Monday, February 1, 2016

Tanzania, Africa - Day 1 - Lake Manyara National Park, Monkeys, Baboons and more

After spending almost two weeks on safari in Africa, I am excited to have a whole bunch of photos and stories to share with you all.

After much contemplation, I have decided to blog these by the day. This trip was so amazing, that I want to try and share the the full experience with you, virtually.

So...let's start with Day 1 in Tanzania.

We landed around 9pm at Kilimanjaro airport and basically went straight to Rivertrees Lodge to get some sleep. Even in my jet lagged state, I was totally impressed with the accommodations in this resort.

This was the sitting area outside my room. Not too shabby, huh?

But I was not about to explore the place, I needed my sleep!

The next morning, I woke up and got ready for some breakfast and the start of our safari. I stepped outside my room and the first thing I saw were some monkeys on the nearby grass and up in a tree.

Tired or not, I ran back for my Canon 1Dx and took my first wildlife photos of the trip, right there in front of my room. I already had the new Canon 100-400mm II lens mounted on the camera, so I was ready to go.

You should have seen the group of us photographers going crazy photographing these little guys. It was comical. I also took this opportunity to start my teaching, and worked with the group on isolating the monkeys with a clean background behind them.

And we were all excited to see that there were babies as well.

These little guys were way too cute.

And speaking of cute...our first stop, before heading out for our safari, was a visit to local orphanage. You see, Mike, the owner of M&M Photo Tours (and our leader for this trip), met the people from this orphanage on a previous trip to Tanzania, and became friends. And now, each trip includes a visit to the orphanage for us to bring supplies and money to donate to these amazing kids.

Most of the kids were off at school when we showed up to the orphanage, but some of the younger kids were there.

After getting a tour of the facilities, we took some photos of these little ones.

I saw this painting on the wall and loved it. Since most of the kids were not there, and one of Mike's suitcases of school supplies was lost, we decided to come back to the orphanage on the last day of the trip to see all the kids. So off we went, to start the big adventure.

We drove through the town of Arusha, and I was in cultural overload. I took some photos from the vehicle, trying to capture the colors and scenes that we saw unfolding in front of us.

In case you were wondering about our transportation, Here is a photo of one of our Land Cruisers with Mike and Matt ready to shoot. The great thing is that, these vehicles hold 8 people, but we only had 3 people per vehicle,. This gave us plenty of room for us and our camera gear, and it was easy to move around and get views from any angle without conflicting with each other.

After a couple hours, we arrived at Lake Manyara National Park, where we were greeted by a group of baboons.  I saw this mother and baby crossing the road and quickly fired off this shot.

At this location, we got our first view of zebra in the wild.

And saw some remains... 

But mostly, this day was all about the baboons.

As we drove slowly through Lake Manyara National Park, we saw lots of these guys and were able to get really close to them.

We came across this one baboon, who was sitting about 5 feet from us. I saw this perfect light on it's face and asked our driver to stop. This was great place to teach a lesson on portrait lighting. I often tell people that the best lighting for a portrait is side lighting, and this baboon was sitting in the perfect natural light coming from just one side.

This baboon just made me laugh, looking at me as if to say "Are you taking my photo with that big ole' lens?"

And these little ones where just having fun playing in the tree.

We stopped for while and got out of the vehicle. This big guy was sitting across the road from where we parked. I got out and walked near him to get this close up of his face. This is one of my favorite photos from the trip. I just love the look in his eyes.

People have asked me how close we got to the animals. is a photo of one of the baboons who hopped up on our vehicle. We had to close all the windows and close the top of the vehicle, since these baboons are resourceful and will get into the cars to get food.

One of our group opened the door to get something out of the vehicle and sitting in the back of the Land Cruiser when one of the baboons snuck into the front and grabbed our driver's toothpaste. Later I found the same baboon hiding in the bushes eating the toothpaste. least his hygiene was pretty good that day.

A couple of the baboons had babies with them, and this provided for some great photo opportunities.


We ended the day at the top of the Ngorongoro crater. Since we were at this lookout point, we took this group shot.

And then I took out my iPhone and captured this panoramic shot. Pretty damned good for a camera phone. (And yes, I did bring this into Adobe Photoshop to adjust the exposure, contrast and color saturation).

Stay tuned for the blog of Day 2 and more.

And, for those of you who missed this amazing opportunity, we are going to do this amazing safari again next year...check out the site HERE to sign up for the 2017 trip! We have a limit of 12 people.


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Unknown said...

What lens is Mike using? Is that a 150-600?

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Yes - he was using the 150-600 Tamron lens.

Shelly Schmidt said...

Wonderful pictures!