Video Blogging Tanzania’s Incredible National Parks and My Safari Experience

For this year’s extended winter trip I found a great price on airfare from Copenhagen to Dar Es Salaam.  Even though I was a bit unsure on what the weather would be like (would it be rainy? Did I need to watch out for malaria? Had I already missed the flamingos and the great migration?) I did a little added research and then decided to go for it. Initially I was torn – should I try and use one of the local budget airlines to jump down to South Africa or up to Kenya? Or should I just give it a go and stick to an extended safari and then some beach time in Zanzibar. Ultimately I opted for around 23 days in Zanzibar and Tanzania in mid-late December.

My final schedule took me CPH -> Istanbul -> Dar -> Kilimanjaro Airport. From there it was onto a local bus which continued on to Arusha where I had a quick overnight. Then I met up with Stewart from Fed Tours and Safaris, the Safari Company I had chosen to do a collaboration with based, in part, on existing recommendations by fellow photographer Mikkel Beiter.  With Stewart and our cook William I spent the next 9 days on an incredible safari experience. The safari took us from Arusha to Tarangire National Park, then from there across country and past numerous Maasai Maasai weekly markets and along the Great Rift Valley up to Lake Natron where we overnighted.  After searching for Flamingos and a spectacular sunrise which included a swim in a series of waterfalls, it was onward to the Serengeti’s small and remote North Gate. From there we spent 4 days in a campground in the very heart of the Serengeti before heading to Ngorongoro Crater to camp on the rim, looking out over the crater before spending our final morning driving Ngorongoro National Park where we looped back to Arusha. From Arusha I spent a day relaxing then caught a flight Arusha -> Stone Town in Zanzibar where I spent the remaining 11 or so days.

What you’ll find in the following videos are my raw, un-cut, un-edited vlogs taken each day in real time as I progressed through my Tanzania experience. In total there are 26 videos, most of which are less than 2 minutes which I’ve compiled in chronological order in the attached playlist. Towards the end you’ll find reflections and some added safari advice.  I’ll also be adding additional posts which will include a more polished wrap-up of the incredible sights, animals and experiences I had during the trip.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to pick a safari and safari destination, I’ve prepared this extensive write-up on must know things to do. Issues viewing or loading this video?  Jump over to YouTube for the full playlist [here].

*Disclaimer* As part of my safari preparation, I chose Fed Safaris based on their reputation for excellence. Once selected, I received compensation/sponsored rates in exchange for documenting my real, unfiltered, and completely independent experiences during the 9 day safari experience.  

Must Consider Advice for How to Choose a Safari

Start researching safari options and you will quickly discover just how massive Africa actually is. From the Great Migration on the Plains of the Serengeti to the drifting sand dunes of Namibia there are a spectacular number of parks and varied experiences to choose from.  This rapidly becomes even more complex as you then weigh your budget, seasonality, type of experience and the wildlife you want to see.  I’m freshly returned from a spectacular 9 day camping photography safari in Tanzania and am eager to share some of the lessons gleaned from this, and previous safari experiences. I’ve pulled from my own safari experiences across multiple countries, my research,  and discussions with the local company, Fed Tours and Safaris, who I partnered with for my recent Tanzanian adventure.

Picking your Safari

Perhaps you already know exactly where you want to go. For most of us though, the first step is figuring out just what type of safari we’re interested in, where we want to go, and what we want to see. So, ask yourself the following questions and then make sure to also catch ‘key questions to ask your safari provider’ which are outlined at the end of this post:

  • What animals am I most interested in seeing?
  • Which African cultures am I most interested in?
  • What landscapes do you like most?
  • What time of year will I be able to go on my safari?
  • How much safari time can I afford?
  • Why do safaris cost what they do?
  • What level of comfort do I need?
  • What is the core purpose of my safari?
  • Do I want a social experience or a private one?
  • Is quality of experience or diversity of sights a higher priority?
  • What is your level of mobility?
  • How much independence is important to you?
  • Malaria
  • Toilets
  • What are your fears?

2016 – A Year of Travel In 65 Black and White Photographs

In 2016 I catapulted across the 50 country mark with visits to several destinations that have captivated my imagination since I was a kid, but long sat neglected on my bucket list. The trips also included several very welcome surprises which reminded me that the more I travel the larger the world becomes and the more there is to explore and discover.

It has also been a year marked by exciting new achievements and significant growth in my photography, videography and photo editing understanding. Perhaps the most interesting pivot has been experimenting with back button focus, which is fundamentally changed the way I shoot.

I’ve also started to experiment more with filters (if on a limited level) and actively pivoted from shooting predominantly using aperture priority, to a shutter speed priority first approach which also uses 2-3x the speed the camera suggested via Av. For my Tanzania Safari, I also began to experiment more with a full-manual approach where and when I needed the speed, but also wanted to ensure a higher aperture.

This post is part of an annual tradition where I post my 65 favorite black and white photos from 2016 and my 65 favorite color shots.  For previous years, check out 2012, 20132014 and 2015 and of course, don’t miss the color post from 2016. As with last year, the photos from my end of the year trip fall on the following year. This means the 4,000 Tanzania shots from December 2016 will appear in my 2017 post and that in this post, you’ll find all of the shots from my 2015 December trip to Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Questions about how I composed or took a specific photo? Feel free to ask in a comment. You’re also encouraged to check out my complete flickr albums here.

Ta Prohm - Angkor - Cambodia

Ta Prohm, Cambodia

Kirkjufellsfoss - Snæfellsnes - Iceland

Kirkjufellsfoss, Iceland

The Bangkok Skyline

Bangkok, Thailand

2016 – A Year of Travel In 65 Color Photographs

In 2016 I catapulted across the 50 country mark with visits to several destinations that have captivated my imagination since I was a kid, but long sat neglected on my bucket list. The trips also included several very welcome surprises which reminded me that the more I travel the larger the world becomes and the more there is to explore and discover.

It has also been a year marked by exciting new achievements and significant growth in my photography, videography and photo editing understanding. Perhaps the most interesting pivot has been experimenting with back button focus, which is fundamentally changed the way I shoot.

I’ve also started to experiment more with filters (if on a limited level) and actively pivoted from shooting predominantly using aperture priority, to a shutter speed priority first approach which also uses 2-3x the speed the camera suggested via Av. For my Tanzania Safari, I also began to experiment more with a full-manual approach where and when I needed the speed, but also wanted to ensure a higher aperture.

This post is part of an annual tradition where I post my 65 favorite color photos from 2016 and my 65 favorite black and white photos.  For previous years, check out 2012, 20132014 and 2015 and of course, don’t miss the black and white post from 2016. As with last year, the photos from my end of the year trip fall on the following year. This means the 4,000 Tanzania shots from December 2016 will appear in my 2017 post and that in this post, you’ll find all of the shots from my 2015 December trip to Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Questions about how I composed or took a specific photo? Feel free to ask in a comment. You’re also encouraged to check out my complete flickr albums here.

The Fishermen of Inle Lake

Inle Lake, Myanmar

Cliffs on the way to Látrabjarg in Iceland

Western Fjords, Iceland

Kampong Phluk - Cambodia

Kampong Phluk, Cambodia

The Nearly Perfect 10 Day Trip to Myanmar – Leg 2: Bagan

**Sadly, due to recent events, I’m adding this note and suspending the series before completing Part III. In October and November 2016, an increase in violence in the northern regions has led to a number of village burnings and significant loss of life. As a result, I encourage anyone considering a visit to research events and the current status before making any decisions. For the time being, it looks like many of the recent gains made are being eroded.** 
Welcome to Part II of my three part series exploring Myanmar. When we decided to visit Myanmar, we wanted to explore a country we knew very little about. You can read up on all of the misconceptions we had before going in this post. Just joining? Jump back to Part I here.

Life in Old Bagan - Myanmar

Myanmar (formerly Burma), is a wonderful country that recently started to open up again to travel. To recap my previous post, it’s; 1) safe 2) easy to get around 3 ) easy to access 4) still very affordable and, 5) already has a comfortable tourist infrastructure. For some familiar with the earthquake in August 2016, the majority of the damage was to repairs that had been made during a controversial series of repairs 10-20 years ago. In essence, it wiped the slate clean. Everything I’ve seen and read says that most of the temples and pagodas impacted are being repaired rapidly and will re-open soon, if they have not already done so.

Bagan - Myanmar

It’s also worth noting that the famous balloons over Bagan only fly seasonally. So, if you go in July like we did, you will not see them. They’re also extremely expensive. Lastly, we didn’t fly, but apparently most of the material about the internal airlines being extremely unsafe is 2+ years out of date with the Government overhauling things and replacing aged aircraft with new ones.

Navigating Bagan - Myanmar

A Day and a Half Spent Driving Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Photos

Is a four day solo road trip through Iceland enough to properly explore the country?

Absolutely not. But, it sure does make for one heck of a brilliant teaser.

My visit to Iceland’s Westfjords left off as I hopped the small car ferry from the Ferry Baldur terminal. The ferry took me across perfectly flat seas, stopped briefly at the car-less island of Flatey, and continued on before docking at Stykkishólmur on  Snæfellsnes peninsula. The following day and a half was spent exploring Snæfellsnes, photographing waterfalls, walking old volcanic craters, and even spotting an Orca from the cliffs.  It was beautiful and included amazing experiences with locals as I stumbled into the local annual Fisherman’s Festival.  This post showcases photos taken during the ferry ride and my time spent on Snæfellsnes. 

A Visual Tour of Iceland’s Westfjords

Is a four day solo road trip through Iceland enough to properly explore the country?

Absolutely not.

Is it, however, enough time to run up into the largely deserted Westernfjords, roam brilliant empty fjords, see puffins, and then hop a ferry down to Snaefellsnes for a taste of more waterfalls, extinct volcanos and gorgeous Icelandic horses?

Absolutely.

I’ll talk a bit in a future post about just how powerful, liberating, and wonderful a solo road trip like this is. But, for now, I want to take you through a visual tour (in color) of my road trip through Iceland’s Westfjords. According to one statistic I read before the trip, fewer than 11% of visitors to Iceland visit the region in the far Northwest and in this instance, that lack of tourism is great news for people eager to explore a vibrant but more natural and less touristic Iceland.

The Beauty and Grace of Icelandic Horses

Ahh yes, the Icelandic Horse. Famed for their beauty, their charm and their long-flowing majestic Fabio-esque locks. For years I’ve seen dramatic photos of Iceland’s famed horses cutting the most perfect poses. At times they’d feature wild eyes and a raw untamed beauty which seemed to practically whisper “Iceland”. Other photos feature raven colored locks blown by the wind and snow that would surely put even Jon Snow to shame. Though, one can’t muse on Jon Snow’s obsidian locks without also paying homage to the rugged feminine beauty of Ygritte, but she too faces the most flattering of challengers in the bonfire-lit-beauty of many a native Icelandic horse’s flowing ginger mane.

The only problem was…when I got to Iceland, I seemed to find their B team. Who knows, perhaps the others had all been called to the East to film the final two seasons of Game of Thrones. Or, perhaps I just caught them celebrating having survived the final battle in Season 6th. Either way…these were MY Icelandic horses. Crazy beautiful? Or just crazy. I’ll let you decide.

Icelandic Horses - Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The inbred great grandson of Mr. Ed?

Icelandic Horses - Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Someone forgot to call?