommending process improvements:
- When multiple copyright owners match the same material there should be an option enabled by the submitter to automatically provide the same dispute rational to each complainant rather than what seems to be the current practice of individual manual responses. This would allow claimants the opportunity to assess the case prior to submitting a formal claim. Furthermore it would speed up the resolution process as a result of more timely responses. Claimants however have the opportunity to accept or reject individually and in such cases the submitter will need to address accordingly.
- Google should notify each complainant of the existence of other complainants.
A key ingredient is 3/4 cup of beer. That leaves what remains in the bottle to the discretion of the cook.
While bread and water has often been reported as the diet of the prisoner, with this bread that would not be so bad.