Some 2019 highlights.

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It has been a busy year for Travel & Things! We got merch, we got a new platform (thanks to the team at JHnet) and a whole new look to bring us, without too much kicking and screaming, into 2020… the images in this posting are some of my favourites from 2019 travels both local and international.

 

This Blue-headed Agama was spotted on a tree outside my room at the Serena Hotel at Lake Kivu, Rwanda. One of my favourite African destinations, this was a return trip for me and it certainly did not disappoint.

 

Looking at me as if I had invaded his space without permission. This young lion might look drowsy, but he was alert and focussed. No matter how many times I see lions in the wild, I am always humbled and excited simultaneously.

 

Never has the expression “Never take a knife to a gunfight” been brought home more clearly than this! Never go on a game drive with the wrong lens…Usually, I would have a 50-500mm lens on my Pentax camera body. In this instance, I had attached a 560mm and then encountered this elephant. It was so close that the eye was the only thing I could get into the uncropped image.

 

The BEST sighting of the year, if not my life to date! After a 53 years search, I FINALLY got to spend time with a pangolin in the wild. Thanks to a most understanding Field Guide, I was able to spend 90 minutes with this large male. Without a doubt, one of the rarest sighting I have ever experienced. Even now as I write this some weeks after the event, I still cannot believe that I finally found my ‘Unicorn’.

 

This was part of a Wild Dog pack of 34 that I spent time with twice on the same day. Our Field guide found them close to our camp on both the morning and the afternoon drives. This pack consisted of 15 adults and 19 pups. This was the second-largest pack I had ever experienced. The largest being 36 individuals in a now-deceased pack in Madikwe.

 

Even though their numbers are dwindling, the white rhino is still a regular sighting during game drives. The black rhino has always been the more scarce of the two South African species and it is the one that really gets my heart racing and my camera trigger finger itchy. In 2019, I only had one (unconfirmed) black rhino sighting compared to more than 2 dozen white rhino interactions.

 

Hip, hip hippo… Still regarded as the animal responsible for the most deaths in Africa, this is usually all that I get to see of them. Checking me out while about to submerge. If you are in a boat or canoe and you can see them, then all is good. It is once they vanish beneath the water that you have to be concerned. Much like a submarine, you have no idea where they might surface, so watching for their bubble trail becomes your focus.

 

The leopard remains one of my all-time best predators. Unlike lions who will lie in the same spot for up to 20 hours, leopards can be highly mobile and are therefore not easy to track. I have followed fresh leopard tracks where the urine was still steaming, yet neither the guide nor I was able to find it.

 

Seen as a pest by many game lodges, Vervet Monkeys youngsters are the epitome of cute. This face just goes to prove that.

 

It does not always have to be about the large game species. This beetle on a tree became a subject for a while. It sat patiently while I took images from almost every conceivable angle.

 

And finally…still looking at me like I owe it money, singularly the most dangerous animal to stumble across while on foot. The African Buffalo is certainly much more than a domestic bovine with attitude. In fact, they could be referred to as the embodiment of Mad Cow disease and should be treated with caution and respect at all times. There are online videos of individuals overturning vehicles for no apparent reason.

 

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