Shy elusive cats of the bush.

They are elusive, shy and do not always show themselves. But when you get a glimpse of them one is mesmerised by their grace, elegance and light footedness. But don’t be fooled they are powerful and fierce. One just has to watch them when they hoist their prey into the trees. They are just amazing and beautiful.

They are just a Hoot

 

I just love Owls and am always on the lookout for them. Day or night I always keep my eyes peeled to find these amazing birds.

Truly the King of the Jungle.

 

These giant cats are just amazing and one just cannot get enough of them. When they are lying around lazy under a tree one cannot believe how agile, fast and powerful they are. When they then start to walk though the bush one can see how majestic they are. But only when they sink their teeth into their prey one can see how strong they really are.

Amazing Birds of prey

 

Just amazing how graceful these winged worriers of the sky are. When you see them sitting in a tree or on the ground one tends not to pay them too much attention. But when you see them in the sky and look at their amazing aerobatics, one can only but admire them.

Manta Madness

 

Awesome manta action on the cleaner stations playing for hours with the divers. 2018 is again a great manta season with lots of manta action everywhere.

 

Bird’s-eye view of the bush

 

The Linyanti river from a bird’s-eye view out of a helicopter is just breath taking. It is unimaginable to think that there is such an abundance of wildlife in the river flood plain and only once one get a view from above the extent of it is revealed. From the helicopter with its doors removed one can take some amazing shots of the wildlife below. It was also unbelievable how big the crocs were that were lying around on the little islands dotted in the river. Also huge herds of elephants were grazing in the flooded plains and one never would believe there were so many when looking from the river edge. Only from the air the true extent is clear to see.

Africa awakes!

The best feeling to be up before sunrise in the bush and experience the eerie start of the day with the fog hanging thick over the bush and the sun trying to squeeze through.

Gentle Giants of Africa

 

When one sees these beautiful gentle creatures in the bush one cannot understand that the human exploits them just for their ivory. With everything that they have to endure what the human does to them they still grace us with their gentleness. Even if their size frightens us, they still make us smile with their playfulness and close social bond. They are just amazing gentle giants of Africa.

 

Star filled skies, the red planet and a blood moon.

 

Amazing spectacle over the southern African skies from the great milky way to the rare blood moon with the red planet.

Aurora in Finnmark

The other reason the brave the cold in the high north of Norway during winter is to have to chance to see the northern lights. To have all the elements line up to have the perfect conditions to see the northern lights is not always easy but during our dog sledding tour we had lady luck on our side. We had great conditions during on some nights and managed to get a glimpse at the elusive green lady as the northern lights are also known. When we were on tour with the dogs on the plateaus in the Finnmark wilderness the nights were clear and turn really cold, perfect conditions for the aurora to appear. We were amazed at the light show that unfolded above us and we could not get enough, even if the cold was gnawing at our hands and feet. Such a spectacle is not to be missed and for sure we are planning the next encounter.

Dog sledding in Finnmark north Norway

When I first tried dog sledding in Svalbard I loved it and knew I had to do it again. We put a trip together to Karasjok in Finnmark county in the north of Norway in January 2018. We heard about a legend of a man who lives up there with his dogs and offers some unbelievable dog sledding experience in the frozen wilderness. I contacted him and put together a small group to visit him in the cold north. We wanted to try the dog sledding under the northern lights and not better place to try it. After a long journey and a few flights later we arrived at Svens breathtaking lodge called Engholm Husky. For sure we were not prepared for what awaited us and even all the long hours on the internet could not have prepared us for this. The hand build lodge was like in a fairy tale and the heart warming hospitality overwhelming. Our guides Kenny and Håkon were first class and skilfully guided us through the snowy wonderland. Just an unforgettable, breathtaking experience with friends that has to be repeated.

Winter sunset in Oslo

Oslo is a great city in the summer with lots of interesting things to do. Traveling to the North this January 2018 for another cold adventure we stopped in Oslo for two nights. Seeing the winter sunsets in the city was just magical and the colours where just amazing at the end of the short winter day.

Birds of Prey in South Africa

One of my favourite subjects to photograph are the birds of prey. They are so graceful and not always easy to get in front of your lens. They are also at peril and are threatened by many factors where man plays again a big role in their plight. The raptors are a growing endangered species and their habitat is shrinking. It is only through education, care and rehabilitation of these birds that we can save them from extinction. There are however people that dedicate their lives to conserve and care for these gracious birds. I had the privilege to visit such a place and meet these hero´s who take care of these magnificent hunter. If you are in the area please support the Birds of Prey centre and go and have a look at the great work that these people do. www.birdsofprey.co.za

In search of the wild life in Northern Norway – 2

Just around the corner of Andenes is a small sleepy fishing village called Bleik. Here we heard of a small mountainous island rising out of the sea just in front of the shore. This is the home to the comical bird the puffin. In the summer the puffin come hear to bread and raise their young. But because the puffin is not such a aerial master he has difficulty to fly to his nest high on the cliff with his load of fish for his young. This makes him a target of the big bird of prey, the white tailed eagle. They live in huge numbers around the island and hunt the puffins in mid air. The eagle being such a great aerial acrobat can easily catch the puffin in mid air and eat about three a day. The eagle is hard to spot when sitting on the ground among the grass growing on the slopes but when they fly one can spot them easily with their huge wingspan. The puffin have no chance and only survive due to the large numbers that congregate around the island.

In search of the wild life in Northern Norway

After an unbelievable trip to Svalbard we flew to Tromso, Northern Norway in search of what wild life lives there. We made our way from Tromoso to Senja where we found some beautiful fjords and unbelievable landscapes. We found some great seabirds and bit more tempered waters then in Svalbard, even if the water was still cold.
We heard that in Andoya the continental shelve comes very close to the coast and it is a good place to find whales. We took the ferry from Senja to Andoya and made our way to Andenes, where we found our way to a whale tour. They had a great little museum with a great information on the whales that one can find in the area. We were told that in the summer the main whales one sees are the sperm whale and chances where good to find the big males feeding in the waters in the entrance to the fjord. We were not disappointed and soon spotted a big sperm whale on the surface breathing and resting after returning from a dive to hunt some food. We could make our way closer and observe him while he was resting. With a flick of his tail he started to move and prepared for his next dive, lifting his fluke slowly out of the water till disappearing beneath the surface. Soon some more came to the surface to rest and we found quite a few in the next hours. Seeing that it is not so deep in the entrance to the fjord they do not dive so long and we had to wait between 15 to 30 min before they returned to the surface to breath and rest before their next dive. It is only the males coming up north to the cold waters to feed and they leave the females in the warmer waters behind. What a day out again and getting so close to these mystical creatures.

Polar Bear Expedition in Svalbard – Part 5

We left Hornsund after a brilliant time and lots of great encounters. We now sailed north again and will make a stop in the next fjord up north called Bellsund. We planend a landing in the morning of our last day at Recherchebreen, a big glacier with a sand spit in front of it with lots of ice. The wind picked up considerably but we were nicely sheltered in the fjord and could make the landing to the glacier. We walked quite a long way on the sand tongue in front of the glacier and it was so nice to stretch the legs again and be active. It was overcast with dark clouds, but occasionally the sun broke through and lit up the ice with its rays. Such a nice picture of white ice with shades of blue. There was some fast ice in front of the glacier and some ring seals made some breaching holes and popped up every now and then. After a few hours we waling we made our way back to the landing site and boarded the zodiac to go back to the ship. Now the wind picked up even more and a landing in the afternoon was unfortunately out of the question. After heading in the Bellsund further the captain decided to turn around and head up to Isfjorden. We arrived in the early evening and the captain stoped the boat in the mouth of the fjord to wait for whales. it did not take long till we spotted the first blows and dorsal fins of whales and we headed over in their direction. First we saw a humpback whale and then some fin whales. In the distance we noticed that there was some activity in the water with some sea birds on the surface. We realised that there were some whales feeding and headed that way. There were two humpback whales feeding and it was a spectacle to see. The whales were not bothered by our presence and they kept on feeding right in front of the bow. We could see them blow the bubbles and dive up from the deep right under our noses. We could even see them under water making their way to the surface. What an experience and it was so special. Just unbelievable.

Polar Bear Expedition in Svalbard – Part 4

We made out way south to the most southern fiord Hornsund and had a long nights travel to the south. It sounds so strange to say night seeing that the sun never sets and it is daylight 24 hours a day. That took quite some getting used to and one was never really sure what time it was. We reached the south early in the morning and entered the fjord traveling east now. It did not take us long till we spotted the first polar bear very far away on the fast ice in front of a glacier. We were very excited but it was just a speck in the distance. But as luck would have it the bear was walking towards us and made his way slowly closer to us. Eventually we saw him close and could get some pictures of the king of the north. Later in the afternoon we took to the zodiacs and got really close to the bear. Great shots and what an experience. The following day we did a landing at another bird cliff and it was very nice to be on land again and stretch the legs. There was a cold wind blowing which freshened up to quite a breeze. We had a very wet and wild ride back with the zodiacs and got back to the ship drenched. In the afternoon the wind was now so strong that we could not do another landing and had so spot the wildlife off the ship. We saw some more polar bears but very far ways and they were just white spots in the distance. But as luck would have it, and we were lucky many times this trip, the mother bear with her cubs approached us and came right up to the edge of the fast ice. We were so close and it was an experience of a lifetime. The excitement on board as so great and it was off course the topic of discussion the rest of the day.

Polar Bear Expedition in Svalbard – Part 3

The journey continued south and we made another landing on the northern cape of the big island, Prins Karls Forland, at a spot called Fuglehuken. There we found some graves of Whalers and huge bird cliffs. We also found some reindeer that were extremely inquisitive. The weather was totally different then normal and we had cold winds with overcast skies. We did a long march over the flat cape in the front to the bird cliffs. Great day out with nice strenuous hike through snow and muddy marches. We still did not see a polar bear and were hoping that we would see one very soon. Our journey would now take us to the very south of Svalbard in search of the elusive bears.

Polar Bear Expedition in Svalbard – Part 2

The ice blocked our passage further north and east and we turned back and headed south again down the coast of Svalbard. We came across some drift ice forming little islands which the walrus used to rest and warm up. With the zodiacs we came very close to them and they were not really bothered by our presence.We even found the odd seal on the ice as well. It seems that all the wild life here is not really perturbed by us humans to much, which is very nice to see. On the other hand that makes them easy targets for the hunters. We did some landings on some islands and then on Sarstangen where we found some more walrus on the beach. More to follow.

Polar Bear Expedition in Svalbard.

Start of the Polar Bear Expedition with Oceanwide Expeditions in Svalbard. The weather was magnificent and clear blue skies when we left Longyearbyen. We traveled north and planed to proceed to the sea ice to look for polar bears. Once we reached the pack ice it was much thicker and dense as expected and even with the ice rated ship we could not proceed through the ice as planed. Even the fjords were still closed with fast ice and we could not even get into any of them in the north. The expedition leader then decided to go south and I will report further in the next post. But we passed the 80th parallel north and that was the furthest north I have been. Great to be in the ice and stunning landscapes.