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Thread started 23 Jul 2015 (Thursday) 15:10
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South Africa: 3 weeks and 3 days = 5 lodges and 5 reserves

 
CyberDyneSystems
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Jul 24, 2015 16:22 |  #31

Hi Buddy, thread is progressing nicely!

My wife and I are hoping to make 2016 the year for our long lost Africa Honeymoon (should have been 3 years ago, but somethings came up)

We are considering going it on our own with two other couples, based on my limited experience of 3 weeks in Namibia (mostly Etosha) and Botswana (Chobe, Okavango etc.)

However, as I read this I am beginning keeping you in mind!
Would be nice to forgo all that planning. On the other hand, unlike myself on my first trip with the POTN group, some of my group will likely be interested in a more flexible schedule,. so I'm not sure signing on to a trip would be our best choice.

Anyway, keep posting!


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wanyc
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Jul 24, 2015 18:51 |  #32

Hi Buddy - Thanks for the info on Madikwe and Jaci's in particular. It's definitely something for me to keep in mind. I know lots of people who have shot from the hides at Zimanga and most seem to really like it though do complain about the high ISOs necessary to shoot from the blinds.

Thanks again




  
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Talley
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Jul 24, 2015 19:21 |  #33

buddy4344 wrote in post #17643087 (external link)
Talley, actually trips like there can cost much less than you think. This trip of 7 days in Timbavati and 5 days in Zimanga was around $7200. That includes all meals, flights inside of Africa, transfers, guides, park fees, etc. Wine and liquor as well as laundry and tips were extra. Airfare from the U.S. will run an additional $1,000 to $1,600 depending on season. I work hard with my Africa contacts and try to bring trips in at less than $400/day as a final price plus airfare from US. Not trying to sell here, but my trips are listed at www.magnumexcursions.c​om (external link). I'm retired with a pension, so I'm not doing these to grow a big company. I do this basically to teach folks photography and to get to shoot myself. I will be posting the 2016 schedule in Sept/Oct. but you can expect a June trip and an Aug trip usually.


Thank you for the input. I have never looked into this before so it's nice to see the trip is affordable all things considering. I had no clue what the ballpark range was.


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Talley
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Jul 24, 2015 19:25 |  #34

buddy4344 wrote in post #17643097 (external link)
I plan to end the journal with a summary of equipment pro's and con's.

I will say up front my plan was to shoot the 5D MkIII in bad light and close and shoot the 7D MkII once the light was better after sunrise. That said, I got comfortable with the 5D MkIII up to around ISO 5000 and was okay with the 7D MkII up to ISO 3200 but there were conditions where the 5D MkIII got pushed past ISO 10,000 and did fair. The 7D MkII was strong below ISO 1600 and adequate at ISO 3200.

From a lens point of view, I'm really impressed with the 100-400 Ver2. Incredibly sharp and fast focusing. The combo was much lighter than my 400mm DO (ver 1) or my beast of a 500mm f/4 (ver 1 also). We were close enough that the lens length was ample. Several on the trip had the 300mm f/2.8 and I envied their ability to shoot higher shutter speeds in low light, but upon examining many of their shots, I found the dof was often too shallow, with the eyes sharp but nose soft and vice versa. For those with fast glass, remember how short the dof gets when you are close to a subject. I love bokeh too, but it's okay to shoot a lion from 30 feet at f/5.6 or f/8. I did feel the twin 100-400 concept created too much overlap. Near the end, I would put the 24-105 on the 7D and the 100-400 on the 5D body. When I wanted more of a sense of place shot, the 24-105 would be put on my 5D MkIII. I had a teleconverter with me also but never used it.


Great points would of felt the same as well. I love 2.8/1.4 glass but for a trip like this the 100-400 screems perfect.

However... other than the obvious 3rd party "issues" most have... speaking for the zoom length involved how would you of rated a Tamron/Sigma 150-600 to have performed. Did you ever feel 600mm would of worked out better?


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Jul 24, 2015 20:48 |  #35

CyberDyneSystems wrote in post #17643121 (external link)
However, as I read this I am beginning keeping you in mind!
Would be nice to forgo all that planning. On the other hand, unlike myself on my first trip with the POTN group, some of my group will likely be interested in a more flexible schedule,. so I'm not sure signing on to a trip would be our best choice.

I'll be going a few times each year. I've been lucky that guides and folks that have more experience than me have always shared. If we happen to to together great. I fyou want o do your own thing, great. Let me help anyway I can. I have several friends that love the planning aspect. I don't love it, but traveled in a corporate role for 30 years, so I got pretty good at world travel and now I have quite a bit of southern Africa experience.

Besides the groups I lead, I also still love to go alone. For example, it's hard to take a group to the Kgalagadi or Etosha as these are commonly self-drive destinations. I still go, i just dont' promote those trips. sometimes with friends from South Africa and sometimes with U.S friends. whatever works. Africa gets in one's blood.


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Jul 24, 2015 20:51 as a reply to  @ Talley's post |  #36

Some of the best shots I have seen, now I have something else to think about on my next Africa trip




  
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Jul 24, 2015 20:51 |  #37

wanyc wrote in post #17643258 (external link)
I know lots of people who have shot from the hides at Zimanga and most seem to really like it though do complain about the high ISOs necessary to shoot from the blinds.

I will be updating on Zimanga after Timbavati, but the hides add about one stop of light to your settings. I will say this, after three photos at Ziamanga I told others in the hide that I now had the best bird images I've ever shot. Considering I go to Florida every Feb, that is saying a lot!

Also, I should note that the head ranger there, Brendon Jennings is a world class photographer who shoots Canon so you will be quite at home there.


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Jul 24, 2015 21:05 as a reply to  @ buddy4344's post |  #38

Will do,
We would be doing a self drive trip, like we did in 2006. Two bakkies, for 3 weeks all through Etosha, Chobe and down the Okavango.


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Jul 24, 2015 21:10 |  #39

CyberDyneSystems wrote in post #17643404 (external link)
Will do,
We would be doing a self drive trip, like we did in 2006. Two bakkies, for 3 weeks all through Etosha, Chobe and down the Okavango.

Jake, that's real man stuff. I've done it, but make sure you pick the right season and don't dare go without at least two bakkies (pick-up trucks for everyone else) as you can easily get stuck, overhead due to seed pods on radiator, puncture tyres, etc. etc. It will be a great experience. I promise.


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Jul 24, 2015 21:17 |  #40

For Timbavati, we flew into Hoedspruit. It's only a 45 minute flight, but the last 15 minutes over the Drakensberg Escarpment is breathtaking. The Kambaku Lodge staff picked us up at HDS and transferred us in time for lunch and the afternoon game drive.

I've been to Timbavati about a dozen times (no joke), and typically have stayed far north in the reserve. After some research, I learned that the white lions are part of the giraffe pride and reside further south most of the time on either the giraffe property, Klasserie land or the Kambaku properties. I also learned that this land has more open, flat areas which are great for rhino and cheetah so I decided to spend several days down that way then take the group further north where I have seen many leopards and elephant in the past. We never saw the Giraffe Pride or any white lions and you should not expect to do so either as there are only 2 or 3 in the wild in the entire world, but we did see some great game viewing.

Of course our first shots were of the obligatory lilac breasted rollers. Every group wants to stop at every great angle shot of this lovely bird. After all of these years, I'm equally guilty of working for good shots. The big challenge is that this bird has a habit of flying away from you regardless of wind direction so a side or front bird in flight is a real victory.


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Jul 24, 2015 21:19 |  #41

With the Roller shots out of the way (we would stop a dozen more times for more), we progressed onward and on that first game drive found a huge herd of cape buffalo. We estimated it to be 400 to 500 animals. Our guide, Evan, knew of a nearby dam, so we jumped ahead to catch them at the water hole. Great start to Kambaku having a guide with forethought and Evan was a really good one (as was our other guide at Kambaku, Dif).


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Jul 24, 2015 21:23 |  #42

At all of the lodges, we had two vehicles as I insist on a maximum of 2 people per row and we had 7 plus me. This worked great as we were able to communicate between vehicles and spot a lot of game. While we were onto the buffalo at the water hole, the other vehicle was at another dam setting up for afternoon drinks/sundowners. After a while with the buff, we joined them. We stopped on the dam with elephant to both the left and right of us. Many had drinks, others also took the time to get some great shots as the elephant got quite close, but were very relaxed.


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Jul 24, 2015 21:23 |  #43

A few more from that first day's sundowners.


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Jul 24, 2015 21:26 |  #44

Of course things were going great, so we were able to finish that first day with a night drive that yielded a large 4 year old leopard in a tree. Interesting trivia is that I have photos of this cat as a newborn with it's mom (nThombi). Note on the EXIF data, these are all at very high ISO.


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Jul 24, 2015 21:27 |  #45

Since everyone loves leopards, here are a few more, the last one being his exiting the tree and into the darkness.


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South Africa: 3 weeks and 3 days = 5 lodges and 5 reserves
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