Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Deciding on Africa for 2014

The Iceland trip of 2011 was getting more and more distant in the temporal rearview mirror. Where to go next?

From time to time, I search "photographer tour" or some such term to see what comes up. Or I'll scan through the workshop links at Outdoor Photographer dot com.

Somehow I came across a description of Joseph Van Os' Spitsbergen Pack Ice Voyage. I liked what saw and decided I should give it a go for 2014. But by the time I was ready to pony up with a nontrivial deposit, the tour was sold out.

I put in an inquiry regarding Natural Habitat's Ultimate Alaska Wildlife tour. But it, too was sold out.

These are not inexpensive undertakings, and the the economy is supposed to be down. So I was perplexed by all the sold outedness.

I decided to shift my gaze toward Africa. First I poked around Thomson Safaris in Tanzania. They came highly recommended by Luminous Landscape's Michael Reichmann. They had a promising photo tour led by Randy Hanna lined up for early in the summer. Really early; technically, late spring.

I also came across a Grant Atkinson-led photo tour being offered by Eyes on Africa that seemed intriguing.

I asked the Nature and Wildlife Photography Forum at Digital Photography Review for assistance in helping me decide the two. Commenters had suggestions, including one to check out Pretoria, South African-based Outdoor Photography Safaris. I did, and I liked what I saw.

They have photo tours going to interesting destinations in southern Africa seemingly all the time. For someone with generous but inflexible vacation time like me, that's huge!

I looked at ODP's calendar and signed on to the available African tours from June 16 through July 9. I worked with ODP's Loran Van den Heever to arrange things. I needed to secure flights to and from Johannesburg, South Africa. And flights to/from Maun and Kasane, Botswana. Side trips were arranged at Kalahari Plains Camp and Victoria Falls. Lodging had to be arranged at various interstitial points.

There were many moving parts to lock down, and a multipage spreadsheet was constructed and relied upon. But in the end, I spent nearly a month in Africa, touring several great locations with serious photographers for little more than it would have cost to spend less than two weeks in Tanzania or Sabi Sand/Tuli. A greater burden of logistics fell upon me, and this was the most complex travel undertaking I ever attempted, but I felt I was up to it and eager to give it a go.